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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Newsflash: Love and Friendship

Attention all my Janeite friends! Another Jane Austen adaptation is in production!
Lady Susan is finally getting adapted for the big screen! I'm rather excited because I really enjoy this story written in letters, but a bit worried that they could take a bad spin on it and leave out the satire and wit that is Jane Austen's genius. I'm not familiar with the script writer or other production crew, but I know they are filming in Ireland now!

Story: Set in the 1790s, Love and Friendship centers on beautiful widow Lady Susan Vernon, who has come to the estate of her in-laws to wait out colorful rumors about her dalliances circulating through polite society. Whilst there, she decides to secure a husband for herself and her rather reluctant debutante daughter, Frederica.

Title: Instead of calling it Lady Susan this production is being called Love and Friendship. It is unclear why they have decided to use the title of one of Jane Austen's Juvenalia works, but it sort of makes sense since it like Lady Susan is written in letters and Love and Friendship is really what this story is all about. Mags at AustenBlog had some interesting thoughts on the title too.

Actors: Here are the actors listed on the IMDb page.

Kate Beckinsale as Lady Susan Vernon
She was Emma Woodhouse in Emma (1997) and is no stranger to period dramas. And now, at the age of 42, I am excited to see her portray Jane Austen's anti-heroine. She has the charm and the presence to capture Lady Susan to a tea!

Chloë Sevigny as Alicia Johnson
I am not familiar with this American actress but apparently she started out as a model/designer and this may be her first period drama. She looks good in the period costume below and I can see her being the gossipy best friend of Lady Susan. 

Xavier Samuel as Reginald De Courcy
This Australian actor's claim to fame is the Twightlist Saga but he has been in period dramas before and is the right age for Reginald. 

Stephen Fry as Mr. Johnson
I certainly never thought to see Mr. Fry in a Jane Austen adaptation but this story is different from Jane Austen's other novels and Mr. Johnson is similar to a Mr. Bennet character. 

Emma Greenwell as Catherine Vernon
I can't say I've ever seen her act but she has the right look for Catherine and funnily enough she is set to also play Caroline Bingley in Pride & Prejudice and Zombies. I hope they stay true to Jane Austen's character and make her the kind compassionate friend that Frederica needs.

Morfydd Clark as Frederica Vernon
This actress with the neat Welsh name is fairly new to the screen but she's not only lined up to play Frederica but also Georgiana Darcy in Pride & Prejudice and Zombies. I'm interested to see how they portray Frederica, hopefully as the sweet young lady that Jane Austen created.

I'm very pleased to see Mr. Fleet in yet a third Jane Austen related film (Sense & Sensibility 1995, Death Comes To Pemberley) and another period drama! I'm hopefully that he will play Sir Reginald De Courcy, father of Reginald and Catherine.

A wonderful actress, Jemma has portrayed Lady Bertram in Mansfield Park (2007) and has been in other period dramas. I'm thinking she will probably play Lady Catherine De Courcy mother of Reginald and Catherine, but there's a couple other roles she could play including Mrs. Manwaring whose husband Lady Susan entices.

I've really enjoyed him on a few British panel shows and I have to say that this guy is comic genius. I'm picturing him as Sir James Martin, the blundering gentleman who wants to marry Frederica, but he'd be equally as good playing Mr. Manwaring or even Charles Vernon.

He's been in a couple small period drama series but nothing major. Not sure what character he might play but it could be Charles Vernon or Sir James Martin, maybe Mr. Manwaring. 

Not sure who she is set to play but I'm picturing her as either Miss Maria Manwaring or Frederica's teacher Miss Summers. Doesn't look like she's been in any period dramas but her name appears on the IMDb page.

Ross Mac Mahon as Owen
Firstly I'm not sure who this Owen character is, unless he's a servant or a friend of Reginald's. He's not on this handy dandy list of Lady Susan characters.

Production Photos:
Photos of actors in their costumes are already popping up! Costumes seem to be from the late 1700's which perfectly suits the time that Jane Austen wrote Lady Susan. Photos come from three different interesting articles: one, two, three. The photos seem like they might be from a scene towards the end of the story.
Xavier Samuel as Reginald De Courcy

Stephen Fry as Mr. Johnson

Chloë Sevigny as Alicia Johnson

Chloë Sevigny as Alicia Johnson

Chloë Sevigny & Kate Beckinsale

Chloë Sevigny & Kate Beckinsale

Kate Beckinsale as Lady Susan

Kate Beckinsale & Chloë Sevigny

All in all the film is looking like it will be good!

