Category Archives: Movies

Posts about movies, films, DVDs, cinema

Hollywood calling: Australian fiction on the world stage

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 booko@booko.com.au.

Which was Better – the Book or the Movie?…the Great Christmas Table Debate

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.

Enjoy!

The best Games, DVDs and eBooks to give this Christmas

There’s only six more weeks until we frantically decorate trees with tinsel and baubles and wrestle with tape and ribbons as we wrap pressies for all of our loved ones. But not to worry, we have your back…and can even save you from the wrapping frenzy!

We have scoured the world in search of the best games, DVDs and ebooks to give to others this Christmas. Make yourself a cup of tea, sit back and smugly do all your Christmas shopping in one big swoop! You’re very welcome.

 

Board Games

 

Dan and Phil’s Truth Bombs

Ka-Boom! This board game just about broke the internet when word got out that Dan and Phil were releasing a board game! Gather your friends and get ready – it’s time to drop some truth bombs. Answer questions about each other and prepare for funny facts, awkward admissions and random revelations that’ll cause explosions of laughter. Grab a pencil, pick a question and bombs away!

The explosively honest party game that helps you find out a bit more about your friends Lay out some Question Cards, pass around the Target Sheets and let those truth bombs fly Once all the questions are answered, prepare to hear awkward admissions, random revelations and explosions of laughter Fresh from the minds of YouTube legends, Dan & Phil Age 14+, 4 – 8 players.

 

Game of Thrones Monopoly 

When you play the Game of Thrones Monopoly, you win or you die…Wait! It’s not as serious as death but you will have to pay up, as the number 1 property board game meets the hit TV series Game of Thrones! Game of Thrones fans, brace yourselves, Winter is coming and so is the Game of Thrones Monopoly Collector’s Edition! Mr. Monopoly definitely took a wrong turn at Old Kent Road and ended up in Westeros. Get your friends and family together and join him in the world of Game of Thrones to see who will rule the Seven Kingdoms and sit on the Iron Throne. Each property square and title deed card contains a beautiful artwork from Game of Thrones and the center of the board has a stunning map of Westeros itself. This amazing Collector’s Edition allows players to invest in some of the most popular locations from the show, such as King’s Landing, Winterfell and Braavos. Traditional Houses and Hotels are transformed into custom Villages and Keeps.

 

DVDs 

 

Transformers – The Last Knight

Every legend hides a secret.
Humans are at war with the Transformers, and Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving the future lies buried in the secrets of the past and the hidden history of Transformers on Earth. Now, it’s up to the unlikely alliance of Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), Bumblebee, an English lord (Anthony Hopkins) and an Oxford professor (Laura Haddock) to save the world.

 

 

The Crown – Season One

Okay, to be honest I completely binge watched this and I would love to watch it all over again. This drama follows the political rivalries and romance of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign and the events that shaped the second half of the 20th century. As a young Elizabeth becomes Queen, she must manage major political issues and personal matters, which often clash in ways she never imagined. Created by Oscar nominee Peter Morgan, this epic tale won Golden Globes for Best Drama Series and Best Actress. Starring: Claire Foy, John Lithgow, Matt Smith.

 

 

 

The Emoji Movie 

Take an adventure in the secret world inside your smartphone to Textopolis, a bustling city where all your favourite emojis live. In this world, each Emoji has only one facial expression – except for Gene (T.J. Miller), who is bursting with multiple expressions. Determined to become “normal”, Gene enlists the help of his handy best friend Hi-5 (James Corden) and the notorious code breaker Emoji Jailbreak (Anna Faris). Together, these unlikely heroes embark on an epic “app-venture” through the apps on the phone, each its own wild and fun world, to find the code that will fix Gene.

 

 

 

ebooks

 

 

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham

Law students Mark, Todd and Zola wanted to change the world – to make it a better place. But these days these three disillusioned friends spend a lot of time hanging out in The Rooster Bar, the place where Todd serves drinks. As third-year students, they realise they have been duped. They all borrowed heavily to attend a law school so mediocre that its graduates rarely pass the bar exam, let alone get good jobs. And when they learn that their school is one of a chain owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specialising in student loans, the three realise they have been caught up in The Great Law School Scam.

