Sunday, January 19, 2014

Movie Spotlight: Persuasion (2007)

This is my first post for the Jane Austen Review Challenge hosted by Miss Bennet at Classic Ramblings.

For the most part my favorite Jane Austen film tends be the one I last viewed (except, of course, in the case of it being an Unforgivably Repulsive Version). However, this Persuasion is certainly in my top three favorites. Possibly even the very first, excepting the S&S '95/'08 (I always count those as one film :) ). So now that we have that important disclaimer written concerning my view on this film, we will proceed forth to the logistics.

Though this Persuasion does take a few liberties with the story I think it stays very faithful to the tone of Miss Austen's work. And as for the little bits that the filmmakers add, I think they transcribe some of those feelings that are only told of in the novel–as well as being the type of “story moments” that make you grip the sides of your chair with excitement at either the sweetness or the tension of the scene. And that brings me to another reason why I love this film–it is simply so poignant. While all the costumes and scenery are very well done, they never detract from the story and it is the characters faces and personalities for which you remember the movie, though, to be sure, it is of great assistance that the characters are excellent.

The Characters: IMHO Sally Hawkins is the perfect Anne. She is not a stunning beauty, but I think the filmmakers made her less “pretty” on purpose. One begins to notice her expressions and eyes so much more than one might. Anne's looks are not meant to be her strong point, instead it is her character, her gentle ways, and the actions she performs that set her apart. And besides, my sister Heidi and I think that her beauty really does become more apparent on each viewing.

Rupert Penry-Jones is flawless as Captain Wentworth, in that his flaws are the flaws of Captain Wentworth and not that of his own performance. He shows how Captain Wentworth is hurt and angry, but how he can still not help but care for Anne. I love how he tends to gravitate toward Anne–not as if he is the Ghost of Resentful Suitor Past–but simply because, though quite unconscious of it himself, he feels pleasure in being near her.  Witness the scene where he picks her up after she falls off the log...*happy sigh*...I love that scene. He is also of the right age and appearance for Captain Wentworth.

All of the sub-characters are well done, however my favorite is Captain Harville. In the book he is–for the most part–a very minor character, but in this film you see more glimpses of his and Captain Wentworth's friendship–which is really neat–and as he is “there” for multiple characters, you get to see what an amazing man he is.  :)

Altogether this is a simply beautiful movie and I very highly recommend it!

Stars: 5 + / 5

Monday, January 13, 2014

Book Review: Shattered Summer by Madeleine Polland

In the summer of 1685, Monmouth landed on the Dorset, declaring himself the legitimate son of Charles II and claiming the throne. Duke's man or King's man? Loyalties are divided as Monmouth rides through the West Country at the head of his random – farmers armed with only scythes and pitchforks. And the young girl Frances, who is thrown from her sheltered life into the heart of the uprising, finds herself doubting the one man she had trusted, and uncertain even of where her love belongs.
THE book. You know the book I am speaking of. The one that when you are finished reading, you feel as if you could start reading it over at once. And you do. And then you do it again; and again. Everyone has that book, I think. “Shattered Summer” is mine. I read it for the first time last spring and I cannot say how many times I read it before it had to go back to the library. But now I have it for my very own and I am one happy girl. :) 
So what is it about this story that keeps it from being just another romance? First, there is serious and understanding William Powell who keeps both Frances (and the story) sane. Second, there is Lady Sarah, Frances' mother, who is fluttery and flustered when little things go wrong and discerning and capable when great matters are at stake. Finally there is gentle, quick, and confused Frances herself. Frances who makes, with William, one of my very favorite literary couples.
And why else do I love this story? Did I mention that there are lovely descriptions of houses and the English countryside–and drama? But not really drama of the directly romantic kind, but of the soldier-and-battle-wound variety, and that is one of my favorite kinds. It is a simple story, but it breathes of the warm, rich, haze of summer and other lovely things like that. It one of those tales that keeps coming to mind, refusing to be put away in the attic and forgotten.

Stars: 5 + of 5 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Christmas Spotlights

Today I would like to share mini- reviews of three Christmas films that I greatly enjoy:

“Little Women” (1933) -  I have seen three adaptions of Little Women (including the 1994 film) and this is definitely my favorite. Katharine Hepburn is the Jo of the book come alive. And all of the rest of the cast play their parts excellently as well. The sets are very good and all the dresses are fun and pretty. Though it is a fairly short film it has all the gaiety, cozy spirit and freshness of the novel. It is one of my all time favorite movies and I highly recommend it!

“Love Comes Softly” -  Yet another top favorite, “Love Comes Softly” is one of those stories that at the end of which you feel blissful and contented. I am not going to describe the story here, I will simply say that it is very sweet.  The scenery is stunning with many views of breathtaking western vistas. And though small, the cast is excellent. Clark and Marty also happen to be one of my favorite film couples. So, watch this film for the characters, the story, or the scenery, any way it is wonderful!

“The Gift of Love” -  This film takes place in early 1900's New York City. The story revolves around a beautiful young heiress, Beth, and Rudi, a Swiss immigrant. The bird watching naturalist Beth is supposed to marry is hilarious and there are several very fun ice skating scenes. It is a fairly straightforward story and if you are in the mood for some simple romance with pleasant characters it makes for an enjoyable viewing experience. As my father said it is altogether: “A fun little movie.” 

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