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Archive for February 13th, 2018

As promised a week back, I am reviewing a couple more “Jane Austen” related movies I’ve seen recently and adding a few comments to the two movie reviews I’ve already done.
The new reviews are for “The Jane Austen Book Club” and “Bridget Jones Diary“.  The comments are for “Pride and Prejudice” – the BBC 1995 version and the “American” 2005 version.
The Jane Austen Book Club” (2007) — movie review
Six Californians – five women of varying ages and a man – start a monthly book club to discuss the works of Jane Austen, only to find that their own romantic relationships — previous and current — begin to resemble modern day adaptations of Austen’s novels.
Sylvia (Amy Brenneman), is shocked when her husband Daniel (Jimmy Smits), leaves her after 20 plus years and three children to become involved with another lawyer at the firm he works at. Jocelyn (Maria Bello), her unmarried best friend, distracts herself from her unacknowledged loneliness by breeding dogs (“dominance issues”).  Prudie (Emily Blunt) is a young French teacher, in possession of a worthy husband Dean (Marc Blucas), yet distracted by sexual fantasies with another man / boy (Kevin Zegers) named Trey.  I say “boy” because Trey appears to be in high school / a student.  The eldest female, many times married Bernadette (Kathy Baker) yearns for one more chance at happiness.  Allegra (Maggie Grace), (Sylvia and Daniel’s lesbian daughter,) has problems with her lover – who is a writer using Allegra’s life stories as the basis for her own work.  And Grigg (Hugh Dancy), the lone (rich and athletic) male joins the book circle because he’s trying to form a relationship with Jocelyn.
As romantic movies go, this one is as good as most, but not particularly believable in any of the final results – all happily ever-afters.  Be that as it is, I thought it was an okay movie.  Mostly, it’s entertaining without being sappy or taking the easy comedic route that many “chick-flicks” devolve into in order to keep hapless male partners watching to the end of the movie.  What I found interesting were the few moments where the actors actually discussed the Austen books and more specifically the characters and views on love, romance, commitment and relationships in general.  And, as stated in my prior review of P&P book, it prompted me to promote the original work to the top of my reading list.
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  Enjoyable as light entertainment, but I think your time is better spent actually reading Austen’s works.
Bridget Jones’s Diary” (2001) — movie review
This movie was recommended to me by my daughter as a loosely based modern-day adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Pride And Prejudice“.  It stars Renée Zellweger as Bridget Jones (Elizabeth Bennet character), Hugh Grant as Daniel Cleaver (George Wickham character / the cad) , and Colin Firth as Mark Darcy (Mr. Darcy character / the hero).  I believe it’s more accurately described as an adaptation of the book by the same name as the movie. The “only” two things I found similar to P&P was Firth played a character named Darcy in both the 1995 BBC version of P&P (and in this movie) and Darcy and Bridget have roughly the same relationship track to get to their happy ending. Boy and girl meet. Boy and girl detest each other. Boy comes around. Girl comes around. Issues about the cad. Happy ending.
The movie is a rom/com.  Is it?  Mildly romantic, yes.  Mildly comedic, barely.  To tell the truth, I don’t get it.  The overall review on RottenTomatoes.com is 80% for both reviewers and audience.  Zellweger was nominated for Best Actress…  Really?  I don’t get it.  Somewhere in the character is a nice person struggling to overcome drinking, smoking, vulgar language and a terrible wardrobe.  Other than that, she’s just the kind of person you want to see your son bring home to meet you.  Truth be told, I found her three friends in the movie much more interesting than Bridget and wished there were more of them and less of her.  Hugh Grant was ok in the cad role, but I prefer him in the nice guy roles where his sardonic / ironic comedy work well with his charm.  The most enjoyable part / character in the movie is Colin Firth’s Darcy.  While lacking the physicality of the 1995 P&P role, he still presents himself as a man’s gentleman.  I’ve seen Firth in at least a half-dozen roles and continue to enjoy his work.
So, final recommendation: moderate (at best).  The movie wasn’t bad, it just didn’t appeal to me.  Probably because I was hoping for something more closely aligned to P&P.
Additional comments:
Having just read the original work by Austen, I’ve now gone back to re-watch the 1995 BBC adaptation and the 2005 movie version.  What did I find?  As much as I was critical of the annotations while reading the book, they were very helpful in understanding both versions of the movies.  In addition to seeing where there were cinematic variances from the original work – in locations and dialogue – the notes explained some of the details which I completely missed in both earlier viewings.  Reading the original work greatly enhanced my appreciation of the dialogue in both movies.  Reading the notes, my appreciation of the parks / woods, carriages, gowns, and buildings.  I guess I’m admitting I was incorrect in being overly critical of reading an annotated version of an original work.  Preference change?  Nope.  If you prefer nuance and greater detail – BBC and 6-plus hours of viewing.  If you prefer “Hollywood” looks and production – the two-hour 2005 is better.  One minor comment on “production”…  My DVD copy of the BBC version gets out of sync between the voice and picture in multiple places.  I don’t know if this is the discs or my PC, (it’s probably my PC,) but I found it annoying and a slight negative in this review / comparison.  And, finally, I tried to go back to see “Bride And Prejudice” (the Indian – modern-day version of P&P), but it didn’t come up on NetFlix.  I guess, I have to catch it sometime in the future when it comes back on-line.
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On This Day In:
2017 …And With It Civilization
2016 Just Like My Mother
2015 All Omissions Are Mine
2014 Precise Order
2013 Uh, No. Not Really…
Deep Regions
2012 A Pre-Valentine’s Day Message
2011 Easy Like Sunday Morning
May I Have A Little More, Please…
2010 Valleys and Peaks

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War: first, one hopes to win; then one expects the enemy to lose; then, one is satisfied that the enemy too is suffering; in the end, one is surprised that everyone has lost.
   —  Karl Kraus
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On This Day In:
2017 …And With It Civilization
2016 Just Like My Mother
2015 All Omissions Are Mine
2014 Precise Order
2013 Uh, No. Not Really…
Deep Regions
2012 A Pre-Valentine’s Day Message
2011 Easy Like Sunday Morning
May I Have A Little More, Please…
2010 Valleys and Peaks

Read Full Post »

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