On silence and cacophonies, the changing face of horror and watching A Quiet Place

A lot of people are talking about Bird Box being similar to A Quiet Place. Now I haven’t Bird Box, but this discussion was my excuse to return to the latter. I unearthed this post that I had written on  A Quiet Place. This post has been sitting in my drafts for a while now, let’s drag it to the light of day…
One of the problems of watching a horror movie with friends, for me, has been that whole approach people have these days; of sitting on the edge of your seats, waiting to be scared. It’s strange that a horror movie is judged by how many scenes make you jump – I’ve never heard of people watching a drama-tragedy and saying, “Well it was good, but it didn’t make me cry enough.” Even comedies are judged by more than the number of laughs they provide. Why then this narrow expectation of a genre that  deals with an intense primal emotion? There is more to fear than that. There has to be! 
Even so, most popular horror in television and cinema is awfully formulaic. Story, character and emotions are beside the point. What matters is how suddenly that chalky white face shows up on the screen or how the slimy hands grip the heroine from inside the mirror or the blood spatters and violence. The essence of the genre is lost in cheap tricks and manufactured thrills.
Horror can be more than ghosts. Think of Carrie. Late 70s, teenage girl, abused and bullied, gets supernatural powers and wreaks revenge…?  Many people would even reject labeling this as horror! But what do you find terrifying – a walking doll? Or how easily we inflict casual pain on fellow humans out of sheer spite? Who can forget that iconic scene from Carrie where the bucket of pig’s blood is upturned on a girl’s head; who could deny being scared by her disintegration? Carrie is torture, if you give in to the singular demand made by good movies and THINK about it. 
A Quiet Place is like that. It demands that you to think; and look beyond the regular and mundane expectations from a horror movie. It’s not a study in jump-scares but rather a slow, psychological torture. The movie is set in a post-apocalyptic world where alien monsters with hypersensitive hearing have wiped out the society. They attack at the slightest hint of a man-made sound and the only way to survive is to be totally and utterly silent. It is bang in the middle of this invasion that the movie begins. We meet a family, the only survivors in a deserted town; a couple and their three kids. They try to survive in this place while struggling to establish contact with the outside world. 
I’m a generally quiet person, but I can’t imagine having to live without sound, without the comfort of my own voice – I realised as I watched this movie that I may not even be able to think properly if I didn’t know what I sounded like. A new perspective on the word luxury, and privilege. One of the children in the surviving family in the movie is congenitally deaf and that gives her an excellent chance; the intrinsic formula of the world hasn’t changed for her. The family in turn has the advantage of being fluent in sign language and that is one reason they stay connected through the events.  
A Quiet Place is certain of its scope – it’s not an action movie or an alien invasion kind of sci-fi story. Where did the creatures come from, why is the Abbott family the only ones alive, what happened to the rest of the world – these are questions the movie will not attempt to answer. It has a narrower scope, in that it doesn’t deal with politics or the anthropology of an apocalypse; rather uses that plot device to delve into our psychology. The Quiet Place takes you out of your daily comforts and plants you into a world that has unfair demands and constant threats. It’s a movie about confronting the odds and facing fear.  It’s about love ties and loyalties being tested. It’s about the value of the smallest things we take for granted – simple things really, like a baby’s laugh or a favourite piece of music.
Watching A Quiet Place in the cinemas enhanced the haunting effect the movie had on me. I’d never realised before just how noisy cinema halls are. People whooping, laughing, commenting; the odd mobile phone ringing, and god forbid, popcorn. Have you ever noticed how loud popcorn is? Everyone in the audience was utterly silent as we watched A Quiet Place. The movie was stripped of all noise and suddenly, like the characters and creatures of this world, we were also hypersensitive to noise. And that was the biggest show-stopping surprise the movie had to offer! 
Not only did it capture real horror, but it juxtaposed itself against regular thrills by taking away the one thing that the horror genre loves to exploit: sound effects. Horror as we know it now is all about sound. We all know and hate the anxiety-inducing murmur in a suspenseful scene, building up to a bang when a monster appears to scare us. Pennywise the Clown is made tenfold scarier by that raspy voice; I have goosebumps just typing about it. A quick search reveals many web pages about audio tricks  used in horror to scare the daylights out of you. And yet, A Quiet Place had nothing. And somehow, that was freakier than any sound effect. 

