Category Archives: Film

Films from stories

Moving Stories

Don’t panic. If, like me, you haven’t yet got to the new exhibition on film at Seven Stories, you’ve got a whole year to to it. Which means we will probably all meet there some time just before April 2015, after eleven beautiful months of procrastination. At least that’s how I function; give me loads of time, and what do I do with it?

Exhibition opening 5

Moving_Stories_Damien_Wootten 68

Moving Stories, Children’s Books from Page to Screen, opened last week in Newcastle. It’s been co-curated with the National Media Museum in Bradford.

Moving_Stories_Damien_Wootten 31

Seven Stories is collecting reader’s favourite film adaptations and would like to hear from you. What would your choice be?

Exhibition opening 2

I will need to think about mine.

(Email and be entered into a prize draw to win a family ticket to visit Moving Stories, Children’s Books from Page to Screen.)


Iceland, here they come

We’ll be up early to send the Resident IT Consultant and Daughter out to look for the Northern Lights. I’ve worried for months about whether or not there will be any. Is it the wrong time of the month? (Yes, I understand it is.) Will the weather co-operate? Who knows?

But it seems this is the last good winter for years, and lots of people have had successful trips. And Iceland appears to be ‘in.’ (So it’s not as if they are being terribly original.)

It’s a supposedly educational trip, as well as fun, organised by the University of St Andrews Astronomical Society.

Just in case Daughter needs something to read, I had to find a successor to The Hobbit. It’s actually quite hard to pick a book that will suit. Not too long, but not too short, either. Not too heavy or large. It has to be good; exciting, but not – too – scary, with engaging characters. In other words, it has to be just right. Sort of in the Goldilocks zone of YA fiction. In the end I chose Siege by Sarah Mussi.

And for the group as a whole, you can’t beat a good quiz, so the Christmas quiz book has found itself sharing rather close quarters with a pair of heavy boots.

Should they need more entertainment, they also have Jar City on DVD. Nordic crime is in, and Arnaldur Indridason will hopefully be less well known than some other writers, and I hope no one has seen the film already. I was awfully tempted to send Virus au paradis, but that might have been taking things Icelandic too far. Besides, not everyone will be fluent in French/Swedish subtitles.

I will sign off with Eyjafjallajökull, which is even harder to say than it looks.

The Hobbit

I never read The Lord of the Rings. I just never wanted to. I listened to the BBC dramatisation, which was pretty good. I had trouble telling who was who, apart from Robert Stephens as Aragorn, who was wonderful. I obviously didn’t see the films either. Although, I seem to have seen the end quite a few times, having managed to walk into the room where the DVD was playing, at the same moment every time. It sort of ends happily, I think?

The only Tolkien I’ve read was the first chapter of The Hobbit – to Son at bedtime – many years ago. Luckily something intervened after that, and the Resident IT Consultant continued the reading.

Daughter likes the LOTR films. She liked the first Hobbit film, too, and wants to go and see the second one. Before doing that she decided to actually read the book. She finished it yesterday.

A little bit later she asked if it was all right for her to say something, and once I’d ascertained I’d not be sad or offended by this something, she had my permission to proceed.

‘The Hobbit was boring,’ she said. I replied I wasn’t surprised. There must have been a good reason I never returned to it.

We sort of came to the conclusion the reason it’s possible to make so many films out of the one book, might be that its boringness requires more fun and exciting stuff to be added. Which makes it longer. Rather like the  two-hour films made of Agatha Christie’s short stories. You pad. And then you pad some more.

J R R Tolkien, The Hobbit

(The cover is nice, though.)

Bond matures

That’s not terribly likely, is it? Will James Bond ever mature?

My diary for today has the entry ‘Bond matures’ written in it, and every time I come across my little note I visualise the 007 Bond. Just goes to show how words and names become brands and images in your mind. (Shockingly, to me that is Daniel Craig…)

What it is – obviously – is a little reminder to me to do something about a bond that matures. That’s not going well. Both in that if I can’t read the reminder properly, it will do no good. But also, how on earth can you do anything with even small sums of money that will be better than stuffing the mattress with bank notes?

Next time I need to write a reminder to me I will try to phrase it in a more unambigous way.

And anyone who can tell me how to invest my paltry sum is welcome to offer advice. If you’re some African widowed queen I might not pay attention, though.


30 seconds from home (that’s a lot less than 24 hours from Tulsa) the police caught up with us. It was nothing too serious.

Son’s 21st birthday went almost un-noticed. He spent it having lunch with the Retired Children’s Librarian. As you will have seen from yesterday’s post we spent his sister’s 21st with him (rather than with the birthday girl herself), so I suppose that almost makes up for it?