So they begin plotting a way out. Maybe there’s a way to escape their crushing debt, expose the bank and the scam, and make a few bucks in the process. But to do so, they have to leave law school, pretend they are qualified and go into battle with a billionaire and the FBI . . .

 

The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape

This has been sitting on Booko’s most click list for most of the year and it has been selling out in bookstores all over Australia this year – it was even the subject of major theft in some book stores – that’s how popular it was!

‘This is the only money guide you’ll ever need’  – that’s a bold claim, given there are already thousands of finance books on the shelves. So what makes this one different? Well, you won’t be overwhelmed with a bunch of ‘tips’ … or a strict budget (that you won’t follow). You’ll get a step-by-step formula: open this account, then do this; call this person, and say this; invest money here, and not there. All with a glass of wine in your hand. The prefect gift for any member of the family.

 

Enjoy!

Bringing Books to Life for Kids

Bringing books to life for children is a lot of fun and a wonderful learning opportunity for young minds. Reading aloud, drawing pictures and imaginary play are just a few ways you can do this at home which gives children an opportunity to work on reading comprehension, creative thinking, recognising letters, numbers, colours, shapes and patterns, listening, exploring social and emotional skills and sharing and taking turns.

As we grow older our books can also come to life through audio books where the author is reading us their book with amazing inflection and passion, or through television and movie adaptations.

Here are a few of our favourite children’s books that have come alive.

 

Books we can watch…

 

Charlotte’s Web written by E.B White

An affectionate, sometimes bashful pig named Wilbur befriends a spider named Charlotte, who lives in the rafters above his pen. A prancing, playful bloke, Wilbur is devastated when he learns of the destiny that befalls all those of porcine persuasion. Determined to save her friend, Charlotte spins a web that reads “Some Pig,” convincing the farmer and surrounding community that Wilbur is no ordinary animal and should be saved. In this story of friendship, hardship, and the passing on into time, E.B. White reminds us to open our eyes to the wonder and miracle often found in the simplest of things.

The DVD is available here.

 

 

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler are a prize-winning team and the creators of many bestselling books for Macmillan. Julia Donaldson was a songwriter before becoming an author, and music continues to play an important part in her life. She is always much in demand for her brilliant events at schools and literary festivals. Axel Scheffler is a star illustrator within the children’s book world, and his books have been translated into over 30 languages. His bright, humorous illustrations are a perfect complement to Julia’s lively songs.

The DVD is available here.

 

Books we listen to…

 

Road Dahl’s Phizz-Whizzing Audio Collection by Roald Dahl

Spread over eight CDs, these three sumptuous recordings are complete and unabridged, allowing listeners to enjoy Dahl’s work word for word. The stories in this collection have all been skilfully brought to life. ”Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” read by James Bolam (Abridged): Charlie Bucket thinks he is the luckiest boy alive when he wins an amazing tour of Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory. It’s a tour of a lifetime that changes his life beyond belief! “The BFG” read by Geoffrey Palmer (Abridged): The BFG is a Big Friendly Giant who spirits Sophie out of bed one night. Together, Sophie and the BFG cook up an ingenious plan to rid the world of child-eating giants forever! “James and the Giant Peach” read by Andrew Sachs (Unabridged): James lives a lonely life with his two beastly aunts.Then one day, something very peculiar happens, something magical that will take him on the most amazing journey …

The books are available here.

 

Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales by Beatrix Potter

This is a fabulous six-CD audio box-set containing the entire collection of stories by Beatrix Potter, complete and unabridged. The twenty-three tales have never lost their popularity, and sell in their millions all over the world. Meet the famous characters that children love and adore: Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin, The Flopsy Bunnies, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, Tom Kitten, Jeremy Fisher, Jemima Puddle-Duck and many more. These stories are beautifully brought to life by a talented cast of readers, including Patricia Routledge, Timothy West, Michael Hordern, Janet Maw, and Rosemary Leach.

The books are available here.

 

Books we can colour and play with…

 

I Completely Must Do Drawing Now and Painting and Colouring by Lauren Child

Even the rainiest of days is no match for the wonderful imaginations of Charlie and Lola! It may be dull outside, but Charlie and Lola’s world is full of colourful adventure, and with this unique colouring book, kids can join in on the fun. With simple text on the page, activities, and tons of space to draw, the possibilities are endless! It’s the perfect way to bring imagination to life – rainy day or any day!

