Book Trailer of the Week: A Different Kind of Daughter: The Girl Who Hid from the Taliban in Plain Sight

This week’s Book Trailer highlights one of the more unusual true stories that have come out of the Middle East since all the madness started there. It is about a young woman from Pakistan by the name of Maria Toorpaki who passed herself off as a boy so that she could have some kind of a life, and in the process, became a squash champion in that mess of a country.

Maria’s memoir is called “A Different Kind of Daughter: The Girl Who Hid from the Taliban in Plain Sight” and the video material is from ABC News.

Book Trailer of the Week: Louise Erdrich on Her Love for Physical Books

It’s always a good day when I hear about a new Louise Erdrich book – and apparently there’s a new one called La Rose coming on May 10 although it’s not mentioned in this wonderful clip of Louise talking about being the owner of her own independent bookstore. Of course, there’s a little bit of subliminal advertising just to her right, so this does qualify as a “book trailer.”

If you’re curious, La Rose is about a man who accidentally kills a neighbor’s son while out deer hunting.  The man and his wife then agree to give their own son to the neighbor so that she can raise him in place of the one killed.  Now, that is a hook.

Movies for Readers: The Revenant

I love it when a worthy book is given new life by a movie adaptation, and  that’s exactly what’s happening right now for Michael Punke’s 2002 novel, The Revenant.  I confess that I’ve neither seen the movie nor read the book, but both are on my To-Do list.

I can, however, tell you that I’ve been hearing good things about the movie since it opened several weeks ago, and that it appears to be doing quite well in theaters (and if the number of copies of the novel I’ve been seeing in bookstores lately is any indication, so is the book).  The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, and Forrest Goodluck…and almost zero women. 

Movies for Readers No. 17

Movies for Readers: The 100-Foot Journey

This week’s Movies for Readers is The 100-Foot Journey, starring Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Charlotte Le Bon, and Manish Dayal.  It is a movie about real people living real lives – no super heroes, no explosions, no car crashes (well, there is one near miss), and no vulgarity. In other words, this is a movie for mature audiences who know how to read.

The 2014 movie is based on a novel by the same name that Richard C. Morais published in 2010.  I have been recommending it to friends for the last couple of weeks, and I’ve yet to find anyone who has a bad thing to say about it.  

This trailer gives a good feel for the movie’s tone and quality: 

Movies for Readers No. 15

Movies for Readers: All the Pretty Horses

Today’s Movies for Readers is one of several Cormac McCarthy books that have been filmed in recent years, All the Pretty Horses.  The movie was released in 2000 and stars young versions of Matt Damon, Penélope Cruz, Henry Thomas, and Lucas Black.  It was directed by Bill Bob Thornton.

Fans of Cormac McCarthy’s fiction probably already know the plot, so let’s just call it one of the most brutal coming-of-age movies that you will ever see.  It is well acted, beautifully shot, and very moving.

Movies for Readers No. 14

Book Trailers: 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened

I was finally able to get to a movie theater this morning so that I could watch 13 Hours: the Secret Soldeirs of Benghazi and I’m happy to report that it is everything I had been told it would be.  It is thrilling, heartbreaking, totally engaging, and most of all, enraging.  Four dead Americans – who by all credible accounts could have been saved – is enraging.

The movie is largely based on Michael Zukoff’s book 13 Hours in Benghazi: The Inside Account of What Really Happened.  I usually find that a movie so much simplifies a book that the movie, despite perhaps lacking the depth of the book, is easier to follow than the book from which it’s taken.  In this instance, that’s not the case.  What happened on the ground in Benghazi is so complicated and has so many moving parts that it takes the pace of a book to keep it all straight in your mind.  The impact of this movie on viewers is more akin to what it must have been like for those fighting for their lives on September 11/12, 2012 – lots of noise, people swarming the streets and grounds, total confusion at times.

Everyone needs to see this movie.  These people should not be forgotten or swept under some political rug during this election year.  (This movie does not overtly point fingers at anyone in Washington D.C., at least by name, although there is a sense of cynicism toward the end that does become a little pointed and obvious.)

Movies for Readers: The First Deadly Sin

I’m going to reach way back into movie history (1980) for this week’s Movies for Readers contribution. The First Deadly Sin was, I’m pretty sure, the first of several Lawrence Sanders crime thrillers that I would eventually read, and the book is such a page-turner that I still remember it very well after all these years. 

The movie adaptation stars Frank Sinatra (in a very good performance), Faye Dunaway (whose character barely gets out of her hospital bed), James Whitmore, and Brenda Vaccaro.  (And those of you with really sharp eyes might even spot Bruce Willis in his very first film role. Hint: he’s coming in a bistro door that Sinatra is exiting.)

Rather than an official trailer (which I can’t find), I’m posting this vivid clip from near the beginning of the movie. The way it’s cut and edited reminds me of Hitchcock’s direction, but the director of The First Deadly Sin was Brian G. Hutton.

