Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pride and Prejudice (1940) - Laurence Olivier is a Great Actor... and Boy is He Handsome

After watching the epic Lost in Austen, I decided to reread the original book... but did not have the time so instead I read the cliffnotes version and plan on rereading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

I also came across a film version of Pride and Prejudice I seemed to have missed: The 1940 version that stars Greer Garson as Lizzy and the awesome Laurence Olivier as Darcy.

I am surprised that this version of the film is more engaging than the other versions. (not counting Lost in Austen and Bride and Prejudice)

I love the book, but find it difficult to sit through most film versions of the material. I never felt an inviting aspect to the films. It was almost as if the movies were an in-joke to readers of the book and everyone else was left out in the cold.

This classic 1940 version film is inviting right from the very first scene. The characters are spot on and the acting is superb. Unlike the other film versions, this version does not use Austen's text as a bible, but as a starting to point to create an enjoyable dramatic film full of humor and wit. Not to say that the film butchers the text and plot structure, but this is a film and it's a pretty good film on it's own wether or not one is familiar with the source material.

And Laurence Olivier is just too adorable as the male lead, Darcy ;-) 

Watching the film, I found it more like a play than a film, and that's not an insult. I love a good play. Upon finding out that this film version was based on a play version excited me even more. The theater major in me wants to produce it now :-)

... maybe with the correct costumes this time around.

This is officially my favorite film version of Pride and Prejudice. I think it will sit comfortably next to my Blu Ray of Fritz Lang's Metropolis and my Audrey Hepburn DVDs.

P.S: Can someone help me find the colorized version of this film?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lost in Austen - Ever Get Lost in a Good Book?

When life gets to crazy, serious and downright boring, I like to relax with a book. A lot of the times it's one of Lewis Carrol's Alice books, but other times it's Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

Who wouldn't want to get Lost in Austen? I love Pride and Prejudice and find myself yearly revisiting my copy.

I love the scandals, the quirky characters and the musings of the female lead, Elizabeth Bennet. She's so smart and it's very easy to root for her.

It's a fun love story full of conflict, drama and the broodiest brooding male lead. Take that Robert Pattinson.

I need to repurchase the Zombie edition BTW.

Pride and Prejudice has been immortalized on film and television several times. There was one in 1940; a popular mini-series starring Colin Firth in the 90's; Bride and Prejudice, a Bollywoord take on the material; and Kiera Knightely played Elizabeth Bennet in one of the newest screen adaptations.

The latest incarnation of the book, Lost in Austen centers around Amanda Price, a girl from our time, who switches places with Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. Amanda unknowingly affects the familiar love story.  What happens and what is revealed about familiar characters and situations are both hilarious and surprising.

The movie (released a mini-series originally) works on a few different leves: as a love story itself, an homage to the original book, and a time traveling story. The piece is really a fresh take on an old classic and highly recommended.

An American remake is said to be in the works written by Nora Ephron.

Since Kiera Knightley played Elizabeth Bennet in an earlier movie version, I wanna see Natalie Portman play Amanda Price in the American remake. Kiera played Natalie's double in Star Wars Episode 1.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Smurfs - Feeling Blue?

The Smurfs takes place in a male populated world... with one female played by Katy Perry.

Growing up, I was a huge fan of 80's cartoons that featured a dominant female cast. The exception was The Smurfs and I never realized why until recently while watching the 2011 Smurfs movie.

Unlike other "boy's club" shows that featured in the 80's, namely GI Joe, He-Man, Captain Power, the males in Smurfs were allowed to do things that were unthinkable in the other "boy's club" shows. Tailor Smurf made clothes, Hefty Smurf was body obsessed, Painter Smurf painted and Vanity.... oh gurl!!!!!

Vanity has got to be my favorite Smurf.

In the new movie, Vanity is reduced to a mere cameo, but a sequel is in the works so maybe he'll get to shine there. Though I doubt it since he also seems to be absent in the new Christmas special that comes with The Smurfs Blu Ray. As a plus though, Hefty Smurf (Gym Bunny Smurf LOL) seems to have more of a role in the Christmas special (The Smurfs Christmas Carol) than he did in the film. His role in the 2011 film was also reduced to a cameo. He was replaced by new guy Gutsy Smurf.

Gotta love a guy in a kilt :-)

The film itself is cute. It's totally worth a watch, but it pales in comparison to the epic adventures The Smurfs have had in their 9 season Hanna-Barbera Series and the original Peyo comics. The best part of the movie is really in the beginning when we're in the medieval world The Smurfs inhabit.

