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Movie Catch-up

In the last few days, I have seen Pride & Prejudice (2005 with Keira Knightley), Birth, Cloverfield and The Unborn. I haven’t had time to comment on any of them at length thus far, so here are some rather unorganized thoughts on each.

Pride & Prejudice

I loved that the Bennets looked poorer than the upper-class individuals they rubbed elbows with. Elizabeth wore plain, simple dresses in comparison to Caroline Bingley. It annoys me when costumers ignore the social and economic class dimensions of the book in the film adaptations. The entire novel hinges on class differences!

Knightley played Liza quite differently than I’ve seen before. Previous actors affected airs, perhaps because that is how we imagine people in the Regency era to have behaved. Maybe the middle and upper crust did behave this way but Eliza surely doesn’t approve of pretense so why would she affect wit and smarts? In the novel she IS witty and smart without having to be coy about it.

Knightley also portrayed the character to be more playful and carefree, particularly in the beginning. She had a few moments with her sisters that showed Eliza to be affectionate of her family rather than looking down her nose at her younger sisters all of the time. I think this adds another layer of depth to the character. Eliza can laugh and enjoy the company of her silly little sisters AND be vexed with them (ladies in the Regency are never angry, they are vexed). In previous adaptations, I often felt that Eliza was very patronizing of her family and seemed to only hold any affection for Jane (who is always a victim of others, whereas everyone else, including her father, is a victim of themselves). The director seemed to want a warmer Eliza. Social graces in Town are contrasted with the depiction of those in the country. So yes, Eliza laughs and dances and has fun (without embarrassing herself and her family like her younger sisters and mother do) but she isn’t uptight and miserable like Caroline is at the country balls. To that end, I approve of the warmer depiction of Eliza.

Two paragraphs on Knightley’s portrayal of Elizabeth and I have nothing to say about the chap who played Darcy. Poor guy. How do you follow Collin Firth?

The pacing felt decent to me, although I did miss the verbal banter in some of the scenes in which the television series had the luxury of depicting in full. Understandably, a two-hour movie cannot dwell on the nuances of every scene, well enough include every scene.

Birth

First impression: Nicole Kidman with a pixie cut! I don’t think there is a haircut she can’t pull off (that is not a challenge; no comments about Kidman mullets, please).

I won’t say much because I may give something away. I appreciated the cinematography. I had no idea where the film was going and was thus completely engrossed up until the last 20 or so minutes. Russ and I both felt a bit let down by the ending but I wonder if that was what the filmmaker intended for the audience to feel.

Cloverfield

People either seem to either like or dislike this movie. I’m indifferent. I quickly got used to the shaky hand-held camera and was able to appreciate the homage to the kaiju genre. The effects were  decent and the dialogue wasn’t forced or painful (and it easily could have been) but the film didn’t thrill me. I guess I’ve grown to like the cheese and camp of the Godzilla franchise (Russell, stop choking, it’s true: you have worked your influence on me). Maybe the fault here isn’t with the film. My expectation was that there would be plenty of technical aspects to laugh at and there weren’t many. Kind of a let down if you are looking for a movie to goof on and that is certainly not the fault of the movie maker.

The Unborn

No spoilers. I read a few unfavorable reviews before seeing the film last night. My beef with the reviews: have these critics ever watched a horror flick before? Rarely can these films hold up to close scrutiny. Of course there are plot holes, convenient devices and two dimensional characters. Not. The. Point! You are supposed to do one of two things: enhance the movie experience (read: mock in the spirit of campy fun) or have the crap scared out of you.

My expectations were low and I was prepared to let the movie be what it is and I didn’t have a horrible time (although the birthday-boy came out of the theater with a fever- poor Russ!). The effects were creepy and it had great locations. Cam could have had his clothes off more. Seriously: equal opportunity skin time. I can endure yet another shot of some chick in her underwear freaking out in her bathroom (there were at least three of these almost identical scenes) if the male character is similarly clothed (or not clothed) for an equal duration of the film. Just saying.

Oh, and speaking of Gigandet, should you see The Unborn, compare his performance in the climax of the film to the ‘scariest’ James moment in Twilight. Cam, you were cheated in Twilight. I’m beginning to see just how ill-equipped Catherine Hardwicke was in managing the horror elements in Twilight (really, the whole series ought to be shot as horror flicks but that’s another rant). Hopefully, Chris Weitz does a better job with this aspect.

Next? I’m looking forward to seeing some old musicals that Russell recently bought (42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933 to start). I adore those older, huge musical productions.

I am also looking forward to apple pie at movie night tonight!