Saturday, October 1, 2011

Word UP!

Hello Fans:

You do realize that the majority of movies you've seen come directly from books.  One thing I always make sure to do is read the book first, and then see the movie.  Why, you ask?  Because the books are always better.  There are details and intricate parts of the storyline that often times Hollywood neglects or the director puts his/her own spin to the story, and usually they miss the mark.  Due to the fact I'm a lover of books, I feel the writer wrote their words in the way they were intended, and no one should mess with perfection.  Here are some of my favorite books that turned into box office hits, but personally, I still feel the book was waaaay better!  These books outlined here will be judged on a five-star rating, and their movies will also be judged on that same system.

First up, my all-time favorite author, Thomas Harris.  This book started it all for the infamous serial killer, Hannibal.  Many people feel that Hannibal is a horrible person, but I never viewed the character that way.  To me, he is a necessary evil and, more importantly, Hannibal only killed those that truly deserved it.  Much like a character I grew to love named Dexter.  A series that ran on Showtime.  I know we aren't supposed to love people like the Hannibal's of the world, but if you read the entire series, you may change your mind about him. 

There are two movie versions of Red Dragon that I know of.  The second version was a little better than the first, but ultimately, for me, it was the book that won me over.  And who could forget Silence of the Lamb, Hannibal and Hannibal Rising.  Every book just prepared you for the next, and Thomas' shear brilliance in making his readers wait years in between the next book, just added more to the mystique and flare of Hannibal.  I finally know why Hannibal is the person we came to know.  This book and all of Thomas' others are well written.  This is why Mr. Harris is my favorite author.  One of the most prolific, outside of Dick Wolf, who writes all the Law and Order series.  Another brilliant writer.  Book ***** / 1st Movie *** / 2nd Movie ****
Second up, is now my all-time favorite book, running very close to my favorite classic, To Kill a Mocking Bird.  I never thought I'd read a book that would change my view on TKaMB, but after reading Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, I've met my match.  I read this about seven years ago, sitting on my porch in the summertime.  I read it in one day.  Sue did something that most writers strive to do, but sometimes miss the mark, and that is, hook you from the very first sentence.  This book starts out with a murder, and when you discover who it was that did the actual killing, that's when your jaw drops.  Of course, once I read the first line, I had to keep on going, and this book sent me into a multitude of emotions.

I immediately felt anger, happiness, sadness, and perseverance from the first paragraph.  If you saw the movie, but didn't read the book, do yourself a favor and read it.  Trust me, although the movie was great, there are still some details that were missed.   Book ***** / Movie ***** 

Third up, Alice Walker's classic, The Color Purple.  I believe just about everybody has seen the movie, and this was the first rule I ever broke about reading the book before seeing it on film.  It was so critically acclaimed, which after having seen it, deserved every bit of the titles it earned, but reading the book was still better.  Because of breaking my rule, I had the images of Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey in mind, but I tried hard to let Alice's descriptive techniques create my own images, and you know what I found out, they picked the right actors to play the parts.  (I suppose the joke was on me this time).

If you're a Tyler Perry fan, you'll notice that he, too, is a huge fan of The Color Purple.  He uses a lot of the lines from the book in his plays.  I always smile when I recognize the dialogue.  The movie should have won best picture, but didn't.  In fact, the movie was the most nominated in 1985, but didn't win a single award.  The only win the movie came away with was Whoopi Goldberg for Best Actress.   Definitely read the book, because you won't be sorry you did.  Book ***** / Movie *****

Fourth up, is The Five People You Meet in Heaven.  I pray when I leave this earth, that my Heaven is like the one that Mitch Albom so eloquently outlined.  I had to read this book for my book club about eight years ago, and I tell you, I probably would never have read it on my own, because I really didn't know much about this author, but boy am I glad I read it.  This book helped me deal with the loss of my grandmother, and it's just the way I imagine my grandparents spending their lives in the afterlife.  Mitch brought me closer to an understanding of the way I've always envisioned Heaven could be like, and for my soul's sake, I hope he's right. 

Book ***** / Movie **

Here is an oldie, but goodie of my favorite memoir that wasn't a movie, but damn sure would make for an interesting movie experience.

When I first learned of J. L. King was on the Oprah Winfrey Show years ago.  I happened to be channel surfing and I was made to pause when I heard Oprah mention what would you do if you found out your man was cheating with another man?  Well, I just sat that old remote control down, and watched the whole hour, glued to my set with eyes and ears wide open.  I don't even know where to begin with this book.  Mr. King was a married man and lived with a terrible secret.  I don't know if saying a 'terrible' secret is a fair assessment, but nonetheless, he outlined, in great detail, his affairs with other men.  He brought out how many black men secretly sleep with other men, but they don't consider themselves gay.  Oookay, we've got ourselves a great read here! 

Let's just say he put a whole new spin on the 'bromance' experience.  I mean to think your spouse or significant other is cheating is bad enough, but to think when your man tells you he's hanging out with his friends, only to learn you've caught a deadly disease because he's been out having unprotected sex, not with women, but men!  Whoa, I don't know about you, but that really made me think about a lot of things.  My mind was in a whirlwind, so the next day I went to the book store and read this book, and oh Lord am I glad I did.  That's not to say that all Black men or men in general do this, but it does make you wonder sometimes, at least I know he put it out there.  One of the reasons he wrote this book was to educate women about some of their men's secret lives, and also to bring more awareness to Aids among Black women.  Ladies, if you've never read this, you might want to check it out.  And that goes for men too.  Book *****

Until next weekend, Happy Reading, and Enjoy the Movies. . .for, if it weren't for us writers, you wouldn't have much movie going to do!  As for Hollywood, do yourselves a favor and stop disturbing greatness.  If you're going to make our books into major films, please leave it the way WE wrote it.  Just sayin'!!!!!!!

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/International Poet