Tuesday, 14 September 2010 10:09
When a crime fiction novel makes it to the big (or little screen), there's always the fear, for those of us who care about these things, that what made the novel so good will be lost in translation.
The Town, directed by and starring Ben Affleck as a bank robber, proves that capturing the spirit of a novel is more important than following a crime fiction book to the letter.
altAnd The Town, based Chuck Hogan's novel Prince of Thieves, does just that. Hogan's excellent 2004 novel about friends moonlighting as bank robbers featured a gripping sub-plot about their neighborhood changing from blue-collar to upscale. The men could barely control their anger, prejudice and anxiety as wealthier, more educated yuppies moved in, making rents higher and turning corner bars into martini bars.
In the Hammett Prize-winning Prince of Thieves, their life of crime had an undertone of rebellion based on classism, their way of showing that they were just as good as those with more money and more education -- and still in control.
The Town works so well because it remains faithful to the essence of Hogan's solid novel. The movie never wavers in showing how a person's background influences who he becomes, and the strength and inner resolve a person must have to rise above that background.
Affleck, who co-wrote the script, does Hogan's novel proud.
Both The Town and Prince of Thieves share energetic story-telling, characters worth caring about, a faithful sense of place, and neither resorted to the cliche of honor among thieves.
Charlestown, the blue-collar Boston neighborhood that Doug MacRay (Affleck) and his friends grew up in, has produced more bank and armored-car robbers in one square mile than anywhere in the U.S. Doug and his crew are just following the family business in their planned-to-the-second robberies. The men have an air of futility about them, stuck in the same kinds of lives that their parents endured. This is further driven home when a local crime boss says, while prepping them for the next big robbery, that he sees their fathers' faces in each of theirs.
altDuring a robbery, Doug and his buddies take a hostage -- bank manager Claire Keesey (the excellent Rebecca Hall from Vicky Christina Barcelona) whom they later release. When the gang later learns that Claire lives about four blocks away, Doug offers to find out how much she remembers about the robbers. But for Doug, this is not just another job. He falls for Claire and wants a real relationship with her. Dating her without giving himself away is one problem; the other is leaving his life of crime without betraying his friends.
Meanwhile, FBI Special Agent Adam Frawley (Mad Men's square-jawed Jon Hamm), relentlessly gathers evidence to arrest Doug and his crew. Looking scruffy with days'-old beards, Hamm proves his acting skills convert well to the big screen.
Affleck's direction is flawless as he depicts Doug and crew following the only career path they believe they are capable of. He pulls first-class turns from each actor, making each a part of Boston streets. A Boston boy himself, Affleck's affection and affinity for the area shine as he did directing the excellent 2007 Gone Baby Gone, based on fellow Bostonian Dennis Lehane. Affleck shows the neighborhood's nuances and how it fits into the bigger scheme of Boston.

The Town reaffirms what a good actor Affleck is, best at playing off-kilter characters. The man once proclaimed America's sexiest by People magazine tamps down his looks for a gritty, world-weary view. Doug is a man of action and his angst never seems cliched. Affleck's Doug once had a chance to leave the neighborhood when he was recruited to play pro hockey but self-destructed during his first season. He knows that Claire is his second -- and only -- chance left to change his life or he may end up killed or in prison like his father. Oscar-winner Chris Cooper steals his one breath-taking scene as Doug's father serving several life sentences.
The chemistry between Hall and Affleck is realistic and we understand why Doug will do anything to be with this centered, intelligent woman. An even more intriguing relationship is between Doug and his ex-con friend Jem skillfully played by Jeremy Renner. An Oscar nominee for The Hurt Locker, Renner portrays the seething violence his character carries, full of rage, even when he is simply watching TV. Raised together, Jem and Doug are as close to brothers as either has had in their lives and they depend on each other. But that doesn't mean that Jem will forgive any hint of betrayal.
Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, some sexuality and drug use.

Captions: Rebecca Hall as Claire Keesey and Ben Affleck as Doug MacRay; Up against the wall are, from left, Slaine as Albert "Gloansy" Magloan, Ben Affleck as Doug MacRay, Jeremy Renner as Jem Coughlin and Owen Burke as Desmond Elden. Photos courtesy Warner Bros.
Bros. Pictures.

alt

The Town, directed by and starring Ben Affleck as a bank robber, proves that capturing the spirit of a novel is more important than following a crime fiction book to the letter.

Sunday, 12 September 2010 04:09
This is proving to be quite a summer for author Tess Gerritsen. The TNT series Rizzoli & Isles, which airs at 10 p.m. EST/ 9 p.m. CST on Mondays with encore presentations, is one of the top rated shows and it has been renewed for a second
season.
alt
She is continuing her book tour for her latest Rizzoli & Isles novel Ice Cold (called The Killing Place in the U.K.) and, of course, planning her next novel.

