Adapt and win

This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about film adaptations. There’s been chatter about the film version of The Book Thief, and the newest trailer for another adaptation of Great Expectations. Not to mention the new(ish) On The Road film I’ve still not had a chance to see…

Helena Bonham Carter, Miss HaveshamAnd so, today’s chance to enter the TBYL big book give-away is all about the silver screen, or more specifically the process of page to film.

Let us know which book-to-film adaptations you either love or loath, by emailing info@thatbookyoulike.com.au with the subject line SILVER SCREEN. Don’t forget to include your name and postal address in your email and let me know if you’d mind me sharing your response on Facebook.

As a little note, I’d like to thank everyone who’s entered the competition so far. Your answers have been fantastic, creative and wonderfully entertaining. My apologies if I don’t have a chance to acknowledge each message personally, there’s a lot, but rest assured I’m receiving and loving them.

Don’t hesitate to enter and spread the word, there’s just a couple more chances to enter!

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Sign up for TBYL Book Club here…

Subscribe to TBYL News: All Things Bookish… out monthly!

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Oscar’s laughing

Now this was an interesting one…Walt Disney’s Fantasia at the Palais Theatre. To me, it was a perfect combination, but I really wasn’t sure how it would suit Matt and the boys. Still, being hell bent on getting us all along to many and varied types of outings, I insisted. It was a completely perfect day for a family outing and a great day to head down to St Kilda. We even managed a little walk along the foreshore, albeit a chilly one.

Evan was suitably impressed with the Palais, and kindly indulged me by listening to the stories of when I saw the Arctic Monkey’s from the balcony, and how I saw Bob Dylan play there when I was a teenager. Matt and I enjoyed the novelty of visiting the Palais during the day, something neither of us had done before. It was also a bit of fun to be able to stroll around the dress circle a bit more casually than you would normally be able to.

Oscar was just excited about being taken to the movies again, and was quite thrilled to be amongst so many other little kids.

I don’t think I’ve seen Fantasia before, at least not in its entirety. It is such a beautiful experience. It mesmerises and quietly inspires. I particularly liked the opening sequence and Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. 


Evan wasn’t quite so sure about this part of the film, I think the the unicorns were a little too ‘My Little Pony‘ for his tastes, but he really seemed to enjoy The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and the film overall. It took him a bit by surprise that there was no story as such, but he quickly got used to it.

Oscar really got into the The Rite of Spring scene, which was probably no surprise…what kind of kid doesn’t get into some dinosaur action! The dancing hippos and crocodiles in Dance of the Hours had him laughing out loud. I’ve not actually ever heard him laugh like that at a film before, it was a special treat. He really seemed to enjoy the music too, he even tried at one point to sing along with the orchestra. It was a nice follow-up to his jazz experience last month.

It was very cute to hear all the kids, including Oscar, ooh and ah throughout the film. The absence of dialogue seemed to give them license to chat more than they would normally, and they loved pointing out what was on the screen. It was interesting that this type of film experience seemed to be less immersive, less all-consuming than say a Pixar or Dreamworks film, the kids moved and chattered and laughed out loud…something that doesn’t seem to happen so much in the cinema normally. It was a nice experience, to hear them interpret what they were seeing as they were seeing it.

This screening was held as part of the Music on Film Festival. I really love the idea of this festival, and will be keeping an eye out for it next year. I wish I was a little freer today, if I was I’d spend the whole day watching films – they’re having a Scorsese Sunday!

Finally, I really have to thank Little Melbourne again. Firstly for making sure that we knew about this great event and secondly, for running the ticket give-away…I can’t remember the last time I won a prize, and it was perfect! Thanks guys, you rock!

And next for some lego

What have you got planned for the second week of these wintery holidays?

When Bond meets Pixar, it’s gotta be a blast!

Every school holidays I try and take the boys to at least one film. I love the movies, and going with the kids is a great excuse to indulge in some Pixar magic. I left the choice of film up to them, but I have to admit that I was quietly pleased when Oscar’s pick was Cars 2.

Booking online takes so much pain out of the school holiday movie process, and with our home-printed tickets we skipped the line and cruised into cinema 2 with no further ado.

We settled in with popcorn, chips and choc-tops, thoroughly enjoyed the short Toy Story film (Pixar always include a little short-film treat), and then got geared up for what turned out to be a surprisingly different film to original Cars. Yes, the characters were much the same but the storyline was so different it  was almost unrecognisable.

