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November 2013

Books on Screen

November 2013

It goes without saying that the closer we get to the holiday season, the more we can expect from our film studios and television networks. Now that Halloween is but a spooky memory and winter is in the air, moviegoers can look forward to plenty of quality entertainment this month. From hotly anticipated blockbusters (I’m lookin’ at you, Catching Fire) to smaller films with some seriously literary pedigrees, there’s something for everyone on screen in November.

There’s a lot for YA fans to be excited about this month. Last weekend (November 1st) saw the release of the controversial Ender’s Game, based on the Orson Scott Card bestseller that had young adults obsessing before they even knew who Harry Potter was. Later this month, teens and adults alike will be lining up for Catching Fire (if you’re not on line already), the second installment in Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games franchise. Tickets are already selling out, so if you want to avoid a Hunger Games-like competition for yours, I suggest you get on it, and fast.

Speaking of fan-favorite sequels (and the Hemsworth brothers), Thor: The Dark World, a follow-up to 2011’s Thor, will be in theaters this weekend (November 8th). Whether you’re a fan of comic books, or a fan of watching Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth on the big screen (I wonder what that Venn diagram would look like), there’s no bad reason to get out and see Thor: The Dark World.

Mike Newell, who directed the amazing Four Weddings and a Funeral, is back with a very welcome retelling of Charles Dickens's complicated story of love and fortune, GREAT EXPECTATIONS. I, for one, feel like I've been waiting my whole life to see Helena Bonham Carter as the jilted-and-unhinged Miss Havisham.

The Book Thief --- based on the Markus Zusak novel of the same title --- also hits theaters this weekend (with a wide release date of November 15th), and tells the inspirational story of courage in the face of Nazi brutality. Plus, it’s a movie based on a book about books, so it’s the best of all the worlds. But if you like your literature more Beat-ish, Big Sur released last weekend, of course based on the eponymous Jack Kerouac novel.

On television, after what felt like a vampire-worthy eternity, “Dracula” finally premiered at the end of last month. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is as haunting as ever as the titular character, and it’s safe to say he’ll have us up on these chilly Friday nights --- for more reasons than one. And, because one vampire show is never enough, be sure to keep up with the continuing fifth season of “The Vampire Diaries.” The stakes (get it?) are higher than ever this season, so don't miss out on all the hot- (and cold-) blooded fun.

And last, but certainly never least, don't miss out on these two DVD releases: Paranoia, based on Joseph Finder’s bestselling thriller of the same name, and Parkland, the film adaptation of FOUR DAYS IN NOVEMBER: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, by Vincent Bugliosi.

 


 

In Theaters:

Big Sur
Cast: Jean-Marc Barr, Josh Lucas, Radha Mitchell, Anthony Edwards, Stana Katic, Balthazar Getty, Kate Bosworth
Director: Michael Polish
Distributor: Ketchup Entertainment
MPAA Rating: R
Release Date: November 1st (limited)
Based On: BIG SUR by Jack Kerouac

An adaptation of American literary icon Jack Kerouac's novel of the same name, Big Sur focuses on a moment in Kerouac's life when, overwhelmed by the success of his opus, ON THE ROAD, and struggling to battle inner demons, he seeks respite in three brief sojourns to a cabin in the small, coastal California town of Big Sur. Michael Polish's film is at once a poetic meditation and a love letter to the work of an author who defined the Beat Generation.

 

Diana
Cast: Naomi Watts, Naveen Andrews, Douglas Hodge, Geraldine James, Charles Edwards
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Distributor: Entertainment One Films
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: November 1st (limited)
Based On: DIANA: HER LAST LOVE by Kate Snell

Diana takes audiences into the private realm of one of the world’s most iconic and inescapably public women --- the Princess of Wales, Diana --- in the last two years of her meteoric life. On the occasion of the 16th anniversary of her sudden death, acclaimed director Oliver Hirschbiegel explores Diana’s final rite of passage: a secret love affair with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, the human complications of which reveal the Princess’s climactic days in a compelling new light.

 

Ender’s Game
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, Abigail Breslin, Harrison Ford
Director: Gavin Hood
Distributor: Summit Entertainment, LLC
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: November 1st (wide)
Based On: ENDER’S GAME by Orson Scott Card

In the near future, a hostile alien race (called the Formics) has attacked Earth. If not for the legendary heroics of International Fleet Commander Mazer Rackham, all would have been lost. In preparation for the next attack, the highly esteemed Colonel Hyrum Graff and the International Military are training only the best young children to find the future Mazer.

