Showing posts with label Movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Movies. Show all posts

Monday, November 17, 2014

Death Comes to Pemberley Miniseries

Readers, I just fell in love with a Jane Austen Knock-off (spin-off, whatever you want to call it) miniseries.  I know, just go ahead and take away my Jane-Austen-reverer-book-blogger license.  Go ahead.  It was Sunday evening and I was dying of one of those absolutely disgusting chest colds that leaves you gasping for breath and weakly sipping hot tea.  I was absolutely done with reading a book that I was making no progress on and the dog was yapping out the window.  I decided to start the fairly new Death Comes to Pemberley Miniseries.  I was suspicious.  I've heard lots of people who were tepid at best about P.D. James's classic mystery, but I was desperate for some distraction and it had good actors, so Death Comes to Pemberley it was.

Now, to be fair to this series, I'm not sure how different it was from the book (and I've remedied that and have it on hold from the library), but because of the not-great reviews of the book, I was absolutely stunned by how well-done the movie was.  The characters seemed like they had developed, but not in a forced way.  I was especially impressed by Mrs. Bennet.  She was her usual attention-grabbing obnoxious self without being over-done (a tragedy done to Mrs. Bennet many times over in both knock-off books and films).  My favorite characters were, really, Darcy and Lizzie.  Their relationship seemed to have grown from this romantic thing that has been swooned over for ages into a grown-up, married couple with kids relationship that I found quite charming.  But they really were still Darcy and Lizzie.

Here's a brief synopsis of this 3-part series:  The Darcys are planning a ball for the neighborhood when, suddenly, a hysterical Lydia Bennet arrives shrieking that shots were heard in the woods after Wickham and Denny ran into the woods.  Darcy starts a search and they discover Wickham with a dead Denny crying in distress.   Following are tense court scenes, cute shots of the Darcy's son, Fitzwilliam, who is perpetually getting into trouble, scenes below-stairs among the horrified servants, and up-stairs scenes between the Darcys, Georgiana, who is justifiably upset by seeing Wickham again, and the whole Bennet family, who turns up at a rather inopportune moment.

I have to say, if you haven't read the book, then the multitude of references will go completely over your head.  This is not a movie for somebody who hasn't read and seen Pride and Prejudice 5,000 times.

But anyway, it was a good miniseries and I watched all 3 hours in one go.  It was pretty fabulous, although exhausting.  The one thing that did throw me off was the actors.  I have this weird combination of faces for all of the P&;P characters that's a mix of the Colin Firth P&P, the Keira Knightley P&P, and my own imagined faces from the book.  For the first episode, I was driven completely nuts by these new faces, but my episode 2, they seemed completely normal, nay, made more sense in this setting than my odd mish-mash of faces.

I hope the book won't turn out to be a dud.  I do have my doubts, but I'm awaiting it with bated breath.  I'm also curious how my perception of it will change because of having seen this series.  But, even if you absolutely loathed the book, please check out the miniseries.  I love it.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The 100 Foot Journey

I'm taking a little break from book blogging to write about a movie that I saw recently-The Hundred Foot Journey.  I really enjoyed it and I highly recommend it.  Oh!  And there's a book by the same name on which the movie was based, so I'm excited to look for that book.  As a basic summary, The Hundred Foot Journey is about an Indian family who runs a restaurant in Mumbai.  After a group storms through their village and sets fire to their restaurant, killing their mother, the 4 children and their father flee to Europe.  They end up in a small French village, where a young sous-chef takes them under her wing.  However, things become slightly tense when the family decides to buy a restaurant just 100 feet across the street from a Michelin-star-winning French restaurant run by the town matriarch, Madame Mallory.  Things become even more complicated when it turns out that Marguerite, the sous-chef, works at this restaurant.  Meanwhile, after much conflict, the Indian restaurant begins to draw people and it becomes apparent that the one son, Hassan, is a very gifted chef.  Of course, there is the requisite romance between Hassan and Marguerite, which I quite enjoyed, but the real focus of the movie was food.

As many of you know, I quite love food and I love cooking.  I am by no means at a chef-level of cooking, but I think I am fairly skilled in the kitchen.  When I saw this movie, I was completely inspired by the gorgeous scenes of knives flying across cutting boards full of onions, spices spread liberally, and perfect omelets concocted. There was also the side-interest of the gorgeous clothes and the beautiful French countryside was, of course, perfectly gorgeous.   Marguerite wore lovely dresses that I coveted and had a bob that I am seriously considering.  However, the main interest of the movie was the food.