The movie begins as a carbon-copy James Bond intro with a perfectly cast Michael Caine getting into all sorts of trouble as Finn McMissile, including an exciting explosion-rife and gadget-reliant car chase. After this somewhat unexpected introduction to the film, we pop back to Radiator Springs where we get a quick refresh of characters and back-stories and it quickly becomes obvious that this time round Mater is going to be the star of the show.

The story goes that Lightening McQueen and his small-town pit-crew travel around the globe to compete in a World Grand Prix. The international race is a brilliant vehicle for some spectacular scenery, a major drawcard of the film. The Pixar gang have absolutely outdone themselves this time around…the scenery in Japan, Italy and London is just to die for. The Italian Rivera almost brought tears to my eyes – the blue waters peppered with yachts and villas made me even more aware of the fact we’re smack bang in the middle of a grey, cold old Melbourne winter. Tokyo and the rainbow bridge in Japan was gorgeous too.

I’m pretty sure that this side of the film was pretty much lost on the kids, but they did seem to really get into the action and excitement of the races and the secret mission storyline that Mater finds himself part of. Oscar still hasn’t stopped talking about how Mater got gatling guns (just great! not…) I get the feeling that the details of the plot might have been a little tricky for the younger ones, but older Evan seemed to really get into the intrigue. Oscar seemed happy with the colour and motion, and the grown-ups in the cinema seemed to giggle at the in-jokes in all the right places.

I’ve got to admit, I liked the first Cars film more, and I think to be honest the boys did too. In saying that, there is nothing actually wrong with this film, and as I mentioned it is spectacular to look at. Well worth a trip to the big screen, and a good one if you’ve got a few kids of different ages to entertain.

The film’s website is worth a look too, it’s a bit of fun.


Coming up…
I’ve got a couple of exciting things coming up over the next few days. I was lucky, lucky, lucky and won tickets (big thanks to Little Melbourne) to see Fantasia at the Palais Theatre in St Kilda.

This very special screening is part of the Music on Film Festival being held at the moment. You can find out more information here, and it’s well worth a sticky-beak as there’s some great films showing over the weekend. I’m really looking forward to showing the boys one of my favourite venues in Melbourne.

I’ve also just booked tickets to see The Art of the Brick in Fed Square next week. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is more about my love of Lego than anything else, but I’m sure that the boys will love it too.

I’ll share my thoughts on both of these, and then head off to my book club meeting next week, after which I’ll give you a run down of what we made of the novel Room by Emma Donoghue.

P.S. Don’t forget to enter the running for this month’s give-away, full details here…entries close 14 July.

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Empty promises, empty cradles

Sorry for the bit of dead-air of late, it’s been a flat out couple of weeks. I’ve filled out about a billion forms for the kids, been trained at work to within an inch of my life, and been scanned and squished and prodded by sonographers.

But today I’ve a bit of a chance to catch my breath, settle in at home and reflect a little on the film I saw on Sunday.

As it happens, it’s taken me a few days to get my head around Oranges and SunshineBased on the book of the same name (it was previously called Empty Cradles and you’ll still find it under this title as well) by Margaret Humphreys, this film is both perturbing and heart-breaking.

The film is Margaret’s story, and tells of how she and her husband became instrumental in the exposer of Britian’s little known-about child migration schemes. Margaret not only brought this scandalous policy to the notice of the British and Australian public, but also worked tirelessly to provide the individuals moved from Britain to Australia with information about themselves and their families.

Many of these people were moved to homes and institutions in Australia without birth certificates or records of any type, and as such weren’t sure of their name, where they were born or even their date of birth. Many children were moved under false pretences, being told they were orphans, and that they’d be going to a better life. On the flip-side, many mothers were informed that their children had been adopted by a caring family (one who could better care for them) when in fact their children had been placed in state care, orphanages or on farms. Margaret’s work throughout the 1980s located parents that were thought to be dead, transforming ‘orphans’ overnight, and allowing for the most amazing reconciliations.


Emily Watson plays Margaret Humphreys, and does the most amazing job. She is smart, dedicated and incredibly strong. Her anguish is palpable, and her sacrifices obvious. The story itself focuses largely on two main characters – Jack, played by Hugo Weaving and Len, played by David Wenham. The lives of Jack and Len are changed by Margaret’s work, and they become her loyal friends and protectors. This is the most interesting role I’ve seen Weaving in for awhile, his intensity is gut-wrenching and incredibly genuine – your heart breaks with him. Wenham is his usual quirky self, a perfect fit for the character of Len who’s stand-offish, but tender. His trust is hard to win, but well worth winning.

