Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Adaptation - Adapting Yourself In Your Story

I hope you suffer from WRITER'S BLOCK !!
Well this is the worst curse that you can give to any one of us, at least to me you can. Ever imagined what happens when a person who makes his living out of words is not able to write?

Adaptation released in 2002 was one great movie depicting all the kinds of hardship a screenwriter can face. The film was directed by Spike Jonze. It was written by Charlie Kaufman. Kaufman has written something which I think no one can even attempt or even if anyone does, it sure as hell won't be up to these movie's standards. I think many of you must have seen it and I doubt if there is anyone who didn't like it.

This time I won't be telling you about the plot, instead I would like to describe the conditions under which it was written and then its execution.

Susan Orlean, a  famous American journalist had written a book "The Orchid Thief" on her investigation of John Laroche's arrest in 1994. The book was then tried to adapt into a movie with Charlie Kaufman hired to write a screenplay based on it. A book based on flowers had a little scope of turning into a fine successful movie. Kaufman realized it soon but he could not complain. He tried hard but a good acceptable draft never came out. He soon drowned into depression and the dreaded writer's block hit him. Things got worse then ever. It was in these frustration that he got a novel idea and started to work on it. Now this was the most stupid thing anyone could do but he went ahead and wrote the script keeping himself as a "character trying to attempt to convert the book into screenplay." He wrote his heavily fictionalized character which was also named Charlie Kaufman, he gave himself a fictional twin brother, Donald Kaufman.

Nicolas Cage playing Charlie and Donald Kaufman.
Charlie Kaufman fictionalized the lives of Susan Orlean and John Laroche and brought them into his script as the antagonists. Thus a script was formed which showed "Charlie Kaufman trying to adapt Susan Orlean's book into a screenplay.." In the story to help him write, he created the character of Donald Kaufman, who is his twin brother and helps him to adapt the book into a screenplay.

Now a film needs a plot, a story rather then just showing a writer trying to write a screenplay, there has to be something more. Then Susan Orlean and John Laroche's characters had to be turned bad. They are shown involved in making drugs from plants. Thus it is up to Charlie and his brother that while writing the script, they have to stop and expose them.

An awesome movie with an incredible plot. And to stick to the story,  the film makers even credited Donald Kaufman (in spite of being a fictional character) as the co-writer with Charlie Kaufman. And the fictional character also was nominated for a Golden Globe and Academy Awards. My personal favorite and something which never bores you when you watch it.

Monday, 19 March 2012

The Seventh Seal - Can You Cheat Death?

Released in 1957, The Seventh Seal (original title Det Sjunde Inseglet ), a Swedish film is worth a watch. Directed by Ingmar Bergman, a brilliant director, the film was based on a play written by himself for the acting students.

The film starts with two men returning to Sweden after fighting in the crusades. The  knight Antonius Block (Max von Sydow) and his squire Jöns (Gunnar Björnstrand) seem to be good and brave people. Antonius Block is a clever chess player and is very intelligent. One day while they are resting, Antonius as usual starts to play chess alone. It is there that he encounters Death. Death(Bengt Ekerot) is dressed in black cowl and has a monk like appearance. Antonius is unafraid of dying but he still has some unanswered questions about life and wants to seek their answers before he can die. He somehow thinks that if he can challenge Death into playing chess with him, he can delay his death. Death agrees and thus the great game starts.

Also in the film are many characters who somehow get connected to Antonius Block and Jöns as they continue their journey ahead. Death keeps appearing in middle to play its chance and then goes off.

Nomadic actors , Jof (Nils Poppe) and his wife Mia (Bibi Andersson), with their baby son, Mikael, and their actor-manager, Skat(Erik Strandmark), who perform from village to village join Antonius on his way. Skat during a particular show charms a black smith wife and manages to run away with her. The blacksmith joins the Antonius and actors only to find his wife returning to him and Skat tricking him and running away.

The fate of these people now is in the hands of Antonius now, as the visits of Death are increasing and at the same time Antonius knows he cannot defeat it. The movie continues further with the journey of these group of people as they go to Antonius' castle to be safe from the plague which is spreading and people are dying like insects. Antonius knows the plague sooner or later will take their life by coming in the form of Death.

In spite of Death cheating Antonius to give out his strategy , Antonius manages to stay in the game and later cheats once. Things like Antonius quests for finding the truth of life, the actor Jof's strange visions, a woman who is to be burnt as she is accused of being a witch, the Dance of Death at the end, etc enrich the film's story.

A completely awesome movie where language forms no barrier, is certainly a movie which I would recommend as a must watch for you all mortals who are reading this.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Kane and Abel : Novel and TV mini-series

One more of my posts on an adaptation of my favorite novel. Jeffrey Archer is one of the best authors the world has ever seen. The stories he writes are something which are only exclusive to him. There is no one in the world to match his unique style. One of my favorite books by him is Kane and Abel.
The novel revolves around the life of two men, William Kane and Abel Rosnovski.

The two men have nothing in common except that they are born on the same day in the early 19th century and they both want to succeed. William is born in the United States while Abel is born as Wladek Koskiewicz in Poland under great poverty and hardships. William is inspired by his father, chairman of Kane and Cabot Bank and plans to be a great banker someday. Whereas Abel under poverty struggles to find a living and education.

The First World War changes Abel's life and after an invasion of Germans and Russians into Poland, Abel has no option but to flee. He goes to a numerous places before getting an opportunity to go in the United States. There he starts his struggle to survive taking up odd jobs before becoming a waiter. His journey from being a waiter to manager of a hotel and being an owner of large chain of hotels is depicted in a great and inspiring way.