Movies for Readers No. 13

Movies for Readers: Carol

Patricia Highsmith was one of the finest writers of her day, and her writing was as bold and fearless as her lifestyle. Highsmith, herself a bisexual, at one point underwent a six-month period of psychoanalysis during which she attempted to “turn herself straight” so that she could be married. It was during this same period that she wrote The Price of Salt (also published under the title Carol) about the affair of two women who meet in a New York department store. The movie version of the story starts Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara and was directed by Todd Haynes.  

I could not find the trailer I was searching for, the one that does not include any dialogue and instead focuses on the 1950s scenery of New York, but this is the official U.S. trailer for the movie.  I’m not particularly interested in the plot of this one but, entirely based upon what I saw in the other trailer, I think it is safe to say that it will be one of the season’s most beautifully filmed movies.

Movies for Readers No. 11

Movies for Readers: Philomena

My weekly “Movies for Readers” offering this time around is a little different in that it was released two years ago and is fairly available right now from sources like Showtime on Demand and Amazon’s Prime Video.  

The movie is based upon Michael Sixsmith’s 2009 book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, the true story of what happened to an Irish teenager and her baby when the girl became pregnant out of wedlock.  It is a tragic story that still manages to have somewhat of an uplifting ending, and it is beautifully acted by Judi Dench (who plays the woman fifty years after her pregnancy) and Steve Coogan (who plays Michael Sixsmith).  

Below are pictures of the actors, the people they portray, and the book upon which the movie is based.

Michael Sixsmith and Philomena Lee

Judi Dench and Steve Coogan
Philomena’s child and his sister

Movies for Readers No. 10

Movies for Readers: 45 Years

45 Years appears to be a really good literary movie, and that means it will probably play in a limited number of movie theaters.  Let’s face it, if it is not Star Wars No. 16 or another darn movie based on a comic book super hero, that’s what happens to movies nowadays. But movies for literate adults are really out there…and it is well worth driving a little out of the way in order to support and enjoy them.

This one is based on a David Constantine short story and stars Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as a married couple approaching their forty-fifth anniversary.  

I don’t know the short story, but the trailer is intriguing enough to keep 45 Years on my radar.  And the clincher came near the end of the trailer when “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” by the Platters is used as part of the soundtrack.  Perfect, just perfect, that was. 

Release date: December 23, 2015

Movies for Readers No. 9

Movies for Readers: To Kill a Mockingbird

I recently had the chance to watch To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time in at least 25 years and the experience turned out to be exactly what I needed to remind me of just how good this Harper Lee novel is.  I think I was in danger of letting my love of Mockingbird be tainted by my less than favorable reaction to Go Set a Watchman, the Harper Lee novel that was finally (and in my opinion, mistakenly) published this year.   My feelings about Watchman were, I think, causing me to second guess my assessment of Lee’s skills.

To Kill a Mockingbird is relatively easy to find on DVD and it seems to be in fairly regular rotation on the Turner Classic Movies channel.  This movie trailer is a good reminder that both the book and the film deserve their “classic” status.

Movies for Readers No. 7

Book Trailer of the Week: Trumbo (movie about Dalton Trumbo)

Here’s some good news and some bad news.  First, the good news: Hollywood has made another movie for adults.  Now, the bad: it will probably get limited release when it comes out in November, so you might have to look around for it to find a theater near you.

Trumbo tells the story of Dalton Trumbo, a Hollywood scriptwriter who refused to kowtow to the rabid mob orchestrating the witch hunt for American communists back in the fifties.  He fought back and he paid the price.  This one has a great cast with Bryan Cranston (of Breaking Bad fame) as Trumbo, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Elle Fanning,John Goodman, and Louis C.K. in the main roles.  

Put it on your calendar.

Book Trailer of the Week: Bats of the Republic

I have always been fascinated by “illustrated novels,” especially when the novels are about time travel and the like, and from the looks of this book trailer, even though this one is not technically about time travel, it just might be a winner.  Zachary Thomas Dodson, author of Bats of the Republic, wrote the book, designed everything about it, and illustrated it himself.  

Take a look at the video and I think that, if you are inclined to enjoy this kind of fiction, you will be intrigued by what you see.  The problem with these books is usually their cost because of how difficult it is to combine all the elements into something the size of a hardcover book.  That’s why I was surprised to see that Amazon is selling Bats of the Republic at a more reasonable price of just $15.37 for the hardcover edition.  (It’s available in Kindle version, too, for a couple of bucks less, but that just makes no sense at all to me after watching the video because feeling and touching this book is a good part of the fun of it.)

Post #2,581


Book Trailer of the Week: My Life After Death

Holy cow…

I was curious about this book because I thought that, surely, it had to be a satirical look at mediums who scam their way through life speaking to the dead loved ones of people willing and able to pay them for that “service.”  Well, no, that’s apparently not what My Life After Death is.  This book, my friends, is intended to milk even more money from the most gullible and hurting people among us.  It is for real; I kid you not.

