Friday, 12 April 2013

AUSTEN INSPIRED MOVIES: SOMETHING GOOD, SOMETHING USELESS


It's Friday again. How was your week? Mine was filled with chores, school work, deadlines but with a bit of  Jane Austen. As you know, I love watching movies, especially romantic comedies. If they are Austen–related or Austen-inspired, I literally can’t resist having a look, even when they are introduced to me as not very good. I hardly ever like what I insist on seeing after hearing negative comments,  but I feel the duty to give everything Austen a chance,  so I add  it to my “to be seen” list. This week I've watched one of these films and re-watched a good one I like.


A scene from The Jane Austen Book Club

I rewatched  The Jane Austen Book Club (2007) on satellite TV. After lunch, while I was doing the washing – up,  I recognized one of the dialogues coming out from the TV set while my son was distractedly zapping in search for a movie he could like.  “STOP there!”  I almost shouted and soon after:  “Please, find something else to do. And please, original language!” .  He changed the audio of the movie for me and left the lounge frowning and shaking his head: “Jane Austen!


The Jane Austen reading group 

The Jane Austen Book Club is one of the few Austen-related modern comedies I really like.  It is a romantic film, so that's one of the reasons,  but what I most of all appreciate  is the story of the very special bond that reading Jane Austen creates between those very different  women: Jocelyn, Prudie, Bernadette, Sylvia and Allegra.
These women have to cope with abandon and betrayal,  love and aging, neglect and marriage predicaments and they help each other while reading  Austen major novels and meeting once a month.

The female world is definitely prevailing in the plot but there are also nice male characters I came to love, like Trey (Kevin Zegers, on the left) or Grigg (Hugh Dancy below). Trey is the gorgeous , cheeky student on whom Prudie, the young French teacher,   has a crush. 
Grigg is the sweet and sensitive guy, who loves dogs and books,  whom Jocelyn recruits for the club and who takes his task of reading Austen quite seriously.


Grigg  actually accepts willingly because he is in love with one of the beautiful women in the reading club who, instead seems not to notice him at all if not as a possible distraction, a temptation,  for  her best friend Sylvia, who is coping with a difficult separation from her husband.  
I like Grigg because he  doesn’t pretend his interest in Austen's works,  he reads the books without any prejudice or preconception.  I love this character, not only because he has the charms of Hugh Dancy, but for what he is like. I don’t think there are many Griggs out there, though I like to think there are at least some rare specimens hidden somewhere for some very special women who will deserve them. 

The second Austen movie I saw is Pride and Prejudice (2003) . It is a DVD I got from my dear friend K/V, who was really surprised I had never heard about it when she mentioned it to me in one of our recent meetings in Rome. She carefully tried to warn me: "There's almost nothing good in it, except a rather good-looking Darcy, but if you want it..."  I wanted it. And the result was ... great disappointment:  "Why did they need to do such an awful movie out of   a great book?" 
I didn't like watching Clueless, which is said to be a great modernization of Emma, but compared to this one it is a real masterpiece. 
I'm almost speechless, meaning I really don't know what to say about this movie., but, OK, I'll try to explain briefly: silly humour, shallow characters, mediocre acting. Can that be enough? What about the good - looking Darcy? He was ... nice. Anyway, if you want to know more about this movie, check it out at imdb.

HAPPY WEEKEND, EVERYONE!

5 comments:

Diana said...

Haven't seen the Jane Austen Book Club - I did read the book, and didn't really enjoy it, so I didn't bother with the movie. I might have to re-think that. And as for the 2003 version of Pride and Prejudice, I have to say I admired your restraint in sharing your opinion, since it was not positive. The first time I saw it, I hated it. I can't remember exactly what the circumstances were when I saw it again, but on a 2nd viewing, I rather enjoyed it. (I think it might have been with some girlfriends) It's a "fluff" piece for sure - it's certainly not a cinematic masterpiece, but I don't think it ever pretended to be. It's quirky and sarcastic and moves pretty fast. The "pink bible" that pops up throughout the film is the substitute for Mrs. Bennet, and those clips were hilarious. Elizabeth is delightfully flawed, Darcy is, as you aptly called it, 'nice', I LOVED Jane, but Bingley was "MEH" for me. (Jane could do better.) One of the things that I don't think worked well was all the irony they built around LDS culture. There were far too many "inside jokes" in the story and characters that would go right past anyone who wasn't Mormon, or well-acquainted with the culture.

Jenny Allworthy said...

Hi Maria Grazia! I really like The Jane Austen Book Club. And I really love Grigg. I keep meaning to read some of the Sci-Fi books he recommends!
I never saw the Mormon P&P. Might not now.
I do love Clueless however, so if you see that one whizzing by on TV you might want to give it one more try. Especially a young Paul Rudd as the Mr. Knightley equivalent. Yum! And it's actually pretty funny, but it is very 1990s and very teenaged! I still love it however.
Cheers!

junewilliams7 said...

What did you thin of "Bride and Prejudice" -- the Bollywood version of PP?

Candy M said...

I love The Jane Austen Book Club! I have not seen this version of P&P, but I did really like Clueless!

Maria Grazia said...

@Diana
You didn't like Bingley very much, I din't like the movie as a whole but I didn't want to go on details. There may be people who like it and I don't want to offend anybody. Personal opinion reduced to minimum.
So you suggest I should re-watch P&P 2003 and maybe like it a bit more? Mmm ... I'll think about it. I'd suggest you to start thinking about watching The Jane Austen Book Club. It's lovely.
@Jenny Allworthy
Hi, Jenny! I know about your fondness for Grigg and The Jane Austen Book Club having read about it on your lovely blog :-)
You suggest I re-watch Clueless. I'll do it if I bumped on it on TV. By chance I'm on a YA fiction frenzy at the moment and I may appreciate it more than the first time.
@junewilliams
Dear June,
I've seen Bride and Prejudice more than once and I find it ... delicious! Not lately though, must re-watch it soon!
@Candy M.
Glad you are in the club of TJBC fans! Don't worry if you haven't seen this version of P&P, if you are not as curious as me. I'm a collector of Austen movies but I won't add this one to my red box
;-) Just borrowed it from my friend and going to give it back soon!

Thanks to you all for reading and commenting!MG