Wednesday, January 28, 2009

All the Delights of the Season

A very good Emily Gilmore picspam can be found here, enjoy :


I have lots of things to talk about. First of all, I've already talked about it but it's now official : Emma by my favourite writer Jane Austen will be adapted for TV in a four-hour miniseries and will be broadcast this year. The screenwriter is Sandy Welch, who is responsible for the amazing North and South (2005). She also wrote the script for the 2006 version of Jane Eyre and although the story has never been one I like, I must admit it's a very good version and it is a solid favourite among fans as well. I'm so happy Emma is being adapted again because I've never liked the two versions I've seen (the Miramax one released in 1996 and the ITV one broadcast in the same year, by the way, who else thinks it's strange we have two adaptations of the same book the same year? And it looks like next year we're going to have yet another adaptation of Wuthering Heights of all books, the size of their hubris, I swear). I truly love Emma and I can't wait for the adaptation. I know anybody who cares wants Richard Armitage to play George Knightley. Well, let me add to the general plea. A girl posted her ideal cast here and I agree with all her choices. I admit it would be terrific to see Lucy Griffiths star as Emma and be reunited with Richard Armitage (she played Marian in the BBC version of Robin Hood and had some kind of love story with Richard's Guy, and their characters need some closure -I didn't watch the series, I think it was corny, I just watched some clips here and there) and Kimberley Nixon was superb as Sophy in the wonderful Cranford but Carey Mulligan has been one of my favourite actresses for quite some time and she's been amazing in everything she's done, I think she'd make the best Emma. Time for me to rewatch my DVD of North and South !

John Thornton (Richard Armitage) and Margaret Hale (Daniela Denby-Ashe) in North and South (2005)

I've watched so many movies these past few days it's hard to keep track. My favourites were Libeled Lady (1936) and Love Crazy (1941) which I both watched for Myrna Loy and William Powell. They were hysterical. Libeled Lady is about

Warren Haggerty who is the chief editor of the New York Evening Star. He keeps on delaying his marriage with Gladys because of problems his newspapers must face. When it is filed a 5 million dollars claim by Connie Allenbury for having printed she is a marriage-breaker, he organizes the unconsummated marriage of Gladys and the don Juan Bill Chandler. The goal is to catch Connie alone with a married man...

The dialog is excellent and two scenes are among my all-time favourites (the fishing scene and the proposal scene). Amazing performances. Love Crazy is just WILD :

Steve and Susan Ireland are about to celebrate their 4th wedding anniversary by re-enacting their first date. When Susan's meddling mother interrupts and injures herself. Steve is left to take care of her and when he meets an old flame in the elevator--Susan's mother takes the opportunity to break-up their marriage. She convinces Susan that Steve is cheating on her-Susan files for divorce. Steve has one solution to save his marriage...Pretend he is insane.

William Powell cross-dressing, an excellent elevator scene, some of the funniest lines I've ever heard and my dear Myrna brightening the corner where she is. The cast of supporting characters was excellent too (the mother-in-law especially). That was so good! I've also watched Borzage's Little Man, What Now? (1934) :

A young couple struggling against poverty must keep their marriage a secret in order for the husband to keep his job, as his boss's daughter has a thing for him.

It was pure Borzage and it was a delight to see Margaret Sullavan on the screen, she's so effortlessly talented. In all of Borzage's movies, people are rich because they're in love, money's got nothing to do with it. It's utopia at its best. Naturally, I also watched The Thin Man (1934) which shows great potential coming from Loy and Powell who are both excellent, but less mystery, more Nick/Nora and more witty lines, a little silly supporting music and a more carefree and risqué attitude like in Libeled Lady would have made me happier. I think their pairing works best in fast-paced romantic comedies. I'll watch the rest of the Thin Man movies, though, because I love them.

