Book Smart: Silver Screen Reads

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Anyone can see the movie; only smarties read the book. Every year around Oscar time, Hollywood goes highbrow with tales ripped from the pages of tomes both old and new. Go straight to the source of this winter’s biggest and buzziest movies with this quick and easy cheat sheet to Hollywood’s hippest reads:

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates (1961).

  • On screen: Suffering from Mad Men withdrawal? Join Kate and Leo for two hours of married people repression, set in 1950s suburbia.  After winning one of her two(!) Golden Globes this week, Kate is fast-tracked to finally getting that Oscar she’s been craving. The movie goes into wide release tomorrow.
  • Between the pages: The movie is like a boxing match between two equals; the book is mostly through the eyes of Frank Wheeler until we switch to April’s POV for the harrowing climax.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1921).

  • On screen: Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett smolder through the 20th  century, he as a man born old and getting younger, she as a gal with gorgeous skin. One of the biggest hits of the Christmas season, Button made $11 million on opening day and is priceless for a shot of Pitt channeling James Dean as he rides a scooter through the sunset mid-way through the film.
  • Between the pages: In the story, the romance is literally two sentences. Two. Sentences. In the movie it is, um, three hours. Also, the book’s Benjamin goes to Harvard, while Pitt’s man-boy gets his education on a tugboat on the Mississippi, a la Forrest Gump.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (2003).

  • On screen: One teen girl tries hard not to fall for mega hottie vampire, billions of teen girls go insane, shattering box office records across the globe.
  • Between the pages: Twilight’s obsessive fanbase is, um, obsessed with dissecting itty bitty plot points. One difference is that in the book, Bella and Edward’s relationship grows slowly over time, but in the movie they want to jump each other’s bones within minutes.

Marley & Me by John Grogan (2005).

  • On screen: Married couple grows closer cleaning up after the world’s “worst” and most “adorable” dog. Which is, like, a metaphor for how life works and stuff. This movie posted the best Christmas-day opening ever, letting Jennifer Aniston outshine Brad for a day.
  • Between the pages: Grogan writes lovingly about his childhood pup, Shaun; Wilson’s character says he has never had a dog.

Defiance. Book by Nechama Bec (1993).

  • On screen: It’s the Quantum of Kickass. Daniel Craig and some other Hollywood hotties play the three Bielski brothers, Jewish resistance fighters camping out in the woods during WWII in this action-slash-adventure-slash-Holocaust flick going into wide release tomorrow.
  • Between the pages: There were actually eight Bielski siblings, not three. Which is both amazing historical trivia and also a bummer, because I totally would have watched eight Jewish Bonds defend my people.
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