Reading by Ear: Angels and Demons

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
read by Richard Poe

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I read in fits and snatches of time; ten minutes at breakfast here, twenty minutes at the doctor here, a glorious half-hour before bed. So whenever I have huge swaths of time to plunge into a book, it sticks with me. The Da Vinci Code was one such experience, back in the Wombat Years. I must have been twelve or thirteen, slowly wobbling towards bibliophilia. My mother had either borrowed from or been given the book by a friend. It had been left out with the rest of the books that swamped the house, so I nicked it and sequestered myself in my absent brother’s room during a rainstorm. I remember that reading very fondly. It was one of the first times I grabbed a great fistful of time for myself with a purpose.

Pity I didn’t spend it on a better book.

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Page to Screen: Octopussy (1983)

Octopussy
based on characters by Ian Fleming

octopussyfilm

1983 was a weird year for the Bond franchise. You see, Thunderball had a weird, long copyright battle that ultimately resulted in Ian Fleming retaining the film rights to the novel itself, while writer Kevin McClory retained the film rights to the screenplay upon which the novel was based, which he, Jack Whittingham, and maybe Fleming had written together. In the mid-seventies, McClory began working to get a Thunderball adaptation to the big screen, and he finally succeeded with 1983’s Never Say Never Again, starring the original Bond himself, Sean Connery. So Roger Moore’s Bond, wry and aging rather gracelessly, was pitted against Connery’s Bond, the suave savage. Pecuniarily speaking, Octopussy won out, in terms of box office, but does it still hold up?

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Page to Screen: For Your Eyes Only (1981)

For Your Eyes Only
based on the short story collection by Ian Fleming

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At last, the Bond films enter my beloved eighties. If you’re new around here, I am an eighties freak of the highest order—to celebrate the end of my college career, I threw the San Dimas High School Prom for the class of 1989. It’s like that. Plus, the eighties means two things for the Bond franchise: Grace Jones and Timothy Dalton. A View to Kill (which also boasts one of my favorite Duran Duran songs) has been long bandied about as one of the worst Bonds, and given my positive reaction to supposed stinker Moonraker, the results can only be good. And, as much as I like Moore, I can’t wait to get to Dalton, who I’ve built up as some sort of perfect Bond in my head. But let me stop myself from getting ahead of myself.

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Page to Screen: Double Indemnity (1944)

Double Indemnity
based on the novella by James M. Cain

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I’m stepping up my efforts to watch more films. I made so much progress last summer, but, naturally, my last year of school got in the way, to the point that I recently turned around and realized I’d only seen movies with my film depreciation crew during the spring. Fun, to be sure, but one can only watch The Story of Film for so long (I mean, it’s fifteen hours long, c’mon) before itching to watch the things proper. I’ve got a fancy spreadsheet now, complete with color-coded directors and availability, and I’m ready to watch. First up: the paradigmatic (what a great word!) film noir Double Indemnity, because I read this article about Barbara Stanwyck at the Awl.

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Page to Screen: The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)

The Man With The Golden Gun
based on the novel by Ian Fleming

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The miracle of scheduled posts (to which I owe any illusions of timeliness) means that you, dear reader, get to follow along with my adventures with James Bond every other week or so, even as I suffer through a cinematic dry spell. Before my spring break (God bless scheduled posts), I didn’t have time to watch movies outside of my weekly Film Depreciation gatherings—and I missed it. Plus, I’d convinced myself that it was hard to find the Roger Moore Bond films, even though I had Videodrome down the street and only four out of the remaining sixteen films (including this one) require me to cough up three bucks to rent it on iTunes. Sometimes, I am just dumb. In any case, I kicked off my spring break with The Man with the Golden Gun. Moore’s Bond already tackled blaxspolitation films—what about martial arts movies?

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Page to Screen: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
based on the novel by John le Carré

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I’ve started to make it a policy to read the novel before I see a film these days, although sometimes I don’t know until the opening credits that a film is eligible for review here at The Literary Omnivore. C’est la vie. This policy drove me to read Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as homework to watch the film version, which is so full of beloved British actors that it’s not even funny. Now, since I had great difficulty in trying to connect to the novel that proved insurmountable, the film loomed even larger in my imagination as a possible means of redemption. Eventually, I nabbed it from the library, made a makeshift couch for myself in my room (the common room’s television was taken! Curses!), and watched, open-mouthed and quietly, for two hours.

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Page to Screen: From Russia With Love (1963)

From Russia With Love
based on the novel by Ian Fleming

Second verse, same as the first verse. Basically, I’ve copied my friend Natalya’s initiative to watch all twenty-three Bond films, albeit a little backwards. So far, I’ve seen Skyfall, Dr. No, and From Russia with Love, the latter two over Thanksgiving. Three down, twenty to go. (And yet somehow, this is easier than getting through Star Trek: The Original Series. Who’d have thought?)

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Page to Screen: Dr. No (1962)

Dr. No
based on the novel by Ian Fleming

Okay, I caved. I have decided to copy my intrepid friend Natalya and watch the entire James Bond cinematic canon. Over Thanksgiving, I picked up the first two at my local library and watched them with my family. (They did have Thunderball, but they didn’t have Goldfinger. I have to watch them in order; it is my pop culture curse.) I thought I’d at least seen Dr. No once, but it turned out I had no memory of the film—I probably saw Goldfinger on television once and mixed the films up.

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Page to Screen: Where the Truth Lies (2005)

Where the Truth Lies
based on
Where the Truth Lies by Rupert Holmes

So there I am, watching This Film is Not Yet Rated with my friend Elizabeth, and a scene from Where the Truth Lies pops up. It’s from very late in the film, being a spoiler of sorts, and I’m intrigued. Had this been back in middle school, wee Clare would already be frantic to watch the movie, never mind whether or not what she saw was central to the plot. (Oh, wee Clare. At least you were confident in your head.) I began looking for Where the Truth Lies, and couldn’t find it in my usual places. But I found it when I hit up Videodrome, which I heartily recommend to any Atlantans who might be reading.

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