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Thread: Movies from books

  1. #1
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    Movies from books

    After Harry Potter and twilight series i have come to realized that books are always better because it lets your imagination wonder about. Is it true? What is your opinion?

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    Generally yes. I usually feel that "the book is better than the movie." But there are exceptions: Children of Men was a much better movie. And sometimes film and book complement each other in interesting ways. No Country for Old Men was originally written as a film script. Then it was published as a novel. Then it was made into a film. So there's the whole field of books written expecting to become films.

    My general rule is that I want to read the book first. Seeing a film can really ruin a book for you, because when you read the book afterwards, you constantly have the film in mind: this happened to me with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Everything Is Illuminated. I couldn't read those books after seeing the movies.

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    It really depends. Take "There Will Be Blood". It was based on a book called 'Oil!' by Upton Sinclair, written in 1927. For one thing, the context of the 2007 movie would be entirely different (especially given the fact that a "war for oil" sorry, liberation, was in full swing), but also, the movie "is very loosely based on the novel. Unlike the novel, There Will Be Blood focused on the father, with his son being a supporting character. Paul Thomas Anderson also claimed that he only incorporated the first 150 pages of the book into his film, so the rest of the film and novel are nearly entirely different. Anderson used Edward Doheny and several men to form his composite lead character Daniel Plainview."

    You could also look at Sinclair's earlier novel, 'The Jungle', about the horrible conditions of immigrants living in Chicago and working its stockyards and slaughterhouses. I read it a few years ago and (though I don't think there's been a film version) I also read a graphic novel version which didn't look anything like I had pictured it, and actually wrecked the experience of the book, a bit.

    It's really all relative. There Will Be Blood was fantastic, The Jungle graphic novel was terrible...

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    When it comes to graphic novels, the ones by Alan Moore cannot be made into movies. So much of his depth doesn't get translated properly. The Watchmen was an interesting foray, but generally, it doesn't work. I will say the same for Neil Gaiman. Please leave Sandman off the screen...

    I enjoyed reading Girl with a Pearl Earring...the movie was meh. Enchanted April, on the other hand, I love both the book and the movie...even though the movie made changes to characters, it still carried the essential feeling of the book over to the screen well. The Harry Potter movies helped me visualize the novels, making them more enjoyable to read. The Millenium trilogy was so fun to read, and I loved Fincher's version of the first book, but I couldn't watch the original movies. Go figure.

    I don't think I would want to see/read The Jungle knowing it's subject matter...that would be a little tough. No pun intended. Interesting to know that it's out there though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aggroculture View Post
    Generally yes. I usually feel that "the book is better than the movie." But there are exceptions: Children of Men was a much better movie.
    I think this is an interesting example, and I'm not sure I agree with it, despite preferring the movie to the book. I think the book tried to achieve something very different to the movie, and if you were a fan of "that thing", then the book is better. The movie takes what the book uses as backdrop to "that thing" and makes it the foreground, and if the setting is what you wanted, then the movie does it better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by djeseru View Post
    I don't think I would want to see/read The Jungle knowing it's subject matter...
    Yeah, it's a hard read, very depressing. But worth it, I think, it's very well written.

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    I would make the argument that the Fight Club movie was a perfect adaptation and it actually surpassed the book (which I love, btw). The Dexter novels are great, but the TV show is just so damn brilliant that yes, at the end of the day, it is better.

    The reading experience is, of course, much more intimate than watching a movie. We spend much more time on it, it's very personal. My experience of reading a book is totally different that the next persons.
    I could say that reading Trainspotting is torture, because English is my second language, and the phonetic spelling killed the book. For me. I'm sure people who don't have to struggle with that loved it, but for me the movie was just much more accessible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by djeseru View Post
    When it comes to graphic novels, the ones by Alan Moore cannot be made into movies. So much of his depth doesn't get translated properly. The Watchmen was an interesting foray, but generally, it doesn't work.
    I really like the Watchmen movie, I didn't read the graphic novel until after I saw the movie. And I'm ready for some hate for this next statement but...I liked the event at the end in the movie better than the one in the book.

    Also, The Lord of the Rings trilogy was a pretty god damn good adaptation of those books, especially the extended editions.

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    How do we determine a movie is better than a book, or vice versa?

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    I can think of a lot of cases where the movie is better than the book. Although people might disagree with some.

