Wrapping up the year with more movies

Persuasion (1995)

It’s Austen; come on. Of course I had to watch this again.

9 years they put their emotions on hold, and they thought they were done with each other. Fate, in the form of an extravagant minor royal of a father, brings the two back together in each other’s lives. Anne Elliot knows she still has feelings for him, but what of Wentworth? Has he gotten over her?

I always love watching this movie because it was in the little things that showed how both characters truly felt for each other: the nervous glance, the glare, the helping hand, the indifferent look, the angry message, the restrained and stiff stance, the dismissive meeting,

THE LETTER.

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It’s the polar opposite of Austen’s most iconic work, Pride and Prejudice, which was all about big and grand gestures. I find myself appreciating the nuances of the protagonists’ actions.

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Local and formal balls and sweeping declarations of love (albeit faulty and prejudiced and biased) and loud family members and love, love, LOVE.

As far as romances go, this could be the ancestor of modern-day romantic-comedies. Miscommunication and misunderstandings and bruised egos. This could easily be turned into a comedy of errors, but because Austen has written this so well, it would seem sacrilege to turn this into anything but a beautiful romantic film.

Oh just thinking of that sunrise meeting once again makes me melt.

English Only, Please (2014)

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I’ve gotten glimpses of reviews that have declared this as THE romantic comedy for the A/B market here in the Philippines. I’d agree with them if I hadn’t seen That Thing Called Tadhana first, but that’s for a different post.

In any case, I agree with the suggestion that the romantic-comedy films in this country are substandard and unintelligent and cheesy. There is no wit in the storytelling nor beauty in the cinematography. Horrible wigs proliferate in the local romance films (comedy or drama, it’s the same horrible wigs)taking one’s attention away from the story and directing it to that mop of turd on the actors’ heads.

In THIS movie, though, there are no such distractions. You can focus on the story, on the characters, on the dialogue. You can focus on male lead Derek Ramsay as his character tries in vain to speak Filipino well even though in reality, he actually speaks the language fluently. You can focus on Kean Cipriano’s role as the asshole boyfriend and scream, “TANGINA MO!” at him in the cinema (yes, it really happened). You can focus on Jennylyn Mercado who really is just perfect for the role. She was feisty and intelligent but stupid when it came to love.

Which brings me to the writer, Antoinette Jadaone.

She has three films that I know of under her belt: Beauty in a Bottle, That Thing Called Tadhana, and English Only, Please.

All three movies seemed to revolve around how people become stupid in love.  It makes you wonder how long she can work this angle without getting formulaic (notice the text inserts/commentary in all three films).

Footnote: The cafe scenes were shot in Cool Beans Library Cafe along Maginhawa St., Teacher’s Village, Quezon City.

A Christmas Wedding Date (2012)

This is a TV movie starring Marla Sokoloff whom I remember from Sugar and Spice and The Practice (TV). It was Christmas-themed, it was romance, so I watched it. It was meh as far as TV movies go, but it was still a pretty decent time-waster.

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I can’t win

Thanks for this, Penguin Random House FB

Thanks for this, Penguin Random House FB

I didn’t even have to think about it. I’d be Anne Eliot from Austen’s Persuasion. I identified more with her than the Pride and Prejudice‘s feisty Elizabeth Bennet, whom people say I am more like.

I suppose in terms of temperament, I certainly am more like the latter, but when it comes to matters of the heart, I find that I am more like Anne.

The truth is that the more I think about it, the more I find bits of myself in each of the Austen heroines. I have Catherine’s imagination, Emma’s annoyingness, Fanny’s righteousness, Elinor’s sense, Lizzie’s feistiness, and Anne’s martyrdom (the transliteration from Filipino into English has diminished the meaning) or, let’s just say, attitude.

But if you look at all these characteristics, these were the very things that got these ladies into trouble, and since I have all of them, does that mean the troubles headed my way are six-fold?

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

AHA!

(I just wanted to say that)

When my friends and I decided to do start a book club the first thing that we agreed on was to do Jane Austen books and that we’d do it chronologically, so we started with Northanger Abbey. I’m no Austen scholar so I don’t know if it was the first published work or the first written work, and I honestly don’t want to bother myself right now to look it up when the information will be there anyway later when I finish this post.

ANYWAY.

It was literally a drag to read the thing, so I decided to get the movie (the one with J.J. Feild! :D) to help me along. Honestly, it didn’t help much.

Nevertheless, you could see Austen was showing her preference for a strong female lead. Catherine had a tentative type of strength about her; she was unsure of how to act around other people, but she would always do what is right or what she thinks is right no matter how stupid she can be.

And with that statement came the realization that while Austen’s female leads may be strong and outspoken, they really can be annoyingly stupid at times, don’t you agree?