I am currently rereading Love and Freindship to see if it has any similarities to Lady Susan but other than the letters there isn't. I will be rereading Lady Susan next because it's been a while and it is brilliant! :)

Have you read Lady Susan?
What do you think of this cast?

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Making Of A Lady (2012)

The Making Of A Lady (2012) is Victorian era mystery or thriller of sorts, based loosely on Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Making of a Marchioness. It re-aired on PBS last fall and I meant to watch it then, so when I saw it on Netflix I took my chance. It was quite disappointing and a rather scary but with a happy ending. I'm pretty sure it wasn't much like the book, but I haven't read it yet.

I dislike doing negative reviews so I'm trying to keep this one short. This film looks good at first but it turns ugly in the middle. I don't recommend it.

Story: Poor but intelligent Emily Fox Seton accepts a marriage proposal from the older Lord James Walderhurst, a widower pushed into providing an heir by his haughty aunt Maria, Emily's employer. It is an arrangement for them both - in James' case to stop the family home passing to James' cousin Alec Osborn and his Anglo-Indian wife Hester. However affection soon grows between them but James is posted to India with his regiment and the Osborns come to stay with Emily, telling her James sent them to look after her. But they have lied and Alec's alarming mood swings brought on by illness threatens Emily's pregnancy and drives the staff away. Soon Emily realizes that the couple mean to kill her and take the house for themselves. With only her loyal maid Jane for support how can she thwart their plan?

Characters & Actors:
  • Lydia Wilson as Emily Fox Seton - Main character, she is kind but clever and at the same time a little bit dumb to allow the evil characters to get close to her.  
  • Linus Roache as Lord James Walderhurst - He marries Emily, and it's hard to figure him out at first whether he's good or bad. It seems like he could have put more protection in place for his new wife, especially if he knew his relatives were capable of murder. 
  • Joanna Lumley as Lady Maria Byrne - Walderhurst's aunt who does not approve of his marriage to her companion who she treats poorly. I think eventually she sees how good Emily is for her nephew.
  • James D'Arcy as Captain Alec Osborn - Ugh! I usually really enjoy James D'Arcy in period drama roles but in this one he plays the crazed murdering villain and it's awful! :(  And I hate that this character's name is Alec because I rather like that name. 
  • Hasina Haque as Hester Osborn - She's Alec's wife and does exactly what he wants her to do. You kind of want to like her but she follows his murderous schemes so it's rather impossible. 
  • Sarah Ridgeway as Jane - Emily's friend who comes to work as her ladies maid and all seems well until even she is beguiled by Alec. 
  • Souad Faress as Ameerah - Hester's loyal servant who is also from India. Unfortunately she sides with Alec over Hester in the end and puts Emily's life in danger. She's one creepy person.
  • Malcolm Storry  as Mr. Litton - The loyal butler who unfortunately gets killed during the film. There seems like there was a lot more that he could have done to help protect Emily, even before he was found dead.
  • Claire Hackett as Mrs. Litton - The cook/housekeeper, again there seemed like she could have alerted the authorities to the murderous plot going on, even if she was afraid for her own life after the death of her husband.

The Long & The Short Of It: The movie starts out weird and turns scary, more of a Victorian era thriller similar to The Woman In White, The Moonstone and The Mystery Of Edwin Drood only slightly worse. It does have a happy ending but I'm not sure it's worth watching the creepiness of the rest of the film. It is a slightly racist story as it makes the Indian characters as the bad guys, giving a rather "they are from a different country so of course they are evil" attitude to the "good" characters. There seems like there could of been a less traumatic way to try and kill Emily at the end, she was in the priest's hole at one point so they could have just sealed up the air holes. Kind of weird that they missed out on that opportunity. I recommend you steer clear of this film at all costs!

Have you seen The Making Of A Lady (2012)?
Anybody know if the book is any good? I'm thinking about trying the audio book. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Belle (2013)

Trailers for Belle (2013) looked very interesting when I first saw them so I bought a DVD copy hoping it would be good but I actually didn't open the DVD for a couple months. I ended up watching Belle with my family over my Christmas break. A friend of mine actually mentioned he had watched it and that he thought I would really like it and he was right, we all enjoyed it. Belle (2013) is a beautiful film with a lot of heart sweet romance and history of slavery. If you like Amazing Grace (2005) then you will probably enjoy this film!

