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Posts Tagged ‘Jane Austen’

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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The Lizzie Bennet Diaries”  (2012 – 2013)  —  YouTube series review
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single viewer in possession of a good internet connection, must be in want of a new adaptation of Pride & Prejudice.
At any rate, as an addict to P&P, I certainly am, “in want” that is…
For about the last year or so, I have fallen into the well which is YouTube.  I am beginning to fear it (my addictions to YouTube and P&P) is like the prison exit in the third episode of the “Batman Trilogy: The Dark Knight Rises”  – you can climb and climb, but eventually you slip and fall back in.
Periodically, YouTube feeds me a morsel of P&P as a temptation to restart my viewing addiction.  And, once again, it succeeded.  Over the weekend, I re-watched the 1995 BBC version of P&P starring Colin Firth.  I have already reviewed this version, but not individually, so I’ll have to add that to my list of things to do (sometime).  Anyway, after coming back to YouTube, they were prompting me to go see a clip from another version (2003 – P&P: A Latter-Day Comedy) which I have not seen nor was I aware of.  …And, then there was a link to “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KisuGP2lcPs).  Huh?  “What’s that?”, I ask.
My interest piqued, I clicked, and so began another marathon session of P&P.  The series is presented in 100 (yes, one-hundred) vlogs episodes, each running between a few minutes and 8-ish minutes.  (There are also a number of side vlogs, which I have not yet viewed.)  The series is meant to be a multi-media / channel creation with the characters (and actors) also having social media presence on other sites: FaceBook, Twitter, etc., which serves as an adaptation of the classic romantic novel: “Pride And Prejudice“, written by Jane Austen.
The series stars Ashley Clements as Elizabeth “Lizzie” Bennet; Julia Cho as Charlotte Lu (Charlotte Lucas in the book) is Lizzie’s best friend and often the director / editor of her vlog; Laura Spencer as Jane Bennet, the eldest of the Bennet daughters; Mary Kate Wiles as Lydia Britney Bennet, the youngest Bennet child (the flirtly one); Christopher Sean as Bing Lee (Charles Bingley in the book) is a young, wealthy (eligible) Asian-American medical student who has moved into The Netherfield House in the same neighborhood as the Bennets; Jessica Jade Andres as Caroline Lee (Caroline Bingley in the book) is Bing Lee’s sister; Maxwell Glick as Ricky Collins (William Collins in the book) is a former classmate of Lizzie and Charlotte’s, who asks that he be addressed only as Mr. Collins; Daniel Vincent Gordh as William Darcy (Fitzwilliam Darcy in the book); Wes Aderhold as George Wickham (the cad in the book and adaptations); Craig Frank as Fitz Williams (Col. Fitzwilliam in the book) is Darcy’s friend and colleague; and, Allison Paige as Georgiana “Gigi” Darcy (Georgiana Darcy in the book).
Obviously, as a vlog / diary, this version is set in modern times and therefore has many alterations in the details of the story to make it conform to the “PC” standards of our time.  However, never fear, the basic romance / love story is the same: boy and girl meet, boy and girl seem to dislike each other.  After much travail, love wins out…  Happily ever after.  Blah, blah, blah…  Whatever, right?
Yes.  Pretty much.  But does it work and is it entertaining?  That would be a YES and a certainly!  I thoroughly enjoyed the series and plan to revisit the channel to catch the side lines and other bits which I skipped in order to race through the main story.  It turns out there is a “real” company called Pemberley Digital (http://www.pemberleydigital.com) which exists to adapt classic works into new media format(s).  Who knew?  (By the way, Pemberley is the name of the estate Darcy lives at in the P&P book.)
Final recommendation: very highly recommended!!  Even with the “modernization”, the series follows quite closely to the original book and the three sisters are actually outstanding actors in their respective roles – with special kudos to Ashley Clements who is outstanding throughout the series and Mary Kate Wiles who really hit it out of the park in the last few episodes.  If you are a P&P fan, you will definitely want to check this out on YouTube.  It is also available on DVD’s, but I’m not sure what extra value you get for your $60.  There must be some great bloopers and behind the scene gags for that price.
LoL, now I want to go find some of the other P&P adaptations which I was not even aware of until I started researching this post.
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On This Day In:
2018 Does Fatalism Equal Mental Health?
2017 Choice
2016 Growing Worlds
2015 Change The Tide
Martyr, n.
2014 You, Too!
2013 Bitter Stand
2012 Lost For Words
2011 On Market Reactions…