Possession: A Romance by A.S. Byatt (the movie)

Summary: Roland Mitchell is an American scholar, out of place in the British academic world. He is studying the life of the Victorian poet laureate, Randolph Henry Ash, when he happens upon two letters addressed to an unknown woman, whom Roland suspects to be a minor supposedly lesbian poetess, Christabel LaMotte. Roland begins to suspect a love affair between the two, that if discovered would change the way the world sees both the poets forever. Stealing the letters, Roland enlists the help of Maud Bailey, a fellow literary scholar and distant relative of Christabel LaMotte, to uncover the truth. Together, they become obsessed with the poets’ stories, even as they try to keep their research a secret from rival scholars. Possession is a tragic but ultimately hopeful tale.
My thoughts: Possession by Antonia S Byatt is one of my favourite love stories. The movie is different from the book in many ways, the most conspicuous being this whole new and jumpy version of Roland Mitchell in the form of an unavoidably American Aaron Eckhart. This adaptation only grazed the surface of what the story has to offer, and yet, I did like it.
Why? Two words, Jeremy Northam, previously known to me as a rather nice-looking Thomas More on The Tudors. He makes a wonderfully solemn Randolph Henry Ash and Jennifer Ehle is an unbridled beauty with a right-out-of-a-painting look. They are a perfect portrait of the two poets, who get much more ‘screen time’ here than in the book. In the film, you catch Ash and LaMotte impatiently awaiting the other’s letters, staring at each other with that tinge of a smile, making the sort of passionate love that cannot be contained in pages. Neil LaBute has created for them a vivid world that even Byatt did not manage to fully build with her prose. When Randolph Henry Ash talks with that rich voice of his, you want to stop and listen, and the Christabel LaMotte of the movie makes it hard for you to look away from the screen. They awaken the romantic in you. You want them to live happily ever after, which makes it so much harder when they don’t.
One of Ash and LaMotte’s very first meetings,
“It surprises me, Madam, that a lady, who lives as quietly as you do, would be aware of my modest success.”
“Oh, I am very aware the papers herald you weekly. It is you, however, who surprise me.”
“And why is that?”
“Judging from your work, I’m surprised you would even acknowledge my existence. Or any woman’s, for that matter, since you show us such small regard on the page.”
“You’ve cut me, Madam.”
“I’m sorry. I only meant to scratch.”
The same cannot be said for Maud and Roland, even though the tension between them is palpable. In the book, Maud is a woman who has been trapped by her own beauty, who has cocooned herself in an attempt to fight men’s need to possess her. Roland’s struggle is to free her from the uncanny figurative bell jar, that curiously features on the cover of the book. In the movie, it is often difficult to make out what, if anything, lies beyond Paltrow’s stony composure. Maud and Roland’s on-screen relationship leaves something to be desired. But Possession is more than the two pairs of lovers. It is about the precarious nature of all relationships, about the time it takes for one to collapse and the destruction even momentary happiness leaves in its wake. It is about unrequited passions and unsaid promises, and one of its best played characters is that of Christabel’s old lover, Blanche.
The movie is nowhere near subtle. It is a satirical look at the literary world with its grotesquely one-sided cast of academicians. They all fight for recognition, poring over dead writers’ lives with a voyeuristic greed and no concern for privacy or emotion. A character I really missed from the book was Leonara Stern, the feminist scholar, who is the living embodiment of wishful conclusions. Often enough to cause alarm, the drama threatens to become a mawkish display that does seem odd in this century, and yet, suited to a world of past-diggers. It begs to be made fun of. In the movie, unlike the book, it is unclear whether the farce is intentional. 
Possession must have been a difficult book to adapt. So much of its beauty and intellect lies in its linguistic nuances. The film is a really good effort, with moments I want to watch over and over, scenes I am so glad I now have visuals for. But to me it was just a three star adaptation of a five star book. Go for it if you have read the book or if you like romance of every kind. Or you can simply watch it, like me, for a swoonful of Victorian charm.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (the movie)

The film begins so – “The breakthrough in medical science came in 1952. Doctors could now cure the previously incurable. By 1967, life expectancy passed 100 years.”
Never Let Me Go is set in this alternate reality. It follows the lives of three children,
Kathy, Ruth and Tommy who grow up together in a typical English boarding school. Except, Hailsham is not an ordinary school. The children are “duplicates” or clones whose lives have a special purpose – to make organ donations, a fate clear to the viewer from the start, but not to them. A coming-of-age journey like no other, Never Let Me Go is a search for identity, hope, a tale of friendship and unrequited love, as Kathy, Ruth and Tommy grow up to face what the world has in store for them. 
Two years ago, I wrote a rant-review of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, the book (read more about the plot there.) The movie, directed by Mark Romanek (who unsurprisingly I had never heard of), is also a beauty. Like the book, it made me scared and weepy. Ishiguro writes a blend of Japanese and English styles, somehow both melancholy and impassive. This book had some failings, an odd arrangement of plot here, a convenient tying off of loose threads there – but its powerful composition made me let them go. And this is a rare adaptation that so closely follows the story while doing justice to the sentiment.

