Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pride and Prejudice Watch-a-thon Wrap Up

These past couple of weeks I've thrown a lot of opinions at you and enough bullet points to last the rest of the year, but I've personally accomplished something I have always wanted to do: figure out which adaption I like best and why. Normally when someone asks me what my favorite adaption is I end up stuttering out a title and then I can't follow up with some concrete reasons. Now I can!! I've also discovered what actors seem to have a handle on the characters they agree to portray.

With that in mind I've decided to draw up my ideal casting list. These would be the actors that I would choose were I to make the perfect Pride and Prejudice adaption. Some of these choices probably won't come as a shock to some of you because I raved about them in the past posts.

Mr. Darcy: Colin Firth

This really is no surprise. Colin Firth will always be my perfect Darcy and for those curious my second favorite Darcy has to be Lawrence Olivier. Had Olivier's portrayal been a little less lovesick he would have been my first.

Lizzie Bennet: Jennifer Ehle

As I discussed in my last post Ehle perfectly captures Lizzie's character, so much so that her performance is copied by others.

Jane Bennet: Laura Spencer from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

While Laura stars in the modernization of Austen's novel, I have complete confidence that if you stuck her in period dress she would be the best Jane ever. Every other Jane in the adaptions I've discussed are so bland and forgettable. Not to mention the fact that they don't have a believable sister relationship with their respective Lizzies. Laura has Jane's kind and caring personality down pat, but manages to bring a wonderful range of emotions to the character. I really felt for her when Bing Lee abandoned her and I loved when she was there to help her sisters through all of their problems.

Mr. Bennet: Hugh Bonneville from Lost in Austen

I've already raved about his perfect portrayal of Mr. Bennet in my Lost in Austen post, so if you'd like to know why he is my favorite then you should read that or just watch Lost in Austen already.

Mrs. Bennet: Well I really don't have a favorite actor for her character. The problem that I have is I have such a distaste for her character in general that it's just to hard for me to connect with one of her representations. I do know that I'm not a fan of the Mrs. Bennets from the 1995 and the 2005 versions.

Mary: Marsha Hunt from the 1940 P&P

Her Mary is the one that fills me with the least amount of pity and disgust. She is the bookish, awkward Mary from the book not the ugly, socially inept version that the other adaptions seem to represent.

Kitty: HEHEHEHE Right. When has Kitty ever been a fully fleshed out character in any adaption. Maybe we should just rename her Lydia's shadow. If I had to choose it would be the Kitty from the 1995 version because she is in the movie enough for me to be forced to realize she is an actual character.

Wickham: Tom Riley from Lost in Austen

I know that his portrayal of Wickham is totally different from the book, but I have no doubt that had he been forced to act the original Wickham it would have been perfect. Honestly with a face like that I have no doubt he could charm young women out of all of their fortunes.

Charlotte: While I really want to put the Charlotte from the Lizzie Bennet Diaries I think that the allure of her character only comes from the freedom she gets in the modernization, so I can't in all good conscious put her here. The rest of the Charlottes also seem to be lacking. If I were to piece together the performances my perfect Charlotte would be a combination of the 1995 version with the feistiness of the 2005 version.

Caroline: Frieda Inescort from the 1940 version

I've previously discussed why Frieda is the perfect Caroline, but to sum it up she has the right look and the right attitude. In the words of Amanda Price she is the perfect "frosty knickers."

Mr. Collins: David Bamber from the 1995 version

AHHHHH!!! THAT FACE!! Only a Lady Catherine could appreciate that face. All I can say is that he provides the most accurate Collins representation.

Mr. Bingley: I left him for last because honestly I have no preference out of all of the adaptions that I've seen. Bingley's character has to be one of the most lackluster out of the entire book. All of the actors fulfill what is necessary of the Bingley character, which is to just show up, dance with Jane a little, and then split like the spineless dope he is. Yes, I went there and I regret nothing.

Now it's time to rank my adaptions worst to best. I based this ranking on the quality of the acting and the faithfulness to the events in the book.

5. Pride and Prejudice 2005: This is no surprise. I ABHOR this version.
4. Lost in Austen: As much as I enjoy watching this adaption, it screws with Austen's original text so much that I couldn't live with myself if I ranked it higher.
3. Pride and Prejudice 1940: I had to rank this lower on the list because it excludes some rather important plot points. It would have been a really great adaption had the Pemberley visit not been cut out.
2. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Despite the fact that this is a modernization, it has all of the essential plot points from the novel and the characters are wonderfully represented.
1. Pride and Prejudice 1995: This adaption is incredibly loyal to the book and the main actors really capture the characters. This is the movie that I would recommend to everyone, whether they have read the book or not.

I'd say that was a pretty awesome wrap-up and now back to my regular assortment of random posts :)
Previous Post: Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Pride and Prejudice Watch-a-thon: Pride and Prejudice 1995

I have finally arrived at the final movie in my Pride and Prejudice watch-a-thon that may be the last, but certainly not the least. Many people, including myself, consider this the definitive movie version of Austen's great novel:

Here Colin Firth stars as Mr. Darcy and Jennifer Ehle plays Elizabeth Bennet.

As usual I shall provide a link to the IMDb page so you can take a look at the whole cast listing and read some of the rather interesting trivia:

While I have an intense respect for this film version, like any reviewer I can't ignore the few cons that do exist and as much as it pains me to admit them I will stop myself from gushing over the pros to point them out.

Now here is where you would usually find the first Con bullet, but within the first 5 minutes of this version I noticed something that so utterly disgusted me that I just can't help but vent my frustration. What has me so angry you ask. Well I'm going to ask that you do something before I tell you.

Open up a new tab and make your way to youtube. First I want you to watch a clip, any clip of Jennifer Ehle's performance. Then I want you to watch any clip from Keira Knightley's performance, bearing in mind that Ehle's version was released to the public 10 years before Knightley's. Notice anything?

Maybe it's the fact that Keira's performance is a SAD and POORLY EXECUTED KNOCKOFF OF EHLE'S FABULOUS LIZZIE!!!!! It had been at least 2 years since I had last seen the 1995 version, so when I rewatched the 2005 version I didn't catch it. While I hated Keira's performance, I was under the impression that it was still hers. Now I just lack all respect for her or that movie. An adaption can be really terrible, but even the worst have some originality going for it. In fact I can applaud originality because it holds my attention. I'm of the opinion that the 2005 version really should be outlawed.

Anyway, back the original movie topic of this blogpost. Enjoy this delightful pallet cleanser before I get to the actual cons of the movie. Feminist Ryan Gosling eat your heart out!

  • Mrs. Bennet: The representation of Mrs. Bennet in this movie version is like the book version of her on drugs. Her physical appearance is spot on, but her voice makes me want to rip my ears off. I think if her performance were toned down just a little she would have been the perfect Mrs. Bennet. This has to be her most annoying incarnation and by the 3rd hour into watching I was hoping for a surprise plot twist where one of the men of the regiment had a mental breakdown and went on a murderous rampage, killing Mrs. Bennet in the process. (note to self: If I ever get into fanfic this shall be my jumping off point)  

  • Mary: Another character that has been overly acted to a point that makes them ridiculous. Poor Mary in this version is socially awkward, annoyingly bookish, a terrible singer and piano player, inept at catching social cues, and has pimples and a lady moustache. I have never felt more sorry for Mary and it was just sad to watch everyone put Mary down.

  •  Jane: This version of Jane just isn't dynamic enough and I thought the performance was lacking quite a bit. All I can say is that it's completely understandable that Darcy would doubt Jane had any true feelings for Bingley because she rarely has any facial expression and her voice only has one tone: a calm almost catatonic murmur. I can't tell if her lack of expression was done on purpose, but either way I'm not a fan.

  •  The Darcy Phantom: The most corny and hilarious moments in this version have to be when Lizzie is thinking back to her conversations with Darcy. Usually there is a voice over and then a semi-transparent Darcy head appears to apparently drive home to the audience that Lizzie is in fact thinking about Darcy. I think the voice over was sufficient enough, I don't need random Darcy heads popping up.
  • Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy: In high school when I first read Pride and Prejudice the image in my head of what Mr. Darcy looked like was exactly like Colin Firth. I remember rewatching the movie What A Girl Wants and thinking to myself that the perfect P&P adaption would star Firth and to my delight I discovered that he had in fact stared as Darcy. My expectations for the character were met to the fullest extent. Firth perfectly captures Darcy's transition from prideful, upperclass haughtiness to a caring friend, brother, and eventual fiancé. Honestly I don't think there could ever be a better portrayal of Mr. Darcy.