 

 

Maisy’s Farm by Lucy Cousins

This is a huge favourite in our house. This pop-up-and-play book opens up with a free-standing model of Maisy’s barn, garden and farmyard. It comes with a sixteen-page full-colour booklet that features learning activities based on Maisy’s day on the farm. In each room, there’s a sheet of card pieces to press out, tabs to pull, doors to open and more…so much fun!

 

 

Also…

Keep an eye out for the new initiative from Play School. In celebration of Children’s Book Week this year there will be a delightful new Play School series featuring some of Australia’s much loved celebrities as they snuggle up on the couch and read entertaining picture books written by Australian authors and they will be accompanied by Big Ted, Little Ted, Jemima, Humpty and Joey.

Enjoy!

Books to read before they’re made into movies

There is something magical about creating your own version of stories before they have been adapted for screen and our imaginations become limited by someone else’s interpretation. Here are our picks of books for you to read before they are made into movies in 2017.

Wonder by R J Palacio

Auggie wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things – eating ice cream, playing on his Xbox. He feels ordinary – inside. But ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids aren’t stared at wherever they go. Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life. Now, for the first time, he’s being sent to a real school – and he’s dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted – but can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all? WONDER is a funny, frank, astonishingly moving debut to read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page.

Due to be released in November, Julia Roberts will be playing Auggie’s mother, Owen Wilson stars as his father and Jacob Tremblay as Auggie.

 

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.

The film is released in April and stars Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, Karen Gillan, Ellar Coltrane, Patton Oswalt, Glenne Headly and Bill Paxton.

 

The Mountain Between Us 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 movie is to be released later this year and will star Kate Winslett and Idris Elba.

 

The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls

This is a stunning and life-affirming memoir about surviving a wilfully impoverished, eccentric, and severely misguided family.

The tale of this young girl who comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads with a mother who’s an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father who would stir the children’s imagination with hope as a distraction to their poverty is beautiful written.

The movie has just been launched so read quickly! The film stars Brie Larson, Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson.

 

 

 

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. A passenger lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Isolated by the storm and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the prime suspects from a scornful and impatient array of foreign passengers before the murderer decides to strike again.

The long awaited movie will open in November 2017 and has a star studded cast comprising Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer.

 

Enjoy!

Your Ultimate Preparation Guide for Enjoying the Oscars

It’s Oscars season again and a whopping five of this year’s nominees started out as best-selling novels. To be fair, the adapted screenplay category often serves as a reflection of some of the best movies of the year with historical tomes or novels serving as the creative starting points for award-winning filmmakers.

This year is certainly no different. While you could prepare for the Oscars by reading The Martian, Room, Carol (The Price of Salt), Brooklyn and The Revenant you could also take a slightly different trip down the red carpet…perhaps delve into the world of a movie critic, peek a glimpse at the history of film or even attempt to understand the mind of the director.

Here are our suggestions for the ultimate Oscars preparation.

Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert by Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert has been writing film reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times for nearly forty years. During those four decades, his wide knowledge, keen judgment, prodigious energy, and sharp sense of humor have made him America’s most celebrated film critic. This book covers many of his reviews, essays and interviews. While it is a celebration of film, it is also a celebration of how we have talked and written about film across the past four decades.

My First Movie, Take Two by Stephen Lowenstein

In these strikingly candid interviews, ten internationally acclaimed directors: Richard Linklater, Richard Kelly, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Takeshi Kitano, Shekhar Kapur, Émir Kusturica, Agnès Jaoui, Lukas Moodysson, Terry Gilliam, and Sam Mendes talk about the struggles and rewards of making their first film.

Each chapter is devoted to a particular director and his or her debut (Slacker, Donnie Darko, Amores Perros, Jabberwocky, and American Beauty among them) and reveals telling details about the inside story of the film-making process: from writing the script to raising the money, from casting actors to gathering the crew, from shooting to editing, and, finally, screening the film.

The Movie Book by Dorling Kindersley

This is another take on the history of film that showcases the impact of individual titles. Beautifully designed and packed with detailed information while staying a fun and straightforward read. A great place to look for movie classics to add to your ‘must-watch’ list.

