Tag Archives: Colin Firth

Operation Mincemeat Movie Review

When it seems that every story about World War II has been told, the door opens to reveal additional narratives that have remained hidden.

The new Netflix film, Operation Mincemeat premiered last week. Based on a book by Ben Macintyre, it tells the story of a secret mission to end the war via a corpse and false papers.

Among those who are in on the secret are Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth), Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew MacFadyen), future James Bond creator Ian Fleming (Johnny Flynn), Jean Leslie (Kelly Macdonald), and Hester Leggett (Penelope Wilton). They know that if they succeed, it could mean victory for the Allies. But getting to that point requires strategy, timing, skill, and a little bit of luck.

For obvious reasons, the movie was a must-see. A cast chock full of Austen actors (including the two most popular Fitzwilliam Darcys), a spy thriller set in World War II-era England, and the fight for freedom against tyranny.

I have mixed feelings about it. What was good was that the main female characters were initially more than secretaries, love interests/spouses/female family members, and background characters. They were as important to the mission as their male colleagues. I also very much appreciated the subtle reference to the Holocaust and the destruction of European Jewry. It reveals that the Allies once again knew what was going on, but did nothing to stop it (which is another topic for another time).

What was bad is that about halfway through the film, I started to lose interest. It was as if the screenwriter(s) just gave up. The other thing that bugged me was the love triangle between Charles, Jean, and Ewen. It felt unnecessary. It also trivializes Jean, making her little more than the wannabe romantic significant other instead of an integral part of the group.

Do I recommend it? Disappointingly, no.

Operation Mincemeat is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Judaism, Movie Review, Movies, Netflix, Pride and Prejudice

There’s Something About Darcy: The curious appeal of Jane Austen’s bewitching hero Book Review

There are certain cultural shorthands that we all know, even if we are unaware of the deeper context of the specific reference. When we talk about Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, he is symbolic of a romantic ideal that many aspire to, even if that aspiration is far from reality.

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There’s Something About Darcy: The curious appeal of Jane Austen’s bewitching hero, by Gabrielle Malcolm, was published last year. In the book, Malcolm examines the origins of Austen‘s most famous leading man, how he has inspired other romantic male leads, and how he has evolved over time. Creating the connection between the characters in her time, Dr. Malcolm explains how later male characters such as Mr. Rochester, Heathcliff, and even Dracula can trace their origins to Fitzwilliam Darcy. She then looks into how Jane Austen fanfiction has taken the character in new directions and new narratives that her creator could not have even imagined.

I loved this book. The author creates a nice balance of academic authority and adoring fandom without veering too heavily in either direction. It was a fascinating deep dive into this man who has become both a romantic icon and a character type for many a romantic male lead since 1813.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Fanfiction, Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights

Throwback Thursday-St. Trinian’s (2007)

Movies set in an academic setting range from serious to silly to rebellious.

In the 2007 film St. Trinian’s, the school’s reputation for educating the next generation of British women is not the strongest. The students may not care about their school’s less than stellar reputation, but the minister of Education does. He takes on the task of reforming St. Trinian’s, not realizing that a) the school’s headmistress is his ex and b) the effort required to get the school to where he thinks it should be is almost a Herculean task. While this is happening, the school is already in danger of closing due to financial issues. Can the girls save the day by ripping off a well-known painting?

Starring Colin Firth, Rupert Everett, Talulah Riley and Gemma Arterton, the film is not for everyone. But it has strong message about girl power and a cheeky sense of humor that overrides the somewhat lackluster narrative.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Anne Of Green Gables Review

Anne Shirley is one of those characters. Every little girl who loves books (especially the redheads, myself included) adores Anne Shirley for her spunk, vivaciousness and imagination.

Yesterday, PBS aired a new adaptation of L.M. Montgomery’s classic novel, Anne Of Green Gables. Anne Shirley (Ella Ballentine) is an orphan who has landed in the home of the never married, middle aged brother and sister duo, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert (Martin Sheen and Sara Botsford). Matthew and Marilla requested that the orphanage send them a boy to help them around farm. What they got was a talkative, imaginative and fiery 11-year-old girl whose hair matches her temperament. Matthew is immediately taken with Anne, but Marilla is a little unsure about the new edition to the family.