We caught up with her to ask her a few questions about the TNT series, starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.
Q: Although the stars of Rizzoli & Isles -- Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander -- don’t look like the characters as described in your novels, they make these characters work. Why?
A: It's all in the attitude. Harmon has the character of Jane nailed down pat. If she weren't so gorgeous, she would be exactly as I created her. The TV persona of Maura has been altered for TV purposes, something that I can understand. In the books, both women are pretty intense, and Maura is a moody, introspective character. That
might not translate well to TV. Sasha Alexander does a fine job of playing the somewhat Aspergian and brilliant character that's been written for her on TV.
alt
Q: Do you find yourself working an alternative universe as you write the novels yet see the characters on TV at a different point in their “lives”?
A: It is weird, continuing on with the books as I've created them, while a parallel universe spins out on TV. I'm trying to stay true to my books, because these are the characters I started off with, and to change them based on TV's influence would be too weird at this point!

Q: Aside from the characters and plot, what is your favorite detail in the TV series?
A: I love their casting choices. Bruce McGill is brilliant, and Lee Thompson Young has a real intensity as Frost. Also, I'm utterly nuts about the theme music they play during the titles. Since I'm a celtic music fan (I play the fiddle) it was such a thrill to hear that jig played for the first time!

Q: This isn’t your first time having your work make it to the screen. You co-wrote the story and screenplay, Adrift, which aired on CBS as Movie of the Week in 1993, and starred Kate Jackson and Bruce Greenwood. Were you pleased with that?
A: That was quite a different experience, as I was actually involved in writing the script. I thought the finished product was terrific, and I've been a fan of Bruce Greenwood ever since. It was also a revelation to me how much more powerful a scene can be on-screen. I recall writing a scene where the villains hold Kate Jackson's hand overthe burner flame, and she screams. Watching it on screen took that scene to a whole different level of horror.

Q: Has the TV series of Rizzoli & Isles had any impact on book sales? And are you getting feedback from readers?
A: We're just starting to see movement in the backlist. I know that the Amazon numbers have really improved, and I understand that weekly sales of the paperback The Surgeon have more than doubled. I'm hoping that, as more viewers realize there are books behind the characters, that they'll want to explore where the stories came from.

Q: Rizzoli & Isles has just been renewed for a second series. Will be see more novels?
A: I'm working on the ninth Rizzoli & Isles novel now. It should be out next summer.

Q: Do you have any input into the series?
A: Not really. I'm friends with the executive producer and head writer, Janet Tamaro, so I suppose I could email her and bend her ear. But I think they know where they want to go with the series, and they don't need the novelist to give them guidance!

Q: Is there any thing about the TV series that no one has asked but you are dying to tell?
A: The amazing amount of real-world advice they're getting for their stories! They have a Boston PD homicide detective often on-site, advising them on police work, and they have a medical examiner and coroner's assistant helping them with some of the medical details.

Q: How do the characters and their backgrounds as portrayed in Rizzoli & Isles different from your novels?
A: TV-Jane Rizzoli is very close to the book-Jane Rizzoli. TV-Maura Isles is sunnier, friendlier, and less troubled than book Maura Isles. Also, they've given Maura a French boarding-school background and a lot more fashion sense than I ever envisioned "my" Maura having!

Q: Will we see any more Tess Gerritsen work make it to the screen?
A: One can always hope! My long-time dream has been to see "Gravity" make it to screen. The film rights are owned by 20th Century Fox, but so far ... nothing.
PHOTO: Top: Gerritsen; Center: Angie Harmon, Sasha Alexander TNT photo
This is proving to be quite a summer for author Tess Gerritsen. The TNT series Rizzoli & Isles, which airs at 10 p.m. EST/ 9 p.m. CST on Mondays with encore presentations, is one of the top rated shows and it has been renewed for a second
season.
alt
She is continuing her book tour for her latest Rizzoli & Isles novel Ice Cold (called The Killing Place in the U.K.) and, of course, planning her next novel.

We caught up with her to ask her a few questions about the TNT series, starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.
Q: Although the stars of Rizzoli & Isles -- Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander -- don’t look like the characters as described in your novels, they make these characters work. Why?
A: It's all in the attitude. Harmon has the character of Jane nailed down pat. If she weren't so gorgeous, she would be exactly as I created her. The TV persona of Maura has been altered for TV purposes, something that I can understand. In the books, both women are pretty intense, and Maura is a moody, introspective character. That
might not translate well to TV. Sasha Alexander does a fine job of playing the somewhat Aspergian and brilliant character that's been written for her on TV.
alt
Q: Do you find yourself working an alternative universe as you write the novels yet see the characters on TV at a different point in their “lives”?
A: It is weird, continuing on with the books as I've created them, while a parallel universe spins out on TV. I'm trying to stay true to my books, because these are the characters I started off with, and to change them based on TV's influence would be too weird at this point!

