Mookology on Hiatus!

Hello faithful readers!  These past few months have been very busy and filled with work, play, and travel.  While I have read a plethora of incredible books, it has been quite difficult to actually see the adaptations.

But fear not!  After a short hiatus, Mookology will be back and better than ever, with a revamped layout and plenty of Mook Reviews (“The Spectacular Now”, “The Mortal Instruments”, and oldie but goodie “Into the Wild” to name a few.)

I’ll be seeing you…

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Mook Review: “The Great Gatsby” Part Two – Guest Post!

The lovely Stephanie of The Anxiety of Authorship has offered her pen to a guest mook review – a two part piece focusing on “The Great Gatsby.”  You can read Part One of her mook review by clicking here; an analysis on The Great Gatsby novel and the 1974 “The Great Gatsby” movie directed by Jack Clayton.  Stephanie has now provided me with her review and rating of “Gatsby” directed by Baz Luhrmann, and I must say I agree with her review whole heartedly!  Check it out below…

“Gatsby” - Directed by Baz Luhrmann

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

I wanted to like the new Gatsby movie more than I did. The build-up to it was tremendous–the stunning trailers, the talented actors, the creative and well-respected director, the Jay-Z produced soundtrack featuring huge names in music today. Like Gatsby’s invention of himself for Daisy’s approval, everything about this film is built to impress us. Though Luhrmann delivered the most entertaining Gatsby film to date, it did not reach the greatness I expected.

The main reason I can’t say the movie is great is because it includes a lot of unnecessary scenes, and also adds many unnecessary clichés to the story.  I tend to be open-minded to all kinds film interpretations of books, but I could not stand that Luhrmann turned this into a story within a story with Nick telling it all to a doctor in an insane asylum. The doctor then goes on to encourage Nick to write the story out on paper, leading him to write–you guessed it–The Great Gatsby. I often enjoy unique story structures, especially when there is a writer character involved, but I felt like I’d seen this structuring a million times before. There are other minor clichés in the film, such as cuts to shooting stars in the night’s sky (for some reason that really bothered me), cuts to the green light over and over again, and the hammering of “old sport” again and again. I know that “old sport” is Gatsby’s catchphrase, but I didn’t think he was supposed to say it that much. I think the film also tries to be too sweeping with all of the flash backs to Daisy and Gatsby’s lives before living in New York–again, such scenes were just unnecessary.

Despite the above, there are many things that work. The acting is great. There is a way each character speaks that just emanates the past. Each actor mastered a Golden Age accent specific to his or her character. Leonardo DiCaprio also brings much passion, obsession, and anguish to Gatsby as a character–and it works. I was only disappointed with Myrtle. Luhrmann chose not to focus much on Myrtle, though she’s supposed to be a quite loud and ridiculous personality. There was nothing wrong with the actress per say, but I thought she should have had a larger on-screen presence. The intermixing of modern and classic music throughout the film also works, although not in the way I expected.

It’s odd. I left the theater disappointed and a little embarrassed to be wearing my Great Gatsby book cover t-shirt. But since then, I’ve found the film sticking with me–I’ve been thinking a lot about what works/what doesn’t, thinking about my favorite scenes (Gatsby and Daisy’s first meeting scene at Nick’s house, and the Plaza Hotel scene), and downloading songs from the soundtrack. This must mean something. Although the film includes unnecessary scenes, and might feed into what popular audiences want, I know Luhrmann had good intentions, and I still enjoyed his surrealistic interpretation of such a classic story. I give this mook 3 stars.

Mook Rating – ★★★

Mook Review: “The Great Gatsby” Part One – Guest Post!

The lovely Stephanie of The Anxiety of Authorship has offered her pen to a guest mook review – a two part piece focusing on “The Great Gatsby.”  I am so excited to present her first mook review – please keep an eye out for her follow-up review of Baz Luhrmann’s take on the classic novel.