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Book Review: “Pride And Prejudice”  (1813©)
Today’s book is a classic “romance” novel written by Jane Austen.  The edition / version I have is the “Annotated Edition” edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks which came out in 2010 and was a Christmas present to me from my wife (Hilary).  It was actually a present a couple of Christmas’ ago and I’m just getting around to reading it (and reviewing it).
The story is probably familiar to most: Prince Charming meets girl, they offend each other, they fall in love, lots of secondary story lines build the plot, they fall in love, Charming saves the day, they marry and live happily ever after.  Did I mention they fall in love?  Charming is a stuffy, rich aristocrat (hence “Prince”).  Girl is a vivacious, but prim and proper young woman who is from landed gentry, but not rich (only relative to Prince).  And, despite their both being “stuck up”, they fall in love…
I came to this book via the movie (2005), BBC mini-series (1995), movie (Indian version 2004), movie (1940) and a secondary source – “The Jane Austen Book Club” – movie (2007).  I have  reviewed the 2005 movie (here), and the Indian version (actually titled “Bride And Prejudice“, here), and the BBC and 1940’s version (here).  I recently viewed the “Book Club” movie, but I haven’t gotten around to reviewing it.  It did, however, prompt me to bump the book version up to my “read next” list from my “get around to” list.
So, if I’ve clearly enjoyed the movies so much, what did I think of the original story and – more specifically – this version?  This “book” started off a VERY hard read.  I have not read very many “annotated” versions of anything before and I found it quite a labor.  For one thing, the book starts off with a 20-plus page restatement of the book and why the editor feels it needs to be annotated.  If I had not read the original book or seen any of the movies, I would have been completely put off by the editor completely giving away the story.  If I wanted a summary at the start, I’d have simply purchased Cliff Notes to read before the book.
Next, the annotations “probably” doubled the length of the print in this version.  The original was about 350 pages, but was a small book.  This version is almost 450 pages, but half of each page is allotted as space for the notations and images.  Indeed, some of the notations, spill over either onto the next page (which makes for a confusing read) or take an entire page (which disrupts the flow of the reader).  Also, some of the notations highlighted the same information repeatedly or were used as citations of evidence to support arguments and interpretations made in the introduction / summary.  I would estimate it took me fully 80 to 100 pages before I got used to the notes.  Having said this, they were occasionally interesting additions which added to my understanding of the story.  I guess I’m saying that, in the end, I found the notes  a useful addition to the story.
Separate from the annotations, did I enjoy the book?  Yes!  Tremendously.  And, I highly recommend it!  Not being a student of English history, I cannot vouch for the historical accuracy of the book, but really, is that why anyone EVER reads a romance novel.  I certainly don’t…  What I would say is that as a fan of the various cinematic versions, I am very happy to have finally read the original novel.
Of course, now I’m sure to be tempted to read her other five books and see their movie versions.  At the very least, I’m going to go back and re-watch the BBC and 2005 versions.  Just ’cause that’s the way I roll…
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On This Day In:
2017 Being Nice
2016 Zero To Some = Most
2015 Born More Obligated
2014 Rage And Fury
2013 Successful Children
2012 For God So Loved The World
2011 Go Cheeseheads!!
Structured Mentality

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Bride & Prejudice – movie review
I recently watched the Indian / Bollywood adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel “Pride and Prejudice“, slightly retitled as “Bride & Prejudice” (2004).  To demonstrate my lack of culture, I first became aware of Austen and “Prejudice” when I saw the 2005 version with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen in the lead roles of Elizabeth “Lizzy” Bennet and Mr. Darcy.  I don’t remember when I first saw the movie, but I believe it was somewhere around 2010.  I have since watched it at least a half dozen times.  I’m not sure what it is, but I find the whole story and setting fascinating.  I have also watched the 1995 version made for BBC TV starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle as Darcy and Elizabeth.  I must admit Ehle doesn’t hold a candle to Knightley, but Firth is every bit as good as MacFadyen, even though he doesn’t have the physical presence of MacFadyen.  In any case, because this is a series instead of a movie, I must say I prefer the series because there is more time to develop the characters.
Okay, enough background.  Back to the actual movie review…
In this version of the Jane Austen novel, Mr. William (aka Fitzwilliam) Darcy is an American played by Martin Henderson and Lizzie Bennett becomes Lalita Bakshi who is played by Aishwarya Rai.  The unmarried sisters (Lalita is the second oldest) and their family are plugged into a modern plot that spans London, Los Angeles, Bombay/Mumbai and Goa.  The family and four daughters live in Amritsar, India  (a country town) — which is trying to be true to original Austen story, but which has its own airport, so I’m not real sure how “true” that is.
The movie has the most problems because it can’t make up its mind whether it wants to be a romantic drama or a musical-romantic-comedy.  It tries to be both and therefore doesn’t really succeed at either.  To be honest, most of the numbers made no sense and I would have preferred they went for more drama.  Having said this, I have seen a few other Bollywood movies and I think they were just trying to sell to their home market.  Other than that, the big problem was how to bring the story up to modern day times.  The plot device here was to make the characters international and hence the side trips (LA and London) being used to demonstrate the wealth of the Americans and the Londoners.
How is the acting? Sadly, just so-so.  Henderson fails to strike the right notes (for me) as Darcy.  Darcy is the character which most draws me to the story (and I’m not sure why), but Henderson lacks the physicality of MacFadyen or British style of Firth.  Aishwarya is obviously the most beautiful of the Lizzie’s, but she seems wooden in this role.  I have not seen her in anything else so I don’t know if beauty is all there is or not, but from this role I’d judge it is.  Strangely enough, I didn’t even find Aishwarya to be the most camera “friendly”.  I thought that honor went to the actress Sonali Kulkarni as Chandra Lamba (Charlotte Lucas – Lizzie’s best friend in the British versions).
Does the movie work,  though?  Is it entertaining?  Yes and yes.  I liked the dancing and most of the songs.  The colors and the energy of India are very attractive.  Even though the acting wasn’t quite what I thought it could be, the movie is another Austen happy ending.  Final recommendation: strong recommendation as the Indian version of P&P, particularly if you are a “Prejudice” fan – as I am turning out to be.
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On This Day In:
2014 Say What?
2013 Daring Errors
2012 Are You Comfortable?
I Just Have To
In Flux
2011 True New
2010 A Job Well Started Is A Job Half Done
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