Universal Options Let It Snow

Universal Pictures has optioned Let It Snow, a collection of three linked holiday novellas by YA authors John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle. They all take place in the same town during a Christmas Eve snowstorm, and they’re delightful. I have a personal connection to this one: when I’m not blogging here, I work for one of the authors, Maureen Johnson. (I do not have any financial stake in the movie or anything.) I’ll try to remember to mention that connection whenever I write about this. I’ll also reread the book soon – it’s been a few years – and then we can talk about it!

Movie Casting Updates: Paper Towns & More

Cara DelevingneCara Delevingne will play Margo Roth Spiegelman in the adaptation of John Green’s Paper Towns. A lot of people seem to have a lot of feelings about this – partially, I think, because Delevingne has worked mostly as a model – but since I’ve seen neither her audition for this nor her acting in anything else, I see no reason not to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Whoa, they’re making a movie of Mary Downing Hahn’s Wait Till Helen Comes! It will star Maria Bello and Sophie and Isabelle Nelisse.

That Ben-Hur remake has started casting – so far it’s got Jack Huston and Morgan Freeman.

By the way, Huston is also playing Wickham in the long-rumored adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which also includes Lily James, Sam Riley, Bella Heathcote, Emma Greenwell, and Douglas Booth.

Live by Night has added Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, and Elle Fanning.

Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin will star in Me Before You.

Movie News: American Pastoral, Looking for Alaska, & More

Ewan McGregorEwan McGregor will star in American Pastoral.

Sarah Polley will adapt John Green’s Looking for Alaska for Paramount.

Ansel Elgort will star in biopic Van Cliburn, based on the biography by Howard Reich.

Lifetime is making a movie of Stephen King’s Big Driver, starring Maria Bello.

Zak Penn will be rewriting the script for the adaptation of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One.

Melissa Benoist has been cast in The Longest Ride.

Warner Bros. has acquired Rick Yancey’s Monstrumologist.

Movie Thoughts: The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our StarsI finally saw The Fault in Our Stars last night – I would have gone opening weekend, but I was with a friend celebrating her birthday and she didn’t want to celebrate her birthday with TEARS, which, fair enough – and thoroughly enjoyed it (though, actually, I didn’t quite cry). Let me say up front that I don’t have a lot of critical distance from this one: I know John Green (the author of the book on which the movie’s based) and want good things for him, but more relevantly, I feel like the media roar and debates within the YA community surrounding all this have been so overwhelming that I feared I wouldn’t be able to put all that out of my mind long enough to appreciate the movie for its own sake. Luckily, the movie was transporting enough to let me almost forget all that while I was watching.

Overall, I thought the movie was much better than I feared it would be. The book walks a fine line between authentic emotion and sentimentality, and it would have been all too easy for the movie to have become Generic Uplifting Teen Cancer Movie. But while the movie felt a bit more along those lines than the book – which was probably unavoidable – it managed to keep its distinctiveness via its sense of humor and insistence on not insisting that everything will be okay. And above all, I think the movie worked because it felt like the cast totally committed to the story and the characters. Shailene Woodley was great as always, and Ansel Elgort did a fine job and managed to mostly keep up with her – and, most importantly there, their chemistry was believable. Laura Dern and Sam Trammell were heartbreaking as Hazel’s parents, and Lotte Verbeek as Lidewij was a quiet delight.

There’s been a lot of discussion about Augustus – whether he’s a real character or a Manic Pixie Dream Boy, whether the way he talks is at all believable. It worked for me, because yes, he talks in an artificial way at times – but it’s artificial not (just) because he’s a fictional character, but because that’s the way a lot of pretentious, intellectual teenagers (and, alas, some adults) talk. And this ties into the larger issue of whether the movie feels “real” or “true” enough, which I think somewhat misses the point. The Fault in Our Stars is not presented as a documentary or as coming from some detached, objective third person perspective. We’re seeing Augustus, and everything else, through Hazel’s eyes. She’s a smart, funny, hyperverbal, fairly isolated kid, and she’s narrating her story.

Check Out The Fault in Our Stars’s Entertainment Weekly Cover!

The Fault in Our Stars Entertainment WeeklyThe Fault in Our Stars has made the cover of Entertainment Weekly, and it features both the book cover and stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. Click on the thumbnail or right here to see the whole thing and read a bit of the cover story, including this from author John Green:

“I tried to write the funniest, most honest love story I could about these kids who were living with a difficult disease. I never thought it would popular,” says Green. “I certainly never imagined it would be a movie.”