Story: Belle (2013) is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Captain. Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield and his wife, Belle's lineage affords her certain privileges, yet the color of her skin prevents her from fully participating in the traditions of her social standing. Left to wonder if she will ever find love, Belle falls for an idealistic young vicar's son bent on change who, with her help, shapes Lord Mansfield's role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England.

Costumes: Lovely Georgian styles! The ladies dresses are often a bit low as was the fashion but the materials and trimmings are lovely. Very rich and textured.

Scenes: A gorgeous film, the house and grounds where Dido grows up is amazing! Also the London house is lovely.

Music: Soundtrack composed by Rachel Portman (Emma 1996, Nicholas Nickleby 2002) but there's also pieces from Bach and Handel used in the film.

Inappropriate Content: It is mentioned briefly that Dido's parents were not married. Some slightly crude language and names are used. One gentlemen makes advances toward Dido proving his bad character. Talk of the hardships of slaves treated like cargo on board a ship.

Characters & Actors:
  • Matthew Goode as Captain Sir John Lindsay - Plays Dido's father and he's really only in the beginning of the film. Neat to see him in Belle (2013) and then watching Death Comes To Pemberley with my family (my second viewing, their first) and seeing him as George Wickham. 
  • Penelope Wilton as Lady Mary Murray - Dido's silly great-aunt. You'll recognize her from Pride & Prejudice (2005), Downton Abbey (TV series), Wives and Daughters.
  • Emily Watson as Lady Mansfield - Dido's aunt who cares for her as a mother. You'd recognize her from Miss Potter, The Book Thief and War Horse among others. 
  • Tom Wilkinson as Lord Mansfield - Dido's uncle who acts as her father since her own father died when she was young. He's played some creepy characters in the past so it's nice to seem him as a good although conflicted character. You'll recognize him from The Importance Of Being Earnest (2002), The Patriot, Sense & Sensibility (1995) and Martin Chuzzlewit (1994) among many others.
  • Sarah Gadon as Elizabeth Murray - Dido's cousin who she grows up with and is more of a sister. They fight sometimes but are always best friends. I've never seen her in any other period dramas.
  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Dido Elizabeth Belle - Our heroine, Dido is not only lovely but smart and of strong character. I've seen Gugu in Lost In Austen, Doctor Who and Marple: Ordeal By Innocence. 
  • Miranda Richardson as Lady Ashford - Pushy mother of two aristocratic brothers who are interested in Dido and Elizabeth, not a terribly nice character. You'll recognize her from The Young Victoria, The Phantom Of The Opera (2004) and The Lost Prince. 
  • James Norton as Oliver Ashford - He likes Dido quite a bit but it's hard to tell whether he likes her spunk or her money the best. James Norton played a big part in Death Comes To Pemberley, stars in 1950's era murder mystery series Granchester and seems to be popping up in more period dramas lately. I'd like to see him play a Jane Austen character but not sure which one I'd pick. 
  • Tom Felton as James Ashford - Elizabeth's love interested who is less than a gentleman. Tom is well known from the popular Harry Potter films.
  • Sam Reid as John Davinier - A young lawyer who  sounds a lot like an associate of William Wilberforce and sparks Dido's interest in political matters that have to do with slavery. The only thing I recognize this actor from is Marple: Greenshaw's Folly.
  • Alex Jennings as Lord Ashford - Father of the two aristocratic brothers, he's not in the film much but his face and voice are very recognizable! You'll remember him from Cranford and Return To Cranford among many other BBC productions. 

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed Belle (2013) although in some ways it was not what I expected. There wasn't as much tension about the slavery as I thought there would be and there thankfully wasn't much inappropriate content which there very well could have been. The heroine was spunky and her hero was honorable. There wasn't as much depth to the story as I thought there would be, but it was a sweet film overall. It did remind me of Amazing Grace (2006) because of the time period and the slavery aspect. It was interesting to view the world through the eyes of Dido, raised the equal of her aristocratic cousin but shunned by society because of her skin color. Definitely a new addition to my recommended period dramas list!

Have you seen Belle (2013)?
What did you like or dislike about it?
If you haven't seen this film are you planning to watch it?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Autumn Letters (or Random Update)

Dear Readers,
The following are just some letters to and about things that are interesting in my life right now. I haven't been doing much period drama related recently except for catching a few episodes of Lark Rise To Candleford and having an unopened copy of Belle (2014) that I plan to open, watch and review soon. I'm sorry there hasn't been much posting lately as my day to day life leaves little time for much. But I have had lots of time for spiritual growth lately and also personal growth in other areas of my life. I pray you are all doing well and enjoying a rich life (not just financially) with your family and friends.

