December's Printers Row Book of the Month was also the top weekend box office draw in mid-December: J.R.R. Tolkien's jaunty adventure "The Hobbit," now in the form of a two-hour-plus 3-D action movie, thanks to New Zealand director Peter Jackson.
For Dec. 13's Printers Row discussion, Tribune film critic Michael Phillips talked about "The Hobbit" and the year's other book-inspired films with about 40 readers at The Book Stall at Chestnut Court in Winnetka. This film season has seen a particularly high wave of page-to-screen adaptations, Phillips pointed out, so there was a lot of literary film territory to cover.
"It was fun," Phillips said. "The talk ranged from 'Lincoln' to 'Life of Pi' to 'Cloud Atlas' and 'Argo,' and everybody in attendance had an opinion about what makes a film adapted from a book (fiction or nonfiction) succeed on its own terms. Smart crowd. A pleasure."
The movies have found their stories in literature, high and low, ever since the industry tried telling longer stories in the early days of silent movies, Phillips said. The question facing directors and screenwriters: How do you effectively adapt a novel, or a work of nonfiction, or a short story, for the screen?
Ask a dozen moviegoers, you'll get a dozen answers. Answer one: Stick to the book! Answer two: Be bold! Some adore the results; some resist them; some are somewhere in the middle. Whichever opinion you share, you can always take the book off the shelf again.
— James Janega (firstname.lastname@example.org)