Memorable Movie Love Quotes

The following is my Valentine post back in 2008 and an update after Downton. Re-posting here today for reminiscence. For several years, this post held the highest view records on my blog. I’d received 60+ comments suggesting more quotes. I regret I don’t have the plugin to copy them all here. But I’m sure we can start anew and update with fresh ones.  You’re welcome to add your fave movie love quote in a comment.
 
                                                                                    
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To celebrate Valentine’s Day, I’ve compiled a list of memorable quotes from movies, all on the theme of love. All come from movies I’ve seen, some I’ve reviewed on this Blog (click on title to my review). They represent dialogues that have stirred some ripples in one small heart. And love…being a many splendid thing, embraces all kinds of human relationships, and transcends cultures and boundaries.
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Here’s Arti’s Collection of Memorable Movie Love Quotes:

  • Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. — Dead Poets Society
  • The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return. — Moulin Rouge
  • The things that people in love do to each other they remember, and if they stay together it’s not because they forget, it’s because they forgive. — Indecent Proposal
  • I like you very much. Just as you are. — Bridget Jones’s Diary
Bridget Jones' Diary
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  • When the planes hit the twin towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge — they were all messages of love. — Love Actually
  • Maybe it is our imperfections which make us so perfect for one another. — Emma
  • And now, I’m back…and I’ve lost her all over again. I’m so sad that I don’t have Kelly. But I’m so grateful that she was with me on that island. And I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring? —Castaway
  • I don’t believe in quantum physics when it comes to matter of the heart. — Bull Durham
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  • Shoot me. There’s no greater glory than to die for love. — Love in the Time of Cholera
  • I need to feel strongly, to love and to admire, just as desperately as I need to breathe. — The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  • For you, a thousand times over. — The Kite Runner
  • Come back…Come back to me. — Atonement
  • Natalie:  Do you believe in love at first sight?
    John:  Yes I do. Saves a lot of time. — The Stickup

While a few are lucky enough to save time and escape the torments of love by creating a lasting flame from the first spark, some have to go through tumultuous pining, even the arduous and humbling experience of transforming oneself to gain requited love. And who, other than the following, epitomizes such kind of yearning:

Love Quotes From Downton Abbey:

“I love you Mr. Bates. I know it’s not ladylike to say it, but I’m not a lady and I don’t pretend to be.”  — Anna, S1E5

“I’m not a romantic… But even I concede that the heart does not exist solely for the purpose of pumping blood.” Violet Crawley, S2E2

“I’d rather have the right man, than the right wedding.” — Anna, S2E5

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You all are welcome to contribute to this list. Just submit your favorite movie love quotes in the comment box below…and have a memorable Valentine’s Day!

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Here’s the link to my original post where you can read all the comments.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

I started Proust’s The Guermantes Way a few months ago, still have some five hundred pages to go. So if I have two hours to spare, why do I not get back to it and make some headway, instead of going to the theatre to see Kingsman: The Secret Service on the first day of its screening?

For pure escape, of course. And then there’s the CF factor.

Yes, if the Colin Firth you have in mind is Mr. Darcy doing his graceful dive into the pond, you’re in for a big cognitive dissonance. Indeed, you can call this a paradigm shift for Colin Firth. He’s still a gentleman, mind you, dapper and poised, but he is one suave, choreographed fighting and killing machine, six month in the training, as he admitted in (real life) interviews.

British director Matthew Vaughn, who brought us Kick-Ass (2010) and X-Men: First Class (2011), had taken on adapting the Marvel comics created by Dave Gibbons and Mark Millar (Kick-Ass) by mashing fantasy and realism into one big action-packed, stylish, fun and at times farcical British spy adventure. The production is like an homage to Ian Fleming’s James Bond and all those in the secret intelligence service MI6, from Q to M.

But to evoke an even deeper root, The Kingsman is Arthur (Michael Caine) and his knights, Galahad (Colin Firth), Lancelot (Jack Davenport), and the mastermind Merlin (Mark Strong). A pure fantasy. Behind the facade of a tailor shop in London is the  organization’s high tech base, and rightly so, for a gentleman’s suit is his armour, and the Kingsmen are the new knights.

Firth’s dapper presence is a prime model showing off the bespoke tailoring. What you see on screen you can also get, a collaboration of the film’s costume designer Arianne Phillips and the online retailer Mr. Porter. A Kingsman brand of wardrobe and accessories is the exclusive product spinoffs. Fantasy meets reality.

Kingsman

Not just a fashion statement though. What Galahad Harry Hart tells the young recruit Eggsy (Taron Egerton), who comes from a seedy part of London, records of petty crimes under his belt, raised by a single mother with an abusive boyfriend, all subsequent to the early death of his father, a former Kingsman: “Being a Kingsman has nothing to do with the circumstances of one’s birth; if you’re prepared to adapt and learn, you can transform.” After thinking a bit, Eggsy responds, “Like My Fair Lady.” If there’s any mindful lesson one can glean from watching this seemingly mindless entertainment, here it is.

Back to the task at hand. The dual plot lines are tightly woven as we see Eggsy going through a demanding training and screening process, at the same time Hart has to deal with the high tech villain cum philanthropist Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson). Valentine sees mankind as a virus. He has developed the means to eradicate the pests, from a mind-controlling implant to a free-for-all SIM card through which he can activate, gleefully watching people kill off each other.

Comic book clarity, black and white, no shades of grey. While the plot may be formulaic, there are special effects and production designs that are fresh and captivating. I particularly like the tailor shop cum secret organization lair, with its underground passageways, and yes, the neat arrays of wardrobe accessories that are lethal weapons in disguise.

As an R-rated movie, some scenes are demanding of the viewers, and in the genre of action/adventure/comedy, graphic violence is prolific. The church scene may not sit well with some, albeit the explanation of the carnage is offered only after the very long and deadly sequence. Valentine is playing God to control their minds and impulses. Despite its flaws, which are easily covered by the quick change of scenes, overall it is a well-paced, well-acted, and stylish production.

Music is prominent in conveying the spectacle and thrills, as well as humour. I chuckle when I hear the British composer Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance accompanying one of the explosive, climatic sequence at the end, the extravaganza of human heads turned fireworks, a good reminder and celebration of where all the fantasy of the gentleman spy originates.

As with a genre of this kind, the movie is not for everyone. If you can’t stand the sight of blood, or graphic violence, or hear the F word prolifically uttered, or are reluctant to let farcical surrealism override a rational mind, then maybe you’d like to stay home and attack your TBR pile of reads. Don’t bother flipping through the comic book either. As the bookstore clerk warned me when I asked about it, “It’s very graphic.”

And yet, the two hours of pure escapism has proven to be invigorating. I’m just about ready to get back to Proust.

~ ~ ~ Ripples

Before I Go To Sleep (2014): Movie or Book?

