Austenland (Movie Review 2013)

Keri Russel, JJ Feild, Jennifer Coolidge, Bret McKenzie, and Jane Seymour star in the mildly (and I mean mildly) entertaining movie about an obsessed Jane Austen fan who sets off to England for a dream vacation. Her dream, of course, is to be transported back into time by living in an English manor house, filled with Regency era characters, costumes, and lifestyles.  Unable to find her perfect Mr. Darcy in life, she hopes to at least find him in a short, fantasy-filled vacation.
Unlike the series Lost in Austen, she acclimates fairly well to her surroundings.  Of course, everyone is really in the 21st century, though they are encouraged to live in the early 19th century.  The ladies pay to stay in a house full of actors from the footmen to the other guests, in the hopes that at their last night they have received a proposal of marriage from one of the cast.
Jennifer Coolidge, as usual, plays a rather ditzy blonde.  JJ Feild is the resident snobbish Darcy-type.  Bret McKenzie is the servant help, though he comes across as just another modern employee taking care of the horses and landscape. Keri Russell, who plays Jane (of course) Hayes, is the modern woman looking to fulfill her Austen fantasies.
Even though Jane arrives filled with anticipation, she seems to teeter between reality and fantasy. She has purchased the “cheap” package and is relegated to the servant quarters for her room upon arrival. The other guests are lodging in the opulent surroundings. During her stay she becomes attached to what she thinks is the real-life help, rather than being attracted to the snobbish Darcy-type actor.  As the story plays out, each character falls for someone either in their fantasy world or in reality.  However, I won’t tell you who is who.
The movie is mildly entertaining and not as good as Lost in Austen.  Probably the best part is when the man she eventually falls in love with declares his feelings. When she balks they are still living a fantasy, he says in his dreamy English accent, “But Jane, don’t you understand. You are my fantasy.”  (Or something along those lines.)  Then the romantic kiss.
In any event, it’s a weak three kernel story and currently streaming on Amazon.
PS – As for me, I’m not really a Darcy girl.  I’m more the Captain Wentworth type from Persuasion by Jane Austen.    “Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you.”

HER (Movie Review 2014)

If you haven’t seen it, you might enjoy it – then again, you might not. It’s a movie about the human need to connect.

Set a few decades ahead of 2014, HER is about a society that is in touch with technology.  If you think it’s bad now with everyone’s telephone in their face, you’ve seen nothing yet.  Society is technology hyped, though I can’t say that the fashions have evolved much in the movie.
Basically, it’s about a man going through a divorce, who is lonely and broken. His dating endeavors have not been going well.  Theodore finds it hard to connect and open up to anyone – even his former wife.  However, when he’s given the opportunity to buy the latest technology – an OS (operating system) – his life changes.
Just think about it.  A perfectly programmed mate for your life made just for you.  You can choose a male or female voice.  The system grows, adapts and learns everything about you.  And while doing so, it evolves to discover what it means to be human by getting in touch with its own electronic “feelings” if you will. 
Theodore finds Samantha (his OS) easy to talk to.  They go places together.  He walks, she’s in his shirt pocket. They explore the world, talk, keep each other company, and have make believe sex.  She tells him that she is in love, and Theodore has fallen in love with HER.  
Well, it’s a complex relationship. At one point he almost walks away because of the absurdity of it all. It’s obvious he has trouble with human relationships, so should he pursue the electronic ones instead?  After a brief struggle, he throws all caution to the wind.  However, even like real relationships, it ends in heartbreak after he learns that Samantha is not a one-guy OS.  In fact, she has over 8,000 other companions and declares love to over 600.  Talk about fickle! Of course, the news devastates Theodore, and in the end, the OS’s evolve and abandon humans for their own kind (or at least that’s what I got out of it).
It’s a strange movie, but it is filled with the honesty of struggling to be a single and sole individual who has a deep need to connect.  If one can’t connect humanly, then companionship can be found electronically.  However, I strongly believe that our society is becoming disconnected because of technology.  Our phones are in our faces, along with computers, iPads, Kindles, and every other device that we use to get lost in, so we can depart from the human race.  Rather than giving us a stronger society, it is giving us a society that connects through electricity, but cannot connect humanly.
If you’re single, I think you would enjoy and relate.  Joaquin Phoenix is brilliant.  Absolutely brilliant and heartfelt through the entire movie.  He’s a man who wants to be loved and accepted.  And if that love comes from an operating system named Samantha that understands him more than any other thing on this earth, then so be it.
That is HER.  Now, if I could only have a HIM with a voice like Jeremy Northam, I’d die a happy woman with my OS next to me in bed.

