Monday, July 27, 2009

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

Quirk Classics already have the next book written in their Jane Austen re-write series. Hitting stores Sept 15th 2009 here is the official book trailer.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Clueless DVD review

As I posted before I joined the All Jane Austen Challenge. Here is my second challenge (the last item on my alternative list) A review of Clueless.

Okay first off, for those of you who don't know Clueless is a modern retelling of Emma. Rumours are buzzing that there is indeed a sequel in the works with original cast members returning (it could be argued that the tv show that came from the film is a sequel in itself) Just as Jane Austen was a pioneer for women writers and her novels the foundation of most romances, Clueless broke down barriers for trends, language and status. (cell phones were still a fresh thing when this movie came out, now they're so common you don't even think about it.)

I think what made this movie such an iconic piece was that it was infact a remake of Emma, but did not scream that it was. When it first came out at the cinema in 1995, there was no admitting that it was in deed a retelling of a Jane Austen film, even thought there was a Jane Austen revival going on at the time (Two other versions of Emma were in the works. One starring Kate Beckinsale (1996 tv) and one starring Gwyneth Paltrow (1996 cinema) ) it was not until it was released on video did people who were not Jane Austen fans find out. (The cover box claimed it as being a retelling of Emma)

Plot: High school student Cher is trying to make her life and the lives of her friends more connected to the world at large by playing matchmaker for her teachers, and fellow students. In the process she falls in love herself.

Adding clothing that looked like Regency styles was genus (the high empire waisted dresses, the corset cut tops, the extended use of hats, feathered collars/cuffs)
Making the character of Christian gay (the Frank Churchill character ) and removing the secret girlfriend was pure genius. This way his character could still flirt without becoming the bad guy so many feel he has been otherwise.
Tai's boyfriend (Miss Smith character ) being a pot smoking slacker with an addiction to Marty the Marson was very slick, very subtle. (Mr. Martin character was a farmer)

This is another one of those movies that no matter how many times you have seen it, you still get caught up in it. I admit, I have seen this film about a hundred times (saw it years ago at the cinema when it came out, and my sister used to have it on VHS) and watching it the other night on DVD I got so caught up, I forgot to take notes on it.
I am actually looking forward to seeing what they come up with for a sequel.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Becoming Jane : DVD review

As I posted before, I have joined the All Jane Austen Challenge, here is the first of my challenges. I decided to jump around in the list I had chosen (scheduling reasons) and am starting with the review of the movie Becoming Jane (#3 on my list)

First off, I have to say that when I first bought this film (it had a Feb 2008 dvd release) I hated it. But since, I have watched it numerous times, and find it better and better with each viewing.

This semi-biography (I think the proper term would be Historical Fiction) mixes Jane Austen's early works to express her growth. I thought the casting was just perfect, I do not believe there is another young actress who could have carried the weight of this film, and Maggie Smith as her rival in society was one of the smartest casting moves in years.

The opening scene which shows Jane writing about "propriety" intercut with her parents in bed, breaks through the stale viewpoint we have been trained to expect with adaptions of her works. We are then reminded of Jane Austen herself as being a witty and independent woman with the scene of her enticing Mr. Wesley to join them at the ball. So often her sarcastic side is downplayed painting her a total saint. The introduction of Mr. LeFroy both echos Jane and balances her. He is a weighty character that lives by society's rules while at the same time keeping his own individuality. Both their "father figures" (LeFroy's case his uncle) find them to be too wild for their stations and try to rope them in so to speak. The use of scenes taken out of her novels are good for plot connections but were alittle on the predictable side. I felt when they are in the woods and bump into each other and end up in a verbal sparing is perfect in it's comedic timing and you tend to loose yourself in this scene, as it truly is where the story starts. Pride and Prejudice is the one novel referenced over and over again in this film. The undercurrent of the film is true love, both in it's physical form (the romance with Jane/LeFroy) and the spiritual/emotional one that is expressed through words. Books and writing is where we find Jane being challenged, seduced and hiding. From her disapproval of the book LeFroy offers her to the reading she does at the end of the film. The confrontation between Jane and her cousin the Countess leaves you wondering if the Countess disapproves of LeFroy because of his supposed influence on Henry (Jane's brother) or because he represents something the Countess had taken from her when her husband was killed. When the group of four -Jane, Henry, Countess, LeFroy- go to visit LeFroy's uncle, I was feeling that should be the end of the film, but infact it's the first real sign of a conflict in the movie. The scene then when Jane meets her hero a sense of sadness and even madness over takes you as she sees for the first time the shadowside of herself. Isolation, loneliness and disregard. Until the death of Cassandra's beloved the famed relationship between the two sisters is downplayed, but given the news of LeFroy's intended marriage at this point in the plot adds to the feeling of dread (like a double death). The accepting of Mr. Wesley's marriage proposal is given off to be then more for the sake of her sister then for herself. Not too mention when she discovers the real reason for LeFroy being so money minded you feel a great loss for Jane. This movie has a surprising villain in the character of Mr. Warren , whom has maybe 4 scenes in the entire film and is quite forgettable till the end when he helps sew up some earlier plotlines.

The beauty of this film lays in it's independence and desire for freedom which colours all the love stories played out in it. With little to go on from reality of Jane Austen's life, this fleshes out beautifully.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Journal of Mortifying Moments by Robyn Harding

I was given this by my sister. And she was right on with it. Fabulous read.

This story takes place in an office building for most of it, the rest is done in tasteful flashbacks and chic bars.

Our lead is a woman in her early 30's who some how has found herself in a string of toxic relationships and needs to get to the root of the issue inorder to solve the problem.
Her mother, who is an aging hippy takes her to get her Tarots read and it opens up a whole new viewpoint for her. Hoping that the reading will give her daughter insight into finding a husband, she is displeased when told that the reading focused on her career.
Throw in a few fabulous girlfriends who are each having their own men issues (the friend having a long term affair with her married boss, and her best gay guy chatting every morning over coffees about his ex boyfriend) and a search for Zen and you have a modern comedy that hits home. Let's not forget our lead is going to therapy behind everyone's back.
I have to say my favourite characters are her two books, the journal her therapist has her write that incases all the bad relationships, and her self-help guide that quickly becomes her bible for life. These two books that she keeps with her are a great metaphor for her past and future.