I adore Anne Of Green Gables. I adore Anne Shirley. Redheads are only 2% of the population. Positive role models, especially for young girls with my coloring are far and few between. Anne Shirley is one of the few that we can call our own. I did not adore this adaptation. The biggest issue is the behemoth that is the 1980’s miniseries with Megan Follows playing Anne. Follow’s Anne Shirley is as iconic as Colin Firth playing Mr. Darcy in the 1995 Pride And Prejudice miniseries. It’s a hard act to follow.

While I did not have an issue with the casting, I had an issue with the narrative. It felt too fast, certain plotlines that are within the book and the previous adaptation were discarded. While I get that it was a 90 minute television movie and not a full miniseries, I just wish there was more meat on the bones, so to speak.

Do I recommend it? If you as the viewer are new to the world of AOGG, then yes. But if not, I would say no. There are too many changes for my taste.

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JASNA AGM 2016-Emma: No One But Herself

My regular readers might have noticed that I was unusually silent this past weekend.

This was because I attended the JASNA AGM, held in Washington DC this year.

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The AGM is a Janeite’s wet dream. Surrounded by fellow Janeites from around North America and around the world, the weekend is a break from reality and a complete immersion in everything that is Jane Austen. It’s my kind of heaven.

I encourage my fellow Janeites who have not attended an AGM or to join JASNA to consider one or both. Next year is in California. We will remember and mourn the 200th anniversary of the too soon passing of our beloved Jane and in two years, the Kansas City region is hosting. The topic is Persuasion. Crossing fingers, I will be at both AGM’s.

The AGM lies somewhere in between comic-con and an academic conference. My experience has taught me that the mark of a good AGM is one with excellent breakout sessions (with plenty to choose from), engaging plenary speakers and an opportunity to meet fellow Janeites with whom I would never meet outside of my local JASNA region.

My favorite breakout session related to the fact that Emma is a black comedy. Unlike other women in her world and her era, Emma Woodhouse is not only unafraid to speak to her mind, but she speaks of topics that make some people (especially men) uncomfortable. There is an indirect line from Emma Woodhouse to women who today dominate comedy and are not afraid to speak to their mind.

While the highlight of the AGM is the banquet and ball (yes I did dress up and dance. English country dancing is quite the workout), my absolute favorite parts of the AGM was visiting the DAR Museum and the Folger Shakespeare Library.

The DAR Museum (Daughters Of The American Revolution Museum) is located minutes from the White House. The present exhibit, An Agreeable Tyrant: Fashion After The Revolution, told the story of how America built her economy during her early years by encouraging citizens to buy American made goods. The clothes are authentic and lovely. The exhibit will be at the museum until April 29,2017.
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I am going to save the best for last. The Will and Jane exhibit. And The SHIRT. This shirt is reason I went to DC this weekend.

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The Will and Jane exhibit will be at the Folger Shakespeare Library until November 6th, 2016. This exhibit is a must see for any Janeite.

This past weekend was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time. I look forward to seeing my Janeites, both new and old in California next year.

Have a good rest of the week.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, Jane Eyre, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice

Bridget Jones’s Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones is the iconic single woman. She first appeared in 1995 in a newspaper column and then a book written by Helen Fielding. In 2001, movie audiences were introduced to the film version of Bridget in Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001).

Fifteen years later, Bridget (Renee Zellweger) has returned to the screen in Bridget Jones’s Baby. The film starts on the eve of Bridget’s 43rd birthday. Her friends have all abandoned the single life for the traditional life of marriage and children. Encouraged by a colleague to spend the weekend at a music festival, Bridget has a one night stand Jack (Patrick Dempsey), an American whose dating website has become very successful. A week later, she hooks up with her ex, Mark (Colin Firth) at the christening of a child of a mutual friend. Bridget soon finds herself pregnant, but the question is, who is the father?

