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Posts Tagged ‘ITV’

Continuing in my pursuit of viewing all things “Pride & Prejudice“, I offer two more tangential movie reviews: “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” and “Austenland” and a third made for TV series: “Lost in Austen“.  The reviews are in the order I watched them, not in preference or year of release.  Because this post covers three “films”, it will be considerably longer than normal.  Feel free to skip it and come back another time if you’re not “into” P&P.
Lost in Austen” (2008) – TV Series 4 part on YouTube
This is a four part TV mini-series for a privately owned (not-BBC) channel in England called ITV.  The movie is a rom-com adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice” book, but is really kind of a “Back to the Future” (back to reality?) feel.  Basically, the lead (Amanda Price, played by Jemima Rooper) is so in love with the book, she stumbles into it through a portal in her bathroom.  She retains all of her knowledge of the book and Elizabeth Bennet (played by Gemma Arterton) “replaces” her in our time.  Basically, what happens in a romance story if you know all the story but as soon as you join the story, the story is irrevocably altered.  Mostly, comedy (and romance) ensues.
The rest of the main characters are: Elliot Cowan as Fitzwilliam Darcy, Tom Mison as Mr Bingley, Morven Christie as Jane Bennet, Tom Riley as George Wickham, Hugh Bonneville as Mr. Claude Bennet, and Alex Kingston as Mrs. Bennet.
Once you know the premise, the TV-series is 70-80% predictable.  Given that, I still enjoyed it.  Rooper is not brilliant, but she carries the load and does it more than adequately.  Cowan is not “my” idea of Mr. Darcy, but he’s not bad.  Strike that.  He is better than most.  He is stern and formal without being Hollywood handsome.  And then he comes out of the pond…  LoL!  Adequate is true with the rest of the cast with the exception of Bonneville.  For whatever reason (mostly “Downton Abbey“, I think), I really like him as an actor and I thought he is very good as Mr. Bennet adding depth which is not always in some of the other portrayals in other versions of P&P.
The series uses the characters from P&P and kind-of follows the novel’s plot, but has (and ends with) significant variance.  Final recommendation: strong.  If you are a “P&P” fan, I think you’ll enjoy this series as an addition / alternate universe to Austen’s P&P.  If not, it is at least tolerable as rom-coms go.  I found it better than “tolerable”, but that may just be my taste.  If you are not a “P&P” or rom-com fan, why are you even bothering to read this review? (Just kidding…)
I watched this on YouTube for free and I would definitely consider buying it if it ever came out in my price range ($5).  Each episode is about 40-45 minutes, so you are looking at almost three hours of viewing commitment.
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” (2016)
I know that “everything” goes better with Zombies these days, but I really didn’t know what to expect before viewing this version of P&P.  I need to preface this review with a comment: I am not a horror or slasher film watcher.  Mostly, I find them repetitive, boring, or offensive. I stopped watching them about 1977 or so.  I very occasionally will touch base with one if it becomes a “societal” touchstone, but even then, it’s rare.  I have never seen a Jason, 13th, Halloween, Hellraiser, Saw or any of those series.  I have seen and do like some of the classics: “Wolfman“, “Psycho“, “Jaws“, etc and I also enjoy “monster / SciFi” films: “Predator“, “Alien“, “The Birds“.  I’m not sure why I like some and not others. I guess it’s just me.
Anyway, this is actually a rom-slash / martial arts / action film.  It is a “take-off” on P&P, so I thought I’d give it a chance.
Lily James plays Elizabeth Bennet, Sam Riley plays Mr. Darcy, Lena Headey plays Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Matt Smith plays Mr. Collins, Jack Huston plays Mr. Wickham and Charles Dance plays Mr. Bennet.  I like Lily James and love Lena Heady.  James makes a surprisingly good martial artist actor.  I don’t know how much is actually James doing the fighting, but “her” portions looked great.  Headey plays her typically serious role, even when it’s in a ridiculous role, like this one.  (I love the eye-patch.)  Dr. Who, I mean Matt Smith is outstanding as the incompetent and obsequious Collins.  Riley is handsome and gallant enough as Darcy, but seems (to me) a bit too young (and movie handsome, not really ruggedly handsome).  He looks like he should be in a boy band instead of on a parapet killing zombies.  And, finally, I liked Dance as Mr. Bennet.  I haven’t cared for him as much in other roles (GOT and “The Imitation Game“), but I thought he fit in this role.
