Monday, April 8, 2013

Austen vs Gaskell

I can't tell if I really love Gaskell or not... She was so honest. 
Completely different from Austen who relied on comedy, which is great, don't get me wrong! But Austen was never really heartbreaking. Her work is kinda ''fluffy''. (Don't throw things at me Jane-ites!!) 
Gaskell, while still giving us a satisfactory ending, wasn't afraid of the brutal reality of death.
 Let me explain as well as I can...

Jane Austen
Except for Emma, all of her books had a not-so-nice guy that just made you cringe. 
Said bad guy always got what he deserved, aka, a life less fulfilling and fun then the hero/heroine, but he never died. 
Bad things happened to Austen's secondary characters, but nobody dies. Ever. 
Except the rich aunt, but that's not important....
And those bad things aren't so bad as to affect the rest of anyone's life, even though all the characters talk  about 'diminished prospects' and such nonsense.

Elizabeth Gaskell

Disclaimer: I've only read two and a half of her books, so what I say only applies to North and South and Wives and Daughters, of which I have read the whole.

These two books do not have a defined bad guy. There are people you aren't supposed to love, but she always showed you that that person had reasons for being the way they were. Not that being a cruel person is okay, *Cough*Mr. Preston*Cough*,  but Gaskell showed us why her characters behaved the way they did. 

Imagine if we had read of Mrs/ Thornton in Pride & Prejudice. It shouldn't take much... In P & P, she goes by Lady Catherine. Think about it. They are basically the same character, they were just dealt with in different ways. Austen wrote her to be funny. A caricature of the overprotective and society driven guardian all in one. Gaskell went deeper. She tried to show us why Mrs. Thornton was so overprotective, and why she used social class as an excuse to dislike Margret. 

When I pick up anything by Jane Austen, I wear a smile on my face for days while I'm reading it. 
When I pick up North & South, or Wives & Daughters I smile a little, sigh a lot, and cry inside, but when I turn the last page and close the book I feel satisfied. I walk away knowing the characters better.
 It's like going to the movies with a group of friends and just goofing off for a night. Then the next day you go to coffee with your bestie and just sit and talk for hours. They are both so much fun, and you can't really say one is better then the other, because they both do you good. 

What do you think? 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Film Review: Wives and Daughters

Four out of five stars
Rated TV-PG 

I'm completely at a loss as to how to start this post. This is my second time watching this mini-series, and I love it. I only liked it before. I shall give you my reasons, but first, prepare yourself for an extensive post about every little detail.
For those of you who hate long posts, I'll give you the short and sweet version now.

I recommend this adaptation heartily! Andrew Davies wrote the screenplay and his work is usually pretty good about not straying far from the author's original work. (Except Sense & Sensibility, but don't get me started....)
There is some language, for Squire Hamley (our hero's father) has quite a temper. And there is tragic death. (Sorry, I became Emily Starr for a moment) But all in all the PG rating is accurate. This is a fun movie for those who like light film and for those who like to see deeper characters and plots.

And yes that can happen in the same movie, because deep doesn't always mean heavy, or depressing.

What I'm trying to say is that to enjoy this movie, you don't have to pay to close attention because you will get it and everything will make sense even if you are only halfway paying attention. However, there are little things here and there- lines, expressions, actions- that just add depth to the characters and help you understand why the character behaves the way he or she does.

Beyond this there are spoilers...
You just read that in River Song's voice, didn't you?

Okay, for those of you who have stuck with me this long, and who may be wondering why I love it now when I only liked the mini-series before... I missed so much the first time around. I won't go into a long list of the things I missed. Mostly because now that I'm done with the series, I don't think I could name more then two. But I shall go into a long list of certain opinions I had, and why they've changed.

I remember finishing Wives and Daughters the first time with a strong dislike for Cynthia. At first I liked her,because she seemed to care for Molly and she stood up for her. But she quickly became annoying.
However, this time I realized there were some very heartbreaking reasons for her actions. She had grown up with a manipulative, flighty mother, who only showed affection when it suited her needs and wants, and even that affection wasn't real. (I compare it to Rodmilla in  Ever After, at times you could see real emotion, whether is was love, fear, or heartbreak because of Daniella's resemblance to her father, it wasn't feigned).
So, to avoid being like her mother, who only shows fake affection to get what she wants, Cynthia is the opposite. She parades around telling everyone that she cannot love, at least not like other people do. And while she doesn't exhibit true, selfless love, she still tries her best to be a kind and worthy woman. She just gets confused and becomes a sort of jumble between a truly worthy woman, and the worldly expectation of womanhood.

She was sort of disrespectful in this scene, but I admired her spunk, and her heart was in the right place.

The Father-Daughter relationship
This one isn't so much that I'd changed my mind, but rather, that I have seen more to love in this aspect of the story. Pretty early on Mr. Gibson realizes he has a very silly new wife, not as early as Molly sees it, but still pretty early. And while you see secret looks shared between the two at her silliness, and they talk to each other about missing the time that they used to spend together, they never say anything to anyone else about it. Neither one does anything that might make Hyacinth feel like they regret the marriage. This is a real picture of love. They realize that the person is not who they thought she was, but they choose to love her and except her as part of their family anyway. Sure, when she goes to London for a week they revel in eating beside the fire, and having meals of bread and cheese while cooling their tea in the saucer... But they are prepared to give up said ''Barbaric'' things the moment that Mrs. Gibson walk back through that door.

A moment of deep discussion between father and daughter while Mrs. Gibson is away.

