December 15, 2004
Pride and Prejudice
Obvs. choice. Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth) and Elizabeth Bennet struggle over class prejudice and personal pride. Colin Firth famously exits a pond in a wet shirt and gives Jennifer Ehle (as Elizabeth) "the look." Sigh.
New money American heiresses travel to England to find aristocratic husbands in this mini series adaptation of Edith Wharton's unfinished novel. Carla Cugino (Spin City, Spy Kids) is wonderful as the naive, high-spirited Nan. Greg Wise (Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility) and Mira Sorvino co-star.
Zefirelli's Romeo and Juliet
This film famously stars Olivia Hussey as the doomed Juliet and boasts a high percentage of handsome gents in tights engaged in witty banter and suspenseful swordfights.
Sense and Sensibility
Ang Lee (Director) and Emma Thompson (Screenplay) partnered to create this lush adaptation of Austen's novel. Starring Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, and my not-so-secret crush, Greg Wise (see The Buccaneers above).
This last one is hard. I thought about The Shining, Emma, Apocalypse Now, The Scarlet Pimpernel (a new favorite), but I'm going to go with My Precious...
Lord of the Rings I, II, and III
If I were stuck on a desert island, I'd want Legolas to keep me distracted (and a DVD Player, of course). If I had to pick one of the three, I'd choose The Fellowship of the Ring. --Kim | www.kimsaid.com
Since there are still tons of adaptations I have yet to see, I'm sure this list won't even begin to measure up. Still, here are my faves not mentioned among Kim's selections.
A Room With A View
Pretty much any E.M. Forster adaptation is brilliant, but this is the best. The romantic embrace in a sea of flowers kills me every time, and the soundtrack is superb.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Strange yet delightful. Weird yet wonderful. Gene Wilder is a genius in this movie, and that twisted ferry ride scene is trippy indeed. I pray Johnny Depp in the new version can measure up, but somehow I doubt it.
I'm pretty stoic during movies, but this one had me heaving, and I mean HEAVING sobs by the end. Go, Meryl Streep!
Only Julie Christie and Omar Sharif can make marital infidelity seem magical. The stark Russian landscape and haunting theme music only add to its epic appeal.
The Forsyte Saga
Basically a soap opera about stodgy rich Brits at the turn of the 20th century, this is a miniseries you can really sink your teeth into.
December 14, 2004
Yes, the young whippersnapper is downright schmaltzy at times. Yes, the ending is a bit unrealistically sap-filled. Still, by the end of the movie, Kim was a weeping willow while I seriously contemplated adopting a precocious ten-year old.
Lovely to watch and well acted, Pollyanna is the film equivalent of a room full of rainbows...(And I mean that with zero sarcasm. Because according to this movie, sarcasm is only for desperately single old ladies.) -- Amy
December 9, 2004
December 7, 2004
December 6, 2004
In the end, the most profound farewell occurred when Mr. Gorell-Barnes took leave from his faithful manservant, who couldn't help but sob like a baby (and likely hasn't yet lived it down with his homophobic mates in the modern world.) As for everyone else, we couldn't really care less what's become of them as we determined that this four-part series was a disappointment. (I much preferred some of the other historical reality shows, like "Frontier House," "Manor House," and "Colonial House." Still, if you're curious to learn more about the people in this series, check out their interviews here. -- Amy
November 29, 2004
You scored 9 out of a possible 10
Pulitzer prize-winner. You loved Anthony Burgess's verse translations for the Cyrano de Bergerac subtitles (though you noticed the caesura was out on one of the lines), and you're always ready to spot where the film differs (inexcusably) from the book. Do you often spend your nights alone? (Whaaaat?? --Kim)
November 24, 2004
Franco Zeffirelli has adapted some of the greatest literary works for the screen, including one of my favorite films, Romeo and Juliet ('68). Tonight he'll be awarded an honarary knighthood for his contribution to British Arts. (Guardian UK)
You can order a poster similar to the one I own here. He's 81, but really shouldn't one be required to affect at minimum a token joust or something in order to receive a knighthood? --Kim
November 23, 2004
You can watch the trailer for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy here. Not much happens but it's still kind of thrilling.
Also, why am I so excited about the new Star Wars movie? --Kim
Masterpiece Theater does a remake of the classic Disney film, Pollyanna, this Sunday, Nov. 28 on PBS. Incidentally, the story is based on a 1913 bestseller by Eleanor H. Porter.
Nothing like a cloyingly sweet young child to transform the grump in all of us. -- Amy
November 22, 2004
With the addition of another lady and a few more gents to the party, we still can't figure out why the only bit of lovin' going on in this house of swingin' singles is between the very dorky Mr. Foxsmith and his middle-aged lover (yes, LOVER!), Lady Devonport. The two scampered off to the stables to spend the night at the end of this week's episode. It would be more scandalicious if it were the hunky host, Mr. Gorell Barnes leading the seduction, but unfortunately, he's too dull to have put any moves on the ladies so far. We've only got one more episode left to see any of the other guys in the house actually make a move. If the REAL men of the Regency Era had been as ineffectual at wooing women as these guys are, the sad trials of childbirth that we learned about in this episode would be a moot point. -- Amy
On a more positive note, Newsweek magazine recently suggested a few more favorable casting choices:
Love interst Sophie Neveu: Julie Delpy, from Before Sunrise/Sunset.
