You’re Unbelievable

It’s no secret that I adore nearly every word Jane Austen ever wrote.  Even though I read Persuasion, the last of Austen’s published novels, 4 or 5 years ago, I just got around to seeing the 2007 film adaptation that the BBC produced last weekend.  I had no expectations other than to get lost in the English countryside, the language of long ago and the rigid propriety of traditional British culture.  What I found was a gorgeous piece of cinematography that captured every bit of the charisma, the romance and the suspense of the novel written nearly 200 years ago.  Austen managed (all the while very ill, by the way – she died shortly after finishing Persuasion, before it was even published) to capture yet again the folly of human beings, the absurdity of those members of society who consider themselves innately above others of lesser consequence and the richness of the people in this world who truly rise above such nonsense and make our species worth our salt.

England happened to be on the brink of a social revolution in 1818 when Austen wrote this gem and she made her opinions known in the hero of this tale, Captain Frederick Wentworth.  Wentworth began life in relative poverty and proposed to his beloved Anne Elliot, the daughter of a baronet, shortly before joining the Navy.  Anne’s father insisted she not marry the young Wentworth because of his lack of financial means and, being young and impressionable, Anne allowed him to persuade her to reject him despite her love for him.  More than seven years later, Captain Wentworth has moved up the ranks of the British Navy and made a considerable fortune, establishing himself as a successful, self-made man.  At the time, wealth earned rather than wealth inherited was looked down upon by the aristocracy.  Austen must have thought such a notion ridiculous, since her Captain Wentworth proved on every other page to be an intelligent, honorable man with whom the solemn Anne Elliot was still very much in love, even after a separation of nearly eight years.

When I read this, I, too became smitten with Captain Wentworth.  After seeing the film starring Rupert Penry-Jones as the swoon-worthy naval officer, I fell in love.  Why have I not seen Rupert Penry-Jones before?  Although Mr. Darcy is the finest man ever written, Captain Wentworth is indeed a very close second and Penry-Jones truly did him justice.  I may have even drooled.

I wonder if Austen was able to write such bewitching men like Darcy and Wentworth because she knew similar men (we write what we know, as they say) or if these superb characters were figments of her imagination that perhaps mirrored everything she fantasized about in a man.  Characters like the abominable Edward Cullen of the Twilight series are obviously the adolescent fantasies of bored housewives but men like Darcy and Wentworth, while capable of making the ladies fall head over feet, are characters of substance, not just reflections of every little girl’s knight in shining armor fantasy.  They have flaws, they have egos (as ALL men do), their feelings gets hurt, they hold grudges…but they get over those bruised egos and rise above their flaws and they go after the girl they can’t stand to live without.  And, thanks to Austen, they manage to say all the right things.  If Austen knew no such men in her life on whom to model her characters and instead created these men wholly from her imagination to capture all she thought ideal in a man, at least these were the fantasies of a full-grown, smart, creative and quick-witted woman.

What do you think: could men as insanely irresistible as Mr. Darcy and Captain Wentworth have actually existed?  Or are they nothing more than the Edward Cullens of the 19th century?


P.S. Be sure to tune in during the Oscars tomorrow night for our liveblog!!!


A Sorta Fairtyale With You (Gag)

*PROCEED WITH CAUTION:  Spoilers and brazenly subjective opinions abound*

“The Twilight Saga” is one of my least favorite things in the world.  (Might wanna quit

Director Chris Weitz (left), actress Kristen S...

reading if you don’t want to hear a hater’s biased opinion)  So why have I read all four books, and gone to see each film, you ask?  Because I despise uninformed opinions.  They irritate the shit out of me.  IF I’m going to hate or love something, I want to at least know what I’m talking about.  So, I feel that my hatred is validated, due to the fact that I’ve read all four plodding, terribly written, pathetic wet-dreams-of-teenage-girls stories.

