It might be true; in most cases the books are better than the movies or TV shows that follow them, but in many cases that does not necessarily mean that the movies/TV shows are bad. On the contrary, so many great movies out there are based on books and novels, and here are a couple of my favorite movies based on books:
Gone Baby Gone
One of my favorite movies, hands down. Ben Affleck surprised quite a few with his directorial debut for a feature film. This crime drama centers around two young detectives, Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, who are hired to investigate the disappearance of a young girl from a tough Boston neighborhood. Definitely not a feel good film, it does raise some interesting questions on morale, and the story is portioned out at a perfect pace. Casey Affleck does a very fine job portraying Patrick Kenzie, though Michelle Monaghan is maybe even more impressive as his somewhat quiet partner Angie. The movie is also starring Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, my personal favorite Titus Welliver – sporting a rather ludicrous mustache – and Amy Ryan, who is absolutely brilliant in her portrayal of the little girl’s mother.
The opening montage is wonderful. Accompanied by the monologue spoken by Casey Affleck, it sets the tone for a wonderful movie based on the book by Dennis Lehane:
‘Gone Baby Gone’ is based on the book of the same title, which is book number 4 our of 6 in the Kenzie-Gennaro series. I’ve only read the first one, ‘A Drink Before The War’, and the last one, but I’ve got all of the books lined up now. ‘A Drink Before The War’ was brilliant and became an instant favorite of mine.
Another personal favorite of mine, this movie is based on the novel by Lorenzo Carcaterra. It depicts the story of four childhood friends in Hells Kitchen, New York who end up at a home for boys for 6-18 months after a prank on a hot dog vendor ends up with a tragic death. Unlucky. Both for the innocent victim of their prank and for themselves… At the home for boys they are systematically brutalized and abused, ultimately changing them and their friendship forever. The movie tells us both the story of the young boys as well as the story of their need for revenge and redemption as they get older.
The cast is perfect. Brad Pitt, Jason Patric, Ron Eldard and Billy Crudup plays the “old” version of the boys, and the film also have Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Minnie Driver and Kevin Bacon in important roles. Warning: You might end up hating Kevin Bacon after watching this movie. I did for years after watching it for the first time.
Band of Brothers
I’m not a huge fan of war movies. Just never really liked them much. There are exceptions of course, and this miniseries is one of them. There’s obviously a lot of violence in it, it being war and all, but the beauty of the series lies with the characters, the brotherhood, the amazing performances, the stories told and… well, the job Spielberg and Tom Hanks did. Because, have no doubt about it; the series looks amazing on screen.
The TV show is based on the Stephen Ambrose book of the same title. The cast includes actors such as Damian Lewis (‘Homeland’), Scott Grimes (‘ER’), Donnie Wahlberg, Michael Cudlitz, Dexter Fletcher, Ross McCall, Michael Fassbender, David Schwimmer (!), Tom Hardy (!!!) and Neal McDonough.
Funfact: The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon has one scene in one of the episodes.
Also, the show has one of the best intros songs. The score alone is enough to give you goosebumps:
No Country for Old Men
The Coen Brothers have made a lot of brilliant movies, and this 2007 movie is definitely one of them. Based on a novel by the same name by Cormac McCarthy, the story revolves around a hunter who stumbles upon 2 million dollars in what looks like a drug deal gone bad. Naturally, when 2 million dollars are gone, there will be people looking for it.
Josh Brolin is stellar in his lead role as Llewelyn Moss, as is Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh, a class A psychopath with a class Z haircut. Tommy Lee Jones plays Ed Tom Bell, an old cop not used to the violence following in the path of Moss and Chigurh. The actor with the stone face is as laconic as ever, a perfect fit for the part. Woody Harrelson also plays a part in this brilliant adaptation of what I can only imagine must be a very good read.
Another movie adapted from a Dennis Lehane novel, and again, as with ‘Gone Baby Gone’, the story takes place in Boston. Clint Eastwood directs the movie, Brian Helgeland adapted the novel into a script, and Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, Tim Robbins, Laurence Fishbourne and the wonderful Marcia Gay Harden brings the story to life on the big screen. Sean Penn plays an ex-con, Jimmy, whose daughter, Katie, is killed, and he launches his own investigation using his contacts from the streets. Again, as with ‘Gone Baby Gone’, we’re not in for a feel good movie, but a good one? Oh, definitely! Sean Penn and Tim Robbins are amazing, and Clint Eastwood is a wonderful director. Looking forward to reading the book as well.
Tarantino’s first adaption after having written all his earlier films, Jackie Brown is based on the novel Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard. Pam Grier is brilliant, and both Robert Forster and Michael Keaton did some of their best work in a long time. As with most of Tarantino’s work, the dialogue is highly entertaining, and the violence a perfect mix of expected and sudden. Robert De Niro does one of his best supporting roles of the 90s, and Samuel L. Jackson is, as usual, a bad ass mutha…
In 2001, Elmore Lenoard wrote a short novel, ‘Fire in the Hole’, about U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens and his pursuit of Boyd Crowder. About 9 years later, the novel became the basis for a wonderful TV show called ‘Justified’. In 2015, the show will end after 6 seasons. A post dedicated to the Kentucky-based show will be uploaded shortly.