Never Let Me Go has a tone of helpless silence that is most striking. No reader or viewer is new to dystopian fiction – from Hunger Games to 1984, there has been a lot in this genre. Doesn’t the word dystopia conjure dreadful provocative images in your mind, the kind filled with torture chambers and riots? Never Let Me Go is not that. It is much closer to home.
Do not watch the movie expecting a story about three friends teaming up against circumstance, to overthrow an awful authority, if only to end up squashed by the system. Ishiguro and Romanek have penned a far likelier version of the future for the vast majority of us. It is a world where you accept what is thrown your way, because that’s what most of us would do. The quiet resignation in Kathy’s voice makes the movie most haunting. 
And what makes the story most effective, irrespective of medium, is this – you never meet the bad-guy. The normal people, who are not duplicates and organ donors, are the teachers at Hailsham school. And they never outright mistreat the children, they do nothing that doesn’t happen in schools now, nothing you want to shout at and protest against. You see the injustice in the little things, the rundown cottages the kids move to after school, the deliverymen who can’t quite meet their eyes. The sad truth of the story is it makes you empathize with both sides of the coin – the main characters, who are little more than experiments created to serve others, and the rest of the world that reaps the benefits of invention, guiltless, so long as they don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. 
The cast is great, just like I had pictured them. There should be a word for finding out the book adaptation you really want to watch stars Keira Knightley. In this movie, unlike her others, I actually liked her in the role of sassy, headstrong Ruth. The book gets its title from a fictional song that little Kathy dances to, imagining herself an impossible future. The scene in the movie, somewhat different, is still touching, and the young actress who plays Kathy conveys a multitude of emotions through her little swaying dance. She brings this light to the first half of the film that is just charming. Her bond with Tommy is precious. And she looks uncannily like Carey Mulligan, who plays grown-up Kathy. 
The movie appears inescapably English. Ishiguro uses rain as a frequent plot device, most key conversations happen because the characters are stuck somewhere while it’s pouring outside. True to the narrative, the film has this drab rainy appearance that makes it even gloomier. The story is brimming with ideas and Ishiguro lets them brim over inside you, leaving a hundred questions unanswered. The movie could have been more dramatic, graphic, but it maintains Ishiguro’s subtlety. Don’t watch the movie with a closed mind and expect to be taken by the hand and led through an experience. Open your mind, welcome in the discreet flavourless terror and your imagination should suffice to drive you crazy.

Disney’s Beauty and The Beast

When I was a kid, I had this beautiful Disney picture book of Beauty and The Beast. I realized I’d never seen the movie version of Beauty and The Beast (I mean the Disney one, of course – animation is the only way to watch fairy tales, for me.) So I decided to watch it as part of the Once Upon a Time VIII challenge, Quest on Screen. Anything that falls in broad genres of fantasy, folklore, fairy tale and mythology counts and Beauty and the Beast definitely fits at least two of those.

If you know the story, you can skip down to what I thought!

Story: Once upon a time, a spoiled, selfish and unkind Prince was cursed by an enchantress for his arrogance. As punishment, he was transformed into a hideous Beast and his castle, and all who lived there were placed under a curse. Ashamed of his monstrous form,
the Beast concealed himself inside his castle. The only thing that could save him was an enchanted
rose, which would bloom until his 21st year. If he could learn to love another,
and earn her love in return, by the time the last petal fell, then the spell
would be broken. If not, he would be doomed to remain a beast for all time. As
the years passed, he fell into despair, and lost all hope. For who could ever
learn to love a Beast?

