Black Mass Question #19: From Book to Film

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Black Mass Question #19: From Book to Film

Unread postby fireflydances » Sat Oct 18, 2014 9:46 pm

What are you looking for in a movie based on a book? Do you prefer your movie to adhere as closely as possible to the book's story line, or a movie that takes risks but manages to capture the essence of the story?
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Re: Black Mass Question #19: From Book to Film

Unread postby shadowydog » Sun Oct 19, 2014 11:30 am

fireflydances wrote:What are you looking for in a movie based on a book? Do you prefer your movie to adhere as closely as possible to the book's story line, or a movie that takes risks but manages to capture the essence of the story?



Books make terrible movies. If a book has a good premise for a film story, I would hope that the premise be adhered to as close as possible but still make a good film. This topic has been a hot topic over on the sites covering Tolkien and Jackson's Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. Every addition or deletion or change is jumped on and criticized by the Tolkien purists. But a lot of the changes were necessary to create movies that flow and tell a tale that fits the screen.
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Re: Black Mass Question #19: From Book to Film

Unread postby nebraska » Sun Oct 19, 2014 11:59 am

In general books and film are such different mediums that they require different techniques. The book The Brave was based on is very different from the movie Johnny made. The book would have made terrible viewing as it was written, but it was heart-breaking to read. I finished reading Gone Girl a few days ago -- the book is an intense
Spoiler! :
psychological study of a mad woman.
I don't see how a film could possibly portray what the book was, although it is tempting to go see the film because the same author wrote the book and the screen play. Still, she admits she cut scenes and combined characters to fit the movie format. The Hunger Games is a rare exception. The movie stayed true to the book and it helped me visualize many things I couldn't imagine on my own, like the game keeper's control room. That is what I prefer in a movie made from a book. If the film maker is going to capture only the essence of the story, then he should tell a different story. This is particularly true for me when the book is non-fiction. I admit I am a little worried about Black Mass the movie and how much fiction will be mixed into the truth.

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Re: Black Mass Question #19: From Book to Film

Unread postby fireflydances » Sun Oct 19, 2014 2:01 pm

Making movies from books is an undertaking fraught with danger. Particularly if the book is one of the great ones, a masterwork that has been taken into the heart of millions. One wants to ask why a producer even contemplates the notion of turning such jewels into movies. But, there are rare movies that manage to take a strong book and transform this thing constructed of words and imagination into one made of light and sound. That is worth doing. Such movies succeed because they've distilled the essential heart of the original story and reformulated it so that we feel, we dream, just as we did with the book. Who can do this? I'd say the producer and director, everyone on board really, would have to be artists themselves. Not ordinary movie makers.

Now we should also mention that many, many movies are born out of books that went absolutely nowhere in terms of the reading public. Written and left on the shelf, or even hobbled out to be attractive only to producers, they lacked that hard to define depth and wordiness that meant they'd never be taken up as necessary reads. The heart of such books is cinematic. Certain elements are present -- a dialogue that snaps, lots of action, a simple story that can grab an audience's attention -- things that make conversion to film almost natural.

What do we have with Black Mass? We got a good story. One doesn't find book after book produced on something because a story is boring. It's got that bite -- a character who is twenty feet tall already -- full of bad deeds and mystery. So, can a director and a group of actors create the same fire as the original story? Can they make a film that we will want to see?

Let's digress for a moment and consider Public Enemies. I liked the movie, not because of the book, but because of the movie's "take" on the original story. It added something to the original Dillinger tale we've heard since we were kids that made it worth seeing for me. I liked what JD did, although I would have had more of what he did and less gun play. I loved the music, the cinematography. Its a film that continues to glow in my visual memory.

I will be frank here. I don't think a totally evil Whitey is going to provide the juice that takes the film to another level. We already know he's bad man -- who needs to pay money to see that story? No, we need someone to dig hard into this man and this story, and find that inner pearl not yet considered. The thing that explodes our already tied up version of what the story is and introduces something that makes us look again.

One area ripe for consideration: the inter-relationship of men. Men who are violent, and loyal and determined to trod along the shadow side of life. What makes a gang a gang? What makes a naughty boy become a heartless man? And how does the heartless man also require a woman to accompany him on 15 plus years in the wilderness? Heartless but soft, eh?