    Logan's Run
    Audition
    The Godfather
    Jaws
    The Shawshank Redemption
    The Amityville Horror (the movie sucked less)
    The Manchurian Candidate
    Braveheart (incomprehensibly awful book)
    LA Confidential
    Psycho
    Battle Royale
    Fight Club
    Rosemary's Baby
    The Princess Bride (the book even ends now with an added note from the author indicating he agrees)
    Silence of the Lambs
    Requiem For a Dream
    The Shining
    The Exorcist
    Shutter Island (didn't care particularly for either book or movie, but the film was stronger)
    Stand By Me
    The Wizard of Oz
    Game of Thrones (I'm liking the books, but so far I prefer the series)
    I would say "Total Recall," but since the movie has almost nothing to do with the story that it's based on, it's an unfair and meaningless comparison.

    Then there's some cases where I'd say the movie and book tie in my mind

    The Haunting
    Trainspotting
    A Clockwork Orange

    I've also heard people say that The Graduate and Full Metal Jacket are superior to the books they're based on, but since I haven't read them, I can't really say. I guess I'm willing to believe it though, since those are two of the best movies I've ever seen.
    Usually the book's better, but not always.
    Last edited by Jinsai; 05-02-2012 at 04:58 PM.

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    i pretty much agree with that entire list, and the previous mention of children of men as well.

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    I think Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) could also be considered. Not exactly a completely faithful adaptation, but more or less built closely on the concept of the novel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by exilajei View Post
    I think Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) could also be considered. Not exactly a completely faithful adaptation, but more or less built closely on the concept of the novel.
    Clearly, we're talking about personal preferences here, but the Philip K. Dick novel is actually an enjoyable read and not a snoozefest... I don't even know how much I like the Blade Runner movie because every time I sit down to watch it I black out and wake up hours later with a drool puddle on the couch! The special edition DVD set should come with a caffeine patch to keep you awake.

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    I also think Blade Runner is overrated.
    As for Total Recall, it's the only film that's come anywhere near close to capturing what PKD is about. He's a hugely funny, comic, satiric writer in addition to being strange and gloomy. But films in the wake of Blade Runner totally miss that.

    A Clockwork Orange also makes that mistake: the book is hilarious. Burgess is primarily a comic writer. I find the film takes itself way too seriously.

    The Graduate is a pretty lame book. I can't remember being too psyched about the movie either, but the book is a lot worse: flat and boring.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aggroculture View Post
    I also think Blade Runner is overrated.
    As for Total Recall, it's the only film that's come anywhere near close to capturing what PKD is about. He's a hugely funny, comic, satiric writer in addition to being strange and gloomy. But films in the wake of Blade Runner totally miss that.

    A Clockwork Orange also makes that mistake: the book is hilarious. Burgess is primarily a comic writer. I find the film takes itself way too seriously.

    The Graduate is a pretty lame book. I can't remember being too psyched about the movie either, but the book is a lot worse: flat and boring.
    Well, I disagree with pretty much everything here.

    Blade Runner VS Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep: They're very different works with different approaches, but they're both great for different reasons. Even if you don't like Blade Runner, you have to admit it has some truly iconic and amazing sequences, and some incredible set pieces. The film is a sci fi classic. Even if you think it doesn't properly represent Dick's work and personality, when you separate it from the source material it's a very important and awesome movie.

    And maybe I need to re-read Clockwork Orange again, because while I'd consider both the book and the movie to be great satire, I didn't find either to be particularly "hilarious." The humor of the book is present in the film though, even though it's showcased in different ways. The costumes and set pieces are intentionally ludicrous, and many characters show up as sardonic comic relief (such as the warden, Alex's mother, the neurotic parole officer). There's a lot of dark comedy streaks in the movie, and while it isn't by any stretch a comedy, I wouldn't consider the book to be either.

    I haven't read the Graduate, but the film is amazing... and even if you didn't like it, you have to at least see how it impacted cinema. Though really, I can't see how anyone could dislike The Graduate. That's such a great movie.

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    Yes, I agree Blade Runner is a sci-fi classic. It creates an incredible atmosphere and does a fantastic, and incredibly influential job at world-building. All that future Japan stuff comes from BR: basically William Gibson's entire schtick. But I don't really enjoy it as a movie: I find it overly sentimental and self-important. That final scene with the dove and the rain is Cheese, Incorporated. Barf.

    As for Burgess, the prime value of the book is in the style: the linguistic puns and jokes, the future slang ideolect and Russian-influenced neologisms. That part doesn't really translate to film, so Kubrick (in my view the most overrated director of them all) compensated by taking it in a very schlocky direction. The book is witty and smart and subtle: the movie goes straight for shock factor and bad taste and visual overkill.

