Pride and Prejudice: Anybody for some humble-pie?

*Just to clarify: I have NOT watched the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. I do plan on watching it at some stage, but for the moment I have too many TV series taking up my precious screen time.

Since coming to university, I have realised that I am not particularly in love with Jane Austen’s literature. I’ve read most of her books and there is something about the slow tempo of her novels, combined with the mixture of frock-ridden drags, old crocs, and rich snobs that makes me want to gag slightly. Poor feisty girl meets “I sat on a pinecone and liked it” Darcy and in the end they all live happily ever after.

I know I shouldn’t complain. I am an unrealistic idealist in the sense that I like happy endings. There is something lacking, however, in Austen’s stories. The laborious description of her characters and their surroundings, combined with the not-so-subtle social disparities of characters like Darcy and Lady Catherine all culminate in a rather tiring reading experience. The love between Jane and Bingley is so mild it reminds me of very milky, tepid tea (urgh)!

The romance between pompous Darcy and Elizabeth is about the only thing that endeared me to the book. Elizabeth had just enough spark and sarcasm to make me endure the stifling pace of the storyline. Darcy, on the other hand, was arrogant, haughty, and broody to the point of being interesting. His disdain had a bitter edge to it, but it at least had some flavour. If there is one thing that irritates me in a book, and this is purely my own sense of preference, it is a lack of passion between people in love. It would be unfair of me, however, to label Pride and Prejudice as a dispassionate romance because it is not. The passion in the book is merely restrained to the point of suffocation by the social requirements of the times. The characters noticeably bear the burden of ‘propriety’ and it just about kills all the depths of emotion that are apparent in characters like Elizabeth and Darcy.

Those are some of my own thoughts and concerns with the book. Feel free to disagree with me. I suppose I should conclude my feelings toward this novel as somewhat confused. I love it in a restrained way. 😉

What then do I think of Joe Wright’s film adaption of Pride and Prejudice? I absolutely and unequivocally love this movie! Kiera Knightley was a perfect choice for the character of Elizabeth Bennet. She was brazen enough without being improper, and she stayed true to the character. Dame Judi Dench, as Lady Catherine De Bourg, was utterly electrifying. I was completely engaged and thought that she nailed the regality of her role down to a tee. Those two actresses really stood out to me, but all in all I thought the movie was well-cast.

It was a beautiful film. The English countryside, the soundtrack and the clothing all screamed period piece, which I loved! There were obviously changes that were made to the storyline, but they were effective in creating a visually coherent counterpart to the book. There was just something about watching the movie adaption of Austen’s novel that made it more charming to the eye. My only critique of the movie was that it failed to bring across some of the wit in the dialogue of the book, which was slightly disappointing. All in all, however, the movie was like a breath of fresh air, and this was because it didn’t stick to the dusty verbatim of the book- an enlivening experience to say the least.

See! Who said a movie could never beat its book? I certainly didn’t!

Interesting Quick Fact: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was published in 2009 and written by Seth Grahame-Smith. It is a mash up of Austen’s novel with elements of modern zombie fiction. I have not read this book but if I ever come across it I will definitely give it go. It looks kind of funny, haha, anybody else read it? Opinions?


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Sugar or Canderel?

When I think of Charlie and the Chocolate factory, I think of chocolate waterfalls and an endless amount of rooms filled with delightfully wonderful treats and sweets. I think of Quentin Blake’s quirky illustrations and of Mr Willy Wonka. And then there is Charlie, the endearingly deserving protagonist of this unlikely fiction. It is a magnificent read, which is probably why I cannot stand Tim Burton’s movie. It turns the book into one of his peculiar nightmares; a transformation seen many times by those who follow his movies.

Wonka and his factory are one of my favourite Dahl creations. Reading this book for me was like a bowl of fudge before it sets: rich and indulgently imaginative; a thick pool of diction where one can swirl their finger and be transported to lala land. I can easily say, then, that watching Burton’s movie was like watching a favourite pet get run over, with multiple replays in slow-mo. Ok, so maybe it wasn’t that bad but it certainly wasn’t anything like the book.

Between Freddie Highmore, who played Charlie Bucket, and David Kelly, who played Grandpa Jo, the movie was able to retain some of the unique qualities of its literary counterpart. Even their fabulous acting, however, could not save the distinction between book and movie. The movie, while appearing to be the visual equivalent of the book, was actually no more than a substitute: like Canderel and sugar, soy and beef, margarine and butter, rye and bread. Get the picture? Watching the movie made me yearn for the real thing: the book!

My major pet peeve with this movie was the way that Johnny Depp portrayed Willy Wonka. No offence to Depp, because I am a huge fan of his, but Willy Wonka was eccentric: he was NOT a camp psychotic on the verge of a mental breakdown. I mean honestly, make the distinction because quirky and psycho are two entirely different personality traits. And what the hell was going on with the mad dentist father?!

