Tag Archives: Books

Review for “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

There’s something particularly peculiar about the adaptation of this particular novel. A children’s book with very adult themes, the story is told from the perspective of the narrator, an 8 year old boy who moves to Auschwitz with his family including his Nazi superior officer father, but without understanding the reasons behind the move, nor exactly what it is that his father does there. The story is revealed to the reader at the same pace as the lead character, and therein lies the problem. Not only has The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas been translated into 34 languages around the world, and remained in the Irish Bestseller’s List for over a year, the film has to take a different slant towards the story. Telling a story from a perspective is one thing, but showing it is something else entirely.

The film does take a fair amount of time to get going, especially considering its rather meagre running time of 94 minutes, but once it arrives at its destination, the sense of foreboding ratchets up constantly. As Bruno, the inquisitive boy always looking for adventune, Asa Butterfield delivers a performance that can be placed among the ranks of the Fanning’s and the Joel Osmand’s of the world; kids with scarily too much talent for their age. But even surpassing him is Jack Scanlon as Schmuel, aka The Boy, who’s expressions rarely fail to be set to either confused depression and rampant fear. The image of Bruno, son of the Soldier in charge of one of the Auschwitz concentration camps, trying to play a game with Schmuel, who doesn’t understand why he’s being treated so badly beyond knowing that its because he’s Jewish, across a barb-wired electrified fence is striking, and just one of the many images that will remain in your memory long after the film is over.

Outside of the children, the adults all step their game up. David Thewlis plays the German soldier/father with suiting subtlety, being impossibly creepy as a loving father all the while knowing exactly what his happening in his back garden. Vera Farmiga outdoes herself as the mother of the family, trying to keep a loving household together in the midst of such a violent atmosphere. And Rupert Friend is absolutely terrifying as a rage-fuelled soldier with a possible murky past of his own.

Director Mark Herman knows how to play down a situation and let the story speak for itself, and has proven himself fully capable of such in the past with small hits like Little Voice and Brassed Off, but here he seems overtly aware of the story’s power and where it is all inevitably heading, and underplays the entire thing to such a degree that for the most part it seems like nothing is ever going to happen. But lurking beneath all the scenes of emotional ambiguity and personality revolutions, there is a constant sense of dread, and while we may not know for sure, but we all know that this can not end well. The climax still retains the same power that the book had, perhaps even more so thanks to a fantastic score by James Horner.

But in the end, the movie will leave with the feeling that while very competently made and well acted, it was a 5 minute climax that merely required a 90 minute build up. Everything that had gone before was secondary to how it was going to end. In this case, where we got was the most important part, not how we got there.

Seven Out Of Ten

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Trailer Park Triple – Max, Choke, Elegy

The first trailer for the John Moore-directed Max Payne has been revealed to the interweb:

For some reason, this seems better the second or third time you watch it. As trailers go, it’s nicely paced and edited, with some good shots on view without (seeminly) giving too much away. It helps that it has Marilyn Manson’s “If I Was Your Vampire” as the soundtrack. Hard to say at this early stage if Wahlberg &co will do justice to the video game source, but we’re not giving up hope. Yet.

Next up is the redband trailer from Choke, based on Chuck Palahniuk’s novel:

Still using the great Clap Your Hands Say Yeah song, “Satan Said Dance”, (anyone else noticing a trend in trailer songs being used….?), this trailer has more new footage, more new laughs, more naughtiness and, more importantly for some of you, more boobs! This film is shaping up nice and the early good word from the likes of Sundance and SXSW bode well.

And if you haven’t joined the Fox Searchlight facebook page yet, go do so now! Just the other week, they sent members a link to four potential TV spots for Choke, and we got to vote on the best one. So even if the one you vote for didn’t get picked, you still get to see all the clips. And wait! There’s more! The official movie page, http://www.chokeonthis.net, has some extra clips, such as passages from the book being read by exotic dancers. Need to get past the US age restrictions? Then pass yourself off as a wealthy writer-producer (Name: Larry David, DOB: 2 July 1947, Zip Code: 90210).

And on a different note, we have Elegy:

No soundtrack songs involving Satan or vampires, but we still have the potential ick-factor of Penelope Cruz sleeping with Sir Ben Kingsley. Yep, you read that right. This is adapted from Philip Roth’s novella The Dying Animal and directed by Isabel Coixet, and concerns a college professor (Kingsley) having an affair with one of his mature students (Cruz). Dennis Hopper and the ever-excellent Patricia Clarkson and Peter Sarsgaard round out the supporting cast.

Correct Opinion: bringing a little something for all the family.

What Gondry Did Next

Everyone loves Gondry cos he’s a genius (which he is) and because Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind was a masterpiece (which it was), but people are often all too willing to blindside themselves to genius’ when they get things wrong. Human Nature wasn’t very good, The Science Of Sleep was kind of a mess and Be Kind Rewind was only vaguely entertaining. But Gondry, just like Spike Jonze, David Fincher, Darren Aronofsky and some other mentionable modern geniuses, no matter how many times they might get things a little wrong, we’re still really interested in what they’re going to do next. And in the case of Gondry, its an adaptation of Master Of Space And Time.

A sci-fi comedy about two mad scientists who accidentally discover a way to master, yes, space and, yes, time, it was due to star Jack Black (who dropped out due to schedule clashes with Year One) and Bill Murray (who dropped out for “creative” reasons), its currently castless, but still production is steaming ahead. One day Gondry won’t need a cast, and he will make a film entirely of hand made backdrops and interesting self-using props, but until then, he’s gonna need someone to play the crackpots who cross space and time to discover potentially different fates for the planet. Expect to see it towards the end of ’09.

The Twilight Bone

This is the last of the viral trailers for Pahalinuk’s new book, which has subsequently been pushed back to September, due to editing issues! Sounds…… intriguing.

Anyways, yeah, book to actual movie news……

Jesus Was A Bastard, apparently.

Paul Verhoven, director of subtle high brow fare such as Hollow Man, Starship Troopers, Showgirls, Basic Instinct, Total Recall, and Robocop is planning to release a novel later this year. Anyone anticipating what would surely be one of the most interesting auto-biography’s of all time will be disappointed, as will anyone expecting a porn and violence epic from the man who finally found a way to mix the two effectively and serve it to the masses like a soup kitchen during war times.

No no, its going to be about religion. But before you yawn yourself to death, take a look at its synopsis:

The Dutch filmmaker, who has had a lifelong ambition to make a film about Jesus based on scientific research, claims that Jesus’ father was probably a Roman soldier who raped Mary during the Jewish uprising in Galilee. He also claims that Christ was not betrayed by Judas Iscariot.

And appearantly this is only the tip of his heavely researched, new age iceberg of the biography of Mr. J. H. Christ. Either way, he’ll be the most hated man in literature since Dan Brown.