The Complete Jane Austen on PBS: “Sense & Sensibility” (Part 1)

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I think this adaptation is going VERY well- I REALLY like the scenery and Col. Brandon (David Morrissey)!  The Dashwoods are (quite literally) removed from their grand house to face the effects of wind, rain, and sea in this production.  The mother is a MUCH stronger character in this film, partly because of the GREAT acting/stature of Janet McTeer (who brought much-needed humor to the dark Wuthering Heights several yrs back).  The cast is very young (as they should be according to the book).  Willoughby gets a scene where he gets to show his sadness/vulnerability before leaving for London (as his aunt wanted).  Can’t wait for the second episode…

Click below to see some cool behind-the-scenes stuff!

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/senseandsensibility/index.html

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Tyler Perry’s films compared to… Bollywood!!!

I ALMOST couldn’t believe the comparison (see below) when I read it!   

From March 31, 2008 issue of Time magazine (written by Richard Corliss):

“That format [domestic melodrama] which fed decades of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford weepies, still raises its head occasionally- in the HBO series Big Love or Broadway’s August: Osage County.  And it’s soapy, singing center of most Bollywood films.” 

Hmmm… After a while, it started to make sense!  I’ve seen one of Tyler Perry’s plays (on You Tube) and the family drama/rom com Daddy’s Little Girls (I liked it a LOT). 

Two Movie Reviews: “North Country” and “The Jane Austen Book Club”

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North Country

Okay, I admit it, I wanted to see this movie b/c Sean Bean (one of my fave Brits) is in it!  I borrowed the DVD from my mom a LONG while back, but just saw it yesterday.  Domestic issues, father-daughter probs, big union vs. “little” ppl (women mine workers who faced TERRIBLE harrassment), Woody Harrelson, Sissy Spacek (the quiet/ strong mom of heroine), and Frances McDormand (FABULOUS as always; gets to kiss Sean- hehehe) are here! 

We go back to the late ’80s in tough mining town in MN and meet a young single mom (Josie Aimes) of 2 trying to make it on her own (for the 1st time in her life, w/o a man).  Her dad (played VERY well by Richard Jenkins; opposite to his dad role in Rumor Has It) also works at the mine, and is NOT happy to see her there.  Also, unlike the mom, he can’t seem to forgive her for getting pregnant at 16 (can’t reveal too much about that b/c it’d spoil the end).  Josie is considered “kinda girly” but takes a job in the iron mine b/c the pay is good; the company recently opened up to women. 

This movie does an esp good job of showing us the community: harsh landscape, $ struggles, traditional, working-class Midwest.  You will be shocked by the things that happen to the ladies in the film, but it is based on a real case (the 1st sexual harrassment class action lawsuit).  Woody is the local sports hero turned lawyer who tries the case; he really gets into his role. 

What struck me, besides the father-daughter relationship, was Josie’s struggles with her son (who is trying to fit in like any other teen).  Charlize Theron connected well with the kids onscreen, and is good at showing vulnerability.  The audience gets to see real people and, not only “movie” types in North Country.  Niki Caro (dir also of Whale Rider) shows us another female from traditional community with (emotionally distant/angry) male relative who seeks to belong w/o giving up her dignity.

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The Jane Austen Book Club

You can try to analyze this film, BUT it’s just harmless fun IMHO!  I wanted to see it b/c I REALLY like Amy Brenneman, Hugh Dancy, and Jimmy Smits.  I hoped that Kathy Baker would have a bigger part, but there are FEW developed characters here.  In the book club there are: the wise / single/ unhappily married / and put-upon woman; the man is sweet/nerdy and has never read ANYTHING by Jane Austen.  Maria Bello’s character (Jocelyn) and Hugh Dancy (Grigg, the only guy member) had a few quirky/nice scenes.  The ppl in movie face some of the same issues that JA wrote about LONG time ago; these issues are universal/timeless.  Check it out if you wanna kick back and chill!  

Phillip Seymour Hoffman

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I’m not good with accents…

He [Capote] could’ve fit inside me!

…it’s personal, it’s political, it’s passion (re: his acting process)

Not yet 40, this still young actor is one of the GREATEST talents working in film today.  Other actors praise Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s work; audiences marvel as he transforms himself into an eclectic array of characters.  PSH has played an idealistic writer (State and Main), a sensitive home health care nurse (Magnolia), an insecure transvestite (Flawless w/ Robert DeNiro), and a quick-witted snobby WASP (The Talented Mr. Ripley).  Most recently, he played a tough, sardonic FBI agent in Charlie Wilson’s War w/ Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.

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Pic from Magnolia

Though is is (mostly) known as a character actor, PSH often grabs ones attention from the typical, handsome leading man.  He is not afraid to reveal himself to an audience.  The films choices he makes are varied, clever, and thought-provoking.  I am looking forward to seeing Capote and The Savages (I LOVE Laura Linney!!!).

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Pic from State and Main- PSH has a romance in this film (rare for him)!

Great Scot… and Brits!

For MANY reasons, I tend to gravitate towards British shows/movies/actors.  I think (overall) the theatrically-trained Brits are able to delve deep into a multitude of characters.  They are not out for merely celebrity status, and think of acting as a “job” (several greats have used this word).  They are more subtle and less self-conscious, unlike a lot of the “stars” here in US who tend to play themselves (the example that comes to mind now is Brad Pitt in Troy).  Below are a few young, talented, and cute (hey, that doesn’t hurt!) actors that YOU should watch out for.

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Toby Stephens – It’d be weird if he wasn’t an actor (mum is Dame Maggie Smith)!  Besides the (obvious) physical resemblance, he shares her ability to command attention onscreen, highbrow British accent, and confident gait (I love how he walks!)  He was honored with the role of the mysterious/romantic Mr. Rochester in the newest version of Jane Eyre.  Toby even learned Hindi to co-star in The Rising (titled Mangal Pandey in India) with noted Bollywood actor, Aamir Khan.  Plus he makes red hair look GORGEOUS!

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Benedict Cumberbatch – Obviously, this young actor DID NOT change his name for fame- LOL!  He isn’t a BIG star yet, but has received praise for his roles in Amazing Grace (he was Prime Minister, and best pal to Gruffudd’s Wilberforce) and Atonement (McAvoy was innocent; he was NOT- can’t give more away).  Looking forward to seeing more of Benedict in the future…

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Ioan Gruffudd – How can you NOT like the guy who insisted on coming around to save Rose from the icy arctic waters (in Titanic)!?  He’s done TV (in The Forsyte Saga he was rival to the- also fabulous and British- Damian Lewis), small indie films, and box office hits.  Ioan is a Welsh actor, so he’s been navigating different languages and cultures his entire life.  In his TV interviews, he is very humble and low-key.  He was even on The Tavis Smiley Show (which I LOVE) to promote Amazing Grace.  Hmmm… his looks and demeanor bring to mind Rupert Graves- another reason to be a fan!

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Hugh Dancy – He’s already worked with Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons (in the HBO miniseries Elizabeth I), played the lead role in his own miniseries (Daniel Deronda), tried rom com (here in US) and… just LOOK at that fabulous picture!  His great smile makes ME want to smile; I think he’ll keep getting work.  😉

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James McAvoy – Yup, he’s the Scot I metioned in the title!  He was doing theater as a teen, then got a considerable role in a sci-fi miniseries (Dune) in his early 20s.  Some critics have said that he is TOO interesting for “typical” boring leading parts because he can be fun, quirky, and engaging.  I went to see Atonement mainly to see how he’s grown as an actor.  James is my age, but already shown his maturity via his work!