Tag Archives: Kate Winslet

RIP Alan Rickman

*Warning: the post contains minor spoilers about the narrative and characters in Sense and Sensibility. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or have watched any of the adaptations. 

Two years ago today, the world lost of one this era’s greatest actors: Alan Rickman.

My favorite Alan Rickman performance will always be Colonel Brandon in 1995 film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. Playing opposite Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood, his character (as it was faithfully adapted from the novel of the same name by Jane Austen), was a man who held the proverbial cards to his chest. When the audience meets Colonel Brandon in the film, he introduced as the good friend of the cousin who is renting a small cottage on his property to the newly widowed Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters. A bachelor in his mid 30’s,  he is amiable and a gentleman, but his character and his past are a mystery at that juncture in the narrative.

Over the course of the story, Colonel Brandon is revealed to be a man whose past is filled with grief and heartbreak. Rickman played the part with nuance and sensitivity, elevating the character to a new level, reminding Janeites why Colonel Brandon is one of the favorite leading men within the Jane Austen universe. Rickman himself became a fan favorite, gaining new fans and a new level of respect from the Janeite fan base.

RIP Sir. While your physical remains are gone, your spirit and your body of work will live on forever.

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Filed under Books, Jane Austen, Movies, Sense and Sensibility

Thoughts On The 20th Anniversary Of Titanic

On December 19th, Titanic turns 20.

Titanic is basically the story of a fictional upper class Juliet and a lower class Romeo set on the real ship. Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a poor artist who wins a ticket on the Titanic over a game of cards. Rose Dewitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) is a socialite who is unhappily traveling with her mother and fiance back to America. Fate brings them together, but can fate and love keep them together as the ship sinks and issues of class and wealth get in the way of a happy ending?

I was a teenager when this movie hit theaters. Like many teenagers back then, I thought the movie was, well, perfect. There was romance, drama, class politics, beautiful period clothing, and on top of it all, one of the most infamous naval disasters in modern human history.  When I look back at the film through the eyes of an adult, the luster is slightly gone, but this film will always have a place in my heart.  While James Cameron is not the best screenwriter, the narrative and dialogue could be much worse. Of course, it helps that Leo and Kate’s on-screen chemistry (and off-screen BFF relationship) is indisputable.

Titanic is one of those movies that 20 years later, I still know by heart. There are some movies that will always mark certain times in our lives. Titanic will always be a reminder of my teenage years.

I think I may watch it again, not just for old time’s sake, but because it’s still a pretty good movie.

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Movies With Birthdays-Forbidden Romance Edition- Titanic (1997) & Dirty Dancing (1987)

There nothing as exciting as a forbidden romance, especially on the big screen. For a film where the basic narrative is a forbidden romance to not only initially succeed at the box office, but to last long after it has left theaters, well, it has to be pretty special.

While some films within this narrowly defined narrative have failed and have been forgotten, both Titanic (1997) and Dirty Dancing (1987) have gone on to not only become classics, but also generational markers. In honor of the 20th anniversary of Titanic and the 30th anniversary of Dirty Dancing, I’d thought it was time to celebrate these remarkable films that have stood the test of time.

Titanic

Loosely based on the sinking of the actual Titanic, the film combines real events with real people who were on the ship with the fictional romance of upper class girl Rose Dewitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) and lower class boy Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio). Told in past tense by Rose in her twilight years (Gloria Stuart), Rose is traveling on the Titanic back to America with her mother, Ruth Dewitt Bukater (Frances Fisher) and her unwanted fiance, Cal Hockley (Billy Zane).

Rose and Jack have a near immediate connection, but the difference in their class nearly keeps them apart. Then Titanic hits the iceberg and everything changes.

I think many writers (including myself) will agree that James Cameron is not the best at writing dialogue and the plot is predictable, but that is the fun of this movie. It is also to progenitor of the fictional story within a real historical event genre. And who could forget the film’s theme song, which no one could get away from in the late 1990’s.

