A Little More Current

Made of Honor

Stars Patrick Dempsey (famous for Grey’s Anatomy, which I don’t watch) as Tom and features Kevin McKidd (we saw him in Last Legion and Kingdom of Heaven; he was Poseidon in Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and voiced the MacGuffin clan in Brave) as Scottish Colin.

made of honorThe film opens in 1998, at Cornell University where Tom gets in bed with the wrong girl at Halloween. Ten years later, they’re best friends. Tom sleeps around, he has rules (to keep him from getting close to someone), but he and Hannah meet up once a week, joking and sharing food. Hannah has the opportunity to spend six weeks in Scotland for her art job. While Hannah is gone, Tom misses her and realizes he wants to take the next step with her. But when they meet for dinner once she is back, she announces she is engaged to Scottish Colin who rescued her during a thunderstorm. She asks Tom to be her maid of honor (she expects to be his best man when he marries).

With some encouragement from his guy friends, Tom accepts, so he can break up the wedding from inside. He’s set up to throw an embarrassing bridal shower by a jealous bridesmaid, but he does point out that due to the whirlwind nature of their courtship, Colin doesn’t know about the unique details of Hannah, that Tom knows. Overall, Tom impresses Hannah with his maid of honor duties. They fly to Scotland for the wedding, with the knowledge that Hannah plans to live there after the wedding. *sigh* I love the scenery. The film features Eilean Donan castle, near the Isle of Skye and the men participate in the Highland Games (a real thing). Colin even sings My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose, a poem written by Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns (I adore the song and simply melt when I hear Welshman Bryn Terfel perform it) and plays the bagpipes. This all further cements that Hannah doesn’t truly know her fiancĂ© (this all occurs in roughly two months).

Tom kisses Hannah during her bachelorette party, but Hannah is set to marry Colin. Tom leaves before the wedding, but soon realizes that he can’t let her go. He makes it to the church in time for the bit where the priest asks if anyone has cause for the couple to not marry “speak now or forever hold your peace.” He’s flung inside the church and admits “I love you,” to Hannah. She returns the ring to Colin, who then promptly punches Colin in the face. The film ends happily for the couple with their own wedding.

Overall, a fun, light-hearted film. I like it for the Scottish bits; I would gladly marry a man like Colin.

27 Dresses

Stars Katherine Heigl as Jane and James Marsden (Prince Edward in Enchanted and Cyclops in X-Men; he was also in Hairspray) as Kevin. Jane loves weddings and goes above and beyond for her friends as their bridesmaid. She meets Kevin, a wedding cynic while she is going between two weddings on the same night. He picks up her planner by accident, but keeps it when it gives him an idea for a story; he writes the commitment section of the newspaper, but wants a front-page story. He has met the typical “always a bridesmaid, never a bride.”

Jane happens to have a massive crush on her boss, George and bends over backwards as his assistant. Her friend calls her out on it; she really ought to say something, everyone knows it. This is interrupted when Jane’s younger sister, Tess comes to visit and hits it off with George. George ends up proposing to Tess a little while later, even though she hasn’t been completely honest with him about some aspects of her life; Jane has to witness it quietly. To top it off, Kevin is writing an article about the upcoming nuptials. He and Jane spend time together since she ends up doing a long of the planning. At her home one day, Kevin discovers a closet full of bridesmaid dresses, twenty-seven precisely. They spend a fun afternoon with her trying them on and him taking pictures. Later, they are stranded in a storm at a bar (singing Benny and the Jets together). Jane is recognized the next morning, not for that, but as the feature story, which the editor ran before Kevin could tell Jane.

Already upset, Jane discovers that her sister has cut up their mother’s wedding dress. She walks away from her sister and plans her revenge. At the rehearsal, Jane reveals the secrets Tess has been hiding, but meanly as her friend points out. George breaks off the engagement. he finally realizes that Jane has had a crush. They try kissing, but realize it does nothing. Jane leaves her job. Her father forces her to make up with Tess, her sister pointing out she is an adult now and does not need Jane to mother her any longer. Jane races off to find Kevin and reveals she has fallen in love with him.

The film ends sweetly with their wedding. George and Tess even seem willing to give their relationship another try. And all of Jane’s friends return, wearing the bridesmaid gowns from their weddings.

27-dresses

The Holiday

This is actually one of my favorite rom-coms and it certainly has a recognizable cast to it! Stars Jack Black (this is a much different role from School of Rock), Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet (Titanic, Sense and Sensibility), Jude Law (young Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts, Dr. Watson in Sherlock Holmes, starred in Anna Karenina, he was in Captain Marvel, the abomination that was King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and voiced the bad guy in Rise of the Guardians), and Rufus Sewell (I think we’ve already covered that I adore him in period roles, such as A Knight’s Tale, Tristan and Isolde; he was in Amazing Grace and Masterpiece’s Victoria as well). Oh, and if Maggie looks familiar, she was in A Knight’s Tale as well, opposite Heath Ledger.

Both American Amanda (Cameron Diaz) and English Iris (Kate Winslet) are fed up with their love lives around Christmas and decide they need to get out of town and meet on a house exchange website. Amanda has just broken up with her long-time boyfriend and thrown him out of her house. Iris finds out that the man she has had a crush on and periodically dated for three years in engaged to another woman. Iris is thrilled by Amanda’s large L.A. home, while Amanda is a bit bored in Iris’s English cottage. At least, until Iris’s brother, Graham (Jude Law) stops by. He’s a bit drunk, she’s ready to go home in the morning, so given the circumstances, they decide it’s alright to sleep with each other. Then Amanda decides to stay and continues to meet up with Graham (he is a gentleman and does not have sex with her when she’s drunk to the point of unconsciousness)

In L.A. Iris’s ex, Jasper (Rufus Sewell) calls her for proofreading help [remember, the one that cheated on her, but they’ve stayed friends, though he’s now engaged to someone else]. She’s now a bit depressed until she spots a lost elderly man she recognizes from Amanda’s neighborhood. Turns out the man was a big time Hollywood writer back in the day. She convinces him to attend a celebration in his honor and works with him to improve his walking. She also meets Miles (Jack Black), a film composer. When he discovers that his girlfriend has started seeing someone else, he and Iris start hanging out.

the holiday

In England, Amanda and Graham are enjoying each other’s company, though Amanda wonders why Graham is getting calls from an Olivia and a Sophie. She discovers they are his daughters; he’s a widower. His daughters are utterly charming. Things are now a bit complicated, but they try to make it work. Graham admits that he has fallen in love with Amanda; she has promised she won’t fall in love with him and is frustrated by the idea of working on a long-distance relationship. We can tell she’s fallen for Graham though [and who wouldn’t fall for Jude Law?]. They part with no specific plan.

Jasper pays an unexpected visit to Iris (right after Miles’ ex calls him away). He needs her, he doesn’t want to lose her. Oh wait, he’s still engaged. Iris finally lets him have it and becomes the leading lady in her own life with a bit of gumption. She eagerly escorts her elderly friend to his celebration to a packed auditorium. Miles has left his ex and suggests he visits Iris at her home for New Year’s.

Amanda has also decided to stay for New Year’s after shedding a few tears (she hasn’t cried since her parents’ divorce when she was fifteen). The film ends with a heartwarming glimpse at a New Year’s party at Graham’s with his daughters, Iris, Amanda, and Miles.

