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April 2011

Books on Screen

April 2011

April offers the promise of both sunshine and showers, but our Books into Movies feature spotlights five films that will excite you no matter how the weather behaves. And in case rain does prevail, you can always surf your way through.

Fans of historical or dystopian flicks will be more than satisfied this month, with movies like The Conspirator, Robert Redford's dramatic take on the plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln, and the first installment of the two-part film version of Ayn Rand's ATLAS SHRUGGED, which reveals the innovation and revolution within Taggart Transcontinental, the largest remaining railroad company in America. But let's rewind several centuries, when the struggle for the Iron Throne rages among kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars, lords and honest men in the HBO drama Game of Thrones. Inspired by George R.R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice, this highly anticipated series premieres on Sunday, April 17th.

If you're in need of a heartwarming story, then you must check out Soul Surfer, the inspirational account of teen surfer Bethany Hamilton, who tries to bounce back from a vicious shark attack, or Water for Elephants, in which a 93-year-old is reminded of his colorful past when a circus rolls into town, prompting him to both recall his younger days and face the impending reality of his death.

And don't forget our Books into Movies on DVD feature, which is currently spotlighting I Love You Phillip Morris, Gulliver's Travels, and two of the year's most highly anticipated releases: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part One.

Soul Surfer
Cast: AnnaSophia Robb, Helen Hunt, Dennis Quaid, Lorraine Nicholson, Carrie Underwood
Director: Sean McNamara
Distributors: TriStar Pictures, FilmDistrict
MPAA Rating: PG
Release Date: April 8th (wide)
Based On: SOUL SURFER: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board by Bethany Hamilton and Rick Bundschuh, with Sheryl Berk

Bethany was born to surf. A natural talent who took to the waves at a young age, she was leading an idyllic, sun-drenched, surfer girl's life on the Kauai Coast, competing in national competitions with her best friend Alana, when everything changed in a heartbeat. On Halloween morning, Bethany was on a typical ocean outing when a 14-foot tiger shark came out of nowhere and seemed to shatter all her dreams. In the moving aftermath of this headline-making story, Bethany fights to recover and grapples with the future. Strengthened by the love of her parents, Tom and Cheri, she refuses to give in or give up, and begins a bold return to the water. Still, the questions keep hammering her: Why did this happen? Why did she have to lose everything? Will she ever feel the joy and power of riding the waves again? And if she can't be a surfer, then who is she?

The devastating 2004 tsunami in the Pacific Ocean unexpectedly gives Bethany a new perspective. Traveling to Phuket, Thailand with her youth-group leader Sara Hill, she witnesses life beyond her own shoreline and discovers her greater purpose --- she can make a difference in the lives of others. Filled with a new sense of hope and direction, she returns home with a renewed resolve to conquer her own limitations and set an encouraging example for people facing adversity. At the National Championships, Bethany bravely faces off with her fiercest rival, Malia Birch, and takes her astonishing one-armed surfing technique to the limit. But as the horn blows, and the suspenseful competition kicks off, Bethany is no longer thinking about the challenges of her body. Now, her surfing, her biggest dreams and her life have become about pushing her own physical limits to touch the souls of others.

Atlas Shrugged, Part One
Cast: Taylor Schilling, Grant Bowler, Matthew Marsden, Edi Gathegi, Graham Beckel
Director: Paul Johansson
Distributor: Rocky Mountain Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: April 15th (limited)
Based On: ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand

Dagny Taggart runs Taggart Transcontinental, the largest remaining railroad company in America, with intelligence, courage and integrity, despite the systematic disappearance of her best and most competent workers.

She is drawn to industrialist Henry Rearden, one of the few men whose genius and commitment to his own ideas matches her own. Rearden's super-strength metal alloy, Rearden Metal, holds the promise that innovation can overcome the slide into anarchy. Using Rearden Metal, they rebuild the critical Taggart rail line in Colorado and pave the way for oil titan Ellis Wyatt to feed the flame of a new American Renaissance.

Hope rises again, when Dagny and Rearden discover the design of a revolutionary motor based on static electricity --- in an abandoned engine factory --- more proof to the sinister theory that the "men of the mind" (thinkers, industrialists, scientists, artists and other innovators) are "on strike" and vanishing from society.

The Conspirator
Cast: James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Kevin Kline, Evan Rachel Wood, Tom Wilkinson
Director: Robert Redford
Distributor: Roadside Attractions/The American Film Company
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: April 15th (limited)
Based On: THE ASSASSIN'S ACCOMPLICE: Mary Surratt and the Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln by Kate Clifford Larson

A riveting thriller, The Conspirator tells the powerful story of a woman who would do anything to protect her family, and the man who risked everything to save her.

In the wake of Abraham Lincoln's assassination, seven men and one woman are arrested and charged with conspiring to kill the President, Vice President, and Secretary of State. The lone woman charged, Mary Surratt (Wright) owns a boarding house where John Wilkes Booth and others met and planned the simultaneous attacks. Against the ominous back-drop of post-Civil War Washington, newly-minted lawyer Frederick Aiken, a 28-year-old Union war-hero, reluctantly agrees to defend Surratt before a military tribunal. Aiken realizes his client may be innocent and that she is being used as bait and hostage in order to capture the only conspirator to have escaped a massive manhunt, her own son, John. As the nation turns against her, Surratt is forced to rely on Aiken to uncover the truth and save her life.

Game of Thrones
Cast: Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Mark Addy, Kit Harington, Michelle Fairley, Maisie Williams
Director: Thomas McCarthy
Air Date: April 17th on HBO
Based On: The series, A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

Summers span decades. Winters can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.

It will stretch from the south, where heat breeds plots, lusts and intrigues; to the vast and savage eastern lands; all the way to the frozen north, where an 800-foot wall of ice protects the kingdom from the dark forces that lie beyond. Kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars, lords and honest men…all will play "The Game of Thrones."

Water for Elephants
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, Christoph Waltz
Director: Francis Lawrence
Distributor: Fox 2000
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: April 22nd (wide)
Based On: WATER FOR ELEPHANTS by Sara Gruen

Water for Elephants is the touching story of Jacob Jankowski, a 93-year-old man, who is reminded of his colorful past when a circus sets up next door to his assisted-living center. When Jacob overhears a man at the assisted-living center claim to have been a water boy for the elephants on a circus, Jacob knows the man is lying because Jacob himself once worked as a vet on a traveling circus. The lie causes Jacob to spend much of his time remembering his colorful past, wishing he could move back in time and return to those days of camaraderie and excitement. It is a story of coming of age, of facing the realities of death, and living despite it all. Water for Elephants is an adventure for all ages.