Dirty Dancing

Set in the early 1960’s, Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey) is a young woman going up to the Catskills with her family for summer vacation. Lacking in confidence, Baby is young, idealistic and naive. She falls for Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze), the hotel’s lead male dance instructor who is technically off limits to her. When Penny Johnson (Cynthia Rhodes) is no longer able to join Johnny on the dance floor, Baby steps up the plate. But she is not a dancer and is aware that both she and Johnny are breaking the rules by not only dancing together, but falling in love.

What can one say about Dirty Dancing? The music is danceable (and singeable), Baby is an every woman and Patrick Swayze was not too bad on the eyes either. It’s basically a coming of age story combined with a forbidden romance, which elevates the movie to a higher plane of character and story development.

And course, Dirty Dancing has it’s own iconic theme song.

The fact that both of these films have lasted as long as they have is a testament to the power of love, the dangerous excitement of forbidden romance and the fact that both films are incredible.

P.S. The inspiration for this post came from the reboot of Dirty Dancing, which will be airing on ABC on Wednesday. Look for my review later in the week.

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Filed under History, Movies, Music, Uncategorized

A Little Chaos Review

Chaos is not always a bad thing. It leads to change, which leads to new opportunities.

A Little Chaos is about the creation of the garden of Versailles and the landscape artists who helped to build the garden.

Alan Rickman pulls triple duty on this film. Director, co-screenwriter and stars as Louie XIV. Matthias Schoenaerts is Andre Le Notre, who is trusted with the task of building the gardens. Kate Winslet is Sabine De Barra, a widowed gardener who works with Andre to build the garden.

As Andre and Sabine work together to create the garden, forces are plotting to prevent the garden from being completed. Andre’s spiteful wife, Madame Le Notre (Helen McCrory) sees Sabine as a rival and is more than eager to sabotage her success. Louie is willing to take a gamble on garden, but will the vision become reality?

This movie is phenomenal. Twenty years after Sense and Sensibility, the chemistry between Rickman and Winslet is still there.  In the lead roles of Sabine and Andre, Winslet and Schoenaerts have the solid chemistry that makes a historical romantic drama believable.  And for my fellow Janeite’s, the Austen connection goes beyond Alan Rickman and Kate Winslet. Jennifer Ehle (Pride and Prejudice), Rupert Penry-Jones (Persuasion) and Phyllida Law (Emma, Miss Austen Regrets) all have roles in this film.

I absolutely recommend it.

A Little Chaos is presently in theaters. 

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Filed under Books, Emma, History, Jane Austen, Movie Review, Movies, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility

Throwback Thursday- Finally, A Good Rom Com- The Holiday (2006) & Something’s Got To Give (2003)

The romantic comedy genre (shortened to rom com) is a pretty basic genre. Two people meet and something sparks between them. But there are boundaries, acted out in a light and funny way, to what may be their happy ending. While there are many rom coms that are formulaic and predictable from the get go, thankfully there are a few movies within the genre that are not.

In The Holiday (2006), Amanda (Cameron Diaz), who lives in Los Angeles and Iris (Kate Winslet), who lives near London, are having relationship issues. Needing a break from their lives, they meet on a house swapping website and agree to live in each others homes during the holiday.  In England, Amanda meets Iris’s brother, Graham (Jude Law). In Los Angeles, Iris meets Amanda’s 90 year old neighbor, Arthur (the late Eli Wallach) who helps her to regain her confidence while she starts to fall for Miles (Jack Black), one of Amanda’s colleagues.

While I normally don’t care for Jude Law or Jack Black, both are charming in this movie. Jude Law, playing a Cary Grant-esque Graham and Jack Black, without resorting to his usual man boy clownish acting are genuine in their parts.

What I like about this movie is that it is simple and sweet without being too predictable. We can all agree that every genre has it’s standard plot markers. But this movie reaches those plot markers without the audience feeling like they saw it comes a mile away.

In Somethings Got To Give (2003), Erica Barry (Diane Keaton) is a successful playwright. Her thirty something daughter Marin (Amanda Peet) brings her much older boyfriend Harry Sandhorn (Jack Nicholson) to her mother’s Long Island home for the romantic weekend. Marin does not know that her mother and aunt Zoe (Frances McDormand) are there. After suffering a heart attack, Harry is rushed to the hospital where he is treated by Dr. Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves) who develops a crush on Erica.