The plot centers on a time traveling gimmick. The Smurfs are transported to modern day New York and have to get back home. There they become friends with two humans, played by Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays (Emma from Glee). Lots of fish out of water jokes abound.

What makes The Smurfs movie work though is the characterization of the characters. They're very true to character. While the world has changed, The Smurfs have not.

I recommend the film for families and for fans of the original Smurfs. It's a very loving tribute to them. I dig the scene where The Smurfs see a picture of Smurfs creator Peyo.

If you get to purchase it though get the 3 disc versions. It comes with "A Smurfs Christmas Special." A hint of what the movie could've really been.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tom and Jerry and The Wizard of Oz - You Dirty Hams, You Let that Little Girl in There

All I can say is WOW!!!! Go MGM. Taking a Lion King 1 1/2 take on the popular MGM movie The Wizard of Oz , the movie views the familiar story through the eyes of the most famous cat and mouse team.

Tom and Jerry are still very much Tom and Jerry, voiceless, at each others' throats and slapstick happy funny. Their vaudeville humor goes well with the Oz proceedings and that's mostly because the film stays true to the time period in which the original film was produced.

The movie looks gorgeous and is almost like a tribute to old classic cartoons like those made by Tex Avery and Chuck Jones. The moment the familiar overture plays and Dorothy sings "Over the Rainbow" alongside Tom and Jerry's proceedings, I knew I was in for a special treat. My eyes could not leave the screen. The look of the movie is top notch. These visuals do not disappoint. Disney
should take a tip here and start developing more 2d as opposed to 3d.

This is definitely one that I'm going to watch over and over and share with all of my Oz friends and non-Oz friends.

If you liked this article, you should read this:

The Wizard of Oz - A Parody Review - What if MGM's Wizard of Oz had been released nowadays?

Tom and Jerry & The Wizard of Oz (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)  - And don't forget to purchase this instant classic

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sucker Punch - Action, Drama and Social Commentary (maybe)

When I first saw Sucker Punch, I wasn't sure what to make of it. Upon watching it again, I think I finally get it.

Sucker Punch opens on a stage with a velvet curtain. As it opens we see a young girl from behind in a set of a bedroom. As the camera zooms in, we are immediately immersed into the films very tragic and very stylized opening sequence featuring actress Emily Browning's character. For anyone who's seen Zack Snyder's previous films, 300 and Watchmen, you know exactly what I mean.

A few minutes later, Emily Browing's character is standing in front of the same stage as in the opening sequence. Despite it being the same stage and set from moments ago, this small detail could be very easily missed. A few moments after that, Emily Browning's character loses herself, and the audience, into a fantasy sequence that starts on the very same stage, but this time actress Abbie Cornish is dressed as Emily Browning's character and being highly critical of where the story has taken us thus far.

It also within this fantasy world that Emily Browning's character, known as Baby Doll, has other fantasy sequences and it with this motif that directed Zack Snyder has decided to tell his story.

On it's surface, Sucker Punch can be seen as a highly misogynistic piece of work where women are objectified and used as dolls for the entertainment of men. But if you look deeper at the piece, you can see Zack Snyder slyly commenting on how women are treated in the media: girls in ridiculous outfits with ridiculous weapons doing ridiculous action stunts that defy gravity. Of course when he does it, it's more kick ass and less objectified.

Snyder really goes for it when it comes to the action sequences. He also puts the same care and thought into the drama  sequences, given the action even more punch with something called "character development."  

Sucker Punch is almost like a musical, but instead of musical sequences, it's these kick ass action sequences. I liken it to Chicago if Chicago where an action film. Zack Snyder should do a musical. Maybe a remake of Chicago?

The movie is a fun ride even if you don't get it's scattered subtleties and commentary. It's beautifully filmed and the action sequences are varied and stylish. Where else can you find women doing battle with zombies, dragons and robots? I recommend the extended version of the film, that is until Snyder is allowed to release a director's cut.

If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy these:

X-men and Watchmen Motion Comics
Powerpuff Girls The Movie
Sucker Punch (Two-Disc Extended Edition) [Blu-ray]

Sunday, June 12, 2011

X-Men: First Class - Attend an X-citing New Beginning

X-Men First Class is being billed as a prequel or a reboot to the dwindling X-Men film franchise.
Thankfully for me, a huge X-Men fan, X-Men: First Class is here and it's pretty darn good by golly. The tone of the film is a little bit closer to the serious and grounded tone of the first film, directed by fan favorite Bryan Singer. Despite some hockey scenes, this movie is truly what an X-Men movie should be.