Ender Wiggin, a shy but strategically brilliant boy, is pulled out of his school to join the elite. Arriving at Battle School, Ender quickly and easily masters increasingly difficult war games, distinguishing himself and winning respect amongst his peers. Ender is soon ordained by Graff as the military's next great hope, resulting in his promotion to Command School. Once there, he's trained by Mazer Rackham himself to lead his fellow soldiers into an epic battle that will determine the future of Earth and save the human race.

 

The Book Thief
Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nelisse, Ben Schnetzer, Nico Liersch
Director: Brian Percival
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: November 8th (limited)
Based On: THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak

Based on the beloved bestselling book, The Book Thief tells the inspirational story of a spirited and courageous young girl who transforms the lives of everyone around her when she is sent to live with a new family in World War II Germany.

 

Great Expectations
Cast: Jeremy Irvine, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Holliday Grainger, Robbie Coltrane, Jason Flemyng, David Walliams, Sally Hawkins
Director: Mike Newell
Distributor: Main Street Films
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: November 8th (limited)
Based on: GREAT EXPECTATIONS by Charles Dickens

Young orphan Pip is given a chance to rise from his humble beginnings thanks to a mysterious benefactor. Moving through London's class ridden world as a gentleman, Pip uses his new found position to pursue the beautiful Estella; a spoilt heiress he's loved since childhood. Yet the shocking truth behind his great fortune will have devastating consequences for everything he holds dear.

 

How I Live Now
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Tom Holland, Anna Chancellor, George McKay, Corey Johnson
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
MPAA Rating: R
Release Date: November 8th (wide)
Based On: HOW I LIVE NOW by Meg Rosoff

Set in the near-future UK, Ronan plays Daisy, an American teenager sent to stay with relatives in the English countryside. Initially withdrawn and alienated, she begins to warm up to her charming surroundings, and strikes up a romance with the handsome Edmund. But on the fringes of their idyllic summer days are tense news reports of an escalating conflict in Europe. As the UK falls into a violent, chaotic military state, Daisy finds herself hiding and fighting to survive.

 

The Motel Life
Cast: Emile Hirsch, Dakota Fanning, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson
Directors: Alan and Gabriel Polsky
Distributor: Polsky Films
MPAA Rating: R
Release Date: November 8th (limited)
Based On: THE MOTEL LIFE by Willy Vlautin

Based on the popular novel by Willy Vlautin, The Motel Life is a searing and profound examination of brotherhood set in the timeless Sierra Nevadan frontier. Frank and Jerry Lee Flannigan work odd jobs, drink hard, and drift from motel to motel. Their only escape is through Frank’s fantastic stories and Jerry Lee’s rich illustrations. Everything changes when Jerry Lee is involved in a hit-and-run accident, which forces the brothers across the state to the home of Frank’s old flame, Annie. While the two seem safe from the law, Jerry Lee’s insatiability and all-consuming guilt render their future increasingly uncertain.

 

Thor: The Dark World
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins
Director: Alan Taylor
Distributor: Legend Cinemas, Walt Disney
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: November 8th (wide)
Based On: Thor comics by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby

Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World continues the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself. In the aftermath of Marvel’s Thor and Marvel’s The Avengers, Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos…but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. To defeat an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor sets upon his most dangerous and personal journey yet, forced into an alliance with the treacherous Loki to save not only his people and those he loves…but our universe itself.
 

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland
Director: Francis Lawrence
Distributor: Lionsgate
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: November 22nd (wide)
Based On: CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire begins as Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a "Victor's Tour" of the districts. Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) --- a competition that could change Panem forever.

 

Philomena
Cast: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan
Director: Stephen Frears
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
MPAA Rating: R
Release Date: November 22nd (limited)
Based On: PHILOMENA by Martin Sixsmith

Philomena is the true story of one mother’s search for her lost son.

Falling pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952, Philomena was sent to the convent of Roscrea to be looked after as a “fallen woman”. When her baby was only a toddler, he was taken away by the nuns for adoption in America. Philomena spent the next 50 years searching for him in vain.

Then she met Martin Sixsmith, a world-weary political journalist who happened to be intrigued by her story. Together they set off for America on a journey that would not only reveal the extraordinary story of Philomena’s son, but also create an unexpectedly close bond between them.

