Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Moderate To Strong Movie Recommendation’

Caution: this is a relatively long post reviewing two movies…  You’ve been warned.
Today’s reviews are re-watches from my childhood:  “Tribes” (1970) and “The D.I.” (1957).  Both are movies about being in Marine Corps Boot Camp.  “The D.I.” was released when I was two years old, so I obviously never saw it on original release, but I remember seeing it in my early teens.  “Tribes” I saw on its original TV broadcast.  I recently discovered / watched both movies on YouTube.
The D.I.” — movie review
If you’ve ever wondered what “Dragnet” would look like if it were turned into Marine Corps Boot Camp, this is the movie for you.  The movie stars Jack Webb (who also produced and directed the film) as Sergeant Jim Moore who is a Drill Instructor (“D.I.”) at Paris Island.  His job is to turn civilians into Marines and he has a problem in the person of Private Owens (played by Don Dubbins).  Whenever Owens feels he’s under pressure, he quits / gives up.  The company Captain (Lin McCarthy) feels Moore is getting soft and orders Moore to bring Owens around or get rid of him.
There are (of course) side issues:  one – Moore is falling for a shop clerk (Jackie Loughery) named “Annie”, which is wrecking his “tough-guy” Marine self-image;  and, two – Owens’ mother (Monica Lewis) appeals to Moore that she coddled Owens and she lost her husband (in WWII) and her two older sons (in Korea).  She wants Moore to make her son into a Marine or he won’t be able to live with himself.
This movie is shot in black and white and it is fairly dark.  I guess as a nod to realism, the movie has a scene with Moore and Annie which (shockingly) edges very close to date rape.  It doesn’t happen, but I was surprised it was even implied in a movie from that period.  Incidentally, in real life, Loughery married Webb the following year (1958).  Despite this being a “Webb” movie (“Just the facts, Ma’am…”), from the 50’s, it is also a happily ever after ending movie – for the Private / mom and the Sergeant / clerk.  Who woulda guessed?
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  Viewed as a “Webb” production, this is a classic.  As a period piece, I would say it’s still pretty much a classic.  This movie was my first introduction to the concept of “Basic Training / Boot Camp”, and I remember it had a fairly strong effect on my impressionable mind.  Don’t get me wrong, this movie is not a cinematic “classic” and it’s really only a fair movie, but, in watching it, it reminded me of the simpler times of my childhood when things did seem more “black-and-white”.
Tribes” — movie review
Tribes” is not strictly speaking a “real” movie.  Back in the 1970’s, one of the main TV networks (ABC) used to run what it called the: “ABC Movie of the Week“.  Some of the ninety minute movies were pretty good and some even became TV series in their own right.
Tribes” is a movie about a free-spirited (that’s “hippie”) individual who joins the Marine Corps and who has to go to (and survive) Boot Camp.  It stars Jan-Michael Vincent as the free-spirited Private Adrian, Darren McGavin as Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Drake, and Earl Holliman as Chief Drill Instructor (and Drake’s boss) Master Sergeant Frank DePayster.
The movie always seemed to me to be a message about the changing times of the 1960’s / 1970’s in America.  You’ve got two straight-arrow Marine lifers, but one has a streak of decency and the other does not.  Ultimately, the leadership abilities of the young recruit pushes not only his platoon to excel, but also to win over the D.I. nominally there to break his individuality and “turn him into” a Marine who will follow orders.
Final recommendation: strong to highly recommended.  I was very surprised how much of this movie I could recall after nearly 50 years from my first (and only) viewing.  LoL – this movie also introduced me to meditation / alternative states of consciousness and boxers vs briefs.
I am very biased towards this movie as it had a personal effect on me when I was in Basic Training for the Army four years later.  When I was learning to fire the M16, I asked my Drill Sergeant why we used “human” silhouettes instead of “bulls-eye” targets, he replied, “because we want you to learn to shoot at people.”  He went on to explain Fort Ord (where I had my Basic Training) had the highest casualty and injury statistics of any of the training facilities which sent soldiers to Vietnam.  It was determined this was because “West Coast” city boys didn’t shoot at other humans instinctively.  Using silhouettes, trained them to shoot as a reaction instead of pausing to take aim.  Fortunately, I never had to put this to the test…
.
On This Day In:
2018 Being President Doesn’t Make You Presidential
Day 27: 4 Weeks / 55lbs
2017 I’m Seeing It, Too
2016 Personal Decisions
2015 Verbal Fluency
2014 Familiar
2013 Unbending
2012 Simple Sayings
2011 Wupped Again?
2010 3 and 1…
Musical Notes…
Doubt Tries…
Northwest Passages – Evening Two
The Beierly’s Web Site

