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Text/Book: Amplified Magic
Cinema and literature at TIFF

Text/Book, the Toronto Standard‘s books column, is written by Emily M. Keeler and Chris Randle, plus occasional guests.

TIFF is upon us, changing the texture of our city once again. The annual teenaged occupation of Yorkville’s hotel district and the media blitz for every star-studded and red-carpeted affair turn Toronto overnight into some strange fictional place, where unglamourous people like yours truly find themselves sharing patio space with the Listers of the C, B, and occasionally A variety. Last year I drunkenly discussed The Rumpus and McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern with a B-List Leading Man and sickened my friends by refusing to shut up about it for like, 6 months. I don’t remember the specifics of how we got around to talking about a literary journal, but I’m obviously the exact kind of person to bring up bookish miscellany in the stupefying face of cinematic celebrity.

And why wouldn’t I be? Movies and books share a certain magic, and so frequently commingle. At the festival this year there are a handful of films that revamp some well-loved novels for the screen.


Midnight’s Children is one of my favourite books, and I’m looking forward to watching an extra layer of cinematic magic applied to Salman Rushdie’s epic novel – even though there’s a little bit of cognitive dissonance seeing handsome Satya Bhabha in the leading role, given how much is made over the character’s knobby-kneed, gargantuan-nosed awkwardness. I imagine it’ll be hard to get tickets to this one, so go early or content yourself with a 9am Monday morning screening.

David Mitchell’s stunning novel Cloud Atlas was also adapted for the screen, but based on the trailer alone I’m none too pleased. What ruins literature more than a little racism? Tom Hanks is in it too. That’s two strikes, in my books. But! One of the best parts about seeing even the worst film adaptions is that they nourish the urge to pick the book up again, to make a meal of the text after a cinematic appetizer.

Oh, Anna Karenina, how did you now that the best way to make my little family (okay–actually just me) happy is to cast Kiera Knightly in a period costume drama?

While I haven’t actually read Mohsin Hamid’s award-winning, internationally best-selling 2007 novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, I have little doubt that Mira Nair will handle the screen adaptation with her typical grace. And because I don’t care about plot spoilers–I mean, really, if you know what’s going to happen you can pay more attention to how it happens, to the machinations of the narrative–there’s a good chance that if I like the movie I’ll even read the book, and let them forever tangle up together in my memory.


Emily M. Keeler is a writer and the editor of Little Brother Magazine. Follow her on Twitter at @emilymkeeler if you please.

For more, follow us on Twitter at @torontostandard, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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