Review: Tom Hanks’ Novel Shares Inside Look at Moviemaking 

Tom Hanks. (AP)
Tom Hanks. (AP)
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Review: Tom Hanks’ Novel Shares Inside Look at Moviemaking 

Tom Hanks. (AP)
Tom Hanks. (AP)

“The Making of Another Motion Picture Masterpiece,” by Tom Hanks (Knopf)

There may be no one better suited to tell the tale of how a movie gets made than Hollywood icon and master of the motion picture Tom Hanks.

His debut novel follows the life of a story from its inspiration to when it hits the silver screen. The fictional tale captures the magic of the process, yes, but also the crawling, detail-packed moviemaking step, presented just so in the bulk of the novel.

The first act takes place in the ’70s, introducing readers to Robby Anderson, a 5-year-old with a knack for drawing comic strips, and his hero and Marine veteran uncle, Bob Falls. When Uncle Bob exits Robby’s life as quickly as he entered it, all Robby has left of him is a comic likeness he drew of his uncle as a World War II flamethrower superhero.

Robby grows up to create a fully fledged comic strip based on said character, and after fast-forwarding to present day, the strip is discovered in a collection of old comics by genius movie director Bill Johnson, who’s seeking inspiration for a Marvel-esque superhero movie he’s itching to make.

From there, the novel takes readers by the hand through the ins and outs of moviemaking. Straying from the plot frequently to delve into the many, many characters involved, not a detail is spared. Readers leave each lengthy introduction knowing the character’s drink of choice, relationship history and sense of humor.

Perhaps at its heart, this novel acts as a thank you to the unsung heroes of movie production. Drivers, makeup artists and personal assistants alike all get a shot in the spotlight, sometimes at the expense of some semblance of any story progression.

At one point, Bill’s agent says his script has “too many scenes, too many characters, too many pages and not enough conflict.” The same could be said for this novel, but if you have the patience to sit back and get to know each lovingly crafted character as much as Hanks wants you to, you can learn some interesting aspects of moviemaking and get a glimpse of what it takes to make a motion picture masterpiece.



Football Fever Inspires Unusual Opera in Germany

A singer performs during a football opera in Hamburg, Germany, June 15, 2024. (Reuters)
A singer performs during a football opera in Hamburg, Germany, June 15, 2024. (Reuters)
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Football Fever Inspires Unusual Opera in Germany

A singer performs during a football opera in Hamburg, Germany, June 15, 2024. (Reuters)
A singer performs during a football opera in Hamburg, Germany, June 15, 2024. (Reuters)

Football fever at Euro 2024 in Germany is being felt not only inside packed stadiums, raucous bars and heaving city squares - but also in the more rarefied atmosphere of an opera house.

On the banks of the Elbe river in Hamburg, one of the tournament's host cities, a new production called the "Fussballoper" (Football Opera) is selling out to lovers of both sport and music.

The work by director Inken Rahardt recreates a football pitch and the chaotic interactions between players, referee and ball, mixing fan chants with traditional arias and pop songs.

Naturally, it lasts 90 minutes: the time of a game.

"The connection between football and opera is just perfect," Rahardt said on another busy night at the Opernloft (Opera Loft) venue in a trendy part of Germany's second-largest city.

"The hall is buzzing, people are happy, they recognize the soccer moves, connect that with the emotional music of opera and just have a great evening."

Songs range from the Champions League anthem to Giacomo Puccini's "Nessun dorma" - with plenty of participation from spectators in colorful hats and scarves.

"It's a big mix of everything, different genres," said singer Freja Sandkamm, who plays a referee and quipped that her biggest challenge was to suppress her normal opera voice and learn how to "belt" out football songs instead.

Spectators were delighted.

One lady said she was finally able to bring her football-loving partner to the opera, while others praised the imaginative albeit surreal fusion of entertainment cultures.

"I chose it for the combination really because I thought it's really a good way to attract people that maybe are not going to opera very much," said York Rudhard, 53, a pharmaceutical scientist from Hamburg.