Read Full Post »

Z For Zachariah (2015)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the post-apocalyptic survival movie “Z For Zachariah” starring Margot Robbie as Ann Burden (the farm girl), Chiwetel Ejiofor as John Loomis (the scientist), and Chris Pine as Caleb (the country boy).
The basic setup is “something” happens to the world and it becomes a radioactive waste.  It’s implied this is due to an exchange of nuclear weapons, but I don’t remember it being precisely stated.  Anyway, the movie starts with the farm girl being all alone.  It appears she has been alone for at least a full year, as she relates surviving a winter.  A scientist enters the frame.  He has managed to survive because he has a suit, drugs and a small, portable shelter.  However, he falls ill from exposure to radioactive water. The girl nurses him back to health.
Despite her encouragement, he resists becoming intimate with her.  He appears to have memories of happier times with an African-American female, but her status is unknown.  Eventually, loneliness overcomes hesitancy and the two become intimate.
After some period of time, another man (Pine / the country boy) appears on the scene.  There is no real explanation for his survival because he lacks the suit, drugs or shelter of the scientist, but whatever…
Slowly, the three begin trusting each other and working together.  Ejiofor / the scientist continues to have bad feelings about intimacy with a white female and “gives” permission to the country boy to become intimate with Robbie / the farm girl.  One night, the scientist gets drunk and passes out.  The farm girl and the country boy engage in sex.
The following day, the “social” dynamic has changed and conflict seems inevitable.  The two men continue working together.  One day, the country boy places himself in a hazardous situation.  The scientist saves the country boy, but at the very instant of safety, the two men lock eyes.
The scene shifts back to the farmhouse and the scientist is again alone with the farm girl.  He tells her the country boy has decided to move on.  The movie ends with no resolution of whether or not the country boy was killed and / or if two remaining survivors reestablish their relationship.
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  I like all three actors in most of the other roles I’ve seen them in – Pine less than Robbie or Ejiofor, and this film is no exception.  The movie is interesting as a character study of the three “types”, but it didn’t really seem to have a direction which engaged me or made me want to root for any of the actors.  As such, despite it being beautifully filmed and reasonably well acted, I was left with feeling piqued but not fully entertained.  Hence, my recommendation is more “moderate” than “strong”.
.
On This Day In:
2018 Sounds Like #45’s White House
2017 Have We Started Winning Yet?
2016 Still Springy
2015 Well Concealed
2014 The History Of Warriors
2013 A Cult Of Ignorance
2012 Counting Valor
Understanding Faith
2011 I Can Hear You Now
2010 Inception

Read Full Post »

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…
.
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

Read Full Post »

Colossal”  (2017)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the “comedy / romantic” movie “Colossal” (2017).  I “air quote” the comedy / romantic, because although advertised as a rom-com, this movie is a SciFi drama and has no comedy or romance in it.  (Okay, maybe some silliness, but no real comedy.)
The movie stars Anne Hathaway as Gloria (the main character and reptile like monster / “Kaiju”); Jason Sudeikis as Oscar (the second main character and robot like monster), who is the adult version of Gloria’s childhood “friend”; Dan Stevens as Tim, Gloria’s ex-boyfriend; Austin Stowell as Joel, adult Oscar’s handsome friend; and Tim Blake Nelson as Garth, adult Oscar’s other friend.
Basically, Gloria is a drunken millennial who is out of work and living off her boyfriend (Stevens / “Tim”).  She comes home after staying out all night and he breaks up with her and kicks her out of his place.  Gloria returns “home” to some small town where she lived for some time as a child and which is inexplicably empty, but still owned by her parents – so she can move back in, rent free.
Gloria meets an childhood friend (Sudeikis / “Oscar”) who owns a bar and he offers her a job as a waitress and then proceeds to bring her furniture so she can settle in to town.  Oscar also introduces Gloria to his two “best” friends (Joel and Garth), and Gloria eventually gets around to sleeping with Joel (which upsets Oscar).

Meanwhile, back in Seoul, South Korea a giant lizard like monster appears and crushes a lot of people.  Blah, blah, blah a second monster (a giant robot) appears and blah, blah, blah – big fight.