I probably prefer these rom coms to some of the older ones, and The Holiday is really cute. Just one romantic comedy movie left, Ten Inch Hero

Let’s Start in the Eighties

I have discovered I am not a rom-com person; though that’s not to say I don’t like romance. I just don’t like romance as the pure focus of a film; I adore the relationship between Hiccup and Astrid in How to Train Your Dragon series, and I will watch shows for romance, where the characters can develop. So, in the interest of carrying on to more exciting films that I can delve deeper into, I shall quickly summarize a few romances that I enjoy, but not quite worth a whole post.

fancy pretty womanPretty Woman, was pointed out to be its 30th anniversary this year. Of course, there is the iconic song. It’s the film I best know Richard Gere and Julia Roberts from. Jason Alexander (much funnier in the Wonderful World of Disney presentation of Roger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella) shows up, as does Hector Elizondo (we love him in Princess Diaries as well and he is now the boss on Last Man Standing). I think part of the reason I was not terribly fond of this film growing up (because it’s as old as me) is that I was never comfortable with the hooker aspect (once I knew what that meant). But the transformation sequences are the best.

overboardOverboard, an 80s film starring Goldie Hawn (fun note; her daughter is Kate Hudson) and Kurt Russell (Colonel Jack O’Neill from the original Stargate movie [before they switched to Richard Dean Anderson for the series]); the two have actually been together since 1983. Edward Hermann (Gilmore Girls) also appears in the film. It’s a fun story where a rich socialite falls overboard, loses her memory, and a struggling carpenter takes advantage. He has her be his wife and raise his rambunctious sons. Of course, they actually fall in love along the way, though she initially leaves when she regains her memories. Yet she ultimately decides to stay with the family because she cares about them; she wants a daughter at the end due to the number of boys. Basically, the whole film is “breaking the haughty,” as TV Tropes would say.

the_american_presidentAmerican President, is one of my mother’s favorite films and has an all-star cast. Annette Bening (she’s Dr. Wendy Lawson in Captain Marvel) is the lead female, a professional political strategist; Martin Sheen (after he was Robert E. Lee in Gettysburg, and he would later play the president in the hit show West Wing) is one of the president’s advisors. Michael J. Fox is another advisor, and the president, Andrew Shepherd is played by Michael Douglas (son of famous actor Kirk Douglas and husband to Catherine Zeta-Jones, he shows up in the MCU as well as Hank Pym, but I know him from the films Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile).

It’s a well-written movie that shows and widowed president attempting to have a relationship with a woman he finds intelligent while avoiding the media. It also shows that some of the major issues have not changed in twenty-five years. Gun control global warming are the two issues that are called out in the movie…and we’re still dealing with those.

prince and mePrince and Me (a combination that Hallmark loves in their movies) stars Julia Stiles and Miranda Richardson (Rita Skeeter) shows up as the queen of Denmark with James Fox (he’s shown up in Downton Abbey, Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes, BBC’s Merlin, and Patriot Games [I’ll be covering that film in the action section]) as the king. The film has three sequels, though never getting the original cast fully back together. A common storyline now, prince comes to America (hoping to sweet-talk unsuspecting college girls into taking their tops off), hiding his identity. Paige is focused on her goals and wants to become a doctor. She and Eddie get off to a rough start, but then begin helping each other out. Their relationship is discovered and splashed across the news causing Eddie to return to Denmark. Paige eventually follows and accepts his proposal of marriage and begins training to become the new queen. But she doesn’t want to put her life on hold, so she breaks it off and returns home. But Eddie comes after her, willing to wait to marry. There is an adorable part where Paige takes Eddie home for Thanksgiving. Fairly light-hearted.

princess diaries makeoverIn similar vein are the two Princess Diaries movies that Disney put out. Now, I read the books by Meg Cabot before the movies came out, but they also came out when I was a teenager, the age the movies are geared for. This was Anne Hathaway’s first big role as Mia. Teen heart-throb (though I was never into him) Erik von Detten was in the film, along with Mandy Moore (later plays the president’s daughter [the president was Mark Harmon] in Chasing Liberty and voiced Rapunzel in Tangled), and Sandra Oh. Hector Elizondo is back and the ever-lovely Julie Andrews as the queen of fictional Genovia. There is the iconic “shut up” scene when Mia finds out she is the princess of Genovia. She now must attend lessons with her grandmother. There is also the hilarious makeover scene involving broken hairbrushes and glasses. Mia learns who her true friends are and she does have it in herself to become a princess.

princess diaries 2A sequel came out subtitled Royal Engagement, taking place five years after the first. An old law comes into play, where an unmarried woman cannot rule. Viscount Mabrey (John Rhys-Davies, though not as nice in this film as in others) brings up the fact that there is another possibly heir, his nephew, Lord Devereaux. It is passed that Mis has thirty days to marry or she must abdicate. Lord Devereaux happens to be the charming Nicholas (Chris Pine, yep, before he was Captain Kirk). While Mia courts the dashing Andrew Jacoby (Callum Blue and he appeared in The Tudors), Nicholas attempts to woo her as well. Raven Symone also drops by (oh, and a Stan Lee cameo, way before MCU). Mia and Nicholas develop feelings for each other, but Mia decides not to marry Andrew and abolishes the marriage clause and Nicholas decides to give up his right to the throne. The film ends with them possibly starting a relationship while Mia takes over as queen.

I adore Julie Andrews whenever, so she makes a perfect queen. And Chris Pine really should have more roles as a romantic lead because he was quite dashing in the sequel. There are rumors of a third movie coming out, but nothing confirmed.

A few more rom-coms are left, but I shall post those in another block.

Let me know what you think of romantic comedies 🙂

I Never Felt This Way Before

Dirty Dancing

An iconic 80s movie; I know it was referenced in Full House and Dean even knows it in Supernatural. It stars Jennifer Grey as Baby (her most famous role, she was a contestant on Dancing With the Stars in 2010), Patrick Swayze (tragically passed away in 2009, also known for Ghost [I have not seen that movie], Orry Main in North and South [the mini-series based on a Civil War triology], The Outsiders, and Tiger Warsaw [interestingly, filmed at my church and in my hometown]) as Johnny Castle, Jerry Orbach (passed away in 2004, best known for Law and Order, and the voice of Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast [I still cannot hear it; he does very good French accent]) as the father, and Kelly Bishop (Gilmore Girls) as the mother. And Kenny Ortega (Newsies, which we will soon be visiting, and High School Musical) choreographed.

Set in the summer of 1963, before the Beatles came to America, before JFK was assassinated, a wealthy family vacations at a resort in the Catskills Mountains. The youngest daughter is nicknamed “Baby.” Though she plans on going into the Peace Corps, it’s her summer at the resort that truly opens her eyes. Her father is pleased to send her off with the owner’s grandson, who seems like a respectable young man. But Baby soon meets the staff and notes a difference between the wait staff, who are instructed to show the young ladies there a good time, and the instructors, who indulge in “dirty dancing.” Johnny Castle catches her eye.

When Johnny’s dance partner, Penny ends up in trouble (growing up, I never noticed the fact that she was pregnant and subsequently gets an abortion), Baby offers to help. She gets the money off of her father and lets Johnny teach her to dance (Patrick Swayze was a trained dancer and even appeared on Broadway; he and Jennifer Grey also did not get along on the shoot). Baby ends up in bad grace with her father when she has to get his help to fix Penny’s botched operation. But she has fallen in love with Johnny and continues her relationship with him in secret.

Baby’s older sister, Lisa, has started seeing one of the waiters, Robbie, who is actually the one who got Penny pregnant and left her. But when Lisa goes to sleep with Robbie, she finds another woman in his bed. That same woman discovers Baby leaving Johnny’s room the e=next morning and reports him a thief, who stole her husband’s wallet. Baby backs up Johnny’s alibi and reveals her relationship. Johnny is still fired for sleeping with her and is forced to leave. But Baby made Johnny believe in good people again. However, he returns for the final dance of the season, tells her father “Nobody puts Baby in a corner,” and dances the final number with her.

dirty-dancing-lift

It’s a fairly simple storyline, but full of nuances. Like Baby growing out of her nickname. She ends the movie not as naive as she started. It demonstrates classism; the difference between the guests and the waiters and the staff. Baby’s doctor father looks down on Johnny the entire film, until the end when Robbie accidentally reveals his indiscretion. (Her father had thought Johnny had gotten Penny in trouble). The owner’s grandson treats Johnny like an idiot.

There are plenty of steamy scenes, which makes it a perfect romance and I love how the music was worked in. The Baby scene was a bit funny. And no one can forget the ending with Time of My Life and the big lift; it’s my favorite part of the film.  And Patrick Swayze is rather good looking here.

Next Time: Collection of Rom Coms #1

Taking “Love is a Leap” a Bit Literally

Kate and Leopold

A rom-com from 2001 starring Meg Ryan (I like her in You’ve Got Mail, opposite Tom Hanks) as Kate, and Hugh Jackman (X-Men, Australia) as Leopold. Hugh faces off with Liev Schreiber (Victor Creed/Sabertooth from X-Men: Wolverine) who plays Stuart. Leopold’s valet, Otis is played by Philip Bosco, who was the servant Vincenzo in It Takes Two with the Olsen twins (I loved that movie as a kid).