Between the two threads, P&P and the zombies, this movie is 90% predictable.  The 10% which was unpredictable was whether James, Headly and the other ladies could pull off the martial arts scenes.  They do and quite well, too!
As a P&P fan, my final recommendation is moderate to strong.  I liked the sets, the costumes and the martial art set pieces.  I enjoyed this movie as a different “parody / take” on P&P even though I didn’t care for any of the zombie portions of the film.  They were merely action figures inserted to give the main characters moving targets to slice and dice.  I watched this on my “On Demand” TV service.  I’m not sure if I enjoyed it enough to actually buy a copy if ever comes in to my price point (yeah, still $5).  Despite James and Headey, I’m not sure I’d pay for this P&P theme movie.  And the movie ends as a setup to a sequel (which I will probably miss).
Austenland (2013)
This movie is supposed to be a “rom-com” about a late-20’s young lady who visits a theme park dedicated to re-enacting Jane Austen period life, social settings and romance.  The problem is while there is romance, there is almost no comedy.
So, who’s in this movie? It stars Keri Russell as Jane Hayes (the Austen fanatic), J.J. Feild as Henry Nobley (kind of a Mr. Darcy who looks vaguely like Tom Hiddleston), Bret McKenzie as Martin (the love interest for Russell’s character in the park), Jennifer Coolidge as Miss Elizabeth Charming (I thinks she was meant to be the comedic character, but she is an offensive “rich, unread, ugly American” instead – but with a kind heart), Georgia King as Lady Amelia Heartwright (another offensive rich guest – also American), and Jane Seymour as Mrs. Wattlesbrook (the proprietor of the resort).  There are also a number of other characters who aren’t really worth bothering to mention.
Russell is a “girl-next-door” version of Michelle Pfeiffer.  To be honest, I thought Russell might be Pfeiffer’s daughter or much younger sister.  She is the second best thing in this movie.  Feild is the first.  He makes both an interesting Nobly (Mr. Darcy) and a likeable history teacher.  The only other “interesting” actor was Seymour playing a manipulative park director.  The camera (or director or makeup crew) was not kind to her in this film.  She looks old in her closeups – much more than the early 60’s she would have been when this was filmed / released.  And not, evil / craggy / old – just old.  Like I said, “interesting”.
Final recommendation: moderate (at best). I did like Russell and Feild and thought there was pretty good chemistry between them.  So, “rom” is the limit of this rom-com.  As a P&P fan, at least I can say I gave it a shot and watched it.
Thanks to any of you who made it all the way through this post / these reviews…
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On This Day In:
2018 Dead Red
You Ain’t Done Yet
2017 Just Because
2016 As Close As They Can Get
2015 And So I Blog
2014 Take Flight
2013 Contributing Joy
2012 More Than A Race
2011 Institutionalized Leadership

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Goodbye, Mr. Chips”  (1934©)  —  book review
Like a dog with a fresh bone, sometimes I find it hard to let go…
Over this last weekend, I indulged my OCD and read the short novel “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” (1934©), written by James Hilton.  Amazon says the paperback is seventy pages, but there are eighteen chapters and most seem less than a full page long.  I read the novella in under two hours.  The book is in public domain, so you can download it and read it for free.
The book has a number of adaptations, including movies made in 1939 (a drama) and 1969 (a musical – review here), a TV series from 1984 (BBC) and a TV movie from 2002 (ITV).  More on these later…  (OCD remember).
The author, James Hilton was the son of a school headmaster and he attended a public boarding school.  Note: a “public” school in England is a “private” school in the U.S. Hilton is said to have based the work on both his father and a master (“teacher / instructor”) at his own school (although it is believed to be mostly based on the teacher at the school he attended).
