Books on Film

This year’s Oscars included a number of major nominees adapting high-profile books (or toys). Oppenheimer was a masterful adaption of a long biography and yet somehow managed to find the right version of the story to tell within its 3-hour running time. In contrast, Killers of the Flower Moon was a well-made film, but at more than 3 hours, was far too long. Yet, it was also far too short. Instead of being a deserving Best Picture nominee, this same cast and crew could have made a 6-8 hour limited series that would have won every Emmy. It also would have been able to develop more of the characters and tell a more complete version of the story. That said, I look forward to reading the book to learn more.

After 2 episodes of 3 Body Problem, I am pleasantly surprised. I read the books and enjoyed them – but they tend to focus more on the concepts than the characters (the concepts are big). Since this is Benioff and Weiss' second take at adapting a nearly impossible to adapt nerd-loved book series, I think everyone is a bit cautious. A Song of Ice and Fire sprawled beyond Martin’s ability to wrap it up in any coherent way. The Game of Thrones TV series did a very good job of adapting those books by streamlining – until it fell flat after getting ahead of the books when they were streamlining and adapting notes and outlines). Three Body Problem (and the other books in the series) are full of huge ideas, but not necessarily huge character moments. Hopefully, this series will achieve its ambitions over its full run. But considering the lukewarm critical reception, I am pleasantly surprised. I think that Netflix’s single day release schedule could limit discussion and conversation. Being able to talk about and think about a show for a week is part of the enjoyment of the medium.

I was surprised last week to see an ad for the limited series adaption of A Gentleman in Moscow, which premieres Friday March 29 on Showtime/Paramount Plus. I’d vaguely remembered that the Amor Towles novel was optioned, but hadn’t heard anything about its release before. A limited series should be the right form for adapting this, which takes place over a sprawling time period with the breaks making for opportunities for episode breaks. This is a wonderful book and the preview looks promising.

Andrew Raff @andrewraff