The main premise of the movie is that Leopold is from the nineteenth century and due to time travel, ends up meeting Kate in twenty-first century New York City. It opens in 1876 with the dedication of the East River Bridge, better known as the Brooklyn bridge. Leopold spots an odd man in the crowd, but loses him. Only to find him at a ball in his home later that night. Leopold’s uncle is forcing his nephew, the Duke of Albany, to choose a bride, preferably wealthy. Leopold does not like this ultimatum; he does not like being an aristocrat, he admires inventors more. Leopold follows the strange man again, ending up on top of the not-yet-finished bridge. They fall…through time. Kate is introduced as the strange man, Stuart’s downstairs neighbor, and ex-girlfriend. She hears thumping upstairs and investigates. Stuart makes her leave. Come morning, she barges in and meets Leopold, who is very confused by everything around him.

Stuart has to take his dog for a walk, only to discover that the elevators are not working…because Leopold is supposed to invent them, but by coming forward in time, he has not invented them yet. We meet Kate’s boss, JJ at the market research office; Kate is interested in him, but JJ is a bit demeaning. He thinks he is complimenting Kate when he says she is more like a man than a woman. Kate’s brother, Charlie arrives and meets Leopold. They spend a pleasant afternoon talking about Pirates of Penzance. Kate is not impressed when she gets home, especially to find out that Charlie has invited Leopold to dinner. No one, aside from Stuart, who is now laid up at the hospital, believe that Leopold is actually a duke from the nineteenth century. Leopold and Kate butt heads over differences in etiquette and Kate has to help Leopold out the following morning.

Then she gets an idea; he should read for the commercial she is overseeing. And he is a hit, turning on the aristocratic charm. Kate comes to believe Leopold’s history when he chases down a thief in Central Park on a horse. Leopold helps Charlie get a date that evening while Kate dines with JJ, hoping for a promotion. Charlie, who is a bit drunk, crashes his sister’s date and Leopold catches JJ in several lies and demonstrates his class and knowledge. Leopold later writes an apology letter to Kate for embarrassing her. Her assistant talks her into a romantic dinner with Leopold. This leads to a dance, and then a kiss.

The couple spends Saturday together, even visiting Leopold’s home which is now a museum of sorts. Leopold is obviously in love with Kate. Sunday brings the commercial,kate_leopold which hits a snag when Leopold actually tastes the “fresh creamery butter” and discovers it to be horrible. Kate tells him that sometimes, you have to do things you don’t want to do, despite your morals. Afterwards, she informs Leopold, they’re kidding themselves. He has to go back (another time portal will open). He goes through with it. Kate gets her promotion. Then Charlie and Stuart notice that Kate was in Stuart’s pictures from 1876. They persuade her to jump off the Brooklyn bridge in order to join Leopold. It works and Leopold names her as his bride at the same ball.

Not my favorite rom-com, though I’m not really a rom-com girl. Characterization is pretty flat, though it’s fun to see Hugh Jackman as a proper duke. The film plays off the idea that we want guys with those kind of manners…which, yes. But they don’t fall off a bridge and out of time for us.

Up Next: Dirty Dancing

Dream-Song

Australia

As the title suggests, a movie about Australia. So much, that it starred Australians, was shot in Australia, and was directed by an Australian. Hugh Jackman, one of the stars, even joked when he opened the 2009 Oscars, where Kate Winslet and Robert Downey Jr were both nominated for their range in acting; “I’m an Australian, playing an Australian, in a movie called Australia, hosting.” [He then goes into an entire song and dance number, because that’s how he got his start, though he ended by stating “I am Wolverine!”] Hugh Jackman’s character is only known as the Drover. Nicole Kidman (her parents are Australian) plays Lady Sarah Ashley (she worked with director Baz Luhrmann on Moulin Rouge). David Wenham (Faramir in Lord of the Rings, shot in New Zealand; he was also in 300, and worked alongside Hugh Jackman in Van Helsing) is Neil Feltcher. The film spans a six-year time frame, starting in September of 1939 and concludes during Japan’s attack on Northern Australia after they hit Pearl Harbor December of 1945. There is a note at the beginning of the film to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island viewers in deference to their culture, and explaining that this was a time where Aboriginal children of mixed race were taken from their families and “trained for service in white society.” “These children became known as the Stolen Generations.”

To be honest, the main reason I wanted to watch this movie is the fact that Hugh Jackman is in it. Throw in a bit of history and I’m intrigued. After the opening notes, the movie begins with an Aboriginal boy witnessing the murder of a white man. The boy is fearful of coppers (police) taking him to Mission Island. But then, the boss lady arrives. The boss lady is Lady Sarah Ashley who flies from England to the Northern Territory of Australia to force her husband to sell the Faraway Downs property. She meets the Drover, while he’s in the middle of a bar fight. It’s a rocky start for them, difference in culture and all that. He shock her on their travels the first night by bathing [yep, like that scene], then commenting they all huddle up in the one tent for warmth. Truth is, the men are more used to sleeping under the stars. But the Drover takes Lady Ashley to Faraway Downs (which is what the boy sees before he hides), and they discover that the man who had been killed was her husband. Lord Ashley is the only one to stand up to the Carney cattle monopoly in the area, though his death is blamed on an Aboriginal leader, King George (the boy’s grandfather).

The boy, Nullah, appears to Lady Ashley and reveals that she cannot trust the manager, Mr. Fletcher. Partly because Neil Fletcher is his father. Which wouldn’t sit too well with his fiancĂ©e’s family, the Carneys. Nullah proves Fletcher a liar and when caught, Fletcher starts hitting the boy. Sarah steps in and fires Neil. Drover isn’t happy when he comes around; Lord Ashley had promised him a drove (driving cattle) and rights to breed an outback brumby with an English thoroughbred. Sarah insists that everyone left on the ranch can pull together and make the drove. Faraway Downs is competing against the Carneys for an Army contract. The accountant of the ranch, when he’s sober, reveals to Sarah that Fletcher had been siphoning off the best cattle to Carney land; that is what her husband had been investigating when he had been killed.

australia stars

The actual police arrive the next day, setting Nullah and his mother to hide in the water tower. Sadly, the mother drowns before the police leave. Drover sends Sarah to comfort Nullah; she admits she’s not great with children, but tries to cheer him up by recounting the recent film, The Wizard of Oz, and attempting to sing the main song Somewhere Over the Rainbow [I am odd and not fond of the film or the song (it’s overplayed)]. Nullah likes the idea of dreaming and wishing; songs are important to the Aboriginals. The drove is back on the next morning. But Fletcher isn’t finished; he and his men set a fire to spook the cattle and drive them off a cliff. Nullah stands firm at the edge and halts the cattle, after the accountant (Kipling Flynn) is trampled to death. There is a rather tender scene of both Drover and Sarah diving after Nullah before he passes out over the edge. Tender moments start cropping up between Sarah and the Drover, even a kiss after they get tipsy in memory of Kipling. Drover admits he was married previously, to an Aboriginal woman. She got sick and died because the hospital wouldn’t treat her.

Fletcher’s at it again; he poisons the drinking holes along their way. Their only option is the wasteland known as Never Never Land. But King George offers to lead them. News is reported that they all die. The Army is about to sign a contract with Carney for their cattle…until there is a disturbance in town. Sarah and her people survived and there is a race to load the cattle. Drover gets in front and blocks Carney’s cattle. Nullah sums up that everyone gets what they want; everyone happy. Except him, because he is half-caste and doesn’t belong anywhere. Well, his friends disguise him so he looks fully Aboriginal and sneak him in to see The Wizard of Oz.

Meanwhile, there is a ball for the upper class to donate money to Mission Island. Sarah tries to argue to keep Nullah; the priest insists that Aboriginal women forget their children, she retorts no mother forgets her child and points out that the fathers of the mixed race children are in the room. The high society women start looking down on her, though Kaitlin Carney is sympathetic (she is “King” Carney’s daughter, and engaged to Neil Fletcher). “King” Carney wins the auction to dance with Lady Ashley and they discuss the sale of Faraway Downs. Sarah informs him of Neil’s involvement in her husband’s death and she is almost ready to sell when a cleaned up Drover enters the ball. He had already turned down her offer to be the new manager of Faraway Downs, insisting he doesn’t mix with the upper class. But he has apparently changed his mind and Sarah is willing to give Northern Australian society something to talk about. They run off after a dance and the rain comes. Their relationship really takes off [yep, another one of those scenes I love and reminds me why I watch the movie]. With the rain, Faraway Downs is like an island; Drover, Sarah, and Nullah can be a little family. Drover leaves again to go droving once the wet is over, but he comes back.

Everything is idyllic for a few years, until Neil leads Carney into an alligator attack and takes over the business. He then returns to Faraway Downs, intent on buying; it was his family that worked it for generations for the Ashley family. And a big drove comes in for Drover, and Nullah wants to go on walkabout to become a man. Drover leaves, hurting Sarah. And then Nullah is taken. Katey Carney, now Fletcher, begs her husband to help. He strikes a deal, Sarah will work for the war effort, he’ll buy Faraway Downs, and then he’ll get Nullah back.