Anyway, they got their hands full. Good luck to them :dillingerhello:
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Re: Black Mass Question #19: From Book to Film

Unread postby Liz » Mon Oct 20, 2014 12:05 am

nebraska wrote:In general books and film are such different mediums that they require different techniques. The book The Brave was based on is very different from the movie Johnny made. The book would have made terrible viewing as it was written, but it was heart-breaking to read. I finished reading Gone Girl a few days ago -- the book is an intense
Spoiler! :
psychological study of a mad woman.
I don't see how a film could possibly portray what the book was, although it is tempting to go see the film because the same author wrote the book and the screen play. Still, she admits she cut scenes and combined characters to fit the movie format. The Hunger Games is a rare exception. The movie stayed true to the book and it helped me visualize many things I couldn't imagine on my own, like the game keeper's control room. That is what I prefer in a movie made from a book. If the film maker is going to capture only the essence of the story, then he should tell a different story. This is particularly true for me when the book is non-fiction. I admit I am a little worried about Black Mass the movie and how much fiction will be mixed into the truth.

Sorry, nebraska, but I blocked out a bit of what you said because it was a major spoiler. Those who've read Gone Girl should read the spoiler. Those who haven't, read at your own risk.

I am dying to see Gone Girl, but I have had no time. I have been told by those who have seen it that it translated quite well to film (probably because the author wrote the screenplay). But also, I am hearing from some that it is better than the book.....hard to believe, as that book was one of the best books I've read in years (IMHO).

I, personally, am very critical of films based on books. I want the film to stick to the book as much as possible. Some movies have done this quite well. The World According to Garp comes to mind. I know that there have been others, although I can't think of any off the top of my head right now, except for Seabiscuit. Seems to me that I was really disappointed or really pleased. Wish I could remember which. I think it was pleased.

EDIT: Forgot one. Hugo. I thought the movie did an excellent job of bringing the book to life. And that was not an easy book to bring to life.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: Black Mass Question #19: From Book to Film

Unread postby Liz » Mon Oct 20, 2014 12:22 am

fireflydances wrote:Let's digress for a moment and consider Public Enemies. I liked the movie, not because of the book, but because of the movie's "take" on the original story. It added something to the original Dillinger tale we've heard since we were kids that made it worth seeing for me. I liked what JD did, although I would have had more of what he did and less gun play. I loved the music, the cinematography. Its a film that continues to glow in my visual memory.

And I felt just the opposite. But I read the book. Seems to me you never read the book, but I may be remembering incorrectly.

I don't want to be too critical, but I think that Dillinger's essence (as portrayed by Bryan Burrough) was missing. And although the director painstakingly portrayed scenes exactly how they happened, he took major liberties with others.



fireflydances wrote:I will be frank here. I don't think a totally evil Whitey is going to provide the juice that takes the film to another level. We already know he's bad man -- who needs to pay money to see that story? No, we need someone to dig hard into this man and this story, and find that inner pearl not yet considered. The thing that explodes our already tied up version of what the story is and introduces something that makes us look again.

I don't think that we know enough of Whitey, the man (based on Black Mass, the book). I don't think his character was drawn well. That leaves it open for interpretation. So in this particular case, I am open to a creative interpretation of Whitey. I guess I'm just not as invested in this book as I was Public Enemies.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: Black Mass Question #19: From Book to Film

Unread postby shadowydog » Mon Oct 20, 2014 12:43 am

Well I haven't read the book. :blush: But from everything I have read here and viewed from documentaries and the news, I think Whitey is more complex than what I understand was in the book. I am encouraged that Johnny tried to research Whitey's life and talked to people who knew him and were relatives of those he killed or ordered killed. So I hope the movie is more than just a "documentary" of the corruption of the FBI; but tells the story of Whitey Bulger in a realistic analytical manner. No body is pure evil or pure good. We all embrace the range of good and evil. Where the scale tips to one side or the other is a topic worth studying and portraying in a film such as this. :hope:
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Re: Black Mass Question #19: From Book to Film

Unread postby nebraska » Mon Oct 20, 2014 7:43 am

Liz wrote:
nebraska wrote: I finished reading Gone Girl a few days ago -- the book is an intense

Sorry, nebraska, but I blocked out a bit of what you said because it was a major spoiler. Those who've read Gone Girl should read the spoiler. Those who haven't, read at your own risk.


