Archive | June, 2010

Mansfield Park 1983

20 Jun

NOTICE- I don’t know what is wrong with the formatting on this page that makes the pictures so huge! I resized them and they looked fine in the edit box, but are humongo when you actually view the page! Sorry!

I thought I already did this review days ago! I have had a bit of a cold, so maybe it is messing with my memory.

Like the other TV adaptations before the 1990s, this miniseries has rather stagey production values. However, if you’re used to such a thing, you should highly enjoy it as I did. It is the only adaptation of Mansfield Park to actually stay true to the book and its characters, so if that’s what you like and you were disappointed by either the 1999 or 2007 versions, you should check this one out.

Most of the acting was perfectly adequate (with one big exception) so I really don’t have much to say.

The Characters

Sylvestra Le Touzel as Fanny Price

The series’ biggest flaw. Yes, she was written true to the book character of Fanny Price- timid but highly moral inside and all that. There was just one big problem- she just couldn’t act! The way she recited her lines sometimes made me cringe.

Nicholas Farrell as Edmund Bertram

I wasn’t crazy about him at first but he’s grown on me. I wonder why they had his hair long. Maybe it was to show he did not care about fashion.

Robert Burbage as Henry Crawford

I thought he was good and could definitely be considered plain.

Jackie Smith-Wood as Mary Crawford

Has the same wig as Henry! Well, they look alike, I suppose.

Bernard Hepton as Sir Thomas Bertram

No complaints here.

Angela Pleasence as Lady Bertram

I think she could be over-the-top at times. She occasionally talked in a whiny voice and I think may have sucked her thumb at one point! It was funny, I suppose, but it went beyond the indolent Lady Bertram of the book to an overgrown baby!

Christopher Villiers as Tom Bertram

Like Edmund, he had long (and kinda messy) hair in the beginning. But after he comes back with Yates, it’s in this stylish do. I almost didn’t recognize him!

Anna Massey as Mrs. Norris

Great as the evil but pretends to be good Mrs. Norris!

Since I really don’t have much to say on the individual performances, I’m just going to leave it as that. This is the only version to include both William and Susan Price, and the Grants (but Dr. Grant’s gluttony is not featured). A lot of it is narrated as Fanny’s letters to William. There are a couple kisses, but only between Maria and Henry, not the leads.

Honestly, I’m still feeling sick and a bit woozy but if I put this review off any longer I’ll forget even more. I leave you with a shot of the Honourable John Yates’ bizarre hairstyle:

My Rating: 8/10

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Bright Star

13 Jun

The last period film I watched (and my favorite) was Bright Star. Like The Young Victoria, it is a historical romance- three years in the life of the poet John Keats and the seamstress Fanny Brawne. I’m not really into poetry and although I’d heard of Keats I knew virtually nothing about his life.

I loved, loved, LOVED this movie! Similar to The Young Victoria, don’t expect anything like a biopic on Keats. Though it’s mostly historically accurate, as far as I know, it’s a romance above all else. And it is done very well. The whole movie has a very quiet feel- beautiful cinematography that uses a lot of natural light (it reminds me a lot of the 1995 Persuasion in its realistic look), exquisite costumes, and brilliant acting. Even the music, while beautiful, is quiet. There are sensual undertones throughout, but the romance, like the movie itself, is very restrained. The heroine is usually “chaperoned” by her younger siblings (her sister, Toots, is beyond adorable!), and the pair cannot marry due to poverty and then Keats’ illness. Keats’ friend and roommate, the greasy Mr. Brown, also tries to prevent their romance, but this really seems to only encourage them! The ending is tragic (Keats died of consumption at age 25) but the movie is just gorgeous.

Favorite shots and scenes

The movie is worth watching for the cinematography alone. Everything is understated and subtle, and yet left a bigger impression on me than anything on a grander scale ever has.

The Breeze Coming in from the Window

Just this shot of the breeze lifting the curtain as Fanny lies in bed is so simple and yet so effective.

Keats Lying on a Treetop

Both this shot and the one of Fanny in bed show them in peaceful bliss after they have shared their first kiss.

Hiding from Toots

Toots interrupted their little “date” and as they follow her, they kiss and cuddle in secret. Every time she turns around, they freeze. Brought a dopey smile to my face.

Finding each other through the wall

Fanny in the field of Wildflowers

Butterfly Farm

The girls have butterflies flying all around their room. Isn’t Toots cute?

