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August 2014

Books on Screen

August 2014

There’s been a lot of grumbling lately about the lack of original material making its way around Hollywood. But with all these exciting book adaptations coming out, it’s hard to get too upset about it! Sure, originality seems to be in shorter supply out there than it should be, but the creative energy that goes into adapting some of our favorite books is nothing short of astounding. Although we could all probably live with one less James Franco pet project.

James Franco aside, there’s so much to see in theaters this month! Among August's offerings are Guardians of the Galaxy --- the buzz on this “class clown” of Marvel adaptations is that it’s a guaranteed good time. Less family friendly is Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For (based on Frank Miller’s high-style graphic novel), which certainly has a cast to die for…if not to kill for. As always, no judgment. Two heavy-hitting YA adaptations will be showing up on screens around the middle of the month: The Giver, based on Lois Lowry’s dystopian classic, and If I Stay, inspired by Gayle Forman’s moving novel about a young girl caught between life and death. On the off chance that you have any tissues left over from The Fault in Our Stars, now’s your chance to use them up.

And for those of you who live by the (perfectly reasonable) “Beach or Bust” summertime philosophy and prefer not to leave your home unless there’s sand and an ocean involved, there’s plenty to watch at home. In addition to some of the ongoing favorites --- “The Leftovers,” “True Blood” and “Masters of Sex” --- we can tune in this month to the highly anticipated Outlander adaptation on Starz. Diana Gabaldon’s cult classic about a time-traveling nurse is sure to be a hit with fans and non-fans alike. And Divergent enthusiasts can look forward to cuddling up in bed with Theo James…now that the DVD is in stores.

So whether you’re hitting the beach or hitting the books, make sure to find some time for all the amazing books on screen this month! And with all due respect to Cormac McCarthy, let’s just all agree to lay off enabling James Franco for a little while.

--- Written and compiled by Emily Hoenig


In Theaters:

Guardians of the Galaxy
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Benicio Del Toro, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper
Director: James Gunn
Distributor:  Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: August 1st
Based On: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY by Brian Michael Bendis

In the far reaches of space, an American pilot named Peter Quill finds himself the object of a manhunt after stealing an orb coveted by the villainous Ronan. In order to evade Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a group of misfits including Gamora, Rocket, Drax the Destroyer, and Groot. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand – with the galaxy's fate in the balance.


Child of God
Cast: James Franco, Tim Blake Nelson, Jim Parrack, Scott Haze
Director: James Franco
Distributor: Spotlight Pictures
MPAA Rating: R
Release Date: August 1st
Based On: CHILD OF GOD by Cormac McCarthy

Set in mountainous Sevier County, Tennessee, CHILD OF GOD tells the story of Lester Ballard, a dispossessed, violent man whom the narrator describes as "a child of God much like yourself perhaps." Ballard's life is a disastrous attempt to exist outside the social order. Successively deprived of parents and homes and with few other ties, Ballard descends literally and figuratively to the level of a cave dweller as he falls deeper into crime and degradation.


The Hundred Foot Journey
Cast: Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal, Om Puri
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG
Release Date: August 8th
Based On: THE HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY by Richard C. Morais

Hassan Kadam and his family are displaced from their native India. They settle in a small French town to open a restaurant, but once the ice-queen proprietress of the French restaurant across the street, Madame Mallory, catches wind of it, she gives them hell.


The Giver
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgard
Director: Phillip Noyce
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
MPAA Rating: N/A
Release Date: August 15th
Based On: THE GIVER by Lois Lowry

In a perfect world where there is no conflict, racism or sickness, every member of society has a specific role, and 16-year-old Jonas is selected to be the Receiver of Memory. As Jonas uncovers the truth behind his world's past, he discovers that many years earlier, his forefathers gave up humanity in order to have a stable society.


If I Stay
Cast: Chloe Grace Moretz, Jamie Blackley, Mireille Enos, Liana Liberato
Director: R.J. Cutler
Distributor: Waren Bros. Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: August 22nd
Based On: IF I STAY by Gayle Forman

Mia Hall thought the hardest decision she would ever face would be whether to pursue her musical dreams at Juilliard or follow a different path to be with the love of her life, Adam. But what should have been a carefree family drive changes everything in an instant, and now her own life hangs in the balance. Caught between life and death for one revealing day, Mia has only one decision left, which will not only decide her future but her ultimate fate.


Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis, Josh Brolin
Director: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez
Distributor: Dimension Films
MPAA Rating: R
Release Date: August 22nd
Based On: A DAME TO KILL FOR by Frank Miller

The town's most hard-boiled citizens cross paths with some of its more reviled inhabitants.