Then the Japanese attack. Drover, after being called out for being scared to get close to Sarah, returns to town, only to find it destroyed. Sarah is believed to be dead. Drover knows he has to get Nullah, Mission Island is where the radio tower is and is sure to have been hit. The boys on the island did survive. And so did Sarah; it was Katey Fletcher who died in her place. Just as Drover, Nullah, and Sarah are about to be happily reunited, Fletcher aims a gun at them. A shot goes off and Nullah drops, but so does Fletcher. King George escaped prison and saved his grandson. Nullah is fine and they return to Faraway Downs. Sarah lets him go on walkabout. The film ends with another note. The Australian government ended the assimilation program in 1973 (that’s another twenty-eight years after the events of the movie) and in 2008, the Prime Minister officially apologized to the Stolen Generations.

This film is long. It honestly could have been cut down into two movies for it tells almost two different stories. There is the action/adventure plot of the first half, driving the cattle to town. Then there’s the war part, which could have been expanded for it holds most of the character depth. I like the family group that Sarah, Drover, and Nullah become without meaning to. They all need family and end up blending well with each other. We see how far the Drover has come throughout the film, first being annoyed by Lady Ashley, to loving her, to leaving, then being heartbroken when he believes she’s dead. Nullah is a sweet child, and Sarah Ashley’s character softens throughout the film, though she is still strong and determined. Parts of the movie drag and I tend to just fast forward to the bits I like. It is interesting to see how other places in the world were affected by the Second World War.

I much prefer some other movies to this, especially for some of the actors; David Wenham is much nicer as Faramir. Hugh Jackman is a good leading man and he did well opposite Nicole Kidman, but I think we see a larger range for her in Moulin Rouge. Not the most romantic role for Hugh, we’ll get to some of those later.

Up Next: Kate and Leopold

“Near…Far…Wherever You Are”

Titanic

I would think most everyone has heard of this movie, as well as the historical disaster. This was the big blockbuster of the late-nineties; it was nominated for fourteen Academy Awards and won eleven, including Best Picture. And a fairly long movie; when it released on VHS, it had to be on two tapes; and as of 2019, the third highest-grossing movie of all time. Directed by James Cameron (Avatar), who did a lot of detailed research, and a full “hey, I know that guy!” Stars Leonardo DiCaprio (who finally won an Oscar) as Jack Dawson, Kate Winslet as Rose Dewitt Bukater. Billy Zane (did not realize this until looking him up, but he was the voice of John Rolfe in Disney’s second Pocahontas movie, as well as appearing in a few episodes of Charmed) is fiancĂ© Cal Hockley; historical character Molly Brown [there’s a movie about her from the sixties staring Debbie Reynolds] is played by Kathy Bates (who has shown up as Amy’s mother in Big Bang Theory, and was Miss Hannigan when Wonderful World of Disney re-did Annie in 1999). Rose’s mother is played by Frances Fisher (who has appeared in Hallmark movies, an episode of Castle, among other TV spots), Captain Smith is Bernard Hill (later to be King Theoden in Lord of the Rings), Victor Garber (lead in Alias, Professor Callahan in Legally Blonde, Oliver Warbucks in 1999’s Annie, and King Maximillian in 1997’s Cinderella with Whoopi Goldberg, Bernadette Peters, Brandy, and Whitney Houston) is the architect Thomas Andrews. Jonathan Hyde (Prince John in Princess of Thieves) is Bruce Ismay, the managing director of the White Star Line (the company that built and maintained Titanic and its sister ships), and the one I always enjoy seeing for the few minutes in the film, Ioan Gruffudd (Amazing Grace, Fantastic Four) as Fifth Office Lowe.

titanic

The film opens with an underwater exploration of the wreck [Dr. Robert Ballard, retired U.S. Naval officer and professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, famously discovered the wreck in 1985, and later found the wreck of the Bismarck in 1989 and the Yorktown in 1998; he was also one of my brother’s heroes when we were growing up; he was very interested in the Titanic, so he was very interested in spying the White Star Line shipyards when we were in Belfast, Northern Ireland…I have a picture of that somewhere]. They find a safe and bring it to the surface, looking for a famous blue-diamond necklace from Louis XVI that would be worth more than the Hope Diamond. Instead, they find a drawing that includes the necklace. A news report brings it to the attention of an old woman, Rose Calvert, who then informs the crew she is the woman in the picture. There’s some speculation that she could be lying, but she knows details about the necklace and the ship that only someone there could have known. Most of the film is her flashback memories (totaling the amount of time it took the actual ship to sink).

Rose and her family were returning to America for her wedding to Cal Hockley, but she is unhappy. At the same time, Jack Dawson wins his tickets in a poker game. He and his friend excitedly race to the ship and explore a bit once its underway. They make it to the bow, where they climb up and Jack yells “I’m the king of the world!” He encounters Rose later that evening at the stern of the ship, when she flees dinner and is ready to jump overboard. He talks her down and when Cal arrives to collect his fiancĂ©e, Rose puts it straight that Jack saved her, though she was only looking at the propellers. As a reward, Cal invites Jack to dine with them the next evening. Hoping to cheer his fiancĂ©e up, Cal presents her with the “Heart of the Ocean,” a 56 carat blue diamond. Rose is impressed, but not with her intended. She seeks Jack out later, to thank him for his help and discretion, but they get stuck on the point whether she loves Cal or not. Rose is upset that no one notices she is not happy with the role she is made to play, but Jack gives her another outlook on life; one of adventure, never knowing what the day will bring or where you will end up.

Meanwhile, Captain Smith wants to ensure a smooth voyage to America, while Ismay wants headlines. Smith orders the ship to speed up (not wholly historically accurate). Molly Brown, part of the “new money” of the time, and thus frowned upon by the aristocracy, aids Jack in lending him a proper tux for the evening. He charms his way through the upper class, but later passes a note to Rose, inviting her to a real party, in third class. I adore this scene, and the accompanying music, which features Celtic band Gaelic Storm (a big breakthrough for them). Rose proves herself to be more than a pretty face, she drinks and to further prove herself, she goes en pointe (I took ballet for about ten years and never went on pointe, but I know what kind of strength someone needs to balance all their weight on the tip of their toes).

However, come morning, Cal confronts Rose about her below-deck antics; she was spotted. He throws the table, stating she is his wife, even if they’re not married yet (I have a feeling he has been pressuring her to sleep with him before their wedding; just my interpretation). Rose is startled and her mother speaking to her does not help matters. It spells out to the audience that Rose has been forced into this marriage to save face; they have the name, but Cal has the money. Ruth is a teeny bit sympathetic; she knows this is unfair for Rose, but it is a woman’s lot in life, their choices are never easy. Jack sneaks up to see Rose and she tries to send him away, but he’s worried about her. The fire he has seen in her will go out; but it is up to Rose to save herself. Later, Rose goes to Jack; she has changed her mind. He helps her up to the railing at the stern of the ship: “I’m flying!” Cue main theme. The couple shares a kiss. And we cut back to “present day.” That was the last time Titanic saw daylight. The scavenger comments that everything Captain Smith knows from his experience will not help him with Titanic.

jack and rose

Back to Rose’s memories: Jack returns to Rose’s room with her. She requests a drawing and shows him the Heart of the Ocean. “I want you to draw me like one of your French girls. Wearing this. Wearing only this.” She disrobes and lies on a couch, completely nude and Jack dutifully draws her (behind the scenes note: apparently, the hand that draws Rose is director’s James Cameron’s), and cue main theme. (This intrigues all of the present day crew). Rose leaves a note once they are finished for Cal and leaves again with Jack. They end up running from Cal’s valet, ending up in the cargo hold, in a car. It is there they sleep together, steaming up the window. [And it’s here that I always wonder how this movie is only rated PG-13; I distinctly remember not being thirteen and wondering how my classmates got in to see this movie.] Rose declares that when Titanic docks, she’s getting off with Jack. They are on deck when the iceberg is spotted by the lookouts (no wind makes them hard to spot). The crew try to maneuver the ship around the berg, but they’re too close. (Research has suggested that if Titanic had hit the iceberg head-on, it would not have suffered the same damage and would have remained afloat long enough to dock in New York; of course, that is hindsight). Captain Smith, Andrews, and Ismay are all wakened. Mr. Andrews declares that the ship will sink; five of the compartment are flooded, there was a chance with only four filled, but not five. The ship is iron, it will sink, despite Mr. Ismay’s insistence. Distress signals are started and passengers are told to dress warmly and put on their life vests.

