Friday, July 25, 2014

Old vs. New: Pride & Prejudice

While on a roll with period pieces, this is another review I wanted to write for some time now. It is interesting, because one is a series and the other is a movie - so it isn't easy to draw comparison between the two - and yet there is plenty to talk about in both!

Pride & Prejudice (1995) vs. (2005)

The well known story is about Lizzy Bennet, the second of five sisters, who falls ill to first impressions. She believes that appearance says it all, while that is not the case. She meets a pride fellow by the name of Fitzwilliam Darcy, who she finds repulsive for his selfish ways. She soon learns that Darcy is in love with her, and despite their differences, wishes to wed her. Lizzy refuses at first, only to find out Darcy's true character, which is a caring gentleman who simply has trouble in relaxing with bigger crowds. Lizzy grows to regret her decision, but feels that it is perhaps too late for her and Darcy. It is then that Darcy dares to tell her that he never stopped loving her, and he sensed that her feelings have somewhat shifted as well - he proposes again and Lizzy gladly accepts.

This is really a 'nutshell edition' as there is a lot going on in the background, of course. Before heading into the movie, a couple of sentences about the show. It was this that really put Colin Firth on the map for people. As far as I know everyone who loves him fell for him here - and I can't really blame them. I, however, was mesmerized by Jennifer Ehle, our Lizzy, as she was extraordinary in my opinion. I have been following her work ever since and she and Firth actually met again on the set of The King's Speech. What else can there be said? By making a mini-series BBC makes sure to give each piece of literature a justified adaptation. They are coherent, well done and very enjoyable. Each miniseries that they work on is a blessing for any English major who has literature exams! And here comes the key difference between the two pieces of adaptation: Timing.
With a movie, you do not have the time that you would with a six hour long series. And well, that's a big problem when your main character's emotions are dependent on the fact that she needs time to reevaluate and asses her feelings. Darcy proposes, she says no, and basically five scenes later she finds herself wondering about him and feeling foolish for having refused him. The essence of Lizzy's character was getting to know Darcy slowly and getting to know her own feelings as well. If you don't take the time for that then it feels a bit forced. But this is, ultimately, not the movie's fault as it is a different medium. I actually refused to see the movie for a very long time, but when I did I was mesmerized. For being a two hour long movie it did justice to the book and included everything from it as well as it could. I love the movie very much: the music? The cast? The colors? It was truly a job well done and I highly recommend it for anyone who doesn't want to watch the series for six hours straight!
In the end, there is one more thing I wanted to mention: Lizzy. If you know anything about the series or the movie, I bet it came from a girl who told you how dreamy Colin Firth was! That is all well, although, I have to admit that I came to love Matthew Macfadyen's version a lot more :P And that is also something that irritates me because - in the end - the main character was Lizzy and not Darcy! Think about it, if next to him our leading lady wasn't as awesome as she was, would've Darcy ever made such an impact on anyone? The answer is no. Both Ehle and Knightley made this character theirs and they did a spectacular job at bringing Lizzy to life. In the series, she is older and therefore much grown up than her sisters. In the movie she is smarter for her age.
Both do justice to the character who is, essentially, a unique girl unlike any of her sisters and any girl of her generation. In the end both adaptations only got (in my opinion) one thing wrong: Jane. Jane is Lizzy's older sister and I am sorry, I actually love Rosamund Pike, but her character trait is the fact that she is the prettiest of them all. In both adaptations I ended up loving Lizzy far more and that might have been intentional or just a mistake while casting the lead. I do feel, however, that Lizzy's surprise at Darcy's proposal was a bit overrated as in both cases I kept thinking: "Of course he wants to marry you! You are beautiful, sweet and very smart!" And although it is said over and over how beautiful Jane is, I felt that Lizzy beat her every single time.

That having been said: The difference between mediums also comes in among the same medium. A series is always (AS IN ALWAYS HOLLYWOOD!) better than a movie. This is due to the fact that most stories need time to develop and for that to happen you cannot cram certain books into a two hour movie - you just can't!!!! Despite that, however, when the script writer and the director take time to dig down and get the essence of the story, they are capable of adapting it well (even with slight changes!). A good example of this is this movie and for example the latest Jane Eyre (click here to read my review!).