I’ll admit there is much I forget from the books (probably blocked out on purpose, a sort of self-defense mechanism), but from the little I do remember, this stays fairly faithful to the first third of the source material.  I’ve always been jealous of how the Twilight films are so true to the books, but when you ponder how UNcomplex the story is, it’s not hard to understand why.

When I first heard this book would be split into two films, my immediate reaction was, “How is this even possible?  What’s the first movie going to be???  A marriage, honeymoon, and baby?”  I got my answer, which is a resounding YES.  The entire two hours are spent displaying some mild wedding planning, said wedding, the honeymoon, worrying about having sex, having sex, worrying about having more sex, getting preggers, and then having a baby.  This is fairy-tale pornography in its purest form:  What impressionable teenage girls fantasize will happen to them, until they grow up and learn that there are no Edward Cullens in the world.  (Thank god)  If it was physiologically possible, my eyes would have rolled out of right out of my head.

Cover of "Twilight (Two-Disc Special Edit...

Cover of Twilight (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Bill Condon (Kinsey, Dreamgirls, Chicago – how the hell they convinced him to helm this, I’ll never know) directed, and while he tries his damndest, there’s not much you can do when you’re making a film that’s about nothing except a several-month period of teenage weddings, sex and babies.  The look of the film is mostly lush and silky, with the exception of the god-awful wolves.  I’ll NEVER understand why, in the day and age of fucking Avatar, one of the most successful franchises of all times has CARTOONISH WOLVES.  Gah.  The acting is terrible here, and I really think that’s saying something.  This gang is always hamming it up, but here it’s worse than usual.  What’s funny is, I don’t even think Kristen Stewart or Robert Pattinson are bad actors, but as Bella & Edward, they just suck (haha, pun intended).  Watching Stewart pretend to almost have to throw up as she’s walking down the aisle (until she lays eyes on her beloved, of course, making ME want to throw up for her), or pretend to be scared to have sex, or pretend to HAVE SEX, just all of it – the gasping, the mouth biting, the twitchy eyes, it’s painful.  Pattinson lays on the valiant, and while he is less psychotically controlling here (a mild blessing) he’s no less annoying.  I find the rest of the Cullens to be horrifying actors; my high school drama club displayed better talent.  I can barely stand to even type the words “Kellan Lutz” or “Jackson Rathbone.”

The things most people are looking forward to here are the Big Sex Scene and the Big Birth Scene.  Regarding the sex: what you see on the commercial is basically exactly what you see in the theater.  A bed shaking, some kissing, some feathers.  It wasn’t sexy, or special, or even romantic, in my spiteful opinion.  Regarding the birth of “Reneesmee” (one of the WORST NAMES EVER TO GRACE HUMANITY):  I was actually looking forward to this, because it was nuts to think that this baby ripped itself out of her stomach, with daddy’s help.  It was mostly shown in brief flashes of screaming, blood, and blackness.  Meh.  They did succeed in making Stewart truly look like death warmed over for her pregnancy and delivery, which made my cruel heart happy.

I was also interested to see what this magical baby would look like, and when you finally get to see her face, she’s mostly computer-generated, which is fitting, seeing as how she was described as having adult beauty on a child/baby’s form, which is disturbing as all fucking hell.  Stephanie Meyer should have a special little spot in hell for coming up with that concept.  Along with “imprinting.”  (Shudder)  Nice to see that gem portrayed as like, finding Jesus.  So, so, so, astoundingly creepy.

Unsurprisingly, the soundtrack was great.  This franchise has no trouble landing fantastic indie/acoustic/yearning/moody acts to give it that appropriate angst-y sound.  This dreamy beaut is ranking up a high play-count in my iTunes.

My problem with the entire “Twilight Saga” is that it is simply, and wholly, a love story.  Now I’m not saying there’s something wrong with love stories (I hope I’m not that bitter and angry inside) – I think films like 500 Days of Summer, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and even Bridget Jones’s Diary are fantastic, because they have something to say ABOUT love.  Twilight has nothing to say.  It’s a love story, with zero message.  It’s like, See Spot Run.  See Boy and Girl Become Obsessed With Each Other.  I have no hope for future generations of mankind.


