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.

A-Z Challenge: Sophie Kinsella

The Shopaholic series up to book 3.

Can You Keep A Secret?

Twenties Girl.

These are the 5 Kinsella books I’ve read. I can’t say I’m a fan because I’m not, but I read her because she’s like delicious recess after 3 periods of Les Mis or Nobel Prize literature. I tired of her Shopaholic series when, in the middle of the third book, I found that the basic plot structure was the same: girl gets into trouble (usually involving shopping), funny/crazy/annoying attempts to solve problem, then problem resolved. It’s like for each book shopping has been the cause of her problems and she has had to get herself out of trouble after first making a fool of herself multiple times.

Can You Keep A Secret? was pretty predictable. She blabs her secrets to a gorgeous hunk, they get together, hunk blabs secrets, they fight and yeah. You know the rest. But since this is a one-shot, it was fairly entertaining. Also, the protagonist’s the least annoying of the three leading ladies.

Twenties Girl. A-nnoy-ing.

Sophie Kinsella’s pretty good at this chick lit stuff. Her main characters can be annoying most of the time, but they all have an inner strength that can also serve as inspiration to all the ladies needing a bit of it.

A-Z Challenge: Jane Austen

My friends would call me a hypocrite if I didn’t write about Austen in this challenge. After all, I did get a bunch of us to form a book club in her honor… initially. We’ve since moved on to other books. 🙂

But yes, Jane Austen remains an important figure in my life. It was one of her stories that got me hooked on the classics. A childhood friend once gave me a children’s comic version of Pride and Prejudice and Captains Courageous. Of course, being the romantic that I am, chucked Cheyne’s story and delved right into Darcy’s. I mean Lizzie’s.

After that, I got my hands on Persuasion and then Sense and Sensibility. I remember reading Persuasion back in 6th grade and ending up being confused about what happened. Sense and Sensibility was a different story. I didn’t know about shipping back then, but I shipped Elinor and Col. Brandon hard that first time I read it. And THEN I saw the movie with Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson and everything made sense (but I still shipped them both).

It wasn’t until college that I finally got my hands on a copy of Emma, but she annoyed the hell out of me with her meddling, so I dropped it, picking up where I left off years later when we finally started the book club. Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey I didn’t bother with because reading the summaries at the backs of the books already made me yawn. I got copies of the BBC movies, so I consumed those instead.

Thanks to the book club, though, I was forced to read all six of Austen’s novels, which was a good thing because the stories made more sense to me the second time around and not just because I had a better grasp of Austen’s language; it was because the struggles of each of the characters became more understandable and relevant. Italo Calvino says it best in Why Read the Classics?

In fact, reading in youth can be rather unfruitful, owing to impatience, distraction, inexperience with the product’s “instructions for use,” and inexperience in life itself. Books read then can be (possibly at one and the same time) formative, in the sense that they give a form to future experiences, providing models, terms of comparison, schemes for classification, scales of value, exemplars of beauty—all things that continue to operate even if the book read in one’s youth is almost or totally forgotten. If we reread the book at a mature age we are likely to rediscover these constants, which by this time are part of our inner mechanisms, but whose origins we have long forgotten. A literary work can succeed in making us forget it as such, but it leaves its seed in us.

The complexities of societal norms and expectations regarding love and marriage and children especially of a culture so different from my own were a mystery to my 12-year old inexperienced-in-life self, but facing them again at a more mature age allowed me the opportunity to really get to know the characters and therefore appreciate their stories more.

Austen is known for her irony and her wit, but all I could see was how well she was able to reach women from this day and age and still have them sighing and crying and gushing over her characters. Of course, the ladies loved Fitzwilliam Darcy and his grand gestures of love for Elizabeth Bennet (but some say Austen ruined men for the ladies. In any case, Austen’s characters connected with the readers whether they were doing something grand like Darcy or Col. Brandon or Henry Crawford (whom I wanted Fanny to end up with), or something simple and subtle like Wentworth noticing how tired Anne was and suggesting she ride with his sister instead of walking. In everything that Austen’s male characters did, there was romance. And in everything that her heroines did, there was courage.

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click the image for episode 1 😀

Her stories, most especially P&P, have spawned so many adaptations and retellings, the most recent of which might be Hank Green and Bernie Su’s production of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (YouTube). Before that, there were Bride and Prejudice (P&P Bollywood style), Lost in Austen and Pride & Prejudice (2005 with Keira Knightley) among many others. Adaptations for other Austen novels include Emma (two versions: Gwyneth Paltrow and that Underworld girl) and Clueless (Alicia Silverstone); Sense and Sensibility (with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet) and From Prada to Nada (Camilla Belle and Alexa Vega); Persuasion (two versions: Ciaran Hinds and Rupert Penry-Jones as Capt. Wentworth); Mansfield Park (loved the version with Frances O’Connor) and Northanger Abbey with TV movies.