Now here are the things that I scoffed at:

  • The produce-There are so many scenes where markets and people's tables are shown and they are, of course, beautiful.  But the produce obviously came from a California greenhouse and were shipped to some supermarket in a Sysco truck.  Since the feeling of the movie is supposed to be one of farm-to-table eating and uber localness, this was not a good move on the filmmakers' part.  The tomatoes were the fakest looking things and the peppers were all these huge, flawless, bright red bell peppers.  No heirloom produce there.
  • There was this side-story about this chest of Indian spices that were bequeathed to Hassan.  Now this is nit-picky, but spices that are at least 20 years old should not be put into a curry.  Actually, those spices shouldn't go anywhere.  Not even a very mild dish.  I'm sorry, Hassan, they may be Mama's old spices, but they need to be lovingly put in a trunk somewhere and then you can go out and get some new spices.  Trust me, your food's going to be soooo much more flavorful.
  • They could have talked more about food.  No, I think for the average viewer, the food focus was just about at capacity.  But I want to know more!  I want to know just exactly how he was making that gorgeous looking vegetable jalfrezzi.  Heck, I want that guy to come give me some cooking lessons.  
But, really, I was able to overlook these picky things.  The movie was beautiful and the filmmakers did a wonderful job.  The movie was one of those where you feel like you've been in a different place when you emerge blinking from the theater.  I was also inspired by a great many cooking details from the movie.  After seeing Madame Mallory make the world's most perfect omelet, I am determined to master that skill.  Also, in every cooking scene, there was a cup that was full of spoons.  The cooks all pulled out a clean spoon to taste at every step.  I'm going to look for some spoons at the thrift store and do this.  I think it's a great idea!  But the thing that most inspired me the fact that nobody cooked with a cookbook.  Now, I understand that these are chefs, not lay-cooks, but I was still impressed.  

After the movie, as we drove home, I contemplated food and realized that nothing else would please me except a big bowl of curry.  When I got home, I instinctively reached for a cookbook and then pulled back my hand.  No, I was going to make curry by taste.  I've always been too afraid of a complete cooking failure if I don't follow a recipe, but I finally did it!  And it was wonderful to smell the heavenly scent of curry and see the piles of steam and feel the ingredients in my hands after seeing all those things in a movie.  Here's the rough recipe of what I did:

Lamb Curry

I pulled out a 1 lb. packet of lamb cubes (we raise sheep and therefore always have a good supply of lamb in the freezer) and set that to defrost while I chopped onions and garlic and sauteed them in olive oil.  Then I added the lamb, cooked until brown, and then began to add the most important thing- the spices.  I found a little jar of curry paste at the back of the pantry and then I added garam masala, coriander, and I can't remember what else, just adding by taste and smell.  Next, I added a quart of tomatoes, half a can of coconut milk, about half of a container of yogurt, and cooked until thick.  I served it with yogurt swirled at the top and sprigs of cilantro on top of the whole thing.  And you know what?  It turned out fantastically!  I will definitely be cooking curry without a book again!  And I've become inspired to try more non-cookbook cooking, using smells and tastes to cook.  

So anyway, this is definitely a must-see if you like pretty movies or good food.  I really loved it and it was a huge inspiration.  

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday- Top Ten TV Shows/Movies

(This week, The Broke and Bookish is having us mention our top ten favorite non-book stories, meaning tv shows, movies, etc.)

It felt weird writing this post because a.) I write about books, not movies/shows and b.) I've never really reviewed or discussed movies/shows before and I couldn't think of what to write.  However, I decided that this would be an excellent exercise in writing something I'm not used to, so here goes:

1.  Little Women-This movie definitely comes in first place.  Dear, dear, Little Women.  I loved the book so much and of course, I couldn't turn the movie down.  I've seen this movie about 8 times and it never gets old.

2.  Sherlock-This fabulous TV show is one of the few shows that I actually watched all the way through without finding it ridiculously dumb by season 2.  It's smart, funny, dark, and edge-of your-seat-watching.

3.  Pride and Prejudice-The Colin Firth one, of course.  He's the only actor I've ever seen who could pull off Darcy.  There was a version that starred Keira Knightley, but the guy who starred as Darcy (can't remember his name) was kind of sad-sack.

4.  Oh Brother Where Art Thou- Another movie I've seen multiple times.  I laugh and laugh whenever I see it.  It's very loosely based on The Odyssey and is setting in the south in the 30s.  Everybody absolutely has to see this.