Rose and Jack return to her room to warn her mother and Cal, where Jack is framed with stealing the blue diamond and arrested. Alone, Cal slaps Rose for her indiscretion. They receive word to report to the deck. Rose spies Mr. Andrews; she remembers from his tour that there are not enough lifeboats. Mr. Andrews confirms her thoughts. Women and children are ordered to the lifeboats first; but it is slow going. Most of the passengers do not know of the danger, or else do not believe it; Andrews has to order the crew to ensure lifeboats are filled to capacity. On captain’s orders, the band continues to play to calm the crowd. Ruth wonders blasĂ© whether the lifeboats will be seated by class. Rose sternly tells her mother the truth, to which Cal remarks that the better half of the boat will not die. She then refuses to get on the lifeboat and runs to find Jack. Cal tries to stop her. She spits at him and proclaims she’d rather be Jack’s whore than Cal’s wife.

By now, the bow is underwater, the ship is starting to tilt and take on water in the halls. Rose does find Jack and has to use an axe to cut his handcuffs. They try to make their way back up, but the gates from third class are locked (historically inaccurate). There’s a riot and they break out. The ship is in utter chaos. We see Ismay get on a lifeboat when no one else comes forward. Cal goes back for Rose, putting his coat (which contains the blue diamond necklace) on her and he and Jack tag team to encourage Rose to get on a lifeboat. Partway down, she jumps off (a dumb move, yet terribly romantic). Jack asks when he finds her why she was so stupid; she couldn’t leave him: “you jump, I jump.” Well, this final defiance sets Cal off and he grabs a gun and starts shooting at the couple. He runs out of bullets as they go back into the ship and down several levels. And it’s then that he realizes the coat that has the diamond is on Rose. Cal finds a child lost and crying and takes her on a boat.

The final moments of the ship are approaching. Mr. Andrews and Captain Smith go down with the ship. The band continues playing, ending with the hymn Nearer My God to Thee. An old couple huddle together, not wanting to be parted. A mother in third class tucks her children in, telling them of the Irish land of Eternal Youth, TĂ­r na NĂ“g. All remaining passengers on deck flee to the stern as the ship splits. The stern rises in the air, Rose ironically notes that she and Jack are back where they first met. As the stern gets sucked down, Jack and Rose and the others prepare to enter the water. It’s the North Atlantic; it’s freezing. Jack manages to find a door floating and pushes Rose on to it. Jack remains in the water. Only one life boat (helmed by Fifth Officer Lowe) returns to find survivors. Molly Brown speaks up, but those crew members overrule her. Contemplating their fate, Rose admits she loves Jack; he insists they will make it and makes Rose promise to survive. But the elements take their toll. Jack freezes in the water and Rose is forced to let him go in order to get a whistle to attract help. Old Rose summarizes that of the 2200 souls aboard the Titanic; 1500 went in the water. Only six were rescued. They and the 700 in the lifeboats had to wait for the Carpathia (of rival company Cunard) for rescue at dawn.

On board, Rose avoids Cal and when asked her name in New York, she gives Rose Dawson. That’s when she discovers the Heart of the Ocean in her pocket. She finishes her tale that Jack now only exists as her memory. But, she walks out to the edge of the ship that evening and drops the diamond into the ocean, to rest with Titanic. I view the final ending, as we pan over her pictures showcasing her adventures, proving she fulfilled her promise to Jack and lived her life, that Rose passes away and is greeted on the Titanic, returned to its glory by all her old friends, Jack waiting to kiss her.

As a result of the disaster, regulations were made enforcing enough lifeboats for all passengers and mandatory safety drills. When one takes the romantic storyline out of Titanic, one can get caught up in the sheer enormity of what happened. I think it was well done on Cameron’s part. There has been a lot of controversy however, on whether Jack and Rose could have shared the door and thus ensured Jack’s survival. The Mythbusters tested the theory that both could have fit on the board and they proved it plausible, though they had the idea to tie Rose’s life preserver to the bottom of the board to give it more buoyancy. Director James Cameron weighed in on the show; Jack was fated to die, so that is why he did not get on the door. The main theme, My Heart Will Go On, performed by Celine Dion, does not play until the ending credits, but it became a smash hit and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, though it became overplayed (just like Let It Go from Frozen). Personally, I prefer an instrumental arrangement of the piece; it’s still beautiful.

I am not as emotionally invested in this film as some others; probably because I am more invested in other films and just cannot bring myself to get too invovled. Again, it’s an extremely well done movie; the CG effects have withstood the test of time. Kate and Leo have excellent chemistry.

If so interested, there is a well done AU fanfiction story with the characters from Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast and Titanic; with Adam as the wealthy heir in a forced marriage and he meets poor Belle. My Heart Will Go On by DisnerdingAvenger can be found on AO3.

Up Next: Australia

She has a Friend, Every Time She Paints

Miss Potter

A romantic bopic of children’s author, Beatrix Potter. It stars Renee Zellweger as Beatrix, Ewan McGregor as Norman Warne, her publisher (the two appeared opposite each other in Down With Love, which is coming up soon in my posting schedule). Emily Watson (she was in Testament of Youth [that WWI movie I watched with Kit Harrington] and War Horse) plays his sister, Millie. Beatrix’s father, Rupert, is played by Bill Paterson; we’ve seen him in Amazing Grace and Outlander.

This film beautifully showcases the Lake District of England and is a huge reason why I want to personally visit the scenery at some point in my life. It opens with Beatrix’s voice-over telling us when writing the first words of a story, one never knows where one will end up. We see her struggle to publish a children’s book and be taken seriously as a single, unmarried woman in 1902 London. Her publishers fob her off onto their younger brother who is making a nuisance of himself; if it gets mucked up, it’s no real loss. However, she is determined to look upon this as an adventure and encourages her illustrated animal friends to do the same. There is a flashback to her childhood, showing that she was a talented artist and making up stories even then.

Luckily, Norman loves Beatrix’s book and quite enthusiastic to work with her on it; everything can be done to her specification. Another flashback shows us that when Beatrix was young, her family started vacationing in the Lake District, where Beatrix got a lot of her inspiration. There was even a young man in the area who liked her stories, Willie Heelis. But Beatrix’s mother despairs of her ever marrying, or at least, marrying properly. She has introduced a string of suitable suitors to her daughter, but Beatrix wants none of them. Meanwhile, she and Norman make a good team publishing her book, and Norman encourages her to produce more stories. The first book, Peter Rabbit, is a success. Norman takes Beatrix to meet his mother and sister and Millie is determined to be fierce friends with Beatrix, bonding over their unmarried states.

In turn, Beatrix invites Millie and Norman to her family’s annual Christmas party. Her father comes to her rescue when her mother disapproves of their “tradesman” status. Beatrix’s present for Norman is a new Christmas story, which the party insists she share. She is a bit scandalous, showing Norman her bedroom, but they are chaperoned and Norman leads her in a sweet dance [I saw this movie before Down With Love or Moulin Rouge and was unaware that Ewan could sing]. Norman proposes, but Beatrix’s answer is interrupted. Then she confers with Millie if she minds. Millie encourages her friend to take a chance on love. Beatrix tells Norman yes. The next day, he visits her father. Unfortunately, Beatrix’s parents disapprove, her father mainly on the point that it is too sudden. They compromise; Beatrix can accept in secret. Their family will vacation in the Lake District for the summer again. If the couple still wants to marry at the end after some time, they will give their blessing. Norman bids farewell to Beatrix at the train station in the rain and they send letters back and forth.

Then, Norman’s letters stop coming. Millie writes, informing Beatrix that Norman is ill. She returns to London, sadly to discover that Norman has died. Millie was the only one who knew Norman and Beatrix were engaged. Oh, I cry every time during this part of the movie. Beatrix returns home, utterly depressed. She tries to draw, but her friends run from something. Millie comes to her rescue. Beatrix must get out of the house. She ispotter cottage quite wealthy now with the royalties from her books; she buys Hill Top Farm in the Lake District, from her old friend, William Heelis. Slowly, Beatrix comes back to life. She draws again and has new stories buzzing about. She reconnects with William, and they share the notion that the landscape of the Lake District needs preserved, farms should be kept farming, not bought out by developers.

