Tag Archives: movies

Deathly Hallows Part 2- First Viewing

13 Jul

I was fortunate enough to win tickets to an advanced screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 yesterday evening. I can’t even describe in words how much I was looking forward to it. Deathly Hallows is my favorite Harry Potter book, and Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is my favorite Harry Potter movie. All of the trailers and featurettes and early reviews made the movie sound absolutely amazing. I try usually not to let hype get my expectations up too much, but in this case I couldn’t help it. I was fully expecting the series to go out with a bang

Let’s start with my general, spoiler-free opinion. Were my high expectations met? Sadly…no. It was a big let-down, actually. It didn’t feel like part of DH 1. It was more similar in tone to the Half-Blood Prince movie to me for some reason. It was too short and just felt chopped up. Like HBP, it seemed like a lot more was filmed, but then it was hacked in the editing room. And then I read that this was exactly the case…All of the actors, practically, from the previous films are back- for mostly blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameos. The battle was lackluster and anticlimactic. At points it felt rushed, at other points too slow. A lot of the dialogue was changed and didn’t feel right. The relationships were handled awkwardly. This is just my purist side, but a lot was changed from the book. I didn’t think it would be that way, after Part 1. It really let me down.

Was it a terrible movie? By no means. The acting was good, the special effects were great (though I wouldn’t pay the extra money for the 3D), and some of the scenes did hit the mark.  I know I bashed it pretty hard up there, but, really, the majority of my complaints are based only on the changes from the book. I’m judging it not really for the movie it was but for the movie it could have been, the movie I wanted it to be. The hype definitely ruined things for me. I feel like I would have liked it better if I hadn’t read the books. But then again, my brother, who has only seen the movies, was also let down. He was disappointed by the lack of a bit epic battle scene that he was expecting there to be.

I’m seeing the movie again at the midnight release tomorrow night. I’m hoping with another viewing, I’ll get over my shock about all the changes and my feelings will mellow. I doubt it’ll ever be my favorite of the series, but I really want to like it more. So, I’ll post another, more in-depth review after the second time and see if I’m any more positive.

My Rating: 6/10

 

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Jane Eyre 1934

26 Jun

So, I’ve finally seen it- the first talkie Jane Eyre, from 1934. It was…different, to say the least. First off, it’s only an hour long, so a lot was cut and rushed. Jane’s years at Lowood (an orphanage in this version) are condensed to her arrival and then the page from the book describing those years! (Yes, they just filmed the book page). There’s no Helen Burns or illness outbreak. Aside from the main characters, those smaller parts that are kept are blink and you’ll miss it. Other transitions are done with Jane writing in her diary.

Secondly, it’s very watered down. It’s not a screwball comedy like the 1940 Pride and Prejudice by any means, but it’s definitely much lighter in tone than the book. The characters are happier and the darker stuff from the book is either cut or just watered down. I’m no movie buff, but I think I read somewhere that this was because it was the Great Depression and they didn’t want to depress people more. Also, aside from Colin Clive, the majority of the cast is American and most of them don’t do that great of a job hiding their accents.

The Characters

Virginia Bruce as Jane Eyre

Yes, instead of a “Plain Jane,” we got a Blonde Bombshell. I’ll give them credit though- they made no secret of it. Unlike other adaptations to cast pretty actresses, they didn’t even try to pretend she was plain. They openly acknowledged that she was pretty. It was kind of weird, but at least they were honest! Her Jane is very outspoken and not at all reserved. She never advertises so I don’t know how she gets the job at Thornfield, but she says she has a small inheritance from her uncle. There’s never anything with her uncle Eyre or the Rivers being her cousins.

Colin Clive as Edward Rochester

This Rochester is always quite cheery and polite with Jane. All the passion between them is gone. Nothing like the book character at all.  I thought they were going to cut his blindness at the end completely! But, no, they didn’t go that far. They didn’t have him lose his eye or hand, but I think most of the adaptations have done that.

David Torrence as Mr. Brocklehurst

They kept his personality mostly intact. Jane doesn’t meet him until she gets to the orphanage. He never loses his complete power as the master here. He fires Jane because she stuck up for a student who drew a caricature of him. She tells him off before leaving and says he “ought to be tarred and feathered, you ugly old crocodile!” Yes, really.

Beryl Mercer as Mrs. Fairfax

She doesn’t really do much. I can remember absolutely nothing remarkable about her character, whatsoever.

John Rogers as Sam Poole

Sam Poole? Who’s that? At first I thought they replaced Grace with a man for some reason. But no, he’s her husband and the drunkard. They didn’t want to show a female alcoholic? Grace has very little to do in this aside from keeping Jane out of Bertha’s room.

Aileen Pringle as Blanche Ingram

She’s not in it very much. The house party is cut down to one ball scene, where Blanche and Rochester dance. She’s also considerably uglier than Jane.

Claire du Brey as Bertha Rochester

The wild look is completely gone! She’s apparently still dangerous because she sets fire to Rochester’s bed. But then she thinks they’re getting married again and is all happy, although demented. Rochester was divorcing her in this, so I don’t even know why Jane left!

Edith Fellows as Adele Rochester

No, I did not get the name wrong. She’s Rochester’s niece in this. Nothing about the backstory in France at all. She’s a happy-go-lucky girl, but clumsy- she gets stuck in a tree, a vase, and trips over her own feet. Rochester dotes on her, constantly giving her presents and even tucking her into bed.

Desmond Roberts as Dr. John Rivers

He’s only in one scene. When Jane leaves Thornfield, she works serving soup at his mission- not teaching. There’s no indication of how much time has passed or how she got the job, or anything. He just calls her into his office, asks her to go to India and to marry him. She asks for time but writes in her diary that she will marry him.