This new film, helmed this time around by Matthew Vaughn, explores the early friendship of Professor X and Magneto, now played by young actors James McAvoy as Charles "Professor x" Xavier and Michael Fassbender as Erik "Magneto" Lensher.  The are sexy sexy sexy. The villainous Mystique from the previous films is now played with sensitivity here by Oscar Nominated actress Jennifer Lawrence. January Jones plays the ultra cool Emma Frost alongside Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw.

What makes any X-Men story special is the fight for equality. These characters are reminded every moment of their lives that they are different, so when they fight, it's a fight for acceptance. Mystique in this outing, played by Jennifer Lawrence, truly embodies that fight. Jennifer Lawrence has taken a character that was almost mute in the previous movies and has given her depth and vitality... not to mention clothes. If Rebecca Romijn ever revisits this role, I hope she takes her cues from Jennifer Lawrence's take on the character.

The look of the film is very groovy baby. Taking place in the 60s, the film has the look of an uber James Bond film.

The youthful energy of the cast is a very welcome addition to the franchise. The movie doesn't seem to be bogged down in it's own mythology, unlike previous entries, creating a film experience that everyone can enjoy.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like these:

New X-Men Film in the Works for 2011 - My overview of the series

Wolverine and the X-Men - The newest animated incarnation

X-Men: Volume One (Marvel DVD Comic Book Collection) - The Original 90's Classic

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bridesmaids - Female Driven Comedy is AWESOME

 I liked Bridesmaids. It was a fun female driven movie with funny situations, interesting dialogue and cake. I love cake.

Kristen Wigg (who also helped pen the script) channels Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett. Rounding out the rest of the cast is Maya Rudolph as the bride and the very talented Melissa McCarthy. (Charlie's Angels, Samantha Who?) McCarthy easily steals the whole show playing the groom's very butch and very man hungry sister Megan.

 She alone is worth watching.

Taking cues from Sex and the City and Desperate Housewives, the film tends to feel like familiar territory. As a Judd Apatow movie, it especially feels like familiar territory: a self destructive anti-hero and the funny domino like situations.

The movie is still a blast and well worth a watch. I love female driven comedies and poo jokes. I also love Wilson Phillips.

If you liked this article, check these out:

Sex and the City 2 - More than a Sequel

Bridesmaids: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Monday, May 16, 2011

For Colored Girls - Tyler Perry's Take on the Groundbreaking Play

I love this movie. It was powerful, moving, and I'm a sucker for movies that star powerful women. If you put Phylicia Rashad, Kerry Washington, Janet Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg, Kimberly Elise and Anika Noni Rose in the same movie, you better believe I'm going to be there.

Tyler Perry directs the movie from his own written adaptation of the script based off of the ground breaking play For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. He has assembled a cast that really shines well in their individual scenes as well as the ensemble scenes.  I really enjoyed Loretta Devine's scene in which she chews out Janet Jackson's character. Any scene with Phylicia Rashad is truly a treat. She's not just Mrs. Huxtable from The Cosby Show.

These are truly, in the words of Maya Angelou, phenomenal women.

Janet Jackson is Red 
(...and proves once again that she's an actor with a side gig as singer.)

Loretta Devine is Green
(...and turns in a warm and hilarious performance.)

Anika Noni Rose is Yellow
(...and not just a Disney Princess or the "other" Dreamgirl.)

Thandie Newton is Orange
(..., replacing Mariah Carey who was originally cast. 
Always impresses and it's no different in this film.)

Whoopi Goldberg is White
(...and easily could've been the comic relief, but Goldberg 
turns in a spooky and moving performance.)

Phylicia Rashad is Gray
(...and my favorite element of the movie. I've always been in awe of 
her acting abilities and it's so awesome to see her in this multilayered part.)

Kimberly Elise is Brown
(...and truly impresses in what is probably the most difficult role 
I have ever seen her play. She truly helps elevate the film.)

Kerry Washington is Blue
(...and I still wonder why not enough people know about this 
awesome woman. Please take notice America.)

Tessa Thompson is Purple

Macy Gray is Rose

This movie is not easy to watch, but it is worth a viewing. Get it from amazon, or try out the televised version of the play from back in 1982 starring Alfre Woodard and the original playwright Ntozake Shange.


