Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Other Austen books/flicks

I liked _Persuasion_, and I like the 1995 movie with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds. I didn't like the 1971 version (too grainy and too self-conscious).

The 1995 movie confounded me the first time I watched it. The characters spent much of their time with their hair mussed and wearing rumpled, almost dirty clothing. Watching it as an older person, I see the value in showing the actors more as real people. One does get rather dewy after those long walks in England. And even if the sea-faring captain Benwick isn't very cute, he does thrill to the passion of poetry and seems to be a kind and generous soul. Don't expect the polish of the Emma characters' appearances when you watch _Persuasion_. But these folks are passionate and genuine. _Persuasion_ 1995 might be one of the better Austen films.

_Sense & Sensibility_ with Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman (I love him as Colonel Brandon!), and Greg Wise (Does he HAVE to be a rogue? See him as a sortof hero in PBS's mini series adaptation of Edith Wharton's _The Buccaneers_. *raises eyebrows* Hachachacha...!):
Gorgeous cinematography. The commentary on the DVD with Emma Thompson and compatriots is delightful. Emma and Kate flesh out the two sisters, Eleanor and Marianne, superbly. They put the meaning into the Napoleonic era's "sense" (using your brain, not your emotions) and "sensibility" (using your emotions and taking in information, or sensing, with them). I don't know if it was the time at which I read S&S for the first time, but Austen's language turned my brain into tangled spaghetti. I could follow the storyline, but the vocabulary confused me. Well, the movie helped things. They used bigger and more "up-market" words back then to mean what we would say now in words more casual and of fewer syllables. And we don't evaluate people in the same people the way the folks of the late 1700s and early 1800s did. I'd have to quote something from the book to explain this. Perhaps in another post.

Have I forgotten a work of Austen's? Yes, if you count Sanditon, or whatever it's name is. And her letters and cute little history of England with its drawings (which was used in the more recent movie adaptation of _Mansfield Park_ [see previous post]). But I'm not covering those today.

Got to run to church for choir rehearsal!


Jane Austen's _Emma_ (movies)

It's a Jane Austen palooza! Whee!!!

The most well-known movie version of _Emma_ probably would be the one with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam (yum!). Gwynny keeps her English accent throughout the movie. A definite plus. She's rather petulant, though, and I don't know how well that matches the "real" Emma of the book. I'd have to re-view the movie and re-read the book to give a good assessment.

The other movie version I've seen is another A&E/BBC adaptation with Kate Beckinsale as Emma. I forget who plays Mr. Knightley in this one. I like Kate, and I liked her as Emma. But that's all I can remember about that movie.

I think there was yet another BBC version...made in the 80s or 90s, before the one with Kate. I didn't like it. It wasn't just the grainy-ness of the was too "Look at us doing a TV special" in tone. Too self-conscious of being a televised play. And it was not a play really, not in the vein of _Our Town_.

Not the most informative review, The Pink Kitty. Sorry! (Note to other readers: Pink Kitty---best friend from TN; The Pink Kitty---new blogger friend, from CA.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

A Jane Austen snooze fest

OK, I know that purists dislike the 1999 version of Mansfield Park with Frances O'Connor (_Timeline_), Jonny Lee Miller (*sigh*), Embeth Davidtz, Alessandro Nivola (drool! I do like some blond boys), and others because of the extra stuff about slavery, the switching of Fanny's close relationship with her brother William to one with her sister Susan, the nude scene, and Fanny's seeming to be a proto-feminist. But the camera work is excellent. (Does it always boil down to better cinematography?) And I believe the acting is excellent as well.

The version linked above seems to stay truer to the book, but that's part of the problem. They tried to include every bit of the book. And Edmund is a rather boring person in this version. I can understand why Mary Crawford's stomach roils when she thinks of a life lived with Edmund the clergyman rather than the I-was-second-son-but-now-am-first-cuz-my-brother-died version of Edmund she dreams about. (Which would necessitate Tom dying of his ailment instead of surviving it, as readers of the novel knows he does.) This version drags on and on and on...and even the ending, which I skipped to to see if Edmund shows a spark of feeling for Fanny when he finally declares his love for her.

Yeah, I get it that subtlety is best. I know, I know. But sheesh! Fanny and Edmund sit side by side in chairs, facing who knows what (b/c the camera never shows you), and they are perpindicular to the window. Before Edmund enters the room, Fanny doesn't appear to be interested in looking outside. What is she doing? Why is she in that room? Is she brooding? This actress has got Fanny's stoicism down pat, but Fanny was also passionate, in her way. I see none of that passion in this actress's portrayal.

The portions of this adaptation I've seen all contained acting that slowed the plot to 5 mph. It was the line delivery, the lack of emoting on much of a level, and the not-so-attractive actors. (Forgive me...but I do prefer pretty people for some films.) The episodes I watched made me want to stick hot pokers into my arms. Don't buy it. Don't rent it. Check it out at the library if you MUST watch it.