The Costumes

By far my favorite thing about this movie was the costumes! It’s set in the Regency, which is always a plus (for me at least. I love the fashions from that period). The heroine, Fanny, is a seamstress and prides herself on her fashionable clothes, which she makes all herself. I loved that the clothes in this actually looked hand-stitched. Fanny’s gowns in the beginning can be a bit over-the-top (bright colors, big hats and collars) but become more subdued throughout the course of the film. Most of her shoes are really cute too, take notice! Some of Toots’ dresses use the same fabrics as Fanny’s, which I thought was a nice touch.

Bright Red Spencer

Not a fan of the huge ruffled collar, however.

Patterned Sweater

I’d wear that!

Pink Pelisse

Love all the pinks! Check out the shoes and hat. Contrast Keats’ shabbier outfit.

Pink Dress

This was the dress under the pelisse. Never seen anything like it!

Striped Spencer

This is my favorite in the whole movie! I’d love a jacket just like it.

Final Thoughts

This movie is not for everyone. If you like a lot of action and that sort of thing, you’ll probably hate it. I may get slightly upset if I hear that anyone hates the costumes, though!

My Rating: 9/10

The Young Victoria

11 Jun

I have been waiting to see this movie forever and finally had the opportunity to do so! The Young Victoria is about Queen Victoria’s life just before and early in her reign as queen. It mainly focuses on the love story between her and Prince Albert. It sticks mostly to historical facts but fudged some stuff to make it more dramatic and romantic on screen (I have to admit I had no problems with this).

When most people think of Queen Victoria, they probably think a fat little prudish woman. That was certainly her image as she got on in years but by focusing this on when she is a young woman (and played by the beautiful, slim Emily Blunt) she definitely has more appeal to audiences. The movie is gorgeous, beautifully acted (loved Mark Strong as Sir John Conroy. He’s much better playing villains like this and Lord Blackwood in Sherlock Holmes), and really romantic. As a historical work alone it’s probably not the best but as a historical romance it’s great!

The costumes are all really eye-catching. I was surprised at how much I liked them! It’s my least favorite era in fashion history and most of Victoria’s gowns are borderline gaudy (she is the queen after all!), yet the costume designer and Emily Blunt managed to make them work. Here are my favorites:

Green Gown:

If you look closely, you’ll see a blue pattern on it. This is one of her simpler gowns, actually. Albert’s coat is pretty snappy too!

Silver Gown

The shiny silverish lilac color is gorgeous!

Blue Gown

I love the blue and the flowers.

Yellow Gown

This is one I was surprised to like. The flowers and the color could have been garish and over the top, but it works!

This movie is almost worth watching for the costumes alone!

My Rating: 8/10

Going Postal

11 Jun

I’ve been meaning to rewatch the 1983 Mansfield Park miniseries but I’ve been getting sidetracked all week. I’ve watched three other period dramas instead. I’ve also been meaning to get going on my reread of Jane Eyre, but instead of that I’ve been doing Loco Sudoku puzzles! I’ll get to both eventually…

Anyway, the first thing I watched was a two part miniseries called Going Postal. It’s based on a book in a series called Discworld by Terry Pratchett. It’s not really a period drama so much as a costume drama- It’s got a magical, Dickensian-ish feel with the Victorian inspired costumes and settings. The world is located on the back of four elephants who are on a giant turtle…I haven’t read any of the series but from what I’ve read about it and from watching this adaptation, it’s a comical cross between Dickens and fantasy. There are a lot of actors from Dickens or other classic novel adaptations in it too. You can see a few just in the picture:

The story is about a con man named Moist von Lipwig (yes, most of the names are funny like this) who is sentenced to hanging and then given a second chance to turn his life around- by becoming the new postmaster. No one in town really uses the mail, preferring instead something called Clacks (kind of like a telegraph system) and so the post office is not being run very well. Then Moist finds out that all the last postmasters died mysteriously. He keeps trying to escape at first but then starts getting into it and doing well. He falls in love with a tough, chain-smoking woman named Adora Belle Dearheart. But things aren’t all smooth sailing as he starts having visions about the consequences of his cons on their victims (including Adora’s family) and he falls in danger of getting killed too.

This series definitely made me interested in Terry Pratchett’s works! Don’t know if I’ll have time to read them any time soon but one day it would be fun! I think if you like fantasy series like Harry Potter and such as well as costume dramas you should like this show.

My Rating: 8/10

Mansfield Park- The Book

9 Jun

Mansfield Park is not one of the more popular Austen novels, and I must confess, it’s not my favorite either. In fact, it’s probably my second to last favorite before Northanger Abbey. It’s much more serious than her other books. There’s not as much light humor. It’s really not very romantic. Many people find the heroine, Fanny Price, insipid. So much so that the two latest adaptations of it totally changed her personality.

