1. “The Bonfire of the Vanities” by Tom Wolfe
This 1987 book really is a modern classic; full of wit, satire and gripping narrative twirls. The book really epitomises everything that the 1980s stood for in the US, and was a giant critical success, becoming a bestseller. The hero here is one Sherman McCoy, a highly-paid Wall Street bond trader and a self-proclaimed “Master of the Universe”, who has it all, until one day, similar to his antecedent in “The Great Gatsby”, one accident ensures his dramatic fall from grace.
What, then, do we have by way of a film adaptation? An almost meaningless and very unfaithful adaptation titled, as the novel, “The Bonfire of the Vanities” (1990), which was neither funny (as was intended) nor convincing. Director Brian De Palma went for a black comedy effect, instead of a sumptuous drama, and crafted an atrocious film where the majority of the actors were also miscast.
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Based on a short story by E.L. Doctorow (which, in turn, is a re-telling of the story by Nathaniel Hawthorne) and shot over just twenty days, “Wakefield” is a film about Howard Wakefield (Bryan Cranston (“Drive” (2011), “The Infiltrator” (2016)), a busy city lawyer, who is silently enduring a personal crisis. On a daily basis, he is commuting to and from NYC to meet his clients, until one evening, his schedule is disrupted by a power outage. At this point, Howard begins to reflect on himself, on his place in life, and on his surroundings. Confronting personal issues usually takes time, and he wastes no time hiding from his family in the attic of his garage next door. This location is a perfect place for a hide-out since it provides him with a perfect position for the close surveillance and monitoring of his own house. Directed by a female director Robin Swicord (the screenwriter behind such great films as “Little Women” (1994) and “Memoirs of Geisha” (2005)), “Wakefield” is deeper and more interesting than first meets the eye. Combining an in-depth psychological character study with an interesting narrative structure, the film manages to deliver both a satisfying and a peculiar cinematic experience, largely driven by Bryan Cranston and Jennifer Garner’s committed performances.
Continue reading ““Wakefield” Review”