  • Jennifer Ehle as Lizzie: Ok so as I predicted a few posts back, I did change my mind about my favorite Lizzie and Jennifer is still my favorite. Other than my occasional doubts as to Greer Garson, she really is the best actor for the job. Ehle demonstrates the appropriate amount of emotions when called for and she has great chemistry with Colin Firth on screen. She also has an ease with the other supporting actors on screen like Jane and her father.

  • The lake scene: A young Colin Firth in a wet shirt. Need I say more?

  • Faithfulness to the book: What is wonderful about this version and just BBC versions in general is the fact that the run time is not limited. I think one of the real reasons why we can't get a great Hollywood version of a classic book is because the run time is limited to about 2 hours. That is not enough time to include all of the important plot points plus have believable character development. This version includes everything from the book and has the time to fully develop the relationships between the characters. Nothing feels rushed like in the other versions.

  • Caroline: Like I have brought up before Caroline is not meant to be the villain of this story and in this version she is represented as Austen intended. While I prefer the 1940 Caroline, this version comes in as a close second.

  • Mr. Collins: Collins is also not meant to be the villain of this story and this adaption portrays this intention correctly. I'd like to think he is the perfect mixture of the 1940 Collins and the 2005 Collins. He is both socially awkward and a little of the bumbling fool, which is the right type of Collins for me.

  • Lizzie and Wickham Interaction: One complaint that I had with other versions is the fact that Wickham usually makes only one on screen appearance where he relays his fake sad sob story to Lizzie and she just readily accepts it. That 5 minute interaction is apparently supposed to form the basis of Lizzie's dislike of Darcy. This version takes the time to develop Lizzie and Wickham's relationship. It becomes reasonable that Lizzie would believe the story of a seemingly innocent friend and the audience gets to see how Wickham just feeds into Lizzie's prejudice against Darcy. This version illustrates how a successful adaption needs to have Wickham be an active character.

  • The Netherfield Ball Scene:  GAHH!! This scene was so cringe worthy that I felt sorry and embarrassed for Lizzie the entire time. It was like the 1940 scene amped up to the extreme. This scene made it 100% clear how damning a bad family really can be and that was even before the Lydia scandal. This scene perfectly preps the readers for Darcy's botched proposal which brings us to my next pro...

  • The Proposal Scene: After watching Knightley scream insult Darcy in her The Notebook-esque rain proposal scene, watching Ehle's performance was like a breath of fresh, life giving air. She is curt, direct, and mindful of propriety when Darcy proposes to her. She only concedes to raise her voice a little when Darcy is so taken aback by her refusal and insists upon an explanation. The back and forth is exciting and incredibly well done. I also love that directly after the proposal the two engage in moments of self-introspection. They have pointed out each others faults and it is only logical that they examine themselves to see the truth...unlike the 1940 version where Lizzie immediately regrets having turned Darcy down.

  • Mrs. Gardner: I never realized how much of a difference she would make until I watched this version. In all of the adaptions I've seen, she either never makes an appearance or if she does, she never leaves an impression. I was shocked by how amazing Mrs. Gardner is in this version. She is like the levelheaded mother figure that Lizzie never had who points out to Lizzie that Darcy really isn't as bad as she had built him up to be.

  • Pemberley Visit: There is nothing quite like a well executed Pemberley visit. The 1940 version felt incomplete without it and the Knightley version's felt awkward and ill-represented. The plot point is so important to the book. This is where Lizzie's change of heart becomes actualized. She speaks with the housekeeper and realizes that Darcy is a kind master who treats those socially beneath him in his estate with respect. Lizzie gets to view Darcy without the taint of his pride and audiences start to understand Darcy better as a character. This is also the point in the film where I get a little jealous that I don't have an impressive estate with a beautiful pond/lake in the front. Or as Amanda from Lost in Austen puts it, a place big enough to "park a bloody jumbo".   

With that last bullet point my review is complete. I hope that you got some enjoyment out of these posts and maybe they inspired you to watch or rewatch some of these movies just to see what I'm babbling about. Tomorrow I will do a wrap up post where I discuss some of my favorite actors for the roles and rank the adaptions that I've seen.

To conclude this post, let us all rejoice that Austen has now made her way onto British bank notes and that this statue legit exists:

Monday, July 22, 2013

Murder Mystery Monday #2

Welcome to the second installment of Murder Mystery Mondays!! It is no surprise that todays book of choice is by Agatha Christie and it's Peril at End House. 

For those of you curious about what happens, without spoilers of course, read on for my summary:

Poirot and Hastings are on vacation together where Poirot is still insisting that he is "retired." One day the two of them meet Magdala Buckley who goes by the nickname "Nick" and she talks with Poirot about all of the accidents she has recently been in. Poirot naturally suspects that someone is out to kill her and insists that he see her again at her place, which is the titular End House. Poirot also deduces from a hole in Nick's hat that she had been recently shot at. He is determined to figure out who is trying to kill Nick, while also endeavoring to keep her alive. Among the suspects are her housekeeper Ellen, her neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Croft, her cousin Charles Vyse, and her friends George Challenger, Freddie Rice, and Jim Lazarus. The plot only thickens when Poirot insists that Nick invite someone she trusts to come live with her and Nick extends an invitation to her cousin Maggie. Nick decides to host a party where everyone, including Poirot, is in attendance and shockingly Maggie is found dead. The rest of the novel involves Poirot racing to figure out who the murderer is before they finally manage to do away with Nick.

Now for this book I decided not to do a review because as a whole I really didn't have much to say that was incredibly pertinent. There were no glaring faults with the book and there was nothing about it that really stood out to make it an important Christie. Peril at End House was a quick and enjoyable afternoon read that had the typical Agatha Christie switch at the end. Just when I was completely sure who the murderer was, the reveal scene at the end illustrated that I did in fact fall for the suspect who was meant to be the red herring.

I did however have a few intriguing observations that I just happened to have while reading this book.

  • Inheritance is never easy: In mystery novels, which include many of Agatha's, the story deals with the fact that old, rich family members never like to make their inheritance easy to obtain. This fact occurred to me while I was reading Peril at End House despite the fact that the hidden inheritance plot twist is never used. I considered it for a brief second though when Nick discusses how a painting of her grandfather "Old Nick" almost fell on her and then starts to talk about the value of the painting. Apparently money is best hidden when transferred to a valuable stamp or stuck somewhere other than a bank or safety deposit box.

  •    I have learned that there is nothing quite like failure to curb your ego trip. One unique aspect of Poirot's character is the fact that he has an incredibly big head. He loves it when people recognize him as "the famous Belgian detective" and gets insulted when they haven't heard of him. Here Hastings makes reference to the fact that Poirot is not perfect and hasn't solved every case he has taken on. It directly references which case in this book, but I won't say the title here. You will just have to figure it out yourself. I have to wonder whether Christie made him fail on purpose because she hated him so much (A fact that is actually true. Agatha Christie apparently grew to dislike the detective of her own creation).  

  •  A quote full of irony: In the book Poirot turns to Hastings and says "You have a tendency Hastings, to prefer the least likely. That, no doubt, is from reading too many detective novels. In real life, nine times out of ten, it is the most likely and the most obvious person who commits the crime." While this fact is actually true in real life, as shown by the number of wives and husbands that kill their spouses, this statement is so ironic considering the least likely person to commit the murder in this story, actually committed the murder. Not to mention that in over half of the Christie stories I have read the least obvious person commits the murder as well. If Poirot followed his own advice he would never solve any of the murders he takes on...just sayin'.
If the plot summary of this book sounded interesting you should also check out the movie adaption starring David Suchet that is pretty faithful to the book. If you haven't had enough of Peril At End House after the movie and the book there is shockingly a hidden object game based on the book under the same name. So happy reading/watching/or playing!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pride and Prejudice Watch-a-thon: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries!!!!

