Posts Tagged ‘Ezra Miller’

As it is a long pubic holiday weekend I thought that I would take the opportunity to review a few film adaptations of past book club picks.

First up is J.K. Rowling‘s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2001), which was my book club pick for November 2016.

I first saw Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them while on holiday in Kolkata, India. An interesting viewing experience. The film was in English with English subtitles and there was an intermission where staff brought around food that had been preordered.

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Rowling wrote the book Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them, along with Quidditch Through the Ages, as a supplement to the Harry Potter series. Profits from both books benefited the charity Comic Relief.

The book was designed to be a reproduction of the textbook written by magizoologist Newt Scamander owned Harry Potter, and first mentioned in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

The film written by J.K. Rowling, and released in 2016, features Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, who in 1926 arrives in New York City from England en route to Arizona with a suitcase full of magical creatures.

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Newt (Eddie Redmayne)

Within hours of arriving Newt accidentally switches suitcases with Jacob Kowalsi (Dan Fogler), a No-Maj (the American term for a Muggle). Inevitably several of the magical creatures escape and begin to cause havoc on New York City.

Stuart Craig, production designer on all eight Harry Potter films, creates a dark and gothic 1920s Manhattan. The set design is one of my favourite elements in the film.

Newt also attracts the attention of Porpentina ‘Tina’ Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), a disgraced demoted Auror for the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA), who sees him as a threat to magical society.

We are also introduced to Tina’s sister and roommate Queenie (Alison Sudol), who is a Legilimens, which is a magical person with the ability to read feelings and memories from another person’s mind.

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Newt (Eddie Redmayne) and Jacob (Dan Fogler)

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Tina (Katherine Waterston) and Newt (Eddie Redmayne)

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Queenie (Alison Sudol)

While Newt is searching for his magical creatures the wizards of MACUSA have their owns concerns about the infamous dark wizard, Grindelwald – one of the most dangerous dark wizards of all time, second only to Voldermort.

Director of Magical Security Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) accuses Newt of conspiring with Grindelwald.

There is also the threat of exposure from Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton), who believes there are witches and wizards in New York City. Graves is working in secret with Mary Lou’s eldest abused adoptive son Credence (Ezra Miller) to find an Obscurus, a parasite that develops inside children if they suppress their magical abilities.

The real stars of the film are the magical creatures. I can’t decide if my favourite is the mischievous Niffler, or the tree-stem sized lock-picking Bowtruckle named Pickett.

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Mary Lou (Samantha Morton) and Credence (Ezra Miller)

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Credence (Ezra Miller) and Graves (Colin Farrell)

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Niffler

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Pickett

The film is directed by David Yates, who directed the final four films in the Harry Potter series. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them also stars Johnny Depp, Carmen Ejogo, Ron Pearlman, and John Voight.

A sequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald was released in November 2018. Another three films are expected in the Fantastic Beasts series with the third film scheduled for release in November 2020.

 

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This month’s book club pick is Stephen Chbosky‘s 1999 novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower. A film adaptation, written and directed by Chbosky was released in 2012.

It is unusual for a book author to write and direct a film version of their story. Although Chbosky did graduate from the University of Southern California’s screenwriting programme and write, direct and act in an independent film The Four Corners of Nowhere (1995) before publishing The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Stephen Chbosky with Emma Watson and Logan Lerman

Stephen Chbosky with Emma Watson and Logan Lerman

He later went on to write he screenplay for film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical Rent (2005) and co-created and executive produced the television drama Jericho (2006-2008). On a side note, Chbosky has written the screenplay for Disney’s live action version of Beauty and the Beast (due for release 2017). He is also one of the screenwriters for The Divergent Series: Allegiant (due out next month).

John Hughes, the man behind 80s teen films Sixteen Candles (1984) Weird Science (1985) and The Breakfast Club (1985), and the scriptwriter of the now classic Christmas family films Home Alone (1990) and Home Alone: Lost in New York (1992), initially was attached to write the screenplay but never finished it before his death. Chbosky liked Hughes screenplay so he negotiated the rights from Hughes’ estate and developed it.

Sam (Emma Watson), Charlie (Logan Lerman), Patrick (Ezra Miller)

Sam (Emma Watson), Charlie (Logan Lerman), Patrick (Ezra Miller)

Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson series) portrays Charlie. Emma Watson (Harry Potter series) and Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin) portray step-siblings Patrick and Sam, who Charlie befriends.

The trio have great onscreen chemistry. This was Watson’s first big role post Harry Potter (after a small role in My Week in Marilyn). She is pretty comfortable with the American accent but it is Miller that steals the show as the flamboyant Patrick.

Charlie (Logan Lerman)

Charlie (Logan Lerman)

Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson)

Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson)

The novel is written is a series of letters from Charlie to an unknown friend. Chbosky uses this narrative function briefly in the film with Lerman doing voice over for the letters but prefers to show rather than tell.

Some of the darker incidents of the novel have been cut from the film. Overall it’s a pretty faithful adaptation, the essence of the story is there and the young cast shine in their roles.