Detective Bezu Fache: Jean Reno from The Professional.
(I won't hold my breath as it will probably end up being someone like "Apple's Mom" and Richard Gere in those roles. And since this book is about as commercial as they come, I guess it only makes sense.) -- Amy
November 16, 2004
Did Regency era activities include snogging on the lawn half clothed? That's some of what we witnessed in Part II of PBS's Regency House Party, as Mr. Foxsmith became more deeply (and illogically) enamored with one of the older chaperone women, Lady Davenport. Perhaps he neglected the younger ladies in the party because from what we've seen so far, they are uninteresting and whine a lot. Miss Braund and her chaperone nearly came to blows one evening, leaving our handsome host, Mr. Gorel-Barnes to attempt to restore order. It's unfortunate that Miss Braund suffered such a hissy fit, as Kim and I briefly had cheered when she received a daisy chain on her bed from Mr. Everett. Nevertheless, he simultaneously had the hots for Miss Hopkins and proved to be quite the player. Only the "Colonel Brandon"-like Captain Glover showed himself to be a true gentleman, using bales of hay to arrange the phrase "B Happy" on the lawn outside Miss Braund's window. How utterly romantic! The episode also included insights into the world of gothic entertainment and male vomiting. Truly something for everyone... --Amy
Amy and I watched Part 1 of BBC's 1999 production of Great Expectations last week. Pip is played by the gorgeous Welsh actor Ioan Gruffud (of the fantastic Horatio Hornblower series*), so it's no surprise that it's indeed our favorite adaptation of this novel. In fact, we concluded that really no other leading actor is needed. Ever. Charlotte Rampling is an intriguing Miss Havisham; old enough to be well within spinster-ville but not so old that her former beauty doesn't shine through, giving her character an aura of pitiable wistfulness. I'm withholding my opinion on Justine Waddell's portrayal of Estella until part 2.
*Amy introduced me to the Horatio Hornblower phenomenon two years ago and my life has never been the same since. Thus, much like the origin of Pip's great expectations, the origin of movie night (and eventually Romancing the Tome) can be attibuted to a long ago (though less terrifying!) event. --Kim
November 11, 2004
San Francisco being a prime spot for European tourists, there are more than half a dozen places where you can enjoy an afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, scones, and clotted cream. I've been to every single one of them. My favorites are listed here.
St. Francis Hotel, Union Square
The Compass Rose room in the St. Francis is dark, elegant and filled with Oriental treasures. A pianist plays the standards during afternoon tea. Also a great place for an old-fashioned Sidecar with a view of Union Square.
Sheraton Palace, Financial District
A splendid tea is served in the opulent glass-domed Garden Court at the Sheraton Palace. I swear you'll feel like you are in a Jane Austen novel while you're sipping your Earl Grey. This is one of my all-time favorite escapes.
Paddington's Tea Room
This family-owned tea room has scones that will keep me returning again and again. The decor is fussy Victorian with lots of tea cups and, of course, teddy bears.
I spent the day visiting museum after museum and then I hiked over to the Four Seasons Hotel for tea. What a perfect day. The service is wonderful.
The Shelbourne Hotel
The Shelbourne was built in 1867 and serves afternoon tea in the Edwardian Mayor's Room which oozes history. Quite majestic!
November 9, 2004
Jude Law joins Jennifer Connelly and her real-life hubby, Paul Bettany in an updated version of Brideshead Revisited, based on the novel by Evelyn Waugh.
The original 1981 mini-series was a mega-hit and helped launch the career of its star, Jeremy Irons. I, for one, could barely keep from falling into a coma whilst powering through all 11 episodes earlier this fall with Kim. While it had its bright moments, I can only chalk up the original series' success to the lack of Tivo and good cable at the time. Perhaps if while viewing we'd been drinking as much as the movie's protagonist, Sebastian, we might have had a jolly good time. Since my only real beef with the miniseries is that is was WAY too long, I'll be eager to check out the condensed new version when it eventually hits theaters. (Kim no doubt gives it a preliminary thumbs up for the Jude Law/Paul Bettany dual hottie factor.) -- Amy
November 8, 2004
• Lots of frenzied, galloping, "Got an urgent message, dammit!" horseback footage, and a "Ren-fair"-worthy jousting scene
• Helena Bonham Carter as Anne Boleyn shows that despite "Fight Club," she's not abandoned roles that require a corset
• Close-up shots of Henry Tudor's "Liberace-style" rings as he heaves lovelorn sighs over Anne "I'm a Rules Girl" Boleyn
• Henry frets about going to hell for splitting with the pope; guess those countless affairs and sending subseqent wives to the chopping block are holy misdemeanors?
• Vexed by an itchy hair shirt and a good-for-nothing hubby, Catherine of Aragon gives Anne Boleyn the stink-eye and a few choice words.
• Hank and Annie B. celebrate their marriage by cutting a rug in a scene reminiscent of Captain Von Trapp and Fraulein Maria, followed by a royal roll in the hay.