Mr. Preston
I can't say exactly what changed about my impression of him, but I'll just leave it at this...
You've heard it said about some characters ''I just love to hate him''? Well Mr. Preston is a character I hate to love. But I do, in a sad, pitying sort of way. I just can't hate him after all Cynthia put him through. Because even though he isn't good-hearted, he did truly love her.

Now, here are a few things I just plain loved!!
Lady Harriet, for one. She is a character I could read a whole book about. In her first scene, those first few moments, she doesn't make a very good impression. But she most definitely improves! She's cheeky, without being inappropriate, she is ladylike without fading into the corner like a wallflower, and best of all she runs in and rescues Molly. She is about the only true friend Molly has.

Rosamund Pike was wonderful as Lady Harriet
 Osborne Hamley. Well, I don't know how you are all going to take this, but I liked Osborne a lot more then Roger. Not that I thought he and Molly should have been a couple! Heavens, no. I always thought that Roger and Molly were for each other. 
But there are just so many reasons to like Osborne. He sees Molly as the jewel she is from the start. (You know, I seem to remember a lot more shipping being done by Osborne on behalf of Roger and Molly, but I guess I was wrong). 

This scene is when I fell in love with Osborne. I love the look on his face, a little bit amusement, a little bit of  "I don't care of they think that I'm sweet on you, no man should be ashamed of that." I mean, he doesn't even let go of her hand in this scene, I think!
Roger, Roger, Roger....
Oh boy, can I just say how amusing I found his look of panic every time Molly smiled at someone else in the last few scenes?? He just got so sad and disappointed every time she looked away, as if he thought that suddenly realizing he was a stupid oaf was enough to make her forget all other men in the room. 

As a last thought, I want to say how much I loved this line
Of course I remember it! I remember everything you wrote in your letters, how could you think I wouldn't?

And how much i love the simplicity of the proposal scene. Well, it was dramatic, and  could have done without the pouring rain. But I love he just asks the question, and she just bursts forth with
"Yes.Yes I will.Yes."
 As if it is the most natural thing in the world.

''Well, he rode seven miles to bring her a wasps nest, and you don't do that for no reason!''

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Film Review: Lincoln

Four of five stars
Rated PG-13

Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln

Let me just say, this guy?? Crushed it!!  Daniel Day-Lewis is Mr.Lincoln. 
This actor is phenomenal and I was very disappointed and surprised to find that he has been in less then thirty films! And even fewer in number are the films that I would watch. Oh well, I'm not sure I could think of him as anything other then Lincoln anyway.

Well, to start things off I am going to emphasis something my dad noticed right away. Spielberg did his research (not to surprising if you know Spielberg [and of course I do, haha!]) What I mean is if you are familiar with Steven Spielberg's other films, you know he pays very close attention to detail, especially when  recreating historical events. 
If you weren't aware of this before, it may come as a shock to you (thanks to the media's misrepresentation of Lincoln) when the actor's first lines come forth and they don't blow you away because of the deep intensity of his voice. 
Why? Because Spielberg is a stickler for details and historically Lincoln had a high, sort of nasally voice. And at the same time you are blown away. Because Daniel Day-Lewis (Should I call him Mr. Day-Lewis or Mr. Lewis??) portrays Lincoln as a man who knows the profound truth in his simple words, and who believes in them wholeheartedly. A man who will not back down, no matter what, when fighting for something he believes to be right.

Notice the blanket? It's not really talked about or emphasized, but it's a subtle background though. Lincoln wears a blanket on his shoulders in just about every other scene. Because during these last few months of his life, as he was trying to pass the 13th Amendment, Lincoln was not a healthy man. He was falling apart because the stress of fighting so hard for equality was too much. 
(I love subtleties)

Okay, so before I ruin the whole movie for you, let me just cut to the chase. I recommend this film. However, keep in mind that it is intense (even though we know how it's gonna end) and there is strong language. If you have seen The King's Speech you can know what to expect, if you haven't, well what's wrong with you?? I give this film four out of five stars. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Film Reveiw: Emma (1996)

Disclaimer: Technically this is not a film review, because if it was, you'd be reading about Gwyneth Paltrow. As I am reviewing Kate Beckinsale's  Emma, I suppose I should call this a TV Drama review. (That is how Wikipedia distinguishes the two of them)

So, I remember very much disliking this adaptation of Jane Austen's  Emma.  However, because of all the hype about this version that I've heard (Apparently a lot of you really like this version) I decided I'd better give it another shot, and I'm very glad I did.

I really, REALLY, really like this Jane Fairfax. Let me just get that out of the way and say it now. I believe it needs to be said. This girl was a bit of an inaccurate Jane. But I loved her!! (More on this later when I write a post comparing all three films)

Anyway, I recommend this film to those who want to get into watching period films/ Jane Austen for the first time. It was easy to follow and still fairly accurate. It was also clean, with little to no language (I think the men swear occasionally, as men did in the Regency era, but there is no explicit language)

The costumes? Well, they were pretty, but Emma herself felt modern to me. It might have been her hats, which I just didn't like. But that's just me... Other then Emma, I didn't see anything wrong with the other costumes. However, don't assume I am an expert on historical costume, because you would be sadly mistaken.

The scenery was good, I don't know what to say about it except that it felt right and I hardly noticed it, which is exactly what I always thought it would be like when I read  Emma. I get the feeling that Miss Austen wouldn't have wanted anything to outshine or overpower her heroine, because Emma herself thinks she is the center of everything.

And this is where I am going to wrap up this post because, as I said, I want to do another post on all three of the Emma films I've watched.