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Proof Reading The Movies #1
by Xavier Jones-Barlow

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Match. Pyro. Geddit?

Match. Pyro. Geddit?
Traditionally a book group comes together at regular intervals, choose and read a book, then discuss it. Now unless you are a pyromaniac who was scouring the net for inspiration and got lost, you are indeed looking at a movie website. This time I am bringing some very good books I have read recently to your attention because they are all due to appear in cinemas before the year is out. My choices are quite selfish, the novels you are about to hear about are books that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and the prospect of film adaptations leaves me somewhat excited. I am also conscious of the fact that in our fast-paced modern lives you simply may not have the time to run out and grab these books and hurriedly read them before rushing down the cinema to watch the very same (or close enough) story; I am leaving you plenty of time. Sometimes it may be helpful to leave a period of time between media genres. So I am hoping that every now and then you may want some inspiration for something to read, that is my purpose and I'll help you get a head start on all the other word loving movie junkies.

Brick Lane by Monica Ali

Literature is great for allowing the reader to submerge themselves in a culture, time period or location we know little about or have a limited understanding of. Some would argue that film does this too. So it is going to be very interesting to see how this tome translates. BRICK LANE was first published in 2003 but it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I got round to reading it. I felt that I had to read it, you see there was a well publicised demonstration at some of the locations where the film was being shot where
Match. Pyro. Geddit?
people actually burnt books. A little background; the story follows a young lady who moves from her native Bangladesh to London for an arranged marriage. Brick Lane is an actual real place in London that houses a large Bangladesh community, several members of this community objected to the generalised portrayal of life there and got quite upset. You have to bear in mind that the author had very similar origins.

The book itself is really quite charming. It is warm, funny and some of the situations are really quite ludicrous. Although it is a work of fiction I can vouch that it does very much feel like urban London, and in the charged socio-political climate we endure a grass roots insight into Islamic life is, in my opinion, most welcome.

As you may have deduced, this is a British film. I would imagine it will look and flow like a British film too, so I'm not exactly sure how it will be received by a North American audience. Any of you seen BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM? Or maybe EAST IS EAST? I'm guessing the film will have a comparable feel.

Bizarrely I have yet to see this (the DVD is in my bag as I write this) as it was released over here late last year. If any of you read my very first column you will know that this is very much against my usual form.

BRICK LANE is released on your sunny continent on June 20th.

The Secret Lives Of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Most of you don't know me personally, so at this point it maybe useful for me to state that I am slightly emotionally retarded. This book however, had me in tears on more than one occasion. This is what I call a word-of-mouth book. Published first in 2001, which
Match. Pyro. Geddit?
passed me by, probably because I was reading Crime and Sci-Fi almost exclusively back then, it got to the top of the bestseller charts here, there and everywhere. The amount of times I saw it referenced to describe other books urged me to pick it up earlier this week.

It is a wonderful book, beautifully written and extremely engaging. It also is very moving, it would have to be to put a lump in my throat. The story centres around fourteen year old Lily Owens who goes on a forced quest to discover more about her mother. The mother who died in a tragic accident at Lily's hands. It is set in South Carolina in the summer of 1964, so boiling racial tensions provide a harrowing historical backdrop. One of the most special aspects of the writing is the narrative. It is told exclusively from the point of view of Lily, her thoughts, feelings and observations only endear you to her fragile and damaged existence. This is why the film has me quite excited, as this presumably demanding role has been awarded to Dakota Fanning. For me, Dakota is leading the new wave of child performers. If the director (who also wrote the screenplay, and I'm not sure how I feel about that) has handled this correctly I feel we could be in for something special. The rest of the cast is also quite impressive, it includes Alicia Keys who I happen to think is quite gorgeous.

THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES has been slated for an October release in the States, which means I will probably get to see it in 2011.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Yes. It is the same Cormac McCarthy that was responsible for writing the academy nomination hungry NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. And yes,
Match. Pyro. Geddit?
it is the same 'road' that won him the Pulitzer prize in 2007. This is a bleak, bleak book. A superbly poignant and almost profound book, but very bleak. The overall bleakness does not make it any less compelling though. It has a mesmerising effect, I did not get much sleep when I read this the first time. The second time I read it I made sure I started early. It may be possible that some of the appeal lies in the unusual prose and the slight bending of the English language, but the reality is that it is such a good story.

You don't actually find out when this book is set, but we do know that it is the near future. You never really discover what has happened to the planet, but we do know that it was very, very bad. This has been touted as a 'post-apocalyptic thriller', but it really is just a sad, sad story.

This is one of those books that, when I was reading it I would think that a movie would be very difficult to do. It is currently filming though, with Chalize Theron, Viggo what's-his-face and Guy Pearce all on the cast.

This does worry me. Considerably. Some moments in the novel are quite harrowing, but essential. The story itself does not have a particuarly happy ending and it can hardly be described as spectacular. I just hope...

THE ROAD has a provisional release date set at 26th November. At this rate I may have to pop over and sleep on one of your sofas.

* * *

So there you have it. A public service if you will. If you have already read all these then I'm sorry, and please remember I really liked them which will likely mean that you won't.

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Jul 15, 2009 3:59 PM
[X] delete
The Road still evades release where I am. Psssshhht!

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Xavier's Book Club
Every other Saturday

Xavier analyses film, literary. A bizarre melding of books and movies.

Other Columns
Other columns by Xavier Jones-Barlow:

My Month As A Teenage Girl

Mr Jones and the Shame of the Spolier Scolls

Fragment: Consider Revising.

The Cinematic Chicken And The Literary Egg

Indifferent Imaginations

All Columns

Xavier Jones-Barlow
Xavier lives in Scotland where it is very cold. He spends his time writing about live bands and people dreamt up in his bizarre imagination. Quite huggable .

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Xavier Jones-Barlow by clicking here.

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