Last night I went to a screening of the new Jane Eyre, due to open in many cities next Friday. As the Washington Post film critic told us at the movie’s conclusion, this is something like the 18th adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s classic. I’ve seen about five or six and I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that Michael Fassbender is my favorite Rochester, but Mia Wasikowska, while quite good, remains a bit flat as Jane.
Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category
A week or two ago, while flipping channels, I delightedly discovered that I got the Lifetime Movie Network. I don’t usually watch Lifetime movies, but the particular film playing caught my attention: Nora Roberts’ Blue Smoke.
I’ve heard of the Nora Roberts Lifetime movies, but never had the opportunity to watch them. As my roommate and I — and her confused but game boyfriend — watched the movie, I got really into it. It wasn’t any cinematic masterpiece, but it was decently composed, the male lead was cute, and there were enough fires and explosions to keep us all — roommate’s boyfriend included — interested. (We’ll disregard the ill-advised shirtless carpentry on Bo’s part.)
Unlike romance novels, I feel almost no urgency to see movies when they come out (I make exceptions for Pixar, Kristen Scott Thomas, and Robert Downey Jr). This explains why last night I watched Garden State for the first time, despite hearing buzz and recommendations and positive reviews galore over the past, oh, six years. And I was absolutely delighted.
It wasn’t just Zach Braff (who was sympathetic and altogether lovely), or Natalie Portman (whom I found utterly charming and likable), or even the story (which concerns the aimless twenty-somethings and one young man’s journey to confront Who He Is). Actually, what charmed me the most was the romance.
After all, we know about the double standard. And no, not the gender one. I’m talking about the literary double standard that pigeonholes certain plots as belonging to certain genres, even if the lines are crossed all the time. And Garden State, for those of you who haven’t seen the movie, goes like this:
During my book club’s latest meeting, a friend who’d seen the play version of a novel most of us had read, showed around some leaflets of the production and asked whether the two actors who played the leads were in accordance with how we’d imagined them. This lead to a rather funny moment, because of the six women present, three instantly claimed they never visualize the main protagonists of any novel they read, whereas the other three said they visualized them without fail, and that watching a stage or movie production later with actors that didn’t fit with their expectations, could ruin the play or film for them.
I never ever fully visualize people in books. I do kind of register their attributes – what hair color, tall or tiny, a scar etc. – but I never give them a real face. As a result, while I am bothered by actors (or even cover images) not fitting the descriptions in the books, like Emma Watson’s hair being all wrong for Hermione, as long as the actors’ looks don’t contradict what is said about these people in the book, I’m fine with about any actor.
I love sports romances. Love, love, love them. The thrill of the game, the athletic prowess, the conflict, the romance, and the sex all make for a heady combination. Some of my all-time favorites include See Jane Score by Rachel Gibson, It Had to be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, The Man for Me by Gemma Bruce, and Body Check by Deirdre Martin.
If you’ve been reading Sports Romances for long enough, you’ve probably noticed that most fall into the same pattern: a hunky, wealthy pro-athlete is forced to contend with a determined woman. Conflict and true love ensues. I love this pattern, I really do, but sometimes I crave something a little different – something that isn’t usually found on the shelves of Romance.
Yesterday I checked out a library copy of the movie Twilight with Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson and found myself unexpectedly enthralled by the chemistry between Bella and Edward onscreen. Honestly, I cannot remember the last time I watched anything that had me pausing and rewinding so much so as to catch every expression and nuance.
Confession: I’m kind of out of the pop culture loop now and have been since I quit my job as a youth services librarian to stay home with my son and downscaled my life accordingly. But I did read Twilight when it came out and found it entertaining but hardly inspirational. I didn’t go mad for Edward Cullen, and I did not go on to read any of Twilight‘s sequels. It has not escaped my notice that Stephanie Meyer’s books have become a YA marketing sensation, but I never felt the need to immerse myself in her world again.
The Hulk was too green. Wolverine was just too brooding (and hairy). And Archie? Well, despite the fierce (and inexplicable) competition raging between Betty and rich uber-bitch Veronica, I thought he was a geek.
In my little girl world, it all began and ended with blonde god Thor, a classic Stan Lee angst-ridden hero. Thor was a Norse god turned by his father Odin into a human medical student in order to teach him humility. At first Thor has no memory of his life as a god and he becomes a gifted surgeon. Until he finds his mystical Thor superhero hammer and discovers his alter ego – thus beginning his dual life as super surgeon and avenging god hero.
Truly Madly Deeply (1990)
I first saw Ghost and Truly Madly Deeply in high school. I still remember how deeply and tragically romantic Ghost seemed to me back then. The quest for justice and the show of love beyond the grave moved my teenage self very much. In contrast, Truly Madly Deeply struck me as an interesting story but failed to appeal quite as much. The characters seemed more ordinary, and there was no epic battle between good and evil for me to sink my teeth into – though it did have that glorious cello scene(just watch the movie – I dare you not to be moved at that part).
I recently rewatched Sideways. It’s funny that I expected a romance, and actually shelve the DVD in the romance section at home, because really the film isn’t in fact a romance, but a very good buddy movie. Yet the romance subplot left such a strong impression on me that I mostly remembered those scenes, and in revisiting them, I knew why.
A few weekends ago I was inspired to pull out the DVD of a movie that I love and watch often – Michael Mann’s 1992 version of The Last of the Mohicans. Though it barely resembles James Fenimore Cooper’s original, the basic premise is present, plus it’s a much better rendition in my opinion. For me, the movie is a comfort video, even though it’s probably classified as action/adventure with romance. Set in the New York frontier in 1757 in the middle of the French and Indian War, it portrays the struggle by the British to keep its American Colonies out of the hands of the French and the people caught in the middle.
In the movie, actress Madeleine Stowe is Cora Munroe, the daughter of the British Officer in command of Ft. William Henry. She and her sister, Alice, travel with a company of soldiers, a guide named Magua, and Major Heyward (a man who has feelings for Cora) to the fort commanded by her father. Along the way, they are attacked by a Huron war party that practically slaughters the entire company before rescue arrives in the form of colonial trappers – Nathaniel Poe, or Hawkeye, played by the incredible Daniel Day-Lewis, and two Mohawks, Chingachgook and Uncas. From that point on, the focal point is the love that grows between Cora and Nathaniel and the threats they face.
As the movie continues there are themes revolving around a love-triangle, betrayal, a subtle secondary love story, real conflict, survival, tragedy, and then a HEA – of sorts. In the background, yet as much a character as the actors themselves is the beautiful, lush wilderness setting of the Smokey Mountains around Asheville, North Carolina, where the movie was filmed. Linking all of these elements together is a beautiful musical score by Hans Zimmer, which is a perfect match for the romance/adventure.
I watched the movie again because I had just finished reading Pamela Clare’s latest American Historical Untamed. Like so many other times when I’ve watched a great American historical movie or read a novel, I have to wonder, yet again, why more publishers of romance don’t market, buy, or print more American set historicals – especially Colonial. The possibilities for settings, conflict, and a variety of heroes and heroines are endless. With Colonial romance, writers can combine elements of British, French, Dutch, Native American, African, even Spanish, with the Colonial spirit of ruggedness, survival, and individualism of self-made heroes and heroines. There is a struggle built into the setting without it necessarily being a struggle between the hero and heroine. Who knows? Maybe it’s just me, but I want more.