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December movies for book lovers

As our fine state locks down for the impending deep freeze, sensible Minnesotans begin their annual search for forms of entertainment that won't cause their appendages to wither and die. While reading is the obvious choice for anyone perusing a column about books, even the most voracious bibliophile needs a change of pace once in a while. Luckily, Hollywood producers have discovered that most families need an excuse to sit in the dark and ignore each other during the holiday season, which means that a slew of new movies will hit theaters in the coming weeks. Here are a few that began as novels and plays:


While Brothers isn't technically based on a novel, it's included here because the screenplay was written by David Benioff, author of City of Thieves and The 25th Hour. The film tells the story of a soldier (Tobey Maguire) who has reportedly died in Afghanistan. In her grief, his devastated wife (Natalie Portman) turns to her husband's brother (Jake Gyllenhaal) for comfort, and the two fall in love. When her husband returns home, the three must learn to deal with heartbreak and betrayal. Release date: December 4

Crazy Heart

Based on the 1989 novel by Thomas Cobb, Crazy Heart is the story of Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges), a run-down, hard-drinking country singer whose years on the road have left him with nothing but broken marriages and debt. When a journalist (Maggie Gyllenhaal) tracks him down and makes him the subject of her next piece, Bad begins to realize that he is not doomed to a life of misery and loneliness. Think of it like The Wrestler with less spandex and more guitars. Release Date: December 16

A Single Man

Colin Firth stars in this film adampation of the Christopher Isherwood novel of the same name. Firth plays George Falconer, a gay British professor who has recently lost his long-time partner. The film is a frank examination of the lonliness and exile of life as a middle-aged gay man in 1960s suburban America. It is also notable that A Single Man is fashion designer Tom Ford's directorial debut, and the sets and costumes reflect the sleek, mid-century glamour you'd expect from the man who saved Gucci. Release date: December 25

The Lovely Bones

In what is possibly the most depressing premise anyone has ever concocted, The Lovely Bones is based on the Alice Sebold novel in which a young girl narrates the story of her own murder. Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) watches her family and her killer from a blissful place between life and death. Torn between her need for justice and her desire for her family to recover from her disappearance, Susie watches as her father (Mark Wahlberg) pieces together the mystery of her death. The film also features Rachel Weisz as Susie's mother, and a nearly-unrecognizable Stanley Tucci as the creepy neighbor. Release date: December 25

Sherlock Holmes

Arthur Conan Doyle's famed detective gets an overhaul in the newest rendition of Sherlock Holmes. Gone are the tweed capes and stuffy drawing rooms of previous film-versions; director Guy Ritchie reimagines Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr.) as a formidable mystery-solving machine whose physical abilities match his intellectual prowess. He, and his dependable sidekick, Watson (Jude Law), track the devious Lord Blackwood through London in an attempt to foil his villainous plans to destroy Britain. Release date: December 25 

The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond

Based on the recently-rediscovered screenplay by Tennessee Williams, The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond tells the story of Fisher Willow (Bryce Dallas Howard), a southern debutante whose penchant for rocking the boat has made her persona non grata in 1920s Memphis society. Determined to attend social functions despite her reputation, Fisher hires a worker (Chris Evans) from her family's plantation to pose as a wealthy suitor and escort her to parties. Eventually, she falls in love with him, but their future is jeopardized when the loss of an heirloom diamond sets off a string of questions and accusations. Release date: December 30