Posts Tagged ‘The Winner Stands Alone’

The Devil Wears Prada

October 19, 2009

A couple of years ago I read The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger. For the first few pages it is witty and amusing, but after the first 50 or so pages so incredibly boring. How can anyone write such trash, even worse read it? Did I really want to know what everyone was wearing? Her second book, virtually a re-write of the first only now the PR industry not the fashion industry, is marginally better.

When I read the book, I thought maybe a short story, but not a novel. I also thought it would make a good film.

A few weeks back I picked up the DVD of The Devil Wears Prada and finally got around to watching it last night. I quite enjoyed it. A rare example of the film being better than the book.

The film is absolutely brilliant. Surprisingly it captures the essence of the book far better than does the book itself. Very clever is the opening sequence where you see the people heading to work but what you see is what is on their feet, their shoes, their boots. The performance by Meryl Streep is worthy of an Oscar. That by Anne Hathaway as the girl from the sticks is also good.

Far, far better than The Devil Wears Prada is the latest novel from Paulo Coelho, The Winner Stands Alone, published this spring. A damning indictment of the fashion and film industry and the cult of celebrity and how easily women are exploited in the name of fashion.

The Winner Stands Alone in a way compliments the film, you get more out of the film, the inner world of fashion after having read The Winner Stands Alone, and the film in turn compliments The Winner Stands Alone. One is set in New York, the other in Cannes at the International Film Festival.

In the syrupy saccharine mini-feature that accompanies the film, the producer praises the director, the director the producer, everyone heaps praise on the screenwriter and trashes the previous screenwriters. Curiously Lauren Weisberger, who did after all write the novel, gets not a mention! Although the novel is rubbish, ironically Lauren Weisberger can write. She does though get a mention in the opening credits.

From what I remember of the book, the ending of the film is different to the book. I only got about halfway through the book and gave it to a Polish friend. She wished to see if the book was as bad in the original English as it was in the Polish translation. What was unforgivable I went out and bought another copy as I wished to see was it really this bad, did it not improve. Sadly no, it didn’t. Now, having watched the film and enjoyed it, I want to read the book again. How sad can you get?

I had originally bought The Devil Wears Prada for a Czech friend. I tried to find her books that were well written, not too difficult and interesting. Not easy to satisfy all three. She has absolutely no interest in fashion. Has a knack though to pick clothes she looks good in. No way, I thought, she will not like this book, a big mistake. Surprisingly she did.

Maybe I am missing something, like why do my Bulgarian friends post pictures of the shoes they are wearing?

The Witch of Portobello, based upon the novel of the same name by Paulo Coelho, has its world premier at the Rome International Film Festival evening Tuesday 20 October 2009.

Gucci handbags

October 5, 2009

On BBC Radio 4 ‘The Bottom Line’, the head of Gucci was asked why if it costs £300 to make a Gucci handbag does it sell at £1,000?

The implied question being why are you ripping people off?

The answer was we are not selling handbags, nor for that matter shoes, we are selling dreams. The head honcho then went on to say that if it was a handbag you wanted, there were hundreds of companies he could recommend.

In many ways this was worse than saying he ripped people off, he was conning them.

That is why, he went on to say, we employ good looking women in our shops, spend large amounts of money on fashions shoots and fashion shows.

The Winner Stands Alone by Paulo Coelho is a damning indictment of the fashion and film business and the cult of celebrity.

To a lesser extent The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger. The film is far better than the book.

The Alchemist as a film

October 1, 2009

‘I feel like the luckiest man on the planet. It’s a dream come true for me, to be able to direct and star and bring Coelho’s book to the screen.’ —  Laurence Fishburne

I have my doubts of The Alchemist as a film. I am not the only one, Brazilian author Paulo Coelho tried unsuccessfully to buy back the film rights.

Nothing ruins a good book than a bad film. Something I have never understood, is buying the rights to a book, then producing a film that has no resemblance to the film other than the title.

If The Alchemist is to be turned into a film, I would have seen it directed by a Chinese director, say the director of House of Flying Daggers and Curse of the Golden Flower, as I am sure they would have done a better job, especially the desert scene.

The problem with American directors is that they are more interested in American bums on seat and their limited attention span, than producing a good film. To them a film is a product, not an artistic creation.

Two other Paulo Coelho novels have been turned into films: Veronika Decides to Die and The Witch of Portobello.

Veronika Decides to Die has been shown in Brazil, but as far as I am aware has not been released elsewhere. A key moment of Veronika Decides to Die  is as Veronika lies dying, she is annoyed by a supposedly witty comment of a journalist who does not know where Slovenia is. The film is set in New York!

The Witch of Portobello is as I write on its way to me on DVD.  Directed by Los Angeles filmmaker Tadeh Daschi, the film stars Carolena Sabah as the enigmatic Athena. The film was the result of a competition organised by Paulo Coelho. The original music featured in the film was composed by  Tadeh Daschi and showcases world music group Visa.

The Witch of Portobello will be premiered at the Rome Film Festival October 2009.

The Winner Stands Alone, the latest novel by Paulo Coelho, is a damning indictment of the film and fashion industry and the cult of celebrity.

At $60 million (a Harvey Weinstein production), a big budget film for a very simple story. In announcing his production on the beach at the Cannes film Festival in 2008, it was a parody of The Winner Stands Alone or what it the other way around? Do we have life imitating art or  art imitating life?

The Alchemist is a $60 million Harvey Weinstein production, staring and directed by Laurence Fishburne.  Following the announcement at Cannes, filming was scheduled to start spring last year at various locations in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

The Alchemist recently celebrated two years in The New York Times best seller list. Not bad for a book that was first published twenty years ago.

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