The main character of the novel and movies, Mr. Chipping, spends the majority of his life (50-plus years) teaching Latin (and Greek) at a single school (Brookfield School) and the book is a reminiscence of his time there.  There are two notable occurrences: one is the meeting of a best-friend Herr (Max) Staefel, the school’s German language teacher and the second is a chance meeting with a young lady who ultimately becomes his wife.  The “shock” of the wedding is not just the marriage of a “confirmed” bachelor, but that the bride is considerably younger than the groom (on the order of 23 years) AND she is as attractive as he is staid.  The book is unclear how long they are wed (roughly one year to eighteen months) as she passes away in childbirth (on 1 April – “April Fool’s Day”).  Chipping stays long enough at the school that he instructs four generations of one family and, on his deathbed, only his housemaid is aware that he was ever married (over thirty years before the death scene).  This results in the famous lines that it was a shame he never had any sons of his own who might have attended the school.  Chipping’s dying response is that indeed he did, thousands of them – and all boys.
Final recommendation: very highly recommended!  I would recommend reading this very short book before viewing any of the four adaptations, but I have seen all of them (three of them in the last week) and you won’t be put off by reversing my call.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips” (1984)  —  TV series review
This version of the novella was on the BBC in six half-hour episodes (roughly three hours run time) and starred Roy Marsden as Chipping and Jill Meager as his wife.  I am fairly certain this is the first version I saw of the adaptations as I have a distinct memory of the cricket scene which appears in the this version.  I believe I saw this version on PBS, and probably first viewed it with my new (British) wife in 1985, the summer after we married.  The series is available on YouTube, which is where I watched it this weekend.
Final recommendation: strong to highly recommended.  As stated above, this was my first exposure to the “Chips” story, so it has a special place in my heart / memory.  I will add this version is closer to the actual time frame depicted in the book and the first (1939) movie version.  It also is much closer to being an anti-war movie than the book or other adaptations.  Finally, in this version, Katherine (Bridges) Chipping is an unemployed governess living with her aunt in London, as opposed to the stage singer / dancer portrayed in the 1969 musical adaptation.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips” (2002)  —  TV movie review
Staring Martin Clunes (of Doc Martin fame) as Mr. Chipping and Victoria Hamilton as Katherine (Bridges) Chipping.  This version appeared on ITV and Masterpiece Theater as a two hour “TV movie”.  I watched it on YouTube where it runs as six episodes of approximately 15 min.  This version is not only an anti-war movie, it is also anti-bullying.  It goes out of its way to critique the hazing of new students and bullying of the younger and smaller students by the bigger, older and / or wealthier students.
At first I found it difficult to get past the “Doc Martin” typecast I have for Clunes.  I didn’t care for his aging (special effects / makeup work) as it looked like glued on rubber pieces.  It was more than halfway through, before I could finally see the role and not the actor in the role.  I have a feeling that was as much me as Clunes, though.  Also, the YouTube version I was watching lacked the start of the movie, so I was left wondering if any other parts had been cut out / off.
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  If this (YouTube version) is the only version you can find, it is good enough for you grasp and enjoy the movie.  Clunes ends up convincing as Chips and Hamilton is equal to the role of Katherine.  She is not nearly as “young beauty” as Meager or as winning as Clark (in the 1969 musical), but, in her own way, I felt she owned the role – particularly in her telling of the tale of the “sun vs wind wager”.
So, all in all, my reading and three viewings of “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” have been very enjoyable.  Each offered a slightly different aspect of what is considered a “classic” English tale and have hi-lighted (to me) what a true gem the story remains – even eighty years on (and counting).  I look forward to watching the 1939 version as soon as I can find it and to re-watching the others when they eventually become generally available (instead of broken up on YouTube).
* The post title is my weak attempt at a Latin translation of: “Goodbye Again, Three Times“.
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On This Day In:
2018 Tweets From The Disrupter-In-Chief
2017 Do We Still Listen To Her Silent Lips?
Not Now, Not Ever
2016 Why Do You Write/Blog?
2015 Can Your Repeat The Question, Please?
2014 On Faith
2013 My Name Is Charles Stein
2012 Faiths And Sorcery
Made And Kept Free
2011 Multi-Source Learning

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