Today is #tolkienreadingday so our Book of the Alphabet just had to be Lord of the Rings. What’s your favourite book beginning with R?
James Cameron’s big-budget (and even bigger-grossing) films create unreal worlds all their own. In this ted talk, he reveals his childhood fascination with the fantastic from reading science fiction to deep-sea diving and how it ultimately drove the success of his blockbuster hits.
POTD #7 is The Rewatchables. Bill Simmons hosts a hugely popular roundtable of amazing guests discussing movies they can’t seem to stop watching.
Know someone who is movie obsessed? We’ve found some of the best and newest movie books that you can pop into their stocking this year. Click through to our recommended section and have a browse.
Watching TV or movies is an important December holiday ritual for many people; and practical too, when you are too lethargic during a food coma, or if harsh weather discourages you from venturing outdoors. We have great suggestions for your viewing pleasure, whether you prefer classic Christmas movies, or DVD box sets for binge watching, or inspiration for new year’s resolutions!
Movies to celebrate Christmas
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Region 1, US & Canada)
The Harry Potter films may not be everyone’s idea of a Christmas movie, but they are terrific at evoking the beauty of wintry Christmases. The most Christmassy of them all is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – which contains the Yule Ball scene, with its spectacular snowing-indoors setting, gorgeous costumes, and the romance and tragi-comedy of teenage hormones – what’s not to love? With a classic quest, friendship, comedy, mystery, pathos and impressive visual effects, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is great fun for kids and adults alike. Region 2 DVD (Europe) is here and Blu-Ray here.
Life of Brian (Region 2, Europe)
Life of Brian is the perfect Christmas film for those with a more wicked / cynical sense of humour, or those who scoff at more sentimental, shiny visions of Christmas. This deeply-irreverent story about Brian of Nazareth, born next door to Jesus on the same day – is a terrific satire that lampoons religion, politics, gender relations and just about everything (and everyone) else. Enjoy Life of Brian as an impressive display of Monty Python’s comedic skills, or even for its notoriety (it was considered blasphemous, and was banned in many countries). One of my favourite Christmas movies. Blu-ray available here.
Box sets for Binge Watching
Outlander Complete Seasons 1, 2 & 3 (Region 4, Australia & NZ)
Based on the novels by Diana Gabaldon, Outlander is a bit of a hidden gem – highly regarded but somewhat under-publicised. Despite this, the show (and the novels) have amassed a big and active fanbase, whose passion matches that shown onscreen. In Outlander we see Claire, a nurse in World War 2, accidentally travelling back to 1743 Scotland, where she meets Jamie, a Highlander embroiled in the Jacobite risings. Claire and Jamie’s tender love story, against a background of history, political intrigue, adventure and stunning Scottish scenery makes for gripping drama. This DVD set collects all of Seasons 1-3, while Season 4 is under production and there are four other books in the series to be dramatised. A Region 2 version (Europe) and a Blu-ray are also available.
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 1&2 Box Set (Region 4, Australia & NZ)
The award-winning The Handmaid’s Tale offers a combination of powerful performance, beautiful cinematography and topical subject matter. It is one of today’s most talked-about dramas – the dystopic world it envisions resonates eerily with the current political climate, and its striking visual style has entered popular culture and become part of the vocabulary of protest. Season One is an admired adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s original novel, while Season 2 extends beyond the original story to explore the origins of Gilead, and the complex relationships between key characters. This new-release box set covers all episodes to date. A Region 2 version (Europe) is also available.
DVDs for calm
The Ghan: Australia’s Greatest Train Journey (Region 4, Australia & NZ)
The Ghan: Australia’s Greatest Train Journey is a 3-hour documentary, where front-mounted cameras show this iconic train’s journey from Adelaide to Darwin, as well as archival footage that explains the railway’s construction. (A 17-hour unedited version was also broadcast on national television) The Ghan is Australia’s first contribution to Slow TV, a concept most prominent in Norway, where extended broadcasts of real-time train journeys, knitting and wood-stacking are popular.
With no dialogue or plot, but stunning scenery, The Ghan’s journey is immersive, hypnotic and relaxing.
Walk with Me (Region 1, US & Canada)
A documentary about quietness, mindfulness and contemplation sounds like a welcome antidote to the hectic excesses of the holiday season. Walk with Me shares glimpses in the life and teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, and Plum Village, the monastic community he founded in south-west France. Thich Nhat Hanh is instrumental in introducing mindfulness to the West; this film shows how he, and his disciples, live mindfully in the present. The meditative quality of Walk with Me is further enhanced by Benedict Cumberbatch, who intersperses his narration with sonorous passages from Thich Nhat Hanh’s writings. A Region 2 DVD (Europe) is also available.