Q: Aside from the characters and plot, what is your favorite detail in the TV series?
A: I love their casting choices. Bruce McGill is brilliant, and Lee Thompson Young has a real intensity as Frost. Also, I'm utterly nuts about the theme music they play during the titles. Since I'm a celtic music fan (I play the fiddle) it was such a thrill to hear that jig played for the first time!

Q: This isn’t your first time having your work make it to the screen. You co-wrote the story and screenplay, Adrift, which aired on CBS as Movie of the Week in 1993, and starred Kate Jackson and Bruce Greenwood. Were you pleased with that?
A: That was quite a different experience, as I was actually involved in writing the script. I thought the finished product was terrific, and I've been a fan of Bruce Greenwood ever since. It was also a revelation to me how much more powerful a scene can be on-screen. I recall writing a scene where the villains hold Kate Jackson's hand overthe burner flame, and she screams. Watching it on screen took that scene to a whole different level of horror.

Q: Has the TV series of Rizzoli & Isles had any impact on book sales? And are you getting feedback from readers?
A: We're just starting to see movement in the backlist. I know that the Amazon numbers have really improved, and I understand that weekly sales of the paperback The Surgeon have more than doubled. I'm hoping that, as more viewers realize there are books behind the characters, that they'll want to explore where the stories came from.

Q: Rizzoli & Isles has just been renewed for a second series. Will be see more novels?
A: I'm working on the ninth Rizzoli & Isles novel now. It should be out next summer.

Q: Do you have any input into the series?
A: Not really. I'm friends with the executive producer and head writer, Janet Tamaro, so I suppose I could email her and bend her ear. But I think they know where they want to go with the series, and they don't need the novelist to give them guidance!

Q: Is there any thing about the TV series that no one has asked but you are dying to tell?
A: The amazing amount of real-world advice they're getting for their stories! They have a Boston PD homicide detective often on-site, advising them on police work, and they have a medical examiner and coroner's assistant helping them with some of the medical details.

Q: How do the characters and their backgrounds as portrayed in Rizzoli & Isles different from your novels?
A: TV-Jane Rizzoli is very close to the book-Jane Rizzoli. TV-Maura Isles is sunnier, friendlier, and less troubled than book Maura Isles. Also, they've given Maura a French boarding-school background and a lot more fashion sense than I ever envisioned "my" Maura having!

Q: Will we see any more Tess Gerritsen work make it to the screen?
A: One can always hope! My long-time dream has been to see "Gravity" make it to screen. The film rights are owned by 20th Century Fox, but so far ... nothing.
PHOTO: Top: Gerritsen; Center: Angie Harmon, Sasha Alexander TNT photo
Wednesday, 08 September 2010 04:09
The popularity of e-books is growing daily and can't be denied anymore.
 
Will they continue to be decent sellers or even surpass printed books?
 
Who knows? But it is interesting to see the sales continue. Recent reports are that Laura Lippman's latest novel I'd Know You Anywhere sold more copies as e-books than as hardcover
alt
According to a press release, News Corp.’s HarperCollins reported that in its first five days, I'd Know You Anywhere sold 739 more e-books than the 4,000 hardcovers.
 
Charles Todd is now offering an e-book short story called The Girl on the Beach and is an original Bess Crawford short story.
 
Todd's latest novel about World War I nurse Bess Crawford called An Impartial Witness just came out.
 
The Girl on the Beach is free and will be available through e-retailers through Sept. 14.
 
Readers who download the short story will get a bonus of an excerpt from A Duty to the Dead, Todd's first Bess Crawford novel published last year.
 
Two more promotional e-books by Todd are expected to be released later this fall.  
The popularity of e-books is growing daily and can't be denied anymore.
 
Will they continue to be decent sellers or even surpass printed books?
 
Who knows? But it is interesting to see the sales continue. Recent reports are that Laura Lippman's latest novel I'd Know You Anywhere sold more copies as e-books than as hardcover
alt
According to a press release, News Corp.’s HarperCollins reported that in its first five days, I'd Know You Anywhere sold 739 more e-books than the 4,000 hardcovers.
 
Charles Todd is now offering an e-book short story called The Girl on the Beach and is an original Bess Crawford short story.
 
Todd's latest novel about World War I nurse Bess Crawford called An Impartial Witness just came out.
 
The Girl on the Beach is free and will be available through e-retailers through Sept. 14.
 
Readers who download the short story will get a bonus of an excerpt from A Duty to the Dead, Todd's first Bess Crawford novel published last year.
 
Two more promotional e-books by Todd are expected to be released later this fall.