Welcome readers!! As promised here is the next adaption in my Pride and Prejudice Watch-a-thon and I have decided to review THE LIZZIE BENNET DIARIES!! I chose a lovely gif of the actor that plays Jane because it is so darn appropriate.

After reading over a few of my last posts, I have come to the conclusion that I tend to get all serious and ranty when discussing, so I have decided the mood needs to be lightened. My review will still be thoughtful and intelligent, but will include some fabulous gifs and memes for your viewing pleasure.

For those of you who have no idea that this adaption even existed I say "Have you been living under a rock?" That would of course be in a slightly pitiful tone rather than a sarcastic, judgmental one. I actually discovered the existence of the vlog through the Vlogbrothers on Youtube, which you should also check out. Yea, that's right I'm a nerdfighter. Anyway I started watching the Lizzie Bennet Diaries from the very beginning before it got wildly popular, which does make me sound a bit like:

 Hipster Darcy agrees, I did sound like an annoying hipster just then. Now the series is completely finished and has tons of adoring fans, which is completely deserved.

I will post a link to the IMDb page so you can see and appreciate all of the actors of the series because they did a wonderful job:

Now for the premise of these videos. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a video blog style diary of Lizzie Bennet where the rest of the cast of characters from Pride and Prejudice gradually make appearances. This is actually a modernization of the novel so the characters and some of the events that happen in the book are altered just a tad, but in a tasteful and incredibly entertaining way. The great thing about this adaption is that the characters are explored and experimented with in a way that doesn't happen in Austen's version and it is rather impressive.

Lizzie is a 24 year old grad student who is getting her masters degree in mass media and communications I believe and decides to make a vlog about her life and inevitably her sisters' lives as well.

Charlotte is still her best friend who is in the same field of study as Lizzie and helps out making and editing the videos. She also pops in to discuss recent events with Lizzie and provide intelligent observations.

Jane is working in the fashion industry and Lydia's character starts out as the energetic, party girl who is currently going to college as well.

The rest of the cast of characters will be dealt with in my review, but before you read on I would encourage those who haven't heard or watched the series to stop right now. I will basically be spoiling the entire plotline and I don't want to ruin people's first time with the vlog. It is an amazing experience that you should enter without any outside knowledge or expectations. You shouldn't be poisoned by other people's opinions. I will link the first video below:

It's now time for my review!! Get comfortable, maybe get something to drink and prepare for a lengthy review.

As a whole, I'm completely in love with this series of videos, as in after class I would run to my computer to see if the new video was up. I also fangirl about it constantly. When I made up my mind to review this I told myself I would only watch a few videos to reacquaint myself with the series and remind me of what I liked and disliked. Instead I watched ALL of them and found myself loving it even more than the first time.

 The writers of this series really do deserve millions of awards. Austen's source material is completely respected and flawlessly integrated into this modernization. Now I think I should stop praising for two seconds in order to point out the very few things I found I didn't appreciate as much in the series.

  • In this version the Bingley, or "Bing Lee" as he is named here, and Jane relationship sticks to Austen's schematic. The two meet and hit it off. Everyone is convinced that they have a great relationship and just when everyone is sure they will get married, Bing leaves Netherfield without an explanation. Jane is devastated and then later it is revealed that Darcy stepped in because he was convinced Jane's feelings were not genuine. The problem I have with this version is I find it hard for Bing or Darcy to believe Jane isn't vested in the relationship. When the Bennet's house is renovated (Mrs. Bennet's scheme to get Jane and Bing together), she spends a solid MONTH at Bing's place. The two are incredibly romantic and spend a ton of time together. 
You should be ashamed Bing it was so obvious she loved you...DUUUHHH!!

  • At times I found that Lizzie's character was a little melodramatic and over the top. That is not to say I don't like her character, I do!! I love her slow and obvious transition from prejudiced, judgmental, and selfish to thoughtful, forgiving, and accepting. Ashley Clemens acting was wonderful and basically sent me through a rollercoaster of emotions...wait this is supposed to be a con bulletpoint....Anyway there were a few episodes where Lizzie's judgmental nature could have been toned down just a tad.
Indeed you are Lizzie Bennet
These last two "cons" aren't really cons, but my indecisiveness. I couldn't decide whether I liked these changes or disliked them so I made them separate.
  • The Bennet sisters have been cut down to just Lizzie, Jane, and Lydia. Mary becomes their cousin and Kitty, well Kitty is a cat. On one hand I balk at the change in Austen's original character setup. On the other hand I can understand the cut. Having only three integral Bennet sisters leaves room for so much character development. Not to mention the fact that Mary was basically there in the book to be hated on and Kitty is  just a one dimensional shadow of Lydia. I also love that Mary's character does get some interesting time on camera. She expresses how incredibly sad she is that Lydia only bothers to see her when Jane and Lizzie are too busy. Mary feels left out and for once the rest of the characters take notice. Mary also gets herself a guy who appreciates her complete character. So awesome Mary character FTW!!
Intelligent Mary being intelligent:)
  •  Mr. and Mrs. Bennet don't get any actual screen time, which makes complete sense because it is Lizzie's personal and revealing vlog. My problem is that I miss the Lizzie and Mr. Bennet relationship and Mr. Bennet himself. I just love his interactions with Mrs. Bennet and audiences only hear about that secondhand from Lizzie.  
Time for the pros, which are rather numerous and a little bit random so bear with me.

  • The Role Playing: Since this is a vlog it would not make sense for the viewers to follow around the characters as events are unfolding. Lizzie tells everything secondhand and when she wants to discuss a certain conversation in the past, she breaks out the hilarious costumes in order to do so. My favorite costume theaters are those that involve impersonating Mrs. Bennet or Darcy.

Jane as Darcy kills me every time:)

  • The Format: This vlog style is so innovative, not to mention the integration of social media. In this series there are 100 videos just on Lizzie's channel that deal with the primary storyline, but the great thing is that there are other vlogs that exist outside Lizzie's channel that reveal more of the storyline. When Lizzie and Jane stay with Bing, Lydia starts up her own vlog where viewers can follow her stay at Mary's house as well as when she takes up with that dastardly Wickham. There is also a separate vlog when Charlotte leaves Lizzie to take up a job with Mr. Collins company Collins & Collins. As if those weren't enough, there is also a vlog run by Gigi Darcy (the modern day character of Georgiana Darcy) when the Lydia and Wickham conflict escalates. The characters also have their own Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. All of this makes the characters of the series seem completely real and accessible.   

  • Charlotte: I love how Charlotte makes the change from secondary character to a primary one. In the other adaptions Charlotte is mentioned as being the best friend of Lizzie, but that fact is hard for viewers to believe because they hardly ever have enough interaction. Here they have so much interaction that their friendship is completely believable. She is protective of all the Bennet sisters and sticks up for Lizzie when Caroline tries to use her. I also love that she isn't pigeonholed into marrying Mr. Collins. Instead she takes up his generous offer to work for his company when Lizzie turns it down. Charlotte gets to be an intelligent, independent career woman, not someone to be pitied.

  Charlotte in costume theatre as Mr. Bennet
  • Mr. Collins: Shocked right? Mr. Collins was actually an enjoyable character here and I loved it. Ricky, or Mr. Collins  as he insists everyone call him, has a company that makes corporate instructional videos and a bunch of other random media crap. In this version Mr. Collins is already engaged so there is no threat of forced marriage. His venture capitalist Catherine De Bourgh insisted that he find a partner for his company and that becomes the backstory for Lizzie's ultimate rejection of his proposal. Mr. Collins is not a creepy villain or a bumbling idiot in this version. He is just awkward, longwinded, and a little ignorant of social conventions. 