Thanks, Liz. That thought never crossed my mind. :blush:

I just hope that Johnny doesn't portray Whitey as some sort of misunderstood good guy.

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Re: Black Mass Question #19: From Book to Film

Unread postby Liz » Mon Oct 20, 2014 9:38 pm

nebraska wrote:
Liz wrote:
nebraska wrote: I finished reading Gone Girl a few days ago -- the book is an intense

Sorry, nebraska, but I blocked out a bit of what you said because it was a major spoiler. Those who've read Gone Girl should read the spoiler. Those who haven't, read at your own risk.


Thanks, Liz. That thought never crossed my mind. :blush:

I just hope that Johnny doesn't portray Whitey as some sort of misunderstood good guy.

No worries, nebraska.

As far as Johnny's portrayal of Whitey, I suspect he will play it with some ambiguity, as he always does. My prediction is that he will be sympathetic. I couldn't handle it if he played him as strictly evil.
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Re: Black Mass Question #19: From Book to Film

Unread postby fireflydances » Tue Oct 21, 2014 9:04 pm

I actually don't want a sympathetic portrait. I want one that gets under the skin of a guy who could slaughter people without reflection but who needed a sense of family in his life. What did family mean to him? Obviously it was important because, even though he didn't marry, he spent lots of time living this married life with two different women. He even took on parenting responsibilities -- behavior in the home, how to treat a girl, etc. You wonder if he managed to create a wall between the two halves of his life. And violence is so central to him, so necessary in his dealings with others. Why? You know they say his father was older and quite gentle but you violence when you are young, through example.

So I am hoping for a distinctive vision of Whitey. Which has to be hard because of access problems. I really wonder if JD got to meet the family but I would guess no -- this is a family burned to the core by how the media defined Whitey. The Irish are a tight lipped bunch -- never give what isn't required. That's the way I was raised at least.
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Re: Black Mass Question #19: From Book to Film

Unread postby Liz » Wed Oct 22, 2014 1:18 am

It would have been cool if he had met Whitey. But I think we'd hear about it if he had.
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Re: Black Mass Question #19: From Book to Film

Unread postby Liz » Wed Oct 22, 2014 1:21 am

Liz wrote:
nebraska wrote:
Liz wrote:Sorry, nebraska, but I blocked out a bit of what you said because it was a major spoiler. Those who've read Gone Girl should read the spoiler. Those who haven't, read at your own risk.


Thanks, Liz. That thought never crossed my mind. :blush:

I just hope that Johnny doesn't portray Whitey as some sort of misunderstood good guy.

No worries, nebraska.

As far as Johnny's portrayal of Whitey, I suspect he will play it with some ambiguity, as he always does. My prediction is that he will be sympathetic. I couldn't handle it if he played him as strictly evil.
:popcorn:

Saw Gone Girl tonight. They did a really good job with the movie, except in a couple of areas. The acting was spot on. But I still liked the book better.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: Black Mass Question #19: From Book to Film

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Wed Oct 22, 2014 11:47 pm

I can say almost unequivocally that the further a movie strays from a book, the more disappointed I am. And I almost always like the book more. The one and only exception that comes to mind is The Fault In Our Stars. I honestly loved that movie, even more than the book, so I asked myself why. The only answer I could come up with is that the characters, for me, had more depth and became even more real in the movie version. I think usually it’s the other way around, with characters usually having more depth in the book.

Liz wrote:I don't think that we know enough of Whitey, the man (based on Black Mass, the book). I don't think his character was drawn well. That leaves it open for interpretation. So in this particular case, I am open to a creative interpretation of Whitey. I guess I'm just not as invested in this book as I was Public Enemies.

I completely agree with you here! I think the authors left a lot of room for interpretation and exploration when it comes to Whitey’s character. And I too was way more invested in Public Enemies. By the time the movie came out, I felt like I knew Dillinger. The factual discrepencies didn't bother me nearly as much as the fact that I felt Dillinger's portrayal was off. His "essence" as Liz called it. Because I don't feel like I "know" Whitey yet, I have much higher hopes for Black Mass!

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Re: Black Mass Question #19: From Book to Film

Unread postby Liz » Thu Oct 23, 2014 12:00 am

Yes, maybe that is a good thing.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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