Thursday, April 29, 2010

Relations Such As These


 I have come across some fairly horrid and fairly excellent self-published books based on Pride & Prejudice lately, I think this one falls somewhere in the middle. Plot aside, never have I seen a book so  badly in need of an editor!!! I've never seen so many spelling mistakes and quotation crimes in my life! After about four pages, I had to grab my sharpie ultrafine and start adding quotations myself, in case I decide to re-read this book in the future. More about this book after le saut...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Casting a Project That Will Probably Never Happen, Even Though It Would Kick Ass

There has been some back and forth, some "Will he or won't he" talk about JJ Abrams and Daniel Lindelof adapting Stephen King's Dark Tower Series for film or television. The last word on this was that it wasn't going to be adapted anytime soon, with Lindelof just wrapping up Lost it would probably be a pretty huge feat to pull off something with such a big mythology as DT. However, the speculations still abound and a few days ago I came across This Site with their ideas for DT Casting. Some of them I have no Problem with...others I'm not so sure. And since I think I rock at this sort of thing, I'm going to give it a shot myself. I'm putting in a jump since this is an image-heavy post...Click Images to Enlarge...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Young Victoria

Emily Blunt? Good. Paul Bettany? Good. Rupert Friend? Gooooooooooood. Watch it. That's all.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Jane Eyre 1997: Robots, Mustaches and Rupert Penry-Jones!

So I finally got over my wariness of Ciarán Hinds' mustache and watched the 1997 A&E version of Jane Eyre starring Mr. Hinds as Rochester and Samantha Morton as Jane. I did enjoy it, for the most part, and I realize that not every version has the benefit of a good budget the way the 2006 miniseries undoubtedly did. Taking that into account I still get incredibly frustrated when they gloss over the last part of the story (the events that take place after Jane leaves Thornfield). I really don't care all that much about young orphan Jane and Mr. Brocklehurst, etc. I want to dive right in to the juicy Rochester parts! This was my biggest complaint, other than that I found myself pleasantly surprised by this version.

Samantha Morton is a fine actress, and she plays Jane very well, though at times I found her voice a little (no, very) Robotic. Her interpretation of Jane didn't seem to be terribly self-possessed or self-assured the way Jane is. At times it seems like she has "been trampled on". I wish she could have played her with a little more backbone, watching the proposal scene she seemed more terrified of Rochester than anything. That being said, she still was perfectly capable of the material, I just wish she had done a bit more with it. That, and the voice-overs were unnecessary and sometimes confusing.

The green frock coat and the top hat makes me want cereal for some reason...

On the other hand, Ciarán Hinds (who I also love) almost did a little too much with Edward Rochester. He was certainly the crankiest, surliest version of Rochester I've ever seen! Maybe it's the timbre of his voice that gives it that rough edge. Though, oddly enough he was nicer to Adele in this film. In any event, I really came to love this version of Rochester. Hinds played him with a passionate, wild and unapologetic desperation. He might be the closest an actor has come to Brontë's character. I love Toby Stephens and his portrayal will always be first place (unless Michael Fassbender knocks it out of the park) but he did seem to be a gentler and more sensual Rochester than the character from the book. And Hinds deftly handles the very changeable moods of Mr. Rochester. I think if not for his performance this would have been an ultimately forgettable movie.

 The Moor House part of the story, as I mentioned, was very much pared down. It's never mentioned that Jane is related to St. John and Diana (no Mary or Hannah is this one) but at one point they are calling each other "brother" and "sister" out of the blue. Huh? St. John was played by certified dreamboat Rupert Penry-Jones, who you might know as playing a very foxy (though slightly wooden) Captain Wentworth in the BBC's 2007 remake of Jane Austen's Persuasion. All I want to know is why is St. John Rivers suddenly so happy and bubbly? There was none of the religious fire and cold manipulation of the character in this portrayal. To me, it's one of the most important aspects of the story! St. John's "proposal" is bitterly, sharply different from Rochester's, who actually loves Jane.  Reading those scenes in the book, he seems to almost haunt Jane like a ghost in order to bend her to his will. If I could describe the character of St. John in a word, it would be "suffocating". Not so here. Here he's just a cute, affable guy who says "Hey! We both love God! Let's get married and go somewhere really hot!" Despite the cuteness of it's actor, this St. John Rivers did not answer for me.

 And what the hell is up with that hair?!?!

 I had some other minor issues, Gemma Jones is great but she seemed a little more abrupt than Mrs. Fairfax is usually portrayed, and Blance Ingram was kind of Fug. I also thought Thornfield Hall was more bright and cheerful than usual. I do have to applaud them for the great job they did with Bertha, from her mattress-lined room to how large she seemed (she was a large woman in the book).