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    Kubrick overrated? Come on! The director of Dr Strangelove, Full Metal Jacket, The Shining, The Killing, and 2001 is overrated?! Besides Akira Kurosawa, he's the only filmmaker I can think of who never made anything less than great (yes, I loved Eyes Wide Shut and thought it was sadly overlooked). Even Barry Lyndon, which makes up for how slow it is by framing one of the most aesthetically beautiful period pieces ever made. I guess it goes without saying we disagree about A Clockwork Orange, considering I'd put it in my top 5 favorite movies of all time. I know we don't need to derail this into a discussion about directors, but I've never heard anyone even suggest that Kubrick was anything less than brilliant.

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    Barry Lyndon is also remarkable in that Kubrick wanted to use zero electric lights to light the sets, which is approximately 100% less lights than are normally used. When his crew/producers/all the sane people/etc told him "Bro, you trippin', we won't be able to see shit" he replied "Fuck you all. I'm getting my lenses from actual rocket scientists". And he did, and they were a bitch to use, but holy shit:

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    I love Dr Strangelove and like 2001, though it's dated as hell. Lolita is pretty fun too. After that his work disappeared up his own ass.
    The Shining is crap: one long endless cliche. No wonder it's become an endless internet meme.
    Full Metal Jacket, the first half is good, the second half is not. Filmed in England, under a typically English grey sky, it looks nothing like Vietnam.
    Eyes Wide Shut was dreadful. Dreadful. The book it was based on was bad too.
    AI by contrast I dug, a lot. Probably because Spielberg took control.
    Never seen Barry Lyndon.

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    Really, Jinsai? None suggesting Kubrick as less than brilliant?

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    They are such different creatures. It's about how you want to present the story, and sometimes you can reflect the characters' struggles visually in a much more interesting way (Requiem For A Dream); other times, the subject matter needs more meditative thought and the intimacy of a first-person narrative (Never Let Me Go, which was also a good film but can only be enhanced by the book).

    For instance, my favorite book, Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, is an impossible adaptation not only because of Kristen Stewart (who is actually very appropriate as an emotionally stunted, blank-faced, silent youth) but because nearly all of the novel takes place entirely in the main character's head, and there's so little dialogue that the book is separated into paragraph blocks, presumably to make it easier to read for the teens to whom it is marketed. And sometimes the story being told is made more interesting by the writer's commentary and view on the matter; A Series of Unfortunate Events is an unremarkable movie, but I spent a good deal of time laughing out loud while reading the books because of Daniel Handler's dry humor, and though I haven't seen the movie for John Irving's The World According To Garp, I'm nearly finished with the novel now and I can't imagine the oddball story would translate well to a visual medium without Irving's wit to back it up.

    However I have no patience for stupid, mindless adaptations made to sell without bothering to tell the story in a way that is both faithful to the book and visually interesting. I have no great love for the Harry Potter movies because nearly all of them are expensive and heartless, with actors who tend to sleepwalk through their roles despite being hailed as British acting royalty; whereas with Twilight, the movies generally spare you from the horrible tedium of Bella's thoughts and manage to fix some of Stephenie Meyer's unfortunate plot structure flaws.
    Last edited by carpenoctem; 05-03-2012 at 07:42 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corvus T. Cosmonaut View Post
    Really, Jinsai? None suggesting Kubrick as less than brilliant?
    No... to be honest, I've never heard a legitimate film critic claim that Kubrick wasn't absolutely brilliant. It's one of those things that everyone seems to agree upon.

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    Uh, what about Pauline Kael?

    EDIT: I'm sorry, hold on: what the hell is a 'legitimate film critic'?
    Last edited by Corvus T. Cosmonaut; 05-04-2012 at 02:17 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corvus T. Cosmonaut View Post
    I'm sorry, hold on: what the hell is a 'legitimate film critic'?
    Someone who has an informed opinion and gets paid to offer their professional opinion in an established publication. Basically, not a high school student who runs a blog.

    And yes, Pauline Kael counts as that. I don't agree with her opinion... her opposition to A Clockwork Orange seems to be almost obnoxiously centered around the accusation that Kubrick was exploiting violence and portraying rape as a reward for immature audience members, and while I think that's ridiculous, she at least presents her opinion astutely... even if she foolishly thinks that Kubrick was simply delighting in violence. I would actually say that she missed the point entirely while her personal offense took over. I give her review a C-, but she's entitled to it.