At the time of the movie’s release, there was a bit of a kerfuffle in regards to the brief frontal nudity of Diane Keaton. But it was so brief that the audience had to blink or they would miss it. That aside, what I like about this movie is that Keaton and Nicholson, for once, are age appropriate for on screen romantic couple. Adding Reeves and Peet to this very odd love square was a wise touch by the screenwriter.

I recommend both.

 

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Revolutionary Road-Book And Movie Review

The 1950’s are often viewed with the lenses rose colored glasses. Television programs like the Donna Reed Show and Father Knows Best presented the image of the perfect Caucasian middle class family where the problems were simple and solvable with 30 minutes. Life is never that perfect or that easy.

Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates’s novel about the imperfections beneath the surface, was published in 2000.

Frank and April Wheeler are living what seems to be the perfect suburban middle class life in the 1950’s.  But there are issues bubbling beneath the surface the threaten their marriage, their family and the image that they have cultivated for their friends and neighbors.

In 2008, the book was adapted into a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

The book and the movie are both incredible.  Despite it’s glossy image, the 1950’s was a very complicated and dark decade. Like any couple, Frank and April had problems that are not always obvious to the passerby, but upon further inspection, reveals large issues that are unresolved. The end is unflinchingly heart breaking.

I recommend both.

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Flashback Friday-Titanic

Titanic, the ship sank on April 15th, 1912. Titanic, the movie sailed into movie theaters on December 19th, 1997.

Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a poor artist who wins his tickets to the Titanic in a card game. Rose Dewitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) is returning to America via the Titanic to marry, though not by choice. Their romance is as ill fated as the ship they are sailing on.

Was I one of those teenage girls who saw this movie more than once in the theater? Yes. Was I one of those teenage girls who listened to the soundtrack till I was blue in the face or the CD became so scratched that I had to replace it? Yes. Was I also one of those teenage girls who thought Leonardo DiCaprio was the hottest thing on screen? Yes, though now I know better.

Let’s put this movie into perspective. Rose and Jack’s doomed relationship has a Romeo and Juliet, Heathcliff and Cathy feel to it. Complete with fate and those around them determined to see the lovers going their separate ways.  Is James Cameron a good director? Yes. Is he a good screenwriter? That depends on your opinion. The dialogue in this movie, even with the A list actors reciting the lines, is a little wooden.

But it’s the kind of movie that on a lazy, rainy weekend afternoon, that you watch just because it’s on. And for my generation, it’s all about nostalgia and a movie (complete with it’s iconic theme song) that played on and on and on….

And just because this movie takes itself a little too seriously, I give you SNL’s take on Titanic.

https://screen.yahoo.com/titanic-alternate-ending-000000567.html

Do I recommend this movie? Sure, why not it’s only an iconic part of my teenage years.

 

 

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Movie Review, Movies, 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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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

Labor Day-Tense and Suspenseful

Romantic dramas and coming of age stories usually fall into two categories: Sappy and predictable or suspenseful and unpredictable.

Labor Day, thankfully falls into the second category.

Based on the book of the same name by Joyce Maynard, Labor Day is a love story, but also a coming of age story.

Adele (Kate Winslet) is a divorced single mother who has become anxious and isolated since her husband Gerald (Clark Gregg) left her for another woman. Her son, Henry (Gattlin Griffith) tries to make up for his father’s absence, but is lacking. When a convict, Frank (Josh Brolin) uses them as a means to hide until he can escape from the police, he becomes the father Henry needs and provides the love that Adele needs. 

I enjoyed this movie. It sort of had a Wonder Years type of narrative. Toby Maguire narrates the story as an adult Henry, remembering those fateful 5 days.  It could have been sappy, cliched or predictable. But it wasn’t. I was on the edge of my seat the entire movie. Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin have electric chemistry, Gattlin Griffith plays his character as both a young boy on the edge of growing up, but also taking on the responsibility of being the man of the house.

I may just read the book.

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