Photo: Child Migrants Trust

I’m a bit unaccustomed to this kind of film, and don’t often offer an opinion on issues of ethics or politics, but this film really put a bit of fire in my belly. I’m still trying to work out how this type of government intervention was allowed to happen. I know that many people put forward defences such as – ‘It was a different time’, ‘different morals, different values’, or ‘it was in the childrens’ best interest’ but to me, in light of the damages caused by these schemes, they seem pretty hollow. The same kinds of defences have been offered to explain away the unforgivable harm done to Australia’s Stolen Generation – most of us now know that there is simply no justification for this kind of treatment of people.

What do you guys think? Is it enough to say we didn’t know any better at the time? How can we avoid the same types of things happening in our own day and age?

‘My First Monster Movie’

Ok, so Super 8 isn’t exactly my first monster movie, but I think it’s a fair hint as to the target audience for this particular film.

Matt and I went to see this film a couple of weeks ago, not quite sure whether we were going to see an adult film or a kids’ film. The cast were mostly teenagers, but the storyline seemed to be potentially quite gruesome.

As it turns out, it’s a bit of something of both, and it seemed to me to be a really nice introduction to the monster movie genre for a new generation, a real ‘My First Monster Movie’ experience.

Super 8 is the story of Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) a likeable young kid who’s in the process of dealing with the death of his mother. He finds company and comfort from his friends, a motley gang of young teenagers obsessed with film-making, busily creating a zombie film for an upcoming short-film competition. Their passion for film-making gives vehicle to some great amateur schlock-horror (my favourite kind!) and gives the kids reason to be out in the middle of the night. It’s during this midnight filming that they’re witness to the most spectacular train wreck ever…


I’ll pause here to say that in my opinion, this train wreck is the best thing about this film. I’d go so far as to say that this is the best wreck I’ve ever seen in a film…just the right amount of chaos, pyrotechnics, and carnage. It is perfectly timed, and incredibly believable. After it had finished, I wanted to go back and watch it over again.

As it turns out, the crash marks the beginning of a not very subtle military cover-up. The kids, and Joe’s father Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler) find themselves squarely in the middle of some pretty serious monster madness.

Super 8 is a really fun film, and wonderfully reminiscent of films like The Goonies and Stand By Me, two personal favs.

I’m still in two minds as to whether Evan, who’s 10, is old enough for this film. There are two scenes that might be a little too much for him just yet. I think it’d be pretty right for 12 – 13 years olds though, especially if they’ve seen a few films in their time. In saying all that, in time I will most probably cave and let Evan watch it, with a little bit of censoring perhap. It really does seem to have been put together as a great introduction to the genre.


This film made for a perfect date night for hubby and I, and I’m sure it’ll get a run a few times through at home once it’s out on DVD. I’d recommend a look if you like monster films, a bit of alien action, and a fun boys-own-adventure storyline.


Have you got a date night coming up? What’s the plan?

Brainwashing al la Elmo

Oscar loves chocolate.  If we could have chocolate for dinner, we’d have a happy three year old and a very peaceful house.

But alas, apparently chocolate isn’t good for main meals, and so we must battle. Sometimes we reach a compromise and settle on vegemite toast, yoghurt or bananas for dinner but most often I stick to my guns and Oscar sits sullenly in front of a plate of untouched food, next to a nagging Mum who’s not only driving him nutty, but also the rest of the family.

I’ve tried negotiation.  I’ve tried flat-out bribery.  I’ve tried threats.  I’ve played good cop.  I’ve played bad cop.  All to little or no avail.

Oscar is a healthy, happy kid. He’s growing well and he never stops running, so my concerns are not nutritional.  Nonetheless, I do worry about the habits that are being learnt as he grows up…he is so quickly becoming a big boy and I know only too well how deeply ingrained eating habits can become. So I was getting desperate, I really needed to win this argument.

Last week I used a different approach in the hope of convincing Oscar that new food wasn’t enemy number one.  At the risk of being shown up as a not so perfect mother, I’d like to run this strategy past you as I’m interested to hear what people think about it…

I used the power of television. More specifically, the influence of one little red monster named Elmo.