The film ends back at the beginning, with Beatrix sitting down to write. We are told that eight years after moving to the Lake District, Beatrix married William Heelis and she donated 4,000 acres of farmland to the British people through a land preservation trust.

Miss Potter is not a terribly dramatic movie, which makes it a good movie to put on when I don’t want to have to think too hard on something. The scenery is gorgeous and I love Millie Warne’s views on unmarried ladies. I want a home someday like Beatrix’s cottage; it’s so cute. I have always loved bunnies (though I am quite content to let the bunnies that live in our backyard be as close as I get to having a pet), so I’ve always liked Beatrix’s illustrations.

Up Next: Titanic

A Tale of Woe

Jane Eyre

Another classic novel that has had many film versions made of it; I’ve only ever watched the 2011 film, and that was due to the cast. Mia Wasikowska (opposite Johnny Depp in Disney’s live-action Alice in Wonderland movies) is the titular Jane Eyre. Michael Fassbender (young Erik Lensher/Magneto from the prequel X-Men films) is Mr. Rochester. Judi Dench is Mrs. Fairfax. Holliday Grainger (we saw her in Disney’s live-action Cinderella movie as one of the stepsisters) is Diana Rivers alongside Tamzin Merchant (Georgiana Darcy) as her sister Mary Rivers. And if Mr. Brocklehurst, the overseer of that horrid boarding school looks familiar, he is played by Simon McBurney. He wasn’t terribly nice as Father Tancred in Robin Hood and not exactly nice as Charles Fox in The Duchess. Harry Lloyd (Will Scarlet in BBC’s Robin Hood series, Viserys Targaryen in Game of Thrones, and he appeared in two episodes of Doctor Who as well during David Tennat’s tenure) is Richard Mason. This film did encourage me to read the novel and it wasn’t too bad. Charlotte BrontĂ« is not an author I will rush to read more of, but I see why it is renowned.

The film jumps around the timeline; we begin with Jane running away, laying down and crying when she sinks to the depths of despair, and being taken in by the Rivers, headed by their brother John. Then Jane recalls her childhood, brought up in her aunt’s house after the death of her parents and uncle. Her aunt cannot stand to have her in the house, so makes it out that she is a wretched child and sends her to a boarding school that encourages beating the girls. Jane makes one friend, who comments that Jane is surrounded by an invisible kingdom of spirits. Sadly, the other girl dies. When we jump back to the present, Jane is looking for work. John Rivers finds her a small parish school and Jane recalls fondly her farewell from school and her beginning at Thornfield Hall.

The house is kept by Mrs. Fairfax and Jane is the new governess for Mr. Rochester’s ward, a young French girl, Adele. Jane settles into Thornfield rather well, but still wishes for some adventure. Mrs. Fairfax sends her on an errand, and Jane manages to startle a man and his horse on the road. When Jane returns to the house, she discovers the injured man is her master, Mr. Rochester. Rochester asks if she was looking for her people, the fairies. He is intrigued by Jane and they speak frankly with each other. He toils alongside his help, but is changeable. One night, Jane hears something outside her door. She goes to investigate and discovers smoke in Rochester’s room and saves him from being burned alive. He thanks her, but also cautions her to say nothing. The next morning, he has left again. Then abruptly returns with wealthy guests. Mrs. Fairfax surmises that he will propose to Miss Ingram soon.

After enduring the wealthy guests, Jane leaves the drawing room. Rochester follows, but their conversation is interrupted by a visitor from Jamaica, Mr. Richard Mason. Rochester oddly asks Jane if she would remain his friend even if he faced disgrace. She would. Richard greets Rochester warmly and the two men speak. Jane is woken that night by a scream, as are the other guests. Rochester sends them back to bed, but asks for Jane’s help. She is to keep an eye on Mr. Mason while Rochester fetches the doctor; Mason has been stabbed. But both are ordered to not speak to each other. Jane discovers a hidden door in Rochester’s room, but the man returns before she can investigate further.

Come daylight, Rochester opens up to Jane about a woman who revives him. Jane believes he speaks of Miss Ingram. In truth, “what would Jane Eyre do to secure myjane eyre happiness?” He tucks a small flower in her hair. Later, news comes that Jane’s cousin has committed suicide and her aunt requests she return home. Jane acquiesces, only for her aunt to reveal that she lied to Jane’s other uncle when he inquired of her whereabouts, wishing to bequeath his estate. Jane returns to Thornfield Hall in good spirits, though she is greeted by the rumor of Rochester’s engagement to Miss Ingram. She informs him she will seek a job elsewhere. She and Rochester share a confusing conversation about their souls before Rochester asks her plainly to be his wife. The sun shines brightly and the couple are happy.

Unfortunately, their happy day is interrupted by Richard Mason again. Rochester pulls Jane back to Thornfield and reveals that behind the hidden door is a hidden room containing his wife, Bertha, Richard’s sister. He had married her fifteen years prior in Jamaica, but she turned wild. Jane returns to her room and removes her wedding gown. Rochester pleads with her that night, but she will not marry him while he is married to Bertha. She flees come morning, bringing us back to the beginning. Rochester’s shout of “Jane” echoes through the rest of the film.

Jane imagines in her little cottage that Rochester has been searching for her and finds her, planting a searing kiss on her. Sadly, no, ’tis only John Rivers with news of Jane’s uncle. He has since passed and left her a considerable inheritance. Jane desires to share the money with the Rivers who were kind enough to save her life. But John wants more than friendship and a sibling relationship. He wants her to marry him and become a missionary wife in India. She refuses to marry him and goes searching for Rochester. In her absence, Thornfield has burned. Mrs. Fairfax informs Jane that Bertha lit another fire and Rochester wouldn’t rest until everyone had been rescued. He even went back in for Bertha, but couldn’t prevent her from jumping from the roof. Jane searches for her dear Rochester. She finds him underneath a tree, now blind, but he recognizes her hands. Jane kisses him, the sun shines again, and the movie ends.

While the tale is relatively depressing most of the time, there are some rather tender moments between the two main characters. The film is well acted. We can see how Jane wants Rochester, even before she knows his feelings, without her having to say anything. Not the most romantic movie, but there are others that get me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.

Next Time: Miss Potter

“Your Hands are Cold”

Pride and Prejudice

Again, this is the 2005 rendition of Jane Austen’s most famous work and is full of familiar faces. Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean) leads as Miss Elizabeth Bennett. Rosamund Pike (the femme fatale of Die Another Day) is her elder sister, Jane. Jena Malone (one of the contestants in The Hunger Games series) is one of the younger sisters, Lydia. Donald Sutherland (who also appears in The Hunger Games and the original MASH movie amongst his illustrious career) is their father, Mr. Bennett. Opposite Keira is Matthew Macfadyen (Athos in 2011’s The Three Musketeers, star of BBC’s Ripper Street [which I have only caught commercials of during Sherlock and The Musketeers, don’t really have a desire to watch], The Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood with Russell Crowe, and also starred opposite Keira Knightley in Anna Karenina in 2012 [my mother and I sat through that movie, neither of us ever having read the book and were thoroughly confused. That is the movie that led us to creating our twenty-minute rule with any movie; if we are not interested in the movie within the first twenty minutes, we shut if off; because that was three hours of our lives we will never get back]) as Mr. Darcy.

Kelly Reilly (Mary Morstan in Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes movies) is Caroline Bingley.  Darcy’s younger sister, Georgiana is played by Tamzin Merchant (she was the young Catherine Howard fated to be beheaded as Henry VIII’s fifth wife in The Tudors series, and even shows up in our next film, Jane Eyre).  The Bennett’s cousin, Mr. Collins is played by Tom Hollander (he showed up in two of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies as Cutler Beckett).  The formidable Lady Catherine de Bourgh is played by the as formidable Dame Judi Dench (M in several of the more recent James Bond films).  And another relative of the Bennett’s, Mrs. Gardiner, is played by Penelope Wilton (Harriet Jones in Doctor Who and Isobel Crawley in Downton Abbey).

The story opens with Mrs. Bennett informing her husband, and her daughters overhearing, that Netherfield Park, a grand estate, has been let at last to a very wealthy young aristocrat. He must see that one of their daughters should marry this Mr. Bingley, but first, Mr. Bennett must visit Mr. Bingley so the women may then visit. Mr. Bennett has already visited Mr. Bingley. There is a ball, where the Bennetts are enjoying themselves when Mr. Bingley arrives, with his sister Caroline, and dear friend, Mr. Darcy. Mr. Bingley is immediately taken by Jane. Elizabeth seems a little interested in Mr. Darcy; her sister has just warned her “one of these days Lizzie, someone will catch your eye, and then you’ll have to watch your tongue,” but Elizabeth then overhears Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy speaking and Darcy comments that Jane is the only pretty girl in the assembly, Elizabeth is passing enough. She lets on she overheard him when they speak later. Elizabeth also has to put up with her mother speaking rather crassly.

