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August 2011

Books on Screen

August 2011

One of the most highly anticipated films of the summer, The Help, graces the big screen on August 10th. Based on the widely-read and deeply moving novel by Kathryn Stockett, the story is set at the dawn of the Civil Rights movement, as three Mississippi women are about to take one extraordinary step that will put them all at risk. 

Also in theaters this month is Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the seventh film in the Apes legacy. Still derived from the original novel by Pierre Boulle, this new offering is a precursor set in present-day San Francisco, where experiments with genetic engineering lead to the development of intelligence in apes and, eventually, all-out war. Conan the Barbarian is also reviving a legacy. Robert E. Howard originally published his Conan stories in 1954, and the movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger was released back in 1982. Now, Conan the Barbarian sees a personal vendetta for the fierce Cimmerian warrior turning into an epic battle.

On a different note, One Day --- from the novel of the same name by David Nicholls --- is a story about the nature of love and life itself. Beginning on July 15, 1988, the movie follows two characters for the next two decades, as key moments of their relationship are experienced over several July 15ths. Another story about one’s personal outlook on life --- The Hedgehog, based on Muriel Barbery’s THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG --- is about a serious 11-year-old girl who has decided to kill herself on her 12th birthday…until she meets some kindred spirits in her very own building.

As for small-screen happenings, two popular television shows based on books are currently airing their second seasons. “Rizzoli & Isles” on TNT brings to life Tess Gerritsen’s beloved characters, Detective Jane Rizzoli and Medical Examiner Maura Isles --- complete opposites and good friends who solve crimes together. And ABC Family has brought back “Pretty Little Liars,” inspired by Sara Shepard’s young adult series. The “little liars” are actually four estranged friends whose darkest secrets are about to unravel.

Available on DVD this month are six films worth your time and attention, whether for the first or second time: The Conspirator, Jane Eyre, Mars Needs Moms, Priest, Something Borrowed and Soul Surfer.

Now in Theaters:

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Cast: James Franco, Freida Pinto, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, John Lithgow, David Oyelowo, Karin Konoval, Leah Gibson, Tyler Labine, Andy Serkis
Director: Rupert Wyatt
Distributor: 20th Century Fox Distribution
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: August 5th (wide)
Based On: PLANET OF THE APES by Pierre Boulle

Set in present-day San Francisco, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a reality-based cautionary tale, a science fiction/science fact blend, where man's own experiments with genetic engineering lead to the development of intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy.

The Help
Cast: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain
Director: Tate Taylor
Distributor: DreamWorks Studios
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: August 10th (wide)
Based On: THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett

Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny are three very different, extraordinary women in Mississippi during the 1960s, who build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project that breaks societal rules and puts them all at risk. From their improbable alliance a remarkable sisterhood emerges, instilling all of them with the courage to transcend the lines that define them, and the realization that sometimes those lines are made to be crossed --- even if it means bringing everyone in town face-to-face with the changing times.

Conan the Barbarian
Cast: Jason Momoa, Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang, Rose McGowan, Said Taghmaoui,
Director: Marcus Nispel
Distributor: Lionsgate
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: August 19th (wide)
Based On: The Conan characters created by Robert E. Howard

A quest that begins as a personal vendetta for the fierce Cimmerian warrior soon turns into an epic battle against hulking rivals, horrific monsters and impossible odds, as Conan realizes he is the only hope of saving the great nations of Hyboria from an encroaching reign of supernatural evil.

The Hedgehog
Cast: Josiane Balasko, Togo Igawa, Ariane Ascaride, Garance Le Guillermic, Anne Brochet
Director: Mona Achache
Distributor: NeoClassics Films
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Release Date: August 19th (limited)
Based On: THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG by Muriel Barbery

The Hedgehog is the timely story of Paloma, a young girl bent on ending it all on her upcoming 12th birthday. Using her father’s old camcorder to chronicle the hypocrisy she sees in adults, Paloma begins to learn about life from the grumpy building concierge, Renée Michel. When Paloma’s camera reveals the extensive secret library in Renée’s back room, and that the often gruff matron reads Tolstoy to her cat, Paloma begins to understand that there are allies to be found beneath the prickliest of exteriors. As the unlikely friendship deepens, Paloma’s own coming of age becomes a much less pessimistic prospect.

One Day
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Patricia Clarkson, Ken Stott, Romola Garai, Rafe Spall
Director: Lone Scherfig
Distributor: Focus Features
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: August 19th (wide)
Based On: ONE DAY by David Nicholls

After one day together --- July 15, 1988, their college graduation --- Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew begin a friendship that will last a lifetime. She is a working-class girl of principle and ambition who dreams of making the world a better place. He is a wealthy charmer who dreams that the world will be his playground. For the next two decades, key moments of their relationship are experienced over several July 15ths in their lives. Together and apart, we see Dex and Em through their friendship and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears.

TV Series Based on Books:

“Pretty Little Liars”
Cast: Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson, Troian Bellisario, Shay Mitchell, Sasha Pieterse
Network: ABC Family
Air Dates: Tuesdays at 8:00pm ET/PT
Second Season Premiere: June 14th
Based on: Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard

Rosewood is a perfect little town. So quiet and pristine, you'd never guess it holds so many secrets. Some of the ugliest ones belong to the prettiest girls in town --- Aria, Spencer, Hanna and Emily, four estranged friends whose darkest secrets are about to unravel.