The Story of Film: An Odyssey, by Mark Cousins

This is an unprecedented cinematic event, an epic journey through the history of world cinema that is a treat for movie lovers around the globe. Guided by film historian Mark Cousins, this bold 15-part love letter to the movies begins with the invention of motion pictures at the end of the 19th century and concludes with the multi-billion dollar globalised digital industry of the 21st.

 

Enjoy your reading and viewing.

Bringing Children’s books to life

When a story is lifted from the pages from a book to take life in another form (film, theatre production or a television show), I don’t know about you but I often hold my breath. Sometimes it can soar from the pages and sometimes….well, it can crash (let’s be honest).

With school holidays knocking on the door, we find two of our favourite childhood classics have been converted to film: Yet another Peter Pan adaptation is released in Pan and the all-time Australian favourite Blinky Bill.   If you are thinking of taking the kids to see either of these movies this school holidays, it’s a great opportunity to read the books first so you can discuss differences between the two.  We’re also super proud of Tim Minchin’s production of Matilda, showing to rave reviews!

Here are some other great book to movie adaptations: http://www.tipsonlifeandlove.com/parenting/kids/12-great-films-based-on-beloved-childrens-books

The Adventures of Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

https-::covers.booko.info:300:peter

We all know the story: a mischievous boy that never grows up and leads a band of ‘lost boys’ who have adventures battling pirates and occasionally meeting ordinary children when they venture outside of Neverland.  This publication from Boomer Books is specially designed and typeset for comfortable reading.

 

 

 

Pan, directed by Joe Wright

Set as the prequel to the Peter Pan story we all know, this is the story of an orphan who is spirited away to the magical Neverland. There, he finds both fun and dangers, and ultimately discovers his destiny – to become the hero who will be forever known as Peter Pan. (IMDB)

https-::covers.booko.info:300:blinkyThe Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill by Dorothy Wall

Similar to Peter Pan, Blinky Bill is also a mischevious boy (just in the form of a koala). He is a national icon and one of Australia’s most well loved and best known characters. His friends are well known Australian animals such as his kangaroo friend Splodge, his platypus friend Flap, Marcia the marsupial mouse, and his mentor Mr Wombat or Wombo, as Blinky prefers to call him. In general throughout the stories he does things that are realistic for koalas as well as things that child readers would like to do. The author speaks directly to the reader through the stories.  Great for younger readers.

Blinky Bill: The Movie

Blinky Bill is a koala with a big imagination. An adventurer at heart, he dreams of leaving the little town of Green Patch and following in his explorer father’s footsteps. Mr Bill went missing in the Outback some time ago and Blinky is the only one who believes his father is still alive.

When Blinky discovers a mysterious marker that hints at his Dad’s whereabouts, he embarks on a journey that takes him beyond the boundary of Green Patch and into the wild and dangerous Outback. He quickly makes friends with Nutsy, a zoo koala, and Jacko, a nervous frill-necked lizard.

Pursued relentlessly by a vengeful feral cat who has a personal score to settle with Blinky, the trio must learn to work together if they ever want to survive the rugged Australian landscape and find Blinky’s father! Source: blinkybill.com.au

Make sure you download the app so the kids can add Blinky Bill characters to their photos and movies!

https-::covers.booko.info:300:matildaMatilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda Wormwood’s father is a mean crooked crook. And her mother’s just plain stupid. They think Matilda is a nuisance who should watch more TV and read fewer books! But her lovely teacher Miss Honey thinks Matilda is a genius. Matilda has a few extraordinary tricks up her sleeve, so her horrible parents and even more horrible headmistress had better watch out.

 

Matilda the Musical, music and lyrics by Tim Minchin

Matilda The Musical is the multi-award winning musical from the Royal Shakespeare Company, inspired by the twisted genius of Roald Dahl. With book by Dennis Kelly and original songs by Tim Minchin, Matilda The Musical is the story of an extraordinary little girl who, armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, dares to take a stand and change her own destiny.

Winner of 50 major international awards, including 12 for Best Musical, Matilda continues to delight audiences both in London and on Broadway before arriving at the Sydney Lyric Theatre from July 2015.

