If Dubya somehow had his first intelligent thought and said no, why not the first year of Obama's presidency, please [insert deity of choice] not John McCain!
If Dubya somehow had his first intelligent thought and said no, why not the first year of Obama's presidency, please [insert deity of choice] not John McCain!
Where would I do in the world? Mmmmm......
New Zealand sounds like it might be fun, but I like the idea of perhaps moving to somewhere sunny and warm in the middle east, I'd like to live in Jordan or Lebanon (without the warring of course).wr
I have loads more (non Simon) screencaps and snarkage for all eps at pennyforyourdreams.blogspot.com should you really want see any of Dame Judi.
( Largish pictures below the cut!Collapse )
Persuasion starts with Anne Elliot, our main protagonist, rushing about her large stately house, making notes, which transpires to be an inventory of the household goods. Her house is to be rented out, as her vain and foppish father Sir Walter Elliot, played by the marvellous Anthony Head, had frittered it all away after his wife's death. That he is fond of spoiling his eldest daughter Elizabeth (Julia Davis) with strawberries and extravagant ringlets, has nothing to with being broke. Anne, who we have already guessed from her plain clothes and scraped back hair, in contrast to her flamboyant relatives, is the sensible one.
She pleads with her friend and confidante Lady Russell (the wonderfully nuanced Alice Krige) to stop her father and sister from being so free with their money and settle quietly in a rented house to save money. The house is to be rented to Admiral Croft and his wife, who as soon as they move in are taken aback at the number of mirrors, all belonging to Sir Walter, who is so vain, he carries a small mirror fastened at his wrist lest he go five minutes without seeing his own reflection.
As both father and elder daughter are set on glamorous Bath instead, Anne eventually waves them both off, in an ostentatious carriage and instead lodges with her sister Mary Musgrove (Amanda Hale), who is a hypochondriac bore. Mary professes ill health and then contradictorily proceeds to inhale the contents of the tea tray in one vast inward breath. Anne is saved from a fate worse than her sisters company all afternoon, by the arrival of her brother-in-law Charles Musgrove (Sam Hazeldine) and his cousins, Louisa and Henrietta Musgrove (played respectively by Jennifer Higham and Rosamund Stephen). Both of whom are willowy and pretty, but at the same time appear far plainer than Anne.
Both Anne and Mary are asked to tea up at the big house and when they get there are told that Captain Frederick Wentworth will be arriving soon. A successful and handsome naval officer who is the brother of Mrs. Croft, Anne's tenants. At this news Anne is upset, and Sally Hawkins, a fine and talented actress, displays all of Anne's dismay, repressed excitement and suppressed love in a scene not lacking in vast amount of tears and snot.
Wentworth (the incredibly gorgeous Rupert Penry-Jones) is Anne's lost love, he had proposed eight years ago, but was refused by Anne's family and Lady Russell as he was only a lowly naval officer then, but now after a short and successful career has returned, as a man of substance and means. And of course, in the words of Jane Austen herself, "a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife", and so he becomes the neighbourhoods most eligible bachelor.
Anne it seems is fated to meet Captain Wentworth when asked to dinner, but a small child with a dislocated shoulder, which is popped back into it's socket by Anne herself, puts paid to that; however the child's parents both think they ought not disturb their own plans for the evening!
Eventually Wentworth comes to visit and catches sight of Anne, whereupon both he and Anne try to avoid each other as far as common courtesy and politeness will allow, but on a walk during which Louisa flirts outrageously with Wentworth and launches herself off a stile straight at his head, Anne manages to trump her and flings herself off a tree and into a river. She is rewarded with Wentworth tenderly gazing down at her bedraggled form as she comes round now that they've pumped all the water out of her lungs.
Anne and the Musgroves now decide to go to the seaside, but not for them sandy beaches, ice creams and deckchairs, no, they go on holiday, in what appears to be winter and stroll up and down the wettest, slipperiest and bleakest looking seafront in Britain.
