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Persuading me to read the book instead
I love Jane Austen's stories. I've only read two of them (P&P and S&S), but after having seen this adaption, I'm reaching for "Persuasion" from my bookcase just to make sense out of the story, and also, because I refusing to believe Jane Austen could have written such nonsense. For me, I thought that if you base a film on a Jane Austen novel, you can't really go wrong. It will turn out great pretty much by default. I was wrong.
First of all, where are the characters that you sympathise with and like? You have to have at least one likable character to get the audience to invest their emotions in them, and this did not deliver. Sure, I wanted Anne and Wentworth to get together, but only because that's what you know the purpose of the story is, them getting together. Instead, I had to resist urges to throw my teacup at the TV and to continue watching it to the end.
Anne was utterly annoying throughout, and in the end, I really have no idea why Wentworth was so smitten by her, as there seemed to be nothing there for him to be attracted to. She was meek, bland, dull, socially inadequate and came across like a sheep following everyone else's instructions rather than having a mind of her own. This can still work for a lead character, if you do it well. This wasn't done well.
The other characters were just displaying various degrees of narcissism, of which Mary was the worst, with a full-blown narcissistic personality disorder. Where Mrs. Bennet in P&P had similar flaws, she was still endearing, whereas Mary was more of a freak-show. More loathsome than funny.
Wentworth was very handsome and seemed like a decent kind of guy. For the most part of the story, I was just wondering what kind of person he was and why he's in love with Anne, as surely, he's the kind of guy who would want a person who is a little bit more... alive? Acting-wise, not too much to say, as I reacted more to the characters being portrayed rather than how good/bad the people acting were. Anthony Head was excellent, but as soon as I saw he was in it, I expected no less.
Also found the story very confusing. It wasn't until the end of the movie where it seemed as if Elizabeth was not Anne's stepmother, but in fact a sister (I'm still not 100% on that). The whole Anne/Wentworth back story was also a bit fuzzy. They had been together but then broke up and they're both bitter about it? How come? I was wondering this for quite some time, and the explanation seemed to be she dumped him because she was persuaded to do so by someone? But it was said in a kind of "by the by" way that it was almost missed, as if it was somehow unimportant. How can it be unimportant when it's the very core of the story?? There was also a lot of name-dropping, but no real feel for who the characters were. This Louisa person for instance, who was she? A friend? Family? What? It wasn't made very clear who the different characters are and their relationship with one another. Lady Russell was there a lot, but why? Mrs. Croft and Wentworth were brother and sister, which felt very unrealistic as Mrs. Croft looked old enough to be his mother.
The final kiss, yes it was a bit strange them kissing in the street, but I didn't really think about it, because I was too busy yelling "GET ON WITH IT ALREADY!!" at the TV, because Anne's lips trembled and trembled and trembled for what felt like ages before they actually met Wentworth's. Have SOME hesitation there, but only for a couple of seconds or so, not half a minute.
Then there's the issue of camera work. As a regular movie watcher, you don't pay attention to angles and such unless you decide to look out for it. I didn't decide to do so here, but I still noticed them. To me, that means the filmmakers are not doing a good job. A lot of conversations were with extreme facial closeups, something that should only be used when there's a really important point to be made. In this adaption, it was over-used and therefore lacked meaning. The hand-held feeling on occasion also didn't really work in a period drama. The camera work in the running scene in the end also felt too contemporary. (Not to mention the running itself.) This was the only Austen adaption I caught in ITV's Austen season. Makes me wonder if it's worth watching "Northanger Abbey" and "Mansfield Park" or if I should just read the books and leave it at that. I'm sad to say, this is a Jane Austen adaption I did not enjoy. Maybe I'll watch the 1995 version instead. The BBC are renowned for having done beautiful Austen adaptations before, after all.
The Dirty Dozen (1967)
Better than I expected
Not too bad, I thought, even though I seriously doubt any nazis would look at the black soldier and think him a nazi...
12 military inmates, several on death row, are presented with a choice: become soldiers on a top secret mission or go through with their sentences. They are trained to be efficient, and boy, they sure are eager to proove themselves.
At the training camp, it might be a bit slow, but it was a bit like one of those reality shows on TV - put a bunch of convicted felons in a camp and try to make soldiers out of them and see what happens. Surprisingly, the movie was better than I expected.
