Tag Archives: Jane Austen

At the End of the February Slump, EMMA. Arrives

I’ve come to the belief that Jane Austen was born ahead of her time and died too soon. No, her novels aren’t exactly ground-breaking works and stand firmly apart and ahead of the Gothic and Romantic curve. In fact, her works seem to almost perform a thumbing of the nose against overwrought passions and stormy, gloomy settings: Northanger Abbey was a clear satire of Gothic literature, and some of the more hysterical characters of Pride and Prejudice could be seen as just shy of Romantic caricature. Even historical epics weren’t her taste (she left that to Sir Walter Scott). Instead, Austen preferred to keenly observe. Her observations, put on paper with a remarkable sense of wit, humor, and deep characterizations down to the smallest player, have survived the test of time and shown that while they may be of a different era, these stories could very well fit any modern setting. By that she single-handedly gave the romance genre (and today’s rom-com) a solid foundation based on realism and practicality, removing anything that would be considered too turbulent and turgid, and focusing on a natural progression of story arcs and character development. At the same time she managed to become her society’s best critic, allowing us to, 200 years later, see how little we have changed.

I confess I’ve never read viagra patent expiry creative writing love poems http://snowdropfoundation.org/papers/pay-for-my-ecology-course-work/12/ speech writing activities parts essay introduction essay on spring season in hindi language sample resume title for freshers http://bookclubofwashington.org/books/vocabulary-essay-writing/14/ follow url watch help with programming assignment viagra impotence how to write an audience analysis paper top dissertation results ghostwriters websites au thesis header image clickable alternatives to viagra natural herbal erectile dysfunction globalization college essay source site part of case study purchase custom research paper where to buy viagra pills help with an essay here thesis statement for process essay see url viagra coupon go to link common application essay help source site essay on forests enter site essay rewriter Emma, and it seems to be the third most popular of Austen’s books following its 1996 version with a pre-Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow (when she was on the rise as a promising actress), and its more contemporary version, Clueless, which still manages to be my favorite adaptation so far even when it ventures into that horrible affectation called Valspeak. Autumn de Wilde’s version comes as a crisp, pret-a-porter version more suited to Masterpiece Theatre, and I mean that as a compliment if you have ever seen any of their shows besides the ubiquitous Downton Abbey. It allows Anna Taylor-Joy, today’s current horror movie queen, to step out of her terrorized shows for once and flex some serious comedic chops that until now she had not been able to show as the remarkably self-centered and insecure, titular Emma, a woman who is so confident of her privilege that she is, well, clueless to the realities of others and her own but barrels ahead, screwing the lives of those around her, and making a truly ugly mistake against a neighbor (Miranda Hart in a scene-stealing performance, but you knew that already if you’ve seen her show, right?) who stands by the sidelines witnessing everyone around her engaging in social events while she can only pine and lavish praise.

De Wilde’s Emma doesn’t try to out-do any of its predecessors, or create a broken narrative starting at some crucial event and backpedaling, but instead reveals an easy, breezy narrative as it presents its characters, with all their strengths and weaknesses, and lets Emma start playing her version of God to disastrous results as she mentors the shy Harriet Smith (Mia Goth, fresh out of High Life and also seen in The Staggering Girl). Johnny Flynn plays Mr Knightley, her neighbor and heir to his own estate, even when it doesn’t take care of it as he should, and while his part is a bit passive, he does come across as the perfect foil to Emma’s borderline insufferable sense of superiority. Flynn might be a bit too young to carry out his part but he’s easy on the eyes and for a movie like this, that is sometimes all that matters In short, Emma is often a gorgeous period piece that gets it right, makes its occasional jabs at the nouveau riche, delivers its laughs in all the right places (even when some of them are slightly mean-spirited), and ultimately reveals a good heart just underneath.

LOVE & FRIENDSHIP

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

 

love and friendship

When I first saw the promos for Love & Friendship at the Angelika in March I would have never thought that Jane Austen, the authoress of classic novels like Pride and Prejudice, would also have penned something this delightfully wicked and gleefully sociopathic as Lady Susan, the novella on which Whit Stillman’s new movie is based on. If you can think of the most ridiculous characters in any of her books — many of them gratuitous social climbers of the day — and lumped them together into one cohesive screwball comedy, then you have the resulting movie which I was able to see last Friday.