Life Holds For You One Guarantee, You’ll Always Have Me

I love a good celeb couple, the kind you might not expect to be together, but they’re each kind of awesome, so you feel super squee-happy that they found each other — oh wait, that’s probably just me. 🙂 Here are some of my favorites – people who I had no clue were in relationships, and when I discovered they were, I felt a burst of happiness and excitement.  Again, probably just me.  Even though I have not, nor will ever meet them, it just makes me happy that they’re together.

  • Christopher Guest & Jamie Lee Curtis – I’d love for Curtis to be my mom (I adored the way she channeled a bratty teen in Freaky Friday) and if Guest is anything like his movies (quirky, hilarious, quirky, and way quirky); I can only imagine what it would be like to hang out with them.  The aweosmeness is staggering.
  • Jessica Lange & Sam Shepard – I love Shepard from Baby Boom and Steel Magnolias (child of the 80s) and Lange is endlessly classy, gorgeous, and appears to be aging like a normal human – which makes me respect her all the more.  Plus she’s got the balls to be in crazy stuff like American Horror Story and Grey Gardens.  I had no IDEA these two have been in an almost 30-year relationship.  I also kinda heart when people are together forever withOUT being married. *Refreshing*
  • Anna Faris & Chris Pratt – The more-wonderful-by-the-week Parks & Recreation introduced me to Pratt, and after a season or two, his idiotic but lovable Andy really grew on me.  Faris is mostly adorable and can be very funny when given the right material, so it warmed my heart to hear they were together.  In my fantasies they’d be like, the funnest couple ever:  Goofy, hilarious, and charming.
  • Rachel McAdams & Michael Sheen – This is new, but I still was excited.  I cannot imagine someone disliking either of them.  McAdams is one of the most sparking, vivacious actresses around.  Sheen has that British quality that makes you love him.  He can be dramatic (Frost/Nixon), comedic (Wesley Snipes on 30 Rock anybody?  One of my favoritest things EVER!), androgynously techno (Tron: Legacy), or totes charming (he was married to Kate BECKINGSALE for goodness sake).  Plus there’s an age difference.  I LOVE age differences, and older men.  😉
  • Genie Francis & Jonathan Frakes – One of my all-time favorite celeb couples.  Soap opera princess + Enterprise First Officer = magic.  Plus, Commander Riker was one of my first major celeb crushes, and who doesn’t like Luke & Laura?  (Unless you’re under 30, then you don’t know who either of these people are) And they’ve been together for like, a hundred years, and now have some sort of online home furnishing retailer, which I find to be completely precious.  Yay for true love.
  • Megan Mullaly & Nick Offerman (aka Ron Swanson) – OH.MY.GOD.  I love these two.  I want to have lunch with them so badly, you have no idea.  Mullaly plays Swanson’s unstable ex Tammy on Parks & Rec (I know, I plug this show incessantly), and if you want your mind to be blown, watch any Ron/Tammy episode.  You’ll never look at the world the same way again.
  • Daniel Craig & Rachel Weisz – They’re hotttttt, they’re age-appropriate, they’re private, British, what more do you want?  Jesus, I’m jealous of them both.
  • Private Practice subset: *DISCLAIMER* How the hell I like so many couples from this show (yet another of my ballandchains that I refuse to stop watching) is beyond me.  It’s called love/hate, and it’s not my fault.
  1. Taye Diggs & Idina Menzel – They just had a baby; I cannot fathom the beauty this child must possess.  Unnfff!!!!!  I saw Menzel at House of Blues once, she was stunning, warm, and talented beyond belief.  She talked casually about Taye and the audience went ballistic.  Between Rent and Wicked, they’re a Broadway match made in heaven.
  2. Paul Adelstein & Liza Weil – I used to be madly in love with Dr. Cooper Freedman because he’s crazy adorable (I now loathe his self-righteous, always-putting-the-practice-at-risk pediatrician).  When I discovered that he’s married to Weil, who was Paris, the controlling, perfection-obsessed pal of Rory on Gilmore Girls (one of my many loves), I was thrilled.  And they just had a baby.  I love that Paris has a baby.
  3. Madeline Stowe & Brian Benben – Sheldon is my favorite on Practice – he’s not annoying, or stupid, and doesn’t try to ruin anyone else’s life.  Therefore, he gets crappy romantic subplots while everyone else participates in gag-inducing sex-marathon montages.  On second thought, maybe he IS lucky … anyway, turns out in real life he’s been married to Ms. Last of the Mohicans for 25 years!  YAY SHELDON!  And now she too has a show in ABC.  *Happy ending*


