Fairytales in Romance

andrew-langs-fairy-booksFirst there were vampires, then zombies, and now fairy tale adaptions seem to be the new entertainment trend. The newest film adaptation of “Sleeping Beauty,” Maleficent, scored big at the box office and has added momentum to the fairy tale fad. Studios hoping to capitalize on this are already planning live-action versions of “Cinderella” and more than one “Beauty and the Beast.” I have been a fan of fairy tale retellings since childhood and have spent my life reading and watching them so, obviously, the renewed interest in fairy tales recently has been right up my alley. Although I wasn’t crazy about Maleficent (I think it took the bite out of an otherwise fantastic villainess), I was pleased to see one of my favorite fairy tales getting revamped.

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What’s Your (Guilty) Pleasure?

cuttingedgeAs I was reading A Wedding by Dawn, a book I had to admit was pretty bad, I also noticed that I was sort of enjoying it. Not because it got better (because eventually, it kind of did), but because it was kind of ridiculous. What do I mean by that? Well, the heroine is determined not to marry the hero, who has come looking for her in Malta because her dad has promised him 50,000 pounds if he marries her. She escapes (so many times I lost count) throwing herself into increasingly ridiculous situations and almost deciding several times that losing her virginity to a random stranger would be a great idea. Ridiculous. And yet, so silly and ridiculous that I didn’t mind reading it. Somewhere along the line, silly books have become a new guilty pleasure.

I’m not sure this was always the case. Early on in my reviewing career, think I took myself more seriously, and I think I probably took romances more seriously too. Funny was great, but silly? Weren’t we too intelligent and important for that? I scoffed at madcap Regencies by Emily Hendrickson and Sandra Heath, wondering why we hadn’t gotten beyond such ridiculous fare. On the other hand, I felt no guilt liking funny regencies by Diane Farr or Emma Jensen.

I’m not sure what changed. It isn’t my grading, because something truly ridiculous would rarely merit higher than a C in my book. Nonetheless, I find myself kind of enjoying the occasional stupid heroine or far-fetched plot line. You know, the stuff that verges on parody with cross-dressing heroines who manage to fool people, silly will provisions, zany bluestocking archeologists and the like. I can’t in good conscience recommend them per se, but I don’t exactly mind reading them either – probably because I am laughing too hard.

In order to meet my guilty pleasure needs, it really needs to be so bad it’s good. And lord knows, it can’t be boring. Boring doesn’t qualify. It also works best for me in romance. I recently attempted to get through Clara and Mr. Tiffany, an historical fiction novel, for my book club. I let myself stop after fifty pages of tortuous prose, stilted dialogue, and flat characterization. It was ridiculous alright, but it was no pleasure.

At the risk of opening a can of worms, I’d put the Fifty Shades books in the guilty pleasure category. Granted, I was laughing too hard at the end of the second one to bother with the third, but the point is that I was laughing.

One of my guiltiest pleasures is our own bad reviews. Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I’ll look up old D and F reviews in the database and read them for hours, laughing at how funny they are (because even when a bad book is hard to read, the review is often fun to read and write).

My family’s cinematic guilty pleasure is The Cutting Edge. If you’ve never seen it, you’re missing some of the cheesiest dialogue ever written. It’s a romantic comedy featuring a washed up hockey player and almost washed-up figure skater who skate their way to (presumably) an Olympic gold medal in pairs skating – and of course, fall in love along the way. It’s horrible. And yet brilliant. If you don’t love lines like: “There are two things I do well…and skating’s the other one”…well, you’re probably a better person than I.

How about you? What’s your guilty pleasure, whether cinematic or bookish? And do you like a good, silly book once in a while?

Romances I Want to See on the Large or Small Screen

byrdtheatre Recently we’ve seen a spate of books made into movies – Ender’s Game, Catching Fire and The Book Thief being three of the most recent. Which got me to thinking about romance novels I think would make excellent films or TV series. Books that I feel contain enough grit and depth to appeal to a wider audience while still containing the kind of luscious love stories that romance fans adore. I’ve added some casting hints just in case Hollywood needs the help. Here’s my list:

1. Nobody’s Baby but Mine – Susan Elizabeth Phillips – The story: Football hero and brainy scientist meet in the most unusual of ways. I can totally see Emma Stone as the brainy, feisty Jane. Cal is a bit harder but I can picture Mathew Fox (or a younger, hotter version of him) delivering the cereal killer line with aplomb. This sweet tale of a brainy gal and the jock she brings to his knees would make a terrific rom com. Continue reading

About Time – Love and Time Travel Go To the Movies

aboutime Fans of Love, Actually have a lot to look forward to this Friday. That is the US release date(wider release coming November 8) of the new movie by writer/director Tim Curtis titled About Time. As it says in the tag line it’s “A new funny film about love. With a bit of time travel.” And what a love story it is.

