Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Rush 2013

My husband (affectionately called The Squire in this blog) was excited to see Ron Howard's latest offering Rush so we went to see it for our Saturday night date this week. As a boy he wasn't a huge racing fan, but knew of Niki Lauda and James Hunt and was interested to see something different from the films I usually drag him to!

I had heard good things about this film, as well as occasionally seeing Ron Howard's Twitter pics of filming over the past year or so, and was curious to see it. I really knew nothing about it except the fact that it was about Formula One racing in the 1970s. And that made it even more enjoyable as I had no idea where this story was going as it unfolded.

So I won't tell you anything about the plot, except that Chris Hemsworth does a great job of playing the hedonistic English driver James Hunt and German/Spanish actor Daniel Brühl does an even better job of playing the cooler more calculating Austrian driver Niki Lauda.

There are two strong female leads, Olivia Wilde and Alexandra Maria Lara who give us a look at what it was to be involved with these crazy, risk takers. And kudos to Ron Howard for showing us that he really knows how to tell a story.

So I will leave it there. Go and see this with someone who might like a car film. Trust me, you will really like it. It's not the usual vacuous fare so prevalent in theaters these days. Thanks Ron!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fanny Price the introvert; is she unfilmable?

I recently put the question out there on Twitter- Is Fanny Price unfilmable? By which I mean the REAL Fanny Price. In the latest two film adaptations of the novel Mansfield Park from 1999 and 2007 she is made very different from how she reads on the page in order to have the viewer sympathize more readily with the character of Fanny.

In the former, she gets a good dose of spunky Jane Austen, writing her cheeky, nutty juvenilia and in the latter she just gets a dose of crazy boisterousness.

I had a few people on Twitter and on my MP blog post point out that the 1983 BBC miniseries has a truer take on Fanny's introverted personality than the more recent versions. I am working my way through it on YouTube (link here). The characters of Fanny (Sylvestra Le Touzel) and Maria (Samantha Bond) are fairly well played but Lady Bertram is soooooooo awful, I mean so truly awful that you have to check it out. It is just unbelievable!

Sorry if you love this version but although Fanny is more introverted, the entire production is now dated and flawed by today's production standards. It is however worth viewing, if only to see a very young Jonny Lee Miller as Fanny's little brother Charles. His mop of hair is adorable!

But what is it about Fanny Price which makes her the least lovable of Jane Austen's heroines? Is it her introversion, which masks her massive teenage crush on Edmund and just makes her seem like a cold fish? Or is it the fact that she seems convinced she is always right, which makes her appear judgmental and sanctimonious, when in reality she is constantly doubting herself?

I think that a nice long miniseries adaptation of Mansfield Park (sympathetic to the character and personality of Fanny which Jane Austen intended) is truly called for!

And really, don't we introverted readers deserve a character we can relate to? I mean, I love Lizzy and Emma, but if I am honest with myself, I was much closer in disposition to Fanny when I was 18 years old.

There is also an argument for a longer version of Mansfield Park in that there are so many subplots and minor characters which deserve a truly wonderful film treatment. Both Susan and William Price deserve lots of screen time so that we can see how Fanny relates to her siblings. And the trip to Sotherton? It just has to be in there doesn't it? And Lover's Vows? I don't know about you, but I want to see a few scenes of that in rehearsal!

So let me know your thoughts on Mansfield Park in general, and Fanny Price in particular. And if anyone reading this has pull with BBC or ITV, please send them here!!!


N.B. A couple of astute readers have commented below that of course Anne Elliot from Persuasion is an introvert and yet is well loved by Austen fans. So it is not entirely her introversion. Rather the kind of introvert she is. I have run across a few internet sites recently where literary characters have been evaluated as to their Myers Briggs Personality Types (here is a link to Harry Potter Characters' Myers Briggs Types). Would readers like a blog post where I compare Anne and Fanny on the Myers Briggs scale? I think this would help explain the lack of love for Fanny!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Sapphires

Irish actor Chris O'Dowd can do no wrong these days. He is hilarious in the mockumentary Family Tree on HBO, and in Australian gem The Sapphires, he will steal your heart.