Caught In a Bad Romance

Whatever happened to smart, witty romantic comedies?  There’s always been a variety of schlock, but it used to be there lied some real gems amidst the rubble. Remember the engaging, clever dialogue in You’ve Got Mail? And the flawed but irresistible characters of Bridget Jones’ Diary?  These flicks may have been a bit sappy and geared entirely toward women, but they were also really, really smart.  With charismatic, developed characters in interesting, fairly complicated situations who have actual problems (more than just, “I can’t decide which gorgeous, rich guy to fall in love with!”).  Even the quirky, offbeat ones like 500 Days of Summer and Zach Braff’s surprisingly heartfelt Garden State look stellar compared with the rom-com’s of late.

As someone who often falls for the romantic comedy shtick (if done well), I miss the days of the thoughtful, cleverly funny ones.  The Proposal is worth watching, but only because Sandra Bullock and the lovely Ryan Reynolds had fantastic chemistry (and Betty White always gets a laugh).  But mostly, we have to turn to raunchier, less romantic comedies like Knocked Up and Forgetting Sarah Marshall for our fix.  Even Kevin Smith’s Zack and Miri Make a Porno warms the heart more than the vomit-inducing What Happens in Vegas.

It’s not for lack of talented, likable actresses, since Jennifer Aniston and Katherine Heigl seem to be taking almost any role offered to them.  I kind of liked He’s Just Not That Into You, but I’m in the minority.  I admit that I haven’t seen Love Happens, but The Bounty Hunter was miserably predictable and boring.  But it isn’t Jen’s fault; she’s cute and funny and charming despite the crummy writing and stupid plots.  And I want to like Katherine Heigl, really I do, but 27 Dresses was a big disappointment, The Ugly Truth even more so and The Killers looked so bad, I couldn’t even bring myself to watch it.

I miss the ones that not only made you swoon but also made you think.  The characters so charming, you hated to see the movie end, who were more than just lonely chicks and dreamy guys, characters who felt real.  And plots that weren’t as intricate as a CIA operation, but were believable and intriguing, to which you could actually relate. Now there’s just the stereotypical, shallow-as-the-puddle-at-the-end-of-my-driveway characters of The Ugly Truth sweeping lonely housewives off their pedicured feet.

Sweet Like Candy To My Soul

In honor of the release of the craptastic Something Borrowed last Friday (review to come), we’ve decided to investigate the genre with our own rom-com week.

What the Hell even CONSTITUTES a romantic comedy?  Which is more important, the humor, or the happily-ever-after?  Should it be a 50/50 mix?  60/40?  What about The 40-Year Old Virgin?  It’s certainly hilarious, and the story does center around a couple falling in love.  For some reason though, I can’t say that film is a romantic comedy.  Even with the rules defined, certain movies, while fitting the mold, don’t really deliver the endorphins of snuggly cheesiness to your brain the way a proper rom-com should.  So, without further adieu (and in no particular order), here are my personal rom-com faves; the movies that shot said endorphins straight into my noggin.