The next day, a letter arrives for Jane, from Caroline, inviting her over. Mrs. Bennett, hoping it was from Mr. Bingley, insists Jane ride instead of taking the carriage to Netherfield. It begins to rain and Jane falls ill. Elizabeth walks over herself to check on her sister. Mr. Bingley already seems taken by Jane. Caroline attempts to make friends with Elizabeth and is quite comfortable around Mr. Darcy. They discuss women’s accomplishments and Darcy reveals that one of his faults is “my good opinion, once lost, is lost forever,” but Elizabeth cannot fault him for that. Then her mother and younger sisters traipse in for a visit and all return home. Mrs. Bennett is quick to point out the expensive furnishings and young Lydia insists the Bingley’s hold a ball. Mr. Bingley helps Jane into the carriage and Darcy helps Elizabeth, though he quickly walks away after.

Mr. Collins, the cousin who will inherit, visits. He is a preacher and his rectory lies near the estate of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who acts as his patroness. He reveals to Mrs. Bennett he intends to marry one of her daughters. She informs him that Jane is expected to be engaged soon, so he settles for Elizabeth. Though it looks like Mary wouldn’t mind marrying Mr. Collins. Meanwhile, the young ladies meet the officers of the regiment that is lodging in town, a Mr. Wickham in particular. Elizabeth is charmed by the young officer, but it quickly becomes known that he and Mr. Darcy have a past. Wickham tells Elizabeth that Darcy’s father loved Wickham better and Darcy never got past that and threw him out.

The Bingleys do hold a ball at Netherfield. Elizabeth hopes to see Wickham, but gets stuck with Mr. Collins who stares at her and bluntly states he intends to remain close to her for the evening. Mr. Darcy surprises Elizabeth and asks her for a dance. She is trying to overcome the different accounts of Darcy she has heard in order to make out his character. He hopes he can provide more clarity in the future. There is an interesting part of the dance when the other dancers seem to disappear and it is just Darcy and Elizabeth together. Mr. Collins, who just interrupts Mr. Darcy, reveals that Darcy is Lady Catherine’s nephew (see the similarities with Becoming Jane? A nephew to a powerful patroness). We also witness the rest of Elizabeth’s family in a competition to make fools of themselves; Mary would rather play piano than socialize, Mrs. Bennett speaks loudly that she is sure Jane will be engaged shortly, Kitty and Lydia are rather too social, and Elizabeth’s friend, Charlotte Lucas remarks that Jane needs to pluck Mr. Bingley up; being too shy will not let him know she is interested.

Mr. Collins asks for an audience with Elizabeth the following morning. She mouths to her father to stay, but they all abandon her. Mr. Collins proposes. Elizabeth heartily declines and firmly tells the man that she will not make him happy and she is certain he will not make her happy. This puts Mrs. Bennett in a kerfuffle, she enlists her husband’s help in making Elizabeth change her mind and accept, in order to keep the house, or else she will never speak to her daughter again. Mr. Bennett tells Elizabeth that she will have to be a stranger to one of her parents then, for he will not see her if she does marry Mr. Collins. Turns out, Charlotte Lucas accepts Mr. Collins, figuring she will get no other proposal (after Collins has already insinuated to Elizabeth that she will receive no better offer). Sadly, the Bingleys have left as well.

It seems some time has passed; Jane visits their aunt and uncle and Elizabeth accepts a visit to Charlotte. There, she meets and dines with the great Lady Catherine. Darcy is there, as well as a Colonel Fitzwilliam. Elizabeth is seated next to Mr. Darcy, and then Lady Catherine quizzes her on her accomplishments. After dinner, she is ordered to play the piano (she does so poorly, as she told the lady.) Darcy visits Elizabeth briefly, and awkwardly the next day. But Fitzwilliam informs Elizabeth that it was Darcy who split Mr. Bingley from Jane, due to objections to the family. Darcy finds Elizabeth in the rain and proposes, well, not the best proposal. Not wise to start it with saying you love someone against your better judgment. Elizabeth questions him on Jane and Bingley and informs Darcy that Jane is shy; she doesn’t even always reveal her heart to her sister, let alone a man. Darcy throws back that the rest of Elizabeth and Jane’s family are fools, but the two eldest daughters are excluded. Elizabeth also questions him about Wickham. They part angry, but Darcy leaves a letter. He (somewhat) apologizes for separating Bingely and Jane and tells Elizabeth what really happened with Wickham; he essentially gambled his inheritance away and when Darcy refused to give him more money, seemed to fall in love with Darcy’s very eligible younger sister and planned to elope. Darcy informed him he wouldn’t receive a penny of the dowry and so Wickham left, and Darcy’s sister was broken hearted. Elizabeth returns home very confused.

Lydia is invited to go to Brighton with family friends and Elizabeth’s aunt and unclepeak district invite her to accompany them to the Peak District (which seems absolutely stunning). Elizabeth attempts to persuade her father to not let Lydia go or else she will become the most determined flirt. Mr. Bennett simply wants peace and feels that Lydia is too poor and insignificant to get into too much trouble. Elizabeth and her relatives break down near Pemberly (where Mr. Darcy lives) and decide to visit. Elizabeth wanders and discovers Georgiana playing, and Mr. Darcy. She flees, but Darcy follows. He then calls at their lodgings and invites them over the following day. Georgiana is a cheerful young lady and is determined to be friends with Elizabeth; it is clear Darcy dearly loves his sister. Their lovely day ends in despair when news arrives that Lydia has run off with Mr. Wickham. Darcy feels it is his fault for not outing Wickham sooner; Elizabeth feels at fault for not sharing her knowledge with her family. The men of the family set out after Lydia. News returns home that Wickham will marry Lydia for a pittance.

She flounces in as a happy bride, showing off her ring to her family. Lydia inadvertently reveals to Elizabeth that it was Mr. Darcy who discovered her and Wickham and paid for everything; “he’s not half as high and mighty as you,” she remarks to her elder sister. Shortly after, Darcy and Bingley return to the Bennetts. After their brief visit, Elizabeth is on the verge of telling Jane she may like Darcy. We see Bingley rehearse, then he bursts back in and requests and audience with Jane: “first, I must tell you I have been the most unmitigated, incomprehensive ass…” Jane accepts his proposal: “yes, a thousand times yes” (which is what I imagine the most romantic proposals end with). Jane wants her sister to be as happy as her, but Elizabeth cannot bring herself to tell Jane of what almost was with Mr. Darcy. Their night is interrupted by a visit from Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who speaks to Elizabeth, demanding she does not accept any proposal from her nephew, Mr. Darcy. He is intended to marry her daughter, a match planned since infancy. Elizabeth then orders Lady Catherine out and runs from her family, refusing to speak on the matter.

darcy mistShe takes another early morning walk and meets Mr. Darcy in the mist (an utterly breathtaking scene). She attempts to make amends, for judging him so harshly. Darcy tells her, she must know, it was all for her. His affections have not changed; she has bewitched him body and soul [another line I desire in my own proposal]…”I love, I love, I love you and never wished to be parted” (and this is why we love Jane Austen). Elizabeth gently kisses his hands and their foreheads meet as the sun rises. They return to the Bennett household to get permission from Mr. Bennett. He is confused; they all thought she didn’t like him. Elizabeth tells her father she was utterly wrong about him; they are so similar, and so stubborn. In short, she loves him. She also explains how Mr. Darcy has already helped their family, but he would not want Mr. Bennett to respond.

I adore the ending of this film, even though it is not how the book ended. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are enjoying an evening together and discuss what endearments Mr. Darcy may use. he inquires when he may call her Mrs. Darcy, when he is cross? No, “only when you are completely, perfectly, and incandescently happy.” He proceeds to kiss her, murmuring “Mrs. Darcy,” he time, until their mouths meet. …sigh, swoon!

In truth, I believe I fell asleep the first time I watched the movie; it is one that needs time and a few watching’s to grow fond of. Mr. Darcy improves with each viewing. I did manage to read the novel after watching the film in college. A quick skimming of the ending enforces why I prefer it in film format; it is much easier to digest, dispensing of some of the flowery language. But as Becoming Jane comments, both sisters ended up with good matches and lived happily. The visual artistry of the film is gorgeous. I do like the soundtrack to this film, much better than the last batch of movies; I actually own it. It is mainly piano pieces, which are played by various characters throughout the film. And the dance tracks are lively pieces.