Even though MP is low on my list of Austen novels, I think it’s far from being a bad or boring book. True, it’s focus seems to be more on morality rather than romance or comedy but I still enjoy it. While Edmund Bertram is admittedly low on my list of Austen heroes, I do like and admire Fanny Price, both as a character and as a person. Many readers may find her dull but I just don’t think so. Yes, she is weak and has low confidence in the beginning. But who can blame her? She wasn’t brought up in good conditions and then was taken away from her family at a young age. And Mrs. Norris has pretty much made her life hell. She has a strong set of morals in spite of this. She is able to see through the outwardly charming but inwardly ugly Crawfords (who even fool Edmund!) and will not back down in her refusal to marry Henry. This means so much more coming from her than it would from an outspoken girl, like Elizabeth Bennet. It took a lot more courage for the timid Fanny to stand up for herself and say no to Henry than for Lizzy, who always speaks her mind, to refuse Mr. Collins or Darcy, that’s for sure!

The Crawfords are pretty popular among some readers from what I’ve seen, so they’ve charmed more than the book characters, apparently! I’ve seen comparisons of Mary to Elizabeth Bennet, which surprises and irritates me. Yes, they are both witty, but that’s as far as I’d take it. Elizabeth, while immature in the beginning of the book, is still a compassionate and pretty much unselfish person. Mary Crawford is very selfish (she doesn’t even try to hide it) and is only after rank and fortune. She falls for Edmund in spite of herself but still tries to constantly persuade him not to be a clergyman because that is apparently not good enough of a profession for her. She really shows her ugly side in a letter to Fanny near the end in which she expresses her hopes that Tom will die so that Edmund will become heir to Mansfield Park and the baronetcy! Edmund finally opens his eyes to Mary’s true nature after Henry and Maria’s elopement. She doesn’t seem to have any awareness that their adultery is wrong, only that they were not discreet about it and got caught! Really, can you picture Elizabeth Bennet saying these things? I’ve never understood Henry’s popularity either. Yes, he’s charming. Yes, he did fall in love with Fanny. But do people really think she could have been happy with him or reformed him? He would have probably been back to his rakish ways in a short time if she did marry him. Fanny saw him toying with both Maria and Julia’s affections (despite Maria being engaged) and knew this. He ran off with Maria when things were looking up for his case! And he only started the whole affair with Fanny because he wanted to put a “hole in her heart.” Yeah, what a catch…

I think the only thing I really find lacking in this book is the romance between Edmund and Fanny. I know that Austen didn’t intend that as her focus and I am happy that Fanny got what she always wanted, but it still would have been nice to see some romantic scenes between them at the end. In spite of this I can safely call myself a fan of both Mansfield Park and Fanny Price.

My Rating: 8/10

Bride and Prejudice Review

7 Jun

I wasn’t that fond of Kandukondain Kandukondain but I love Bride and Prejudice! I suppose it’s easier for me not only because it’s all in English but because it’s made for a Western audience? The movie follows P&P pretty closely but obviously changes things to modernize it. The “Bennet” family dynamics are much the same. A friend is getting married and at her engagement party, the family meets the friends of the groom- the Bingleys (Indians from the UK) and their American friend Darcy. There is no Kitty, Mr. and Mrs. Hurst, or Colonel Fitzwilliam character. The scene of “Lady Catherine” trying to tell Lizzy not to get engaged to Darcy did not make the final cut but was included on the DVD as a deleted scene. The DVD itself is great. Along with the deleted scenes, there is a “Making of”, commentary, and full musical numbers. And possibly something else that I don’t remember…

The movie is all fun. It’s got great funny musical sequences, bright colors, and good-looking actors and actresses. Some of the acting is really good. Only one characterization really bothered me, which I’ll get into…

The Characters

Aishwarya Rai as Lalita Bakshi (Lizzy)

My biggest problem with the movie! Her character was just plain NASTY to Darcy. I don’t know what he saw in her, besides her good looks. He was a little uncomfortable in the beginning but was trying his best and she just snapped at everything he said. I read on IMDB that Rai did not read the book so as not to be influenced by Elizabeth. Bad move, for sure. And the writing and directing was off for her too. Elizabeth Bennet is not a bitch! Why did they make Lalita one?