In setting the film years after the last film ended, the production team seamlessly found a way to create a new narrative while keeping the narrative and the characters that drew audiences in from the beginning. Bridget is an every-woman, her life reflects the lives of many of the women in the audience. While our careers and our social lives are successful, there is a small part of us that yearns for a partner to share it with.

I recommend it.

Bridget Jones’s Baby is currently in theaters.

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Love & Friendship And Bridget Jones’s Baby

Today, two new trailers were released that are all Jane Austen all the time (my kind of heaven).

The first is Love & Friendship. Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale, Emma Woodhouse in 1996 BBC production) is one of the most unlikable characters in the Austen cannon. She is smart, cultured, charming, but also manipulate and heartless.  She is the heroine you love to hate.

The second is the second sequel to Bridget Jones’s Diary. Bridget (Renee Zellweger) is back as the most iconic single woman of the past two decades. So is Mark Darcy (Colin Firth in  the 1995 Pride and Prejudice).  I won’t say anything else, as the trailer speaks for itself, but I will say that I am pretty excited for both movies.

 

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March 23, 2016 · 10:20 pm

Pride and Prejudice: Your Backstage Pass Review

This year, the 1995 Pride and Prejudice turned 20. With any celebration of this kind, there are the usual retrospectives, interviews, reunions, etc.

Published late last year, Jessica Long’s new bookPride and Prejudice: Your Backstage Pass to Jane Austen’s Novel and Making of the BBC TV Series Starring Colin Firth takes the reader behind the scenes of this now classic miniseries. 

I purchased this book, hoping to get some information that I had previously not known before. I did not expect a blow by blow account of the filming. Nor did I expect a tabloid style book containing previously unknown scandalous secrets that have been locked away for two decades. What I received was an extremely skinny book containing information that any experienced Janeite would be aware of. The book is fine for anyone who is new to the world of Austen’s novels and the filmed adaptations of the books.

My problem with this book is that the writing is extremely dry in an almost Wikipedia kind of way. Not that there is nothing wrong with Wikipedia (I use it all the time for various reasons), but for a book like this, I expected the writing to have a little life in it. Granted, Ms. Long is writing as a fan without access to anyone who was actually attached to the production, but to be honest, I felt cheated. Other than a few cosmetic facts, the information in the book can be found easily online.

Do I recommend it? Unless you can get it for free via the library or via an e-reader, no. If I could go back and not pay for it, I would.

 

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20 Years And You’ve Never Looked Better

Several weeks ago, Jane Austen fans celebrated the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Pride and Prejudice.

There is something to be said about a miniseries that audiences and critics are talking about 20 years after its initial premiere.

The list below is the reasons why it has lasted as long as it has and continues to have a lasting legacy on  period drama.

  • Colin Firth: You knew this was coming. Darcy may have started out as a d-bag, but in the end, you root for him and Lizzy to find their happy ending. And of course, there is the lake scene.

 

  • Jennifer Ehle: While Ms. Ehle is part of a long list of actresses to play Austen’s most famous heroine, she was and still is my favorite Lizzie. She in impertinent, intelligent, sarcastic, human but also loves her family despite their flaws and knows herself enough to know whom she would rather spend her life with.

 

 

  • The miniseries is as close to book as you can get: It is as if Jane Austen, wherever she is, was watching over this production. It is absolute perfection.
  • It still inspires new fan fiction, you tube videos, fan images and brings in new readers to Austen: If after 20 years, the miniseries still brings in new fans, I think they did it right.

Happy 20th Anniversary Pride and Prejudice!

 

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Happy 10th Birthday, Pride and Prejudice

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the 2005 edition of Pride and Prejudice.

Stepping into the formidable shoes of Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth were Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen.

For myself and many others, this film was the gateway drug that led not only to Austen, but other classic literature that we have may previously consigned to dated masterpiece miniseries and books we had to read in school.

While some may argue that the film cannot hold a candle to the 1995 miniseries, I would argue that for all that it lacks, for the most part, it is true to the book. Like many films where the source material comes from a book, certain elements or characters had to be edited or removed due to time constraints.  While I still prefer the 1995 miniseries, the film is charming, entertaining and keeps it’s audience engaged.

Happy Birthday Pride and Prejudice 2005!

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