The whole process was just traumatic. The book was put through the shredder and then glued together again; the screenwriter took poetic licence to a whole new level of awful. It fell into the psychological drama genre instead of fantasy and basically everything felt wrong and twisted. Usually I would make an exception for Burton. I mean this is what he does best: he makes wonderfully weird movies. But this time he went too far! I am astounded (and confounded) that he has been able to turn a children’s book into a psychologist’s dream with all the wonka-wonky layers going on in the movie.

I’m not even going to get started on the Oompa Loompas. When they appeared just after the fat boy got sucked up the chocolate pipe, it became apparent that these mini-men where no longer the vibrant characters that I remembered; they had become Burton zombies. Just listening to them sing those, once hysterically funny, songs made me fear that this movie was actually interlaced with subliminal messaging, and that we, the viewers, were all under the influence of mind control. Freaky. Burton added too much of his own scariness which definitely detracted from the books naturally barmy undertones.

I sometimes wonder whether Tim Burton has become more of a brand, a gimmick, than an authentic director with nutty tendencies… just a thought to consider. Roald Dahl is one of my favourite childhood authors and since he is dead, I feel it is my duty to defend his work against monstrous movies such as this one.

Phew, I’m glad I got that off my chest.

In conclusion, pitting this movie against the book would be like the Grinch taking on Santa Clause: once again the book wins hands down.

Matilda: Danny did you proud

‘Agatha. This is Magnus. Give my bumblebee her house and her money. Then get out of town. If you don’t, I will get you. I will get you like you got me. That is a promise.’ (Matilda Quote)

‘DeVito. This is Rebecca. Give my fav Dahl book a good movie with a good cast. Stay true to the book. If you don’t, I will write terrible things about you. I will get you like you got (but obviously didn’t get) this book. That is a promise.’ (Imagine the creepy chant of little children).

In case you’re starting to wonder if I’ve gone psycho on all of you- don’t worry! As you can see, I just tweaked that famous line a little. If only I had telekinesis for effect! Luckily for DeVito, who directed Matilda in 1996, the movie was everything that it should have been.

I was especially impressed with Mara Wilson, who played Matilda in the movie. That kid was a real treat. She seems to have become a part of the dusty catalogue of child-stars who fade into insignificance. But like Simon said on American Idol: “It’s like a mouse taking on an elephant.” Babies shouldn’t be trying to make it in Hollywood; it’s a tough world out there. Anyway, she made a fabulous Matilda. The end.

The cast for this movie was perfect. There was an inversion with her parents that I found quite hysterical. In the book the mom is short and fat and the dad is tall and thin. In the movie, well, DeVito plays the dad so he’s the short and tubby one and the mom is tall and thin.

Let’s not forget darling Miss Trunchbull, played by Pam Ferris (a fierce name for a fierce gal). A principal to be feared, this character has it all. Her vindictive nature has real punch and if you don’t toe the line: off to the chokey. You can’t help but love Dahl, there is always some cruel comic twist and he tells the truth, no scales, nothing. Life’s hard; he doesn’t spare you because you’re too young. But he does provide you with decent escapism to help you through! Again, the casting for this character was fan-Dan-tastic!

I must mention Miss Honey, played by Embeth Davidz. I have subsequently seen this actress in some other films (Bridget Jones’ Diary) and that soft, gentle look she has is a real act. She made a great Miss Honey, however, and so we’ll forget the other characters she has played subsequently- for now.

I’m still amazed by this movie. It was exactly like the book and that’s what made it perfect. Careful thought, and consideration went into this project and Danny DeVito deserves a standing ovation (it’s not like he won a Grammy for it). Thanks to him, my favourite childhood book was made into a really good film; leaving me with no criticisms for it.

Down the Rabbit Hole (Warning: Spoiler Alert)

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland was very different to Disney’s animated version of the story. Having read both of Lewis Carroll’s books (Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass) I think that I can say that this movie is both like and unlike the books. It takes Alice’s story to a deeper, darker level- curiouser and curiouser- to the point.

Tim Burton likes the darker side to life typically, so I’m not surprised that Alice mistakenly calls it Wonderland when in the movie’s version it is actually called Underland. It has an interesting parallel between the light and the dark, the white queen and the red queen.

The movie is visually stunning and I have always loved Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter’s partnership in Burton’s movies. Mia Wasikowska as Alice was also a brilliant choice on Burton’s part. She is definitely an Alice- whether she is the real Alice… well, one can only speculate. Rumor has it that Burton actually wanted Anne Hathaway to play Alice and have Nigella Lawson play the White Queen because she was his inspiration for the character. True Story.

