Good movies based on good books
In which I record my feelings about film adaptations of novels I've seen
I first saw the film Fight Club when I was about 19 years old. At the time I had moved back in with my mother and was working my first IT job at the college I was attending. I had recently become disillusioned with establishment and the role of education within society, as I was often assisting the president of the college during her meetings - during this time I saw first hand how college degree curricula is not formed in order to best educate the student, but rather, to prolong the amount of time a person must attend classes. In other words, they knowingly included classes into my computer science degree that they knew would never help any computer scientist. They did so by committee, seated at an illustrious round table that was adorned with the most advanced collaborative software and technology of the time, after carefully weighing how lucrative the changes would be.
My best friend brought Fight Club over in a "you have to see this shit, you're going to fucking love it" kind of way. I wasn't fond of either Brad Pitt or Edward Norton, but by the time the final credits rolled they would jointly share the honors of being my favorite actors. The movie immediately grabbed me and struck a chord that seemed familiar, even though I was a young student making about $10 and hour and living at home with my mother (in other words, aside from the fact that I was raised by my mother, I had nothing in common with the narrator). Maybe it's because my father was never around. Maybe it was my experiences at college. Whatever it was, the movie endeared and has remained my favorite since that day. In many ways it would prove to be prophetic of my life - though I do wish I'd lived a life even half as sensational.
Years later, when I was much wiser and tainted by a career saturated with the ideals of corporate culture, I would steal the novel by Chuck Palahniuk from a Barnes and Noble that had a Starbucks in it. Poetic, I thought. The story of the protagonist, and the observations Palahniuk made upon the modern man, would inspire me seek a path out of corporate America and into the non-profit I currently work for (and intend on eventually retiring from, if fate would have it). I enjoyed the book so much that I decided to give all of Palahniuk's other works a look. He's not my favorite author (I have a hard time deciding between Washington Irving, Carl Sagan, and Orson Scott Card), but he's up there. I'm enjoying his latest novel Pygmy, as a matter of fact, and it's funny as shit.
No Country for Old Men
I've been a fan of Cormac McCarthy since I was about 25. I started with Blood Meridian, and was dismayed at the incredible way McCarthy could so easily paint a scene in your head with a few sentences (very Hemingway), or turn around and verbosely detail every aspect of a character or circumstance without it feeling like a bloated narrative. No Country for Old Men would turn out to be my favorite of his works. It's seared into my mind, and I often find myself thinking about some of the things McCarthy said in it.
About a year after I had read the novel, the film was released. I saw it opening night, alone (my girlfriend was not a fan of any movie that was not either horror or chick flick). The antagonist in the novel, Anton Chigurh, was an unstoppable force of nature - I was very interested at how the film makers would portray him on-screen. I have to say, he was the most memorable thing about the movie. Chilling. You hated him because you knew he couldn't be stopped. He murdered good people for no reason, and he loved it, and he would never be caught. To this day it's hard for me to watch this movie because I hate Anton so much. And by illiciting such a reaction I must admit that the film makers did a terrific job. Because I have never been able to give the book a second read, either.