If you are a Jane Eyre enthusiast like I am, it's certainly worth a watch, if only to laugh at the line "Mrs. Faifax got a letter. Sophie got a letter. Even Pilot got a letter!"

[Edit] Has anyone gotten a chance to read This yet? If you have, what did you think?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cleaning up the Camera...

Just some photos I took a good while back...

More after das wechseln...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

North and South and OMG my knees don't work!

So I had never seen North & South, nor read the book by Elizabeth Gaskell, but It was on my "Amazon Recommends" list and so I put it in my Netflix queue and forgot all about it. And then I started frequenting over here and got curious as to who this Richard Armitage guy is I kept reading so much about, so I finally got around to watching North & South.

Oh. My. God. Why have I never seen this? I've seen several versions of like, every Jane Austen adaptation and a small Army of Jane Eyres and this is one of the better shows I've ever seen in terms of story, production value, superior acting, and pure unrelenting hotness. RA can do more with a well-aimed glance that the majority of actors can do with some of the best dialog to be had. I was swooning for hours after watching this, and I'm afraid all of my friends on Stumbleupon were probably ready to delete me by the end of the day.

Now that I've gotten most of my fangirl squeals out of the way, I can talk about the movie. And only the movie, when I read the book I'll probably have more or otherwise to say.

Margaret Hale (Daniela Denby-Ashe) is a character I definitely like and relate to, she's smart and witty (though not quite as witty as Elizabeth Bennett) and she's kind and understanding (though not quite as understanding as Jane Eyre). It's her flaws that make me like her even more, from one stubborn girl to another...I salute you. But what I love about Margaret is how really terrible crap just keeps getting piled on her, heap after heap and she keeps her back straight and takes it for the sake of those that depend on her. She doesn't apologize for the things she has to do...though she does try to make people, sometimes unsuccessfully, understand. And girlfriend is Courageous! She jumps on a man to save him from an angry mob, that takes some serious backbone (especially after watching Gangs of New York, where I learned to be truly afraid of Angry Mobs).

The other main character, Mr. John Thornton (RA) is a born survivor, smart, fiercely temperamental but also truly tender. I know most people might say his angry outbursts or scathing criticisms would be his biggest flaw, but I would say it's being a total Mama's Boy.

There are some misunderstandings and a lot of the story is dedicated to the struggle between union and industry during the industrial revolution. I love that it was more than just a love story. There is a lot of commentary on Society, Class and Gender, and Margaret and Thornton are both in the unique position of having lived both well-off (or at least comfortable) and poor at various points in their lives.

I also enjoyed that so much of the movie talked about Cotton, and where I'm from in South Carolina it's all cotton, all the time. Stuff is NASTAY. 

In any case, here is a pretty good fan-made trailer that I sent everyone with an internet connection along with the message "EEEEEEE!" So do yourself and me a favor and give it a go, will you?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Remembrance of the Past*

*I stayed up like all night reading this book and am so tired that I didn't notice at first that I typed "Remembrance of the Spats". Seems kind of redundant, no? You would definitely remember If you saw someone wearing Spats.

What I have to say about this book will be brief as I am super tired and want nothing more than to be eating a cheeseburger in bed. Possibly a milkshake too.

I'd like to start by talking about the first half of this book. It's a "What If" P&P retelling, with a coda and some extras thrown in. Two months after his first disaster of a proposal, Darcy, Col. Fitzwilliam and Georgiana bump in to Lizzie and Mrs. Gardiner in Hyde Park. This would be about a month before Elizabeth and the Gardiners go on their tour of the Peak District. It's a clever scenairo, and is very well done. I was so in love with this story and the writing and was already wondering how I could have found two excellent fan-based P&P books back to back. I began to like it so much that I started thinking of it as "Alternate Universe Pride & Prejudice", which goes to show how much of a nerd I am, and that I probably watch too much Fringe, but whatever...Joshua Jackson is hot now so it's all good.

In the first chapter, we can already see that Mr. D has forgiven Lizzie and is trying to soften her opinion of him. Her reaction goes along swimmingly with the original book, though there is a bit of a monkey wrench in the form of a new character, Lady Cassandra. She's a close personal friend of both Mr. and Miss D and Elizabeth finds herself confused and even mortified when she realizes that she's jealous of Cassandra. I have to say, I'm usually not overly thrilled with new characters, but I did rather like this one. She's sort of a younger, hotter, funnier Lady Catherine. There is also a new character by way of a villain, and it's not Wickham! (Though that guy is pretty much the same) We also get glimpses into the narratives of some of the characters that are always on the sidelines in P&P. There is a good deal of time spent of Colonel Fitzwilliam (who I am now officially labeling a Dreamboat), and some of the story we get through the eyes of Bingley, Caroline, Mr. Bennett and even Jane! I also have to note that this is the least annoying version of Georgiana I've read since the original. A lot of these books make her overly sweet or crying every 2 seconds (though she does cry more than once in this book I let it go because she's SIXTEEN).