I actually felt sorry for Mr. Collins when Lizzie rejects his proposal. WHAT!!! He is genuinely trying to offer her a lucrative position, but Lizzie finds him so annoying she basically explodes in anger. I love that I can identify with Collins, whereas in the other versions I find him deplorable. 
  • Jane!!: The Jane is this version is the original Jane, only about ten times better. She is incredibly kind and always tries to think the best of everyone including Darcy...despite the fact that the only positive thing she can say about him is:
 She is always there to provide kind words of wisdom and comfort her sisters. Her reaction to Bing's random rejection is also wonderful acting. She is devastated like the original Jane, but she gets herself together and focuses on improving her career in fashion. She is awesome enough to realize that "Yes Darcy interfered, but Bing didn't have to listen to him" She moves on with her life and ends up with an impressive job in New York City. Then when Bing comes back in the end, begging that she take him back, she tells him that under no circumstances will she give up this great job opportunity to stay with him. GO JANE!! Instead they both agree to live separately in NYC and see where their relationship goes. I love the ending to her storyline so much:)
  • Fitz: Colonel Fitzwilliam in this version is just shortened to Fitz and he is the hilarious best friend of Darcy. His character is actually expanded in this version. In other adaptions Fitzwilliam is only included to be the bearer of the news that Darcy advised Bing to leave Jane. He does this in the modern version, but he also provides plenty of comedic moments and assists Darcy in finding Wickham.
A little costume theatre with Fitz as Darcy and Lizzie as Catherine De Bourgh
  • Lizzie and Darcy's relationship: When compared to the original source material Lizzie and Darcy's relationship is basically the same as the book, which is something I'm glad the writers didn't change. They both dislike each other at the very beginning and then Darcy botches his declaration of love.
Lizzie even visits Pemberley, where her opinion of Darcy slowly changes. In this version Darcy runs a company called Pemberley Digital and Lizzie shadows or interns at the company for her last semester of grad school. Their ending is modernized and perfect as well. I love that their story doesn't end in Lizzie getting married to Darcy. Instead she is planning on starting her own company, while maintaining her relationship.

  • Gigi Darcy: Georgiana's modern double is not like a wilting lily and I LOVE IT!! In the book Georgiana is just this sensitive victim of Wickham. Here she is willful, intelligent, and caring. She is the one who forces Darcy and Lizzie to start talking to each other at Pemberley Digital.

Gigi is also extremely concerned when she hears about what Wickham did to Lydia and instead of sitting around she is actually the one to discover where Wickham is. Gigi is so awesome that she also stars in her own vlog based on Austen's unfinished work Sanditon, which can also be found on youtube.

  •  Lydia and her relationship with Wickham: This is the BIGGEST pro of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Lydia's character in this series is so dynamic and goes through so much development. In the book she is portrayed as this annoying and irresponsible character that nobody bats an eyelash at when she is doomed to a miserable marriage to Wickham. Her family completely rejects her and places the fault of the scandal all on her rather than Wickham. Here Lydia is presented as essentially the same character to us, with a modern day twist. She is irresponsible, parties a lot, and is obsessed with boys.
It is easy for audiences to write her off just like the book, but the writers didn't let that happen. We learn that essentially Lydia just wants to have a great relationship with her sisters and she desperately wants their approval. Instead they write her off and on a number of occasions Lizzie slut shames Lydia, which did make my positive opinion of Lizzie slip a little.

 Lydia reaches her breaking point when Lizzie gives her a self help book for party girls. Lydia accuses Lizzie of being embarrassed to have her as a sister and mentions how Lizzie let Darcy's negative opinion of her family influence her. When Lizzie doesn't make amends, it is sort of understandable why Lydia would run into the arms of George Wickham. He pretends to care for her and pays attention to her. He appears to accept her for who she really is, not who she should become. Under Wickham's influence Lydia becomes a sad shadow of herself. He is controlling and manipulative and this whole situation provides a great dialogue on negative/abusive relationships.

In the modern version Wickham takes advantage of Lydia by planning to release a sex tape of them without her knowledge. Lizzie immediately realizes how terrible she has been and comes to her sister's aid. Lydia breaks down and says “I let him film us having sex, Lizzie. I let him do that. … He never made me do anything, so just tell me that I didn’t get what I had coming Lizzie, just try to tell me that!”  In one of the best moments in the series Lizzie rejects all the victim blaming that our culture seems to be fascinated with and places the fault on the person that deserves it WICKHAM!! When Lizzie comforts Lydia, I was crying like a baby over my keyboard, that is how powerful that scene is.

 Lizzie realizes how wonderful her sister is and helps her through this terrible time in her life. Without this beautifully staged Lydia plotline I wouldn't have appreciated the series as much

  • The last pro of this series that I think will nicely wrap up my review is the fact that the main focus of this series is about the relationships between the Bennet sisters and their personal growth. It isn't a typical, vomit inducing romance where the main focus is capturing a man. Their romantic relationships are a secondary plotline and pale in comparison to the complex dialogues between the female characters.
I think that everyone in the movie making industry could learn a lesson from the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. This series shows that a narrative with complex female characters is entirely accessible and can even be created by men. I am so tired of the same stereotypical female characters in Hollywood who are all one-dimensional, codependent sex symbols. Women in real life are dynamic and our media should reflect that. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries will always have my praise and I will probably end up watching it is THAT fantastic.

With that last statement my next review in the Pride and Prejudice Watch-a-thon is complete. My feelings on the subject can be best summed up with this final gif of Lizzie.

Previous Post: Lost in Austen                                           Next Post: Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Used Book Haul #2 and The Worst Time of the Year

I told you there would be another book haul and here we are:) I just love books. You really can't have enough of them. If you're sitting there wondering "Where is the Pride and Prejudice review? You promised." I have some news! My next installment will be up tomorrow! I've already started writing it and I'm excited for you to see it. It would have been up today, but I want it to be intelligent, entertaining, and perfect. All of which takes time, especially when I have so much to say. So until then you will have to deal with my book buying escapades, so without further ado here is my latest book haul.

Not a bad haul if I do say so myself. Let me introduce you to my future book friends...or foes whatever the case may be.

In The Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson: The minute that I finished The Devil in the White City I just knew I had to read this book. I made a note of it was determined to buy it full price the next time I had a little extra money and then I went used book shopping. The minute I saw this it was like the clouds parted and angels singed and I experienced a miracle. I snatched it off the shelves and did my happy dance. As the title suggests this is all about Hitler and WWII. I've already started it, but sadly I had to set it aside. I will explain later in my post.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger: I'll just get it out there and say I have never read this book. It guilts me everyday to know that I have never read it. It was never taught to me in high school nor have I studied it in college so far. Now that I have a copy I will in fact read it and stop feeling like a bad English major.

 The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer: I have actually read and studied a large majority of the tales in this book and I will continue to next semester. Woo. This particular edition has some pretty amazing illustrations inside which convinced me to buy my own copy.

Middlemarch by George Eliot: Eliot is another author that I've been kicking myself for having not read. I saw this copy and had to buy it. Once I get a free moment this book will be read and the guilt will be gone.

The Twelfth Enchantment by David Liss: I picked this book up solely based on its blurb. I love a good mystery novel with a female protagonist and I hope it will be a great afternoon read.

The Golden Ball and Other Stories by Agatha Christie: I read this book in 6th grade when I first discovered Christie and read every book by her that the classroom library had. I haven't put this book away in my book boxes because I don't really remember what happened in the stories. It has been so long and I've read so many books since then that I can't in all honesty say I've read it or take it out of my to be read pile.

There is a Tide... by Agatha Christie: When I found this particular Christie, which I haven't got around to reading, I snatched it up and added it to my reading pile. Maybe it will make an appearance on a Murder Mystery Monday in the future, who knows:)

Mr. Darcy's Daughters and The Exploits & Adventures of Miss Alethea Darcy by Elizabeth Aston: I was obviously drawn to these books because it carries on the story of Lizzie and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. The story revolves around their daughters and their lives. I'm excited to see how the author carries on Austen's story.

With those last two titles the book haul portion of this post has ended and the whole "Worst Time of the Year" part shall commence. You are probably wondering why this time is so bad. It's the summer. No school!! I would like all the high schoolers and unlucky college students to join me in groaning over SUMMER READING ASSIGNMENTS. There is just something about assigned reading that makes me all sad inside. If you keep track of my updates you will see that I am in fact starting to read the Bedier version of The Romance of Tristan and Iseult.

Normally I don't start my summer reading until the beginning of August. There is a science behind it. The start of August is early enough that I'm not reading at the last minute and there is plenty of time to take notes, but it is not too early that I forget all of the details.