Somewhat unbelievable, perhaps, but quite amusing at times. The end bit made me very uncomfortable, considering what they did (I'm not telling what it is, don't want to spoil things), but I suppose that's just the way war is.
Watch it on a rainy day! It's kind of fun to see Telly "Kojak" Savalas, Charles Bronson and Donald Sutherland running around, although Savalas' character really needed a reality check!
Cherry Falls (2000)
Utterly stupid and far too predictable
THIS MIGHT CONTAIN SPOILERS. (I've tried not to spoil things, but you never know. At least you've been warned.)
OK, let me start by saying this movie truly is a piece of crap. My movie standards aren't all that high, but this was awful. The story is dull and unbelievable and ridiculously predictable. It didn't take a brain surgeon to know who the killer was after less than half an hour into the movie. It was blatantly obvious from the first time you saw the killer in action what to expect from the rest of the movie. The only reason I didn't change to another channel was that I wanted to see my theory being proven. Which it was.
Excess violence didn't make it better, even though I'm sure that's what the filmmakers thought. Blood-splatter all over the screen isn't my idea of an intelligent thriller. Quite the contrary. "We can't think of an interesting plot, so let's have blood everywhere and carnage and killing! Yeah!"
And the plot holes! Good grief! The killer goes after virgins only, which is what the whole movie is about. Yeah, and how does the killer know who to look for? Do kids in Cherry Falls walk around with big signs on them saying "VIRGIN" or what? "The girls were virgins because their hymens were intact" - reality check, Mr. Writer (for indeed it was a man with very poor knowledge of the female anatomy) - that you're supposed to be able to check if a girl's a virgin or not by looking at the hymen is nothing but a stupid myth.
There's so much I could say about this movie, but I think I'll save it for now, since another thing I want to have a yell about is a definite spoiler, so I won't go into that here.
My advice: Don't waste your time watching this movie. If you want blood-splatter, gore, a homicidal maniac, an innocent girl caught up in it all, and some supposed humour - watch "Scream" instead. I don't particularly fancy that one either, but at least it's better than this.
The Disappearance of Finbar (1996)
Nice scenery doesn't make up for the lack of a plot
A movie said to be Irish-English-Swedish was enough to make me watch it when it was on TV, but I must say I'm disappointed. The movie starts out in Ireland, Finbar disappears, then half the movie goes by, and then suddenly Finbar decides to phone up his old friend Danny, telling him he's in Sweden. If the movie was half-interesting and believable in the beginning, after Danny goes to Sweden, it becomes decreasingly interesting and believable.
The scenery is really nice (even though I personally can't stand being in the north of Sweden because of all the snow and the freezing cold), but lovely nature pictures of it doesn't make up for the complete lack of anything resembling a proper plot. It's far too weak! Why did Danny go all that way and through all that trouble to search for Finbar, when Finbar was a completely selfish prat who no one in their right mind could really care about (let alone the movie audience!) - which we learn from the first 5 minutes of the film? The story's so full of plot holes it could compete with a Swiss cheese!
The only good thing about it, apart from the scenery pictures, is the Irish accent, and a chance to recognise some people who were in "Michael Collins", plus Lorraine Pilkington ("Monarch of the Glen"). That's about it. Sure, you can watch this movie if you've got nothing better to do, but you'd be better off watching something else.
Born Romantic (2000)
Proof that not ALL British romantic comedies are great
When I saw "British romantic comedy" in the newspaper, I thought "YAY!" since it's one of my favourite genres. Unfortunately, Richard Curtis was not involved in writing the script to this one. If he had been, it would have been a lot better.
The movie is about three severely messed up couples, but the movie isn't all that funny (even though it's got some funny parts - for instance, the senile father was a bit of a giggle) and it's not all that romantic either. My mother complained about the attitude of the women, while I defended them saying "Well, if I was to put up with any of that lot, I'd have an attitude too!"
The characters aren't particularly interesting or even believable, and the Salsa club only seems to be in the movie for no real reason other than to be a cool place to hang out at. It just doesn't add up. The only people that seem truly real in it are two of the cab drivers! The main cabdriver, who acts like some sort of guru (and what a wise man he is!), and the one that John Thomson plays. The rest? No. No way. None whatsoever. If you want a British romantic comedy, I suggest you see one that is actually funny, or romantic... or at least written by Richard Curtis!