Jean Darling as young Jane

I only included her for sake of completeness. She’s barely in it.

The Ending

Talk about rushed! That’s a given, what with the run-time, but it was still stupid. Sam Poole comes to the mission and Jane serves him soup. He tells her what happened and she goes to find Rochester. She says she will never leave him, Mrs. Fairfax and Adele come in the room, and everyone is happy. That’s it.

Overall

The adult actors were decent with what they were given, but let’s be honest- this is a sugar-coated version of the story.  I can’t say it’s a good adaptation (God, no!) or even a good movie, but it has value for hardcore Jane Eyre fans and/or collectors…like me!

My Rating: 5/10

Modern Emmas- Clueless and Aisha

2 Feb

I’ve really been procrastinating on finishing up my Emma adaptation reviews, I know. I wasn’t sure if I should review these two modern versions or not. For one thing, though I found both enjoyable, I’m not the biggest fan. And I don’t have a copy of either right now to rewatch and take screencaps from. (I did buy Aisha on DVD but lent it to a friend and haven’t gotten it back yet!). But I really want to get Jane Austen over with so I don’t forget even more, so I decided to just go from memory! I’ll try the best I can.

Clueless (1995) stars Alicia Silverstone as Cher Horowitz. Like Emma, she is rich and lives with her single father (IIRC, her mother died during plastic surgery, but I may be wrong). Here she is only 15 and already has her own car (before she even has a license!) and spends most of her time with her best friend, Dionne (no book equivalent). The Mr. Knightley character is played by her ex step-brother, Josh, played by Paul Rudd. The movie loosely follows a lot of  Emma‘s plotlines. Cher hooks up two of her teachers and from there gets it into her head to be a matchmaker. She decides to give this version’s Harriet Smith, new girl Tai (Brittany Murphy), a makeover and to hook her up with Elton. She convinces Tai that her crush, stoner Travis, is no good. Things backfire for her when her matchmaking plans not only fail but Tai eclipses her as the most popular girl. She goes after Christian (Frank Churchill), and although he’s not a cad like Frank in the book, he has other reasons for not going for Cher.

Some people think Clueless is the best adaptation of Emma, but I’d have to disagree. I did quite enjoy it and even used to watch the TV spinoff…I was in grade school, okay! I blame this movie for popularizing Valley Girl speak throughout the country, but that’s another story.  I really liked the characters of Cher and Josh and their sibling-esque rivalry that blossomed into love and a lot of the parallels with the book were funny, but this isn’t one of my favorite movies or even adaptations. I found many of the characters just annoying and not charming at all. I also think this movie treated some inappropriate behaviors too lightly. Maybe I’m just too traditional, but all of the references to sex and pot smoking (Cher disapproves of Travis constantly being stoned but feels no qualms about occasionally smoking a joint at a party) made me a bit uncomfortable. Cher also seemed to think she was the last virgin left at her high school, and tried miserably to seduce Christian. Tai, despite being a “loser”, oddly has had plenty of sexual experience. The characters were only 15 years old, for Christ’s sake! I suppose stuff like this is more realistic (or even not realistic enough!) but part of the reason I watch period films is to escape from reality. I suppose that’s why this updated version bothered me a bit. My Rating: 7/10.

Aisha, which just came out last summer, is Bollywood’s version of a modern Emma. Set in the high society of Delhi, it follows Aisha in her misguided matchmaking attempts. Like Emma and Cher, Aisha is a spoiled rich girl who means well but is really clueless. This one follows the book a little more closely than Clueless did and includes more characters, like the John Knightleys and Jane Fairfax (Aarti). Here, the Miss Taylor character is Aisha’s aunt. This version’s Knightley (Arjun) is still her childhood friend and brother-in-law’s brother, but younger this time. Emma dislikes Aarti, his colleague from America, but she doesn’t realize it’s because she’s jealous. Dhruv (Frank Churchill) is her new uncle’s son and they flirt for a little bit but she’s just not that into him so he goes for Aarti instead. There is an Elton character, but he’s not a pompous jerk at all, just a bit dorky.

I thought this version borrowed too many elements from Clueless rather than Emma. Maybe that’s inevitable in a modern setting, but I’m not sure. Aisha has a best friend, Pinky, who’s only equivalent is Dionne. She disapproves of Pinky’s love interest (I won’t give away who it is!), like Cher did to Dionne. Like Cher, Aisha loves to shop till she drops. The Harriet Smith character, Shefali, comes from out of town and Aisha gives her a makeover….sounds pretty familiar! Emma never gave Harriet any sort of makeover. She liked Harriet because she was very pretty and sweet already. I dunno, maybe I’m reading too much into it.

For anyone hesitant about seeing this film because they don’t like Bollywood, I just want to say- don’t let that stop you. This movie is very, very Westernized. At least half the dialogue is in English, possibly a bit more. There are some “musical” scenes but the music is Western-style, not the typical Bollywood singing. The characters don’t break into song either- rather the music highlights what’s going on onscreen. These characters behave very much like rich Westerners would (I’ve read criticisms that it was trying too hard to be American, even) and there are even a couple kissing scenes.

I thought this was a good movie, but not great. The production values were obviously very high- everything looked great. Unfortunately, I think that was part of the problem- they focused too much on style over substance. The script needed a bit of work. The whole Jane/Frank story was handled very poorly in particular. Still, it was a fun movie, even though, like Clueless, it’s not going to go down as one of my favorites. My Rating: 6/10

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