I convinced myself to read the first book in my summer reading because in a couple of days I will be heading back to college to help with freshman orientation! I'm of course being a little paranoid because there is a slight chance I might run into the professor that assigned the books I have to read and I know said professor will ask my opinion about yeah I shall be taking a break from fun reading:( On the plus side the print is large and the pages are few.

I do have to say that because of my leaving for orientation, I will be away from my computer and unfortunately this blog. My Murder Mystery Monday post this coming Monday will be my last post for about a week. When I do return home to enjoy the rest of my summer vacation I will be planning on watching the last Pride and Prejudice adaption and doing my review. So if you have summer reading, get on that. No procrastinating :p Best Wishes!!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Murder Mystery Monday!!!

So I decided to take a break from my regularly scheduled program of Pride and Prejudice to introduce a new blog segment that I made up only a couple of hours ago. Oh the wonders of the mind!

I do admit that I needed a little bit of a break from P&P because shockingly I didn't realize how much work was involved in the reviews. Not only do I have to rewatch everything, but also make sure to write intelligent notes...which can be a problem. Sometimes I get caught up in the movie and basically forget to write notes, which was the case with Lost in Austen near the end because Amanda and Darcy and ALL THE FEELS!! Or I wrote so many notes that I have to sort through them all and pick out the insightful ones. My 2005 P&P notes were about 4 pages and a bit of a mess. Most of them involved me taking out my frustration on the paper. Take for example this delightful note: "This Lizzie is such an annoying and terrible t*#%. GAAAAHHH!!!!!" I censored that last word because it isn't exactly polite. Back to this new segment.

Now based on my past blog posts, it can be easy to assume that I only read popular classics and books the public seems fascinated with at the moment, but this is definitely not the case. While I enjoy YA and adult fiction, I am also quite a lover of the mystery genre. One of the authors most near and dear to my heart is a mystery writer and that is of course the ingenious Agatha Christie. After all the used book shopping that I do I have basically stockpiled cheap paperback copies of her books and now I am in the midst of reading a few of them during the summer vacation. I figured my observations and even my reviews would make for a great blog series.

Now this segment probably wont happen every Monday and could include other mystery writers. It's a genre I like and I don't limit myself to just one author. I'll also be introducing you to some of Christie's less popular novels because I've already read the popular ones like Murder on the Orient Express and And Then There Were None. I have so many books in my to be read pile that I really don't have time to reread, but if someone desperately wants a specific book to be addressed I will definitely take that into consideration.

The book that I will start out with on this inaugural blog post is The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie. This is actually the third book that Christie published and the second book to involve her famous detective Hercule Poirot and his sidekick Captain Arthur Hastings.

Here is a quick summary of the action in the book where I will endeavor not the spoil the book for those who haven't read it:

On his way to meet Poirot, Hastings encounters a woman getting off the train and they immediately hit it off. Hastings in his usual way falls in love with her and the woman doesn't tell him her name, but jokingly refers to herself as Cinderella. When he gets to Poirot's, Poirot informs Hastings that he has received a letter from Paul Renauld who urges Poirot to come to his Villa immediately because he suspects he will be murdered. Upon his arrival Poirot discovers that Renauld has been murdered. He was stabbed in the back with a knife and then put in an open, shallow grave on a golf course a.k.a. the links. Renauld's wife had been found tied up in her bedroom and insists that two Chilean strangers with beards were the culprits. Amidst the investigation and Poirot proving his detective prowess over the pompous French detective Giraud, another dead body is found. The suspects range from Renauld's wife, to his son, to the mother and daughter next door with a sordid past, and even the mysterious woman that Hastings is so taken with.

Rather than give a review of this book, I will instead discuss some aspects of the book that are interesting or typify the genre. I do of course have a complete review of this book over at Goodreads which you can find here:

  •  The very first lesson that I learned when reading Christie novels is basically every smashed clock has been tampered with or is a red herring. By smashing a clock it basically provides a convenient way to peg down the time an assault or crime has been committed. Every time it crops up the killer usually alters the clock to a time when they have an alibi. In this book Poirot finds a broken clock in Madame Renauld's room. The intention was to make the clock two hours fast and then break it during the time that she said the Chileans broke in, tied her up, and took her husband. That plan fails and the clock continues to work, which tips off Poirot that the invasion was not quite what it seems.

  •   One of the easiest ways to trick the reader and keep them from finding out the solution too quickly is to use an unreliable narrator. Agatha Christie famously wrote a book where the narrator turns out to be the killer the entire time (I won't say which book because that would ruin the surprise). In this book Captain Hastings is the narrator of the story. Hastings is known for being pretty daft when it comes to murders, but Poirot keeps him around to bounce his theories off of and get his observations. Hastings is quick to jump to conclusions about people and the only true way to figure out the killer is to pick up on everything Poirot says. In this book he mentions that a woman has anxious eyes and that little phrase brushed off by Hastings is pretty important. Sometimes the narrator can be the most significant part of a mystery novel.

  • The most obvious suspect is never the killer. I recently read The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie and the entire time I was convinced that I had finally pegged down the killer and just when I was ready to claim a victory, Agatha Christie pulled one of her switches and the suspect that I wasn't even considering was the murderer. I've basically resigned myself to never predicting the killer before the end. I remember reading And Then There Were None in 6th grade, which was my first Christie novel. I kept a list of my suspects in the front on a sticky note and every time I crossed a name out, I inevitable ended up rewriting the name I crossed out.   

  • What I love about Hercule Poirot novels is his process of finding out the solution to murders. Nowadays when the public thinks about detectives they are usually in the vein of those cop shows like NCIS or any of the others with initialisms as titles. The typical detective represented in pop culture is like Giraud. They are on their hands and knees looking for the smallest bit of evidence to corroborate their theories. Poirot is wonderful because he advocates using your "little grey cells" or your intelligence to piece together the facts to find the correct solution. I had a laughing fit when Poirot completely disproves Giraud's theory about who the killer really is in this book and makes him look like a fool. I just love when intelligence wins out.  
This book has an entertaining TV adaption which stars David Suchet, who IS Poirot in my opinion. His performances are so spot on that I can't imagine anyone else playing the role. The book has been altered a little when it was adapted, but it in no way interferes with the central plotline. I urge you to take a break from those modern crime shows if you watch them and look up some of the Poirot adaptions. Most of them are even on Youtube for free.

My next P&P review should be up by the end of this week at the latest, so look forward to that :)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Pride and Prejudice Watch-a-thon: Lost in Austen

Some of you probably saw the title of this blogpost and completely objected. That is understandable. For diehard Austen fans who don't want her story to be tinkered with, this is basically your worst nightmare. While Lost in Austen is not technically a complete adaption, it still deserves some attention. I'd like to think of this movie/tv series as a well written and staged fan-fiction of P&P that is generally respectful of the story and gives credit where credit is due i.e. Austen. What I find to be wonderful about this "adaption" is that as far as costumes, language, and the characters are concerned it is a better representation of Austen's world than actual adaptions *cough cough* Stupid 2005 adaption *cough cough*

Anyway, this post technically marks the halfway point of my Pride and Prejudice Watch-a-thon. After this I have two more adaptions to review before I get back to my random assortment of thoughts. So without further ado:

 Lost in Austen (2008)
Jemima Rooper as Amanda Price and Elliot Cowan as Mr. Darcy
Here is the link to the IMDb page so you can see the rest of the cast:

I'll give a quick summary of the story because it deviates from the P&P we all know and love:

Amanda Price like all of us loves Pride and Prejudice and of course Mr. Darcy. She has a pretty crappy boyfriend and a boring job at a bank that is named Sandition (that is if you were observant enough the catch the allusion on Amanda's nametag). After a night of P&P reading is interrupted by her drunk boyfriend, Amanda wakes up to discover that shockingly Elizabeth Bennet is in her bathroom and claims that a mysterious door in her house has opened to Amanda Price's bathroom. Intrigued Amanda steps into Lizzie's world and the door slams shut behind her leaving her in Austen's novel and Lizzie stuck in Amanda's world. Amanda desperately tries to get back home, while endeavoring to keep P&P running smoothly without its central protagonist. When her meddling fails, the story makes dramatic deviations from Austen's intended plotline and leaves Amanda as the stand-in for Lizzie and as Mr. Darcy's love interest.