Aside from Shakespeare, Austen’s the only other classical author I know whose works have continued to make such a huge impact on the modern age that they’ve spawned countless versions across all types of media. I love her; that’s all I really wanted to say.

or Capt. Wentworth 😀

Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire

Snow White’s been making the rounds, have you noticed? We’ve had the movie Mirror, Mirror which was supposedly a story about the evil stepmother; there was also that movie with Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth and that other actress; we’ve had the series Once Upon A Time which incorporated pretty much all known and popular fairy tale characters but led by Snow White, and we have this. Another masterful retelling of a fairy tale from THE master of retellings, Gregory Maguire.

Yes, I am well aware that this book came long before those movies and tv show came out, but I’ve only finished reading this last Sunday, so I’m way behind the Snow White bandwagon.

Let’s see. The beauty of Maguire’s retellings is that he contextualizes the original tales, giving them history but without taking away the magical elements from the stories. In Wicked, he painted an entire history for the Wicked Witch of the West, giving her depth, making the reader sympathize with such supposed wickedness. In Confessions of An Ugly Stepsister, he turns the tables around and makes Cinderella the evil stepsister. As for history and context, this sad perspective from Iris, one of Cinderella’s stepsisters, has as its setting seventeenth century Holland. I don’t know much about that time, so I’ll leave it at that. In Lost, which isn’t so much a retelling as one big allusion to the Charles Dickens’ story A Christmas Carol, we find that Ebenezer Scrooge may have been based on a real-life fictional person. Confusing last bit, I know, but I hope you get the point.

Maguire doesn’t just give us the pretty parts of the fairy tale; he gives us everything, from the disgusting to the sad to the confusing and infuriating and hopeful and magical and the real. He takes the glamour out of the fairy tales and presents us with something not necessarily more palatable but more sensible, I suppose, even with the supernatural elements.

Continue reading

Book

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I caught up on sleep, tv, and my reading. I still have a ton of books on my TBR pile, but because this book was soon to be returned to its owner and it’ll be a while before I can get my hands on it again, I decided to borrow it and read it over the weekend.

I’d forgotten how easy it was to read children’s novels, but I’ve realized that children’s novels have come such a long way from the novels I grew up reading. I had The Bobsey Twins, The Babysitter’s Club, Sweet Valley, The Hardy Boys, and my personal favorite, Nancy Drew. They were novels you could finish in one sitting, a feat I was very proud of when I was younger. Now, you had to set aside time to actually get through even a chapter of a children’s novel.

Take that book above that I’m reading now, for instance. That’s about five Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys books. While it is still a fun read, children’s novels have also become tedious, which I consider one reason why fewer kids are into reading.

If you tell me that Twilight has done a good job of increasing the number of readers then I’d agree with you if not for the notion that fans seem to have considered all other stories inferier to that of Bella and Edward’s.

But I digress. I miss the P54 Nancy Drew books that I bought in twos or threes with every trip to the bookstore. I miss having time to read more than one novel in a day.

Don’t get me wrong. I am actually grateful for these new and longer novels. It teaches perseverance and dedication to the written word. It teaches patience, which, in this world full of instant gratification, we seem to have lost.

things to review

so i’m late in making reviews. *sigh* this is not a good start for the year.

things to review
belle de jour power planner
Eagle Eye
Sense and Sensibility
Burn After Reading
The Time Traveler’s Wife

movies to watch and review
burn after reading
the curious case of benjamin button
desperadas

movie to watch out for

time-travelers-wifeMy holiday reading consists of Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife and Gregory Maguire’s A Lion Among Men, both of which were birthday gifts from my college friends. While I was browsing the net for some pictures of Time Traveler for use in my blog post, I came upon IMDB and found that the book was being turned into a movie. No surprise there, really, since this book has gotten quite a lot of attention, and, as with books that have gotten quite a lot of attention, Hollywood decided to turn this one into a movie.

The only thing that surprised me, really was the casting of Eric Bana as Henry DeTamble. Rachel McAdams seemed an okay cast in the role of Clare Abshire, but I had imagined Henry to be more lithe but leaner than Bana’s bulky mass. *shrug*

I’m in the middle of the novel already, and I can’t wait to find out what happens in the end.