Make sure you check them out both. If you have read the book you will be surprised by the accuracy of it. If you haven't, perhaps these will encourage you - that's what happened to me! If you insist that your boyfriend becomes like Mr. Darcy, then I suggest starting with the shorter version on date night :D Either way, check them out!

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ _ 

Lizzy Bennet - Jennifer Ehle
Mr. Darcy - Colin Firth
Jane Bennet - Susannah Harker
Charles Bingley - Crispin Bonham-Carter
Mr. Bennet - Benjamin Whitrow
Mrs. Bennet - Alison Steadman
Catherine De Bourg - Barbara Leigh-Hunt
Mr. Collins - David Bamber
Mr. Wickham - Adrian Lukis

Lizzy Bennet - Keira Knightley
Mr. Darcy - Matthew Macfadyen
Jane Bennet - Rosamund Pike
Charles Bingley - Simon Woods
Mr. Bennet - Donald Sutherland
Mrs. Bennet - Brenda Blethyn
Catherine de Bourg - Judi Dench
Mr. Collins - Tom Hollander
Mr. Wickham - Rupert Friend

Saturday, July 19, 2014

What's Next On My List? Jane Eyre

As you can see I have a view count on the side of the entries and we have surpassed 80,000 views. I am at loss of words! This is beyond anything I ever hoped for! You know, three years ago I started writing reviews because I had read one book that I wanted to discuss in more detail. Time passed and well, although the book became quickly my favorite, page after page, I didn't read as much as I hoped to, so I couldn't really focus on book reviews in the end. You might have noticed that I often discuss movies that were adapted from well known books. The reason behind that lies exactly in my regret of not having really ever written a book review. I am now convinced I would be horrible at them either way! I did want to write about this one adaptation, however, as I have read the book because the trailer for this movie made me curious enough to want to know what the source material was. Having since then had several classes on the book and having seen almost ALL of the adaptations, I now want to celebrate three years of reviews and 80,000 views by discussing more in detail:

Jane goes to boarding school at a young age. She is an orphan and her aunt isn't particularly fond of her. She studies to become a teacher and as a governess receives a job on commission of a Edward Rochester of Thornfield. There she teaches a young girl named Adele, and she grows fond of her employer. It is soon revealed that Rochester loves her back and the two decide to get married, only to discover that he already has a wife. The latter is mad and it would be impossible to divorce her, nor is Rochester willing to put her in a madhouse. Jane flees from Thornfield, only to be reunited with lost relatives. Jane returns to Thornfield, as she never gets over the feeling of hearing her love call her name in the wind. Although Thornfield burns down with a mad mistress inside, Jane finds a wounded Rochester, now widowed, who still loves her just as much as the day they were meant to be married.

"But I feel this Helen: I must dislike those who, whatever I do to please them, 
persist in disliking me; I must resist those who punish me unjustly. 
It is natural as that I should love those who show me affection, 
or submit to punishment when I feel deserved."

I love this book! 
Unfortunately, the teacher who taught my seminar didn't, so that was a bummer... but either way: I loved it because of two dialogues in particular! When Rochester reveals to Jane his true feelings? Honestly, I want to copy-paste it here just so you read how wonderful it is! Think of the two smartest people you know and make them debate science or feelings or humans in general and you are bound to listen to the best conversation possible! Smart people have quick tongues and it is truly by that speed that you can determine someone's character. All you need to know to fall madly in love with both of these characters is 100% revealed in their dialogues. And having tried my luck as a writer with scripts in the beginning I know exactly how hard it is to translate an everyday conversation, not to mention make it believable as well! Charlotte Brontë, you have all of my respect - any writer can learn a great deal from you!
That being said, what this adaptation did in particular - in comparison with the others - was taking that dialogue and giving in depth. It was already clever and witty and then they made it so true and heartfelt that there is not one dry eye in the house when Rochester tells her that "It's you. You rare, unearthly thing. Poor and obscure as you are, please accept me as you husband. I must have you for my own". The casting I believe was exceptional. The director took the source material and made sure to translate it as well as possible. I've seen many versions and of course, when you have more time there is more to film. A movie will always be something less as it has to be shorter than a 4 episode mini-series, to give an example.
And yet the movie captures the most important scenes and not only manages to translate them perfectly, but it makes the viewer reach for the book and see each word written down on paper. And I do recommend reading it even after seeing the movie. The second piece of dialogue actual grew closer to my heart when I re-read the book after having seen the film. It is after Jane finds out the truth and she tells Rochester that she must leave. Rochester pledges her his fidelity, begging for her to stay and asks her who would she offend by breaking some mere human law, who would know? And as Jane's voice trembles as she cries she finds the strength to answer him: "I would." And it is literally one of the most endearing scenes I have seen in a movie in over 20 years. She translates all of her pain into two little words and you cannot help but feel for this poor girl.

