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.