The Great Gatsby - Novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

The first time I ‘read’ The Great Gatsby was for my eleventh grade honors English class. My teacher didn’t really spend much time on it–I just recall a few class sessions where my friends and I laughed at the name “Dr. T.J. Eckleburg” and repeated the phrase “old sport” a lot. Because my teacher told us we didn’t have to worry about a quiz or a paper, I never actually finished it (*older self scowls at younger self*). I decided to revisit this novel now, after four years of literary study in college, and after finding out there is a Great Gatsby film re-make coming out on May 10, 2013.

The Great Gatsby is a classic for a reason. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s simple yet beautiful prose tells a unique story of love, tragedy, and social class differences with memorable characters–memorable even just by their names; Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway, Daisy Buchanan, Meyer Wolfsheim, etc. The story has just enough action and drama to keep readers going, and just enough meditation and pace to give readers pause. From a writing perspective, I know it’s not ideal to have a main character just act as an observer, but Nick Carraway is an exception to that rule. We only see glimpses of his opinions and personality, despite the story being from his point of view, but this creates him as a mysterious character rather than a boring ‘observer’ protagonist.

There is one very steam-of-consciousness paragraph at the end of chapter two that really catches my interest. I think it implies that Nick wakes up in bed with a man after a drunken night in New York City. This small group of sentences is especially surreal and unexpected in comparison to the rest of the realist writing throughout the novel. Maybe Fitzgerald was just experimenting, but I am so intrigued.

Overall The Great Gatsby is such a well-told story that, despite the decades that have passed between its first publication and now, has managed to remain original and iconic. Although not my number one favorite, I rate it five stars.

 

 “The Great Gatsby” – Directed by Jack Clayton

This generation might not be aware, but there have already been five previous film adaptations of The Great Gatsby–in 1926, 1949, 1974, 2000, and 2002. Since I could stream the 1974 version via Netflix, I decided to focus on that film for this Mook Review. The 1974 “Great Gatsby” film is easily the most famous, starring Robert Redford (a perfect Gatsby) and, unexpectedly, a young Sam Waterston (from the original “Law & Order”) as Nick Carraway.

The film starts off quite slow, panning Gatsby’s mansion and Daisy’s vanity during the opening credits, but I thought the setting of this mood went on for a little too long. Most movies from that time period begin slowly, so I can’t really give fault to something like that, especially because the film itself was enjoyable and true to the story. I can imagine that viewers who haven’t read The Great Gatsby might become confused at times, though. For example, I don’t think the significance of the green light was clear, nor that of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg’s eyes on the billboard in the Valley of Ashes–yet there were many cuts to show these things. The significance was missing.

I appreciated this film’s grittiness. The Great Gatsby takes places during an oppressively hot and humid summer, pre-air conditioning. Everyone, especially Tom Buchanan, is sweating. Sweat rolls down characters’ faces and their shirt underarms are soaked. Adding to that grittiness are rogue flies buzzing around some scenes–and the raw awkwardness some of the characters experience with each other. I really liked this kind of realism. The only thing was, after a while, I still felt like the characters, specifically Daisy and Gatsby, weren’t connecting in a believable way. Maybe that’s the way it should be, though. The book doesn’t make their connection much clearer.

This film was a little bit simple and seemed to cater mostly to those who have already read the book , but it was good in general. With that said, I am looking forward to seeing what Baz Luhrmann does with this timeless story. I think it is going to bring attention to the more surreal qualities of The Great Gatsby, hinted at the end of chapter two (as mentioned above). Once I see the new film, I will return with part two of my very first mook review!

Mook Rating – ★★★★

Mook Review: Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures – Novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

As a huge fan of young adult fantasy, I was disappointed to find such a well-talked about novel to be so boring.  “Beautiful Creatures” was really nothing to write home about.  I found it quite erratic, the characters underdeveloped, and the plot line muddled.  When I first read the synopsis, I really felt this concept had potential but it was a story perched up on a fence, teetering one way and then the other.  Basically, I felt Beautiful Creatures was doomed to fail in general.