One year ago, Alison, the Queen Bee of their group, disappeared and the girls swore they'd never tell what really happened that night. They thought their secrets would bond them together, but just the opposite is true. Then again, who's to say what the truth is in Rosewood. It seems everyone in town is lying about something.

Now, as the mystery surrounding Alison's disappearance resurfaces, the girls begin getting messages from "A," saying –-- and threatening –-- things only Alison would know. But it couldn't be Alison. Could it? Whoever it is, they seem to know all the girls' secrets, and seem to be watching their every move. The girls are friends again, but will they be there for each other if their dark secrets come to light?

“Rizzoli & Isles”
Cast: Angie Harmon, Sasha Alexander, Lorraine Bracco, Lee Thompson Young, Bruce McGill, Jordan Bridges
Network: TNT
Air Dates: Mondays at 10:00pm EST
Second Season Premiere: July 11th
Based on: Rizzoli & Isles series by Tess Gerritsen

Jane Rizzoli is a tough-as-nails Boston police detective, and Maura Isles is a smart, impeccably dressed medical examiner from a privileged background. Despite being complete opposites, the two women share an offbeat chemistry and strong working relationship that has helped them bust some of Boston’s most notorious criminals.

As the second season opens, Jane and her brother, Frankie Jr., are each recovering from bullets they took during a siege at the police station. As Jane struggles to overcome scars that are more emotional than physical, an old flame --- Sergeant Major Charles “Casey” Jones --- comes back into her life.

On the homefront, Jane’s mother is despondent over a major upheaval in her own life. The situation will be complicated even more by the arrival of Jane’s younger brother, Tommy, who was recently released from prison. And for Maura, home life will get complicated when she receives a visit from her adoptive mother, Constance Isles, a brilliant modern artist and art historian.

New on DVD:

Soul Surfer
Cast: AnnaSophia Robb, Helen Hunt, Dennis Quaid, Lorraine Nicholson, Carrie Underwood
Director: Sean McNamara
Distributors: TriStar Pictures, FilmDistrict
MPAA Rating: PG
DVD Release Date: August 2nd
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.

Mars Needs Moms
Cast: Joan Cusack, Dan Fogler, Breckin Meyer, Elisabeth Harnois, Mindy Sterling, Ryan Ochoa
Director: Simon Wells
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Distribution
MPAA Rating: PG
DVD Release Date: August 9th
Based on: MARS NEEDS MOMS! by Berkeley Breathed

Take out the trash, eat your broccoli --- who needs moms anyway? Nine-year-old Milo finds out just how much he needs his mom when she’s nabbed by Martians who plan to steal her mom-ness for their own young. Produced by the team behind Disney’s A Christmas Carol and The Polar Express, Mars Needs Moms showcases Milo’s quest to save his mom --- a wild adventure in Disney Digital 3D™ and IMAX 3D that involves stowing away on a spaceship, navigating an elaborate, multi-level planet, and taking on the alien nation and their leader. With the help of a tech-savvy, underground earthman named Gribble and a rebel Martian girl called Ki, Milo just might find his way back to his mom --- in more ways than one.

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
DVD Release Date: August 16th
Based On: THE ASSASSIN’S ACCOMPLICE: Mary Surratt and the Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln, by Kate Clifford Larson

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 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.

Jane Eyre
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, Sally Hawkins, Holliday Grainger, Tamzin Merchant, Imogen Poots, Amelia Clarkson, Romy Settbon Moore, Freya Parks, Judi Dench,
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Distributor: Focus Features
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: August 16th
Based on: JANE EYRE by Charlotte Brontë

Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender star in the romantic drama based on Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel, from acclaimed director Cary Joji Fukunaga. In the story, Jane Eyre flees Thornfield Hall, where she works as a governess for wealthy Edward Rochester. As she reflects upon the people and emotions that have defined her, it is clear that the isolated and imposing residence --- and Mr. Rochester’s coldness --- have sorely tested the young woman’s resilience, forged years earlier when she was orphaned. She must now act decisively to secure her own future and come to terms with the past that haunts her --- and the terrible secret that Mr. Rochester is hiding and that she has uncovered.

Cast: Paul Bettany, Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q
Director: Scott Charles Stewart
Distributor: Sony Pictures Releasing
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: August 16th
Based On: Priest, a graphic novel series by Hyung Min-woo

A legendary Warrior Priest from the last Vampire War now lives in obscurity among the other downtrodden human inhabitants in walled-in dystopian cities ruled by the Church. When his niece is abducted by a murderous pack of vampires, Priest breaks his sacred vows to venture out on an obsessive quest to find her before they turn her into one of them. He is joined on his crusade by his niece's boyfriend, a trigger-fingered young wasteland sheriff, and a former Warrior Priestess who possesses otherworldly fighting skills.

Something Borrowed
Cast: Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin, John Krasinski, Colin Egglesfield, Steve Howey, Ashley Williams
Director: Luke Greenfield
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: August 16th
Based On: SOMETHING BORROWED by Emily Giffin

Rachel is a talented attorney at a top New York law firm, a generous and loyal friend, and, unhappily, still single…as her engaged best friend Darcy is constantly reminding her. But after one drink too many at her 30th birthday party, perpetual good girl Rachel unexpectedly ends up in bed with the guy she's had a crush on since law school, Dex…who just happens to be Darcy's fiancé. When Rachel and Darcy's lifelong friendship collides with true love, it leads to unexpected complications and potentially explosive romantic revelations.