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Books on Film at TIFF 2013

August 30, 2013 | Winona | Comments (1)

The Toronto International Film Festival is just around the corner, which means it's time for my second annual round-up of books on film at TIFF. Last year I wrote about ten books that had been adapted for the screen and selected to show at the fest. This year there are so many that I'll be blogging about them in two parts.

First up: fiction books on film at TIFF 2013!


 August: Osage County


August Osage County by Tracey LettsBased on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play August: Osage County by Tracy Letts. 

Featuring a mega-watt ensemble case, including Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, this TIFF gala presentation film is already generating Oscar buzz. The film is adapted from the play of the same name that ran on Broadway for almost two years (648 performances!) and has since been produced around the world, winning multiple awards, including a Tony for Best Play and a Pulitzer for Drama. If you've never tried reading a play before, this one - of several by Letts - is a pretty great place to start: a darkly comic portrait of a dysfunctional family whose patriarch disappears, prompting the family's reunion and forcing closely-held secrets out into the open. You can read all of Meryl's lines - as the dying, drug-addled matriarch - for yourself, then prepare your very own Oscar acceptance speech!


The Dinner

The Dinner film

The Dinner by Herman KochBased on the internationally bestselling novel The Dinner by Herman Koch (also: audiobook | eaudiobook | ebook | large print | talking book).

Directed by Menno Meyjes, who wrote the screenplay adaptation of The Color Purple, this film takes a scathing look at contemporary European society and what it finds is pretty vile. Two couples meet in a swanky Amsterdam restaurant to discuss what to do about an unspeakable event involving their sons. As the dinner progresses it becomes apparent that their civilized pretenses are little more than a mask for the savagery beneath. Based loosely on a true crime event in which three middle-class Spanish teenagers beat a homeless woman to death, this novel went straight to the top of the Dutch bestseller lists when it was first published, and has since become something of an international phenomenon.


The Double

The Double

The Double by Fyodor DostoyevskyBased on the novella The Double by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (also: eaudiobook | ebook | talking book).

Jesse Eisenberg stars in this update of Dostoyevsky's novella about a man who finds himself usurped by his doppelgänger ("double-goer" or "double walker" in German). The Double, first published in 1846, the second of Dostoyevsky's published works, is now considered a classic of doppelgänger literature; those stories in which the protagonist finds himself tormented in some way by his alter ego, identical twin, or paranormal double, who may be a stand-in for his dark side, or a sign of growing paranoia and madness. Other examples of the doppelgänger in both book and movie versions include The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde (book | movie) and Fight Club (book | movie ). 


Hateship Loveship

Hateship Loveship

Hateship Friendship Courtship Loveship Marriage by Alice MunroBased on a short story from the collection Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro (also: audiobook | ebook | large print | talking book).

The talented cast of Kristen Wiig, Guy Pearce, Nick Nolte and Hailee Steinfeld dramatize the smartly funny and gently moving title story from Munro's 2001 book of short stories. This isn't the first time the beloved Canadian writer's work has made it to the big screen: Sarah Polley's Away from Her is based on the story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" from this same collection. I have always loved Munro's stories for their deceptive simplicity, their everydayness, combined with the emotional heft and literary depth of any great novel. The critics adore her too: she won the Man Booker International Prize for her body of work and is often referred to as one of our country's greatest writers. If you haven't had a chance to read anything by Alice Munro yet, now's a perfect opportunity.




Joe A Novel by Larry BrownBased on the raw and gritty novel Joe by Larry Brown (also: eaudiobook).

Nicolas Cage stars as Joe Ransom, a tough-as-nails ex-con who becomes the unlikely role model to an illiterate teenager living with a family of squatters in this modern Southern gothic tale. Joe was the fourth book published in as many years by Larry Brown, a hard-drinking, chain-smoking Mississippi firefighter and writer who, as he describes it in his autobiography On Fire, got his education while staying awake reading and writing at the fire station while the other firefighters slept. Joe is a beautifully written, minimalist novel of the contemporary blue-collar south, which Publisher's Weekly praised in its review, stating that "with this powerful, immensely affecting novel Brown comes into his own as a writer of stature."


Labor Day

Labor Day

Labor Day by Joyce MaynardBased on the coming-of-age novel Labor Day by Joyce Maynard (also: large print).

Director Jason Reitman's latest film stars Kate Winslet as a depressed, divorced mother and Josh Brolin as an escaped convict, whose chance meeting just before Labor Day changes both their lives and the life of her thirteen-year-old son. Publisher's Weekly said of this novel that Maynard's prose is "beautiful, and her characters winningly complicated, with no neat tie-ups in the end. A sometimes painful tale, but captivating and surprisingly moving." The author of several works of fiction and non-fiction, Maynard gained notoriety when she disclosed the relationship she'd had with J. D. Salinger when he was 53 and she 18 in her memoir At Home in the World 


Life of Crime

Life of Crime

The Switch by Elmore LeonardBased on the crime thriller The Switch by Elmore Leonard (also: eaudiobook | ebook | large print). 

Starring Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins, John Hawkes, and Mos Def, this crime caper about two career criminals whose kidnapping plan goes awry is sure to be wildly entertaining, based as it is on a book by the late, great Elmore Leonard, the "Dickens of Detroit." The best-selling novelist and screenwriter was a master of snappy dialogue and wickedly entertaining noir style and it's all here in The Switch. When Leonard passed away earlier this summer he left behind dozens of terrific books, many of which have been adapted for the film and television - a personal fave of mine is Out of Sight (book | movie).


The Right Kind of Wrong


Sex and Sunsets by Tim SandlinBased on the novel Sex and Sunsets by Tim Sandlin.

This romantic comedy by veteran director Jeremiah Chechik stars Ryan Kwanten as a professional dishwasher and inveterate dreamer who falls head over heels for a bride on the day of her wedding - to someone else. Novelist and screenwriter Sandlin is known for his offbeat, sometimes satirical, always irreverent take on American culture, and his many books have earned him comparisons to Jack Kerouac and Tom Robbins; he has even been referred to as the "George Carlin of fiction."



Check back next week for part two of my round-up of books on film at TIFF: non-fiction, including a harrowing memoir; one or two historical biographies; a chilling true crime story; a conspiracy debunked; and an insider exposé. Coming soon to a library blog near you!

Until then, please enjoy this short intermission...





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