The story goes as follows: Lady Susan Vernon, the recent widow of Lord Vernon (a character referred to on occasion but never seen as he has passed on) seems to sow trouble wherever she goes. As she doesn’t have a house proper, she’s like a vine, setting root wherever the bricks are naked. It seems she’s started some trouble with the Mannering family and has to leave in a hurry to go to Churchill Estate where her relatives live while the rumors of her own reputation as a flirt and a homewrecker simmer down. She isn’t even with her foot in the door when she’s already set her sights on the much younger and soon to be heir to the estate Reginald deCourcy, a matter that needless to say, preoccupies Sir and Lady deCourcy who clearly disapprove. What Lady Susan doesn’t anticipate is that her daughter Frederica also arrives at Churchill and of course, while she’s at it to find herself a husband to secure her position in society she also tries to find Frederica a match. In comes Sir James Martin, a man who really is an absolute idiot, and Lady Susan decides that’s the man for Frederica (while she’s spinning her web around Reginald, who is smitten with her, a thing not tolerated well by his sister Catherine). Sitting in the wings like a spider is Lady Susan’s good friend Lady Alicia Johnson, herself married to a man “too old to govern and too young to die”, who is as immoral as Lady Susan — they might as well be sisters, they are so alike and literally complete each others’ sentences. As Lady Susan plots, Lady Alicia abets and conceals, people suffer left and right, and we wonder how this entire mess will all end, or will it end well for anyone?

https://youtu.be/KhvyupqNhL8

Interestingly enough, Jane Austen must have liked the character enough and had a sense of humor that her novella didn’t go the way of punishing Lady Susan (or Lady Alicia, for that matter), but had them simply appear to stop communication (at least in the movie — I haven’t read the novella). Whit Stillman’s movie is a bubbling mass of comedic energy held up by pitch-perfect performances by Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny, two actresses I would have never once considered more than “apt” who make the movie their own and then some, as Lady Susan and Lady Alicia, respectively. For its brief running time Love & Friendship whizzes along and it at times becomes almost a game of playing who’s on first with the sheer volume of participants and what one does to the other, but then again, Austen’s characters are well-written creatures who don’t just sit in the background but have something to add to the plot –or shall I say, multi-level plot. I believe it’s a first, however, to have a woman closer to Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair (a novel that wouldn’t hit publication until the mid 19th Century), call the shots here. Either Austen was a visionary or she had some malice within her and decided to have fun for a while, truth of the matter is, this is a story that for the time was ahead of its time. Women — heroines, if one should say so — just didn’t behave in a manner closer to the Marquis de Sade without the attention to pain and sexual depravity. This is closer, much closer, to the epistolary novel by Chorderlos deLaclos, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, where the main character openly and unabashedly manipulates everyone within her reach to achieve her needs. It’s just lighter in tone . . . and less tragic.






JANE AUSTEN, REMIXED: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE + ZOMBIES

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Hooked on Film rating:

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

During the cold, dead slumber of January and February when the dreck that can only fit during this time (post Holidays) gets released, I sauntered into the AMC theatre with little expectations to catch what I thought would be a painless incursion into zombie horror mixed with genteel, 18th century sensibilities. Mind you, I was only drawn to this knowing I was probably not its target audience. The mere fact that this was in some way related to the original source, which has since been one of my favorite go-to novels to read even when desperation calls and not a book in sight, called to me.

So there I was, sitting in the rear as per custom — I can’t sit near people who chew, talk, check their cell phones, or even as much as breathe loudly and this is the place in the theater that is the least occupied even on opening night — prepared to see either a massive misfire or a grave mistake. Suddenly, I heard Lily James, fresh out of Downton Abbey, recite the first sentence of Pride and Prejudice, with modifications to fit this new incarnation . . . and I was sold. Jane, you can requiescat in pace. Your book has been done in a much more modern style, and your characters and their story-lines remain pretty much uncorrupt and even when battling the rotting dead, reciting some of your lines makes this a much more livelier affair.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is as light as popcorn and as silly as the combination of the two elements looks like, but it falls under that nebulous area of date movie meets gore and delivers it in spades. As mentioned, Lily James brings a lot of her previous roles (Lady Rose from Downton and even Cinderella from Cinderella) to her Elizabeth Bennet, and is the standout sister (much like in the novel, despite their being five and one of them running off late in the novel). [Although one early scene where all five sisters defend a house from zombies had me cheering. These girls can kick ass!] Sam Riley is one of the more accurate Darcys I’ve seen, his face expressing precious little and his voice tending to sound cold and unfeeling, but progressively more human as his emotions slowly surface. Jack Huston walks away with the picture as Wickham, and while his role is expanded here, it fits the purpose.

And the zombies. There are lots of them, but frankly, other than an initial scare or two, they’re more fodder for being reduced to mincemeat once the action starts. All of this is handled quite well without any exaggerations — they don’t suddenly become superhuman, for once — but somewhat closer to the ones featured in 2013’s Warm Bodies. So, in essence, the movie gets it fairly right, it satisfies, and that’s all there is to it.