 

 

The Martian

The Martian‘ is the first published novel by Andy Weir.  It was originally self-published in 2011, after which Crown Publishing purchased the rights.  It was published in 2014 and the movie is scheduled to be released on October 2nd.  So you have the opportunity to read the book first!  It’s about a NASA astronaut Mark Watney, who is left stranded on Mars when the crew of the Ares 3 mission are forced to leave.  With no way to contact Earth, Watney must rely on his scientific and technical skills to survive, growing potatoes in the crew’s Martian habitat (or Hab) and burning hydrazine to make water. He begins to record his experiences so that they might prove useful for future explorers after his death. NASA discovers that Watney is alive when satellite images pick up human activity and they begin a plan to rescue him.  This book is the perfect Father’s day gift.

Here’s the film trailer.  It looks ah-mazing!

If that’s doesn’t get you interested, here’s Mythbuster Adam Savage interviewing author Andy Weir:

 

 

Books to read before their film versions arrive

Books continue to be a reliable source of inspiration for film studios. The film adaptations of these well-loved stories are arriving over the next two months.   It is always fun (and a great conversation starter) to compare books to their film versions, regardless of which you experience first.  Hopefully this advance warning will help you finish the original book before heading to the cinemas this time (finally!).

Paper Towns by John Green
(Released July/August 2015)

Although the film has already screened in the US, it was only released in Australia and New Zealand in late July, and the UK release will be in mid August – so there is still time to read the original before heading to the cinema.

Paper Towns is a coming-of-age story about Quentin (“Q”) and Margo, his neighbour and childhood crush.  A month before high school graduation, Margo re-enters Q’s life by inviting him to help her exact revenge on several people; they spend one heady night completing their mission.  Then Margo disappears; Q is convinced Margo is waiting for him to find her, and becomes obsessed with identifying clues to her whereabouts.  Q and his friends eventually find Margo in New York state after a frantic road trip, but…

The Paper Towns movie draws on the star power of Cara Delevigne, a British supermodel in her first lead role; and also of author John Green, who achieved enormous success with both the book- and film-versions of The Fault in Our Stars.
Paper Towns is the latest example of Young Adult (YA) fiction gaining prominence in mainstream popular culture  – following blockbusters such as Fault in Our Stars, Twilight and Hunger Games.

Holding the Man by Timothy Conigrave
(Expected release August 2015)

Fourteen reprints, an award-winning stage adaptation and now a film version are testament to the continuing high regard for Holding the Man.  This is a tender, honest, raw memoir about Conigrave’s first love – the Captain of their school football team – and their 15-year relationship.  It charts the highs and lows of their experiences as young gay men in the 70s and 80s – coming out, the hedonistic gay scene, the scourge of AIDS.  It is also distinctly Australian, set in Melbourne and Sydney, with Aussie Rules Football integral to the story.  Holding the Man is particularly poignant because it, Conigrave’s “big break”, came several months after his death due to AIDS-related illness.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
(Expected release September 2015)

Bill Bryson’s gentle humour and child-like curiosity has been charming readers for decades, on topics as diverse as roadside diners, the history of the sewing machine and even Vegemite.  In A Walk in the Woods, Bryson documents his attempt to walk the Appalachian Trail with a friend.  There are plenty of trials and tribulations; the Trail is long (around 3500 kilometres) and challenging, and the two men soon find they are ill-prepared for the task.  Despite these difficulties, Bryson remains upbeat and is able to muse on the history and ecology of this scenic route as they go for their little “walk in the woods”.
The film version stars Robert Redford as Bill Bryson (I wonder if he’s flattered – who would you choose to play you on the big screen?) and Nick Nolte as Bryson’s friend.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
(Expected release September 2015)

The “Me” in this novel is Greg, an awkward highschooler who avoids becoming a social outcast by drifting over all the tribes at school.  His only close friend is Earl, a fellow cinephile; for years they have been making quirky film parodies together.  Greg’s and Earl’s lives change when they are guilt-tripped into spending time with Rachel, Greg’s childhood friend who has terminal cancer.
This, Jesse Andrews’ first novel, is a fresh, funny story with an authentic teen voice; it is uplifting without being sentimental, and deserves the wider attention that its film adaptation will surely bring.  The film received a standing ovation (and won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award) at this year’s Sundance Festival, and has become a commercial success in the US.  Coming to the rest of the world in September.