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Top 5 books I wish had movie adaptations

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I’m not a great lover of book-to-movie (or TV) adaptations, probably because I enjoy character-driven novels and believe that these work better on the page. However, here are five novels I’ve recently read, which I feel would work well as movies.

The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara. For me, this picaresque novel is very cinematographic and would lend itself nicely to the big screen. I can visualise China, Liz, and the puppy Estreya, in their wagon making their way across the pampas of Argentina.

How Hard Can It Be? by Alison Pearson. This chick-, or should I say hen-, lit novel would make an entertaining movie, a comedy that underneath the amusing surface raises some serious issues.

The Taliban Cricket Club by Timeri N Murari. Set in Kabul under the Taliban régime, this novel has some disturbing moments. However, Murari successfully combines these with optimism and hope, which would make it perfect for a feel-good movie.

Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift. This slow and satisfying novel is very much character-driven. However, it would make a wonderfully moving and atmospheric film for those who prefer a quiet and subtle cinema experience.

The Firechild by S K Tremayne. In my opinion, the plot of this novel is borrowed from the much superior Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. It was a disappointing read but would, I feel, translate into a far better edge-of-your-seat thriller.

Despite the fact that I’m not a fan of book-to-movie adaptations, I do believe that each of these novels, if done well, has the potential to be a excellent film.

Trying to understand the pull of Gravity (spoiler alert)

Some films are surrounded by hype and you see that for what it is.  Others are highly acclaimed, nominated for awards, and you have high hopes for them: they sound so good and you just know you are going to love them.  That’s how I felt about Gravity.  I was disappointed.

There was a lot to be excited about: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, a gripping plot, the mystery and fascination of space.  So what went wrong?

Firstly, it all seemed so implausible: surviving impossible event after improbable event, all whilst floating around in space.  Surely there is only so much a human being can endure in the name of special effects.  My ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ was tested to the limit and didn’t pass.

Then there were the characters.  I couldn’t really muster any feeling for them because we weren’t given sufficient psychological insight to truly care about whether they survived or not.

But I want to like it, I desperately want to like it.  So what’s good?

The special effects, I suppose, although I’m not one for special effects.  I’d far rather dispense with these in return for a strong, entertaining and thought-provoking story.  However, I did get a perverse satisfaction from the fact that I couldn’t stop blinking and flinching as space debris hurtled out of the screen towards me.

Sandra Bullock is my favourite actress and didn’t disappoint, but why did she feel the need to wear mascara in space?  I can only assume that the presence of George Clooney might have had some bearing on her need to keep up appearances, but I would have imagined she had far  more pressing things on her mind, like remaining alive.

I’m struggling to find something positive so I’ll look for a metaphor to give the film meaning.  In my opinion, it’s about the overriding human desire to triumph against adversity, not to give up when the odds are stacked overwhelmingly against you.  It’s about the isolation you feel when your life contains only tragedy and challenge, when you feel cut off from everyone else, adrift, desperately clinging on for your survival.  It’s about searching for and finding those small moments of happiness in the void.  It’s about not giving up or giving in because eventually you will succeed.  That being said, it could have been done much better.

I had high expectations for this film.  Unfortunately, like Sandra Bullock, I came back down to earth with a bump.

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