Now a lot of my notes on this movie did not seem to fit into neat categories either, so bear with me and try not to get to discouraged by all the bulletpoints. So shall we start with cons first? Yes, I think so.


Well technically this is a con-ish and that is the deviation from the original plotline: While most of the changes that occur due to Amanda's presence are hilarious and entirely forgivable, there are a few instances that really miss the mark.

  • Mr. Collins: As much as I dislike Collins in the book, this new incarnation of Collins is so entirely different and incredibly creepy, like uncomfortably creepy. Collins is meant to be stupidly comical not of the serial killer variety. There is also the grossness of the whole squeezing yourself through your trousers and then smelling it deal. I would prefer to have the old Collins back thank you very much.
  •  Caroline: Here is where Caroline becomes her weird villain incarnation. She isn't just upperclass haughty, but rather outright insulting and scheming. She purposely goes out of her way to make Amanda's life difficult, even before it is suggested that Darcy could have a hint of feelings for Amanda. Her insults are a little too apparent for audiences to believe that the "lowbrow country folks" can't get them. The other element of her character that I don't like is that they decide to incite a few laughs and awkward moments by making Caroline a lesbian. It doesn't further the plot and even to the most accommodating of Austen fans, this is just badly done.
  • Georgiana: This particular incarnation of Austen's character is lackluster and the change is really for the worse. Instead of Wickham seducing her, it is Georgiana that relentlessly pursues George. In order to save her public image, Wickham lets everybody belief he was at fault. This casts her in a vein similar to that of Lydia. Additionally, the version makes her come off as childish. Darcy comes home to find her organizing her beads by color. I find it hard to believe the daughter of a privileged family would spend her time recategorizing her beads.
 The next bullets are just my nitpicking at the movie's faults
  • At certain points in the movie, Darcy is really very rude and callous. At times he is actually yelling insults at Amanda. Darcy is meant to be prideful, but never to this extent. There is one scene where he abandons Amanda before their dance is over. Yet again I can't forget about propriety and the gossip that might provoke.
  • The scene where Amanda kisses Bingley was quite unnecessary. Essentially it doesn't add to the conflict of the story, nor is it believable. For someone who is such a diehard fan of P&P and who cares about Jane's future, it doesn't seem logical for her to randomly kiss Bingley.
  • Lydia and her involvement with Bingley: In this version, after Jane marries Collins, Bingley goes into basically a drunken stupor. In this state he is actually the one to run away with Lydia. I could accept this plot alteration, but the problem is there are no repercussions. While Lady Catherine insists she can annul Jane's unconsummated marriage and Bingley insists they can go to America, there is no discussion about Lydia. Am I to assume that she will be alone forever because she had a tryst with man she was no married to. That was really a big plot hole.

Now lets talk about the many pros of this version.
  •  Let's be honest. This movie is every P&P fan's dream. How many women have imagined that they could take the place of Lizzie and marry Darcy. It was a great move on the part of the filmmakers to turn this into a mini-series
  • Amanda Price: She really is an amazing protagonist  and she really had to be in order to fill the big shoes that Lizzie leaves behind. Had Amanda been this wilting flower that cried the minute things didn't go her way, I would have entirely hated this concept. Instead she is sassy, independent and really has the best of intentions. She doesn't immediately set out to make Darcy love her and when he finally admits it, she still tells Lizzie that she is destined to be with him. Not to mention all the funny bits are all because of her like when she call Caroline frosty knickers and knees Collins in the balls.
  • Mr. Bennet: Hugh Bonneville is my perfect Mr. Bennet. In my mind when I read P&P, Mr. Bennet was exactly like his version of the character. He isn't bumbling like the 1940 version and he isn't incredible awkward and lackluster like the 2005 version. His wonderful character leads right into my next pro...
  • The relationship between Lizzie and her father: What's incredible sad about the other adaptions when compared to this one is in about 30 mins or less Lost in Austen manages to establish the amazing relationship between Lizzie and Mr. Bennet better than the actual adaptions. The two share incredibly tender moments when Lizzie returns to care for him and when she tells him that she would probably return to Amanda's time period. The actors are not awkward around each other at all.
  •   Wickham: In this version Wickham is a likeable scoundrel that is great for a few laughs. I love that he has no shame in admitting that he is after Caroline's wealth, but it nice enough to help Amanda when everybody in society has rejected her. He is also instrumental in saving the life of Mr. Bennet when he gets injured in a duel with Bingley and of course saving the reputation of Georgiana.
  • Charlotte: This pro is not actually related to the actress that plays Charlotte, her part was a little forgettable. It is really in reference to how audiences can really see how important Charlotte's character is to the story. Without Charlotte there to marry Collins, he would have had the opportunity to snatch up Jane when Bingley quits Netherfield and that is exactly what happens in this version. One supposedly "little" secondary character gone and the whole story goes haywire.
  • Accurate period representation: The speech patterns are accurate, the settings (including the ball scenes) are correct, and the costumes are correct. All the women wear bonnets and even Amanda most of the time is properly attired.
  • I love that in this version the audience finally gets to see Mr. Darcy warn Bingley away from Jane. In the other adaptions it is just mentioned by Darcy later on. Here we get to see just how convincing Darcy is when he brings up the fact that the Bennet family is undesirable.
  • Annnnnddddd the last pro to Lost in Austen is the nod to the Colin Firth adaption of P&P. Here Amanda requests that Darcy take a dip in the pond in his garden, which is of course a reproduction of the famous Colin Firth lake scene and Elliot Cowan is pretty nice to look at so no complaints on that front.

If you are still on the fence about Lost in Austen and haven't seen it, just take a chance. It was 3 of the most hilarious Austen filled hours of my life.  Have an awesome day and best wishes!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Pride and Prejudice Watch-a-thon: Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Here we are at the second review in my Pride and Prejudice Watch-a-thon and today's film is none other than:

Yes, Big Studio Hollywood's answer to fans of this classic novel and it is utter trash. There I said it and I will shout it from the tops of buildings and hills and even mountains!! This proves that even with a nice studio backing and a big budget, films can still be crap.

One of the problems I have or rather the whole U.S. in fact has is that this is usually the first version people will encounter when they start to investigate P&P and really that is a shame. This was actually the first film adaption I saw and hated it 10 minutes in. Luckily I had read the book first and loved it, so I persevered and found better adaptions. Sadly, there are going to be people that want to watch the movie first before reading the book and this adaption could put them off Austen forever. Don't believe me? Let me tell you a true story. I was talking with one of my friends in high school and somehow we got on the topic of P&P. Naturally I was gushing as the newly minted Austen fan. The response I got was "I really didn't like the movie, so I don't think I'll be reading the book" I was shocked, astounded even and then I asked an important question. "Did you watch the Keira Knightley version or the Colin Firth one?" The response was of course the Knightley one. Now I'm not going to sit here and whine about this movie without having any legit reasons, so let's get on with this review.

Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Keira Knightly as Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy.
Here is a link to the IMDb listing of this adaption:
This version also clocks in right around 2 hours, which I kept in mind when reviewing.

I'm going to start with the pros first because there are so few and it will leave plenty of time for me to lay out all of the problems with this version.

  • Accuracy: Despite the two hour time limit, this version does in fact stay pretty faithful to the book, but we all must remember that adage: It is not the quantity of accurate scenes that is important, but rather the quality. I'll elaborate later since this is supposed to be a pro and not a con.

Well I basically hated all of the actors' portrayals of the characters in this story, but there are a few moments that caught my eye that I should note here in the pros.