Spoiler Alert: This post may contain information that one could deem spoilers, and, not just for this movie but for the other one, yes, you guessed it, Gone Girl

Before I Go To Sleep

If as some say Gone Girl is misogynist, then Before I Go to Sleep is the counter argument. Why of course, there’s a 50/50 chance that the villain is the female or the male character, and in some cases, both. And if it’s both, does that make the movie misanthropic?

So much about our humanity, which is what these crime suspense thrillers are all depicting, albeit in a more exaggerated way. Here is the movie adaptation of the very popular debut novel written by British writer S. J. Watson. Again, allow me to answer a question up front, book or movie first?

I know, there’s a likely chance that you have no intention to touch either, but here’s just an interesting thought, especially with the Gone Girl phenom still rippling. For this one, I’d say read the book first, mainly because if one goes to the movie unprepared, one would likely find the premise preposterous. A woman waking up every morning with no memory? But actually there are real-life cases which the author mentions in the epilogue of the book.

On the last page Watson notes that his novel, though totally fictitious, is inspired by actual medical cases, particularly that of Clive Wearing‘s, the British musicologist, conductor and BBC music producer, who has the same amnesiac condition, albeit his is an even shorter memory span, just a short minute or so.

Before I Go To Sleep is about a woman Christine (Nicole Kidman) who wakes up every morning with a total blank, forgetting who or where she is, and not knowing the person lying beside her in bed. He happens to be her husband Ben (Colin Firth), who has to explain to her every morning and reminds her who she is, and that an accident occurred fifteen years ago when she was 25 had left her in a state of amnesia with just a day’s memory span, but no matter, he tells her that he loves her.

Actually quite an interesting premise for a suspense thriller, the amnesiac as a vulnerable, ready victim. To add to the mystery, Christine receives a phone call from a Dr. Nasch (Mark Strong) every morning after Ben leaves the house for work. He tells her he has been helping her and gets her to look for a camera in a shoe box hidden inside her closet. In there she can replay what she has recorded the night before, bits and pieces of her memories.

The movie is a graphic and more suspenseful enactment of the novel, directed by Rowan Joffe, who had written the screenplay and directed Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock (2010). But I had found impressive his screenplay for The American (2010) which, under the direction of Anton Corbijn (A Most Wanted Man, 2014), is one of the rare spy thriller that is soulful. Come to think of it, I can’t help but think such a collaboration, Joffe screenplay, Corbijn directs could have made Before I Go To Sleep a better movie.

As I had mentioned in my review of the novel Before I Go To Sleep, the major flaw of the book is that the author forgets that it’s his character who has amnesia, not his readers. So every chapter starts off with her reading more or less the same journal entry she wrote the night before is a bit too tedious.

Such a condition has been improved in the movie by Joffe, and with the convincing performance by Kidman, we are made sympathetic observers instead of being bored by the repetition. A video camera to jot her memory is also a better way to capture visual anguish than reading from a journal. Making the film more interesting than the novel are the flashbacks Christine has, the bits and pieces that she remembers. But then again, are those real memories or fragments of her imagination?

Colin Firth has shattered his Mr. Darcy persona for good. It is still a pleasure to watch him, albeit Darcy devotees and purists may find some scenes uncomfortable, faced with the revelation that O, Colin Firth is an actor, an impressive one yes, but not the real Mr. Darcy they love to keep in their memory.

This is a second partnership between Firth and Kidman, shortly after The Railway Man (2013). Their next collaboration will be the upcoming film Genius (2015), another book to movie adaptation to watch for.

Mark Strong is probably one of the most underrated actors today. He has been in so many movies, delivering strong performance… Zero Dark Thirty (2012), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), plus many others and dating back to 1997, with Colin Firth in the first Fever Pitch (1997). Further, he’s my favourite Mr. Knightley in Emma (TV, 1996). His upcoming work is on my must-see list: The Imitation Game (2014).

Book to movie, here’s one that I have to say, I’ve enjoyed the movie more than the book, albeit it’s nothing more than leading and misleading, and slow revealing until the climatic end. Again I note, as with others of the crime and suspense genre, it’s not for everyone. But like Gone Girl, it has shoved to the forefront, domestic violence or violence of any sort involving the betrayal of trust, manipulation and self-gratification in dominance. Fortunately, this movie has a happier ending.

~ ~ 1/2 Ripples

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Related Reviews on Ripple Effects:

Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson Book Review

Gone Girl The Movie (2014)

The Railway Man Movie Review (2013)

The Railway Man Book Review 

Magic In The Moonlight (2014) Enchants Despite Flaws

Let me guess. To see or not to see, that is the question on your mind. No? You’ve decided to skip it, heeding critics’ view that it is a ‘minor’ Woody Allen?

Magic In The Moonlight Poster 1

Well, here’s my take. To begin with, a director’s repertoire has to be large and significant enough to be categorized into ‘major’ and ‘minor’. I’ve enjoyed Allen’s previous ‘minor’ works like Match Point (2005), Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), or his noir dealing with magic and the circus Shadows and Fog (1991). Or, is that a ‘major’?

For some reasons, even a ‘minor’ Allen work piques my interest. Further, a new Woody Allen movie is like the perennials shooting up in the summer garden. Going to see one has been on my summer to-do list in recent years.

This 47th directorial feature of Allen’s uses magic as the storyline, a reprise of his well-known preoccupation. Instead of casting himself as a magician like he did in Scoop (2006), Allen has Colin Firth play the role of the renowned Wei Ling-soo, master of illusions who specializes in disappearing and reappearing acts shrouded in oriental mystique. Just a reflection of the time, 1928 Berlin.

After a successful show, Stanley Crawford, Wei Ling-soo’s real-life persona, is recruited by his childhood friend and fellow magician Howard Burkan (Simon McBurney) to go with him to the Côte d’Azur in France to debunk a fake clairvoyant, played by Emma Stone.

Stanley is pleased to take up the challenge, for in his rational mind, the spirit world does not exist. He will be doing everyone a favour to expose the trickery of this young, self-proclaimed spiritualist Sophie Baker, whom he firmly believes to be a crook. Stanley tells Howard, ‘she can’t fool me’. In his mind, Sophie and her mother (Marcia Gay Harden) are out to hoodwink the heir of a rich family, Brice (Hamish Linklater) and his mother Grace (Jacki Weaver), a fraudulent scheme that must be thwarted.

You might have read about the mismatch of Firth and Stone starring together. If there is anything that seems incompatible, it is Stone playing a medium with the expertise of contacting the dead in a séance. No matter, Stone’s appearance can only substantiate the magic.

Sure enough, the ‘minor’ notion applies with the film’s simple, stretched-out, single plot line. A subplot could add more texture to the film, and giving some talented actors more story and character development. Further, there are moments and dialogues that look tedious and unnecessary. Thanks to the cast of fine actors, we can see their concerted effort in making the film more interesting than the simple plot can offer.