One issue I really had with this novel was the various story lines that all were supposed to “come together” in the end.  The problem was, they didn’t.  The way each plot line written seemed very processed and artificial; from the Civil War flashbacks, to Casters and Seers, and secret libraries, there was nothing truly concrete about it.  Each character was lacking depth and was so cookie cutter and stereotyped I just couldn’t get into it.  The character of Ridley in particular was most disappointing; when she first shows up in her sexy outfit, blonde and pink hair, and sucking on a lollipop I couldn’t stop my eyes from rolling.  It took a lot for me to even finish Beautiful Creatures and I was totally dissatisfied.

When it comes to Young Adult series, skip this one.  There are so many better series out there to read (Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, even Divergent and the Matched trilogy) and Beautiful Creatures will just leave you disappointed and feeling like you’ve wasted your time.

“Beautiful Creatures” – Directed by Richard LaGravenese 

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

My expectations for the “Beautiful Creatures” film were somewhat in the middle.  I felt that there was a standout cast here and sometimes a good script is all you need to amplify a story.  Specifically, I was looking forward to seeing Viola Davis, Emmy Rossum, and Jeremy Irons and their portrayals of Amma, Ridley, and Macon, but I was well aware that the movie could be a total bust.

Frankly, the movie could have been a lot worse.  I’ll start by saying Emmy Rossum totally put Ridley in a new light, rather than just the sexy Siren who is so stereotypical and far fetched in the book, she was attractive and sultry in a much more realistic way in the film.  I was shocked to find myself smitten with Alden Ehrenreich as Ethan Wate; he was incredibly charming and adorable – everything the character in the novel was lacking.  However, I couldn’t say the same about Alice Englert as Lena.  She was just so…. blah, for a character that was supposed to be so powerful.

Truthfully, there wasn’t much that could have been done to make the movie amazing given the story line, but I found they did a good job.  Taking away all the little sub-plots that seemed pointless (the “Sixteen Moons” son, Ethan’s Dad, etc) really helped focus on what was important with the story.  But even with all that the story was just ok.  In light of the recent franchise movie surge, I doubt “Beautiful Creatures” will really take off.  There is too much competition out there, and this story is just too contrived and artificial.

Mook Rating  ★

Mook Review: Life of Pi

Life of Pi – Novel by Yann Martel

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

My first experience with praised author Yann Martel was not through reading Life of Pi but his third novel Beatrice and Virgil, a lesser known but still wildly interesting story about a novelist named Henry and a strange taxidermist fan of his.  While I wont go much into this story, I need to touch upon the captivating writing style Martel has mastered; the way he writes forces you to feel that the narrator is speaking directly to you in a way that I have not quite experienced in other reads.  This same connection is established throughout Life of Pi and is, in my opinion, the reason why Martel’s stories are ones you carry with you even after reading is done.

Life of Pi is a spiritual book and sets out to tell a miraculous story.  Pi Patel is an interesting person; as a young boy he is captivated by religion and engrosses himself deeply in not just the Hindu religion, but Christianity and Islam as well.  Pi’s family owns a zoo in Pondicherry, India, but shortly through the book his parents decide to leave Pondicherry to open a zoo in Canada.  They set out on a ship with some of the animals and head west – however, the family is shortly thrown off course when a storm rolls through the ocean, destroying the ship, and leaving Pi stranded on a life boat with a zebra, hyena, orangutang, and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

Pi is such an interesting, and uplifting, character.  He is incredibly human and therefore we can relate to everything he experiences.  When he is first stranded he seems hopeful, then shortly becomes incredibly depressed.  It is only when himself and Richard Parker establish a relationship that Pi realizes he is not alone and, without Richard Parker, he would have died.