• Oliver Cromwell appears in desperate need of a visit to Supercuts
• Henry blubbers at the birth of Elizabeth, future kick-ass monarch
• Anne pays the executioner and goes proudly to her death in a true "cover your eyes" gross-out-but-gripping moment.
...Four more wives to go in Part II, airing Sunday, Nov. 14.
I've also heard the 1971 "MT" miniseries, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, is phenomenal if you ever have nine hours to kill. -- Amy
November 4, 2004
IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Last night Amy and I eagerly watched "Pride and Prejudice," the first episode of PBS's Regency House Party. This episode introduced the single men and women and their chaperones and quickly plunged them into the strict tradition and lifestyle of the early 1800s. "The Regency period is very sexy," revealed eligible bachelor Mr. Gorell Barnes, who happens to look hot--um, I mean dashing--in a cravat and man tights. On their arrival the men quickly descend into various states of drunkenness offending the uptight hostess, a chaperone "hired" to help the host land a wife. The men are perhaps more smitten with the ladies' bosom-revealing gowns than their financial status. Captain Robinson (who bears a striking resemblance to Tim on The Office) is worried about becoming "too posh," particularly when the men receive training in the art of Pedestrianism, an elegant form of walking. After making and breaking an engagement with a woman who finds the resident hermit more exciting, Robinson decides he'd rather be watching television and departs. Next week we're hoping to see more evidence of the esteem held between one of the gentlemen and (gasp!) a chaperone. And some fencing of course.
Swoon Score: 7. --Kim
October 30, 2004
"For nine sunny summer weeks, a group of eligible bucks and buxom ladies takes up residence in a magnificent country estate for a house party exactly like those hosted at the height of the Regency. But will 21st-century folk who are really looking for love manage to navigate the strict social protocols of the day?"
Not sure the "looking for love" Bachelor angle is necessary, but still, I cannot wait. If you loved 1900 House, Manor House, Frontier House and Colonial House, this newest edition of the historical reality series will truly be your cup of tea! -- Amy
October 28, 2004
Chocolate rating: A new feature of this blog, Kim and I have decided to rate the gourmet chocolate we sample during each film. This week's selection, Sao Tome Reserva Chocolate from Trader Joe's, was too bitter to be enjoyable and we opted not to finish it, which is normally unheard of. We may as well have been eating unsweetened baker's chocolate. I'd give it a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. What a travesty. -- Amy
October 27, 2004
October 21, 2004
Disappointed to come away from "Stage Beauty" feeling it was a regular yawn. Billy Crudupp was impressive as one of the last great male actors to play female roles in the English theater. But as the young protegé who steals his career, Claire Danes seemed affected and very "Claire Danes." There's a sort of bizarre love scene between the two (Crudupp's character is gay, then wait — no he isn't?) Heavy-handed with its message on gender roles in society, THESSSSSSPIANS will love this movie, but I'm not sure many others will, despite some decent reviews it's received. If you're a true sucker for Restoration period pieces, check it out. Otherwise, stick with "Shakespeare In Love." -- Amy
October 19, 2004
Kim and I just got our Masterpiece Theater fix watching Part One of "The Lost Prince." Set in Edwardian England just prior to WWI, it brings to light the saga of Prince Johnny, an adorable little pumpkin of a child who is shut away like a prisoner by his parents, King George V and Queen Mary. They are ashamed of his epileptic fits, autistic-like learning difficulties, and penchant for saying true-yet-inappropriate things in front of company. Ironically, the parents themselves seem to have more head troubles than their child. Lovely Gina McKee (Irene from "The Forsyte Saga") is Johnny's beleaguered governess, whose best intentions don't prevent him from being viewed as the freakish Frankenstein child of the royal family. Most heartbreaking of all is the little prince's relationship with his protective brother, Georgie, who kindly vows not to let anyone "send him away." Watching little John (Daniel Williams) scamper off to suffer a seizure in private made Kim and I damn near bawl.
Part II didn't wow us as much, perhaps because Johnny's quirks weren't nearly so cute when he grew older, and Lala's attempts to intercede on the boy's behalf usually only exacerbated a sad situation. Johnny's brilliant musical recital at the end of the movie was about as cliché as they come. Still, this royal outcast's saga lent a unique angle to the historical backdrop of the gathering storm leading up to World War I. -- Amy
October 16, 2004
Amy and I powered through Parts II and III (A&E miniseries, 1999) last night really because we couldn't turn it off. Richard E. Grant is the dashingly heroic Sir Percy Blakeney and Elizabeth McGovern is his French wife Lady Blakeney, the former actress Madame Marguerite. Grant isn't your typical leading man as far as looks go, but in the same way that Colin Firth IS Darcy, he's absolutely mesmerizing as The Pimpernel. Lady Blakeney is a strong female character who becomes an integral player in The Pimpernel's missions to rescue French aristocrats from the guillotine. The two of them had a fantastic chemistry that overcame the many implausible plot twists. (I won't even go into the whole accent issue except to say that it's so typical of an American production to screw that up.) The Bottom Line: We loved it. --Kim