After a fortnight of bumping in to each other at the theater and making calls between Grosvenor and Gracechurch Streets, Darcy invites the Gardiners (but mostly Elizabeth) to visit Pemberly during their stay in Derbyshire. Some serious wooing takes place at Pemberly, and Elizabeth and Darcy find themselves in one awkward situation after another. And by Awkward, I mean "hot". A lot of small bits and pieces get moved around but the story flows so well I honestly never minded. We go through the whole Wickham/Lydia debacle, but this time Lady Cassandra and Col. Fitzwillaim lend a hand as well, the former scaring the crap out of Wickham and making me laugh with delight. After the return to Longbourn and a very awkward conversation with Mr. Bennett (who is far more observant that Darcy ever gave him credit for) everything seems peachy for (almost) everyone involved.

And Then...

When I read these books, and the second proposal and/or wedding happens only in the middle, I've learned to be seriously skeptical at what else the author has to offer. No one of course can match Austen's wit or style, and a lot of the books seem to suffer from the lack of source material. I won't say that's what happened in the second half of this book, it was still a compelling read and a good story, it just became a completely different story. It became a total Romance Novel.

For one, it had "the Sex", and that wasn't too badly done. In fact the first instance of "the sex" in this book was actually pretty steamy , and it wasn't Lizzie & Darcy, though there was plenty enough of that later. My philosophy when it comes to Sex with these P&P books is "less is more", and this book just suddenly became a bodice-ripper, albeit a very entertaining one. I really think the author should have split this in to two volumes, or two completely separate books. There was more villain action, another love story besides the Darcys, and some frustrating moments where I was ready for the pace of the story to pick up a bit. The very last chapter was very sweet and rewarding and should have capped off the first half of the book and left out the rest (or consigned the rest to a separate book). If it had, it would have gotten 9 & 1/2 or even 10 out of 10 stars, but as it is it sits at a strong 8.

One more thing, and this is just a peeve I have....whenever the subject of Sex would come up between ANY of the characters, they all referred to it as " know." At first it was cute. But after a while I was just wishing she had slipped in a mention of "dirty monkey sex", just to liven things up a bit.

Remembrance of the Past by Lory Lillian.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My Top 10 TV Tearjerkers

It occoured to me when watching this past week's episode of Lost, the room "got a bit dusty" as it usually does with Desmond episodes.  I really thought about the television moments that have made me openly weep, and because I love inflicting on others, I thought I'd provide a list...

10. Sid's Back and She's Pissed - Alias
Imagine waking up in Hong Kong, with no idea as to how you got there, only to discover that you've been missing for two years, your Daddy is in Federal Prison and the man you love is now married to someone else. That's gotta hurt! Sid let's Vaughn have it in a way that makes you feel like you've been punched in the gut. And when she finally lets it all out with "You want to know how I am? I am Horrible! I am ripped apart!" my waterworks start.

9. 'I Will Always Love You' - Gilmore Girls
This little gem was from the Gilmore Girls finale, where Lorelai starts singing Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" to her Daughter Rory, but then Luke walks in and after some very emotional pauses the meaning changes entirely. It's a very sweet moment. Her little shrug mid-song as she looks at Luke just gets me every time!

8. A Hole in the World - Angel
Oh Fred. You were sort of annoying, then sort of endearing, then we really loved you, and then you died only to become the no less awesome, time-bending Illyria. Between her death throes and Wesley's desperation, this is a moment so sad and so touching, It makes me want to go to bed for about a week.

7. Heart - Supernatural
I'm thinking now that it's a rule for this show that the characters are never, ever allowed to be happy. Especially not when it comes to Love. Poor Sam has just found a woman he could love in Madison, except for the teensy problem of her being a werewolf. Sam and Dean race to find a way to save her, but alas, as it is Supernatural such is not to be had, and Madison asks Sam to take her out of the picture before she can hurt anyone else.

6.  Ellen Tigh drinks the Kool-Aid - Battlestar Galactica
Well, finding a video clip with this one scene is impossible (or rather was taking too long) so here is the 'What the Frak' video which has the aforementioned clip in it. As they say..."Very Sad".