Blah, blah, blah, blah.  Another fight.  Blah, blah, blah, blah.  Childhood memories.  Oscar not really my friend – “just” a jealous brat (psychoanalysis part of movie).  Blah, blah, Gloria travels to Seoul.  Reptile monster (Kaiju) visits hometown (in America) and kills “real” Oscar, as “real” Gloria defeats the giant robot (in Seoul).   …Happily ever after.  Mostly.  The end.
Okay.  Two questions: does it work (make sense) and is it entertaining.  Two answers (with a preface): once you get over the fact this is NOT a rom-com (which is why I picked the movie to view) and adjust to it being a SciFi / drama, yeah, mostly it does work and yes, I found it pretty entertaining.  Surprisingly so!
First off, I like Hathaway and Stevens.  I like her a lot and have from her “Princess” roles, through her Batman / Catwoman roles.  I didn’t find her at all believable as a drunk in this role.  But all in all, at the end, I liked the movie and her performance (as a “good person / hero”) in it.  It wasn’t well explained (even with the psychoanalysis) why she was a hero, but it ended up making sense (mostly) by the end.
I liked Stevens in “Downton Abbey” and “The Guest” and his limited bit in “Beauty and the Beast“.  I didn’t “really” like him in this role, though.  Something about his character just didn’t ring true.  I don’t know if it was the writing or his portrayal.   While I still like him, this performance was disappointing and I’m not sure why.
Anyway, final recommendation: moderate to strong.  I was expecting a rom-com.  It took me a while to realize this wasn’t that at all.  After I adjusted my brain to drama-mode, I got into the story (and the acting) and found it surprisingly interesting.  The movie isn’t really “almost believable” SciFi, but it is entertainingly interesting.
.
On This Day In:
2018 Keep Moving
2017 Fighting Good
2016 Size Matters
2015 Maybe The Best Thing
2014 Ready To Be Fried?
2013 A Real Lover
2012 Winning Wars
2011 A Different Lesson

Read Full Post »

Leap!” (2017)  (U.S.)  /  “Ballerina” (2016) (France)
Today’s movie review is for an animated, “rise-to-fame” / dance, kids movie which was originally released in France / Europe in 2016 and then released in English / America in 2017.  The story is of two orphans who escape an orphanage to seek their fame in Paris.  The young girl wants to be a Ballerina and the young lad wants to be an engineer / inventor.  By hook and by crook, they both get their wish.  And the boy gets the girl’s heart along with it…
As most anyone who follows this blog for any length of time will realize, I am all about this sentimental, rags-to-riches, ugly duckling to swan story / genre.  As a former computer programmer I am also predisposed to “liking” an animated film or one with technical special effects.
So, does this movie work as a kids film?  How is the animation?  How is it as an adult film (will the average adult enjoy it)?  Good.  So-so.  And, probably.  Will kids like this film.  Yes, up to about the age of 6 to 8, I think they will, particularly if their parents have filled them with dreams that anything is possible.  But the animation is only “good”?  Yes.  Basically, that’s about it.  Most of everything possible has been done and probably done better in other films.  Shading, shadows, color, textures, skin tones, hair, facial expressions.  All of it has been done, and, if I’m honest, better in other movies.  That doesn’t mean it’s bad.  It’s not.  It’s just not done at “super” hi-def levels.  Also, and this really isn’t a criticism either, the movie lacks the required one or two “fabulous” take-away songs which would make it (the movie) a HIT movie.   And, maybe, it doesn’t need to be for this kind of “kids” movie to be “okay”.  Is it an adult movie?  Not really.  It’s a bit too simplistic for an adult or a “date” movie.  It is an excellent auntie / uncle or grand-parents take the niece / nephew or grand-kids to the afternoon matinée movie.  And, sometimes that’s really all a movie has to be.
It is rated PG for some “suggestive” scenes / themes and it has the requisite good and evil adults and a notable bullying child.  Like most movies for this target age group, the movie resolves hopefully for the children and leaves the adult issues mostly unaddressed / unresolved.  Again, it’s a kid’s movie, so children can “win” without “justice” for adults.
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  For what it is, it is a “good” movie.  It doesn’t really try to be a great deal more than entertaining – in a kid-sie / hopeful way.  I enjoyed it, and it was a pleasant enough way to spend 90 or so minutes.
.
On This Day In:
2018 As I Recall
2017 Truly Generous
2016 Choose Your Destiny
2015 Fast And Firm
2014 Neither Head Nor Heart
2013 Lonely, Foolish, Love Songs
Batting 1.000
Coward, n.
2012 At Least A Little More Difficult
2011 Speaking Of Fear

Read Full Post »

