Movie Versions of College Assigned Readings That Don't Suck
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
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It's a itchy temptation: your argumentative paper is due in a day, you've got a blank cursor and about 400,000 pages to read. Why not rent just rent the damn movie? It's like Cliff's Notes, only you can use your free hands to eat Bubba's chicken.
I'm not saying you shouldn't read the books. You should totally read the books, dude. It's really not that terrible. (Wait, except James Joyce. That shit is excruciating.) It is overwhelming. At the SMU Barnes and Noble on Sunday, there was long, twisting line of a familiar couples: the college student and their unbelievable stack of books that contains all-accrued human knowledge. Organic chemistry squished underneath Carl Sagan. Plato and The Communist Manifesto.
So, until The Coen Brothers adapt Intermediate Accounting or Christopher Nolan's Approach to the Snare Drum comes out: you're stuck. And there's only a handful of movie-versions-of-your-class-assigned-books-that-don't-actually-suck. The following are the movies you can watch in substitute of the book, and, really, truly, seriously learn something...
Bram Stroker's novel is a watershed piece of horror writing, but Francis Ford Coppola's visually stunning movie version stars Gary-freaking-Oldman as Dracula. And Anthony Hopkins is Van Helsing.
If you're like me and you didn't know this was based on a novel until you saw it on the shelf as required reading, then I'd like to suggest that the reason is because the film's fame eclipses the novel's.
Death of a Salesman (1985)
OK, this is a for-television film, but it's well-acted and a line-by-line adaptation. No frills, just the play. Dustin Hoffman is Willy Loman, and John Malkovich is Biff. This was the film they made you watch in eighth-grade English, but you were too busy drawing on the long side of the pages, making flip-book comics to notice. Was that just me?
To Kill a Mockingbird
Classic cinema. Plus, it's in black-and-white, so you know it's smart.
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Not the one with Colin Firth. Get this stunning, electric adaptation from Joe Wright. Most versions, like the novel, are preeetttyyy tedious. This version's well-paced and stupidly gorgeous.
At the SMU Barnes and Noble, there were a couple of classes that required Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Watch this, along with the documentary that chronicles the making of the film (Hearts of Darkness - A Filmmaker's Apocalypse), and you've got a helluva date night.