Tag Archives: film

Pride and Prejudice at 200

Via Paul Fraser Collectibles

I’m personally not a fan of “chick lit,” but then again it wasn’t defined as such when Pride and Prejudice was first published in 1813. Jane Austen’s sharp and quick-witted protagonist, Elizabeth Bennett, was not afraid to speak her mind during a time when reservation and demurity were laudable traits for ladies of her class.

Lizzie, as she was fondly referred to, is a character who has a clear grasp of her own mind, but also manifests human vulnerabilities through her tumultuous romance with the equally keen but undoubtedly smitten Mr. Darcy. For many, their love story has been the end to all love stories – for the last 200 years. Pride and Prejudice is definitely one piece of chick lit that will remain on my book shelf for years to come.

Ms. Austen’s masterpiece celebrates its 200th anniversary this year, and literary world is abuzz with delight. Over the years, the book has undergone countless adaptations into film, TV, and has perpetually been in print circulation since its first release. Here are a few of my favorite adaptations and representations of this literary classic.

Bride and Prejudice

Bride and Prejudice takes Austen’s classic story to the other side of the world. The movie is an unexpectedly hilarious and endearing Bollywood adaptation, complete with large choreographed song and dance numbers. Although primarily in english, the film also has lines of Punjabi and Hindi dialogue in it, adding to an even more authentic feel. It’s definitely by far the most entertaining adaptation I’ve seen.

Images from IMDb

Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in the BBC Miniseries

Image via Fanpop

Austen meant for Mr. Darcy indeed to be Elizabeth’s match in every way, but she let him fall into that role at the same pace she finally realizes she’s in love with him. Of all the adaptations I’ve seen, no one has played Mr. Darcy quite like British actor Colin Firth in the BBC Miniseries. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that when I watched this, I thought that Mr. Darcy was, well, a total dreamboat.


Book Covers

Over the years the book’s contents have been adorned with many covers, each with its own sensibility that represented the time. Two of my favorite renditions are one that was published in the same century as it was released, and one that was released in the last year.

Via Rooke Books

The “Peacock Edition,” with illustrations by Hugh Thomson, was published in 1895. Its richly gilded cover is evocative of the Victorian period.

Via Brain Pickings

The Penguin Drop Cap edition is a series of classics with covers designed by Graphic Designer Jessica Hische, based on her now-famous Daily Drop Cap blog. “A” is for Austen, and the peacock feather flourishes on the letter give a nod to its predecessor, the Thomson edition.

Book Scarf

Image from Etsy shop Storiarts

Now if you love Pride and Prejudice just about as much the couples in the book love each other, then this scarf could be the perfect manifestation of your love for the book. The circle scarf features passages from the book printed on a circular scarf, and the rows of text make an interesting pattern. This could be a perfect gift for that literature major or librarian friend.


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Scary Movie Marathon for Those Who Don’t Like Scary Movies

Image via Reservoir Blogs.

I don’t like scary movies. Well, I don’t like being scared. Period. So I can only take horror films in mild doses. And if I have to endure fear while watching a movie, it should be well worth my while — that is, there should be something in it that would compensate for it being a horror film. It could be visual appeal, emotional engagement, music or some other form of artistry.

Again, I don’t like scary movies. But these scary movies, I don’t mind watching over and over again. No slashers or zombies here. Some purists and die-hard fans may scoff at my choices, but if you’re a horror flick newbie, or just don’t care much for horror, you might appreciate these picks.

First up, vampires. I think they really are kinda sexy. (And this was long before the Cullens came to town, and will remain so long after they’ve been staked — or however it is that these sparkly undead are obliterated.) Looking beyond the fact that they’re bloodsucking killers, they are creatures of great passion and sensuality. Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and at the height of their gorgeousness in their prime in Interview With A Vampire... I’m getting a little light-headed. Combine all that with stellar performances, gripping storytelling, spectacular art direction, and all-around brilliant filmmaking — how can one not surrender to the lure of these two movies?

These next two revolve around ghosts. They’re basically disembodied people, and that makes some of them very easy to relate to, because I can always connect with their humanity. That’s why I love The Sixth Sense and The Others so much, because when the horror is stripped away, it reveals intense dramatic stories about relationships and the human condition.

The films mentioned so far are but palate teasers, the equivalent of dipping one’s toes in the water. If you’re in an actual movie marathon, you might want to wade in further and test your boundaries. So if you’re ready to immerse in terror…

What’s more terrifying the Devil? For me, the Devil tops psychopaths, aliens, and sharks any day. That’s why The Exorcist still strikes fear into the hearts of movie fans to this day. It’s a classic, and the one horror movie which I think any film buff shouldn’t miss.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention something from the realm of Asian horror flicks. There’s something about the way the Japanese do it that really maxes out the creepy factor. Usually the premise revolves around something really weird and ludicrous, and somehow it works. Case in point Ring (Ringu) — the Hollywood version is scary, but you should definitely watch the original Japanese. There’s a certain minimalism employed here, a restraint. Lighting is flat and quite plain in some parts, there’s not a lot of background music. It feels like a documentary sometimes. And this somehow works to send your pulse racing and blood pressure soaring, and your fight-or-flight response engaging.


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TIFF 2012

The Toronto International Film Festival kicks off this Thursday.  Toronto is a fun glammed up version of itself during the world’s largest and most important film festival, what with the celebs crawling the streets and your favourite haunts.  Walk through Yorkville and everyone is in a big hat and dark sunglasses, famous or not, people want to be taken as such.  It’s kind of a riot and a harmless sort of fun.

This year there are lots of films worth checking out, many likely to be on Oscar-watch.  Here though is a list of some interesting Asian cinema making its North American debut at this year’s fest.

Gala Presentation
Thermae Romae

Based on Mari Yamazaki’s critically acclaimed manga series, Thermae Romae is a time-travelling comedy that has done gang-busters at the box office in Japan.  A lot of irreverent and absurd fun, it needs to be seen to be believed given the plot:  Lucius a thermae architect from ancient Rome is propelled into a modern-day Tokyo bathhouse where he is inspired by the many innovations in “modern bathing culture” and can’t wait to implement some of these ideas back in ancient Rome.  Director Hideki Takeushi has tackled a classic fish-out-water story, one that addresses class, imperialism and creative thought, in one unique and entertaining film.

Mavericks
In Conversation with… Jackie Chan

What can’t Jackie Chan do?  As an actor, director, martial artist,  writer, comedian, stunts choreographer, recording star (yes, really!), philanthropist and entrepreneur, his list of accomplishments is mind-boggling.  I suppose he did start his career at age 8, but still…

With one special presentation on September 9 at the Princess of Wales Theatre, Chan will be on-hand to discuss his impressive career as well give those lucky enough to score a ticket a preview of his forthcoming project Chinese Zodiac.

Contempory World Cinema
Penance

Kiyoshi Kurosawa is known as the Japanese master of suspense.  His latest endeavour, Penance, designed to be screened as a multi-part television miniseries or theatrical feature event, is a 4.5 hour, 5 chapter meditation on the nature of guilt as a mother seeks answers and revenge to the brutal murder of her young daughter killed during a day at elementary school. It’s billed as “a disquieting fresco of disturbed minds and wounded souls, Penance is a quiet masterpiece of mounting intensity” and not to be missed.

Comrade Kim Goes Flying

An inspirational tale about a young coal miner who dreams of becoming an acrobat, Comrade Kim Goes Flying is also important because it represents the first Western-financed fiction feature made entirely in North Korea. The festival programmer promises that “this charming film wears its heavy historical mantle with grace, weaving a lovely, light-hearted tale whose themes — overcoming adversity, and realizing the dream of a lifetime—upend our assumptions of a largely cloistered culture”.  Certainly an interesting look into a culture we rarely see.

Do you plan on making it to any screenings at TIFF this year?  What’s on your list?

All images courtesy of TIFF.net.  Visit the official TIFF website for ticket availability.


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Awesome Archers

Who hasn’t seen The Hunger Games?

Katniss in The Hunger Games

Katniss in The Hunger Games

Katniss is strong and feminine, nurturing and heroic, sincere and spunky.  Little girls would do well emulate her rather than some vampire bride chick. And she strikes quite a figure with her bow and arrow — one of the sexiest weapons ever, if you ask me.

The bow and arrow is not blundering and clumsy like a club or a mace. Nor as loud and totally lacking in finesse as a grenade or an M16. This weapon, nay — instrument — is one of the most primitive, and yet one of the most sophisticated. In the right hands, it is graceful yet powerful. Flexibility is in its nature, and yet it can be unerringly precise.

So today I thought I’d feature other archers in filmdom who came before Katniss, who have drawn their bows and sent those arrows aflight.

Robin Hood

Robin Hood

Guinevere in King Arthur

Legolas in The Lord of the Rings

The Scorpion King

Neytiri in Avatar

Hawkeye in The Avengers


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Fairy Tales Are For Grown-Ups

Disney's Snow White

Fairy tales aren’t for kids. If illustrators stayed faithful to the dark themes of their plots, we’d have been exposed to gruesome reading that is galaxies away from the cutesy storybooks we grew up with. Think about it. They are riddled with evil plots, murderous schemes, injustice, violence.

Remember the parents who left Hansel and Gretel in the woods to die, and the witch who wanted to bake them? How about the wolf who ate up Little Red Riding Hood’s granny? Or the Little Match Girl who froze to her death, and Pinocchio whose punishment for dishonesty was deformity? And how about the Little Mermaid, whose every step hurt like a thousand swords, and who was asked to slay her beloved so she could live?

Disney interpretations, already sterilized as they are, still have truly terrifying moments. My first movie experience was Snow White, and I remember having nightmares about the scene in the woods after the huntsman’s failed attempt to kill her.

So let’s take a look at those fairy tales again. We’ll probably get a kick out of the underlying sex and violence that we probably were oblivious to the first time we read them, but let’s look beyond those. Even when we grow up and cynically scoff at the improbability of happily-ever-afters, revisiting these tales as adults allows us to appreciate them more fully, bringing us deeper into the allegories that they usually are. We may think that they’re predictable, but they could still surprise us by bringing to the surface certain themes we did not know they had — metaphysical themes of morality and immortality, of self-sacrifice and identity.

Have you noticed the word’s renewed fascination for fairy tales? Writers, filmmakers, and composers have discovered the treasures in their depths and have commenced the mining.

Literature

Beauty's Punishment

Some novelists like expand on or reinterpret fairy tales. Anne Rice, an author famous for her vampire chronicles, wrote her Sleeping Beauty Trilogy under the pseudonym A. N. Roquelaure, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty’s Punishment, and Beauty’s Release. Now these books are definitely not for kids, nor for faint-hearted adults, as they are BDSM erotica novels.

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

Author Gregory Maguire likes to give readers new perspectives on classic tales, often switching around the protagonist and antagonist roles in his characters. His Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is told from the point-of-view of Cinderella’s younger stepsister. Mirror, Mirror is a revision of the Snow White tale which incorporates actual historical figures in the story, such as Lucrezia Borgia, whom he cast as the Evil Queen and Stepmother. His Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, based on Frank Baum’s novel, is now a Stephen Schwartz Broadway musical, Wicked.

An illustration from King Golden hair

And just last week I read an article about the discovery of 500 new fairy tales in Germany, which were collected by one Franz Xaver von Schönwerth. These myths, legends, and tales he drew from common countryfolk in long ago Bavaria, and recorded them faithfully. He didn’t edit or embellish them, and so reading them will be like a glimpse into a culture hundreds of years in the past.

Theater

Cinderella, The Nutcracker, and Swan Lake have been well-loved ballets for more than a century already. Same with Hansel and Gretel, which is also an opera. But Wicked is a fairly new musical. And Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and the Little Mermaid, have also been adapted for the stage.

Television

Once Upon a Time is a television series that is set in a fictitious town in Maine, that serves as a kind of limbo that all the fairy tale characters are exiled to. It revolves around the conflict between Snow White and the Evil Queen and incorporates a different fairy tale in each episode, oftentimes intersecting two or more. I love the well-crafted back stories to the fairy tales, and how the characters they translate to “modern” times.

And then there’s Grimm, which is a police-series-meets-fairy-tales kind of show.

Cinema

Fairy tales are so inherently cinematic, so why shouldn’t they be in the movies? I can’t even count how many fairy tale movies have been made…

I loved Enchanted! It’s a wonderful amalgamation of the classic romantic fairy tales juxtaposed with the harsh reality of New York City. It’s amazing how these two seemingly incongruous realities mix so beautifully in this movie.

And wow, two Snow White movies are to be released this year — and within 3 months of each other! Add that to the TV Snow White, that’s a lot. Hope we don’t overdose.

http://youtu.be/kpLVO396eHs

That’s it for fairy tales, for now. I haven’t even started on nursery rhymes!


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