When The Game Stands Tall
Cast: Jim Caviezel, Alexander Ludwig, Laura Dern, Michael Chiklis
Director: Thomas Carter
Distributor: Sony Pictures Entertainment
MPAA Rating: PG
Release Date: August 22nd

Inspired by a true story, WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL tells the remarkable journey of legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel), who took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport.    


The November Man
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Luke Bracey, Olga Kurylenko
Director: Roger Donaldson
Distributor: Relativity Media
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Release Date: August 27th
Based On: THERE ARE NO SPIES by Bill Granger

An ex-CIA operative is brought back in on a very personal mission and finds himself pitted against his former pupil in a deadly game involving high level CIA officials and the Russian president-elect


One Chance
Cast: James Corden, Alexandra Roach, Julie Walters
Director: David Frankel
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date:  August 26th
Based On: ONE CHANCE: A MEMOIR by Paul Potts

The true story of Paul Potts, a shy, bullied shop assistant by day and an amateur opera singer by night who became a phenomenon after being chosen for -- and ultimately winning -- "Britain's Got Talent."


Life of Crime
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Mark Boone Junior, Isla Fisher, Mos Def
Director: Daniel Schechter
Distributor: Lionsgate Roadside Attractions
MPAA Rating: R
Release Date: August 29th
Based On: THE SWITCH by Elmore Leonard

The wife of a wealthy man is kidnapped, but he doesn't want to pay her ransom.


On TV:

True Blood” 
Cast: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell
Network: HBO
Air Dates: Sundays at 9pm ET
Based On: The Southern Vampire Mysteries series by Charlaine Harris

Thanks to a Japanese scientist’s invention of synthetic blood, vampires have progressed from legendary monsters to fellow citizens overnight. And while humans have been safely removed from the menu, many remain apprehensive about these creatures “coming out of the coffin.” Religious leaders and government officials have chosen their sides, but in the small Louisiana town of Bon Temps, the jury is still out.


The Leftovers
Cast: Liv Tyler, Justin Theroux
Network: HBO
Air Dates: Sundays at 10pm ET
Based On: THE LEFTOVERS by Tom Perrotta

When two percent of the world’s population abruptly disappears without explanation, the world struggles to understand just what they’re supposed to do about it. The new drama series “The Leftovers” is the story of the people who didn’t make the cut. “The Leftovers” follows Kevin Garvey, a father of two and the chief of police in a small New York suburb, as he tries to maintain some semblance of normalcy when the notion no longer applies.


Under the Dome”
 Cast:Mike Vogel, Natalie Martinez, Alexander Koch, Dean Norris
Network: CBS
Air Dates: Mondays at 10pm ET
Based On: UNDER THE DOME by Stephen King

An invisible and mysterious force field descends upon a small fictional town in the United States, trapping residents inside, cut off from the rest of civilization. The trapped townsfolk must discover the secrets and purpose of the "dome" and its origins, while coming to learn more than they ever knew about each other.


Masters of Sex
Cast: Michael Sheen, Lizzy Caplan, Annaleigh Ashford
Network: Showtime
Air Dates: Premieres July 13th, Sundays at 10pm ET
Based On: MASTERS OF SEX by Thomas Maier

Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan star as the lead characters, Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson, two pioneering researchers of human sexuality at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.


The Strain
Cast: Sean Astin, David Bradley, Corey Stoll
Network: FX
Air Dates: Premieres July 13th, Sundays at 10pm ET
Based On: THE STRAIN by Guillermo del Toro and Chuch Hogan

A plane lands at John F. Kennedy International Airport with the lights off and doors sealed. Epidemiologist Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Stoll) and his team are sent to investigate. On board they find two hundred corpses and four survivors. The situation deteriorates when the bodies begin disappearing from morgues. Goodweather and a small group of helpers find themselves battling to protect not only their own loved ones, but also the entire city, from an ancient threat to humanity.


"Pretty Little Liars"
Cast: Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson, Troian Bellsario, Shay Mitchell
Network: ABC Family
Air Dates: Tuesdays at 8pm ET
Based On: The Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard

A clique of teenage girls drift apart after the group's leader, Alison DiLaurentis, goes missing. Her body is found and the girls are reunited at her funeral. All four begin receiving text messages from the mysterious 'A', who seems to know many of the group's deepest secrets, some of which only the late Alison had knowledge of. The girls join forces against A's scheming and try to uncover the mystery of Alison's death.