Producer, Franklin Leonard saw too many great screenplays never get made because they didn’t fit the traditional Hollywood mould. So he started the Black List, an anonymous email that shared his favourite screenplays and asked: Why aren’t we making these movies? Learn the origin story of some of your favourite films with this fascinating insider view of the movie business.
Australian fiction has always had a strong voice internationally. There was a heyday period in the 1970’s where powerful stories such as ‘The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith’, ‘My Brilliant Career’ and ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ were translated easily into films that gave International audiences a taste of complex character-driven plotlines, set amongst the raw Australian landscape.
More recently, ‘Oscar and Lucinda’, written by the wonderful Peter Carey and focusing on a storyline involving a wealthy Australian heiress, an English Minister’s son, and a love of risk, won the 1998 Booker Prize and the 1989 Miles Franklin award. As a film, it was a great vehicle for showcasing the talents of Cate Blanchett to the International stage.
Following on, ‘Cloudstreet‘ by the multi-award winning writer Tim Winton, written in 1991 and made into a TV mini series in 2011 tells the tale of two working class Australian families who come to live together over a period of 20 years.
‘The Slap‘, written in 2008 by Chrisos Tsiolkas, delves into the complexity of the working middle class in Australia. Its subject matter, interestingly, became a topic that people were discussing around water coolers in Australia and around the world. A child is acting out and is slapped at a birthday party by a man who isn’t his father. The book (and mini-series) focus on the repercussion of this event on the group of people that witnessed it. The Slap was developed into 2 x TV Miniseries, one for Australian and one for US audiences.
The success of Liane Moriarty’s book ‘Big Little Lies’ and subsequent TV miniseries starring Nicole Kidman, Reece Witherspoon and Laura Dern has resulted in a huge amount of interest in the writer. Film rights have also been sold on three of her other books, including ‘The Husband’s Secret’, ‘Truly Madly Guilty’ and ‘What Alice Forgot’.
Saroo Brierly’s book ‘A Long Way Home’ has been hugely successful and the film ‘Lion’ was met with a bounty of awards in the 2017 awards season (including Luke Davies for Best Adapted Screenplay).
So what’s next?
Graeme Simsion’s debut novel ‘The Rosie Project’ about a love-lorn professor who seeks to find his perfect match using a 16 page questionnaire has been optioned by Sony Pictures. The search is underway for the perfect cast. We’re looking forward to seeing this film on the big screen.
Reece Witherspoon optioned ‘The Dry’, a rural-gothic novel, written by former Herald Sun journalist Jane Harper, before the book was published in June 2015.
Focusing on a murder-suicide in a country town, it has been sold to more than 20 countries.
Have you heard of any Australian novels being made into movies or TV Miniseries? Drop us a line at email@example.com.
It’s always a dividing topic…and what better time than now to prep for one of the great debates that happen to occur around the table at Christmas lunch; Which was better, the book or the movie?
We’ve had a look into the books that have been released as movies this year so you can cram in both the reading and viewing of them all before the big day…
Wonder by R J Palacio
Ten-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities and was not expected to survive, goes from being home-schooled to entering fifth grade at a private middle school in Manhattan, which entails enduring the taunting and fear of his classmates as he struggles to be seen as just another student.
This one’s only in the cinemas now so you’ll need to pop along quick smart to see it.
The Circle by Dave Eggers
When Mae is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. Run out of a sprawling California campus, the Circle links users’ personal emails, social media, and finances with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of transparency. Mae can’t believe her great fortune to work for them – even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public.
Here’s the DVD.
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly, these overlooked math whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, Virginia and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.
You can order the DVD here.
The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
A young boy wakes to find his mother missing. Their house is empty but outside in the garden he sees his mother’s favourite scarf – wrapped around the neck of a snowman.
And then he will appear again. As Harry Hole and his team begin their investigation they discover that an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years.
When a second woman disappears it seems that Harry’s worst suspicions are confirmed – for the first time in his career Harry finds himself confronted with a serial killer operating on his home turf.
If you want to watch it, you can buy the DVD here.
The Mountain Between Us by by Professor Charles Martin
This is a captivating story where two strangers wait for a flight at the Salt Lake City airport. Ashley Knox is an attractive, successful writer, who is flying East for her much anticipated wedding. Dr Ben Payne has just wrapped up a medical conference and is also eager to return home to Jacksonville, Florida for a slate of surgeries he has scheduled for the following day. When the last outgoing flight is cancelled due to a broken de-icer and a forthcoming storm, Ben finds a charter plane that can take him around the weather front. And when the pilot says the single engine prop plane can fit one more, Ben offers the seat to Ashley.
Then the unthinkable happens. The pilot has a heart attack mid-flight and the plane crashes into the High Uintas Wilderness – one of the largest stretches of harsh and remote land in the United States. Their survival becomes increasingly perilous as they must rely on each other to survive.
The DVD is here.