Last week at the video shop, instead of Ben 10 or Toy Story, I convinced Oscar to choose Sesame Street’s Happy Healthy Monsters. After this, the ‘brainwashing’ commenced – happy monsters love to jump, happy monsters love to drink milk, happy monsters love to eat healthy, fresh food. And they do all these things with a great big smile ontheir face.

And guess what?  So did Oscar…

The process was helped no end by the play-along game Oscar found in the Extras section where Oscar was able to help Cookie Monster make salads, spaghetti and meatballs, fruit salad. I reinforced this by asking Oscar to help me cook dinner that night. I know it’s not a new idea, but I really did find that Oscar was much more interested in eating what he’d had a part in cooking.

We’ve had a much better go of it since then. It’s not perfect, but we’re certainly getting there. Oscar will now eat rice and vegetables, he’s loving fish and even though we have to call it ‘fish’, he quite likes chicken too.

So my question is this – does TV have a legitimate place in helping to teach children?  I know many people would say a big no, while others would say that it’s a means to an end and you do what you have to do to teach your kids the best of lessons.

What do you think?

Thank goodness for Paul (aka Not quite the day I expected)

The day started off nicely enough, a most beautiful Autumn Sunday. I suspect that the warm sun and the cool breeze was made all the sweeter thanks to the enjoyment of a (child-free) yummy brunch of eggs, bagels and tea with Matt.  A lovely, all too rare, weekend treat.

And then the day turned a little pear shaped, as they say…best laid plans.

After a failed attempt to see Frankenstein at the Nova (don’t ask, really…) and bit of a tantrum on my part, we made the best of a disappointing situation and turned tale to Southland, bought treats and tickets to see Paul.

And can I just say – thank goodness for Paul and for Simon (Pegg) and Nick (Frost). I can always rely on you guys to lift my spirits.

Just as with Sean of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Simon and Nick’s latest offering is clever and quite hilarious. Paul is of course a tribute to science fiction films past and present, but I’m pleased to say that it doesn’t fall into the trap of parody.

Before seeing the film, I had heard that the sci fi references were a little obvious, somewhat self conscious.  I totally disagree with this, I thought the call-outs were generally pretty subtle and any borrowed lines were worked into the dialogue pretty seamlessly.  I honestly believe that the film would easily stand up with or without the element of homage.

At the end of the day, Paul is funny.  It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but still has enough substance to avoid total frivolity.  It’s a well put together film, effects-wise…Paul’s existence is entirely convincing, and voiced by Seth Rogen he’s terribly likeable.

I reckon this would make a pretty good date movie, especially if you’re a little over the holiday kids-flicks.  I’d not say it’s great for the kids, if for no other reason but that it includes a fair bit of swearing.  The curse-age is completely in context, and very entertaining, but might be a little hard to explain to an 8 year old…

In short – love it, and can’t wait to see it again. and again. and again.

On the cards

I’ve got a pretty busy calendar over the next couple of months, by my standards anyway.  Here’s a few things on the cards…

I must get along to see the exhibition of artworks on paper, Fabric which is being held in Armadale until the 25 March 2011.  This exhibition is apparently quite small but features works by many local artists. The venue itself is also very interesting, the Firestation Print Studio provides a place for professional and amateur printmakers to learn, print and exhibit.  I tried to get along to the show this weekend just gone, but being a long weekend it didn’t happen.  I’m assured by my sports-mad family that after basketball we’ll head on over this Saturday. Full details about this exhibition can be found here

Another local show is being held by Christopher Rimmer, an extremely talented photographer who was heavily involved with the 2010 Pink Lady Art Exhibition.  His exhibition In Africashowcases his latest breathtaking images of his former homeland. The show is running until 8 April 2011 at Galleria Rocco Interiors, 1st floor, 407 Hampton Street Hampton.

I’m looking forward to April, and it starts with a birthday celebration.  The Star Community Cinema in Bendigo turns six years old this year, and they’ll be celebrating on the 1 April with a special screening of True Grit (check their website for full details).  The Star Cinema is a community run enterprise, and is invaluable to the Bendigo region, screening an amazing range of independent and art house films.  They also hold special events throughout the year so be sure to check out their website to see what’s coming up.

Lastly, I’ve booked tickets for Matt and I to go and see Frankenstein. This show is on stage in Britain at the moment and thanks to National Theatre Live, is being shown live on screen in April.  I’ve got tickets for the screening at Cinema Nova Carlton.  The play, by Nick Dear (based on the novel by Mary Shelley) is directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, 127 Hours).  It stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, who alternate the lead roles of Frankenstein and his monster from night to night.  I’m extremely excited about this one…I love horror, and I’m a big fan of Danny Boyle.