5.  Jeeves and Wooster- A British TV series based on the wonderful books by P.G. Wodehouse that, sadly, didn't last long, but was wonderful while it did.  Hugh Laurie was brilliant as Wooster.  Then, later, I heard he was starring as the curmudgeonly doctor in House and I was further convinced that Laurie is a brilliant actor.  Going from a bumbling aristocrat in the 20s to a smart, bitter doctor nowadays is amazing. And he sings and plays the piano. Need I say more?

6.  Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day- A funny, sweet comedy set in the 30s based on a book that I could never find (gah).  I loved this movie.  In fact, maybe I need to see this again...

7.  Little Dorrit- The Dickens series that nobody sees.  I loved, loved, loved this series.  It's interesting, exciting, romantic, and even funny at parts.

8.  Food, Inc.- The documentary that everybody has to see.  I don't usually make sweeping statements like this, but the food culture in America in particular, and the western world in general, is beautifully addressed in this documentary.  It manages to be honest and serious, yet not so depressing that you want to jump off a cliff after hearing the news.

9.  North by Northwest- I love Hitchcock and this is probably my favorite.  I sat on the edge of my seat the whole movie.

10.  Rebecca- Do you know, I have never seen the iconic Hitchcock version of Rebecca?  I've only seen an obscure Masterpiece Theater version that was made some time in the 2000s.  It was fantastic and I can wholeheartedly recommend it.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Katniss Dress

You all remember this post about my reservations (and thoughts) about the Hunger Games?  Well, the thing I didn't mention then was my love of some of the gorgeous clothes.  I think the movie writers were going for Depression-era clothes and styles and colors.  All of the kids really do look like little 30s kids during the dust bowls.

And this is what the houses look like:
But anyway, during the reaping, when two children from District 12 are taken, Katniss is wearing this gorgeous blue dress that looks like it was made from something drapey and soft, like rayon or wool.  I fell in love with the dress and it's gorgeous 40s-esque details.  

I loved everything from the ruching at the shoulders to the tie belt to the pretty little glass buttons.  After lengthy google searches, I discovered that no pattern company can design this dress because of copyright laws.  Somebody on Etsy is making them for $300.  Well, no thank you (although, to be fair, if I were making dresses for people, I'd probably charge $300, too).  So I set out to find fabric and a similar pattern to make a dress like this.  I found several patterns, but none of them were really that close to this.  Later, I was up in the sewing room and what should my eye fall on, but some gorgeous blue rayon that was just slightly darker than this fabric.  A bit later, I was searching through my patterns, looking for something that would be similar to the dress and what should I find, but a pattern that was very similar.  I nearly passed out, I was so excited!  

I'm just going to use the bodice from this pattern.  I'll use a shorter, slightly less full skirt pattern and sleeves from a 40s blouse.  I'll also take off the collar and turn the dress into a v-neck. I'll make a wearable muslin first-a dress made in cheap fabric to test run something-before I cut out the real thing.  I couldn't be more thrilled!

Here's the pattern.  I couldn't get a good picture of the fabric, so you'll just have to wait until the dress is done.  I can't wait to show you all!

(Imagine this dress with the neck in a v and with a shorter skirt.  Doesn't it look
remarkably like the real dress?)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Letter E

Claire of The Captive Reader told us all about a fun new meme that was being done on the blog Stuck in a Book.  All you do ask for a letter in the comments section and you are assigned one. Then, you have to come up with your favorite book, author, song, film, and object, all starting with that letter.  I got rather unlucky and ended up with E, so here goes:

Favorite Book:  Emma by Jane Austen
This is Emily Kimbrough

Favorite Author: Emily Kimbrough and Cornelia Otis Skinner-This one is a bit of a stretch, but these two friends wrote one of the worlds most hilarious memoirs about traveling in Europe as teenagers.

Favorite Song: El Matador by the Kingston Trio.  I am very fond of the Kingston Trio and I was so glad they had a song that starts with E!  Eavesdrop by the Civil Wars is another one.  With both these songs, it's more that I like the group than the individual song.

Favorite Movie: Enchanted made me laugh and it was a light watch, but, ultimately, Emma the movie won.

Favorite Object: This one drove me crazy.  I mean, it's not like there aren't objects that start with E-energy drinks, ethanol, earwax, eggs...but I don't like any of those things.  I decided to go with evergreen tea.  Yes, that is such a thing.  I forget where I found it, but we had a box of it and used it up very quickly.  That pine-y scent is delicious in tea.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

My Favorite Movies

When I don't read in the evenings, I like to watch British drama.  That's really the only kind of movie that I consistently love.  Yes, I do watch other things (remember the Hunger Games?), but British dramas will always hold a special place in my heart.  So, I'm going to take a break from my usual book blogging today and give you my list of favorite movies, almost all of them British.