  • Mr. Bennet comforting Mary: As I previously stated Mary gets a lot of undeserved flack in the story and when a film addresses this I can't help but be appreciative. Generally whenever I encounter the scene where Mr. Bennet rudely and callously stops Mary from singing, I find myself whispering "prick" under my breath. In this version, the camera pans to a crying Mary after her father has stopped her singing and Mr. Bennet is there to comfort her.
  • Charlotte telling Lizzie about her marriage to Mr. Collins: Pardon my swearing but this scene is where Charlotte basically bitch slaps Lizzie and I LOVE IT! Keira's Lizzie is so annoying and inconsiderate that she deserved to be told off by Charlotte. I was part cheering and part saddened by Charlotte's fate in this scene. If there is one definitive pro to this version it has to be Charlotte. Have a watch and enjoy Charlotte's verbal smackdown:
Oh the cons. SO MANY CONS. Not all of these will be put into categories because my complaints are rather copious and varied. So let's get to it.

  • Keira Knightley as Lizzie: She really trashed this role. The worst Lizzie, the Lizzie of my nightmares. Unlike Greer Garson's Lizzie who is mindful of propriety and delivers her insults subtly, Keira's Lizzie just spews insults right and left like some modern day cranky girl. Then at other points she is far too giggly and sucks at body language. At times when Lizzie is supposed to be resisting Darcy because of her bad opinion of him, it appears as though Keira's Lizzie is flirting with him.(See the Netherfield scene when Jane is sick and Lizzie, Darcy, Caroline, and Bingley are all interacting). The scene where she rejects Darcy's first proposal is incredibly harsh and offensive as well. She is the reason that 10 minutes in I wanted to give up and watch something else.
  • Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy: I'd like to think of Matthew as the bland oatmeal of the Darcy's. His acting is poor, he isn't remarkably attractive, he has no chemistry with Keira, and he doesn't do Darcy's prideful nature well. Matthew's acting is a bit like a robot, all monotone with no facial expression. Not to mention the fact that his first proposal scene was awful AWFUL! He speeds through the proposal in about 10 seconds flat. If you are distracted for a split second when watching this you'll completely miss this important scene. See for yourself:
  • Camera shots : After watching this I am completely convinced that the camera people and the Director must have ADD. There is a pertinent scene going on and then for some reason the camera pans in on some random item. The first instance of this is when Mr. Bennet is having an important conversation and then the camera zooms in on the random dead butterfly on a pin that he is twirling in his fingers. Then when Mr. Collins is proposing to Lizzie, instead of staying focused on their faces, it zooms in on the random flower Mr. Collins gives her. The camera shots are also rather ridiculous. The sweeping views of the landscape are hackneyed and over done, so please move on. The one I groaned at the most is when Darcy helps Lizzie into the carriage and WHOA their hands touch ugh. The camera pans in on their clasped hands and then zooms in on Darcy's hand when he walks away.
  • Rainy proposal scene: This gets its own bullet rather than being clumped into the camera shots because it REALLY irritates me. Apparently there was a memo circulated amongst terrible movie makers who all decided that romantic scenes must always be accompanied by rain. APPARENTLY scenes are better when the characters are soaking wet. This boggles my mind. No sane person has an important conversation in the rain, particularly during Austen's time period. All I can say is the director must have seen The Notebook and thought to himself "Gosh that rain kissing scene was soooooo romantic, why not give Darcy a rain scene" GAAHHH I hated The Notebook movie, Nicholas Sparks is a piss poor writer, and I don't want it to have any similarities with my Austen adaptions. Period. When I rewatched this movie for the review I forgot this scene was in it and when I encountered said scene, I almost rage quitted the movie. 
  • Historical/Story Inaccuracies: Typically when a period film is made there should be consultants on set in order to determine if everything is accurate. Despite the fact that P&P is fiction, its adaptions have to correctly reflect the time period. That ranges from correct speech, to dress, to social classes, to the setting and its props, and how the characters are supposed to behave. This film screws up all of it. Take for example the very first ball scene (Where annoyingly the room goes still when Darcy, Bingley, and Caroline walk in). The scene portrayed here is one of a lower class dance hall where our main cast of characters would never be found in. Honestly if I were Caroline or Darcy and this ball was my first intro to Meryton I would think them all to be uncouth country folks as well. Next is this film portrays the Bennets as basically a lowerclass farm family. Nowhere in the book do I hear talk of Mr. Bennet hiring people to take care of livestock and Mrs. Bennet should not have the look of a portly, rough skinned, red tinted cook. Side note: when the film panned on the whole of Longbourn did it look like the windows had panes missing? 
See what I mean?

The Bennets are not destitute and as I recall Mrs. Bennet saying to Mr. Collins in the movie, they do in fact have servants. With this fact in mind, why does the whole Bennet family, in their pajamas mind you, answer the door when Lady Catherine calls to speak to Lizzie? That would have been rather scandalous to receive company in your pajamas during that time period. Similarly, Lizzie and Darcy's state of dress are not believable for the time period. Lizzie should be wearing bonnets and she never does. Why? She obsessively curtsies, so why does this important article of clothing go unused. Not to mention that scene where she shows up to Netherfield with her hair all loose and without a bonnet. Respectable women did neither in public. The same lack of historical accuracy and decency is disregarded when Lizzie and Darcy are interacting. They would never meet in pajamas and Darcy would not have burst in on Lizzie during the night without his cravat with his shirt partway unbuttoned to give her his letter. This is the stuff that scandals in that time period were made of.

From here on out my cons aren't in any particular categories, just terrible aspects of the movie I noticed:

  • Bingley's character is ridiculous. He is like a innocent, wide-eyed school girl with laughable hair. Seriously. It is more teased and coiffed than the girls from the jersey shore.
  • Caroline is just annoying. She is neither perfectly haughty, nor threatening in anyway. She pales in comparison to the 1940 Caroline.
  • Why do Lizzie and Darcy argue about Wickham in the MIDDLE of a dance. They literally stop dancing to have an argument. Why didn't people notice? How could this have not had any repercussions? The dumbest place for this argument to go down. Not to mention the fact that during the argument, the background instrumental music soars romantically. It was like the composer of the film soundtrack was on crack.  
  •  Other than the awesome Charlotte scene there is no social commentary whatsoever. Apparently the person who wrote the screenplay neglected to read the book analytically...or at the very least sparknoted it.
  • The scene before Bingley proposes and Darcy is coaching him on how he should propose to Jane!! It's ridiculous to think that Darcy could offer any advice to Bingley when he royally buggered up his own proposal to Lizzie. ILLOGICAL!
  •  The scene where Lizzie gushes over her love for Darcy with her father at the end. It was so annoyingly saccharine that I really wanted to puke. This is not meant to be a tawdry rom-com, it is AUSTEN.

And last but certainly not least is THE U.S. ENDING!  THE U.S. ENDING!  THE U.S. ENDING! THE U.S. ENDING! THE U.S. Ending!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! 

That pile of trash at the end...I can't...even...arhgijasbdviguabsfg!! *calming breaths*
Here I will give a comparison. In the wonderful movie Singin' in the Rain, do you remember the scene where the studio is making their first talking picture called the Dueling Cavalier? Gene Kelly's character stars in that movie and gives that ridiculous line "I love you. I love you. I love you" and then the whole audience bursts out laughing and declares the movie a failure. If not, watch this clip starting at 1:48 to get the full effect.

                                        "Did somebody get paid for writing that dialogue?"
Well sir I would ask the same question about the dialogue in the U.S. Ending of this version of P&P when Darcy alternately kisses Lizzie and says "Mrs. Darcy Mrs. Darcy Mrs. Darcy Mrs. Darcy." Sadly, when this movie copies the Dueling Cavalier, critics and terrible audiences alike are cheering GAH!! The perfectly crappy way to end a perfectly crappy adaption of Pride and Prejudice.

With that last rant I finally declare my review completed. Someone will have to pay me a large sum of money to get me to watch this movie again. I plan on pretending this movie never exists, unless someone is considering watching or buying it, then I will speak up to save them from 2 hours of pure torture. I think we all know by now this is my choice for the worst adaption. Stay tuned for my next review, which I promise will be lighthearted and not full of rage induced rants. Best Wishes!!

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Pride and Prejudice Watch-a-thon: Pride and Prejudice (1940)

You had to know something like this was coming right? Right! I've decided to make a series of posts documenting and reviewing the different adaptions of Pride and Prejudice. As a general rule, when I find a new classic that I fall in love with, I obsessively watch all the movie adaptions I can. I'm always curious to see how the books I've envisioned in my head turn out in movie format and the minute I finished P&P I started watching them.

