Tag Archives: Matthew MacFadyen

The Assistant Movie Review

The first job out of college is never what we think it will be.

In the new movie, The Assistant, Jane is a recent college grad. Living in New York City, she is working as an assistant to a well known and powerful Harvey Weinstein like movie executive. The lowest employee on the totem pole, she does the work of many low level assistants: she makes coffee, accepts the mail, answers the phone, etc.

But something is off about her boss. She sees a number of women come and go from his office. Her concerns lead to her to Wilcock (Matthew MacFadyen) in human resources. But HR is not exactly helpful. Can Jane continue to do her job or will her conscious get the best of her?

Written and directed by Kitty Green, the narrative is told in a real world, 24 hour narrative. The feeling of the film is very visceral. Lacking music until the very end, the sounds of an office fill up the space. Where music usually steps in to tell the story, the sounds of emails coming in, the phone ringing and typing takes the place of music.

If there was one thing that I noticed about the story is that the actions of the unseen but heard movie executive is not exactly a secret within the company. What is disturbing is that the employees either laugh it off or make side comments, but don’t do anything about it. Only Jane has the nerve to call out her the misbehavior of her boss.

This film is jarring, powerful and a seething indictment of sexism in the workplace.

I absolutely recommend it.

The Assistant is presently in theaters.

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Filed under Feminism, Movie Review, Movies, New York City

Howards End/Sanditon Review

Classic and beloved novels are easy targets for stage and screen reboots. The question that fans have to ask is if these reboots hold up to the text.

Last night, the new adaptations of Howards End and Sanditon premiered on Masterpiece.

Based on the E.M. Foster novel, Howards End is the story of the intermingling of three families in the early 20th century in England. The Wilcoxes are upper class, the Schlegels are middle class and the Basts are lower class. With a cast led by Hayley Atwell and Matthew Macfadyen, this story of cross-class differences and secrets is bound to delight audiences.

I have a confession to make: I have heard of the book, but I have never read it. That will soon be remedied. In the meantime, I was completely taken in by the first episode and as of now, I plan on completing the series.

Sanditon was started by Jane Austen just months before she died. An eleven chapter fragment of a novel, respected television writer Andrew Davies continued where Austen left off. Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) is part Elizabeth Bennet and part Catherine Morland. The daughter of a large landed gentry family from the country, Charlotte is young and eager to spread her wings.

When an offer comes her way to visit Sanditon, an up and coming seaside resort, she immediately says yes. But Sanditon is a different world than the world she grew up in. One of the people she meets is Sydney Parker (Theo James, who played the infamous Mr. Pamuk on Downton Abbey), the brooding and sometimes rude younger brother of the couple who she is staying with.

For many Austen fans, Sanditon is a what-if experience. With only eleven chapters completed, we can only guess what the completed novel would have looked like. As an adaptation, so far, I have to say that I am impressed.

Like his previous Jane Austen adaptation, Davies knows when to stick to the script and when to add a little something extra.

What I liked about the series so far is that unlike most Austen heroines, Charlotte’s main reason for going to Sanditon is not to find a husband. Most of her heroines (with the exception of Emma Woodhouse) are motivated to marry because of family pressure and/or financial needs. Charlotte goes to Sanditon to see the world and experience life outside of the family that she grew up in. She is also curious about the world and shows interest in certain subjects that would not be deemed “appropriate” for a woman of this era.

I really enjoyed the first two episodes. It is a love letter to Austen fans and contains plenty of Easter eggs if one knows where to look.

I recommend both.

Howards End and Sanditon air on PBS on Sundays nights at 8:00 and 9:00 respectively.

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

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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Pride and Prejudice 1995 Vs Pride and Prejudice 2005

I think it is pretty safe to say that Pride and Prejudice is Jane Austen’s most famous novel. Most people, regardless of whether they have read the novel or not, have at least heard of it.

Part of it’s success is due to the adaptations that Hollywood has provided us. The most famous adaptations are the 1995 miniseries and the 2005 movie.

Like my previous post about Mansfield Park , I will try to honestly debate both adaptations.

1995 Pride and Prejudice

Cast: Elizabeth Bennet (Jennifer Ehle), Fitzwilliam Darcy (Colin Firth), Mr. Bennet (Benjamin Whitrow), Mrs. Bennet (Alison Steadman), Lady Catherine De Bourgh (Barbara Leigh-Hunt)

Pros: Colin Firth in clingy pants (that ingenious line is from Lost In Austen, which I highly recommend). Sorry, I had to get that out.  Aside from that, Firth and Ehle have solid chemistry. It’s just there, you know that something is going to happen between their characters regardless of how much of the novel the viewer has read. There is so much detail in this adaptation, it is as if Miss Austen was on set during filming.  Every actor is perfectly cast.

Cons: The only con that I can think of is that some of the actors were a bit older than their characters, especially the parental figures in the novel.  But it’s not really a con because they were so effective as their characters that you forget there may be a 10 or 15 year age difference between the actor and the character.

2005 Pride and Prejudice 

Cast: Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley), Fitzwilliam Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen), Mr. Bennet (Donald Sutherland), Mrs. Bennet (Brenda Blethyn), Lady Catherine De Bourgh (Judi Dench)

Pros: This is a well put together movie. Director Joe Wright and screen writer Deborah Moggach created a very marketable movie that appeals to all, not just the Janeite fandom community. As Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam, Knightley and MacFadyen are both age appropriate and effective in their roles. This was my first real introduction, not just to Pride and Prejudice, but to Miss Austen as well. It works as a gateway to the other novels and overall Janeite fandom.

Cons: It is a 2 hour movie. The difference in making a 2 hour movie versus a 6 hour miniseries is that sometimes story lines have to be condensed and characters have to be cut out.

In conclusion, the winner is…. The 1995 miniseries

 

 

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Filed under Jane Austen, Movies, Pride and Prejudice