DSCF9550.RAF

And there are scenes we have seen before. The Gatsby-esque ball, the observatory moment as in Manhattan (1979), as well as reminiscence of other sources. But then again, are fairy tales not meant to be retold?

You might want to add in one more familiarity. France. This is the second time in four years Allen makes a movie in France. Following the successful Midnight In Paris (2011), cinematographer Darius Khondji reframes the country with idyllic French Riviera through a golden filter. I would not argue against that ‘repeat’.

And the music, how often we hear them in movies depicting the 1920’s, in particular, Allen’s own. From Cole Porter’s “You Do Something To Me” (opening credits, sets the mood right away) to Harry Carroll and Joseph McCarthy’s “I’m Always Chasing Rainbow” (Brice serenading Sophie), from Beethoven to Ravel, music only adds in the magic.

Stanley takes Sophie along for a ride to Provence to visit his Aunt Vanessa (Eileen Atkins). The veteran, low-keyed but always reliable Atkins as the wise and knowing Aunt Vanessa plays a pivotal role in the story. While Sophie has the chance to demonstrate her extraordinary gift by revealing Aunt Vanessa’s past, Aunt Vanessa has also shown that she knows her nephew Stanley much more than he knows himself.

And (possible) spoilers coming up...

One of my favourite scenes is in the third act, when the seemingly oblivious Aunt Vanessa while playing a card game of solitaire is subtly prodding her nephew to clearer self-understanding, to act upon his heart rather than relying only on his rationale. This one reminds me of a nuanced and endearing scene in another movie, exactly with these two actors, Atkins and Firth, playing mother and son and engaging in a similar kind of dialogue. Yes, the two of them are charming together in both. That movie? What A Girl Wants (2003).

But what’s interesting is Colin Firth here shines as a chatty Darcy. He plays the role with such an amusing familiarity as if he has just changed costume from an Austen set to the 1920’s. Stanley feels superior, thinks Sophie beneath him. He is arrogant and smug at the start, challenging and badgering Sophie at every turn, full of pride and prejudice. Why of course, Sophie, from small town America, has not heard of Nietzsche, or Bora Bora, can’t tell Dickens from Shakespeare. A ready target for Stanley’s jest.

And Stanley is such an expert in alienating people. Sophie’s mom Mrs. Baker could not have agreed more with Lizzy’s mom Mrs. Bennet, this guy is an obnoxious snob. From Darcy to Stanley, two sides of the same coin. Firth knows how to play this one by heart.

Quite like Darcy, Stanley is such a poor (first-time) marriage proposer. Take her under his wings? No rational reason for doing this? Against his better judgement? Haven’t we heard such a marriage proposal before when Darcy first messed up his in front of an incredulous and fuming Lizzy Bennet?

Not to aspire to his ‘major’ endeavours, Magic in the Moonlight is a lighter piece in Allen’s humungous directorial repertoire. He deals with it like bringing work on his vacation, emphasis on the vacation. Don’t we all need a break every now and then? And isn’t the French Riviera an ideal spot?

~ ~ ~ Ripples

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I’m linking this review to Paulita’s Dreaming of France Monday Meme. CLICK HERE to see what others have posted.

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Related Posts on Ripple Effects:

Midnight In Paris (2011)

Blue Jasmine (2013)

To Rome With Love (2012)

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Listen Up: Audiobook Week 2012

June is Audiobook month, and today begins Audiobook Week 2012 (June 25-29), thanks to Devourer of Books for hosting. This is my first time participating.

Audiobooks are not new to me, albeit I’ve not been a regular listener. But 2012 is the year I rediscover the pleasure and benefits of them, and become a ‘chain user’. Mainly, it’s a time-saver for me. I listen to CD recordings of books while driving. That’s a great way to finish a book. Yes, after much pondering, I say ‘finish’ instead of ‘read’. The difference I’ve written in a previous post Dances With Words.

Yes, books on CD’s still, because there’s a large collection at our local public library. Audible.com, well, here’s a little story.

Have you ever been given a gift and then see it taken away as you open it? This is exactly my experience on this year’s Mother’s Day. My son gave me Colin Firth’s reading of Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair through Audible.com. Sweet… both the giver and the gift. We unwrapped the gift together, trying to download the recording, but was told its copyrights did not apply to Canada. So, we can’t listen to it above the 49th parallel. So much for free trade and open borders.

Anyway, I’m resigned to continue listening the old fashioned way… CD’s, while patiently waiting for Colin Firth’s reading to be transferred onto them.

The following are the audiobooks I’ve finished so far this year:

Reviews coming up. Happy listening everyone!

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The Downton Ripples

Or, How I Overcome Downton Abbey Withdrawal Syndrome.

First, I bought the Blu-rays and rewatched both Season 1 and 2 several times. And then, I let my curiosity lead and follow mere intuition. Downton has prompted me to seek out books and films with setting in the early part of the 20th C.

I was most intrigued by the irreversible changes modernity has brought about, but on a more sombre note, I was moved to learn of the grave number of lives lost in a war I knew so little, WWI.

As heir to Downton Matthew Crawley has aptly noted while fighting in the trenches:

War has a way of distinguishing between the things that matter and the things that don’t.

The Great War did not end all wars as claimed, but had ended countless lives of a young generation, and altered numerous others. On the positive side, it had toppled society’s status quo and broken down previously impenetrable barriers, when men of different social classes fought side by side in the trenches, and where women played a substantial role in the war effort.

And then there are the stories of individuals and families… I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this reading and watching spree. But I have to stop somewhere and share with you what marvellous works you can follow while waiting for Downton Abbey Season 3 to arrive.

So, here’s Arti’s Annotated List of Downton Ripples:

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by Fiona Carnarvon — A springboard to all my WWI period exploration. What impressed me was that Highclere Castle itself was actually turned into a hospital during the War and many of its staff enlisted and some killed. I was moved by the number of casualties and the horrific conditions in the battlefields. My full review of the book is posted here. 

The World of Downton Abbey — by Jessica Fellowes, niece of write/creator of the series Julian Fellowes. A compendium to the production, the hardcover larger-sized book is filled with photos, background info and quotes from the actors. After skimming through the whole book, one item stands out: Mr. Bates’ fall. That’s when Mrs. O’Brien trips him and he falls flat on his face on the gravel. How did they shoot this? Any special effects? Well, unfortunately for Mr. Bates, none whatsoever.

This is what Bates, Brendan Coyle said:

I must have done it 18 times and by the end I was wounded! I wore knee pads and a torso shield, but when you fall you have to really commit to falling.

Ouch! Some method acting.