Every post will be dedicated to one adaption, which I recently rewatched so the opinions are all fresh and detailed. I will be pointing out both the good and the bad of each adaption and it goes without saying that I will in fact spoil the movie. So if you haven't seen it yet and don't want to be influenced by my opinion then you should probably skip the post. I also wish to warn you that I might get passionate and rant quite a bit so there is that.

The adaptions that I'm reviewing I've seen at least twice and I'll admit I'm not perfect, so I might end up missing an adaption or two that has fallen below my radar. In any case, at the end of this delightful journey I will list the adaptions worst to best and point out which actor had the best portrayal of each character. ONTO THE REVIEW!!

Pride and Prejudice (1940)
Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy and Greer Garson as Elizabeth Bennet
Here is a link to the IMDB page for a full cast listing:

As a classic movie lover the minute I heard about this adaption and the fact that the amazingly talented Olivier stared in it I flipped out and watched it. At just a touch under two hours I was naturally expecting a ton of cuts and there were. Despite the cuts and edits to the story, I found that it was the actors' portrayals of the characters that really won me over. As a whole I found this adaption to be incredibly well done and plan on buying the DVD and watching it until it's ruined.

 Lizzie and Mr. Darcy
Let's start with the Cons first and get them out of the way.
  • Mr. Wickham: The Wickham storyline and the character himself are extremely weak in this version. The actor who portrays him is entirely forgetful, which is really a shame because he is an important character in P&P. In this particular version, Mr. Wickham is introduced early on in what I assume is a time saving measure to keep the movie under two hours. The real problem that I seem to have is the fact that this movie never develops the relationship that exists between Wickham and Lizzie in the book. In the book he sort of charms her and helps along her prejudice against Mr. Darcy, while presenting this façade of friendship. In this adaption, Wickham sees Lizzie, declares her beautiful, and then for no apparent reason at all confides to her his tragic story about how Darcy robbed him of his inheritance. His total screen time in this movie can't be more that 10 or 15 minutes. As a result of the lack of dynamic character his scandalous involvement with Lydia just doesn't have enough impact.
  • Charlotte: Yet again another pretty significant secondary character is not done enough justice in this adaption and this is at the fault of the screenwriters and the actress herself, rather than a time crunch. I feel like the person who wrote her character really didn't grasp Charlotte's situation well enough. Charlotte is important to Austen's society commentary. P&P is not meant to be read as a lighthearted period romance, but a commentary on society and women's condition in it. Charlotte is used to point out that women only gained advantageous marriages if they were beautiful, young, and from wealthy and titled families. She sadly chooses to tie herself to Mr. Collins, a ridiculous man with no real title because she knows that she is no longer young or beautiful enough to make an advantageous marriage that would keep her from spinsterhood. In this version, Charlotte happily snaps up Mr. Collins after Lizzie rejects him and goes along her merry way. Lizzie barely has anything to say on the subject nor is Charlotte's social condition ever addressed.
  •  Title in the movie script: This is one of my hugest pet peeves. I absolutely hate it when a book or a movie has a character that word for word references the title. It's tacky and should never ever be done. Let the audience determine how the title relates to the book or movie.
Now onto the biggest con of this movie
  • Cutting and addition of scenes: Some significant scenes are cut out and you do notice a difference without them. The first is that Lizzie does not visit Pemberly and she never meets Georgiana, in fact Georgiana is just a name referenced from time to time in this movie. I feel like the lack of the Pemberly scene makes Lizzie's change of heart about Mr. Darcy a little less believable. and more rushed. One minute Darcy gives his first proposal and then the next Lizzie is bemoaning how she shouldn't have turned him down. Darcy also doesn't write a letter explaining himself in this version and instead directly addresses Lizzie's complaints. Darcy also willingly offers his services when Lydia runs away with Wickham, which is just wrong.  As for an addition, the Bennets in this version are preparing to move away from Longbourn to escape the scandal. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this does not happen in the book.
  • The Ending- Ok. So this is really a con, but I can't completely dismiss it. In this version Lady Catherine confronts Lizzie about Mr. Darcy because he asks her to. Darcy wants to know if Lizzie's feelings have changed and apparently it seemed logical to involve an aunt who was originally determined to have you marry her daughter. Lady Catherine comes out and tells Darcy that Lizzie loves him. He runs in and takes her to the garden where he proposes to her, at the same time as Bingley is proposing to Jane. Instead of focusing on them, it randomly switched to Mr. and Mrs. Bennet who are peeping through the window at them and talking about how fortunate it is to have two daughters engaged to rich men. Then they focus on Mary and Kitty. This ending hit me at my weakest point and that is I have always held the belief that Mary gets royally shafted. Out of all the Bennet sisters she is the most intelligent and accomplished and gets rejected at every turn. In this adaption, the ending scene shows Kitty flirting with an officer and Mary playing the piano with a man accompanying her on what I assume is a flute. Bout time Mary stopped getting rejected and belittled. Then it flashes to Mr. and Mrs. again and they cheerfully proclaim that soon all their daughters will be married.
   Now get comfortable because despite these cons, there are many pros to this adaption that make it worthy of consideration and admiration. Most of these pros are the result of great acting on the part of the primary characters.
  • Olivier as Mr. Darcy: There was a reason Olivier won so many awards and was knighted and you can honestly see in this film how amazing he is. Olivier is actually my second favorite Darcy of all the adaptions. He perfectly manages to capture Darcy's snobbish and upper-class pride and then easily makes the transition to adoration when he realizes he loves Lizzie. Not only does he give his lines impeccably, but he also has great body language. For example, in the scene where Darcy and Lizzie are talking at the Netherfield Ball, his body language makes it inherently clear that he has noticed Mary's lackluster public singing, Mrs. Bennet's ridiculous gossiping, the bumbling Collins, and how drunk Lydia and Kitty are. Immediately his friendly demeanor changes and Olivier and the film itself get across how damning a bad family can be during that time period. It shows that ultimately Jane and Lizzie lack advantageous marriages, despite their beauty, because of the ridiculousness of their family.

  • Greer Garson as Lizzie: I may change my mind about this when I rewatch Jennifer Ehle's performance, but I think Garson is in fact my favorite Lizzie. Her timing is impeccable and she delivers her lines so well. She captures the spirit of Lizzie perfectly. Garson character is mindful of propriety, but when she is displeased about something her dialogue is laced with little barbs of wit. Lizzie is never meant to be crude or outright insulting, as some adaptions would have her to be. Have a watch and see what I mean:

"There is no one as dignified as a mummy" :D

  • Frieda Inescort as Caroline Bingley: Now how can we not talk about her after watching that amazing clip. What I love about her version of Caroline over the others is the fact that she oozes upper-class haughtiness. Her voice reflects it as well as the snide way that she insults everyone she comes into contact with who isn't Darcy or Bingley. Some versions endeavor to turn Caroline into the villain of the film for some reason and I find that incredibly inaccurate. Caroline is exactly as she is portrayed in this version, a slightly snobbish upper-class woman who thinks she would be the perfect match for Mr. Darcy and can't entertain the thought of her brother marrying into such a ridiculous family. She never sets out to make the lives of everyone around her miserable. 

  • Comedic moments: Despite the fact that this adaption adds and subtracts scenes to its detriment, it does manage to add a few scenes that are so hilarious that you can almost overlook the fact that they were never from the book. One of the first of these scenes that the audience is introduced to is when both Mrs. Bennet and Lady Lucas discover Mr. Bingley has let Netherfield Hall. The both of them engage in a madcap carriage race back home in order to have their husbands be the first to introduce themselves and their daughters to the rich and single Bingley. The second has to be the archery scene between Lizzie and Darcy. Acting all manly and self important, Darcy suggests that he and Lizzie play some archery. He manages to hit the target (but not the bullseye mind you) and then shows her how to properly hold the bow. Lizzie subsequently hits the bullseye three times and Darcy is embarrassed. I love that scene every time I watch it.
So there you have it. All the pros and cons in my opinion have been laid out. While not the best adaption, I still had a great time watching it and I genuinely think you will as well. Sadly, the worst adaption is yet to come, so be prepared for that post. Happy Watching!