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Read It First! Movie Adaptations in Theaters This Month

Christa Deitrick, Librarian, Literature & Fiction Department,
book covers of three of the movies coming out in December

Here in L.A. we had a wet Thanksgiving and we probably won’t have a white Christmas, but we can still take part in that old tradition—big-budget holiday movies. December looks like a pretty mixed bag in terms of movies based on books—there are a few possible sugarplums and some likely lumps of coal. But don’t let that stop you from snuggling up with a great book to round off the year. All of us here at Los Angeles Public Library wish you Season’s Readings!

Coming This December

Held back from release for over a year, the film adaptation of James Frey’s beleaguered 2003 book (initially published as a memoir but later revealed to be mostly fiction) finally hits the big screen. Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Frey, who at 23 entered rehab after a decade of extreme misadventures due to alcoholism and addiction. One critic calls the movie “excessively conventional.” Make of that what you will.

Anyone who has ever seen Jean-Luc Goddard’s brilliant 1960 film Breathless knows that Jean Seberg was no ordinary mortal. Born and raised in Iowa, she nevertheless became one of the most celebrated stars of the French New Wave movement. Seberg’s life and career were cut tragically short when political persecution and personal demons drove her to commit suicide at the age of 40. And this glittering, gossamer, harrowing sprite is to be played by Kristen Stewart? Screenplay by Joe Schrapnel and Anna Waterhous, but those interested in Seberg might enjoy reading Played Out: The Jean Seberg Story by David Richards.

Van Allsburg, Chris.

Another installment in the series of successful films based on Chris Van Allsburg’s picture book for children. The gang from the 2017 hit Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is back, but the game has changed. This time they must brave a variety of perilous new environs to save one of their own.

Eliot, T. S. (Thomas Stearns), 1888-1965.

The long-running musical Cats is based on this whimsical collection of cat poems, written by a very serious poet.

T.S. Eliot’s quirky felines have been mainstays on the stage for decades, and now they’re getting their big screen debut. Lord knows I love dancing and poetry, but I have a hard time with the whole cats-on-two-feet thing. For the sake of the legion of fans of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical, I hope the film is fun!

Based on the true story of Fox News creator Roger Ailes, who was brought down when anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him in 2016. A flood of similar allegations followed and Ailes, forced to resign, died in disgrace the following year. The cast is strong, with John Lithgow as Ailes, Nicole Kidman as Carlson, and Charlize Theron as a dead-ringer for Megyn Kelly. The screenplay is by Charles Randolph, but those who want to get in on the ground floor of this story might enjoy reading Gabriel Sherman’s biography of Ailes,The Loudest Voice in the Room.

Director Karim Ainouz brings fellow Brazilian Martha Batalha’s novel to life in this award-winning film. Set in Rio de Janeiro circa 1950, Invisible Life tells the story of two inseparable sisters who are forced to live apart by their domineering father. The movie won a prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and has been chosen to represent Brazil in the Best International Feature Film category at the 92nd Academy Awards next February. Sounds promising.

Alcott, Louisa May, 1832-1888.

The beloved tale of the March sisters as they grow from childhood to adulthood gets a new cinematic adaptation helmed by Greta Gerwig. Follow strong-willed Jo, compassionate Beth, artistic Amy, and romantic Meg as they learn the meaning of family and true wealth while discovering lives of their own. Saoirse Ronan and Timothee Chalamet head a terrific cast. Sure to be a holiday hit. I hope it’s as good as it looks.