Personal Ads:  “Got a problem?  Odds against you?  Call the Equalizer: 212 555 4200.
Today’s reviews are for a movie and its sequel:  Equalizer (2014) and Equalizer 2 (2018)
Both movies star two time Academy Award winning actor Denzel Washington as the lead character: Robert McCall.  The character and stories are based on a moderately successful TV show from the mid / late 1980’s of the same name starring Edward Woodward as McCall.  McCall is basically a “hero for hire” and the show is pretty similar to another TV series I enjoyed from the same period called “Stingray” (see my review of that TV series here).  The main difference is McCall never really seems to ask for a payment, whereas “Stingray” asked for a favor some time in the future.  Anyway, in this version, instead of a geriatric Brit playing McCall, we have a geriatric American.
Equalizer (2014)  —  movie review
This movie is rated “R” for violence, language and implied sex.  Basically we have a normal looking man who has a history as spy / detective / electronics expert and martial artist.  He is “retired” from his official duties at “The Agency” by faking his death.  Whenever he sees someone being hurt or taken advantage of unfairly, he exacts his sense of justice on the bad guy.  He says he usually gives them a chance to do the right thing (mostly they don’t) and if not, well, they don’t usually live to regret it.
In this movie, McCall makes friends with a young hooker who is beaten and nearly killed by her pimp.  The pimp is part of a Russian gang, so McCall ends up having to bring down the gang, too.  There are lots of great fight choreography – particularly a scene which replays in slow motion.  On watching it, I was reminded of a similar “replay” technique / scene used in “The Last Samurai“, another action movie I also enjoyed.  The scene works because it demonstrates the “temporal shift” it is said happens to highly trained and skilled warriors / athletes in which they say time slows down for them as they fight / perform.  Unless you have actually been in that “zone”, it (the feeling) is hard to relate to, but once you have experienced it, you find an enjoyable sense of déjà vu when you see the feeling in film.  At least I always seem to.
If you are a fan of violent action movies (and I can be), you will enjoy this movie because it is literally a string of increasingly violent encounters tied together by a thread of a plot.  It works because Washington carries the hero’s role and the Russian baddie (Nicolai Itchenko played by Marton Paul Csokas) is equally believable.  As an aside, there is also a scene in which a personal item is stolen from a co-worker of McCall.  The item is recovered and McCall is seen wiping down and replacing a hammer at the hardware store shelf display.  There is no “action” at all, but you know the robber has just had a very bad day.
Final Recommendation: strong recommendation.  While the story is almost unbelievable, the hero and the bad guy both make the movie an enjoyable action film.  It is violent and not appropriate for pre-teens.
Equalizer 2 (2018)  —  movie review
Okay, let’s get this out of the way:  “Denzel doesn’t do sequels…”  What we have here is Denzel Washington in his first career sequel reprising his role as Robert McCall: a guy who goes around helping others and righting wrongs.  I don’t mean stopping jay-walkers and litterbugs; I mean Russian gangsters (in Equalizer 1) and here (in the sequel) rogue killers who work both sides of the political fence.  When an “Agency” asset is killed, a former top analyst is sent to make sure it wasn’t a “hit”.  When she gets wacked, something smells fishy in Denmark (actually Brussels).  Because the lady is a lifelong friend of McCall, he must avenge her death.  Oh, and he’s upset because he will only get to kill them once.
The main bad guy in this movie is Dave York (played by Pedro Pascal), who worked for and with McCall before McCall’s staged death.  York was not aware McCall is still alive and he and the rest of McCall’s “team” go private after McCall’s death.  Anyway, the team kill a bunch of people on assignment and then to tidy up loose ends and there is a big battle at the end which (of course) pits McCall against the team.  After tidying up their loose ends McCall gets asked: “Who are you Mr. McCall?”
Final recommendation:  Moderate to strong.  Again, another violent movie…  The sequel is just not quite as good as the first.  Yeah, I know, big surprise.  It’s well shot and reasonably well acted, but the bad guy(s) just aren’t as threatening.  I guess they are a little too “clean” as professionals and lack the intensity of the actors playing the Russian gang in the first movie.  If you are a fan of Denzel or of this genre, you will enjoy this movie – both movies, actually.  I did.  But, it’s really not quite as good as “1”.   There is talk of a “EQ3″…  We’ll see…  I think I would prefer a re-boot / prequel with a younger actor.
.
On This Day In:
2018 Irreplaceable Sparks
2017 Saving For April 15th
2016 First Wish
2015 Tracing Shadows
2014 One Thing
2013 More Is Less
2012 The Screw-Up Gene

Read Full Post »

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.
.
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 »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: