I think it is a fair statement to say that the buzz surrounding Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is palpable.
Filling in the gap between Revenge of the Sith (2005) and A New Hope (1977), Rogue One takes place just as the empire is tightening its grip on the universe. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is the daughter of a scientist, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) who has appeared to turn his back on rebels. She is raised by Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) after her mother’s death and her father’s abdication to the dark side. We meet Jyn when she in imprisoned by the Empire. After being rescued by rebel forces, she joins the fight against the empire. Joining a team of rebels that includes Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang), Jyn is not only fighting to free the universe from the empire’s grasp, but is also seeking to find her father.
I’ve heard this movie being compared to The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi. While both films are the best of the best of within the Star Wars series, this film certainly comes close. The two qualities of the film that I especially appreciated and loved was not only how badass Jyn was, but also the film talks about the true cost of freedom and the cost of rebelling against tyranny to attain that freedom. And for me, as a Janeite, the cherry on the top of the cake was knowing that I first was introduced to Felicity Jones when she played Catherine Moreland in the 2007 Northanger Abbey.
This film is a must see and one of the best of 2016 for me.
In 1976, Carrie Fisher was the teenage daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds and crooner Eddie Fisher. She made her screen debut in the 1975 film, Shampoo. While studying acting in London, she auditioned and won the part of Princess Leia in a new science fiction film, Star Wars. It would forever change her fate.
Recently, Ms. Fisher discovered a series of diaries she wrote while making Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope. These diaries were published in a new book entitled The Princess Diarist.
What I loved about the book is how candid she was then and continues to be. On one hand, she was a normal teenage girl who was going through the same things that any teenage girl goes through. But few teenage girls can say that the they will go on to be pop culture icons, live in the sometimes perilous life of a celebrity and have an affair with their older and married and with children co-star.
I absolutely recommend it.
For many, when we think of Queen Victoria, we conjure up the image of Victoria in her later years. Still mourning the death of her husband, Victoria is wearing black and looking every inch like the regal Queen we imagine her to be.
On Friday, I had the pleasure of watching the first episode of the new series, Victoria.
Based on the book by Daisy Goodwin (which I am reading now, look for the review either tonight or tomorrow), Victoria wakes up in 1837, a short time after her 18th birthday. Her uncle, the king is dead and she is now Queen. Her first act as Queen is to step out of the tightly controlled life she has lived under her mother, the Duchess Of Kent (Catherine Fleming) and her mother’s adviser, Sir John Conroy (Paul Rhys). Leaning heavily on Lord Melbourne (Rufus Sewell) for advise and support, she develops what appears to be an infatuation.
I have been a fan of Daisy Goodwin’s books for a few years now. When I heard about not only the book, but the series, I became excited. Neither has let me down yet. What Daisy Goodwin has done both on-screen and on the page (she wrote the screenplay), is present an image of Victoria that few today would recognize. In the place of a morally strong older woman is a young girl who feels like any young girl, regardless of her station. She is young, impetuous, has a temper and likes to laugh. The thing that I liked the most that humanizes Victoria is that, to put it simply, she is human. She is young, she makes mistakes, but she also picks herself up and moves forward with her life.
I absolutely recommend it and I look forward to seeing the full series when it airs in the US in January.
Victoria premieres on January 15th, 2017, at 9pm on PBS.
Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen’s first mature completed novel and her first published novel. Published in 1811, Sense and Sensibility is the story of the Dashwood Sisters. Elinor is practical and level-headed. Marianne is romantic and spontaneous. The death of their father and the loss of their home to their older half-brother forces the sisters into a new life and new relationships.
In 2006, author Rosie Rushton added her name to the long list of writers who have attempted to re-write Austen’s novels. In The Dashwood Sisters’ Secrets of Love, The Dashwood Sisters- practical Ellie, romantic Abby and tomboy Georgie have been hit by a one-two punch. First their parents divorce and their father marries a woman that neither his daughters or his ex-wife care for. Then their father dies, revealing not only how heavily in debt he was, but also that the house that the Dashwoods have called home for generations, now belongs to the new Mrs. Dashwood.
Moving from Sussex to Norfolk is a big change for everyone. Abby is mourning the social life she left behind. Ellie has feelings for Blake, her stepmother’s nephew who has a girlfriend. Georgie is beginning to see a different reaction from the boys around her. The fate of these girls has forever changed, but how will it change them?
The problem with Austen re-boots is that some writers are able to keep Austen’s voice and characters while putting a new spin on an old favorite. Ms. Rushton is not one of them. While she was able to keep the characterizations and the general narrative intact, she lost the ramped up tension that keeps the reader engaged in Sense And Sensibility.
Do I recommend it? Not really.