Lost Empires (1986)— 7 Episode mini-series based on J. B. Priestly’s novel set in 1913, a year before WWI broke out. Colin Firth is young Richard Herncastle. Lost both parents at 19, he follows his Uncle Nick on his travelling magic stage show, learning the ropes of the itinerant performer in the music hall circuit. A coming-of-age saga chronicling the loss of innocence in love and life. Some noted actors in the series include Sir Laurence Olivier and John Castle.

A Farewell to Arms (1929) — Hemingway’s WWI semi-autobiographical sketch of love and loss. I listened to the audiobook read by Mad Men’s John Slattery. In authentic Hemingway style, his narrative is matter-of-fact and stoic. After that I watched the 1932 movie adaptation with Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes. An adaptation that makes me wish Hemingway was the screenwriter and director.

Brideshead Revisited (1945)– Evelyn Waugh has used a huge and magnificent mansion owned by an aristocratic family to tell his story. Something like Downtown but in a much serious tone. Its subtitle “The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder” sets the stage for a tug of war between God and man. I listened to the audio book read by Jeremy Irons, who has turned Waugh’s narratives into pure poetry. Probably the best audiobook I’ve ever listened to.

I’m still watching the 11 Episode TV series (1981) with Jeremy Irons playing the main character of Charles Ryder. So far, I’ve enjoyed the detailed and slower-paced depiction of the work. The book really needs a whole series to tell its story.

I’ve also rewatched the 2008 movie adaptation. As much as I respect the actors in it, Emma Thompson, Matthew Goode, Michael Gambon… I think it has trivialized Waugh’s masterpiece. The adaptation has taken the crux of the matter out and replaces with photogenic visuals and a story converted for more popular appeal. But it could well send one back to the book for curiosity’s sake.

Easy Virtue (2008) — For something totally light and swift, I rewatched this movie based on a Noel Coward play. Filled with Coward’s own music and some Cole Porter, the film depicts how the changes of the times have brought to yet another aristocratic family.

Larita (Jessica Beale) is the first woman race car driver to cross the finish line in Monte Carlo. The year is 1930. An American, she marries on a whim John Whittaker (Ben Barnes), the son of an English aristocratic family… and quickly becomes enemy on the home front to matriarch Veronica Whittaker (Kristin Scott Thomas), and subversive ally to her husband, disillusioned WWI officer played by Colin Firth. If you’re interested, here’s my full review of the movie.

A Handful of Dust (1988) — After Brideshead Revisited I went on to watch another of Evelyn Waugh’s adaptation. Again, a large mansion… how many of these architectural heirlooms do they have in England? Anyway, the master of this house Tony Last (James Wilby) is too busy looking after his property that he loses his wife Brenda (Kristin Scott Thomas). Title comes from T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land (1922)… that sent me into reading the poem again.

Goodbye To All That (1929) — Autobiography of Robert Graves, English poet and writer. I’m most impressed by the men of letters in that period, they enlisted readily. Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon were both involved in the most devastating battles in France. Both were seriously injured. Deep in the trenches they wrote poetry. Their views towards the war changed as time went by, but their experiences in the battlefields brought about poignant legacies as eye witnesses of a horrific war and its aftermath. Ironically, Graves handles his subject matter with some light-hearted reminiscence.

The Remains of the Day (1993) — Not quite the same period but a bit later in the brewing year before England’s engagement in WWII. I rewatched this film adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Booker Prize winning novel in full, sumptuous Merchant Ivory style. The film leads me to think of a few parallels… Darlington ~ Downton, Stevens ~ Carson, but I’m glad Carson has more heart. And in both Downton and Remains of the Day, a character named Richard Carlisle.

The list goes on with Passchendaele and Birdsong yet to read and watch. But I know when Season 3 of Downton commences, I’ll gladly return and transfix myself once again in the Crawley family.

What have you been doing since Downton Abbey?

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You may also be interested in:

Quotable Quotes from Downton Abbey

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey

A Summer in Genoa (2008) DVD

A film that you have not seen in the theatre in North America. It premiered at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival and disappeared until it emerged on DVD in April, 2012. A Summer in Genoa is a fine film that has slipped through the blockbuster-craving, profit-driven distribution network.

This is from Colin Firth’s pre-Oscar days, a performance that could well be a foreshadow of his Oscar nominated role in A Single Man a year later.

In A Summer in Genoa, Firth plays Joe, an English professor in Chicago who has lost his wife Marianne (Hope Davis) in a car accident. As father to teenager Kelly (Willa Holland) and her younger sister Mary (superbly played by then 10 year-old Perla Haney-Jardine), Joe has to lay aside his grief to continue with his family life in taking care of his daughters.

Five months after the accident, Joe’s old colleague Barbara (Catherine Keener) has lined up a teaching position for him in Genova, Italy. It is summer. The beautiful, historical seaside city will be a totally different scenery from Chicago. Joe thinks that could be a good change for all of them.

How does a family deal with loss? Here we see each person has to face it individually before coming together as a family.

Acclaimed director Michael Winterbottom (A Mighty Heart, 2007) uses a naturalistic style to depict the three of them adjusting to a new situation in their own way. Through a hand-held camera, we are privy to the life of a family like watching a home video. As with any other family, their daily routine is ordinary and mundane. Yet because of their predicament, we care for these characters, especially with young Mary always drifting off on her own. We fear for her safety.

I’ve appreciated Winterbottom’s naturalism throughout the film, not only in the camera work, but with the ‘non-acting’ of the characters (using Bresson’s notion). They come across as real people dealing with daily issues we could relate to. On top of adjusting to a new city and nursing or ignoring a wound that has yet closed, a family still needs to go on living as a family.

We see Joe make breakfast for his girls, go to teach at the university, come home and make dinner. The girls go to their piano lessons, and Kelly takes her younger sister walking in long and narrow alleyways of the old city finding their way. We see Kelly making acquaintances with some young men, and how she riskily push the limits and attempt some youthful explorations. As for the younger Mary, we see her sorely locked in her solitary self of guilt and loss.

The young actor Perla Haney-Jardine’s performance as Mary is particularly poignant. With her father and older sister preoccupied with their own interests, she is left alone to deal with her private pain. She sees her mother appear to her, communicating to her with her presence and words.

The music selection is a major appeal to me. A film that starts off with the beginning theme of Chopin’s Etude no.3 and carries it as a motif throughout is sure to capture my attention. Music is also a legacy from their mother who used to teach piano at the university.

But I’m totally won over as this is read with a voiceover. A final class assignment Joe gives out to his students. He listens to the recording with them, his face lost in thought. It is so thematically perfect. As he ponders, he must have tasted the relevance of its words to his own predicament, raising his two daughters, through life’s ebb and flow. Here in this shot confirms Firth’s talent of ‘non-acting’.