I loved the story. It's corny, but I loved the happy ending. I loved the mystery of it, the sheer honesty, not to mention the setting. I love these kind of period pieces - I mean the adaptation - the book of course is set in real time. And you need to give credit to these women writers! My favorite books are usually by men, but this is one I still take off the shelf every two months or so to read out that dialogue to inspire me. I aspire to write something as magical as this. That is why I practice; that is why I started writing this blog in the first place! Doing silly scripts that no one will ever be interested in was enough for 5 years. It was enough until I didn't know any better, until I didn't realize how much I love writing. And I really do!

See the movie? I think you know the answer to that one already. And quite frankly, shame on you if you haven't seen it yet! You see the trick with adaptations is that in the end you always have to make changes. What is important is that those changes work! Here? They work perfectly! Make sure you check it out!

Thank you everyone for having visited my blog. These 80,000 are both my friends and unknown people and I am eternally grateful to both for having clicked, read and shared. 

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ _ 

Jane Eyre - Mia Wasikowska
Edward Rochester - Michael Fassbender
St John Rivers - Jamie Bell
Mrs. Fairfax - Judi Dench

Saturday, July 12, 2014

What's Next On My List? Closing The Ring

I came across this movie at a sale one afternoon, 3 for the price of 1, and I haven't even heard about it before which was quite surprising because I follow Mischa Barton's filmography constantly. It must've gotten lost among the many thrillers. Either way, a nice Saturday afternoon I watched:

Our story takes place on two different timelines. In current time, a widow, Ethel is grieving the loss of her husband, and we then find out that she isn't grieving her husband at all, but a love she lost over thirty years ago. Her daughter Marie is of course is somewhat distraught as she feels that her mom never loved her father Chuck.
A friend of Ethel's, Jack, reveals that he along with Chuck had a best friend by the name of Teddy and he was the boyfriend Ethel lost. When the war was upon them all three deployed, but Teddy never made it back. Ethel always felt guilty about marrying Chuck, she felt as if she hadn't waited for her love and just moved on. Her daughter was always a reminder of her actions.
In Ireland at the same time a young boy finds a wedding ring that belonged to Teddy from the time his plane crashed during the war. He makes sure to get it back to Ethel who finds out that both Chuck and Jack promised Teddy that if he died, they would take care of Ethel. Knowing this, Ethel is finally able to get closure and she never feels bad about having moved on, as that is exactly what Teddy would've wanted for her.

This is a beautiful love story of a young couple who never got to stay together because of the war. Teddy is this young boy with ambitions and no background to make his dreams come true: But he does. He falls in love and he sees his perfect future and you might say that the injustice of a war takes that away from him, and in a way you'd be right. In another way, I think that his life had already reached the best it could ever be: His love was requited. He found the one he wished to be with for the rest of his life, and yes, he couldn't, but in his life he was never without her and she loved him just as much as he did her. When it comes down to it, isn't that the only thing we all look for in life?
It is sad to think about the fact that Ethel had lived an unhappy life next to Chuck, and she probably didn't. It was only that his death brought out in her a sense of remorse. She was strong for Chuck as well and without him she crumbled. And it is sweet that Jack had always loved her as well and he kept his promise to Teddy and never let her be alone. In the end, all three got to spend time with her and she loved all of them as well as she could. The ring will be a memory of Teddy, her daughter Marie of Chuck and Jack will be with her till the very end. In a way these are not only love stories that one can be jealous of, but a sort of friendship that you'll wish you had in your life.