Belle is introduced as this pretty young girl who always has her nose buried in a book. She and her father, a budding inventor, are ridiculed by the townspeople, who find them very odd. Then we meet Gaston, a popular and handsome but brutish hunter. He wants to marry Belle, much to her confusion and distaste.
One day, Belle’s father gets lost in the woods, is attacked by wolves and seeks shelter in a huge seemingly abandoned castle. There, he is observed by a curious anthropomorphic candle stand and a clock and soon all the servants, cursed to spend eternity locked away with their master as non-living objects, greet and serve their rare visitor. When the Beast awakens and sees the intruder, he bursts into a fit of beastly anger and he holds Belle’s father prisoner.

Phillipe, his darling horse, arrives home alone and a frightened but determined Belle sets off to find her father. They reach the castle and the household is immediately abuzz with the arrival of a girl, who might be the one to break the curse. To set her father free, Belle makes a bold deal with the Beast, to switch places with her father and stay captured in the castle forever. The Beast is awed by her sacrifice, and in a moment of inspired kindness, offers her a room instead of the prison cell.

At the insistence of his servants, the Beast invites Belle for dinner. But she declines, proceeding to fume in her room. He requests her to get out, then forces her, and then guiltily shifts back to pleading her, only to lose his temper and declare that if she ever wants to eat she has to do it with him. But Belle is not one to be scared by threats. At night, she sneaks out of the room and at her request for food, the entire cutlery and crockery of the castle burst into delightful song and make her the grandest French meal in the history of cartoon.

On a mission to explore, in a forbidden part of the castle, Belle comes upon the slowly withering rose, stored carefully in a glass jar. It’s the young prince’s room, complete with a torn apart picture of a handsome young man. Just as she’s about to take a closer look at the mysterious rose, the Beast arrives and hides it. He angrily pushes her away from the precious remains of the flower and roars at her. Angry and insulted, Belle leaves the castle with Phillipe.

In the woods, the dreadful wolves attack them. A brave Belle is fighting them, when the Beast arrives. He chases off the wolves and is wounded in the process. Belle stays, if reluctantly, to help her saviour. Back at the castle, as she nurses his wounds, we notice in the Beast an almost childlike quality. There’s something very human about him arguing with the girl. Belle thanks him for saving her life, and he responds with a touched “You’re welcome.” It seems to be the first time that someone has thought of him as more than a beast. Over the following days, Belle brings out the good in him, till ultimately, he changes into someone worthy of her love.

Of course, the troubles are far from over with the horrible Gaston plotting to send Belle’s father to an asylum and blackmailing her into marrying him. Belle wants to leave the castle to save her father, and despite only the last petal hanging on to the rose, the Beast lets her go, wondering if she would come back.

What I thought: The thing I like the most about this story is that the characters are gray (except Gaston, whom I hate on principle.) Belle isn’t completely good just the like the Beast is not wholly bad. Belle takes unthinking risks, she can be a bit of a nose-poker (like entering his part of the castle when he’d expressly asked her not to) and she does let the Beast sway her mind with gifts (the library.) We never know why the servants are punished, but perhaps not all are as pitiable before the curse either as they appear during!

I think this is the only Disney story where the heroine is not in love with the idea of love. Here, love develops gradually and for a reason, it’s neither love at first sight nor prophecy. Belle isn’t different because she’s a reader. Belle is unique Disney heroine, because while she does read fairy tales and dream of adventures and princes in disguise, she isn’t waiting for love to happen to her. And in this story, love is hardly the only thing on her mind. Remember, she chases after her father, not Prince Charming.

I don’t accept the accusation that this story sends the message of loving a man despite the fact that he abuses you, of bearing with his tantrums. It’s about giving people a chance. Belle doesn’t discount any of the Beast’s angry comments or bad decisions – whenever he shouts at her, she shouts back. If he tries to hurt her, she fights him off. But she is open to the idea that he could be good. When she first sees him in the light, she doesn’t judge him by his appearance, even though he scares her. She gives him the benefit of the doubt.

But the story is not just about Belle’s forgiveness or second chances. At its heart, I always see it as the Beast’s story. It’s about meeting someone wonderful and falling in love with them and transforming yourself; becoming unselfish, trying harder to turn into the best version of you for them. As that fabulous Angela Lansbury song goes, “bittersweet and strange, finding you can change, learning you were wrong…”

The quintessential Disney-ness of the movie with its charming music and the at once enchanting and funny animation only adds to the magic. This is definitely worth a watch!
Do you like Disney movies? How did you find Beauty and the Beast?  Which is your favourite fairy tale adaptation? Any recommendations?

R.I.P. – The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

While I do like reading horror, I am still not quite sure about watching horror movies (without, that is, freezing of shock.) Which is why I decided to watch only animated (and hence, not scary) movies for the R.I.P. Challenge for now.