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 2

When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field,
Thy youth’s proud livery so gazed on now,
Will be a tatter’d weed, of small worth held: 
Then being asked, where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days; 
To say, within thine own deep sunken eyes,
Were an all-eating shame, and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserved thy beauty’s use,
If thou couldst answer ‘This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count, and make my old excuse,’
Proving his beauty by succession thine!
This were to be new made when thou art old,
And see thy blood warm when thou feel’st it cold.

Special Features include equally naturalistic behind-the-scenes footage and cast interviews.

~ ~ ~ Ripples

Another title for the film is Genova.

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The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, I’d like to post my second selection for the Ireland Reading Challenge 2012, and raise a toast to Oscar Wilde for his LOL funny three-act play The Importance of Being Earnest.  

Though written in 1894, Wilde’s work is surprisingly modern. Subtitled “A Trivial Comedy for Serious People”, it is a mashup of mistaken identities, social satire, biting ironies, and one-liners worthy of our late-night talk shows.

You can finish the breezy eighty-some pages in one sitting, but don’t read it in public. You don’t want to be mistaken. To most people, only a lunatic would LOL alone without a bluetooth hanging on his ear.

Jack Worthing is in love with Gwendolen Fairfax of London, cousin of his friend Algernon Moncrieff. But obstacles abound for his courtship. As a country gentleman with many responsibilities, he has to create a wayward younger brother and town-dweller named Earnest as an excuse for him to go out to town for pleasure and to see Gwendolen. While in town, he has taken the name Earnest. Algernon, just the opposite, has to create an invalid Bunbury in the country for him to visit so he can meet and woo Jack’s ward Cecily, while pretending he is Earnest, Jack’s younger brother from London.

Locales may be a hindrance, their major obstacle is Lady Bracknell, Gwendolen’s mother and Algernon’s Aunt, a formidable and feisty gatekeeper of aristocratic matrimony.

With Downton Abbey’s dialogues still ringing in my ears (been re-watching the blu-rays perpetually since its Season 2 Finale on PBS) I can easily imagine the Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet Crawley, uttering Lady Bracknell’s lines. Screening for Jack’s eligibility as a suitor for her daughter Gwendolen, Lady Bracknell conducts the following interview.

LADY BRACKNELL:  How old are you?

JACK:  Twenty-nine.

LADY BRACKNELL:  A very good age to be married at. I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothing. Which do you know?

JACK (after some hesitation):  I know nothing, Lady Bracknell.

LADY BRACKNELL:  I am pleased to hear it. I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever…

LADY BRACKNELL:  Are your parents living?

JACK:  I have lost both my parents.

LADY BRACKNELL:  To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.

JACK:  The fact is, Lady Bracknell … I don’t actually know who I am by birth. I was … well, I was found.

LADY BRACKNELL:  Found!

JACK:  The late Mr. Thomas Cardew, an old gentleman of a very charitable and kindly disposition, found me, and gave me the name of Worthing, because he happened to have a first-class ticket for Worthing in his pocket at the time. Worthing is a seaside resort.

LADY BRACKNELL:  Where did the charitable gentleman who had a first-class ticket for this seaside resort find you?

JACK (gravely):  In a hand-bag.

LADY BRACKNELL:  A hand-bag?

JACK (very seriously):  Yes, Lady Brakcnell. I was in a hand-bag—a somewhat large, black leather hand-bag, with handles to it—an ordinary hand-bag in fact.

LADY BRACKNELL:  In what locality did Mr. Thomas Cardew come across this ordinary hand-bag?

JACK:  In the cloak-room at Victoria Station. It was given to him in mistake for his own.

LADY BRACKNELL:  The cloak-room at Victoria Station?

JACK:  Yes. The Brighton line.

LADY BRACKNELL:  The line is immaterial. Mr. Worhting. I confess I feel somewhat bewildered by what you have just told me. To be born in a hand-bag, whether it had handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life…

And many more lines that would show you Wilde could have made one great Oscar host.

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The Movie (2002, DVD)

I’ve got the DVD. It never fails to delight no matter how many times I re-watch it. Lady Brecknell is portrayed by Judi Dench, as proficient as any Dench performance, albeit a bit too severe here. But just as well, she’s a monster to Jack Worthing.

Jack is played by the ever talented Colin Firth. Dispelling the Mr. Darcy myth, Firth shows he can be one freewheeling comedic actor. Having seen many of his works, I find that with the right words to say, he can always deliver in style, even if he needs to stammer to get his words out.

Before Mamma Mia! (2008), Colin Firth had sung in a movie strumming a guitar, it is here. With Rupert Everett as the piano playing Algernon, the two come together in a duet to woo their love.

Frances O’Connor, who plays Fanny Price in Mansfield Park (1999), is Gwendolen, animated but much intimidated by her icily fierce mother Lady Brecknell. Reese Witherspoon is Cecily, Jack’s 18 year-old ward. The gals can easily call each other sisters if not for the mistaken identity of their love interest, Earnest. Thinking they are romantic rivals, the ladies are at each other’s throat as much as their genteel upbringing can allow, and  quickly become allies once the misunderstanding clears up.

Both Jack and Algernon are willing to go all out to have their names changed to Earnest via christening by the minister Dr. Chasuble, a role mastered easily by veteran actor Tom Wilkinson. Dr. Chasuble is a silent admirer of Cecily’s governess Miss Prism, played by Anna Massey with much comedic sense and timing.

At the end, Jack finds out his true parentage, realizes that he is more kin than kind to Algernon, and three matrimonies ensue, a happy ending Jane Austen would have approved. The movie adaptation is an enjoyable way to go through the play, not just with sight, sound and cinematic fun, but a delightful all-star cast.

Some tidbits: The film won a Best Costume Design award from Italy, and Reese Witherspoon was a nominee of the Teen Choice Award 2002. Looking at the cast today, we see 3 Oscar winners and 1 Oscar nominee.

As usual, the DVD carries special features like The Making Of and Behind the Scene featurettes, interviews with stars and crew, and audio commentary, always a valuable companion to the main feature.

~ ~ ~ Ripples

The End of the Affair: Book and Movie

It’s a bit ironic to post this on Valentine’s Day. It’s a story of an extramarital affair, and it doesn’t end well. But then again, maybe this is the best time to talk about it.

This is my second instalment to meet the Graham Greene Challenge hosted by Carrie of Books and Movies. Spoiler Alert here. But since it’s a classic, I’m sure many of you have read it or seen the movie.

The End of the Affair

The book opens with a meeting between novelist Maurice Bendrix and civil servant Henry Miles on a cold, rainy night in 1946 London. Miles’ wife Sarah had ended an affair with Bendrix 18 months earlier. Bendrix has not seen them since. In this chance meeting on the street, Bendrix observes that Miles is heavy-laden, suspecting Sarah has ‘secrets’. Volunteering to hire a detective to tail the wife for the husband, Bendrix is in fact acting out of jealousy, for he too wants to find out who Sarah is seeing now. “Anyone who loves is jealous.”

