Sunday, August 12, 2007


OK after four rather wonky posts on health care, I think it's time we have some fun, don't you? So, some popcorns!

First, a DVD:

Miss Potter: Renee Zellwegger, Ewan McGregor, Emily Watson. I have, as you may have noticed, had this on the "what I'm watching" list for, oh, about a month now, and just hadn't gotten around to it. I am so glad I finally did! Zellwegger plays Beatrix Potter, author of the Peter Rabbit books, when she's 32 years old, unmarried, and living with her very socially-conscious mother and her lawyer father (who is the only one to actually support her art). Beatrix meets Mr. Warne, the man who will publish her books, and the two fall in love, much to the strenuous objections of Beatrix's parents. There are also several well-done flashback sequences showing Beatrix as a young child, learning to draw and making up stories for her brother Bernard. It is a fantastic movie (I actually cried--I NEVER cry during movies. Never.), with wonderful performances by the two leads, and also by Emily Watson, who plays Mr. Warne's unmarried sister and Beatrix's friend Amelia (Milly).

And a current release:

Becoming Jane: Anne Hathaway (The Devil Wears Prada), James McAvoy (Narnia), James Cromwell (The Queen, Babe), Maggie Smith (aka Prof. McGonagall, for you Harry Potter fans).
All right, yes, I am obsessed with Jane, as we know, and I went to see this with two of my Janeite friends, so we had high expectations, which were all met. Hathaway plays a twenty (ish) Jane Austen, the youngest daughter of Rev. and Mrs. George Austen, who has just begun to write her novels. Her mother is pressing her to marry the nephew of the local nobility (Maggie Smith), but Jane is resistant, wanting to be in love with the man she marries. But, as her mother says, "affection is desirable. Money is absolutely essential." During an engagement party for her older sister, Cassandra, Jane meets Tom LeFroy (McAvoy), a young Irishman who is studying the law in London under the thumb of his tyrannical uncle, who has sent him "to the country" in the hopes that it will tame his rather libertine ways.
Jane and Tom do not hit it off at first, but gradually the develop a relationship. Problem: Jane, as one of eight siblings (including George, who is deaf in the film but epileptic in actuality), and the daughter of a minister, has no money. Tom has several older sisters to support back in Ireland. Where do you think this is going to go? The film also highlights the relationship of Henry (Jane's favorite brother) and the Austen's wealthy French cousin, Eliza de Feuillde, whose husband died in the French Revolution. The rest of the Austen clan isn't seen.
The acting is superb. Anne Hathaway does an excellent job as Jane (she learned to play the piano for this role) and her accent is very convincing. James McAvoy is a very effective Tom (and a cute one), whose character arc from womanizer (sort of) to a man torn by duty and his love for Jane, is very well done. I especially enjoyed the ending of the movie, even if there is little possibility for it to have happened in actuality. The script is also peppered with humor and wit, which is befitting for a movie about Jane!

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