Tag Archives: Dan Stevens

Gaslit Review

The definition of gaslighting is as follows:

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which the abuser attempts to sow self-doubt and confusion in their victim’s mind.

The new Starz series, Gaslit, premiered last Sunday. Set in the 1970s, it follows the events of the Watergate scandal. Martha Mitchell (Julia Roberts) is the outspoken wife of John Mitchell (Sean Penn), who was then the Attorney General under the late President Richard Nixon. Together with John Dean (Dan Stevens), their goal is to ensure that the President is re-elected, even if it means using less than honorable or legal means.

Martha becomes an unlikely hero for democracy as she realizes that her husband is in on the scheme and does everything she can (in her own way of course), to save the nation and her man.

What I am enjoying so far is that the spotlight is not on the usual suspects (i.e men), but on the women whose heroic acts are either ignored or downsized. I also like that Martha is unwilling to stay silent in the face of truth, even if it means opening the door to trouble. The acting is fantastic, the storytelling (so far at least) is easily watchable, and the politics is a reminder that even though it’s been 50-ish years, nothing has changed.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Gaslit airs on Starz on Sunday night at 8PM.

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Filed under Feminism, History, Politics, Television, TV Review

Regency Review Roundup: Sanditon and Bridgerton Season 2 Reviews

*There will be spoilers for Sanditon.

The Regency era is an interesting time in human history. Looking back, it is easy to see that, as a species. we are on the road to the modernity that is life today. But we are also still clinging to the rules and social structure of previous generations.

Bridgerton

After a year and a half wait, season two of Bridgerton premiered last weekend on Netflix. It’s been nine months since the narrative of season one ended. Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Bassett (Phoebe Dyvenor and Rege-Jean Page, who decided to move onto other projects) are happily married and have a baby boy. The oldest Bridgerton son Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) has decided it is his time to settle down. Among the eligible women of the ton, he chooses Edwina Sharma (Charitha Chandran). But before they can walk down the aisle, he has to get through her overprotective older sister, Kate (Simone Ashley). She is tough, smart, and unwilling to compromise on whom she sees as her future brother-in-law. The problem is that there is something between Anthony and Kate that cannot be ignored.

If last season one was hot, this season has the fire of several volcanoes exploding at the same time. The chemistry between Ashley and Bailey is intense. The enemies to lovers/slow-burn narrative is so perfect that I would recommend that anyone who wants to write a good romance novel watch this series. It’s that good.

Sanditon

Its been nine months since the audience has spent time with the denizens of Sanditon. After the death of her first love, Sydney Parker (Theo James), Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) has returned to the seaside town and the Parkers. Bringing her younger sister, Alison (Rosie Graham) with her, Charlotte reunites with old friends while making new male acquaintances. Among them are Charles Lockhart (Alexander Vlahos) and Colonel Francis Lennox (Tom Weston-Jones).

With her usual tenacity and intelligence, Charlotte is trying to move on with her life. But she is still grieving (as I suspect the viewers are as well) for what might have been, had things gone in another direction. As much as we all miss Sydney, I feel like this is opening the door for new opportunities for her in both the romantic and career arenas (as much as a woman could have back then). Akin to Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) dying in a car crash at the end of the third season of Downton Abbey, it was a heartbreaking loss. But I feel like if we look at it from a modern perspective, this unexpected change is normal. Not everyone spends their life with the first person they fell in love with. It sometimes takes a few years and a few relationships to find your other half.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Bridgerton is available for streaming on Netflix. Sanditon airs on PBS on Sunday night at 9PM.

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Filed under Books, Downton Abbey, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Netflix, Television, TV Review

Flashback Friday: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014)

When a film franchise becomes successful, the audience becomes more discerning. Based on the previous movies in the series, we have certain expectations of where the narrative will go.

Night of the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014) is the third movie in the Night at the Museum trilogy. Following the events of Night at the Museum (2006) and Night at the Museum: Battle for the Smithsonian (2009), Larry Dailey (Ben Stiller) has to save the magic before all is lost. Along the way, he is helped by old friends Jedediah (Owen Wilson), Octavius (Steve Coogan), and Teddy Roosevelt (the late Robin Williams in the next to last role before his untimely passing) and new friends. These new friends include Sir Lancelot (Dan Stevens) and Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek).

Though this movie is not as good as its predecessors, it is not all bad. It has the same energy and comedy as the first two films. But there is something missing, though I cannot put my finger on it.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, History, Movie Review, Movies

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga Review

The story of the underdog is as old as humanity.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga premiered on Netflix on Wednesday. Lars (Will Ferrell) and Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) have been best friends since childhood. Coming from a small town in Iceland, their dream is to win the Eurovision Song Contest.