I’m Really Behind!

My life has been consumed getting may latest book out the door. I have watched the following shows, but just don’t have time to write in-depth reviews.  Here are my quick two-cents:
  • Drop Dead Diva (So tell Grayson and get it over with) FOUR KERNELS – I have only watched what streamed on Netflix. I don’t have extended cable, so I’m not up-to-date on the latest seasons.
  • Lie to Me (I would be a afraid to and what a crappy cancel!!!) FOUR KERNELS – A pretty entertaining show.
  • Life (A Zen of a show) – FIVE KERNELS – I’m in love with Damian Lewis.  I could never give him less than a five-star anything.  Great show.  Sad it was cancelled.  Too bad I don’t have cable to catch him on Homeland.  I wish Netflix would stream it.
  • The Very Thought of You (Frankly, the very bore of you) – TWO KERNELS – I can’t even remember what the movie was about!
  • Survivors (We are all going to die of the flu) – TWO KERNELS – A boring apocalyptic show.  WARNING:  Make sure to get your flu shots.
I’ve rewatched: 

The Forsyte Saga – I think I have a thing for Damian Lewis or something. (Didn’t I say that already?)

I’ve started a bunch of other series, too, but couldn’t handle them.
As soon as my book is out the door, I’ll be back (sounds familiar).

Ripper Street (2013 BBC TV Series)

ripper4 Kernels

London – As Dark as it Gets
Starring:  Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn, Adam Rothenberg 
I love London.  I’ve been there twice and could go back a thousand more times.  However, in all of my tours, I’ve yet to take the infamous Jack the Ripper walk at night to retrace his steps.  After watching this show, I can safely say, “I’ll pass.”

If you’re not into the dark side of humanity, the reality of the east side of London in the 19th century, along with debauchery, crime, and suffering pass on this one.  It takes a strong constitution to sit through this show and enjoy the stories.

Matthew MacFadyen (once are beloved Mr. Darcy) has dropped the aristocratic garb to become a detective (Inspector Edmund Reid) in the worse crime area of London called Whitechapel.  He plays the role well, along with the other characters in the story such as a detective (Sergeant Bennet Drake), an American doctor (Captain Homer Jackson), along with the brothel mistress and prostitute.

Be forewarned it can get pretty ugly.  If you cannot stomach body parties, mutilation, autopsies, and the like, you probably won’t care for it.  However, as far as grit and substance depicting the dark side of London the show does a fine job.  The episodes are not only about solving the gruesome crimes, but it also contains great subplots with each character.  Inspector Edmund Reid’s situation is quite heartbreaking.

If you’re interested, check out the show website. They have a great blog about the historical facts they use in the episodes, some of which are quite shocking.  OFFICIAL SITE 

Needless to say, the British once again triumph in their ability to bring good drama to the screen.  Though I did find some of the stories deeply disturbing, sometimes you need to go beyond the fairytale aristocratic life of London and cross the river to the horrible reality of poverty and crime.

This show is a real eye-opener between the separation of class in the Victorian era.

UPDATE 5/27/16 – The show had been cancelled and resurected.  I just finished binge watching Season 3 on Netflix, which sums it up as if it’s the last in the series.  However, low and behold, it was brought back to life.  Season 3 is extremely dark and emotional, which I won’t elaborate upon less I give spoilers.  It’s full of surprises that you won’t see coming in characters who have gone to the dark side because of greed.

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