Based loosely on the real life story of 3 aboriginal girls and their half white cousin in 1960s Australia who formed a girl band and performed for troops in Vietnam, it is like nothing else you have ever seen. And yet, it has that familiar "feel good movie" trajectory that I love so well.

Shari Sebbens, Miranda Tapsell, Jessica Mauboy and Deborah Mailman as The Sapphires

The actresses are fabulous Aussie unknowns (hopefully not for long). The frocks are wonderfully evocative of the period, and the Go-Go boots are just fabulous!

The script was written by Tony Briggs, the son of one of the original singers, although he changed it (in his words, "we went a bit 'Argo'") to make the dynamics of the story richer. Actually, he had written a 2004 play by the same name and co-wrote the film script with Keith Thompson. The director Wayne Blair is also an aboriginal who acted in the original play.

The original Sapphires: Naomi Mayers, Lois Peeler, Laurel Robinson and Beverly Briggs

So if you need a wonderfully uplifting and inspiring film some evening, with a bit of 1960s soul music and a dash of romance, this is your chick flick. My hubby loved it just as much as I did, and we both enjoyed the DVD extras with interviews with the four lovely ladies above.


P.S. If you liked this one, you might also enjoy the 2002 film Whale Rider about a spunky Maori girl in New Zealand.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Lorna Doone 2000

Lorna Doone is a 2000 BBC adaptation of the classic Victorian novel by Richard Dodderidge Blackmore. Never heard of it? Neither had I until I stumbled upon this very enjoyable DVD. OK, stumbled upon is not quite right...I had to order a used copy from EBay. It is very hard to get a hold of this DVD, but well worth the search.

For those who don't know the story, John Ridd (Richard Coyle of Coupling, W.E. and the ginger Mr. Coxe of Wives and Daughters) is the son of a farmer who was murdered by one of the notorious (formerly noble but now outlaw) Doone clan of Exmoor Devon.

He unwittingly falls desperately in love with the lovely Lorna Doone, kin of his sworn enemies. I won't spoil the rest for you. It's a great romp set during the period when King Charles II dies and there is a scramble for the throne between the Duke of Monmouth and James II, who of course ruled briefly from 1685 to 1688 at which time he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution in favour of William of Orange and Mary. But enough of the history, the film is great! Lorna is played by Amelia Warner who is gorgeous and was seen very briefly as the teen Fanny Price in Mansfield Park 1999.

Other reasons to see this are the fact that the two sisters of John Ridd are played by Joanna Frogatt (Anna Bates of Downton Abbey) and the delightfully named Honeysuckle Weeks (Sam from Foyle's War).

Not only do we know John Ridd's sisters from some fave Period Dramas, but his mother is played by the delightful Barbara Flynn (Wives and Daughters, Cranford and Miss Potter). One actor I didn't recognize was Anthony Calf as the former highwayman Tom Faggus, love interest of Honeysuckle Weeks. He is well disguised and looks nothing like Colonel Fitzwilliam of P&P 1995!

But of course Michael Kitchen can't be missed as Judge Jeffreys, even in a 17th century wig. That thing must weigh 10 pounds!

And then we have the ridiculously young and girlish James McAvoy as the love interest of Joanna Froggatt's character. He is adorable!!!!

And even a big wig and mustachio cannot conceal the wonderful Martin Clunes as John's friend-to-the end Jeremy Stickles.

Fans of Aiden Gillen (Game of Thrones) will enjoy him as the heir to the evil Doone empire, Carver Doone.

So find this and see it if you can. It is a wonderful and rather unknown (if star studded) Period Drama. Two teacups way up!!! And yes, Lorna Doone is also the name of a shortbread cookie from Nabisco. Two cookies way up also!




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