Tuesday, 13 September 2016
HEART-BREAKING WORKS OF STAGGERING GENIUS – THE WORK OF DAVE EGGERS ON FILM
Many will be more than aware of Dave Eggers’ literary genius thanks to his show-stopping debut, the autobiographical and very aptly named ‘A Heart-Breaking Work of Staggering Genius’. Genuinely heart-rending as much as it is brutally honest and very, very funny, the book charts Eggers’ efforts to take charge of his younger brother, Topher, following the cancer-related deaths of both of their parents and was a worldwide bestseller. A literary career flourished from there but many people are less familiar with Eggers’ work on the silver screen where he has forged a career both as a screenwriter to watch as well as having some of his literary works adapted for the screen, such as A Hologram For The King, coming to digital platforms on September 12th and DVD and Blu-ray on September 19th. Here we take a look at some of cinema’s interpretations of this unique voice:
A Hologram For The King (2016)
Tom Hanks brings his everyman charm to a tale, based on Eggers’ novel of the same name, which follows a failed sales rep looking to recoup his losses by flogging a state of the art holographic communications system to a filthy rich Saudi Arabian monarch. A chance encounter with a beautiful Saudi Arabian woman, however, causes him to examine his life and his plans for the future, sending him on a journey of self-discovery that will have a profound effect. Treading a gently dramatic path, Tom Tykwer’s meditation on middle age and new beginnings marks the second time he and Hanks have teamed up following the incomprehensibly brilliant Cloud Atlas, with A Hologram For The King proving itself an altogether more accessible and wonderfully engaging affair for Hanks fans everywhere.
Promised Land (2012)
Dave Eggers provided the story for this 2012 indie drama about a gas company salesman (what is it with Eggers and salesmen?) who undergoes an epiphany after arriving in a small town his company want to plunder for its natural resources. Directed by the legendary Gus Van Sant (My Own Private Idaho), Promised Land features an all-star cast, with Matt Damon (Jason Bourne) taking the lead opposite the ever-impressive Frances McDormand (Fargo) and John Krasinski (The Office), with Golden Age hero Hal Holbrook (Capricorn One) bringing up the rear.
Away We Go (2009) screenplay
Criminally unseen on its release, Away We Go has at least had the good grace to build up something of a cult following since. This was Eggers’ first original screenplay but that didn’t prevent Sam Mendes stepping in to direct a funny, touching and honest portrayal of a couple looking for the perfect place to raise their first child. John Krasinski (him again) and Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids) star as the central couple whilst the supporting cast reads like a wish list of indie giants, with the likes of Allison Janney (The Way Way Back), Jeff Daniels (The Martian), Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Secretary), and Catherine O’Hara reminding everyone why they are always brilliant. Essential viewing and a clear marker that Eggers isn’t just a talent on paper.
Where The Wild Things Are (2009) screenplay
Maurice Sendak’s childhood classic about Max, a boy who runs into his own monster-filled imagination to escape a row with his parents, has become a stalwart for children and their parents everywhere but not something that immediately lends itself to a feature film. Step forward Dave Eggers, who wrote a simply beautiful screenplay that at once captures the story and elevates it for cinema audiences, with the ever-eclectic Spike Jonze behind the camera. Whimsical, wistful and utterly charming, the distinctly low-fi take on Sendak’s text delivers a dream-like quality, whilst the much-missed James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) provides his vocal talents as the leader of the Wild Things who takes Max under his wing. Paul Dano (Swiss Army Man) and Catherine O’Hara (A Mighty Wind) provide the voices of the other creatures.
A busy man indeed, Eggers won’t be away from cinema screens for too long, with two more projects in development from some of his fascinating and beloved novels, including:
Currently in development stages, this drama follows a Syrian-born painting contractor who, while assisting in the post-Hurricane Katrina rescue efforts, finds himself suspected of being a terrorist. The film was once rumoured to be helmed by Silence of the Lambs director Johnathan Demme as an animated feature, but now it appears the project is searching for a director, and it will be interesting to see whose talented hands this intriguing and moving story falls into.
Tom Hanks once again star in this adaptation of Eggers’ novel alongside Emma Watson, with the story following a woman called Mae who lands a job at a powerful tech company called The Circle where she becomes involved with a mysterious man. After becoming excited by her early experience at the company, things begin to rapidly fall apart in this novel that clearly takes inspiration from the increasingly social media driven world that surrounds us and even aspects of a certain Mr. Snowden’s time at the NSA. Put this one on your ‘To See’ list for 2017...
A Hologram For The King arrives on digital platforms on September 12th and DVD and Blu-ray on September 19th