Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies Adapted from a Young Adult Novel


Now, this week's category in Wandering through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks Meme is right in my wheelhouse.

I teach this stuff. Well, that it to say that I teach kids who read this stuff. So, in turn, I read it as well. I have to. I have to stay connected with the YA goods.

There are so many good movies to pick from here. Some I've used before (I'm trying not to repeat any picks). I focused on screen adaptations of works I've actually read. I came up with, in the end, three movies that I will love forever, no matter how many times I've seen them.


Here are my Thursday Movie Picks in the category of Movies Adapted from a Young Adult Novel:

"The Outsiders" (Francis Ford Coppola, 1983)



My first gig as a teacher was 8th grade Language Arts. I now teach 7th. But the four years I taught 8th grade, the biggest highlight of my year was getting to share S.E. Hinton's first novel with my students. It's not particularly well-written, but you must remember that Hinton was only 16 when she started writing it and was a mere 18-years-old when it was published.

The movie, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, takes a perfectly plotted story and just makes it better. The look, the sound, and the performances from an unbelievable who's who of stars (C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, and Diane Lane) is one of the most memorable movie experiences of my life. The basics of the story are that in early 1960s Tulsa, two adolescent cliques have formed, The Greasers (poor, tuff-looking kids from the wrong side of the tracks) and The Socs ("the rich kids with Mustangs and madras"). When the hero Ponyboy (Howell) and his best friend Johnny Cade (Ralph Macchio) find themselves in a violent encounter with the meanest of the Socs, Bob (Leif Garrett), their lives are changed forever. And we, as an audience, are changed and shocked and shaken. The ending gets me every time. "Stay Gold."

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" (Francis Lawrence, 2013)



Of Suzanne Collins' "Hunger Games" trilogy, this one, the middle piece, is by far my favorite as both a novel and a movie. After the huge success of the first installment, Jennifer Lawrence returns as Katniss Everdeen, now a Victor back in her Appalachian home, known in the distant future of this trilogy as District 12 (the coal mining district). A new director in Francis Lawrence ("Constantine", "I Am Legend") took the helm from "Hunger Games" director Gary Ross, took the brilliant production design already in place, and made just a much better film. This thing looks great. I actually enjoy this movie more than the book, which spends way too much time on the wishy-washy Katniss-Peeta (Josh Hutcherson)-Gale (Liam Hemsworth) love triangle.

"The Spectacular Now" (James Ponsoldt, 2013)



Screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber ("500 Days of Summer", "The Fault in Our Stars") seemingly can do no wrong. This is my favorite of their screenplays. It takes a darkly tragic tale of a young, self-absorbed, yet endlessly likable, alcoholic, keeps enough of the darkness and removes enough of the unnecessary. Don't get me wrong. Author Tim Tharp's novel, a National Book Award Finalist, is excellent, a sort of stream-of-concioiusness first person narrative. But the movie is better, mostly because everything went so perfectly. Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley have a chemistry unmatched in "teen" movies, and director James Ponsoldt, you can so tell, feels and has felt the pleasures and pains of these characters, of young love. When I finally saw this thing on Blu-ray in early 2014, it instantly became my favorite movie of 2013. And it alone inspired me to dust off this old blog and get back to work.

"The Spectacular Now" is the kind of movie that all teenagers should see. I'm pretty sure none did (at least in the theater).

For my full review, click here.

Also, in a serendipitous turn of events, a Live Action Fairy Tale was released to great acclaim this week, so I went to see it. And I loved it. Here's my review of Cinderella, if you're interested. 

29 comments:

  1. The Outsider is a very interesting choice, a Francis Ford work that very few people would consider. I haven't seen it myself, but I came acorss when writing this Thursday Movie Picks. Catching Fire is my favorite Hunger Games film as well, though I picked the franchise as whole rather than just one film.

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    1. Please see The Outsiders. It is so good. It was a staple at my house. My Mom loved it, so we've always had a copy laying around. The book is great as well!

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  2. Happy you picked The Spectacular Now! Miles Teller and especially Shailane Woodley give remarkable performances, allowing us as an audience to not only care about them and their struggles, but to reflect on our own challenges too.

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    1. True true! Great movie with unbelievable performances from its young leads. Thanks so much.