I'll go back and watch the whole thing and tell you if there was one redeeming bit in the entire....argh!....six episodes of the thing.

If you've got to watch six episodes of something, get the six-episode set of Pride and Prejudice with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. They make Lizzie Bennet and Mr. (whatever his first name is) Darcy come alive. (And yes, you CAN survive Mrs. Bennet's wailings.)


If you're gonna score a Jane Austen movie...

Please leave out the 80s electric guitar and saxophone.

Bless their pea-pickin' little hearts at the BBC or wherever or whoever over there in jolly ole England made this version of Jane Austen's _Northanger Abbey_....but OMIGOSH, PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!! Classical music of the period of the events of the book should be used for a high-quality Jane Austen adaptation. NOT cheesy B-movie horror flick musical scoring.

The deal is...Catherine Moreland (Jane Austen's most giggly heroine) is a voracious reader of Gothic horror novels, especially those written by a one Mrs. Radcliffe. In this movie adaptation, Catherine is seen envisioning dreadful kidnappings of her own person, tyings down to ornately carved beds, and daring rescues by blond Englishmen on horseback. What more could a girl ask for? And the music underscores the dreadful yet romantic visions she conjures up in her vivid imagination. Thus, the producers/writers inclusion of the electric guitar and saxophone. (Which I, of course, think are quite unnecessary for creating that delicious spine-tingling mood.)

These musings eventually get Catherine into trouble. She is invited by the sister of the gentleman whose romantic interest she has garnered (and returns) to stay with the family. Guess where? In their medievalish castle home, which bears the same name as the title of the book. Catherine views the family dynamics through the lens of her Gothic novel-reading. "Disaster" ensues. But, as in Pandora's box, hope still remains. Watch it for yourself, but you have been forewarned about the cheese factor.

The Brief Tale of Ralph

Do you remember The Mouse and the Motorcycle? Wasn't the mouse's name Ralph?

Anyway, Bama Girl and I earned the delight of being the furry Empress Kitty's sitters for several days while unfurry Empress Pink Kitty went on vacation with Duke Diva.

On the first morning that was my turn to feed the feline, upon checking the kitchen counter for the cat food, I was greeted by a plateful of dead rodent and a little note from Bama Girl: "Elena, Kitty left us a present." Wasn't Bama Girl nice to leave it for me to share in the joy of Miss Kitty's triumph over the little mousie?

The poor thing was intact, thankfully. He looked exactly as if he had died while riding a miniature motorcycle and had just fallen off the thing. And Pink Kitty not there to share in the joy. Sadness... I'm sure Kitty herself was shedding a feline tear over that.

Well, Ralph got dumped into the trash bag and deposited in his crypt, the waste basket, in the kitchen, where he stayed until the stench of dead mammal assaulted Pink Kitty on her arrival home. Oops! *Note to self: When disposing of dead rodent, take plastic bag receptacle all the way to outside container. Dead mouse over a long period of time = stinky, stinky stink!!!*

Later I learned that Furry Kitty had brought Ralph in to play. Ralph didn't want to play. Pink Kitty didn't want Ralph to stay to play either. (Notice that feline children don't ask their parents permission to invite playmates in for a play date.) Pink Kitty was trying to pack for vacation. Furry Kitty didn't care. Ralph didn't care either. He just wanted to get away from that four-legged furry thing with CLAWS and TEETH!!! So he scurried under something and hid.

We don't know if Ralph died of a heart attack or succumbed to the playful wrath of Furry Kitty, but died he nonetheless.

RIP, Ralph.

I'm back!

No, I haven't been anywhere, really. Just haven't been posting. Wow...over three weeks absence here. Sorry, y'all. You've had to put up with old stuff, and unlike fine cheese and wine, it probably does not get better with age! ;o)

Friday, September 03, 2004

Wanna party Pink Kitty style?

PK's gotten into online chatting while watching poli sci stuff on TV (ie. RNC nite o' the stars). If you are politically inclined (read: Libertarian or Republican...or a not-so-scary Democrat) and would like to chat online with other bloggers or lurkers during some of the debates or on election night, drop a comment over at Pink Kitty's Scratching Post with your ID. I think she's using Yahoo!, so you probably have to Yahoo! too in order to participate. But hey, what's another membership? Don't we all have, like, 50 gazillion of them?

It's amazing that we can all keep up with our usernames and passwords. Talented folk we are!

More poetry bits

Go there now! Now, I say! I need feedback. Even if you aren't a writer, aren't a fan of poetry, or aren't much of a reader of any kind. Your gut impression is still worth something.


Sleepin' with an enemy?

Heehee...not what you thought, was it?

Well, I've joined YET another blogging outfit, so the link will get you to that page. You have to join their org (free, of course) to be able to comment there...which explains why I joined. I must say...I do like being able to put up icons with links when I want to let the world know what I'm reading or what's in my CD player. So go check it out. Just for kicks 'n' grins.