I also watched some more contemporary movies for example Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008) , a teen romance.Watched this for Kat Dennings and Michael Cera as I have a crush on both of them, and for obvious reasons I've just explained (yes, the title of the book it's adapted from is a reference to the couple of The Thin Man). It was okay, had a good atmosphere but some scenes were gross and it was pretty shallow. Without a very unnecessary subplot (one of their friends is drunk and is missing in New York, so they spend the night trying to find her, and while drunk she does some pretty disturbing things) it could have been a feel-good movie, mostly because of the leads who really look like they're having fun. I loved the idea of falling in love via mixtapes (i.e. the other person's taste in music), it was very sweet. Finally, I managed to watch Dead Like Me : Life After Death (2009). It felt great seeing the cast again (although with no real Daisy and no Rube it doesn't feel the same). The plot was so-so (Reggie's storyline was terrible - she falls for a boy who already has a superpolar girlfriend and the boy has an accident, so was Cameron's), the best part was George's. Yet, continuity mistakes (how come nothing "from above" happens to them? The reapers messed everything up) but almost the same feel as the series, although it wasn't as philosophical and deep, which I terribly missed. You can tell it's not Bryan Fuller, it was too conventional.

Now to the wondrous world of books. Bibliovore made a very useful post about the ALA Youth Media Awards that award the best children's and YA books. It's a huge list, and I want to read many books on it. Congratulations to Neil Gaiman who is so far, along with Terry Pratchett, my favourite new (to me) author this year and who won the prestigious Newbery Medal for The Graveyard Book (which I still have to buy and read, hurry up Sibylle). Sir (!) Pratchett won a Printz Honor for Nation (same goes, I'm behind on everything) so my congratulations to him also! By the way, I bought two books that seem to be very popular right now, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Graceling by Kristin Cashore (who's got a pretty good blog). If last year somebody had told me that I would buy and read so much fantasy and YA this year, I wouldn't have believed it. Who knew I'd be talking about Discworld, Shadow, dystopias and seven kingdoms? But then who knew I could love some (not all) rock, also? Life sure is full of surprises!

I finished an excellent biography of Georgiana Cavendish (née Spencer) that was truly inspiring. Amanda Foreman's Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire is a absorbing book about a wonderful woman. In her introduction, Foreman makes sure we know that even though Georgiana's life was incredible, she was not ahead of her times, she was very much a woman of her times. It's hard to believe. Georgiana was a great unacknowledged politician who was passionate about Whig politics which she defended on the street, working hard to get the votes of everybody who could cast his. She knew she was right to want the power of the king to be at least counterbalanced by a legislative power. Georgiana realised at the end of her life that the next challenge would be to have women equal to men in the public sphere, knowing that she was "a politician without a vote" as Foreman puts it. The duchess set the tone in fashion and she was an exceptionally loyal friend and loved more than she was loved, and never by halves. She wrote what sounds like a truly surprising book coming from a Duchess, The Sylph in which an innocent country girl learns to live the life of a fashionable person but not without its many trials with the help of a cruel man who is violent to her and all women whom he meets. The girl is ultimately saved and marries properly. Georgiana's real problem was with money. She was constantly in debt and none of her friends could trust her enough to lend her any money. It seemed to me reading the biography that she wasn't entirely conscious of what money really meant. Although she knew the amount of money she didn't have, it didn't seem to have any significance to her, they were just numbers.
I personally loved reading about the many famous people Georgiana was friends with, for example she was a close friend of Marie-Antoinette and the Comtesse de Polignac - I read Antonia Fraser's excellent and comprehensive biography of Marie-Antoinette last year and it was immensely interesting comparing the two lives. The style of the book itself made for a very easy, highly readable account of a very interesting life. That's the difference, I think, between good biographies and unreadable ones. Foreman sure knows how to select compelling events in a designated year and when she quotes passages from letters they are never long and are in clear prose. I really enjoyed reading this biography and I'm even more sure now that the movie The Duchess is really a blink-and-you-miss-it account of Georgiana Cavendish's life. Her love affair with Charles Grey is about 10 pages long in a 400-page book. Foreman doesn't think Georgiana's life can be reduced to her relationship with a single man, and I applaud that. The woman was a full being and deserves better.