Saturday, 17 November 2007

Five Dream Adaptations

We are looking at our library to determine which potential franchise properties make the most sense for us to produce, and Death Wish was clearly one that jumped out. MGM chief operating officer Rick Sands

For ‘franchised properties’, read ‘hoary old movies that weren’t any good in the first place’. I guess that recycling branded properties from a bulging portfolio of mostly old toss makes sound economic sense – however, with an absolute plethora of brilliant novels out there, it’s a shame that the height of ambition for a company such as MGM is a remake of Death Wish starring Sylvester Stallone.

On that note, here are five books I’d love to see adapted for the screen:

Foucault’s Pendulum, Umberto Eco: everyone’s seen The Name of The Rose, starring Sean Connery and a pre-smug Christian Slater. Here’s the weighty but playful follow-up. Three book editors employed at a vanity publishers get caught up in a truly wild occult conspiracy (which isn't all it seems). It may well be unfilmable in certain respects, but the sheer breadth of its narrative would make for something far more entertaining and engrossing than flippin’ Death Wish.

The Erasers, Alain Robbe-Grillet – no, not that film featuring old Mr Mahogany Sideboard himself, but the weirdest existentialist detective novel you’ll ever have the pleasure of reading.

Pompey, Jonathan Meades – the prologue ends with the words, After using this book please wash your hands, which just about sums things up. You may know Meades from such TV programmes as Abroad Again, but to my mind his talents as a broadcaster pale into insignificance when compared to what he does as a novelist. This book is written in a syrupy thick type of English parochialism and covers everything from the origin of AIDS to African pygmy hunting. There's also a crazy sojourn in Belgium of all places.

The Observer calls this book a ‘sleaze epic’, and they’re not far wrong.

Cocaine Nights, JG Ballard Empire of the Sun and Crash apart, any JG Ballard novel would seem ripe for a screen adaptation (with the possible exception of The Atrocity Exhibition of course).

Glamorama, Bret Easton Ellis – the trend for adapting Easton Ellis books for the screen is fairly well established (apparently, there’s a screen adaptation of Glamorama in the works but it’s been delayed for a couple of years now). Victor Ward, a vacuous fashionista gets caught up with a psychotic gang of supermodel terrorists, who launch random atrocities across the globe for no discernible reason. Only then do things start to get weird: Victor is followed incessantly by a camera crew, who appear to be filming a partially scripted version of his own life. God only knows what Hollywood is going to do this, but I bet a skipload of money it won’t be any good.

Story, Robert McKee – only kidding!

Plenty more where this little lot came from - what would you like to see adapted for the screen?


Tom said...

The Thought Gang by Tibor Fischer. Although I don't think it would actually be any good as a film.

Elinor said...

Clay's Ark by Octavia Butler. Excellent low-budget sci-fi.

Chip Smith said...

There's stacks more I could mention here... I'm reading a lot of Nelson Algren at the moment - The Man with the Golden Arm seems ripe for a re-make to me. A Walk on the Wild Side would make a cracking film as well.

There's also a book on Nico (the ex-Velvet Undergounder who died a few years back) by her touring keyboard player James Young - for a book packed with junkies and freaks, it's hysterical; well worth checking out.

Jon Peacey said...

I know which books I'd adapt if I had the money to buy the rights (but I'll keep them a secret- ain't I mean?)...

Hoary old films sometimes make good remakes- like Alien... hoorah!

By the way, there's already a film of The Atrocity Exhibition. Don't know if it's any good. I'd put in funky whatnots that you could just click on... but I can't.

So not only is it:
but also:

And now there's something else for me to have to get hold of. Damn.

Chip Smith said...

Wow, had no idea about The Atrocity Exhibition - looks intriguing, eespecially the plot keywords on IMDB: "Avant Garde/Sex/Architecture...". Sounds like my sort of film! Thanks for the tip off, Mr Encyclopaedic!

Oli said...

Top Ten, by Alan Moore... if I get to be the writer/director with complete creative control. Maybe a little hopeful there.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Vin Diesel as Shadow. You know it works.

Chip Smith said...

I saw V for Vendetta when it came out - no wonder Alan Moore asked for his name to be taken off the credits. What a load of verbose old toss!

That said, I am more than happy with Oli at the helm of Top Ten - you have my vote, sir. Perhaps we could start a mail-in vote at MGM or something?

Lucy said...

I would like to see Dirty Havana Trilogy made it into a film. Yes just the one film cos despite being called a Trilogy it's actually one book. It's a semi-autobiographical account of some Cuban guy shagging. Everyone. In Cuba. And that's about it. But it would start a ruck and that's all I care about. Bet you look it up on Amazon now.

Chip Smith said...

I read DHT a little while back - lots of shagging, oh yes, but lots of jaw dropping paragraphs about real grinding poverty. The shagging kind of got in the way for me (and by jingo, there's one hell of a lot of it).

If it's a ruck you're after, Lucy, I guess we could go for a straight adaptation of Naked Lunch. Or how about Filthy English by Jonathan Meades? So many rucks, so little time...

Jon Peacey said...

I'll pop my head up and say my number one dream adaptation would have to be The Plague by Camus. It was tried a couple of years ago with Wiliam Hurt, with a different setting (South America as opposed to Algiera) and seemingly a lack of any idea as to what the book might have been about. It lost so much in its desperate desire to be another in an ever-expanding list of bad William Hurt films. Time for a decent version. (And I'd love to have a crack at The Ballad Of Halo Jones.)

Chip Smith said...

Good choice, Jon - I was toying with the idea of putting The Outsider in my list, but Glamorama beat it by a short head (not that Glamorama is the better book).

There are a couple of really good Andre Gide novels also worthy of a mention here (The Counterfeiters, The Vatican Cellars), as well as a couple by Wyndham Lewis (Apes of God, Tarr).

Blimey, I think I'd better start expanding my original list...