My Best Friend’s Wedding:  This is the first film I saw that introduced me to the idea of a Hollywood movie NOT having a typical happy ending.  And I loved it for that.  For being different, for the killer soundtrack, for characters that are flawed, but who you still can root for, for the cameo of fetus-like Paul Giamatti, for the REHEARSAL DINNER SCENE!  Say a little prayer, bitches!

Return To Me:  David Duchovny resides on the isle of celebrities I’d abandon my life for, and this marvelous film helps explain why.  The quotes:  “Grace has Bob’s dead wife’s heart!”, “Hairy legs are your only link to reality.”  Writer-director Bonnie Hunt, who clearly has the chops to save this genre.  Also, this story is sugar-coma sweet, without being the slightest sickening.  And oh sweet lord, how could I forget Archie Bunker?!  Man, if you hate this film, I hate YOU.

The Wedding Singer:  I’m not the biggest fan of Adam Sandler films (ducks), but when you pair him with Drew Barrymore, voi-fucking-la!  This pair has the most adorable chemistry – not sizzling, mind you, but you don’t necessarily need flames to warm hearts in the world of rom-coms.  This movie makes me LAUGH; “Somebody Kill Me” is one for the flippin’ ages.  It’s tacky 80s, a fun soundtrack, a hilarious “villain” and two leads that you root for so hard, you want them to get married in real life.  Maybe Adam Sandler could go the Big Love route and Drew could become a sister-wife??  Please???

While You Were Sleeping:  Oh Bill Pullman, you rumpled, charming, every-man, you. 😉 How I HEART the way he looks at Sandra Bullock when his niece calls him out on brunettes being his type.  A ridiculous premise (I guess something all rom-coms have in common) that is executed with style and warmth.  Who WOULDN’T want to join Pullman’s adorable, precious family?  When the ring is dropped in the toll booth, swoon/sigh/squee.  The winning trifecta.

50 First Dates:  Another Adam+Drew match made in charm heaven.  Yet another ridiculous plot, that is pulled off by the Hawaiian landscape, chill soundtrack, and this pair’s clear affection for one another.  Sean Astin is so hilarious, I have no idea why he doesn’t get to do comedy more often.  And the ending – just thinking about that final scene, brings me to tears, right now.  Ahhh, somewhere over the rainbow, indeed.

Bridget Jones’ Diary:  I’ll never forget how I felt the first time I watched this – full of hope, warmth, and happiness.  If someone as lovably ditsy and ridiculous as Bridget Jones could find her Prince Charming (sigh x infinity for Colin Firth), then there was certainly a possibility for the rest of us.  This movie is actually laugh out loud funny (“ham-fisted c***”!!!!) and swoon-alicious.  Firth is the MASTER of the longing, yearning look.  And haters can hate, but I can’t imagine anyone other than Renee Zellwegger as Bridget.  She filled her with the kind of normalcy to which we all can relate.  The final scene in the gently falling snow, when he wraps his coat around her half-naked ass, makes me weak in the knees.

French KissI think this movie tends to be forgotten about, but I freaking love it.  Meg Ryan, being adorable, Kevin Kline, being sexy and dashing, and France.  I mean, come on.  An absurd plotline about smuggling vines and stolen jewelry is made interesting by the pair’s terribly sweet chemistry.  What a great final scene, in a flipping vineyard.  I love a good final scene, and also the kind of romance where somebody’s life is changed completely.  This nails both of those.

Groundhog Day:  I have had a crush on Peter Venkman since I was like, 7, and I’ll watch anything he’s in, even Broken Flowers (ughhh).  But, oh this movie is so lovely.  And comforting, like a cold winter’s Saturday with nothing to do.  Where you can relax under a blanket with a hot beverage and swoon/laugh at Bill Murray, the original master of dry wit mixed with charm, as he tries (repeatedly, DUH) to win over Andie MacDowell.