December 15, 2004

5 Favorite Adaptations

In the "spirit of the season," Amy and I are each going to share our favorite literary adaptations. We hope you'll add yours to the comments section as well.

Kim's Picks:
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.

The Buccaneers
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 |

Amy's Picks:
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.

Sophie's Choice
I'm pretty stoic during movies, but this one had me heaving, and I mean HEAVING sobs by the end. Go, Meryl Streep!

Doctor Zhivago
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

Pollyanna Charms

Okay, so I admit it took Kim and I a while to get around to watching this Masterpiece Theater presentation, but within the first five minutes, Pollyanna reeled us in hook, line and sinker.

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

Jane Eyre Attic Discovered

The present owners of the 16th c squire's home that inspired Charlotte Brontë's 19th c novel Jane Eyre discover a hidden attic fitting the author's careful description. ("Mystery of Jane Eyre attic solved,"Guardian UK via Boldtype)--Kim

December 7, 2004

All I Want for Christmas...(Well, Almost)

The Merchant of Venice, starring the extremely talented and attractive Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare In Love), opens at the end of the month. You can watch the gorgeous trailer here.--Kim

December 6, 2004

Regency House Party: Episode IV

Now we know why Jane Austen never married. If her life in any way resembled the folks at the Regency House party, she wouldn't have held her breath about finding a soul mate. And if the men of the Regency period were as uninspired as the blokes on this British special, it would have been slim pickings indeed. Only one member of the house party, Mr. Foxsmith, professed his true love for a lady in the final episode, and she tearfully cast him off, knowing they'd never make it in the real world. Slightly tragic, but we'll get over it. The other men made psuedo-connections with some of the ladies in the group, but we can only suspect that was to please the producers, who wanted some sort of Hollywood ending.

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