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Entries from Cinecultist tagged with 'Jane Austen movies'

Fitzwilliam Darcy + Elizabeth Bennett= <3

Cinecultist feels a little remiss in not blogging about this before but PBS's stalwart Masterpiece Theater has been trying to revive their following with an intensive series of Jane Austen movies. Everybody in TV Land loves a good Jane story, right? Over the last two months, they've been showing new versions of the novels and some of the old favorites, as well as a biopic on Jane and her infamous spinsterhood called Miss Austen Regrets. Though we often enjoy Olivia Williams (she's great in Rushmore), this depiction by her of a flighty and flirty, yet bleakly single 40-year-old Jane bummed CC out. PBS would do better to just stick with enacting the stories she wrote, rather than entertaining idle speculation on her actual life, in our opinion.

Luckily this week's MT installment was part 2 of the totally classic Pride and Prejudice from '96 with Jennifer Ehle and featured that wonderful moment where Colin Firth leaps into the lake partly clothed (see the YouTube below for a refresher. Or for some funny examples of the world-wide obsession over this performance, some of YouTube's passionate clip files devoted to CF. They made us feel a little dirty.)

This series is still some darn good fun, despite the number of times Cinecultist has watched it over the years. All of the actor's performances really revel in the satire's ridiculousness, from the hyperbolic vocal inflections of Mrs. Bennet to the twitchy sidelong glances between the sets of lovers. Particularly in the scene after the lake jump, where Lizzie happens upon a damp Darcy striding up the grass, and they have that wonderfully awkward exchange. She's just been thinking about how great his house is and he's just been thinking about how he really has to get over her and it's clear as day on both of the actor's faces. The tension is deliciously palpable. Ehle and Firth really earn their paychecks with that conversation.

While it's great to revisit these old miniseries friends, Cinecultist has had mixed reactions to some of the other new adaptations. We liked the Persuasion because they made Captain Wentworth (Rupert Penry-Jones), the aging bachelor who has come back for worthy Anne Elliot, quite virile and attractive. But Northanger Abbey was just so-so, too much riffing on the Gothic novels and Henry Tillney should've been mousier while the vivacious blond Fanny in this Mansfield Park wasn't mousy enough. However we're still watching particularly since the new Sense and Sensibility airing on March 30 and April 6 was directed by Andrew Davies, who did that P&P. We're holding out hope for his interpretation being particularly innovative.

Jane Austen Redux

janeaustenpencilsketch.jpgCinecultist sometimes has a terrible memory. We know that we read The Jane Austen Bookclub a few years ago because it's sitting right there on the bookshelf and vaguely we recall enjoying it. But plot, characters and themes are all a bit fuzzy. There's a book club? They read Jane Austen's six books together? Romance, intrigue or something or other? Watching a trailer for the movie version which comes out on Sept. 21 rang a few distant bells. Oh well, with a cast this good (Maria Bello, Emily Blunt, Hugh Dancy, Amy Brenneman, Kathy Baker, Jimmy Smits and Maggie Grace) we'll probably be seeing it regardless of if we can remember the finer points of the story.

Another Jane Austen reworking on the movie horizon is Anne Hathaway's Becoming Jane, a fictionalized biopic which imagines that Jane's spinsterhood sprung from a disappointed great love. It is out Aug. 3. While CC always finds Hathaway charming and thought this was also a good role for the on-the-cusp-of-stardom James McAvoy, it plays a little too fast and loose with what we understand as Jane's life story. To suppose that one of the greatest romantic comedy wits ever had some sweeping movie-style affair in her life is just a little too Hollywood convenient.

In case you couldn't tell, Cinecultist is very protective of Madam Austen. We don't want to see her too tinkered with, just to tap into a continuing trend from the '90s. We take appropriations of her work and her person oddly personally. If you're going to riff on her, ye puny novelists and filmmakers, we demand you be smart about it. To get into what Jane Austen's writing means to CC would probably take more than just one blog post but suffice it to say, she's the patron saint of all smart girls and we've read all her books (even the childhood ephemera) more than once. Going into a mild-mannered Hollywood movie with that much baggage and pre-conceived notions is never going to turn out well. Or could it? Will our decade plus obsession make Cinecultist the perfect critical audience these two movies, one highly tuned into the potential pitfalls and pleasures of the subject matter?