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  3. I can't believe I still haven't seen The Outsiders! I really need to.

    I was tempted to go with The Hunger Games, since I actually like those movies (far better than the books), but I figured they'd factor in heavily here, so I stayed away.

    Love that you went with The Spectacular Now. It really is all the things you said. There is a beautiful balance going on there.

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    1. I really think you'd love it. It's hard not to. There are two versions: theatrical and "complete novel." The theatrical version is where its at. It cuts the fluff from the beginning and end of the book and makes the story so powerful.

      My love is really for J Law more than anything, but Catching Fire is seriously one of the best movies of the last few years for me. I loved it!

      The Spectacular Now is heartbreaking and perfect.

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  4. Sadly, The Outsiders is still on my watchlist, although I'm pretty in much in love with Brat Pack

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  5. Great picks! I've never seen the Outsiders, but I love the other two.

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    1. Thanks.

      And please. See The Outsiders! It is one of the greats!

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  6. HOLD. THE. PHONE. S.E. Hinton was only 18 when The Outsiders was published?!?!? HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS?!?!?!?!? Haven't seen the movie yet, though. I'm too nervous since it's one of my all-time favorite books.

    So glad to see all the love for Spectacular Now today, it's such a small-scale miracle of a film. So unassuming and Teller and Woodley are possibly the most believable couple in all of teen movie-dom.

    I much preferred the first Hunger Games film to the second - I thought it took more chances and made more interesting decisions. But the second one is still pretty great.

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    1. Yeah, man. For real. A fucking child wrote that book. It sort of shows in the writing a bit, but it's a masterpiece of plot. In fact, that was the focus when I taught it. Plot and character development. It is a great movie. The theatrical cut of it really is better than the book if you ask me.

      You are right on about The Spectacular Now. It is miraculous.

      Catching Fire is just so much better looking to me. I think it was the toned down camera movement. I'm not against shaky handheld at all, but Catching Fire really made notice how overly shaky The Hunger Games was.

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  7. Catching Fire is so far my fave of the franchise. The Spectacular Now keeps getting bumped in favor of something else so i haven't seen it yet. More shamefully, I've not seen The Outsiders nor read the book despite growing up in the 70s and 80s and having friends who loved both. Great picks.

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    1. Agreed. And, dude, you have to read and see The Outsiders. It is required. This is your English teacher speaking. LOL.

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  8. I cannot believe The Outsiders was mentioned so little, it makes me sad. Definitely should be first on everyone's lists and was on mine!

    www.assholeswatchingmovies.com

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    1. I know. Where's the love? It was the first one I thought of.

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  9. This is the first time I've heard of The Spectacular Now, but it sounds like the kind of movie I would really love. Going to have to check it out now!
    - Allie

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    1. Yeah. The Spectacular Now is one of the great American teen movies, and it was totally shoved under the rug. It played in only a handful of theaters, when it could've made millions if promoted and released in a confident way. We're scared of the R-rating here in America, if you don't already know. We like our teen movies to be shallow and vulgar, instead of smart and realistic. See it!

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  10. Seen the Outsiders but unfortunately remember very little of it.
    Have only read TSN and heard so much about how good the movie is but it's a title that is difficult to find.

    Wandering through the Shelves

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    1. I really hope you can get ahold of The Spectacular Now. It is really a gem. The Outsiders is as well. Very well made movie. Go back and re watch if you get the chance.

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  11. I haven't seen The Outsiders though it sounds like a great film. Great picks!

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    1. It is required viewing as far as I'm concerned. One of the most memorable of my life without a doubt.

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  12. Haven't watched the Outsiders, but I loved The Spectacular Now and, particularly, Catching Fire. Great picks!

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    1. Oh, man. Try to pick up The Outsiders if you can. It is great! Thanks.

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  13. Wow! I feel so special because this is the first time I have seen ALL three of your picks! Excellent choices, but you know this is something that is near and dear to my heart, so I can't even begin to think of what my choices would be. I am assuming if you had a forth pick, it would be Perks of Being a Wallflower.

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    1. Yay!! I used Perks for another entry. I'm trying not to duplicate picks if I can help it.

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  14. I'd never heard of The Spectacular Now. I need to check it out.

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    1. It's an absolutely perfect little movie. It hits me right in gut (and heart).

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