It appears that their dream will be just that. Then an opportunity reveals itself. But like any dream, there are roadblocks. Lar’s father, Erick (Pierce Brosnan) is a cold fish when it comes to his son.

Alexander (Dan Stevens) is a Russian competitor who appears to be romantically interested in Sigrit. He also might be using Sigrit to break up the duo. But Sigrit and Lars have been doing the will they/wont they dance for years. Can they win the contest and finally admit of their feelings for one another?

I have mixed feelings about this movie. It is supposed to be part absurdist comedy and part inspirational film. The inspirational half of the film works just fine. But the absurdist comedy falls flat on it’s face. I should have been laughing out loud, but I wasn’t.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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Filed under Movie Review, Movies, Music, Netflix

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

A Christmas Carol is the progenitor of every Christmas story has been published since 1843.  The Charles Dickens novel has not only become synonymous with the holiday, but also with the idea of being kind to our fellow mortals.

The new film, The Man Who Invented Christmas, stars Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens. With the recent success of Oliver Twist,  Dickens is under pressure to write his next novel. But with the creative well running dry and his bank account running equally as dry, he has to do something. Soon the idea for his next novel will start flowing, but so will the tension with his wife, Kate  (Morfydd Clark) and his father, John (Jonathan Price). He must also contend with the characters that are talking to him, including the man who will soon be known to the world as Scrooge (Christopher Plummer) and face his own past.

 

As a writer, it is always fascinating to see how other writers go on their creative journey to create their work. As an audience member, for me at least, it is fascinating to watch how a screenwriter can expand not just upon the myth, but on the everyday human struggles of their characters, especially ones that are as well known as Charles Dickens.

I recommend it.

The Man Who Invented Christmas is presently in theaters. 

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Filed under Books, History, Life, Movie Review, Movies, Writing

Beauty and The Beast Movie Review

For a generation, the 1991 animated adaptation of Beauty and the Beast has defined how modern audiences view fairy tales.

This past weekend, the live action Beauty And The Beast hit theaters. Based off of the original story written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve Belle (Emma Watson) is a young lady living in a small rural town in 18th century France. The odd girl out in her town, she dreams of seeing the world and escaping the attention of Gaston (Luke Evans). Gaston cannot understand why Belle won’t marry him and doggedly pursues her.

When Maurice (Kevin Kline), Belle’s father does not return home from a short trip, she goes searching for him and finds him locked away in dark and scary looking castle. The master of the castle, simply known as Beast (Dan Stevens) is a cursed prince in beastly form. The curse is simple: if he cannot forgo his selfish ways, love another and be loved by them in return, he will forever be a beast. Belle makes a deal with the Beast: she will take her father’s place. The Beast’s servants (who have been cursed into household objects) are overjoyed that Belle has walked into their lives and there is a chance that they all will return to their former human selves. But Belle and the Beast don’t exactly get off on the right foot and it seems like the curse is here to stay.

How do I love this movie? Let me the count the ways: it is brilliant, funny, romantic, human and it reminds me why we all fell in love with the original film 26 years ago. Building upon the affection that we as the audience have for the 1991 film, this film is the definitive Beauty And The Beast for this generation. If I had to choose one quality that made this the best film of 2017 (so far), I would say that the writers smartly filled in the minor gaps in character and narrative that left a few questions open from the 1991 film.

I absolutely recommend it.

Before I end this review, I have to bring up the gay rumors. The moments that are getting some up in arms are so quick that it’s really nothing with nothing. I could go on, but I will let Randy Rainbow speak further about this topic.

Beauty And The Beast is presently in theaters.

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Filed under Beauty and the Beast, Books, Fairy Tales, History, Movie Review, Movies

Beauty And The Beast Trailer

The trailer for Beauty And The Beast is out and well, the internet is buzzing.

I’ve read and heard that the narrative and the characters have been expanded from the animated film. The Beast’s back story will be given more screen time and Belle, on top of the bookworm we all know and love, is also an inventor.

I can only hope that this film is not only as good as it promises to be, but also lives up to reputation of its predecessor.

Only time will tell, but hopefully the reviews and box office receipts in March will be glowing.

Happy Tuesday.

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Something There Between Dan Stevens And Emma Watson?

In movie news that makes me incredibly happy, a new live action Beauty And The Beast will soon be in the process of being filmed.