Thandie Newton and Kimberly Elise both starred in Beloved.

Janet Jackson, Loretta Devine, Kimberly Elise and Whoopi Goldberg all had parts in Tyler Perry films prior to this film.

Anika Noni Rose played Lorell in the Dreamgirls movie, a role which Loretta Devine originated in the original stage version.

If you loved this article, check this out:

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf - Alfre Woodard, Lynn Whitfield (Broadway Theatre Archive) - A televised version of the original play.

For Colored Girls (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) - Tyler Perry presents the film version.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Scream 4 - Don't F**k with the Original

The Scream franchise returns with an undeniable vengeance, immediately poking fun at itself and used as a cathartic release of the tired conventions of modern horror films (torture, the endless Asian Horror Movie remakes, etc.). 
Neve Campbell reprises her role as Sydney Prescott, much to everyone’s surprise. The plot involves Sydney returning home to Woodsboro, where the original film took place, and finding herself stalked again by The Ghostface Killer. Joining Neve from the original films are Scream veterans David Arquette and Courtney Cox . New cast members include Emma Roberts, Mary Shelton, Rory Culkin and Hayden Panettiere.

The movie starts with a bang and then started to lose my interest towards the middle, but then all hell breaks loose. Everything in the movie sets you up for expectations that literally get thrown out the window as the movie progresses. The obligatory twist ending this time around is not as random as say the previous two films. I’m not saying I guessed it right off the bat, but once all was revealed, it made perfect sense, stayed true to Scream mythos and was very socially relevant. 
Director Wes Craven returns alongside Scream creator Kevin Williamson. Original Scream scribe Kevin Williamson has written a script that is refreshing as always and full of clever, self referential humor. His characters are witty, smart and layered. The twists and turns are fun as opposed to annoying. Most importantly, it’s hella scary! Let’s not forget this is a horror film and there will be blood and gore. I thought Scream 3 skimped out on that. Scream 4 brings it all back home.

The movie is truly a sequel, but there are various homages to the original films, especially the first one, that the movie also works as a tribute film. The movie no doubt tells a story that pushes the film franchise forward, but it’s also a celebration of what makes this franchise a favorite of mine. 

Scream (Blu-ray Collection)(Scream/Scream 2/Scream 3) (Blu-ray) (Boxset) - Check out the original trilogy before diving into this new installment.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Gnomeo and Juliet - The Latest Adaptation is the Cutest and Quirkiest

OMG, Gnomeo and Juliet was soooooooo good. I had no idea what to expect. Okay, I had some idea. I thought it would be a run of the mill CGI feature with little to no substance. Boy was I wrong. I think these gnome characters are probably the funniest and dare I say almost fully fleshed characters I've seen in awhile.

What got my attention immediately about this production is the attention to details. You look at these beings and you immediately know they're made out of stone, plastic and sometimes metal and wire. There is no doubt about it. One could easily be fooled into thinking this was stop motion animation. One could be easily fooled into thinking this was made by Pixar if it weren't for the way the story unfolds.

In adapting the story by using a cast of garden gnomes, the story still has a sense of fantasy and history but it does take place in the modern world so it can also be seen as a commentary on Shakespeare adaptations themselves. There's an awesome cameo with Shakespeare, voiced by Patrick Stewart, who gives his own commentary about the unfolding actions.

I've got to give major props to Juliet. She's usually portrayed as an overprotected pretty princess, but in this quirky adaptation she knows how to fight, knows how to be her own person and is hella' funny. The real scene stealer in this one though is Juliet's Nurse, here portrayed as a man hungry water fountain frog named Nanette. The soundtrack is filled with classic Elton John songs and one new song he sings with Lady Gaga that is NOT available in the soundtrack. This is the only way to hear the legendary team-up for now Gaga fans.

This is a very cute and quirky adaptation of the Shakespeare classic, Romeo and Juliet. I highly recommend it, and not just to hear Elton sing with Lady Gaga.

Check out these links:

Romeo and Juliet: Sealed With a Kiss - Another animated adaptation of the classic Shakespearian story. This one using a cast of Seals, Walruses and Fish. No mermaids though sadly.

Shakespeare: The Animated Tales - An animated anthology in which Shakespeare's best plays are told in 30 minutes vignettes with spectacular animation from Moscow.

Gnomeo & Juliet - Buy the soundtrack. I love me some Elton John.