5.  Gemma's Confession - Sons of Anarchy
This entire episode was something of a masterpiece. All season there had been this slow tension building, and just when everything was about to explode, Gemma the Matriarch steps forward with the painful confession of being brutally attacked, knowing that this is the only thing that can bring her family back and keep them together. Katey Sagal is one of the most incredible actresses I've ever seen, and she plays that scene so quietly and so understated that Jax and Clay's reactions, more than her confession, moves me to tears.

4. The Body - Buffy the Vampire Slayer
This episode is truly set apart from all others Buffy eps, for it's stark look at the death of a parent. Buffy comes home to find her mother dead of a Brain hemorrhage, and even though the first half hour of this episode is so difficult to watch, it's Anya's speech that makes it Brutal. I couldn't find a clip without some crappy song playing over the actors so I'll just paste the quote:

Anya: But I don't understand! I don't understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean I knew her and then she's , .. there's just a body and I don't understand why she just can't get back in it and not be dead anymore! It's stupid. It's mortal and stupid. And Xander's crying and not talking and I was having fruit punch and I thought well Joyce will never have anymore fruit punch ever, and she'll never have eggs or yawn or brush her hair, not ever and no one will explain to me why..

3. The Final Montage - Six Feet Under
The last part of this wonderful, beautiful mess of a show gave us a glimpse into the future. After five years of watching a stranger die at the beginning of each episode, we got to see how the end comes (as it must come for all of us) to the Fishers and their circle of friends and family. It begins with Claire, truly beginning her life at 22 years old, and ends with her lying in bed at 108. But it's really the moment when David sees Keith again that really gets me going. I know it's kind of long, but it so worth it! And damn if watching this clip doesn't make me miss the hell out of Ruth Fisher.

2. Godric Meets the Sun - True Blood
I had a really tough time trying to decide between the previous video and this one as #2, but in the end this one won out. Between Eric's emotional breakdown and Sookie's line "I'm afraid for you" my eyes didn't stand a chance!

1. The Constant - Lost

You would have to be made of stone to not cry at the beautiful phone call between Desmond and his true love Penny. It's a matter of life and death, and no less moving. Unfortunately, I can't find any embed code so Here is the link. Grab your tissues and enjoy this display of the purest, truest love.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman.

Wearer of fine waistcoats and neckcloths, rider of cranky horses, trainer of adorable doggies, war story enthusiast,  devoted brother and friend. Pamela Aidan's version of Fitzwilliam Darcy is all these things, along with the things we already knew. Darcy is a self-imposed outsider, according to his BFF Bingley "determined to be displeased with the world and everyone in it."  Or is he?  Maybe he's just a man who never knew himself, as it were.

My project has been to read as many of these P&P retellings (not sequals) as possible. And while some of them have been clever and engaging (and some have been insipid and enraging) these are the first ones I have read that I can honestly say "I love it!". And Love it I do. Aidan's writing is beautiful and engaging, she made Darcy come alive as he never has in any other fan-penned book.

Aidan's first volume of the Darcy trilogy, An Assembly Such as This introduces us to our cast of players and goes as far as London, just after The Bingleys and Darcy have left Netherfield. There are a few new characters, such as Darcy's Shakespeare-quoting Valet Fletcher and his old University friend Lord Dyfed 'Dy' Brougham. Rather than retract from the original story, I found that we get a larger picture on the rules of Society, Caste and Class than we did in Pride & Prejudice. There are also some cameos in the book from Lady Caroline Lamb, Lord Byron (very briefly) and a hilarious run-in with Beau Brummell*. (See above, Re: Neckcloths)

The characters shine with Aidan's retelling. Here Charles Bingley has little patience for his sisters' jealous gossip as well as a quick sense of humor, and he often makes his good friend Darcy the butt of his jokes. Bingley, Fletcher and Dy provide most of the humor in this book, though I was surprised to find myself laughing at Darcy himself from time to time.

As he begins to realize his attraction to Elizabeth, his painful efforts at trying to win her favor are so awkward and so opposite of what we know Elizabeth sees that it becomes (as Fletcher dubs it) "A Comedy of Errors". Darcy is constantly criticizing himself, and so many of his inner dialogues being with "Idoit!" that I can't help but feel for the poor guy. We learn though the book of how painful the loss of his Father was, and that his aloofness is admittedly a "suit of armor" he wears to protect himself from feeling that pain again.  And this works for him, though it's not until he begins getting to know Elizabeth that he realizes that not only has he not felt pain since his father's death, he's also been completely devoid of happiness as well. Darcy is calm seas on the outside, a raging storm of emotions on the inside.

