When we really love a book, we all fervently hope a movie’s due out soon. But often, the movie just lets us down. Luckily that’s not always the case – here are four movies you can stream now that do the source material justice, and then some.
The Untouchables (1987) – Netflix
Gangster novels tend to make good films, and the autobiographical memoir The Untouchables by Oscar Fraley is a brilliant example. The story about the real-life federal agent Eliot Ness was adapted to film by David Mamet, directed by Brian De Palma with an in-form Kevin Costner and Sean Connery headlining.
Recruiting a special team to pry open Al Capone’s hold over Chicago during the Prohibition era, this gangster epic is intense and almost operatic.
From Tommy guns and tax evasion to horseback ambushes led by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the events in The Untouchables all contribute to a beautiful and brutal crime drama that has enough old-school action to keep you on edge.
Judge Dredd is a beloved Dirty Harry-style law enforcement officer created by John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra. From his first appearance in 2000 AD, the character has moved from comic books to graphic novels, with Sylvester Stallone portraying his mixed bag live-action film debut in Judge Dredd in 1995.
The reboot starring Karl Urban and Lena Headey was filmed in South Africa and could be described as Die Hard meets The Fifth Element. Cleaning out a crime-riddled slum tower ruled by a gang boss named Ma-Ma one floor at a time, Dredd is a gritty, intense and surreal futuristic actioner. From hypnotic visuals to blistering action set pieces, this high-rise takedown embodies Judge Dredd’s no-nonsense attitude and comic book ultraviolence.
Vaselinetjie is a haunting and slow-burning coming-of-age drama about a young orphan girl and her quest to discover her true identity. Based on the young adult novel by Anoeschka von Meck, it’s a story about finding one’s place in a tough world, exploring social identity against the backdrop of the welfare system in Johannesburg.
Purposefully taking an unbiased approach, director Corne van Rooyen cast an array of bright first-time acting talents to give the film a naturalistic feel. Washed-out colours give this thoughtful adaptation a poetic and wistful tone. It’s a heartbreaking and liberating journey into Vaselinetjie’s alienating world as she gets closer and closer to the truth.
Gone Girl (2014) – Netflix
These days, it’s becoming more and more common for an author to pen the film adaptation of their work. This is the case with Gillian Flynn’s novel, Gone Girl, which is now a David Fincher film. While some directors prefer to adapt their own standalone version of a novel, Fincher is different, a director who believes there’s only one way to shoot a film.
Co-starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike as a dysfunctional married couple, this curious, deceptive, entertaining and pulpy thriller toys with a high-profile media saga in the aftermath of a wife’s disappearance. Dark, twisted and even trashy at times, it’s an engaging and genre-bending movie that constantly defies expectations. Solid performances, deft direction and zigzagging storytelling make for a compelling dark pearl of a thriller.