Friday, December 13, 2013

John Green on the writers of The Spectacular Now and The Fault in our Stars

Sutter Keely (Miles Teller) with Aimee Finecky (Shailene Woodley)
The Spectacular Now

As promised in my last post - what Harlan Ellison had to say about 12 Years a Slave - here's the portion from the Variety piece Eye on the Oscars/Writers on Writers featuring John Green on The Spectacular Now writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber. The writing partners, with a Spirit award nomination for their screenplay based on Tim Thorpe's novel, have a very busy dance card filled with ever more bookish movie adaptations. In addition to the highly anticipated adaptation of John Green's own The Fault in Our Stars directed by Josh Boone and starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, Neustadter and Weber wrote the scripts for the upcoming Rosaline (based on Rebecca Serle's When You Were Mine) Me Before You (Jo Jo Myers) and Where'd You Go, Bernadette? (Maria Semple).  While I'm eager to see more women represented in the film industry, these young men who gave us 500 Days of Summer are undoubtedly bringing some of fiction's most interesting young women to the movies.  Here's what Green said about the pair's work on the James Ponsoldt directed The Spectacular Now - 
"This is probably not the venue for such a confession, but I don't much enjoy reading screenplays, even great ones. I rarely find myself truly immersed in a script, because you can usually see the strings (character development, three-act structure, a recognition and reversal) moving the puppets. As well you should, I suppose, since everyone actually making a movie needs to know what strings to pull and when to pull them. 
The astonishing genius of Michael Weber and Scott Neustadter's “The Spectacular Now” is that it manages both to be a great blueprint for a film and a great read. In Aimee Finecky and Sutter Keely, we have two of the most complex and nuanced teen characters the movies have seen in decades, kids whose mixed-up fears and desires propel them through a story that in lesser hands might've been too quiet or too melodramatic. “The Spectacular Now” is neither: It refuses to flinch and it refuses to judge. The dialogue is precise and compelling, with each character's voice fully realized, and it's the kind of loving and generous adaptation that novelists never even dare to wish for.
It's easy enough to shout carpe diem from the rooftops, but with “The Spectacular Now,” Weber and Neustadter show us what it actually means to live only for the day. 
Young adult author John Green won the Michael L. Printz Award for his first novel, “Looking for Alaska.” His book “The Fault in Our Stars” reached No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list.

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