 

Homefront
Cast: Jason Statham, James Franco, Kate Bosworth, Winona Ryder, Frank Grillo and Izabela Vidovic
Director: Gary Fleder
Distributor: Open Road Films
MPAA Rating: R
Release Date: November 27th (wide)
Based On: HOMEFRONT by Chuck Logan

Homefront stars Jason Statham as former drug enforcement agent Phil Broker, a family man who moves off the grid with his daughter, to a seemingly quiet bayou backwater to escape his troubled past. However, Broker’s world soon becomes anything but quiet once he discovers that an underbelly of drugs and violence riddles the small town. Soon, a sociopathic methamphetamine kingpin, Gator Bodine, puts Broker and his daughter in harm’s way forcing Broker back into action in order to save his family and the town.

 


 

On TV:

"The Vampire Diaries"
Cast: 
Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley, Steven R. McQueen, Kat Graham, Candice Accola
Network: The CW
Air Dates: Thursdays at 8pm ET
Based On: The Vampire Diaries series by L.J. Smith

In the tumultuous fourth season of "The Vampire Diaries," the world of Mystic Falls was turned upside down when the beautiful and compassionate Elena Gilbert came face-to-face with her worst nightmare --- life as a vampire. While Elena struggled to control her new powers and the overwhelming thirst for blood, the astonishing news that a cure for vampirism may actually exist reached Damon and Stefan Salvatore, the two vampire brothers who love her. Their search for the cure leads the brothers, along with Elena’s brother Jeremy and her best friends Bonnie and Carol, to a horrifying confrontation with the ancient and all-powerful immortal, Silas, who has been entombed with the cure for more than 2,000 years. But Elena isn’t the only vampire who longs to return to life as a human, and the question of who will take the cure is resolved in the heart-stopping season finale, along with moments of unexpected joy, unspeakable sorrow, and a confession of true love.

The series heads into its fifth season with some characters headed off to college, a newly cured vampire trying to survive as a human, and a shocking Salvatore secret.

 

"Dracula"
Cast: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Jessica De Gouw, Thomas Kretschmann, Katie McGrath, Nonso Anozie, Victoria Smurfit
Network: NBC
Air Dates: Fridays at 10pm ET
Based On: DRACULA by Bram Stoker

Golden Globe winner Jonathan Rhys Meyers ("The Tudors") stars in this provocative new drama as one of the world's most iconic characters. It's the late 19th century, and the mysterious Dracula has arrived in London, posing as an American entrepreneur who wants to bring modern science to Victorian society. He's especially interested in the new technology of electricity, which promises to brighten the night --- useful for someone who avoids the sun. But he has another reason for his travels: He hopes to take revenge on those who cursed him with immortality centuries earlier. Everything seems to be going according to plan...until he becomes infatuated with a woman who appears to be a reincarnation of his dead wife.

 


 

On DVD:

Parkland
Cast: James Badge Dale, Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden, Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thornton, Jacki Weaver, Ron Livingston
Director: Peter Landesman
Distributor: Exclusive Media Group
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: November 5th
Based On: PARKLAND by Vincent Bugliosi (originally titled FOUR DAYS IN NOVEMBER: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy)

Recounting the chaotic events that occurred in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, Parkland weaves together the perspectives of a handful of ordinary individuals suddenly thrust into extraordinary circumstances: the young doctors and nurses at Parkland Hospital, Dallas’ chief of the Secret Service, an unwitting cameraman who captured what became the most watched and examined film in history; the FBI agents who nearly had the gunman within their grasp, the brother of Lee Harvey Oswald --- left to deal with his shattered family, and JFK’s security team --- witnesses to both the president’s death and Vice President Lyndon Johnson’s rise to power over a nation whose innocence was forever altered.

 

Paranoia
Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Gary Oldman, Amber Heard, Harrison Ford, Lucas Till, Embeth Davidtz, Julian McMahon, Josh Holloway, Richard Dreyfuss
Director: Robert Luketic
Distributor: Gaumont
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: November 19th
Based On: PARANOIA by Joseph Finder

The high stakes thriller Paranoia takes audiences deep behind the scenes of global success to a deadly world of greed and deception. The two most powerful tech billionaires in the world are bitter rivals with a complicated past who will stop at nothing to destroy each other. A young superstar, seduced by unlimited wealth and power falls between them, and becomes trapped in the middle of the twists and turns of their life-and-death game of corporate espionage. By the time he realizes his life is in danger, he is in far too deep and knows far too much for them to let him walk away.