After watching Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, I was thinking of re-watching Corpse Bride. Instead, someone recommended this movie to me – Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. It is an Academy Award winning horror-comedy flick, starring (the voices of) Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes. I loved it!

“Something wicked this way hops.”

Wallace, the cheese-loving inventor, and his intelligent but humble pet dog, Gromit run the pest-control (well, relocation) service “Anti-Pesto”. They get rid of the town’s worst and peskiest rabbits, and are loved by the townspeople. Only days before the town’s famous Giant Vegetable Competition, the most prized vegetables start mysteriously disappearing. It is up to Anti-Pesto to save the townspeople from what appears to be a giant monster of a rabbit.

I adored the clay-mation. The characters were simple but charming! Gromit is officially one of my favourite cartoon dogs. He is quiet and faithful and incredibly patient (considering that he is far smarter and better at his job than the incompetent Wallace.) And just look cute he is! Having no voice, he only consists of a few extremely expressive pieces of clay.
Aside from the wonderful animation, it was the silly, cheesy British humour that I loved. The plot is slightly overdone; and the movie could have been shorter. Still, being a witty parody of almost all horror and thriller films, it is a great source of entertainment!

R.I.P. – The Nightmare Before Christmas

“It was a long time ago, longer now than it seems, in a place perhaps you’ve seen in your dreams. For the story you’re about to be told began with the holiday worlds of old. Now you’ve probably wondered where holidays come from. If you haven’t, then I’d say its time you’ve begun.”

I first watched a Tim Burton film ages ago – the animated musical Corpse Bride, which I remember loving. Much recently I read an adorable book of short poems also by Burton called The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories. So, as a part of the R.I.P Challenge (Peril on the Screen) I decided to see another of Burton’s animated movies that I never got around to watching till now – The Nightmare before Christmas.

In the unique reality where every holiday has its own world, we meet Jack Skellington of Halloween Town. The Pumpkin King, the brains behind the festival of Halloween, once stumbles across the world of Christmas. A misfit in his own world, Jack now believes it his sole purpose in life to improve his festival by merging the worlds of Christmas and Halloween. What follows is a wonderfully funny tale of twists and turns, when the monsters of Halloween Town start preparing for Christmas. It is on the night before Christmas, when Skellington kidnaps ‘Sandy Claws’ to replace him, that our world sees what has become of Christmas.

The movie is for ‘kids’ of all ages. It’s awesome. The detailed animation, of course, is what makes the movie so great. The wonderful cartoons reminded me a lot of the thin, dark, stick-like creatures in Corpse Bride. The characters are unique and the dialogues are genuinely funny (well, most of them, anyway.) Even though the story is kind of ridiculous, I think I would have pretty much loved it when I was a kid. If it were a little funnier and made a little more sense, I would have enjoyed it even more. If not anything else, though, the movie does get you in the holiday spirit!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2) this morning and I was very excited about it like everybody else! I wish I’d written a post about it beforehand like everyone else, because then I would have had many great things to say.

I never liked the Harry Potter movies, because they were hardly ever like the books! Unlike most people I know, I find it very hard to judge a movie based on a book without comparing it to the book it is based on. It sounds crazy! Whenever I read a book, I play the scenes in my mind; well, I expect everyone does that. Why else would I watch the Harry Potter movies when I already know what’s going to happen – certainly not for the absolutely amazing cast. It’s as if they want to remove all the very essential parts of the book to replace them with unnecessary, cheesy and sometimes comical (the one where Harry and Hermione dance) scenes. Still. I loyally go watch the movies every time and they don’t once fail to disappoint me.

The first half of the movie really made me wonder if it was going to be different this time! The story line was almost maintained and there were no weird special effects (except for the Imperius Curse. Why- no, how- was that necessary?) It’s shocking how much bad they can do in about the last half hour of the movie!! In the second half – the movie went from ‘almost awesome’ to ‘ridiculous’ – well, at least for me.
Ralph Fiennes was an expected disaster, Alan Rickman, an unexpected one, and did I mention there was a bit too much action? And don’t even tell me there were some really great scenes. It’s Harry Potter, for god’s sake. They aren’t exactly doing us a favour by giving us “some” good scenes!

I’ll always hate that Harry Potter had to end. What I hate now is that it had to end this way.