Again, in just 160 pages, Greene has intricately explored the depth and complexity of the human psyche, love and hate, trust and insecurity, faith and lameness. Yes, the lameness in Bendrix’s leg can well be a metaphor for his numbness of unbelief. Isn’t there such an argument: “If God does not exist, everything is permitted?”

Love with all its smothering, blinding passion, its persistent, burning desire, its all-consuming emotions that distill into pure jealousy and hate… Graham Greene is a master of such incisive descriptions. But here’s the rub, they’re all found in an adulterous affair.

Isn’t that a pity that such intensity of love is often depicted outside of a marriage. Why, we see them all the time in literature and movies. And, don’t we tend to cheer for the romantic heroes and heroines? Guinevere and Lancelot, for example, to whom Bendrix in the book alludes when he talks to the detective Parkis, who has named his son Lance. Readily come to mind are some others: Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina, and in the epic cinematic versions like The English Patient, in a more restrained way Out of Africa, and the near success in The Bridges of Madison County…  didn’t you wish Meryl Streep would have gone with Clint Eastwood? I’m just thinking, if Ralph Fiennes were the one beckoning her, she’d probably had jumped out of her husband’s truck.

O the fantasy of romance vs. the mundane reality of a marriage. The forbidden fruit seems sweeter, for it arouses excitement, it entices with adventure. Bendrix accuses the oblivious and dull husband Henry Miles as an accomplice in Sarah’s affairs, calling him ‘an eternal pimp’:

“You pimped with your ignorance. You pimped by never learning how to make love with her, so she had to look elsewhere. You pimped by giving opportunities… You pimped by being a bore and a fool…”

There might be some truths in his rants. But then again, are these reasons enough to drive one to discard the marriage vow and seek other allurements? Alas, it seems like boredom is the major impediment to fulfilling that commitment… “If I could love a leper’s sores, couldn’t I love the boringness of Henry?” Sarah tries to reason with herself.

But of course, here, the key is the End of the affair between Bendrix and Sarah. What causes the end is none other than God Himself according to Sarah. A bomb drops near Bendrix’s home while they are both there, striking him dead. Sarah, in her horror and desperation, prays to a God she doesn’t believe to exist, but pleads for the life of her lover just the same. She makes the promise that if God gives Bendrix back his life, she would stop seeing him. As she’s still kneeling by her bed praying, Bendrix walks into the room, injured but very much alive. Thus begins the agony of keeping a promise to a God whose existence now has become an inconvenient truth.

We learn at the end, Sarah has attempted to shift her love from Bendrix to God, albeit with much searing pain. She has gone to a priest and converted to Catholicism. In the crucifix she knows that God Himself is a suffering God too. If only she can see the scale of the pain in the nail-pierced hands in a greater cosmic proportion compared to her own…

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The marvellous cinematography, the diffused lighting of many scenes, all work to cast a romantic veil over an adulterous affair. Two Oscar noms in 2000 included one in cinematography and one for Julianne Moore as Sarah Miles. Ralph Fiennes plays Bendrix, a suitable choice. He is in his element. Since The English Patient (1996), Fiennes seems to have mastered the persona of the romantic tragic hero and obsessed lover.

While the screenwriter is understandably free to invent more scenes for the visual storytelling and change some plot points, one alteration I feel  is definitely unacceptable and that’s the character Richard Smythe. In the book, Smythe is an atheist whom Sarah visits several times to discuss views about atheism. Ironically it is Smythe’s atheistic stance that drives Sarah into believing God. She then confides in Father Crompton her wish to convert to Catholicism. But in the film, Smythe is the priest, and what more, he is implied to be another of Sarah’s lovers. I think here is where integrity to the source material should have given priority over dramatic effects.

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And what does Colin Firth have to do with The End of the Affair? Well, for all you Colin fans, he is among some A-list stars to have signed with the UK audiobook provider Audible to record their reading of their favorite classic novel.

Audible’s founder, Donald Katz, told the Observer: “Colin Firth could read me the back of a Marmite jar and I would listen.” Well, Colin has chosen, not Marmite or Cornflakes, but for more flavour, Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair. CLICK HERE to read the announcement and see what other stars are reading for Audible’s recordings.

Now we have another portal to appreciate Colin, and, another channel to enjoy a Graham Greene book.

Update May 7, 2012: The Audiobook The End of the Affair narrated by Colin Firth is released today.

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2012 Golden Globes Results

Some of the major winners at the 69th Golden Globes Awards last night.

  • Best Motion Picture – Drama: The Descendants
  • Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical: The Artist
  • Best Actress – Drama: Meryl Streep (Iron Lady)
  • Best Actor – Drama: George Clooney (The Descendants)
  • Best Actress – Comedy or Musical: Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)
  • Best Actor – Comedy or Musical: Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
  • Best Director – Motion Picture: Martin Scorsese (Hugo)
  • Best Screenplay – Motion Picture: Woody Allen, Midnight In Paris

I must say I’m not too excited about this year’s Golden Globes to start with. Main reason: how can they totally snub Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life? Not even one single nomination for that epic production! I hope the Academy Awards can correct that negligence.

But I’m glad though for The Artist winning Best Picture, Comedy or Musical. It offers me a unique experience: watching a silent movie made in 2011 in the theatre, a successful, nostalgic attempt paying homage to the golden era of Hollywood. Last night, Uggie got a chance to share the spotlight.

Michelle Williams is impressive as Marilyn Monroe. Just a look at her at the Golden Globes and you’ll know how acting and make-up can create a whole world of difference. The transformation of an understated actor into a legendary personality in a dreamscape is what’s so magical about the cinema.

     

George Clooney is good in The Descendants, a showcase for his acting talent. You can actually see a tear welling up in his eye then flow slowly down his cheek to the tip of his nose. That scene is so deeply imprinted in my memory.

Haven’t seen Iron Lady yet, but what I remember from last night Meryl Streep winning Best Actress is her presenter, the inimitable, ever poised (even more so this time… marvellous result of some great workout?): Colin Firth.

And last but not least, excited to see Woody Allen once again getting recognized for his talent, albeit not in directing, still a worthy nod, winning Best Screenplay with Midnight In Paris. And I must mention this: not too long ago I read a book entitled Insanity Defense: The Complete Prose by Woody Allen. In it I read a story called “A Twenties Memory”.  O what a discovery! Of course! This piece of writing dating back to 1971 must be the original spark that later materialized into the script for Midnight In Paris, some forty years later. CLICK HERE to read “A Twenties Memory”. This just shows it’s never too late to bring ingenuity to life.

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For a full list of nominations and winners, CLICK HERE.

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Movies to Watch with Mom

Best time to enjoy some mother-child bonding is to watch a movie together and afterwards, talk about it. The following are Arti’s recommendations for Mother’s Day gifts, DVD’s or Blu-ray’s. Click on the links to read my review for more details.

The King’s Speech (2010) – New release on DVD and Blu-ray, just in time for Mother’s Day. You want to keep this Oscar Best Picture not just for the excellent performance by Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter, but all the special features that come with: Director Tom Hooper’s commentary, Q & A with principal cast, behind-the-scenes featurette “An Inspirational Story of An Unlikely Friendship”, historical speeches of the real KGVI (and see how good Colin Firth is), and interview with Lionel Logue’s grandson.

True Grit (2010) – Mom might remember the 1969 John Wayne and Glen Campbell version. But tell her this is way better. The Coen brothers have breathed soul into this remake adaptation of Charles Portis’ Western novel. Time well spent if only just to watch the then 13 year-old Hailee Steinfeld’s performance, handling and being handled by Jeff Bridges. 10 big Oscar noms.

Made In Dagenham (2010) – Based on the true story of the 1968 strike at the Ford Dagenham car plant in England, where female workers went on strike to protest sexual discrimination. Sally Hawkins leads a historical, landmark victory for women workers to achieve equal pay. What efforts, torments, and costs to the individuals and their family just to claim something that’s so basic and reasonable.  Remember Sally Field in “Norma Rae” (yes, that’s 1979). This is the modern, British version.

Beauty In Their Eyes (2009) – Won Oscar Best Foreign Language Film. From Argentina, the film offers a gratifying experience, a layered, affective, and captivating combination of crime, suspense, and human sentiments. A retired legal counselor writes a novel based on an unresolved case he handled. While doing that, the flood gate of memories and unrequited love bursts open but in a moving and restrained manner. I was touched by the superb performance, the thematic element, and the heart-stirring music.

And if you’ve missed these ones, now is the time to catch up with Mom together on the comfy couch:

Nowhere Boy (2009) – Biopic of  a teenaged John Lennon (Aaron Johnson). I wrote these words in my review: “I’ve particularly enjoyed the mother-son relationship depicted so poignantly in the movie, and the tug of war between the one who has given birth to and the one who has raised the child.” Kristin Scott Thomas as Aunt Mimi and Anne Marie Duff as Lennon’s birth mother Julia give life to this delightful rendition.

An Education (2009) –  Superb performance by Carey Mulligan who deservedly received an Oscar nom for Best Actress. A coming-of-age story of 16-year-old Jenny when a suave and seemingly classy man twice her age befriends her and captures not only her heart but the trust of her parents. Adapted from Lynn Barber’s memoir. Links to Granta’s interview and excerpt from Barber’s memoir in my review.

Easy Virtue (2008) – Based on Noel Coward’s play, this one is a frothy, light-hearted take on a family feud. If you’ve enjoyed Colin Firth and Kristin Scott Thomas together (a rarity after The English Patient), then this is a must-see. Jessica Biel and Ben Barnes co-star. You’ll see some unlikely feats, like the Firth and Biel tango. But, what are comedies for, if not to highlight the improbable?

Broken Flowers (2005) – I missed this one when it first came out, not a big commotion. Glad to have caught it on DVD. With Bill Murray, you know what to expect, deadpan but also deeper than it looks. An interesting and original story.

Howards End (1992) – I’m a fan of Merchant Ivory productions. So for Mother’s Day, I say, get any of their film adaptations of literary classics, anyone will do: A Room With A View (1985), The Remains of the Day (1993), The Golden Bowl (2000). But “Howards End”, adaptation of E. M. Forster’s novel probably is the best for Mother’s Day viewing, with wonderful performance by Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter, Anthony Hopkins, Vanessa Redgrave… Give Mom the Criterion Collection where you’ll find lots of special features. Click here to my post “The Merchant Ivory Dialogues”.

Thelma and Louise (1991) – This year is the 20th anniversary of this ‘classic’ film. Female friendship strengthened on a road trip with no road blocks. I rewatched it recently and find it still relevant. Best Oscar original screenplay. Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon are heading to Toronto in June for a charity appearance to celebrate the anniversary. If Mom’s a fan, send her a ticket to the event. Not possible? The 20th Anniversary Blu-ray might do.

Girl WIth A Pearl Earring (2003) – Both book and film are fine. Delightful gifts for Mother’s Day. Colin Firth as painter Vermeer and Scarlett Johansson as Griet the servant girl. Subtle yet dynamic, cinematography to match Vermeer’s works.

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And to all who play a mothering role:

Happy Mother’s Day !!

Can a movie adaptation ever be as good as the book?

The more I watch movies and read books, the more I see the two as totally different art forms. They evoke different kinds of pleasure and enjoyment. A direct translation just may not work. I used to seek for how ‘faithful’ a movie is compared to its literary source, but more and more, I’m looking for how good it stands alone as a production in terms of cinematic elements.

A film adaptation can make an apt homage to the original literary work. It is not merely an ‘illustrated book’, but a new creation, if you will, one that offers a different experience from reading. In telling the story from a visual and sound perspective, it offers a multidimensional take on the original work. By so doing, it may need to alter the source material. But then again, how do you know the images on-screen are not those already conjured up in some readers’ minds as they interact with the text… or, theirs are not even more far-fetched?

While a film is the artistic expression of the filmmaker’s interpretation, it is also a collaboration of talents and perspectives, as cast and crew contribute their expertise, in cinematography, set design, costume, writing, sound, music, editing… all under the artistic direction and insight of the auteur. It is an alchemy of sights and sounds. On top of that, there are the key agents of delivery, the actors. An intelligent and nuanced performance can bring out the literary essence, unfurling the thematic matter, characters and conflicts, and above all, the humanity embedded in the text.

In his article entitled “Snobbery”, Ta-Nehisi Coates, senior editor for The Atlantic, says that as he reads Pride and Prejudice, Austen’s brilliant literary depiction has formed some vivid images in his mind.

I like the pictures in my head, and would not see them overthrown.

Yes, that’s usually the case with many readers who guard the ownership of their imagination as sacred territory, hence, the refusal to step out to explore other grounds of artistic expressions. So, despite hearing how splendid the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice is, Ta-Nehisi Coates has this to say:

I don’t doubt it–but I think mine is better. For right now, I’m just a snob that way. I reserve the right to change.

I’ve been mulling over this ‘snobbery’ idea after reading his article back in March, and feel that another word might be more apt to describe such a condition: “hegemony”… the claim of the literary being supreme, over other forms of artistic expression. On a personal level, it is also the hegemony of subjectivity… valuing one’s own mental images exclusively. It’s about sharing, isn’t it, seeing and experiencing what others’ imaginary worlds are like in response to a piece of literary work? I believe we are richer when we share, especially, our vision and imagination.