1.  Pride and Prejudice- The 1995 version with Colin Firth...swoon. This is my all-time favorite movie.  I would cheerfully watch this once a month for the rest of my life.  However, be warned- this movie is 4 1/2 hours long.

2.  Two of my favorite actors- Colin Firth and Judy Dench.  This movie is laugh out loud funny at parts and also just a good romantic story.

3.  Sense and Sensibility- Another favorite.  More wonderful actors and actresses and a good plot.  I am always pleased with movies that stick closely with the book.

4.  Oh, Sherlock.  This is a close second with Pride and Prejudice.  The actors are fantastic, the plot extremely gripping, and I love John Watson and Sherlock's friendship.  I think it's one of the most affectionate male friendships I've ever seen on screen.

5.  Another Jane Austen.  This one is a little more serious in nature than some of Austen's books, but still very good.

6.  Enchanted April- Oh, this movie was wonderful.  I read the book first and then somebody told me, "Oh, did you know that there is a movie from this book?"  I immediately watched it.  The ending is so feel-good and happy and the characters are all likable in different ways.

7. One of my favorite Dickens-based movies.  This is a mini-series and I kind of liked that because they could include more of the story than if it had just been a 2 hour movie.  Slightly dark, like all of Dickens, but a happy ending and redemption for the likable characters.

8.  Yes, I finally saw this.  And oh, what a wonderful movie it was.  I thought it was interesting to see a young Maggie Smith and Helena Bonham Carter.  This is the first time I had seen Julian Sands, who played George Emerson.  I am curious-is he still acting?  What kinds of movies?  I thought he did a fantastic job as the hero in this movie, but that was 30 years ago.

So those are my favorite movies.  What are yours?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hunger Games Thoughts

(This isn't a book review, but musings about a book.  If you want the basic plot of the Hunger Games before you read my thoughts, go to Good Reads.)  

For months (probably years by now) I have had people telling me that I need to read and watch the Hunger Games.  I was quite reluctant for several reasons.  First of all, I had read the first book and thought that the writing was, frankly, not that great.  Second, I have a (slightly irrational) dislike of young adult fiction as a class.  I think that it's kind of ridiculous that teenagers have to have their own category of books.  You read the children's section until you're sick of it, then you gently ease into the adult section.  I also found it highly ironic that the people reading/watching the books/movies are being entertained by the killing just like the members of the Capitol.  However, last night at the behest of my family, I sat down and watched the first Hunger Games.  Before I sat down, I decided I was going to step out for the worst of the gore.  There actually were only three huge battle scenes, so I didn't actually miss huge portions of the movie.

Several things struck me while I was watching the movie.  1.  This story is a huge social commentary.  That's something I didn't realize when I first read the book.  Sure, the story is for entertainment, but there's a deeper point behind the pretty basic tale of kids in a dystopian society.  Are we, like the people of Panem, entertaining ourselves to death?   I was interested to read that Suzanne Collins thought of the Hunger Games while switching channels between a sports game and Iraq war footage.   2.  I don't think that many watchers/readers get how serious the message is. Actually I don't think you really can if you're, say 10.   3.  And this is completely shallow...I'm sorry.  I liked Gail (the boy back home that loves Katniss) better than Peeta (the boy who is in the Hunger Games and ends up with Katniss).  He has principles, something Peeta apparently doesn't really have.  And, I just think he's a nicer person.

My third thought deserves a whole paragraph unto itself.  I'm going to have a little spoiler here, so if you don't want to know what happens at the end of the first book/movie, stop reading.  At the end, Peeta and Katniss (our heroine) survive.  They have been told that they can be a team, so they don't end up killing each other.  Finally, after everybody else is dead, there is an announcement that, never mind, they will have to kill each other.  Katniss pulls a move that nobody is expecting.  She takes a handful of deadly berries and tells Peeta that they're both going to eat them and die, leaving no winner.  Now, let's stop right there (I promise this isn't the end).  You all know that I am a sucker for happy endings (in fact, I'd probably hate the writers if I hadn't thought of this plot ending myself), but what would have happened if Katniss and Peeta had eaten the berries and died?
It would have been a huge statement.  Think what would have happened- here is the Capitol with no winner, no huge victory parade and medals, no crown.  It would have shown all the watchers the true horribleness of the Games.  It would have said, look, the whole point of the games is death and entertainment.  There would probably have been a whole lot of rage and uprising and, hopefully the end of the games.  Of course, that isn't what happens.  A voice yells, "Stop!" and the two are safely carted home with much fanfare.

So now you know what I think about the Hunger Games.  I think I will go ahead and read the books and I'm definitely going to watch the next movie.