How to Be a Pirate by Cressida Cowell

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Grab your current read, open to a random page and share two teaser sentences from that page!

How to Be a Pirate is the sequel to Cressida Cowell’s How to Train your Dragon. Here’s my teaser this week:

  • “Imagine if you had spent the whole first part of your life trying to walk on your hands. The clumsiness of it, always falling over, always stumbling, always the last at everything. Imagine the joy of discovering that in fact you could walk on your feet after all.”
It is a simple, whimsical and crudely humourous book meant for children. Which, of course, is why I liked it.

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III is an unnoticeable, average looking Viking. He is not quite up to the standard expected from someone who happens to be the heir of the Hooligan tribe. Not to mention, Hiccup has a very lazy and inefficient dragon, Toothless, who is about three times smaller than most dragons! As the tribe hunts for a hundred year old treasure, Hiccup turns out to be the most unlikely Hero of the story.

I liked How to Be a Pirate; a quick fun read, full of silly jokes and goofy cartoons! I find parts of it very original; like the dragons have their very own language. For instance, “Pishyou na munch-munch di miaow-miaow” means “Please do not eat the cats.”

I loved the movie How To Train Your Dragon – so I didn’t bother reading the book. As it turns out, the two are quite different; though I might just be partial to the movie just this once, if only because Toothless happens to be exceptionally cute.

Book Blogger Hop #2

Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Crazy for Books. The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week, so if you don’t have time to Hop today, you can join the fun later! This is a weekly event! And stop back throughout the weekend to see all the new blogs that are added!

This week’s question:

“What book-to-movie adaption have you most liked? Which have you disliked?”

I can think of very few movies based on books that I liked. One movie I really loved was Silence of the Lambs. Another movie version that I loved was Stephen King’s Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. I can’t say the same for the rest of his books though! The Shining for instance; they did a horrible job with the characters in that movie!

I liked the first two Harry Potter movies, but the Prisoner of Azkaban movie was nightmarish – no Marauders’ story, a demented looking guy as Sirius; they took away my favourite parts of the book – except the Boggart lesson! And the movies after that were just as absurd! I hated the Half Blood Prince; it’s as if they rounded up the most important parts of the book and replaced them with stupid, unnecessary stuff! The Deathly Hallows was okay though!

By the way, I just finished reading Howl’s Moving Castle (it’s awesome!) and I am so sure I won’t like that Japanese animated film based on it that I am not going to watch it!

Books or movies?

What do you like better? I’ve always said that the movies that are based on books are either way worse than the books, or almost as good as. Never better; for the simple reason that, however extraordinary the direction or the acting or the camera angles (or whatever) might be, it’s still nothing without the story! And you have got the book to thank for that!! Here are two books that I loved the MOST, and the movies based on them were only a tad bit worse; probably only because I had already decided that the books were going to be better! Anyway:

1. Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King:
Andy Dufresne is wrongly accused of murder, and is sentenced to imprisonment at the Shawshank prison. There he meets the narrator, Red, an inmate who is known for smuggling contraband into the prison. Andy gets Red to deliver him a rock hammer and a large pin-up poster of Rita Hayworth. Then he goes on to do something that has never been done before: escape Shawshank!
This is a novella by Stephen King that was published in 1982 as a part of his collection called Different Seasons. If there’s any author who knows how to create wonderfully complex characters and build up their lives, it’s Stephen King. And this book is definitely King at his best. The 1994 movie Shawshank Redemption, starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman received multiple award nominations including seven Academy Awards!

2. Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris:

Clarice Starling, an FBI trainee, is assigned to the case of a certain serial killer known to all as ‘Buffalo Bill’. She has to interview the infamous serial killer, Hannibal the Cannibal, as he is the only one who might be able to help them solve the case. Dr. Hannibal Lecter, once a brilliant psychiatrist, is now kept in a secluded chamber in high security in a mental institution. As the story unfolds, it is he who leads Clarice to the solution and helps her uncover the truth.
Silence of the Lambs is a book written by Thomas Harris, published in 1998 as a part of his Hannibal trilogy. This book has won the Bram Stoker Award for thriller fiction. The novel is one of the best in its genre. The 1991 movie based on the book, starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins has won the five most prestigious Academy Awards.

Do make sure to read these books too, by the way, since I cannot imagine anyone who hasn’t seen the movies!

(This slightly uncalled-for post is my attempt at getting rid of a case of writer’s block that isn’t allowing me to write some things that I want to finish writing today! Hope it has worked!)