As a literature lover and a Janeite myself, I’m only glad to hear another high praise of Austen’s ingenuity, not that her works need any more approval to be of value. However, as a film lover I don’t want to wage war by dichotomizing the literary and the visual. They are two different art forms, two distinct vehicles of storytelling. Even though the story comes from the same source, it could be told from different perspectives, filtered through different lenses, structured in different styles, and ultimately received by interacts with the reader and the viewer in a very individual and personal way.

I’ve appreciated Kazuo Ishiguro’s openness regarding the creative process during the film adaptation of his book Never Let Me Go. According to a TIME magazine article, Ishiguro said to Alex Garland, the screenwriter:

Your only duty is to write a really good screenplay with the same title as my book.

What ended up was both the author and the screenwriter share a very similar vision. Here is what director Romanek has done to bring out the literary:

… he imparts a mood so subtle, with so many emotional cataclysms conveyed through a glance or a few tears, that the film might have been made by the Japanese master Yasujiro Ozu.  The nuance is both emotional and visual… Romanek also researched the Japanese notion of wabi-sabi, ‘which is the beauty of things that are broken and worn and rusted and imperfect. So production designer Mark Digby and I, we just wabi-sabied everything. The dried flowers are an example of that. There’s nothing new in the film. Everything shows the wear of time.

Watching a film then is like listening to another language, the language of the visual, and appreciating the significance of mise-en-scène.

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As a language and literature lover as well as a movie buff, I’m always on the lookout for the perfect fusion. To those who insist that a film version will never be as good as the book, allow me to suggest the following sampler. No, they are not perfect, but some are close to it. They are all worthy of and have done justice to their source material. Just from memory I’ve made the following list. All I’ve read and watched, some several times. (click on the link to read my review). I’m sure there are many more:

Great Expectations (1946)
Novel by Charles Dickens, directed and screenplay co-written by the legendary David Lean.

Diary of a Country Priest (1951)
Novel by Georges Bernanos, screenplay and directed by Robert Bresson

To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)
Novel by Harper Lee, Robert Mulligan director, Gregory Peck IS Atticus Finch

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968)
Novel by Carson McCullers, Memorable performance by Alan Arkin

A Room With A View (1985)
Novel by E. M. Forster, a Merchant Ivory film. Helena Bonham Carter emerged.

Howards End (1992)
Another E. M. Forster/Merchant Ivory film. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala won Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, Emma Thompson Best Actress. Beautiful rendition of sight and sound. Helena Bonham Carter, Vanessa Redgrave, Anthony Hopkins and many more made up the talented cast.

The Music of Chance (1993)

Paul Auster’s absurdist/existential novel is hauntingly adapted into film (How can you show philosophical concepts? Here it is) perfectly interpreted by James Spader and Mandy Patinkin. Excellent cast and superbly directed by Philip Haas.

The Remains of the Day (1993)
Kazuo Ishiguro’s Booker Prize winning novel, another Merchant Ivory film. Poignant performance by Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins.

Pride and Prejudice (1995, BBC)
In my opinion, the definitive version of Jane Austen’s film adaptation. BBC production, Andrew Davis screenplay. Colin Firth remains the inimitable Mr. Darcy to this day.

Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Emma Thompson did justice to Jane Austen with her Oscar winning screenplay. Ang Lee directs Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant. Still my favorite version of S & S.

The English Patient (1996)
Booker Prize winning novel by Michael Ondaatje, directed and screenplay written by Anthony Minghella. Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Juliette Binoche.

Girl With A Pearl Earring (2003)
Novel by Tracy Chevalier, Peter Webber directs Colin Firth as Johannes Vermeer, Scarlett Johansson as the servant girl Griet. An artistic, nuanced production.

Bleak House (2005, BBC)
The TV mini-series that prompted me to read the 1,000 page book by Charles Dickens. Gillian Anderson, Anna Maxwell Martin, Denise Lawson, and a cast of talented actors delivered a most enjoyable and exceptional rendition.

Away From Her (2006)
Short story by Alice Munro, the young Canadian talent Sarah Polley wrote the screenplay and directed veteran actors Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent. A moving portrait of the destruction of a marriage by Alzheimer.

3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Short story by Elmore Lenard, James Mangold directs Christian Bale and Russell Crowe. Movie captures the psychological conflicts marvellously.

Atonement (2007)
Novel by Ian McEwan, Joe Wright directs Keira Knightly and James McAvoy. Saoirse Ronan’s breakout performance.

When Did You Last See Your Father? (2007)
Memoir by Blake Morrison, David Nicholls screenplay. Anand Tucker directs Colin Firth, Jim Broadbent, Juliet Stevenson and the young rising stars Carey Mulligan and Matthew Beard.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
Jean-Dominique Bauby ‘wrote’ the book by blinking one eye. Julian Schnabel director. Mathieu Amalric plays Bauby, the true story of a stroke survivor who was left paralyzed except the movement of his left eye.

Never Let Me Go (2010)
Novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, Alex Garland screenplay, Mark Romanek directs the talented British trio of Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightly, and Andrew Garfield.

True Grit (2010)

Book by Charles Portis. This is an updated movie version by the Coen brothers, Hailee Steinfeld’s breakout role, deservedly garnering her an Oscar nom. Jeff Bridges is better than John Wayne I feel. 10 Oscar nominations in total.

Still more…

The Hours (2002)
Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Michael Cunningham, David Hare screenplay, Stephen Daldry directs. Homage to Virginia Woolf and Mrs. Dalloway. Nicole Kidman won Oscar Best Actress as V. Woolf. Moving performance also by Julianne Moore, Meryle Streep, and Ed Harris.

Doubt (2008)
John Patrick Shanley wrote the play, later the screenplay as well as directed the film. Engaging performance by Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Viola Davis. (For this one, I’ve yet to read the play)

A Single Man (2009)
Novel by Christopher Isherwood, Tom Ford’s directorial debut. Colin Firth’s first Oscar nom. Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode, Nicholas Hoult. Heart- stirring music.

An Education (2009)
Memoir (essay) by Lynn Barber, screenplay by Nick Hornby, directed by Lone Scherfig. Carey Mulligan got her first Oscar nom. Peter Saarsgard, Dominic Cooper, Rosamund Pike, Olivia Williams.

UPDATE Feb. 25, 2013: This is prompted by the 85th Academy Awards last night. The movie definitely is worthy of its literary source. Click on the link to read my review:
Life of Pi (2012)

Update after the 2014 Academy Awards:
12 Years A Slave (2013)

2015 UPDATES:

45 Years (based on the short story “In Another Country” by David Constantine)

Room 

2016 UPDATES:

Love & Friendship

Arrival

Silence

2017

Lion: From Personal Memoir to the Big Screen

Certain Women

Mudbound

2018

Wildlife

2019

Little Women

 

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What are your favourite film adaptations of literary works?

 

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