Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Spielberg & Crichton's final collaboration

USA Today is reporting that Steven Spielberg plans to reunite with the late Michael Crichton for one last collaboration, the adaptation of the as-yet-unpublished final novel of Crichton, Pirate Latitudes. Described as "an adventure story set off the coast of Jamaica in 1665," Spielberg is set to produce and possibly direct the film adaptation of the novel, which is set for release in November.

Spielberg and Crichton have worked together several times, most notably on 1993's Jurassic Park and its first sequel. They also co-produced the massive TV hit, ER, and 1996's Twister.

Though far from perfect, I have very fond memories of Jurassic Park, both as a movie and a book. I distinctly remember reading the book the first time as a young teenager and being fascinated by it; it remains one of my all-time favorite reads. The movie was disappointing when compared to the book, but had some then-groundbreaking visual effects and some terrific set-pieces. (The Lost World was disappointing on almost every level.)

I was just talking about Crichton the other day with my friend John, and we agreed that Crichton's later novels grew progressively profane and dull. But some of his earlier novels, including Congo and Sphere, were fantastic books. I didn't care for Timeline or Prey, and never read Next or State of Fear. That said, Crichton was clearly a brainy talent, and I'm encouraged that Spielberg has found some promise in the author's final novel. I can't wait to see how it turns out.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day, ladies

Before you watch this quasi-trailer for the upcoming New Moon movie (coming out in November), just remember that the actor who plays Jacob is only 17. Yes, one year older than my oldest nephew. Adjust your reaction accordingly.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Calling all book club members...

Well I finally did it. After a loooong reading drought, I finally finished reading two books over the past couple of weeks. I probably shouldn't boast of this accomplishment; it's probably been over a year since I read a book all the way's like the English major in me shriveled up and died. But thanks to our deadly-dull summer TV season, I recently completed Cormac McCarthy's The Road and Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones.

It was really only a coincidence that the two books happened to both be fairly heady and dark. I can't decide which of the books is darker. The Road follows a man and his young son across a desolate, post-apocalyptic countryside fighting off cold and starvation, all the while being persued by savage cannibals. Not light reading. The Lovely Bones, in contrast, displays a lot more color and personality, even some humor. But it's set against the brutal murder (of a young teenage girl) so disturbing that even I had nightmares the first night I read it. Again, not really popcorn literature.

Both of the novels are apparently among the more acclaimed books of our day, and both were #1 bestsellers. The Road even won a Pulitzer Prize. Film versions of both movies are headed to theaters this fall, and I'm mildly curious to see how they'll turn out. I realize I'm a bit out of the loop when it comes to literary accomplishment, and both books clearly offer much to admire. But I can't really see myself recommending either book to anyone, and will certainly not be re-reading them. The Road, while captivating and ultimately touching, is just too bleak and disturbing overall for me to revisit. And The Lovely Bones, which presents some fascinating ideas and even a few memorable characters, just felt a little uneven and unfocused to me to be "the next big thing."

I'm glad that I read them both, but I really wish I had my book club (may it RIP) friends to tell me what I'm missing about these two "modern classics." So tell me, book clubbies, what did you think about The Road and/or The Lovely Bones?