By Jake Sexton
“The book was better than the movie” is a common refrain from devoted readers around the world. Despite that opinion, Hollywood keeps making movies out of books. And as long as they do so, I will keep writing articles to spread the word. So here’s the latest batch of upcoming literary movies.
Since Harry Potter finished his literary and cinematic journey, and fans are still hungry for more, Hollywood is turning to another source to give audiences their fix — a series of faux wizard textbooks that author J.K. Rowling wrote for charity. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is being used as the skeleton for a new wizarding adventure on the big screen. The film stars Oscar nominee Eddie Redmayne as a magical British zoologist in 1920’s New York, who accidentally releases a number of mythical creatures onto the streets of the Big Apple.
Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” was a huge success both in bookstores and theaters, as a crime thriller focused on shallowness and selfishness in modern relationships, with main characters both compelling and repugnant. Readers wanted another taste of that bitter darkness, and found “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins. The novel’s popularity is leading to another movie. Emily Blunt will star as a self-destructive divorcee looking for an excuse to live, and doing so by insinuating herself into the lives of strangers, leading to mystery and murder.
Ransom Riggs’ popular teen novel “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is an interesting mix of supernatural fantasy and unsettling found photography. It is the first in a series about a group of orphans with mysterious powers, forced to run from evil forces. The movie seems to have found an excellent match with director Tim Burton, known for his quirky and heartfelt gothic films like “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Edward Scissorhands.”
Jojo Moyes’ “Me Before You” was a romantic hit about a small-town woman who takes on a job caring for a despondent, paralyzed man. Her efforts to rouse him from his despair change both of their outlooks, and the future outcomes of their lives. It looks like the film will likewise be popular, but I am really surprised at the casting of this movie. Five of its stars are actors from highly successful fantasy/sci-fi series. Fans will recognize prominent actors from “Game of Thrones,” “The Hunger Games,” “Doctor Who” and “Harry Potter.” And why all these British actors are playing Americans from the Heartland, I have no idea.
And children won’t be left out either. Roald Dahl, famed author of classics like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” has a new book being turned into a film. “The BFG” is a fantastical tale about a Big Friendly Giant who befriends a young girl and goes on adventures. In the books, the BFG spends his days capturing dreams from a fantasy land, and then travels the world to bestow them upon sleeping children. From the preliminary synopses of the film, I can’t tell how closely it will stick to the book, but I do have warm memories of this one from my own childhood, and I can only hope that the movie will send that along to a new generation of kids.
All children who love reading will enjoy an upcoming celebration at the La Mesa Library. “El día de los niños-El día de los libros/Day of the Child-Day of the Book” is a national initiative that connects children and their families to diverse books, languages and cultures. On April 13 at 3:30 p.m., the La Mesa Branch will offer children fun activities such as Mexican bingo, a piñata craft, and a bilingual storytime. Free books are available to each child while supplies last.
—Jake Sexton is librarian at the La Mesa Branch Library. Call the library at 619-469-2151, visit in person at 8074 Allison Ave., or visit online at sdcl.org.