    But when she bashes The Shining for being "a very talky movie (a hell for movie lovers)" I think I'll just have to roll my eyes. A great deal of her criticism actually seems to irritatingly focus on speaking for the moviegoer while she explains the ulterior intentions of the filmmaker.

    Fair enough though. It's good to have a contrarian opinion, and while I'm unsurprised that nobody seems to agree with her about Kubrick, good for her. I'm sure there's a literary historian out there who thinks Dostoevsky is overrated melodrama. Criticism, no matter how informed, still boils down to opinion. It's good to have the naysayer out there, even if I absolutely disagree with everything she said.

    If anything (and to keep this discussion somewhat on topic), the fact that both The Shining and A Clockwork Orange are frequently brought up as examples where the quality of the film rendition matches the classic source material would seem to indicate that her opinion on the matter isn't commonly shared. But either way, yes, she's a (more than) legitimate film critic who thought Kubrick was overrated apparently.

    EDIT: A critic is celebrated for many things, but it's usually split down the line between the expression of opinion and their writing prowess. There's also the aspect whereupon we can look back at their opinions in hindsight and see how they live up to the lasting impact of the work they were criticizing. Upon looking at her output more, I don't deny the claims that she revolutionized the style of film criticism, but I cannot get behind the majority of her opinions (or her reasons for them). She calls The Deer Hunter a "romantic adolescent boy's view of friendship." She said The Princess Bride has "a loose, likable shabbiness." Rain Man is a "piece of wet kitsch." Actually, I agree a little bit there, but not with her hyperbole.

    And regarding Full Metal Jacket: "What happened to the Kubrick who used to slip in sly, subtle jokes and little editing tricks? This may be his worst movie. He probably believes he's numbing us by the power of his vision, but he's actually numbing us by its emptiness." Fucking really? The opening arc of that movie is at this point considered to be something so classic and distinctly original that it's hard to even draw a parallel to anything that's even attempted to do something similarly affecting. It's not just THE Vietnam war movie, it's THE war movie.

    And then she gives Dead Poets Society a glowing review. Blah.
    Last edited by Jinsai; 05-04-2012 at 05:42 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aggroculture View Post
    I love Dr Strangelove and like 2001, though it's dated as hell. Lolita is pretty fun too. After that his work disappeared up his own ass.
    The Shining is crap: one long endless cliche. No wonder it's become an endless internet meme.
    Full Metal Jacket, the first half is good, the second half is not. Filmed in England, under a typically English grey sky, it looks nothing like Vietnam.
    Eyes Wide Shut was dreadful. Dreadful. The book it was based on was bad too.
    AI by contrast I dug, a lot. Probably because Spielberg took control.
    Never seen Barry Lyndon.
    • I used to really hate The Shining. Then, oddly, one day, 20 years later or whatever, I watched it, and I appreciated it a lot more. I still fucking HATE Shelly Duvall, but whatever. The cinematography is unbelievable, i.e. Big Wheel scene.
    • Eyes Wide Shut, saw it at the theater the day it opened, hated it. Cut to years later, it's one of my favorite films, I've seen it 20 times, minimum.
    • Clockwork Orange; didn't get the book at all, didn't get the movie even partially until I'd seen it at least 5 times and still don't get it. But, the film is at least interesting.
    • Full Metal Jacket, loved it from first seeing it at the theater, dunno why.
    • Strangelove movie, hated it when I was young, saw it at a huge Navy Pier outdoor amphitheater, changed my mind.

    I think film is a lot like music; our tastes evolve, and maybe with age we grow to understand things differently?

    Re Book v. Film.

    I read The Godfather when it first came out and, gotta say, I like the film versions BETTER.

    I also like the film version of Gone with the Wind a lot better than the book.

    Quote Originally Posted by aggroculture View Post
    I also think Blade Runner is overrated.
    I used to think that, too, until I saw the Director's Cut on a huge HDTV via BluRay. Now, it's one of my favorite films.

    Quote Originally Posted by aggroculture View Post
    As for Total Recall, it's the only film that's come anywhere near close to capturing what PKD is about.
    Agree. Love Total Recall, I've seen it at least 15 times, it's a highly underrated flick.

    Quote Originally Posted by aggroculture View Post
    The Graduate is a pretty lame book. I can't remember being too psyched about the movie either, but the book is a lot worse: flat and boring.
    Totally agree. We read it in a "Writing About Film" English college J-Term course, then we watched the flick (although I'd already seen it lots of times) and it's WAY better when Mike Nichols does it. I did a 20-page essay about it, scored an A.