The twist at the end of the novel was definitely unexpected, but it forces you to love Pi for his incredible imagination and need to create a much better story than what had really happened.  I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, however I did find it a struggle to get through and wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to everyone. Life of Pi is long and there is hardly any dialogue, so some readers may find that to be missing.

“Life of Pi” – Directed by Ang Lee

via Movienewz.com

via Movienewz.com

The first thing I must say about this film before I go into the content is the wildly stunning use of CGI.  The visual effects were stunning and unbelievably realistic.  When “Life Of Pi” was nominated in the special effects category at the Oscars I was thrilled and I would hope this movie will take a win.  Richard Parker, as well as all of the other animals and settings, looked lifelike and I didn’t for a second believe it was not a real tiger.  Visually, this film was breathtaking.

In terms of mooks, this movie really did not go wrong.  Yann Martel’s novel left room for a great adaptation, however it could have been miscommunicated since so much of the novel’s content comes from Pi’s thoughts.  I felt that Suraj Sharma, the actor who played Pi, did an incredible job of acting considering the lack of dialogue and interaction with a completely animated acting partner.

There isn’t much that I disliked about this film at all.  I thought it was fantastic and uplifting, just like the book.  I strongly recommend this movie to anyone who is looking for a film about a adventure and I hope that we will see “Life of Pi” as a winner this awards season.

Mook Rating  ★★

The Nominees Are In! Mooks Take Over the 85th Academy Awards

via GetGlue.com

via GetGlue.com

The nominations for the 85th Annual Academy Awards were released this morning and (to no one’s surprise) an astounding 11 book adaptations were nominated for an Oscar this year.  Particularly impressive in the Best Picture division, 5 out of 9 nominees were book adaptations including “Argo,” “Les Miserables,” “The Silver Linings Playbook,” “Life of Pi,” and “Lincoln” which were also all nominated in a variety of other categories.  Predictably the biggest winners out of this bunch will be “Lincoln” and “The Silver Linings Playbook” which is the only mook of the bunch to receive The Big Five (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay.)

The Academy Awards will debut live on ABC Sunday, February 24th at 7PM EST hosted by Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone.  You can read the full list of nominees here.  Who do you predict will be the big winners?

Happy 1st Birthday to Mookology!

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

It is with all of the brightness in my heart that I am able to wish this blog a very Happy 1st Birthday!  Each day, I am so thankful for all of the support that has came from Mookology’s fans, and if it weren’t for each and every follower this blog would not be where it is today.  One year is a milestone for any small blog, and I am so ecstatic that my book adaptation reviews have come so far.

With 2013 fast approaching, it only feels right to announce my New Years resolution for Mookology – to post more!  The past few months have been lackluster and indeed I do apologize, but slow and steady wins the race and Mookology will be back in action full force come 2013.  To all of my followers, I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and a very Happy New Year!

Mook Review: The Silver Linings Playbook

The Silver Linings Playbook – Novel by Matthew Quick

The Silver Linings Playbook, Matthew Quick, Books, Movies, Pat Peoples

via BN.com

Matthew Quick’s debut novel, The Silver Linings Playbook, is genuine, fantastic, and one of my favorite books I’ve read this year.  The story is about the mentally at-risk Pat Peoples and his return home to live with his parents after losing his home, his wife, and his life as he knew it.  This was one of those books I just couldn’t put down and recommended to (literally) everyone.  In my experience, I find it hard to find a light hearted story about a depressing topic that is as true to life as can be while still entertaining the reader.  The Silver Linings Playbook did this, which is why I enjoyed it so much.

Pat Peoples is the poster child of mentally at-risk adults – the ones who don’t fully recognize their disease.  Pat was troubled his whole life, which makes him relatable, as throughout this book he is trying to better himself and find his own silver lining.  His relationships with everyone throughout the novel are what truly move the story.  Tiffany, Dr. Patel, his Dad, his brother Jake, etc. all are pivotal forces in Pats life and help him grow and become who he needs to be.

