Sunday, October 08, 2006

Tip the Writer

I've never been much for movies. Not for any reason in particular, but I can't remember the last time I missed something in a theatre and regretted it. Our DVD player's dull grey pallor is largely the result of dust. On their own, movies don't seem to have much punch anymore
But a couple of my favourites are making some noise this autumn with their screen adaptations.
Tom Perrotta's Little Children made a fair splash a couple of years ago by expanding on John Cheever and Donald Antrim's turf of suburbanites gone wild and flaming out. This is something American authors have always done well and for my money Tom Perrotta is everything and more that Douglas Coupland was for a few months during the early 90s.
Perrotta's books, Election (filmed with Matthew Broderick) and Joe College are note perfect riffs on entitlement, ambition and a search for something like fulfillment.
The treat for the reader is being able to giggle throughout his books which are essentially, slow motion car crashes. I'll get to this, but nothing like the original. Perrotta's brand of humour is tough to duplicate on screen.
Giles Foden's Last King of Scotland concerns a Scottish doctor who while in Uganda, has the unfortunate happenstance to treat the hideous dictator's injury along a road they are traveling separately.
Amin (played by Forest Whittaker) promises the medical moon to Dr. Nicholas Garrigan, specifically the chance to oversee an emerging nations health care program. For those who know a bit of history, it ends rather badly. It's become rather common to refer to aggressive dictators as sociopathic, but Idi Amin surely was.
Foden is a U.K. native but he gets African nuances, as he has in his other three books. In his novel of the 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa, Osama Bin Laden is a minor character. The books arrival very shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks made for a creepy read.
The number of good books made into great movies is likely small in number, but if either or both films equal the books in this case, that'll make for a good few hours.

Posted by Dave

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