Up Next: The Gothic romance Jane Eyre

 

jane austen dressAn added treat: this is me in a Jane Austen inspired gown that I wore for Halloween one year at college; made by my talented mother (I did not inherit that talent).  I still have the dress.

 

“No sensible woman would demonstrate passion”

Becoming Jane

Portrays Jane Austen’s life before she became a famous author and some experiences she may have had that influenced her writing. Stars Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen, James McAvoy (Mr. Tumnus in Chronicles of Narnia, and young Charles Xavier in the prequel X-Men movies) as Tom Lefroy. Julie Walters (Mrs. Weasley) is Mrs. Austen, opposite James Cromwell. Dame Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall and Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, among her other roles) is Lady Gresham. Anna Maxwell Martin plays Jane’s older sister Cassandra, but the actress also portrays Elizabeth Darcy in the TV mini-series, Death Comes to Pemberley.

Jane spends the early morning hours writing and puzzling through the proper way to phrase a passage. When she figures it out, she rejoices by spiritedly playing the piano, quite early on a Sunday morning. Which her father comments on during the sermon, along with what a lady’s proper place is; at this time point, married with children and obeying her husband. After church, the Austen family visits Lady Gresham; her nephew is slightly captivated by Jane, which would be a boost to the Austen family for he will inherit well. Cassandra is engaged to be married to a young man bound for an expedition to the West Indies as chaplain. The Austens also have two boys, though one seems to be disabled of some sort, and they have their cousin visiting as well, a French comtess fleeing events in France.

In the bustling city of London, Tom Lefroy engages in boxing matches when not studying the law under his constraining uncle. He is friends with the elder Austen son, Henry, who is in the militia. Tom’s uncle wants him to learn to settle down; his sister, Tom’s mother, married for love and now lives in near poverty in Limerick with more mouths to feed than she can handle. So, Tom is sent to spend time with his country cousins, where he encounters Jane Austen. Their small community is delighted by her writing, but the higher educated Tom Lefroy sees areas where she can improve and truly be equal to the greats.

Jane is not terribly impressed with Mr. Lefroy upon first introduction. They end up dancing together at a ball, after Mr. Wisley (Lady Gresham’s nephew) trods on her toes. Tom quietly tells her, “I think that you, Miss Austen, consider yourself above the company…secretly.” That line has always stuck with me. It’s a bit like the theme of Pride and Prejudice; even those of lower means may feel pride; at least we’re better than someone else, or at least we don’t act a certain way. The two young people get to know each other through other encounters. Jane is good a cricket (and she and her cousin make to follow Tom and Henry when they go dashing off for a swim; at least, until the young men strip naked and the young ladies retreat). Tom and Jane meet accidentally in the Lefroy’s library (oh, to have a library like that!) and Tom offers Jane a book to widen her horizons (several re-watchings and age have pointed out the innuendo reading Tom gives).

Later, they discuss the book. Jane disapproves of the morality. She argues that a novel must show how the world truly is; good people do not always succeed and bad people prosper. “A novel should somehow reveal the true source of our actions.” Mrs. Austen personally hopes that Jane will settle down with Mr. Wisely, but Mr. Austen doesn’t want his daughter to sacrifice her happiness. By now, Jane is starting to look at Tom more favorably. Lady Gresham visits the Austens and Mr. Wisley strolls with Jane and proposes. She does not answer immediately, which draws her mother’s ire. Jane must marry well, there is no money for her. Yes, it is ideal to marry for “affection” (they don’t say love), but money is essential. Lack of money can wear away and ruin a marriage. Jane desires to live by her pen, but her mother doesn’t support that notion. Her father asks her to at least consider the proposal; it is likely to be her best offer.

Jane’s French cousin, the Comtess, has also developed affection for Henry Austen. She is more aware of the world and not hemmed in by conservative notions. Yes, Henry is younger and poorer than her, but they love each other, so what does it matter?

Lady Gresham holds a ball (I love the music) and Jane dances with Mr. Wisley again, though Tom joins partway through. Anyone watching can see the difference in Jane between Wisley and Lefroy; she smiles when she sees Tom and can barely take her eyes off of him. Lady Gresham deigns to speak to Jane. Against her own better judgment [oh, there are times that Lady Gresham is reminiscent of Countess Grantham, though Downton Abbey is a few years off], she implores Jane to accept her nephew; Lady Gresham feels that Jane is beneath Wisley, but she is the one that her nephew desires. Outside, as Jane ponders all of this, Tom meets her. Such a romantic meeting; I seriously want my future potential fiancĂ© to propose to me saying: “I am yours, heart and soul,” because I simply melt at that statement. Jane kisses Tom, wanting to have gotten a kiss right just once in her life. He begs her to marry him instead, but he has to persuade his uncle.

becoming jane proposal

So, the couple concoct a plan. Jane, her brother Henry, and cousin Eliza will visit Cassandra on the coast, but stop in London, where Lefroy will host them. The uncle is impressed with the Comtess, but not Jane. Nevertheless, Tom takes Jane to meet Mrs. Radcliffe, a married woman to a man with some money, who makes her own living by writing Gothic novels (played by Helen McCrory, another Harry Potter alum, she portrayed Narcissa Malfoy). Mrs. Radcliffe cautions Jane that society frowns upon a wife who has a mind of her own. That evening, Jane begins drafting First Impressions (the first draft of Pride and Prejudice). Tom speaks with his uncle the following morning, but a letter has arrived prior; the contents of which we do not hear for certain, but they do not speak favorably of Miss Austen and Tom’s uncle denies Tom’s wish to marry Jane. They part brokenhearted; Tom relies on his uncle for money and cannot go against him.

Soon, all the Austens are back home and again at Lady Gresham’s home. Word is delivered that Cassandra’s fiancĂ© has died. Jane and their mother attempt to comfort her that evening. Cassandra cheers a little watching her younger sister write and Jane summarizes her idea for Pride and Prejudice; two sisters, better than their means, eventually make happy marriages. Sadly, Tom is back in town for a brief visit, and is engaged. Jane in turns accept Wisley’s proposal, though walks away after giving the gentleman the news. In the woods, Tom comes upon Jane and her brother George. The couple shares a passionate kiss and plan to run away. Cassandra tries to talk her sister out of it, but gives in.

The two lovebirds’ carriage gets stuck on the way, necessitating Tom removing his coat, which holds a pouch of letters. Due to be his wife, Jane reads one, discovering it is from Tom’s mother, thanking him for the money to support his family. Things begin to clarify for Jane. Once the carriage has stopped for a short break, she tells Tom she found the letter and cannot be the ruin of him. She returns home, only to be greeted by Henry’s more dour friend, John, who has known Jane for years, and he too proposes. She of course rejects him, “are there no other women in Hampshire!” then realizes that he wrote the letter destroying her hopes of marrying Tom. She makes to strike him and he shrinks away.

Mrs. Austen is simply pleased that Jane returned home. Lady Gresham on the other hand refuses to be near the Austens in public, for they are tainted with suspicion. Wisley, having grown a bit of a backbone, defies his aunt’s wishes and speaks to Jane. They part as friends; he would rather not marry simply for his money. He seems to support Jane’s intention to write, as she cannot seem to marry even for affection, much less without. He inquires, “will all your stories have happy endings?” “My characters, after a little bit of trouble, will have all they desire.”

Henry and Eliza marry and are seen together, with Jane years later at a concert. Afterwards, they catch sight of a familiar figure and Henry returns with Tom Lefroy, and a young girl, his daughter Jane. Young Jane is a great admirer of Miss Austen and precociously asks for a reading. Henry explains that Jane does not read in public in order to remain anonymous. But Jane relents, for her new friend. Tom looks on; it seems he still loves Jane Austen as well.

Jane Austen is not my favorite author, though she may be my favorite classic author. But I do what I have read of her. This gives us a glimpse at the woman behind the beloved stories and shows that she may not be so different from her characters. I see so many echoes of this tale in Pride and Prejudice. This film did make me fall in love with James McAvoy a little; I love how passionately he speaks to Jane. As already stated, I swoon at his proposal. It is a movie I like to watch around Valentine’s Day.

Next Time: Pride and Prejudice (the 2005 film with Keira Knightley. I know the mini-series with Colin Firth is well regarded, but it is longer. I feel the film is easier viewing)