The film is truly based on the books but cannot be watched with the expectation that it will follow the books’ storyline in any way. Perhaps that is why I actually enjoyed the movie, because I was viewing it as a completely unique version of Carroll’s stories. It has a different take on Wonderland… Wonderland is all trippy and delicious whereas Underland is all dark and quirky. Both the movie and the books take you down the rabbit hole on an adventure that is scary and nonsensical at the same time.

The March Hare for me was absolutely hysterical! That rabbit looked as if he had survived being strapped to dynamite- brilliant, totally brilliant! The Red Queen and her massive head also had me in stitches. I was slightly disappointed with Anne Hathaway’s performance however. She looked stunning but I was waiting for some talent and grand acting. I just got looks. She was a poser in the movie, not an actress. Her role was completely overshadowed by the fantastically wondrous White Palace and the faithful hound.

In my mind I wanted Alice and the Mad Hatter to end up together. My friend Robyn gave me the idea while I was reading her blog post on the movie and I completely agree with her. Why did Alice leave wonderland? She could have stayed and her and the Hatter could have had weirdly wonderful babies and had a tea filled, hat making, rabbit chasing rest of their lives together. On the other hand I liked it that Alice didn’t end up with anyone. This may sound like women championing, feminist fluff but I don’t care. Alice didn’t need a man to end her story. She asserted her independence from that stereotype and went into a business venture instead- sailing off into the distance in style!

All in all I liked what Burton did in his movie but I also recommend that people read Carroll’s books. My friend Robyn said that Disney’s animated Alice in Wonderland was full of mean people and I see her point. The flowers called Alice a weed, the caterpillar had an anger problem, and the queen was out to get her head. Disney didn’t let poor Alice catch a break! I love them all.. I can’t choose! Anyone that can take me down the rabbit hole has automatically won me over because it is there, in that fantastic Wonder-under-land, that I never fail to have an absolute blast!

My review of the Eclipse trailer

The Summit Entertainment logo flashes onto the screen surrounded by rolling, dark clouds in the background. The ‘dodudodudodu’ of the piano and the ‘yihihihi’ of the violin resonate together- making sure the audience feel the importance of the moment. This is a SAGA people. “Isabella Swan, I promise to love you every moment, forever” (Imagine Robert Pattinson’s awkward, halting tone- which is obviously his interpretation of weird and mysterious). The dialogue plays as we travel across the green forest and into Bella and Edward’s meadow- which looks like it’s filled with those plastic flowers that you can buy from any supermarket. There Eward (Robert Pattinson) holds Bella (Kristen Stewart) with the ‘yihihihi’ of the violin plucking at the strings of all the Twi Twi fans’ pulpy hearts. Then we see a shot of the sunset and the appearance of the Volturi, with Jane’s warning of “the Volturi don’t give second chances” (Wow that Italian vampire didn’t even try and hide their American accent). Dakota Fanning comes across as really menacing (note the sarcasm in the italicized font :D). It’s a pity she sounded like she’d just woken up rather than evil and creepy. Is that the distant echoing of tweens screaming? I wouldn’t be surprised with Edward and Bella lying side by side on her bed (real steamy). “Why are you so against me becoming like you?” Kristen’s standard ‘doom and gloom’ expression makes it hard to tell whether she’s in love or just wants to drink the poison- oh wait, this isn’t Romeo and Juliet- my bad! “I know the consequences of the choice you’re making,” Rob looks like he’s on autopilot at this stage, “after a few decades all the people you know will be dead.”This is said over a sequence of two heartbreaking shots of Bella with her dad and then hugging her mom. Wow! Can you feel the emotional manipulation?! Another nature shot is followed by one of Jacob and Bella. I almost didn’t recognize Taylor Lautner with his shirt on- bleh- his acting skills are pretty average now that one can actually listen to his dialogue (it was kind of hard to hear him in New Moon with all the ladies, young and old, screaming at the sight of his abs). Ok so “blah blah blah, Bella please pick me,” and, “I’m better for her than you are (numb nuts)” – we all know that’s what he was thinking! BOOM, “Edward,” BOOM! Edward walks across a patch of grass. “She found us,” Bella says in that monotone voice of hers. Are you waiting in anticipation? Here she comes! Introducing the extraordinary, the talented, the wonderful: Rachel Lefevre’!!! Oopsy, no, Victoria seems to have had a makeover- even though vampires stay the same for eternity- it looks like they made an exception for Victoria, who is now played by Bryce Dallas Howard (wouldn’t it be nice if we all had a famous hollywood director for a dad?). Not to worry, Edward does assure Bella that he will protect her (from being recast) and it looks like Taylor Lautner was in dire need of something to call our attention away from his trivial acting skills. Aaah, he resorted to the ol’ ‘take you shirt off’ tactic again! Luckily I’m watching the trailer in the privacy of my home where no screaming can be heard and one can actually hear Jacob’s “I’m going to fight for you, until your heart stops beating.” BOOM! The Twilight Saga: Eclipse – concurs the showing of the trailer, with the intellectuals out there wondering whether there was any metaphoric meaning to Jacob’s final line. Deep. Real deep.