While Abel makes his life in Poland and escapes to United States, William is no less. He is extraordinarily intelligent in mathematics and has deep rooted sense of right business tactics. He grows up enduring his father tragic death in The Titanic, studies hard to get into Harvard. Life is not easy for him too, his mother remarries another man, Henry Osborne(David Osborne in the TV series) who turns out to be a gold digger and just exploits his mother's wealth. His mother too dies shortly after period of tensions and mental frustrations. William after completing his education gets on the board of his father's great bank with his genius and plans one day to be the chairman just like his father was.

The stories of these two great men go parallel until one day when Abel, the manager of a big group of hotels has to deal with Kane, one of the directors of bank regarding the loans of Abel's employer, David Leroy. Kane appears as expected of him(in a professional way) which angers Abel. Also during this Leroy commits suicide which triggers Abel's anger towards Kane to a great extent. Abel wows to destroy Kane and thus a great rivalry starts. Each one leaves no stone unturned in destroying each other and fight for the next three decades of their lives.

The book and the TV miniseries (of 3 episodes) based on the book shows us this great story well. A story spanning for 6 decades(right from birth till the end of the men) is something everyone should see, enjoy and feel.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Nosferatu : A Symphony of Horror

Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, a German film released in 1922 was an epic movie. It was directed by F.W. Murnau and it's screenplay was written by Henrik Galeen. It was roughly based on Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Nosferatu tells us the story of Count Orlok, the evil creature.
The protagonist Hutter lives with his wife Ellen in the fictitious German city of Wisborg. Hutter's employer, Knock sends him to to Transylvania to visit a new client named Count Orlok, who is interested in buying a property in Wisborg from Hutter's office.

Things go fine till then. Hutter soon leaves for Transylvania and then the real trouble starts. A small inn near Transylvania where Hutter stops for dinner is the turning point in the film where just by the mere mention of Orlok's name the locals get scared. But that does not discourage Hutter. Next day after finally overcoming the obstacles, Hutter reaches the castle of Count Orlok. He reaches there by night where Count Orlok himself welcomes him.

While having dinner at the place Hutter accidentally cuts his finger and Orlok looking at it, finds himself unable to resist.  Orlok even attempts to suck the blood but Hutter pushes him away. Orlok offers him a seat where Hutter sleeps. The next morning Hutter gets up alone and enjoys his time around the castle

That night while signing the necessary documents Orlok happens to see a picture of Ellen. He praises her with his words "has a lovely neck" which makes Hutter uneasy.

Along all this events there is this book, Book Of Vampyres which Hutter had found. He begins to read and slowly starts to suspect that Orlock is Nosferatu, the "Bird Of Death". At that night when Hutter looks outside the door, he sees Orlok at the hallway looming. Hutter unsuccessfully tries to close the door and hide but Orlok comes in.

At the very same moment Ellen who has been missing her husband and worrying about him gets a bad feeling. She cries, which Orlok hears inexplicably. He leaves Hutter and sets out a journey to Wisborg to get her. Thus Hutter runs behind him too to save her.

Now who will reach Wisborg first? Will Hutter be able to save his wife? What will be Orlok's end like? What is the strange plague that Orlok is spreading through the rats?
Find your answers in this great movie which in spite of being a silent film speaks highly when you watch it.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

The Client

John Grisham is one of my favorite authors. He is truly the king of legal thrillers. Being a lawyer himself he knows his works inside out. I have read many of his novels and needless to say that I have watched all their movie adaptations. All of them have been  quite good and up to the mark. But I prefer The Client (book) to others. Many others who are aware of his works may not be of the same opinion, majority might say A Time To Kill or The Rainmaker to be the best. Some might say The Firm was better or even The Pelican Brief or other of his works. In this post I would like to talk about the movie The Client.

The Client was directed by Joel Schumacher. The screenplay for it was written was Akiva Goldsman and Robert Getchell.

The movie starts with Mark(Brad Renfro) and his brother finding a lawyer who is about to commit to suicide. As Mark tries to save him, the lawyer grabs Mark too and tries to kill Mark along with himself. Thinking of these as his last moments, the lawyer tells Mark the reasons because of which he is committing suicide. The words Mark hears are something which troubles Mark and he knows anyone who would know this things will not be able to live.

Mark somehow manages to save himself and runs along with his brother who was hiding and watching all the events. His brother, Rick gets traumatized due this and has a shock. Thus Rick is hospitalized. Unable to keep his guilt Mark calls the cops and tells them about the body of the lawyer in the woods without disclosing his identity. And when Mark goes there at the location and watches the cops taking the body, he gets caught and the police interrogate him about the body and his connection.

Now Mark is in trouble since he cannot get associated with that dead lawyer's case because the lawyer's client can go to the extent of killing anyone to keep his secret. Neither can Mark tell the cops the last words that the lawyer had said to him before dying.

During all this the FBI and one famous district attorney, Roy Foltrigg (Tommy Lee Jones) come in middle, adding to Mark's troubles. They try to make him reveal what he knows in order to charge that lawyer's client. To save himself and his family, Mark finds himself a lawyer Reggie Love (Susan Sarandon). Reggie's dedication and affection to her little client and the district attorney's fight and struggle against the dead lawyer's client is simply brilliant.

So what is the secret? Who is that Client? What has he done, that pushes his own lawyer to the extent to committing suicide? Watch it out and have an awesome legal adventure.

I have tried my best to avoid the spoilers in this post so its only half of the entire plot, the movie as a whole awaits to thrill you and take you in the world of these brilliant and extraordinary characters.