My Life After Death has supposedly been written by a man, long dead as the result of his suicide, through the lips of the female medium shown in the video, and then further dictated to his mother (whose name is on the cover as the book’s co-author).  Did you follow that?

I’m calling this my “Trailer of the Week” because it’s utter absurdity has more than earned it the crown.  I had no idea there were still people out there doing what this woman does for a living.  Silly me.

(You have to watch this book trailer to believe it.  If you are still not convinced that this book is a “serious” one, go over to Amazon and read the reviews there.  Unbelievable.)

Book Trailer of the Week: "Hollow Man" by Mark Pryor

I have no idea what Hollow Man is about, and Mark Pryor is not an author I’m familiar with…but I really like the book trailer to publicize the novel that Mr. Pryor has put together with a lot of help from his children.  

Well done, guys.

I’ve said it often, but this one reminds me again of the power of a very short book trailer to place a book I would have otherwise never have heard of on my radar screen.  I may still never actually read it, but if I spot it in a bookstore, I will most certainly take a longer look at it than I would have before watching the trailer.  And that is what book trailers are all about, really.

Book Trailer of the Week: "The Martian" (movie version)

I plan to post my review of Andy Weir’s The Martian tomorrow but, because I just noticed this new clip from the movie version (to be released October 2), there will be two “Book Trailers of the Week” this week.  I’ve convinced myself that’s OK since these are the first two “book trailers” I’ve posted in several weeks.

The movie is starting to look as if it will be much more character-driven than the novel itself – and that is probably a good thing…but more on the book tomorrow.  For now, take a look at the clip.  I will add that, even though I’m not a huge fan of the novel, the movie clips I’ve seen from The Martian have just about convinced me that it is one I would enjoy.  Good job, trailers.

Post #2,531

Book Trailer of the Week: Movie Version of "Room" to Be Released This Fall

It really doesn’t seem like I read Emma Donoghue’s Room more than four years ago, but I see that I reviewed it way back on June 20, 2011.  As I said at the time, reading a whole novel written in the voice of a sheltered, young child was a fascinating experience.  I hope that the movie version captures that whole sense of innocence and awe…from this trailer, it looks as if it just might pull it off.  (It does appear, though that the child’s gender has been flipped for the movie.)

As I said in the review linked to above:

Unbeknownst to Jack, his mother has not seen the outside of Room for the seven years she has been Old Nick’s prisoner.   Without Jack, Ma would have no reason to go on living.  She has created an entire world for the boy inside this small space, a world in which she is the source of all knowledge, love, and support.  The outside world makes its way into Room only because Old Nick allows the pair a small television set, but Ma is the one who decides what Jack will watch and how what he sees will be interpreted for him.  Imagine a world in which Room is all that is real, and everything seen on television is make-believe.  That is the way Jack sees the world.

 I’m looking forward to this one…even knowing how it ends.  Heck, even the trailer gives that away.  Not sure how smart that was.

Post #2,530

Thug Notes Reviews "Go Set a Watchman" in Its Own Unique Style

I stumbled upon the work of this guy this afternoon, and my immediate, knee-jerk reaction was to blow him off as a waste of time.  But when I really listened to his schtick, I got it.  He’s aiming for an audience of young people who consider his delivery to be cool and beyond the comprehension of people like me…their generational elders.  And it works.  

In this sample video, the resident “thug” begins with his version of a plot summary of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman before finishing up with his critique of the book.  He presents some interesting thoughts before suggesting that it’s ultimately up to each reader to form his own unique opinion of Watchman by allowing his conscious to be his guide and “watchman.”  (And that plot summary is hilariously accurate.)

The “thug” is actually a stand-up comedian by the name of Greg Edwards who serves as a writer (among others) and front man for “Wisecrack,” a media company out of California.  As you will see, “Wisecrack” uses humor to make its points – both verbally and via its offbeat illustrations.  And if videos like these get a few of those who consider themselves to be members of the hip crowd to actually pick up one of these books, keep them coming, guys.

If you like this sample video, go over to YouTube and subscribe to the series.  It’s all free…and fun.

Post #2,527

Book Trailer of the Week: Andy Weir’s "The Martian" (movie version)

I’ve seen Andy Weir’s The Martian around for a while now but have somehow (unintentionally) managed not to read it.  Haven’t even held a copy in my hands, far as that goes…But this trailer lit a bit of a fire under me, and I’ve just placed a request for it through my county library system where I am number twelve in line.

I am so NOT a Matt Damon fan that I doubt that I’ll ever see the movie, but I’ll give Damon and crew credit for positively influencing my decision to read the novel.  Nice trailer.

Book Trailer of the Week: The Shepherd’s Life

I can hardly believe I’m saying this, but this looks like a book I would enjoy a lot.   I’m a fan of memoirs/autobiographies that give me a peek into the kinds of lives or locales I’m never likely to experience for myself, and…I’m never going to be a shepherd, right?  So why not read The Shepherd’s Life instead?

This, I think, speaks once again to the degree of influence that a well produced book trailer can have.  (I still love book trailers.)