One day late, we drove across Fife to eat too much cake. In fact, it was such an excessively cakey day I don’t think I can let on how much we ate.

Anyway, we began by donating our ancient telescope to Daughter’s place of learning, in what can only be described as our version of passing the parcel. The telescope was never un-wanted. Just that little bit too cumbersome. A former toy of the Resident IT Consultant’s grandfather and older siblings, it has been passed back and forth between family members.

The Grandmother and I waited in the Physics department while the donating was being carried out (it was raining, which feels so wrong for Fife). Daughter might have felt we were a slight embarrassment – even though we had come to celebrate with her – but I pointed out that the only Physics graduate present was the Grandmother. Actually.

After the ‘doning’ we had toast, to mop up the first lot of cake. After that we had more cake. There was also a half eaten cake in her kitchen from the day before…


While Daughter toasted, the Resident IT Consultant put the finishing touches to her Ivar, which is much smaller than Son’s and is not a stack of wooden wine cases after all.

Post-cake I read Dragon Loves Penguin to Daughter, despite the fact that she knows how to read. In return she foisted a bag full of books on me to take home. I can understand that. Her Ivar really has very little room left.

Without feeling all that hungry we repaired to our usual eating place, meeting up with Son and Dodo as well as the two AstroSoc dignitaries that the Resident IT Consultant wanted to grill (albeit not for food purposes). We ate some more, and Son ordered all the extra three for twos on the menu. Or so it seemed.


Us oldies finished off by coming along to Daughter’s little gathering at the cinema, where we had crisps and cupcakes to offer. There must have been something wrong with those students. They hardly touched the free ‘food.’

When the time came for the film, they all obeyed as Son announced – loudly – that they should toddle off towards the auditorium, but still they wanted no cake. Or crisps.


So here we are, still un-arrested. Cupcake anyone?

How I Live Now

Just think. I have never been able to review How I Live Now on Bookwitch, despite it being the book that launched this illustrious blog. It was published far too long* ago, but nine years on, the film is here and I went to see it yesterday for its first screening. Little did the cinema know it had HILN’s biggest fan in the auditorium.

How I Live Now

So what did I think? I liked it. In fact, maybe I need to go again. Hmm, that’s a thought. A good one.

What I don’t know is how it comes across to people who have not read the book (AND WHY NOT?), but I can see no reason why it shouldn’t work.

It has been abridged and simplified, which is presumably necessary even for a short book. They have done away with one brother, and the remaining two have changed places (to make the sex more acceptable).

But what is so fantastic is that not only is Saoirse Ronan just right for Daisy, but they have found a house to use that is just as it should be. In the right place, with the right country lanes and everything. Even the McEvoys’ house was right. So many rights.

How I Live Now

This is a 15 film, which is as it should be, considering how much darker it is than the novel. It is probably unavoidable that war and violence look worse on screen than on paper. And what you don’t get, and what I did miss, are Daisy’s comments on all that happens. Her voice makes the book what it is. However Saoirse is great, despite lack of running commentary. She seems to suffer from OCD rather than anorexia, but that’s fine.

How I Live Now makes a beautiful film. I’ll probably see it again. Good idea, witch.

On the way home we drove past Daisy Street. Perhaps it’s always been there, but I never noticed it before.

* I know. Old books can still be reviewed. But that feeling of pure magic when you discover a gem like HILN comes only once.

Bookwitch bites #113

The train will be late. Actually, the whole railway is running late. Perhaps it’s the wrong kind of leaves. If they have leaves in Discworld. I don’t know. Anyway, that perfect publication date (24th October) for Terry Pratchett’s Raising Steam has been moved to the 7th of November. But I suppose that will be all right, too.

Terry Pratchett, Raising Steam

To make up for it – or so it seems – the film of How I Live Now has moved in the other direction, and I understand it will be with us on the 4th of October. I just hope I will be ready in time. What am I saying? It’s the film of my favourite book. I’ll be ready. The trailer is looking good. Saoirse Ronan is not a bad Daisy, as far as I can see. (And Edmund has grown older. I suppose he had to.)

Another film on the horizon – although a more distant kind of horizon – is the one about Artemis Fowl. It will be a Disney production, and I hope that doesn’t mean they will make a hash of our favourite juvenile Irish master criminal. Or pick the wrong Butler, or worse still, don’t understand Holly has to be a pixie. A real pixie.

Eoin Colfer is one of the big names coming to the Manchester Literature Festival this October. The programme has just gone public, and I almost had to stop myself from gasping with delight. I obviously didn’t gasp at all, because I am a professional bookwitch, but you know, that’s a pretty good programme.