Martin Henderson as William Darcy

His family owns a lot of fancy hotels. He is not really a proud snob at all. He’s just quite ignorant about India in the beginning and going through culture shock. I felt bad for the guy, really. I don’t know why he wasted his time trying to win over the beeyotch.

Namrata Shirodkar as Jaya Bakshi (Jane)

No complaints here. Everyone looks on the plain side next to Aishwarya Rai but she was still beautiful and sweet. I liked her a lot more than Lalita!

Naveen Andrews as Balraj Bingley

A barrister from a well-off family. Thankfully he was not the oafish Bingley that some adaptations make the character. He was good-looking and easy-going and still managed to have a brain!

Anupam Kher as Mr. Bakshi

His character is again made more sympathetic than in the book. He’s a bit exasperated by he’s not rude to her and he’s a kind father to all his daughters.

Nadira Babbar as Mrs. Bakshi

She was a hoot!

Meghna Kothari as Maya Bakshi (Mary)

Rather than being pedantic like Mary in the book, here she mostly is the “proper” sister to the wild younger one. Rather than a horrible singing performance, she does a hilarious (and still horrible) “Cobra Dance.”

Peeya Rai Chowdhary as Lakhi Bakshi (Lydia)

She likes to flirt with boys and acts even more “western” than the rest of her family. She flirts constantly with Wickham even in front of Lalita who seems to be oblivious or doesn’t think it will lead to anything. Can’t Lalita see that Lakhi was really attached to him? She didn’t even try to hide it!! She is not as bad as Lydia in the book. She runs off to spend the day with Wickham but just goes sightseeing. Darcy and Lalita find them together and she goes back with them and gets mad at Wickham for saying Lalita was always really the one for him!

Daniel Gillies as Johnny Wickham

His mother was the Darcy family’s nanny in England and he caddied for Darcy’s father. He’s pretty much the same character in the book. I kind of wanted Lalita to just be with him so Darcy could find someone nicer, actually!

Indira Varma as Kiran Bingley (Caroline)

She didn’t seem to be really interested in Darcy but I thought she was a good rich snob. She was not as bad as in the book, however, and seemed to come around and be happy for both couples in the end.

Nitin Ganatra as Mr. Kohli (Mr. Collins)

He is almost related to the Bakshis by marriage. (A cousin of a cousin or something like that). He has a green card and I think works for/with the Darcys. He is obsessed with being American. He is quite obnoxious and annoying but he’s a good guy underneath.

Sonali Kulkarni as Chandra Lamba (Charlotte Lucas)

She is still Lalita’s best friend and marries Mr. Kohli but they seem to be happy. Her personality is quite the same as Charlotte’s but she’s so pretty I’m sure she could have her pick of men!

Marsha Mason as Catherine Darcy (Lady Catherine)

She is Darcy’s mother here which works better than just being his aunt in a modern adaptation, I suppose. She tries to set him up with a rich woman named Anne, rather than her daughter (obviously!).

Alexis Bledel as Georgina “Georgie” Darcy

She is still a shy girl who has a past with Wickham. He actually got her pregnant when she was 16, but no clue what happened to the baby. I don’t know how old she is supposed to be in this but although she is shy, she seems pretty well adjusted for being seduced, impregnated, and abandoned, so I’m guessing a few years have passed.

Final Thoughts-

I don’t have much else to say about this. Other than Lalita, this is a really fun film. If you’re hesitant about watching Bollywood or other Indian films this is a good compromise.

My Rating: 8/10

Kandukondain Kandukondain Mini Review

7 Jun

Kandukondain Kandukondain, or I Have Found It in English, is an Indian version of Sense and Sensibility. My DVD says “A Bollywood adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility” on it but the film is actually from southern India, and in Tamil rather than Hindi. These films are also sometimes known as Kollywood.

It stars Tabu and Aishwarya Rai as Indian versions of Elinor and Marianne, respectively. Ash (and others) had her voice dubbed even though according to IMDB, can speak Tamil. Whatever…

Anyway, if you’ve never seen any Indian films, it takes some getting used to. A scene will be going on like normal and then the characters burst into song! I had seen Bride and Prejudice, also with Aishwarya Rai, before this, but that was made for a Western audience so it was easier to watch.

I wasn’t crazy about this movie, honestly. I liked some of the scenes wit Meenakshi and Captain Bala (Marianne and Colonel Brandon) the best, actually. And there were funny parts. But I felt it took too long to get started (it’s over 2 hours long) and then rushed everything in at the end. I got so bored trying to rewatch it for the review that I skipped over the musical numbers. I guess I’m just not the right audience for this.

My Rating: 5/10