This is a great, very underrated movie. I am very happy that I found it as it has a great cast (let alone the award nominated branch, all the young actors are people we know very well from the best series of TV, starting with Stephen Amell and Gregory Smith, not to mention my dear Mischa Barton!), and a lovely story. I do suggest you check it out as you'll be pleasantly surprised!

Until the next item on my list!

_ _ _ _ _ 

Ethel Ann - Shirley MacLaine
Young Ethel - Mischa Barton
Teddy - Stephen Amell
Young Jack - Gregory Smith
Chuck - David Alpay
Marie - Neve Campbell
Jimmy - Martin McCann

Friday, July 4, 2014

Mine Vaganti

Sono a Roma al momento e ho deciso di prendere un minuto per scrivervi di un film che ho visto qualche anno fa. Sapete che non ho molto tempo per film italiani. È già una fortuna se li trovo sull'internet, perché non guarderei mai niente senza l'audio originale. Però ogni tanto trovo qualcosa de miei attori preferiti e allora non vedo l'ora di vederlo. In questo caso ho trovato un film della quale ancora non sono sicura se mia sia piaciuto oppure no...

Tommaso torna a casa per il fine settimana, pronto ad ammettere ai genitori (che di sicuro non saranno felici), di essere gay. Però purtroppo, nel minuto della verità, è invece suo fratello Antonio che decide di confessare al padre di essere gay. Il padre gli dice di andarsene e sofre un attacco cardiaco. Tommaso non solo è costretto a rimanere zitto, dalla paura di uccidere il padre se rivela che anche lui è omosessuale, ma deve anche rimanere a casa siccome la famiglia ha una fattoria dove c'è bisogno di aiuto dopo che il fratello viene cacciato. 
Nel frattempo, vediamo una giovane versione della nonna di Tommaso, che non ha potuto essere con la persona che amava e prova ad avvisare Tommaso a non commettere lo stesso errore. Tommaso incontra una ragazza che lo incanta dal primo secondo, eppure lui ha un compagno a Roma ed è insicuro dei propri sentimenti. Quando il suo ragazzo ed altri amici lo vengono a trovare, gli rimane di dire la verità al padre, però non è ancora sicuro dei suoi sentimenti e purtroppo la nonna muore. Il funerale alla fine è un incontro tra il passato e il futuro: un matrimonio e un funerale. Suo fratello Antonio ritorna, e con calma Tommaso sorride alla ragazza e al suo ragazzo.

Insomma... che é successo? Questo film è veramente strano... per prima cosa, mi è piaciuta perché era divertente. Il padre nemmeno si era accorto che tutti gli amici di Tommaso erano gay, e lui ha anche una sorella che gli rivela che ci ha già pensato però no, lei non è attratta alle ragazze. Il film è pieno con scherzi del genere e mi ha fatto ridere tanto. Peró alla fine la storia con la nonna non era al 100% chiara per me. Era bello vedere quelle scene vecchie, ma alla fine non ha per niente contribuito alla storia di Tommaso. Il fatto che anche lui era gay per me ha solo causato problemi. Intendo dire, non abbiamo nemmeno capito se era attratto a quella ragazza oppure no... Infine il film sarebbe stato meglio se lui fosse solo costretto a restare ed aiutare il padre, quando ovviamente vuole solo tornare alla sua vita a Roma. Essendo il secondo figlio, per anni ha potuto evadere la fattoria della famiglia perché c'era suo fratello. 
Ma così ha dovuto accettare una responsabilità che prima gli era sconosciuta. Secondo me una storia dove lui deve di nuovo conoscere la sua famiglia, compresa il passato della nonna (che sembra di voler tornare sulla superficie), sarebbe stato molto più interessante. Non voglio essere fraintesa, ovviamente il problema non era col fatto che lo hanno scritto come un ragazzo gay! Il problema era che secondo me neanche gli scrittori erano sicuri di cosa volevano! Voglio dire, quella ragazza... allora era attratto a lei? Oppure voleva solo un'amica? Oppure è bisessuale? Insomma non ho capito cosa volevano e questo, SOLO questo per me ha distrutto completamente la fine del film. 