This is a gentle, frequently sentimental comedy, about Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), a young man from Cornwall, who is “too thin, too tall, too orange”. He mostly bumbles his way through life and love. After a truly horrendous New Year’s Eve party, where he fails to kiss the girl standing beside him and brings her to tears, he goes to bed dejected and not wanting to face the morning. Fortunately, the dawn brings good tidings: At the age of 21 the men in his family develop a magic power – they can travel through time by entering a dark space, clenching their fists and closing their eyes. Initially, Tim is deeply skeptical but when he is able to use his new found power to fix his New Year’s Eve error he is completely sold on the concept of time travel. Continue reading

Favorite Teen Romance Movies

Jenna’s recent blog on teen romance novels reminded me of another teen love: The teen romance movie. It seemed like the 80s and 90s were full of high school romantic adventures. These days those simpler tales have been replaced by renditions of vampires and werewolves such as in Twilight, witches as in Beautiful Creatures or angels like in City of Bones. But I am a sucker for the old boy meets girl and they fall into first love. Here are a few of my favorites.

Romeo and Juliet (1968)

The original teen love story, complete with endless angst., this is hands down my favorite film version of the classic tale of the Montagues and Capulets. The leads are lovely and do an outstanding job of capturing the myriad of emotions felt by the characters. What truly sets the film apart is the song What is a Youth by Nino Rota. It haunted me for days after the first time I saw the film. Continue reading

Fifty Shades of Lighten Up

50Shades Even if you aren’t a fan of the book phenomenon that is Fifty Shades of Grey, you have perhaps heard about the brouhaha surrounding last week’s announcement of the casting of the future movie. Apparently fans of the book are so upset at the prospect of actors Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson taking on the roles of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele (respectively, of course), they are actually trying to force a change via online petitions. Rather, they’d envision Matthew Bomer and Alexis Bledel as the perfect Christian and Ana, despite the fact that neither of these two actors appears to be interested in participating in this particular book-to-film adaptation.

While I try hard not to judge anyone’s passion, I simply cannot understand what seems to me to be a rather extreme reaction to a movie about fictional people. Instead of rending garments and ranting in cyberspace about how Hollywood is obviously determined to destroy something sacred and beloved, I advocate a wait-and-see approach.

Because, after all, it’s happened before. Continue reading

Buried Treasures: The Movie Version

simplyirresistible We’ve discussed romantic movies here several times, most recently in Jean’s March 2012 blog. Many of the films we talk about are popular, something we most likely have all seen or at least heard of. However, a recent viewing of a movie I literally stumbled across while searching for something else had me thinking of films that sit quietly waiting to be discovered. I don’t know that the movies are obscure so much as just not often discussed and therefore often hard to find (or at least, find out about).

A romantic movie doesn’t necessarily have to be a romantic comedy, although all the films listed below do contain that element. It does have to have a couple actually falling in love, though. Too many films meant to be romances lack actual romance. And for me, if the couple is going to be doing battle I’d prefer it to be of the sweet and zany variety. Downright cruelty, such as that highlighted in The Ugly Truth starring Katherine Heigl, doesn’t appeal to me.

The humor can be subtle – a smile can work every bit as good as a laugh. And the love story can be as sweet and silent as a snowflake. And like Sleepless in Seattle I don’t need a complete HEA, the promise of a future one is enough. Continue reading

Sweet, Alien Love – A Superman Romance

SupermanandLoisLane3 Unless you’ve been on an extended vacation to the Planet Krypton, you’re probably aware that a new Superman movie is opening today. Man of Steel stars the dashing Henry Cavill as Superman/Clark Kent and everyone’s favorite girl-next-door Amy Adams as Lois Lane. You can safely bet a large bucket of double buttered popcorn that I will have seen this movie before the end of the weekend.

For some time I’ve mistakenly considered myself a Superman fan. I say mistakenly because when you look at the facts, I’m really only a poseur. I have seen every Superman movie made, and I religiously watched every episode of both Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Smallville. But I’ve never read a single Superman comic in my life.

To be honest, of all of the superheroes out there, I find Superman to be somewhat mundane. After all, he’s practically indestructible so there’s little risk to his personal safety when he undertakes his acts of derring-do. I never have any doubt he’ll save the day. He’s kind of a goody-goody. And I’ve never been fond of the gym-rat over-muscled physique. If pressed to name a favorite, my superhero of choice would be a toss up between Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man.

No, when it comes down to it, I’m a fan of the romance between Superman and Lois Lane. My favorite incarnations of the story are the ones in which Clark Kent is the real man, Superman is his hidden identity, and the focus is on his relationships with the ladies in his life rather than his efforts to save the world from destruction. Continue reading

Favorite Movie Kisses

One of my favorite scenes in a romantic movie is The Kiss. In many films dealing with romance there are lots of kisses but there is one kiss that is emphasized. The scene is highlighted through background music and dramatic setting. The moment is at a special point in the plot. We have reached a place where the kiss has meaning. Somehow it has become a pivot point for our two characters. And that kiss, that moment can often be the image most associated with that film. The following kisses are some of my personal favorites, in no particular order.

The Princess Bride

princessbridekiss

In The Princess Bride we are told: “Since the invention of the kiss, there have only been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.” I can’t vouch for that but the scene is certainly beautiful. Continue reading