    DITTO FOR "WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?" Albee, snore, but OMG, SOOOOOO much better when Nichols gets ahold of it, totally awesome.
    Last edited by allegro; 05-04-2012 at 10:32 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by allegro View Post
    • I used to really hate The Shining. Then, oddly, one day, 20 years later or whatever, I watched it, and I appreciated it a lot more. I still fucking HATE Shelly Duvall, but whatever. The cinematography is unbelievable, i.e. Big Wheel scene.

    The Big Wheel scene is beautiful, Steadicam is the only way to go! And Shelly Duvall is annoying, but she pulled off 'terrified' pretty well. Kubrick went out of his way to be a complete monster to her, never giving her encouragement, berating her, etc., all as part of a master plan to make her performance more 'real'.

    What kind of sadistic bastard does that to someone? A genius sadistic bastard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tighfield11 View Post
    After Harry Potter and twilight series i have come to realized that books are always better because it lets your imagination wonder about. Is it true? What is your opinion?
    Kubrick has proved this wrong along time ago.

    edit: oh just noticed this been mentioned above, anyway its true, from 2001 to Shining and even Eyes Wide Shut.

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    I've been thinking about this a lot recently, and I agree with carpenoctem for the most part. Each medium works in such a different way that I think they shouldn't really be compared, except maybe to list pros and cons of each version. There aren't very many examples where I've both read it and seen the movie, but in the instances that I have I typically like them about evenly. Due to the nature of each medium, there are differences made in order for the film version to work as a film. This doesn't automatically mean it is an inferior version, and, at times, I think the movie incorporates changes that strengthen the story.

    Most recently I read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and watched both film versions. I prefer the Fincher version out of all three, and that is even setting aside my existing biases toward the people involved with that version. I really don't know how anyone can even like the Swedish film after reading the book. It's fine in its own right, but when compared to the book, the characters are completely ruined. Also, a bunch of the interesting parts of the book are either altered significantly or completely removed. When it comes to the Fincher version and the book, they are very close to the same story and the characters are still the same characters. I prefer the way the story is presented in the film rather than in the book, but that is because I prefer the format better. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy reading, but there are advantages to working with moving pictures that just aren't there in a novel.

    Sometimes, it seems, people don't even want a faithful adaptation. The instance I'm thinking of is Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory. When it was announced that Burton was making another adaptation, there was a backlash because people felt the original was great and didn't need to be done again. Turns out that Burton's version is much more faithful to the book, and the main thing that's changed is an added backstory of Wonka's father.

    Books are certainly a more intimate experience since the whole story is being fed straight to your brain, and you create the look of everything in your imagination. I do enjoy this, but I prefer to view a movie rather than read a novel. This isn't because I'm lazy or have a short attention span (though I am a slow reader and watching a ~2 hour movie is much easier than spending 8+ hours reading a book; depending on the length). I just prefer to have multiple senses involved when being told a story like this. As soon as something is shown on screen, you can take in the foreground, background, and all the details in between. You can hear what is going on, which can include many different sounds. In a novel it can take a really long time to describe everything that is happening around the subject (if they author even goes into detail), and it happens sequentially, rather than all at once.

    To me it's typically much more compelling to see a story unfold on screen. Even if the author goes into extreme detail, it connects with me more to see everything on screen. You can see how people talk to each other and any little reaction is showcased, instead of having to explicitly mention changes in behavior in the middle of dialogue. Any mannerisms are immediately noticed, helping to add to the depth of characters. Now, of course, this is only true for productions that focus on that amount of detail, but there are plenty of filmmakers that pay enough attention to that to support what I'm saying.

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    To me a movie is a lot more passive. With a book, you constantly have to be thinking as you read, taking in the words, picturing them in your head, collaborating with the writer to construct the narrative: you have to put in more work, but you have more freedom. With a movie, you sit back, empty your head, and have a cathartic experience. I am not saying movies don't provoke thought, but it's a lot rarer, and usually after the fact.

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    But then there are those glorious movies where you're so enthralled that you get angry when someone tries to whisper something to you, because you know every second you're not paying close attention you are missing buckets of nuance and subtle humor. I love those kinds of fast-moving movies that can be watched over and over again and peeled back like an onion, ones that seem to energize your brain rather than deaden it, that make you think about a great line of dialogue for so long that you keep missing all the stuff that happens after that line because you're still thinking about how awesome it is. Books give you time to think, which is good; great movies don't, and necessitate repeat viewings, which is awesome but just as time-consuming as a book.

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