Outlaw Prophet: Warren Jeffs
Cast: Tony Goldwyn, Molly Parker, Joey King
Network: Lifetime
Air Date: August 7th
Based On: WHEN MEN BECOME GODS: Warren Jeffs, His Cult of Fear and the Women who Fought Back by Stephen Singular

The true story of a Fundamentalist Mormon leader who spent more than a year on the FBI's "10 Most Wanted List" for unlawful flight on charges related to his alleged arrangement of illegal marriages involving underage girls.


Cast: Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe, Tobias Menzies
Network: Starz
Air Date: Premieres August 9th; Saturdays at 9pm ET
Based On: The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

OUTLANDER follows the story of Claire Randall, a married combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743, where she is immediately thrown into an unknown world where her life is threatened. When she is forced to marry Jamie, a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior, a passionate affair is ignited that tears Claire’s heart between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.


"The Intruders"
Cast: John Simm, Mira Sorvino, James Frain
Network: BBC America
Air Date: Premieres August 23rd, Saturdays at 10pm ET
Based On: THE INTRUDERS by Michael Marshall Smith

Jack Whelan, a former LAPD cop with a troubled and violent history, finds the quiet idyllic life he has crafted with his wife, Amy shattered when she goes missing. While Jack is consumed with an investigation, which threatens his very core, a sinister agent named Richard Shepherd is embarking on a series of lethal executions. Meanwhile, a distraught little girl named Madison runs away from home into a world of danger.



Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet
Director: Neil Burger
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: August 5th
Based On: DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth

In a world divided by factions based on virtues, Tris learns she's Divergent and won't fit in. When she discovers a plot to destroy Divergents, Tris and the mysterious Four must find out what makes Divergents dangerous before it's too late.


The Railway Man
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard
Director: Jonathan Teplitzky
Distributor: Lionsgate
MPAA Rating: R
Release Date: August 12th
Based On: THE RAILWAY MAN by Eric Lomax

Eric Lomax was one of thousands of Allied prisoners of war forced to work on the construction of the Thai/Burma railway during WW2. His experiences, after the secret radio he built to bring news and hope to his colleagues was discovered, left him traumatised and shut off from the world. Years later, he met Patti, a beautiful woman, on a train and fell in love. Patti was determined to rid Eric of his demons. Discovering that the young Japanese officer who haunted her husband was still alive, she faced a terrible decision. Should Eric be given a chance to confront his tormentor? Would she stand by him, whatever he did?


The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan
Director: Marc Webb
Distributor: Sony Pictures Releasing
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: August 19th
Based On: Comic characters by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Peter Parker finds that his greatest battle is about to begin. It's great to be Spider-Man. For Peter Parker, there's no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen. But being Spider-Man comes at a price: only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city. With the emergence of Electro, Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than he. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn, returns, Peter comes to realize that all of his enemies have one thing in common: Oscorp.


Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return
Cast: Lea Michele, Kelsey Grammer, Dan Aykroyd
Director: Will Finn and Dan St. Pierre
Distributor: Clarius Entertainment
MPAA Rating: PG
Release Date: August 26th

Dorothy wakes up in post-tornado Kansas, only to be whisked back to Oz to try to save her old friends the Scarecrow, the Lion, the Tin Man and Glinda from a devious new villain, the Jester. Wiser the owl, Marshal Mallow, China Princess and Tugg the tugboat join Dorothy on her latest magical journey through the colorful landscape of Oz to restore order and happiness to Emerald City.


Cast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson
Director: Amma Asante
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG
Release Date: August 26th
Based On: BELLE: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice by Paula Byrne 

This film is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay. Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield and his wife, Belle's lineage affords her certain privileges, yet her status prevents her from the traditions of noble social standing. While her cousin Elizabeth chases suitors for marriage, Belle is left on the sidelines wondering if she will ever find love. After meeting an idealistic young vicar's son bent on changing society, he and Belle help shape Lord Mansfield's role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England.


The Double
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn
Director: Richard Ayoade
Distributor: StudioCanal UK
MPAA Rating: R
Release Date: August 26th
Based On: THE DOUBLE by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Simon is a timid man, scratching out an isolated existence in an indifferent world. He is overlooked at work, scorned by his mother, and ignored by the woman of his dreams. He feels powerless to change any of these things. The arrival of a new co-worker, James, serves to upset the balance. James is both Simons exact physical double and his opposite - confident, charismatic and good with women. To Simons horror, James slowly starts taking over his life.