Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dinner and a movie

...on consecutive nights, that is.

Last night, Alex and I got together and roasted a whole frickin' chicken:

Roast chicken - done

It's on a bed of onions, new potatoes, and orange bell peppers, and contained a sprig of fresh rosemary and an entire head of garlic. It was awesome. I plan to try again soon, maybe with some more south-of-the-border ingredients (cilantro, lime, sweet potatoes, corn salsa?).

This afternoon, I attended a free screening of the recent film
Thumbsucker. This screening occurred because the author of the book the film is based on, Walter Kirn, is teaching here at the University of Chicago this quarter, and he did a little Q&A after the movie.

Largely the questions and his answers discussed film adaptations of books, and specifically, what it's like to have your novel adapted for the screen. Kirn is a terrifically eloquent speaker (but in a casual way!), and his answers were really thoughtful and honest.

Film adaptations of books is a subject I've spent a good deal of time thinking about (see these posts), and it was nice to hear some of my conclusions echoed in what Kirn said. Namely, though the differences are myriad between his book and its cinematic counterpart, there is a difference between what a book does and what a movie does, and good filmmakers (and novelists) understand this difference. Kirn pointed out that often great books, books that are highly revered by our culture, make terrible movies, often because the filmmakers try too hard to simply replicate whatever it is that the book does, and don't bring anything person to the film. Likewise, books that are just okay can make excellent movies (his example was The Godfather), in part because the books are often blank slate, with a lot of room for someone to put meaning into them by presenting the story in a particular way. He mentioned that the director of Thumbsucker saw something very personal in the story when he read the book, and this personal thing led to how he put the film together (the director also wrote the screenplay).

Kirn answered the question of why he'd offer film options for his books in the first place by pointing out an argument I've heard before (from John Scalzi, I believe), which is that films introduce a work of literature to an audience that wouldn't have been exposed to it otherwise. Also, he mentioned that he is a writer interested in story, and so to have his works selected by filmmakers is a compliment as story is generally the element of a work that they're picking up on.

All in all, a fun experience. The film has some great acting in it; I found the parents to be the most compelling/frustrating characters in the movie. Even though I haven't read it, I'm going to recommend the book over the film (I intend to read it myself), though the movie was quite enjoyable and I am sure that each medium will provide you with a difference kind of experience.


Alex said...

put the potatoes into a quiche last night. all the flavor of the chicken and peppers and rosemary and garlic went straight to to quiche, which was (and still shall be, delicious)

Ayn said...

Roast chicken: the dinner that keeps on giving. =D