Tag Archives: Emma Thompson

The Children Act Movie Review

When those in the legal field make a ruling, the hope is that is it is clean-cut. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

In the new film, The Children Act (based on the novel of the same name by Ian McEwan),  Fiona Maye (Emma Thompson) is a judge who is juggling a successful professional life and a crumbling marriage. Her marriage to her American husband Jack Maye (Stanley Tucci) is going down the tubes, mainly due to Fiona’s almost workaholic tendencies. At the same time, she is assigned the case of Adam Henry (Fionn Whitehead), a young man who is dying from Leukemia. Adam’s family are Jehovah’s Witnesses and do not believe in blood transfusions, even if it could save his life.

In order to determine if Adam’s religious beliefs trump the hospital’s decision to force him to take the blood transfusion, Fiona visits Adam in the hospital. Though neither Fiona or Adam know it, this visit will have a profound effect on feelings that neither have truly explored previously.

This movie is amazing. It explores a nuanced narrative with flawed, human characters that anyone can relate to.

I absolutely recommend it.

The Children Act is presently in theaters. 

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Filed under Books, Movie Review, Movies

Throwback Thursday-Wit (Television Movie)-2001

Cancer has a unique way of forcing us to re-asses our lives.

In 2001, the Margaret Edson play Wit, was adapted for television. Starring Emma Thompson as Dr. Vivian Bearing, an English professor diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer and Audra McDonald, one of Dr. Bearing’s nurses, the play is a unique and eye-opening take on how life changes when we battle cancer.

Sometimes, when the focus of a narrative is a character battling cancer, sometimes the writer(s) had a tendency to go overboard on the sadness or the what if thoughts that the character or their loved ones might be entertaining. But the writers found a way to balance the reality of battling cancer with humor and a sarcastic bite that helps to lighten the mood and help the audience release some of the emotional tension coming from the story.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Thoughts On The 14th Anniversary Of The Release Of Love Actually

14 years ago today, Love Actually hit theaters.

Set in London a month before Christmas, the movie is about eight couples whose narratives and lives are loosely entwined. Daniel (Liam Neeson) has recently lost his wife and is trying to figure out how to raise his stepson. Mark (Andrew Lincoln) is in love with Juliet (Keira Knightley). Juliet is married to Mark’s best friend Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Karen (Emma Thompson) and Harry (the late Alan Rickman) are a long time married couple. Harry’s eyes are starting to wander towards his secretary. Karen’s brother, The Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) has a crush on his assistant. I could go on, but I will let the trailer speak for itself.

What I love about the movie (besides the fact that part of the cast have been in Austen adaptations) is that this movie is neither overly romantic, overly corny, nor does it bash the audience over the head that it’s Christmas. It’s about love, relationships and the need for a human connection, none of which are confined to the Christmas season or to those who celebrate Christmas.

If you have not seen this movie, I highly recommend it. It is one of the few Christmas movies, that in my opinion, are worth watching.

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Throwback Thursday Part III- Much Ado About Nothing

William Shakespeare’s works are immortal. They have outlived his lifetime and will continue to outlive our lifetimes.

Much Ado About Nothing is one of his greatest comedies. Last year, Joss Whedon released his version of Much Ado about Nothing.

In 1993, actor/director Kenneth Branagh released his take on the classic comedy. His Benedict is opposite his then wife, Emma Thompson as Beatrice. Robert Sean Leonard and Kate Beckinsale are Claudio and Hero. Secretly planning on bringing the lovers together is Don Pedro (Denzel Washington), Leonato (the late Richard Briers) and Antonio (Brian Blessed). Conspiring to keep the lovers apart is Don John (Keanu Reeves).

This is how Shakespeare should be done, every time. The cast is spot on and the movie is perfect. I still think that Hero should have not been so quick to take Claudio back, but that is the play overall and that is another topic for another post.

I recommend this movie.

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Filed under Movie Review, Movies, Throwback Thursday, William Shakespeare

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

Saving Mr. Banks- Behind The Scenes Of A Classic

Tonight I saw Saving Mr. Banks, the biopic of how Mary Poppins was transferred from the page to the screen.

The film has two alternating, but equal story lines.  PL Travers (Emma Thompson) is the author of Mary Poppins.  Sales have dried up and she is in need of an income. For the past twenty years, Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) has been asking her for the rights to make a film based on the book. She has finally agreed to travel to Los Angeles to discuss the possibility of making the movie, but she is determined that it does not become too Hollywoodized.

The other story line is the flashbacks of her childhood in Australia. Her father (Colin Farrell) loves his family, but has flaws that prevents him from being the father and husband that he needs to be. Her mother (Ruth Wilson) does her best to be a good mother, but finds herself hindered by her husband’s actions.

We all know Mary Poppins, the movie has been part of our lives since it premiered. It’s like any classic, sometimes when you know the details and experiences of the author’s life, the story takes on a different meaning.

The movie clocks in at 2 hours. It’s a little long, but enjoyable.

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