I can only imagine that Wentworth's ulterior motive was to lure everybody to the end of the walkway, let them get washed off and carry Anne off on his horse. Alas this doesn't occur as Louisa Musgrove in a vain attempt to get Wentworth to notice her ability to fly, attempts her now patented stile vaulting routine, 10 feet in the air from the top of a flight of steps, onto concrete. Wentworth, ever the sensible fellow, realises that the weight of girl, corset, bonnet and ringlets from that height would squash him quite flat, moves imperceptibly out of the way, hoping that the girl's petticoats will act as a parachute and she'll glide safely down to him. Unfortunately Louisa decides to launch herself head first and manages to sustain a serious injury. Anne resists the temptation to throw herself in the ocean in an attempt to get attention and instead inspects the inside of Louisa's bonnet which appeared to be the only thing holding her brain in.
Wentworth, Anne and Henrietta travel back home to break the news of Louisa's accident to her parents and Wentworth and Anne exchange smouldering looks, while Captain Benwick and Captain Harville, friends of Wentworth, stay with Louisa, Mary and Charles.
While at the seaside a man later known to be William Elliot (Tobias Menzies), who it transpires is to inherit Sir Walter's estate after his death, is seen to observe the party and Anne in particular. More of him later.
Anne now travels back to Bath to rejoin her father and sister, who have been making the best of society and ingratiating themselves with distant relative, who has the distinction of being a Viscountess. They both practically prostrate themselves when she is in the room.
Anne of course is far too sensible and intelligent for such nonsense and she spends more time in the company of her friend Mrs. Smith (Maisie Dimbleby), who is not in the best of health. Her father takes great exception to these visits and berates her quite vituperatively.
While in Bath, William Elliot pays a visit to Sir Walter on the pretence that he wants to make amends for their previous falling out. Sir Walter labours under the impression that William wants to marry one of his daughters. William's actual aim is to prevent Sir Walter from marrying Mrs. Clay, Elizabeth's widowed companion. As Mrs. Clay is young and still capable of childbearing, he's afraid that a wedded union would strip him of his inheritance.
William makes himself agreeable to Anne and appears quite an honest and good man, the benefits of her marriage to him, especially at her advanced age would, mean that she would get to live back in her beloved house, but despite his kind and charming manner her obvious love for Wentworth, she finds her resolve being assailed by the persuasive remonstrations of her father and Lady Russell, and Anne feels that she could marry William and be tolerably happy.
Meanwhile back at the seaside, Wentworth and Benwick are walking in a field and discussing Wentworth's tangled love life. Wentworth knows that he doesn't want to marry Louisa, and Benwick, who was heartbroken when his first love died, tells him to seize the day, i.e Anne. Wentworth misunderstands and seizes a horse instead and rides away, but he rides in the direction of Bath, so all is not lost.
Once Wentworth reaches Bath, he hears that Anne and William Elliot are close, this disheartens him and he follows Anne around several Bath functions in a lovestruck manner, all the while trying to avoid Elizabeth's creative hairstyles and trying to get Anne alone with him.
Anne is being steered towards marrying William, and Wentworth fearing that he is too late, sends Anne a passionate love letter. Anne upon reading it finally realises that Wentworth still loves her as constantly and as passionately as she has loved him and waits for Wentworth to visit as he promises in his letter. At the appointed time, the door is knocked upon and instead of Wentworth, in walk the Musgroves.
Anne eventually tires of waiting and decides to go to find Wentworth herself, on the way she meets Mrs. Smith, who informs her that William Elliot is a scoundrel and a knave, he never wanted to marry Anne out of love, he just wanted to secure his inheritance and had managed to persuade Mrs. Clay to be his mistress. The scales fall from Anne's eyes and she decides to spurn Elliot and to run the length of Bath twice, (without her bonnet, the hussy) in an attempt to find Wentworth.
Eventually she gets tired and returns home to find Wentworth calmly standing on the doorstep talking to Charles about guns. Eventually Charles leaves them alone and love is professed, which ought to be sealed with a kiss, which takes about half a hour. Just kiss him love, you've waited eight years for this moment and now you just stand there. He's just as bad, she's short, she can't reach up that high, but he just stands there ramrod straight smirking down at her. Perhaps the kiss took so long she was just trying to catch her breath after running so far.
And what better way to end this film, but with a kiss.
Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones were both marvellous, Sally demonstrated Anne's enormous wealth of feeling for Wentworth even after such a long separation and Rupert aptly implied all of Wentworth's pent up emotion and longing for Anne. The production was beautiful and the adaptation was faithful without being slavish. Adrian Shergold, the director, brought out the best in the cast and the locations and the drama was accented with slivers of humour and wit without resorting to the campiness that affected Mansfield Park. All in all, it was a fine end to the Jane Austen season.