The way in which his relationship with Tiffany played out was somewhat predictable and I wasn’t sure if I was fully satisfied with the ending.  I think it was clear that Pat developed deep and real feelings for Tiffany but I wanted him to come to that realization and let go of Nikki on his own, which he didn’t.  However, I don’t think this ruined the integrity of the book in any way; if anything it made it more realistic and without a silver lining.

“The Silver Linings Playbook”  Directed by David O. Russell

via IMDB.com

via IMDB.com

The one thing that I have truly learned throughout my experience with this blog is that once an author sells the rights to their work it no longer remains their story (unless, of course, the novelist is integrally involved in the writing of the screen play).  Although unfortunate, it seems that the brilliant minds that develop the characters and storylines we come to love on screen are sometimes thrown under the bus, and their artistic vision does not become the one that matters.  But, this is Hollywood.  Sometimes, you have to do what it takes to create a fantastic movie, one that viewers will love and understand.  And, lets face it, the average American wants to see their happy ending, the results they expect, and their own silver lining.  Unfortunately, I think Matthew Quick’s vision was not fully respected in this adaptation… However, David O. Russell created a fantastic movie, one that I truly loved and was able to accept regardless of it’s mis-telling of Quick’s storry.

Let me first state that the casting in this movie was spot-on.  It was perfect.  The actors embodied their characters so fluidly they almost seem like real people.  My hat goes off to Bradley Cooper who I truly felt was the break out here; up until this point, I had only seen him play the roles he had been stereotyped into but here he was vulnerable, heartfelt, and funny.  Another thing about this movie that was just spectacular… it was funny yet sad.  It was honest, it was real.  It is the kind of movie I will buy the moment it comes out on DVD/Blu Ray combo pack and fall asleep watching every night for at least 6 months.  It was so good.  I wanted to stay in the theater and watch it a second time – and I am not even sure why.

Like I mentioned above, this film was much different from the book it developed from but I just don’t care.  I don’t even want to mention it.  I guess the only thing that bothered me (and this usually does) is that they changed Pat’s last name from Peoples to Solitano.  I understand that Peoples is an unbelievable type of name, but at least replace it with something generic.  Solitano is a name that represents a specific nationality, which is something I just didn’t understand.  Change a book’s story all you want but whats the purpose in changing a name?

If you are looking for a movie to go see, see “The Silver Linings Playbook.”  I am not a romantic-comedy girl, I actually despise them, but this movie doesn’t even fall into one specific category.  It was awesome and I would hope that everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.

Mook Rating  ★★

The End is Near: Final Mooks of 2012

When I think back to one year ago, it is hard to believe the spark for Mookology was just beginning to ignite.  Nearly 2,500 followers later, Mookology’s one year anniversary is well on its way along with a number of incredible mooks I know you are all looking forward to.  Closing out the year are two of the most highly anticipated mooks of the decade: “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2,” which will blow up theaters across the nation on November 16th, followed by (and likely surpassed by) “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” on December 14th.  Both of these mooks are the heart of large fan bases who are, undoubtedly, eager to see these stories come to life.

Aside from these fantasy series adaptations which are bound to be record breaking releases, there are a few mooks I am very anxious to see.  The adaptation of David Mitchell’s “Cloud Atlas” debuts on October 26th, with a promising cast and lots of potential.  Toronto Film Festival favorite, “The Silver Lining’s Playbook” will be released in theaters on November 21st along with the adaptation for the award-winning “Life of Pi.”

Classic literature will also take the screen before the years end.  The 2012 adaptation for “Anna Karenina” will also make its way to the silver screen in November, but is likely to be ousted from the top spot by the Twilight franchise.  Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” adaptation is another mook that is sure to bring in viewers, starring actress of Twilight fame, Kristen Stewart.  Tom Hooper’s adaptation of “Les Miserables” will officially bring 2012 to its close with it’s Christmas debut.