So, all going well, March and April are looking very cultured and lots of fun.

Have you guys got anything on the books for the next month or so?

Hoot hoot

For the last month, every time the boys and I have walked past the video shop Oscar has hooted…

He’s been very keen to see Legend of the Guardians: Owls of Ga’Hoole. He seems to be quite fascinated by owls at the moment so this week,  needing an afternoon to get some work done (sorry, can I admit that?) I picked up a copy for him.  I hired it (old-school) as I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted this one permanently in the collection, not being quite sure if it could bear repeated viewing or not.

First thing to be said, it’s a beautiful looking film.  The animation is skillful and the owls make wonderful subjects.  It was really nice to see a film featuring Australian wildlife, without it being too cheesy.  In fact, the Tasmanian Devil at the beginning of the film is quite frightening, it made Oscar jump in his seat, which in turn made me laugh a little bit.

The characters were voiced by a plethora of Australian talent (must have been a slow month in the Australian film industry).  The old favourites – Sam Neil, Hugo Weaving, Richard Roxburgh, Geoffrey Rush, and Barry Otto made listening to this film entertaining in its own right.  The casting of Abbie Cornish, Joel Edgerton, Ryan Kwanten, David Wenham and Angus Sampson added some new blood to the blue blood, and lightened the mood a little.

So, the kid-verdict… Oscar, who is three, lost interest a bit during the first watch, although he did come back to it on subsequent viewings. He asked to watch it again (and again, and again) and I’m taking that as a sign that he enjoyed it. Evan, my ten year old really seemed to enjoy the film too, which I wasn’t so much expecting.  In saying that, he wasn’t all that interested in watching it over again so the appeal was a little limited for him.

As for myself, I’m a little unsure about it. Maybe I should have sat down and paid more attention, but I’ve got to admit that I struggled to keep track of which owl was which. Maybe I’m getting a little dopey in my old age, but the characters did seem to get a bit mixed up at times.

So, I’d say that this film is visually impressive and a pretty great story for the kids. It’s maybe just a little bit earnest for it’s own good, but overall it’s well worth a weekend watch.  It might give you a couple of hours off kid-wrangling to read a book or have a nanna-nap?

I’m kind of sorry I didn’t get to see this in 3D, I’d think it would have been quite a visual treat.  Did anyone see this at the movies in 3D?  What did you think?

You found a bus where?

I indulged in a mid-week movie with hubby this week.  Now don’t get me wrong, we didn’t get crazy and go out or anything, but settled on our new comfy couch, with kids sleeping, and glass of cheeky red, it was still quite a treat.


Into the Wild
was Matt’s pick, and a good one too. The film (released in 2007) is based on Jon Krakauer’s non-fiction book of the same name, and retraces the steps of Christopher McCandless. It’s a fairly somber boys’ own adventure story. In the tradition of  Henry David Thoreau and Jack London, Christopher aka ‘Alexander SuperTramp’ takes to the road, eventually finding his way into the Alaskan wilderness. His trek is a means to escape his dysfunctional parents, and is both an enlightening and destructive journey.

A couple of things really stood out to me about this film, and make it well worth a watch…firstly, its soundtrack, taken care of by Eddie Vedder sets the mood perfectly, it’s appropriate to the era of the film (set in the early 90s) without being retrospective or dated.  Secondly, the story itself seems pretty reliable.  It’s not overly romanticised (well, maybe a little, but not too much) and it seems to be taken from a variety of sources.  This makes it a  really well-rounded storyline.  Lastly, it’s an interesting study of how some choose to deal with trauma and with genius.  This film provides glimpses of transition from childhood to adulthood, a young man struggling to escape his situation and surrounds.

For lovers of literature, this a really interesting film.  Chris is inspired by writers (for good or ill), and analyses their work as if he’s trying to crack a code.  His tendency to look for answers in the work of his favourite authors eventually proves his undoing.

So now I’ve got another book to add to my reading list.  I feel a little like I’ve cheated by seeing the film first, so I’ll have to get my hands on a copy sooner rather than later.  I’ve heard that reading the book is a bit of a different experience to the film, so it’ll be an interesting comparison.

Has anyone read the Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer?  How does it compare to the movie?

Do you think it matters whether you watch a film or read a book first?

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