With nothing but cold regard for the ladies of Society who would ultimately be more 'suitable' in his eyes, Darcy seems to become more awake and alive in Elizabeth's presence than he ever has been in his life.  He obviously hates the weakness, but can't seem to help himself. We get all the lovely, often painful parts of real true first love. One of my favorite parts of the book is his internal debate over what makes a better wife, one who is "accomplished", or one who is "True and pure and lovely".

In all honesty, what better prerequisites were there for the woman one spent one's life with? His memory harkened back to Miss Bingley's long list of talents for the accomplished woman and his added requirement that she be well read. Would the embodiment of that list offer a better surety of his future happiness than a woman who was true, pure, and lovely?
With that thought to chew on, the book ends with Darcy vowing to himself to put Elizabeth behind him, fat lot of good it will do him!
I'll probably only touch on book 2 since it had the least to do with the events in P&P before plowing on to book 3, and since the bulk of the story happens there it'll probably take a while. 

In the meantime, please feel free to admire my new banner.

*A Wiki search revealed that there was a 2006 BBC production called "Beau Brummell: This Charming Man" starring the oft-mentioned but no less deserving James Purefoy! Sweet Victory!


Monday, April 05, 2010

The Peep Allegory

Tomorrow, I will have lots to say because doubtless by then I will have finished Pamela Aidan's Darcy Trilogy (Preliminary thoughts? Love it!) but for now please do what is best for you and click the below link.

Later tater!

The Most Amazing Easter Story. Ever!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Books I Can't Live Without: The Changeover

I have no hope of any current young adult fiction authors reading this, alas. If they did I would tell them to sit up, pay attention and take note. I'm talking about a piece of genius in their genre.

I have read a lot of YA fiction recently (see my goodreads list if you don't believe me) and while it's entertaining, it very seldom has any resonance or meaning. Not so with The Changeover: A Supernatural Romance. I will come right out and say that the only issue I've ever had with this book is that the title might lead people to believe the book is more frilly and superfluous than it actually is.

I came across this gem when I was about 14 or 15, right around the same age as our protagonist, Laura Chant. Rather than trying to sum up the whole plot, I'll let the back of the book do that for me...

"One Morning, Laura Chant wakes with the knowledge that something terrible is about to happen.
 Laura has belt this way before, for she has the ability to see and sense things that other people can'. But this time the worst happens: Laura's little brother Jacko becomes the victim of a creature who wants to destroy him. The only way Laura can save Jacko is to join forces with her mysterious classmate Sorensen Carlisle, who is able to help her "change over" and use her supernatural powers to their fullest. Together, will they have enough power to confront the dark forces that loom over them?"

Laura has a lot going on in her life. She and her little brother have been estranged from their father for years, their mother makes little money and they always seem to be broke, and Laura is beginning to become self-aware in the way that only developing teenage girls are. She recognizes these natural changes for their strangeness and power, and at the same time is puzzled by them. What teenage girl has NOT felt that way? Even better, Sorensen or "Sorry" as they call him, is too becoming aware of her body in a way that is totally natural for teenage boys. Stephanie Meyer really messed up YA fiction by making it so damned chaste. This book is very frank about sexual attraction. One such exchange goes...

"So take a deep breath, Chant. You're no worse off and you might be better off...and at least you're not quite on your own with it anymore."
     This was true. Laura did take a deep breath and realized as she did that Sorry was not watching her face, but the rise and fall of the breath under her old pajama jacket. He sighed himself, met her eyes, and gave her a smile both deprecating and conciliatory. "You did invite me in," he pointed out, "even though you knew I was a mixed blessing."

You never catch Edward Cullen (or even Jacob!) staring at Bella's boobs, and I think the book suffers for it!

Sorry is not the typical love interest. He's a bit lost, loves romance novels (for "research") and drives a Vespa. His efforts to win Laura are so confused and at the same time earnest, we know he's in love with her before he realizes it himself.

I've read a lot of books, I was reading Pet Cemetary and IT before I was 12 and I will tell you that there has seldom been a character as creepy as Carmody Braque. When I read the young adult fiction now and see their ideas of bad guys I have to laugh. They have no faith in their audience! In most cases, the bad guy turns out to be another Hot Guy with Strange Specialness just like the Hero. The girl in the story will either get beat up a little or will cower in a corner while someone else rescues her. "Stop fighting! I'm FRAIL!"

Margaret Mahy was not afraid to deliver a good villain, though he's absent for a good part of the book. Nor was she afraid to deliver a good Hero. In this case, Laura is more the hero than Sorry. Girlfriend is not afraid to get the job done!

But you don't have to totally take my word for it, check out the reader reviews at