Of course, 2013 will not shy away from adaptations as there are many eagerly anticipated mooks to be released.  Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the novels’ namesake, is set for a release date of May 10th after being pushed back from its December 2012 release.  “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is also lined up for release in November 2013, a mook with a very large fan base, however tween fantasy romance “Beautiful Creatures” might give The Hunger Games a run for its money debuting in February of 2013.   L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz gets a fresh take with Sam Raimi’s “Oz: The Great and Powerful”, while Stephen King’s psycho-thriller remake “Carrie” gets a fresh face with Chloe Moretz as the disturbed lead role, both set to release in March.

The year to come will have no shortage of mooks, that much is clear, and announcements for new adaptations are being made rapidly.  Two very popular young adult series’, Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” and Cassandra Clare’s “The Mortal Instruments,” are both slated for adaptations and are being both cast and filmed as of the moment.  What mooks are you most looking forward to seeing?  Which books would you love to see made into mooks?  Leave your comments below and keep on reading!

Mook Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Novel by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky, Coming of Age, Charlie and Sam, Charlie and Patrick

via Goodreads.com

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming of age novel and a staple piece of contemporary literature from my generation.  Stephen Chbosky presents us the character of Charlie who is writing anonymous, journal-esque letters to an unknown person.  Through his letters, we learn a lot about the troubled 15-year-old as this novel takes us through his first year in High School.

Charlie, like most of us once were, is an awkward teenager trying to fit in and make friends, however Charlie has a very difficult past that makes his awkwardness much harder to overcome.  When he finds friendship in Patrick and Sam, things begin to change for him and he explores what it means to be a teenager.

I loved The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  The characters are so well developed through Charlie’s thoughts and the story is gripping in the most raw and youthful way.  It truly is a coming of age story and Charlie is such a memorable person.  By the end of the book, you want to reach through the pages, give him a hug, and let him know that you will be there for him.

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” Directed by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky, Movie, Summit Entertainment, Mook, Mookology

via Wikipedia.org

The adaptation for “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is unconventional and unique in the most awesome way possible; Stephen Chbosky, the novels author, is both the screenwriter and director.  This kind of thing rarely ever happens for mooks.  Needless to say, since Chbosky played a very important role in the making of this film I went into the viewing expecting flawlessness; I imagined this movie to be as close to a perfect adaptation as it can get with all aspects of the story perfectly weaved into film.

First, I need to commend Logan Lerman on his acting skills.  I was definitely skeptical of his performance at first considering the only two roles I’ve seen him in was Percy in “Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief” and an 8 year old version of the main character, Evan, in “The Butterfly Effect.”  Neither were spectacular performances BUT I found him to be so perfect as Charlie in the movie I couldn’t get over it.  Kudos to you, Mr. Lerman.

The casting for this film was definitely well done (although I couldn’t help but hear Emma Watson’s British accent no matter how hard I tried).  One thing I really loved in this film was the comedy.  Particular moments, like when Charlie is tripping on Acid and shoveling a circle of snow, are laugh-out-loud funny and perfectly fitting for the film.  The comedy doesn’t come across as well in the book, although there are some funny parts, and Ezra Miller’s performance as Patrick definitely stole the show in terms of one-liners.

Obviously there were things missing.  Candace’s role in the film was cut to almost nothing which I was disappointed about but it would have opened up an entirely new dynamic of Charlie’s world that the screen just doesn’t have time for.  The one criticism I had was the way in which Sam and Charlie’s “romantic” relationship developed at the end.  In the novel, it seems that Sam just wants to show Charlie what it means to be loved where as in the movie her affection towards him was very romanticized.  In general, I found this film profoundly moving and an awesome representation of the book.  When it comes to translating the story it really didn’t get much better than what Chbosky gave us, and rightly so.

Mook Rating  ★★1/2