Dear Benedict Cumberbatch,
I'm very excited to hear that you are playing Richard III in the new The Hollow Crown series! I really enjoyed Ben Wishaw and Tom Hiddleston in Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V and I'm sure you'll be amazing as always!

Dear Season Two of The Paradise,
You have taken away one of my favoritest characters and changed up the story so badly that I almost don't want to continue on. But I am compelled to watch because I liked the first season so much and because it's so fun to IM with my sister while watching together in different states.

Dear Death Comes To Pemberley,
I am so very excited you are coming to Masterpiece Theatre because I really hope all American Janeites will enjoy tuning in! And because the DVD copy will now be available in the USA! (it would make a lovely Christmas gift! *hint hint*)

Dear Into The Woods movie,
I am so intrigued by the photos and trailers I've seen and hope very much to see you in cinemas around Christmas time, maybe with a group of friends when I go home to Kentucky! I'm looking forward to hearing all the actors sing!

British actors in American TV shows,
I know there's a big trend right now of British actors headlining new American TV series. While I am somewhat excited to see you starring in your own shows and being recognized for the brilliant people you are, I am very sad to watch the trailers for these shows and hear you completely dropping your amazing native accents!!! Yes, I'm talking to you Karen Gillan, Jonny Lee Miller and David Tennant (especially you Scots)! Take a cue from Ioan Gruffudd and becoming a murder solving immortal so you can dress in period costumes while keeping your amazing accent!

Dear Doctor Who, Season 8,
I really wish I had an opportunity to watch you but unfortunately you're not available at a time and place I could watch you. I really want to see the Twelfth Doctor but right now I must content myself with previews. 

Dear Driver's License,
I thank the good Lord every time I drive that I was finally able to get you this summer! I enjoy driving myself around much more than I ever thought I would and I'm not sure why I waited so long to get you! (Well there is a whole God's timing part of it.) It's only been about two months since I got you but I've already been to a Weekend Ladies Bible Conference, hayride at church, concert at church, the cinema, lots of shopping, Bible Study every Friday night and to church every Sunday. Not to mention my fun around town with Gram, she loves to get out of the house!

Dear Kittercat,
I know last year I started to get quite annoyed at you for eating off of Gram's plate and being such a pest but I did miss you this summer and that greeting you gave me when I got back stole my heart. I'm learning just what a sweetheart you really are and how much richness you add to our lives. Thank you for sleeping on Gram's bed at night and watching over her till morning. And thank you for posing for so many fun photos!

Dear Psalm 63,
I'm working on memorizing you, little by little, while trying to make you daily the prayer of my heart. 

Dear Crochet & Knitting,
You are quite handy past times! I am so excited to try my new pattern books soon...I just have to finish my scarf first (it's taking so long!). Thank you for providing countless hours of entertainment!

Dear Little Park,
You are so charming and probably my favorite place to drive to! I am so thankful you are close to home and have picturesque views and easy access to park benches for sitting and eating lunch. You are one of Gram's favorite places on earth and you are starting to be one of my favorites too. As a bonus you've been around so long that my mom and her siblings used to visit you when they were all growing up!

Dear Personality Tests,
I've always enjoyed figuring out what types of personalities my friends and family have but since discovering the MBTI (Myers-Briggs) personality tests I have been able to pinpoint what causes such problems between some of my extended family I have to deal with on a daily/weekly basis. It's neat to learn that I am an ISFJ, a personality with characteristics that often contradict its individual part. It's also helpful to know what makes that ESTP cousin tick and how he seems to know what I'm thinking and why I have a hard time trusting him (his unpredictable-ness is aggravating to me). As an Introvert it is exhausting to have to deal with a personality that is directly opposite to mine, but the Lord gives me strength!

Dear Character Back Stories,
You are so very intriguing and distracting! You are the reason why I don't usually get much written on the real story! And when I add in doing the aforementioned personality tests on my characters it helps me know how and why my characters act the way they do but you're both really just rabbit trails! I am determined though that this story will be written! And hopefully other stories about this neighborhood of people will also be written. It's hard putting aside my perfectionism and procrastination and just working on getting the story out of my head and on paper. Trying to do a bit of NaNoWriMo should help (maybe I'll aim for half the amount of words).

Very Truly Yours, 
Miss Laurie
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