Felicity Jones played Catherine Morland, who was imbued with the wide eyed naivety required, who having been brought up on a diet of lurid novels, is quite ready for an adventure. As the mysterious voice-over told us, at which point my heart sank: not another blinking voice-over. Mercifully the voice-over only reappeared at the end and didn't impinge on the story at all.
Catherine's daydreams certainly put mine to shame, but then mine tend to revolve around confectionery, usually pastry based, and occasionally, violent acts of retribution towards my co workers. I also tend to steer clear of books of the ilk of "The Mysteries of Udolpho" and have a sneaking suspicion that I have led too sheltered a life. Catherine spends her reveries in fleeing saturnine and glowering men around dark, Gothic castle, complete with flowing locks and a floaty dress.
Catherine gets her chance at an adventure when Mr and Mrs Allen ask her to accompany the Bath as Mr Allen is somewhat gouty. Mr Allen (Desmond Barrit), though old and slightly infirm, shows himself to be quite a heroic person, as when Brigands attack the coach she and the Allen's are travelling in, he starts to fight them off with his crutch. Alas this all transpires to be one of Cathy's fantasies and Mr. Allen eventually reaches Bath with nary a hair out of place.
Bath was well created, with plenty of rampaging carriages, out of whose way the pedestrians must leap to safety as they barrel along at quite a lick. Anyway, once Mrs. Allen and Catherine have hit the shops for a new dress, or twelve, they make their entrance in the Assembly rooms, which are packed. Cathy and Mrs. Allen have to fight their way through the throng until they get to the tea room and have to race for the final two seats at the tea table. Which they have to quit, as there aren't any tea things and people are looking at them funny. The problem transpires that Mrs. Allen can't talk to anyone without first being introduced and as she doesn't know anyone, she can't just walk up and start chatting.
This impasse if only ended when Henry Tilney brushes past the ladies and apparently sticks Mrs. Allen with a pin. He transpires to be extremely knowledgeable about muslin, is complimentary toward both ladies and with a twitch of an eye manages to get two seats vacated for the ladies. To prevent any impropriety he then arranges an introduction from the Master of Ceremonies to allow conversation and the invitation of a dance with added devilish smirk, but only the one mind you, with Miss Morland.
JJ Feild was Henry Tilney and he is the other reason I found this film so satisfying; he's definitely easy on the eye, and portrayed Henry with charm, wit and intelligence. More importantly he can act and he looks good in britches. Though if I were him, I'd ask my agent to get me some modern dress work, I've seen him in three films: "Mrs. Beeton", "The Ruby in the Smoke" and now this. All good solid period drama, but very heavy on the tight trouser front.
I don't blame Catherine's subsequent fantasy of a devilish Henry interrupts her bath, which must have been incredibly draughty as it took place in wood. This is one of the scenes that I found slightly too modern, Catherine imagining Henry in her bath chamber was racy enough, but having her stand up in all her nakedness was just too much. Henry on the other hand looked entirely happy.
His sister Eleanor is played by Catherine Walker, and is the embodiment of sense, manners and kindness. She is the complete opposite to Carey Mulligan's dimpled, man-hungry, simpering Isabella Thorpe.
Isabella is probably the most interesting character in the film, she's capable of sweetness, kindness and is friendly, but dig a little deeper and she's venal, greedy and scheming. Despite that, you can't help but to warm to her when, after she and Catherine have been spotted by two young and handsome men in a bookshop, they haughtily exit like duchesses, only to speed into a jog up an alley to catch up with them, so Isabella can flaunt her impressive decollete at them.
Several times I feared for that girl's bosoms, she was squeezed into frocks that were so low cut that nipple-skimming is an apt word.
As wolfish John Thorpe (William Beck) is sweet on Catherine and they are soon to be related by marriage, the Thorpe's make claims on her time and conspire to get Catherine to go on carriage rides by deception. The Tilney's have already made plans with Catherine, for a walk, but John insists that he saw them heading in the other direction on a different excursion and manages to get Catherine to come with them on a carriage ride.
If this were a modern day adaptation, John would drive a souped up Audi with tinted windows, bling hub-caps and the type of sound system, with bass so deep that it causes tectonic shifts. He drives so fast that Catherine needs two hands to keep her bonnet on and he doesn't stop, either, when he nearly runs over Mr. Allen, who angrily shakes his crutch at them, or when she spies the Tilney's walking along and wants to get off. His lame excuse is that he wanted to get to know her and that his sister couldn't possibly be left on her own with her brother, it wouldn't be proper.
Catherine's imagination now goes into overdrive, imagining rugged men tying Isabella to a bed in a diaphanous nightie and being pursued by persons unknown through a dark and forbidding castle.
Meanwhile, back in Bath, while wearing a symbolic red feather, Isabella is deflowered by Frederick Tilney and piteously asks if they're engaged now. Doh! Haven't you seen the length of his sideburns love? Sideburns like these only grace the faces of dissolute, rakish reprobates. Next time take a ruler with you.
When Catherine is found snooping in Mrs. Tilneys dusty room by Henry, she confesses her theory and is castigated by him for entertaining such a stupid notion. That night she is woken by Eleanor and told that she has to leave immediately as they have a hitherto forgotten engagement. So poor Catherine, believing that Henry has told his father her assumptions, is sent away and is forced to share a coach with unwashed rustic types, who offer her what looks to be raw tongue as a repast, which she declines politely and one man who travels with a pot of liquor in one hand and live goose in the other.
Soon after, Henry comes to call to apologise and after politely drinking the proffered lemonade, he asks Catherine to accompany him to see the Allen's. An annoying sister pipes up that you can see the house from here, evidently believing Henry to be a dunce, but Mrs. Morland shushes her and practically shoves Catherine out of the door with him.
Of course this is a costume drama, so a proposal is now offered and accepted and all is happy ever after. Apart from Isabella who desperately tried to get James back via Catherine, and General Tilney, who is estranged from Henry and apparently now spends most of his time grumpily striding through grounds of his estate alone.
An interview with Andrew Davies can be found here.
The cast was youthful, with two very recognisable faces in prominent roles: Billie Piper as Fanny Price and Michelle Ryan as Maria Bertram. In addition to whom, Hayley Atwell played the scheming Mary Crawford and Catherine Steadman played Julia Bertram.
The boys in breeches were: Rory Kinnear as Mr. Rushworth, Blake Ritson as Edmund Bertram, Joseph Beattie as Henry Crawford and the delicious but sadly little used James D'Arcy as Tom Bertram. Adding some age and gravitas to the cast were Maggie O'Neill as Aunt Norris, Jemma Redgrave as Lady Bertram and Douglas Hodge as Sir Thomas Bertram, who were both far too young to be the parents of such aged children, did they start popping the sprogs out when they were 12?
Mansfield Park is the story of Fanny Price, a poor relative taken to live with her rich Aunt and Uncle as their home and is brought up alongside her cousins Maria, Julia, Tom and Edmund. Out of all her cousins only kind Edmund takes any notice of her and is kind to her. We are told this in Fanny's voiceover, which is never a good sign. I'm not a fan of voiceovers. As I'm familiar with the novel, I tend to find them patronising. In this case it was used as exposition, but it did feel a bit clunky.
After beginning with the brief introduction of young Fanny at Mansfield Park, the story speeds forward to a now grown up Fanny Price and her cousins. Maria is a vain woman, engaged to be married to Mr. Rushworth, who is a silly man and infatuated with Maria. Julia her sister is Maria's twin in all but years and Tom is a layabout, drunk and gambler. Only Edmund is steadfast and good, and is just about to be ordained as a clergyman.
While Sir Thomas is away on business in the West Indies, trouble comes to call in the shape of brother and sister Henry and Mary Crawford, a handsome pair of siblings, with flowing locks on one side and the obligatory period drama bosoms on the other.
You know they are going be bad news, his cravat is unnecessarily flouncy and she wears very fancy hats. Their plan is to marry Henry off to Julia, while Mary sets her sights on Tom. Things do not go to plan, Henry catches the eye of the already engaged Maria and Mary has to make do with Edmund as Tom is out carousing and betting on horses. Both Henry and Mary are shallow but calculating characters and they are portrayed very well by the actors. Unfortunately neither of them is entirely capable of speaking in regency grammar and sounding authentic. Almost all the characters are unable to make the period dialogue sound convincing and realistic and it shows.
The Crawfords convince the Bertrams to put on a play, how racy! Which eventually comes to nothing as Sir Thomas returns from the West Indies and shows his disapproval by glowering and burning the scripts, by which time Mary has beguiled Edmund, to the disapproval and disappointment of Fanny.
Maria foolishly marries Mr. Rushworth, who was brilliantly brought to life by Rory Kinnear (an actor who I think will go far) as a vain, foppish and silly man. Sir Thomas in a fit of insight, plainly asks Maria if she is happy to marry Rushworth, as he has noticed her attraction to Henry. Maria replies that she is very happy to marry Mr. Rushworth and so they are married and Maria leaves the family home for her own in London.
Now Henry deprived of Maria and the younger Julia turns his attentions to Fanny, he seems quite taken with her sweetness and in his pursuit of her affections arranges to get her sailor brother William a commission on a ship.
Unfortunately when Henry comes to propose, Fanny turns him down, she only has eyes for Edmund; this makes her Aunt and Uncle unhappy. Aware that Fanny is poor and therefore not particularly marriageable, they are horrified that she refused. As punishment they leave poor Fanny all alone in the house while they go to visit Lady Bertram's sister. This made me quite angry, the writer deviated from the book considerably by entirely writing out the rest of Fanny's family, whom she goes to visit (in the book) instead of rattling around a house on her own. Regardless of that deviation, this treatment of course has no effect as, Mr Crawford is again rebuffed when he comes to call.
By this point Edmund is a certified clergyman and Mary Crawford is pleading with him to take up law instead to of the church, despite her attraction to Edmund she doesn't want to even dance with a clergyman, let alone marry one.
When Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram return home, they bring Tom back with them. He is gravely ill, as his drinking and carousing have left him very ill. But you'll be glad to know after the icky application of leeches (ew) and bed rest, with Fanny reading the Racing Post to him, he's soon better. Edmund is also home to check on his brother, and this is when the news reaches them that Mr Crawford, reeling after Fanny's cruel rejection, retreated to London where he visited Maria Rushworth and was comforted by her ample bosom. Scandalous. Of course Aunt Norris avers that it's all Fanny's fault, if she hadn't refused Mr Crawford, Maria would never have been in that situation.
Mary Crawford, trying to salvage something from the now extremely awkward situation, tries to get Edmund to intervene and get Henry and Maria married, so that the path to Edmund and her own nuptials be smoothed. Edmund finally sees Mary for the scheming gold digger she is and sends her packing.
Edmund eventually sees that Fanny is the girl for him, in the most hammy acting I've ever seen. The realisation that he loves Fanny dawns over his face in a second and he practically does a double take of Fanny. He may as well have stood up and said: "Why Miss. Price, you're beautiful!" Before you know it, they're married and are waltzing on the lawn.
The problem with the film was not the cast, they were uniformly good, with extra kudos, from me at least, going to Jemma Redgrave and Douglas Hodge playing the indolent Lady Bertram and the slightly tyrannical Sir Thomas respectively. They were such an engaging couple that I wanted the story to focus more on them than on the younger cast. This is never a good thing especially when they aren't the main focus of the story.
Setting aside the changes made to the story, the cast were good, who were unfortunately not entirely able to carry off the period dialogue realistically and this was a big problem. I didn't see them as the characters and Billie as Fanny Price was sweet, toothsome and winsome, but that just wasn't enough. The writer Maggie Wadey managed to take the story and iron nearly every piece of wit and humour out of it. Aunt Norris should've been a figure of ridicule and humour, instead when she finally leaves to live with Maria, you're glad to see that back of the old bat!
It's impossible not to measure this production up against the juggernaut that was "Pride and Prejudice", which just isn't fair, on it's own merits it was perfectly fine, but compare it and the lack of humour, uneven script and a relatively young cast, mean that it although it was enjoyable, it's not going to go down as a classic. Despite this, when Fanny and Edmund dance on the lawn at their wedding, I had a huge grin on my face, what can I say, I'm a sucker for a happy ending.
I also have a new crush du jour: Alex Jennings.
You may recognise him from "The State Within" (also featuring many other OBA's, including the aforementioned Jason Isaacs), out of one episode of the current series of "Waking the Dead" and if you are a theatre going person, many theatre productions and he recently played Prince Charles in "The Queen".
There is a great website for him here, and a pretty good gallery here. Any other Alex Jennings fans out there? I'm feeling lonely at the moment!