Adaptations

For a purist like me, it’s hard to enjoy an adaptation purely for its own merit. There’s always a part of me that will compare the adaptation–whether it’s film or TV–to its source. Whether the changes from novel to film are huge or minuscule, die-hard fans and purists will notice those changes and cry foul.

pride and prejudice 2Then again, there are some adaptations that took liberties with the text and yet were able to remain faithful to the spirit of the novel. My favorite example of this is the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley. There are other people who abhor the 2005 adaptation while others were pleasantly surprised that they were able to stand Keira Knightley here, but in my personal opinion, this was a better one than the mini-series with Colin Firth. SERIOUSLY. The mini-series was pretty dragging despite its faithfulness to all the details of the novel. Darcy’s first proposal was kept intact in the mini-series, but it lacked that goosebumps factor that the 2005 film had. In this one, Darcy first proposes in the rain. Well, sort of. And there was just oozles of sexual tension between the two heightened by the fact that they were so close to each other but didn’t kiss or even touch each other. Ugh.

I got distracted. What I wanted to say was that the 2005 film had so many beautiful sweeping scenes and powerful ones that appeal to both purists and those with a shorter attention span.

Have you noticed, as well, the increase in novel to film adaptations that Hollywood seems to be churning out every year? It’s like it’s a trend all of a sudden. On one hand, I’m happy to see Hollywood taking an interest in these stories and making them come to life, but on the other hand, I find it disheartening because people, especially the younger readers, would rather watch the film than spend time trying to bring the written word to life on their own. As a teacher, it kills me to hear students “cheat” by watching the movie instead of reading the assigned novels. We’ve tried to avoid this by selecting books that have no adaptations yet, but at the rate Hollywood is going, we might have to change reading lists every year.

To sum this up, as a purist I automatically have this feeling of reserve (bordering on dislike/hate) for adaptations, but as a teacher I have to remain objective and try to see how my students can benefit from consuming both the film and text. In any case, I appreciate adaptations because they offer a point of view that is sometimes different from how I viewed things, and this opens up discussion and brings forth new ideas, which are always welcome and worth exploring.

Book meme

Taken from FB.

15 Books

The rules: Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.

  1. The End of the Affair by Graham Green
  2. Confessions of An Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
  3. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  4. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
  5. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  7. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  8. The Watsons Go To Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
  9. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  10. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  11. Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys (forgot the title; the one about Egypt)
  12. Sweet Valley Twins (the holiday one with the harlequin twin dolls)
  13. 50 Greatest Love Letters of All Time by David Lowenherz (I wrote about this HERE)
  14. Love, Desire, Children, Etc: Reflections of A Young Wife by Rica Bolipata-Santos (my fave English teacher wrote this :D)
  15. Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

The following books were SO CLOSE to making the list:

  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  • Who’s Writing This? by Dan Halpern
  • Wicked by Gregory Maguire

If you want to answer this, go right ahead. Please send me a link to your post so that I can look at your list, too. 😀

Persuasion again

This post roughly sums up how I feel about Persuasion:

JUST CLICK IT. (links to a Tumblr post, if you need to know)

A-Z Challenge: Persuasion

Anne reading Wentworth's letter

Anne reading Wentworth’s letter

I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F.W.

So yes. I am a hopeless romantic. I admit it.

I am all for romantic gestures, big and small.

And this, my dear friends, both old and new, is why Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel.

Can you imagine a young couple so in love but facing so much negativity from family members? It’s not like Romeo and Juliet where they go all suicidal, but here, Anne Elliot is persuaded that Frederick Wentworth, the man wooing her, is not worthy of her. She is, after all, the daughter of a minor royal (I’ll never understand the hierarchy), and he… well. he’s a seaman.

And her being the obedient girl that she was, broke his heart and hers when she ended their relationship. For more than eight years she carried a broken heart, and when their paths cross again, her heart broke some more as he started to pay flirty attention to the sister of her brother-in-law.

But if you pay close attention throughout their interactions, you would see small gestures here and there that betrayed the true object of his thoughts: Anne. Oh yes, there was hurt; his heart was still broken like hers, and he resented her for listening to others instead of fighting for their love, but, as the letter above indicates, he was never inconstant.

How beautiful that line was! He was hurt and angry, yes, but his love remained hers through all that time. This was evident in the honest emotion that you can feel in his words. The letter was just… perfect.

As for Anne, she had grown up. She recognized that her family was a bunch of fools (and yes, if you’ve read the novel, I’m sure you’ll agree with her) and that it was time to start living for herself. It’s not a spoiler to say that Anne and Wentworth end up together because that’s expected, but the beauty in the story is their struggle to come to terms with what happened in the past and how they still feel towards each other.

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If you can’t be bothered with the novel, there are some TV movies that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. The one with Ciaran Hinds back in 1995 (I think) is my favorite because there was that classic restraint but their faces revealed how much they struggled. With the more recent one, the one with Rupert Penry-Jones, a lot of liberties were taken with the story that just made it… weird. Sally Hawkins and Rupert make a cute TV couple, though. 😀