In the title roles will be Emma Watson (Harry Potter) and Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey). Playing Belle’s unwanted and obnoxious suitor , Gaston, is Luke Evans (Dracula Untold).

This movie is only in pre-production, but I am so excited about this movie.

In other Beauty And The Beast news, a French language Beauty And The Beast was released last year. As far as I know, it has yet to be released in the states either in theaters or on DVD.

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Filed under Beauty and the Beast, Downton Abbey, Movies

Sense And Sensibility 1995 Vs Sense And Sensibility 2008

Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen’s first published novel. Writing under the pseudonym of “a lady”, Sense and Sensibility is the story of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. When their father passes away, their elder brother inherits the family estate, Norland Park. Knowing that Norland Park is no longer their home, Elinor and Marianne, with their mother and younger sister Margaret are forced to find a new home and make a new life elsewhere.

As I did with the other novels, I’m going to compare and contrast the most recent adaptations.

1995

Cast: Elinor (Emma Thompson), Marianne (Kate Winslet), Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman), Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant) and John Willoughby (Greg Wise) .

  • Pro’s: Directed by Ang Lee, with a screenplay by Emma Thompson, the 1995 movie retains Austen’s voice as a writer.  It is a charming movie, for both the general movie fan and the ardent Janeite. Greg Wise looks awful good in breeches.
  • Cons: Let’s face it, as good as an actress and a screenwriter Emma Thompson is, she was far from 19 when this movie was made.  Elinor is still a teenager, regardless of the actress stepping into her shoes.

2008

Cast: Elinor (Hattie Morahan), Marianne (Charity Wakefield), Colonel Brandon (David Morrisey), Edward Ferrars (Dan Stevens)  and John Willoughby (Dominic Cooper).

  • Pro’s: With a screenplay written by Andrew Davies and the younger characters played by a whose who of  young British actors, this adaptation has a lot going for it. Davies fleshes out secondary story lines that that makes the primary story line vibrant and alive.  I also like is that the cast is age appropriate.
  • Con’s: None.

And the winner is….. I can’t decide.

 

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Filed under Books, Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

My Favorite Jane Austen Adaptations

Adapting a book into a performable format is complicated. It has to be true to the original novel and please the fans while appealing to the entire audience, not just the hard core fan base.

I am a Janeite. As one might be able to guess my personal library and DVD collection contains a fair amount of Jane Austen related materials.

I would to share my top three favorite Jane Austen adaptations and why these three films should be viewed as templates for any writer or filmmaker looking to adapt a book.

My criteria is the following:

1. The actors have to look the part. The chemistry has to be there. Otherwise it all falls apart. (Yes, I am looking at you, 1996 Jane Eyre. William Hurt was too old for the part of Edward Rochester and had zero chemistry with Charlotte Gainsbourg).

2. The set has to look right. Every reader has their own idea of what the setting looks like, but it has to like right.

3.  It MUST follow the book as much as possible.

That being said, here my favorite Jane Austen Adaptations

3. 1995 Sense and Sensibility

Directed by Ang Lee and written by Emma Thompson  (who also played the lead role of Elinor Dashwood), this adaptation is beautiful.

Joining Emma Thompson is Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood, Hugh Grant as Edward Ferrars and Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon.

Putting aside the fact that Emma Thompson was a generation older than her character and played Elinor as if she was in her late 20’s, I have no complaints about this adaptation. I’ve read that some people didn’t think that Hugh Grant was the right actor to play Edward, but Edward Ferrars is a bit of a controversial character within Jane Austen fiction. I personally think that Dan Stevens was a better Edward, but to each their own.

2. 1995 Persuasion 

Persuasion is the last of Austen’s completed novels. It has an Autumnal feeling, sad and sweet. As if she knew deep down that this would be her last completed work.

Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds play the two leads, Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth. The chemistry between them is palpable.  They are both age appropriate and look like they have experienced a bit of life.

It’s lush, it’s beautiful and as with the novel, when you think that second chances don’t happen, they do happen. So does the happiness that you thought was lost forever.

1. 1995 Pride And Prejudice

You knew this was obvious. This is the one where Colin Firth in clingy pants strips down to his knickers and white shirt and dives into the lake.

Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle have some of the best on screen chemistry that I have ever seen. While I am sure they both would like the audience to look at their entire body of work and  not just this particular performance, there is no denying that whatever it is that make actors look good together on screen, they have it.

The supporting cast works. The filmmakers crossed their t’s and dotted their eyes with this production.  I still get shivers when I hear the theme song.

I recommend any of these films for any viewer or Janeite, whether they be a newbie or old fan.

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Filed under Emma, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice