Tess of the d’Urbervilles (2008)

3 Kernels

Stars: Gemma Arterton, Hans Matheson, Ruth Jones, Jodie Whittaker, Eddie Redmayne and others.

Type: BBC Television Series

 

People complain about The Price of Innocence being a book that touts the message “life is a bitch and then you die,” well you can add this story to the list. Talk about depressing. This is BBC’s four-hour adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s book (which I have not read, by the way).

It was one of those stories that breaks your heart through the majority of the series, as you watch young Tess struggle through a life of poverty during the Victorian era. She could have been a woman of potential in spite of her lot in life, but bad choices, poor circumstances, and the men she encounters is enough to make you go for a Skinny Cow after the bag of popcorn.

I found it to be well portrayed in acting, setting, and costumes. I must say you get caught up in each of the character’s lives. You feel terribly sorry for Tess’ life and struggle of survival. I found myself becoming very angry at her unforgiving husband, who frankly I blamed just as much for the outcome of her life. As far as the man who manipulates her to destruction, well, I could have killed him too.

If you can handle the outcome of the story, it’s a good watch. But if you’re looking for an uplifting story to leave you feeling great, move on elsewhere. Otherwise, you’ll overeat during this sitting. It’s hard to toss a TV across the room because the story dragged you down.

I’ll skip the favorite character, lines, and scenes in this one.

Lost in Austen (2008)

5 Kernels

Stars: Jemima Rooper, Elliot Cowan, Hugh Bonneville, Alex Kingston and many other wonderful individuals.

Type: Four-part 2008 British television series for the ITV network

 

If you’re obsessed with accuracy and looking for a perfect Jane Austen rendition, move on. But if you’ve ever read the book, saw an Austen movie, and closed your eyes and wished that you could go back in time and live in Austen’s time period, this is story for you. How many of us wish we could be part of Darcy’s world? Meet a man with manners or live in a world without TV’s, iPods, computers and learn what the true intercourse of conversation meant? Our modern lifestyles would actually make it very hard for us to adapt into a time and place we merely romanticize about in our minds. How odd those characters would think our mannerisms were in return!

The series does just that, only Amanda’s arrival sort of “buggers” up the story, if you get my drift. One night as she reads her favorite Austen book of Pride and Prejudice, the fantasy begins. Elizabeth Bennett enters through a door in her bathroom, of all places, and comes from the past into the future. After their first encounter, Amanda chalks it up to delusion and needing a break. When Elizabeth shows up again, her life takes a turn toward fantasy. Amanda hadn’t planned on going back in the past, but Elizabeth loves the future. She shuts the door behind her and leaves Amanda to enter the book world of Pride and Prejudice – right at the very beginning. The door back into the future remains locked. She tries to acclimate herself to the times, which often is quite humorous. The plot goes haywire, and Amanda tries to fix the story.

Darcy, of course, is wonderfully attractive, the absolute snob, who can’t figure out why he’s “tormented” and attracted to a woman he frankly considers vulgar–Amanda. It’s fiction living inside of fiction – a phenomenal idea.

All I can say to the die-hard Austen fans, is lighten up folks! It’s meant to be fun and enjoyable, not a perfect rendition of the original. It’s called creative liberty. What always amazes me about obsessed fans of certain genre, is that they treat the originals as if they were written by the finger of God on stone, and we’re not to change, alter, or enjoy it in any other manner. That, I think, is a great shame.


Favorite Character: Darcy, of course! Duh…Elliot Cowan is extremely dreamy in the role and has become my favorite Darcy (sorry Colin).

Favorite Lines: Mr. Bingley: [after Amanda sings ‘Downtown’] Brava, Miss Price! And whenever life is gettin’ me down, I shall be sure to go ‘downtown’. Eh, Darcy? (Unfortunately, Amanda’s singing of “Downtown” was removed from the DVD collection. Bummer.)

Favorite Scene: Darcy dipping into the pond and coming up with his white shirt clinging to his sexy body, just so Amanda can relive Colin Firth’s role in P&P.

NOTE: At one time, Lost in Austen was going to be made into a movie set in New York City, rather than in Britain. Nora Ephron is noted as the Director, filmed by Sony Pictures, and there is still reference of a 2013 release. I cannot find anything that says the movie has actually gone to production.

Goya’s Ghosts (2007)

3 Kernels

 
Stars: Javier Bardem, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård, and
Randy Quaid

Type: Movie (Disturbing Images)

Not much leaves me speechless when it comes to stories, but I must say this one for me personally ranked in the deeply disturbing row. I like historical films; and, yes, history isn’t very pretty at times. The Spanish Inquisition, as portrayed in this film, and the human suffering of innocent souls sickened me. This movie is not for the faint or tender of heart.

As far as the quality of the movie, it was well acted and directed. Natalie Portman’s portrayal of an innocent woman was spot on. Your heart breaks for her suffering and her plight of being locked up and tortured for turning away a pork dinner. Yes, you read that right. The defenders of the faith thought she was a Jew, because she turns away a bite of pork while dining out. Imprisoned, tortured, and raped, she is released after 15 years of being locked up like an animal to emerge as an unrecognizable woman who has lost her mind, all for the sake of religion.

I do not enjoy watching the “dark side” of humanity in centuries past, and the ignorance the church portrayed as messengers of a loving Christ by torturing individuals when “put to the question.” However, when I compare the cruelty and inhumane acts of men past to what is being done in the name of God today, I don’t think we’ve really evolved much as humans since the inquisition.

The three stars for a movie worth watching if you like history of this sort, but be warned you’ll not feel very happy when the credits roll by at the end. In fact, I had a knot in my stomach for days after it ended.

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