It’s almost as if you don’t have to go to Edinburgh to see certain authors. I’m supposed to have overseas visitors the weekend before MLF. I’m going to have to get rid of them really swiftly.

Meanwhile I am practising daily on getting the pronunciation of Saoirse right.

A little bit of shame everywhere

One thing we tend not to get in books about WWII is bad American behaviour. Don’t laugh. Today we might spread our criticism more evenly, but in most fiction the Americans were the good guys.

So were the British, but the difference tends to be that while we know people had to make sacrifices in the British Isles, we ‘know’ the Americans at home had it good.

A more recent trend in books has shown us what WWII was like for people in Europe. Not just for the fighting Allies, but for Germans at home, Poles, Italians. And when we read about the inhumane imprisonment or moving of innocent civilians, all in the name of war, it’s only too easy to see the other side as always good.

We know that Germans were locked up in Britain. But we seem to know much less about the internment of Japanese Americans in the US.

Last year I watched a film about this, I’ll Remember April. Then I read about something similar on Normblog a month or two ago. It was very touching in all its simplicity, and shows that it’s not just in films that people acted in a certain way. Real people in real life did too. This in turn made me get the film out again, to watch a second time.

It’s worth remembering this when getting worked up about atrocities towards Poles, Lithuanians, or anyone else.

Space Blasters

You have to love Philip Caveney’s cinema books! Here we are again, all ready to pop into the latest ‘Star Wars’ film. Or not.

Philip Caveney, Space Blasters

Kip, whose Dad runs this Stockport cinema with a difference, has decided once and for all that he will not go into any more films, however much Mr Lazarus tries to tempt him. And Mr Lazarus, the 120-year-old projectionist, respects his wishes. Things went wrong last time. And the time before that.

Dad is happy, because his cinema is finally doing well. He has no idea why, though, which could be the reason he is stupid enough to talk to the press. So, Stephanie from the Evening Post works out all is not as it seems. Kip has to try and deflect her interest in Mr Lazarus and his putting-people-into-films machine.

Unfortunately that doesn’t go well. Unfortunately, Mr Lazarus has a younger brother, who at a mere 117 is a little boisterous. Unfortunately, Kip ends up having to sort out what goes wrong between these two old men, leaving his girlfriend Beth holding the fort.

Meanwhile Stephanie’s curiosity leads to an unexpected meeting with Zeke Stardancer, while Emperor Zarkan also has various unexpected things happen to him.

Thank goodness for bratty little sisters! Kip’s, not Zarkan’s. And Dad can work out how his projectionist managed to grow a beard in a few hours. Or maybe not.

It’s a slice of fish, really.

(I believe this is the last cinema book by Philip. That’s good, insofar that it’s often best to leave a party when you’re having the most fun.)

Bookwitch bites #109

If my bites didn’t already have such an excellent title, I’d call today’s post Hoffman & McGowan. It’s got a nice ring to it. Solicitors. Or television cops. Yes, that’s more like it.

Ladies first, so we’ll go to Mary Hoffman who has a new website design. Again, you could say, but that’s OK. Mary has been writing books for a while, and needs to go through a few web designs. They are like shoes. You must have them. They wear out. And with so many books, Mary simply has to be able to organise all the information sensibly. And beautifully. Like the shoes.

We’re not leaving Mary yet. Earlier this month she wrote this beautiful blog post on the History Girls blog about her mother-in-law. I find it fascinating to read about the lives of ‘reasonably ordinary’ people. Because once you start looking at an individual, you soon discover that many people have something special or exciting in their past.

The Knife That Killed Me

On to Anthony McGowan, who is excited about his upcoming film. Or more correctly, the upcoming film of one of his books; The Knife That Killed Me. I gather it’s just appeared at Cannes, which in itself is pretty exciting. I’m a little wary of knives, so I don’t know how I feel about watching the film. I found the build-up in the book almost unbearable. Well done, but hard to cope with.

And from the topic of knives, it’s a short step to bullying, and to another couple of ‘solicitors/cops;’ Morgan & Massey.

Nicola Morgan blogged about cyber bullying on the Huffington Post. And about teenage stress, also on Huffington. (I suppose I need to find out how to get blogging there…)

Finally, awards time! You remember how I mentioned David Massey a couple of weeks ago? Like, he was at the Chicken House breakfast, and I helped myself to a copy of his book Torn? Now he’s just gone and won the Lancashire Book of the Year, which just proves I move in the right chicken circles. The ceremony isn’t yet (can’t find when…), but the announcement came yesterday.