For those of you out there that are completely mystified by the diatribe going on above, thank-you, my work here is complete. Anyone who has not read or watched the Twilight books and movies will have NO idea what is going on in this trailer. This is indicative of a poorly made marketing object. How do you advertise a movie that makes no sense to a universal audience? I realise that it is a part of a series and that this one would be the third installment but come on! Surely it should give the watcher a basic sketch of what the hell is going on? On the other hand, it must seem quite funny to those backward people that don’t know anything about Twilight and Stephenie Meyer. This is what they are seeing: a pale faced man contrasted with a tan, shirtless (to show off his abs) man; a woman that can jump across a ravine; a Bella; lots of nature and fake flowers; heartbreaking music and riveting dialogue. Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh but ever since the first movie it’s been really hard for me to watch each installment. With acting that seems to be continually deteriorating , and the massacre of the characters and romance, it just feels like I’m in some type of non-Stephenie Meyer Twilight zone and surrounded by fakery- I mean for goodness sakes, plastic flowers? Seriously?! You can decide for yourself what you think, but if you could honestly say that the movies are better than the books I might have to send you off to join the cast of Alice in Wonderland- I think you could give Johnny Depp a run for his money in the portrayal of the Mad Hatter.

Upcoming review on Eclipse

I’ve been very quiet, biding my time, considering what to write about next. The reflection time was good- I won’t lie- but then the Eclipse trailer for the next Twilight installment was released last week Wednesday. Let’s just say that I think it’s time, for the dormant Twilight fan (very deep down) within my consciousness, to come out of the Twi-Twi closet.. *blushes*.. I feel kind of embarrassed admitting that I’m a huge lover of Stephenie Meyer’s work but I am and so should you be! Keep your eye’s peeled for my upcoming rant and while you’re waiting, how about watching the trailer for yourself? 🙂

Team Edward or Team Jacob?

The Biggest Tragedy in Othello was its Movie(s)

I’m not a huge Shakespeare fan. I was forced to read some of his plays in high school and then again while at university. Although I may not be his biggest admirer, I can still appreciate the gravity of his work and therefore understand why some people regard him as being one of the greatest writers in the English language! It has become a common trend in Hollywood to showcase his plays in the theatre of today: the cinema.

Although there have been many movies based on Shakespeare’s plays (Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream etc), one stands out among the rest as being a remarkably bad remake. O, directed by Tim Blake Nelson, has finally taken the poetry out of Shakespeare. If you read any synopsis about this film the words “modern” and “update” are bound to crop up. Why does this bother me? It’s the same as taking the “old” out of “old-school”- it’s just PLAIN wrong! Some of you may disagree with me on this point but hear me out. Othello was written in 1604 and “O” was made in 2001 as a loosely modern adaption of the play. In plain English, Othello and his cohorts were transported from the banks of Cyprus to the locker room of an elite private school in the American South!  Wow, just writing that sentence probably made Shakespeare turn in his grave. I mean come on- doesn’t that just scream TV melodrama instead of theatrical masterpiece?! It’s like asking the cast of Beverly Hills 90210 to talk to each other in Shakespearean verse!

What does “modernize” mean anyway? To make better or to make worse (that is the question)! Instead of Othello being a General in the service of Venice he becomes Oadin, head of the basketball team at some private school. I wonder who made up the rest of the team. Could it be Hugo (Iago) and Michael (Cassio)? Well if ever there were a reason for Humpty Dumpty to fall off his wall, I think this is it. The icing on the cake comes in the form of Desi (Desdemona), played by Julia Stiles. Our daughter of the duke has had a makeover if ever there was one. Stiles is beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but she’s playing a high school chick named Desi. Desdemona has been transformed from fair maiden to a hoodlum school girl all in one movie showing. Shall the halls of classic literature be thus desecrated?

And don’t even get me started on the movie’s dialogue. I mean let’s face it, “f***” is about the most descriptive word in the movie. In scene 1 of the play Iago says to the Duke:  “your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs.” In high school terms Iago’s speech would go something like this: “your daughter is getting tapped by this dude, O, and if she gets preggo it’ll be one weird looking baby.”  Ok, so even though that WAS NOT in the movie my point is that by dumb-ing down (aka modernizing) Shakespeare that is what you are going to get: a second rate movie.

In this case Shakespeare’s Othello should be completely disassociated with the movie “O”. I think it is safe to say that just like a Venetian army is worlds apart from a basketball team so is Shakespeare and the director of this terrible movie, Tim Blake Nelson.

What did you think of ‘O’ the movie?