Secondo me l'idea era geniale, però troppi personaggi... ho capito che era una grande famiglia, ma non c'é bisogno di introdurre ogni persona solo perché sono in tanti! Infine non solo la storia della nonna ma anche quella di Tommaso (il protagonista!!!) era perso perché c'erano troppi dettagli intorno a loro! Era un bel film, molto divertente e anche triste, però le proporzioni non erano esatte e per questo sono solo rimasta con un grande punto interrogative sopra la testa alla fine!

Se sei un fan di qualsiasi dei attori, allora guardalo, ti piacerà, e se lo hai già visto e hai un risposta per le domande che io mi sono posta, allora per favore scrivimi nei commenti!

_ _ _ _ _

Alba Brunetti - Nicole Grimaudo
La nonna - Ilaria Occhini

Monday, June 30, 2014

What's Next On My List? The Beaver

I generally don't watch Mel Gibson movies since, you know, he went insane. I did like him a lot in the 90's though. He was one of my sister's favorites. (I am also excited for the new Expendables movie!!!) And when this movie came out I just looked at the movie poster and the title and I just went "You gotta be f*cking with me.", so then I checked out what the premise of the story was and then I was almost certain that somebody just wants to mess with me. This cannot be an actual movie. But it is and well Jennifer Lawrence is in it so logical conclusion is that I had to watch it. And so I did. So let as now see what this puppet is really all about:

Our story starts with Walter, the father of two boys who has completely lost his connection with reality. He is failing at his job and he is losing his family. What is worse, is that he doesn't seem to care about it either. One night, however, he finds a beaver puppet and he uses it to express his emotions and feelings. He gets back his life, his work becomes profitable again, everything seems to get back into place, but his wife has had enough of the puppet. Unfortunately, Walter doesn't seem to be able to function without it. So much so that the beaver starts to talk to him, as if it really was another being. Walter desperate to get on with his life decides to cut off his own hand and the beaver with it. His eldest son finds him and he is rushed to the hospital on time, where under the appropriate care he gets a chance to get back to his life and reconnect with reality.

I liked this movie, although I am not 100% sure I got what it was about... In the end really we never said out loud what Walter was suffering from and that really bothered me. His son clearly had issues and as we know, plenty diseases can be genetic. The fact that he got so bad that he cut off his own hand? They should make sure that does not happen to his children! Other than that, denial. The movie for me personally was about denial. About how if we can see the good side of things, the bad goes under the radar. But ultimately it cannot be avoided: Some problems don't go away because you ignore them. And that is another point to be made. With the fact that we don't say out loud what actually happened, the viewer is given free interpretation. By that I mean that you can choose to view it from the point of the wife, Meredith: She loves her husband so much that she is willing to accept this foolishness just to have him back in her life. You can view it from the eldest son's view, Porter: His father has been a failure to him ever since he started to see how others are. By that I mean that his little brother Henry doesn't know any better, he doesn't have anything to compare his father to, he just wants his dad a funny puppet is fine by him. But Porter knows people, he has seen happier families, and he has seen his mom happier. He actually sees in himself his father's mistakes and that ruins him.
Ultimately making Porter find his father on the floor in the garage with his hand cut off evoked feelings in him that he thought were long gone. And that's another thing: Porter's story was a lot more touching because we knew about the father's issues. Seeing his father's lack of people skills, he tries to work on his own. He does this with a girl he really liked in school, but messes up simply by not being able to see the clear boundaries. The girl of course sees him for the nice - somewhat lost - boy that he really is, but that is because she took the time. Otherwise it would've all been for nothing.

To sum up, it was a great movie. A bit ridiculous at times, but what in life isn't, really? It was very powerful toward the end, and as I said: Free interpretation. From this point of view it was a bit like a book. The characters were nicely introduced, everyone had a story arc from beginning to the end and there was depth to every character. Yes, some answers weren't given, but I can live with that. I know he is a total a**hole, but yeah, this was an excellent performance from Mel Gibson. Probably the best one I've seen since Maverick (in which his love interest was Jodie Foster! What do you know?)

Watch it? Yes, I recommend it, but think of it as a serious movie. It will hit you in unexpected ways. To end let me quote Ricky Gervais' speech from the Golden Globe awards: "Jodie Foster made a movie about her beaver."

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ 

Walter - Mel Gibson
Meredith - Jodie Foster
Porter - Anton Yelchin
Vice President - Cherry Jones