Archive for December 18, 2009

The Jane Austen Book Club

I have a copy of The Jane Austen Book Club, but I never got around to watching it until today. I have recently re-taken an interest in what Emily Blunt has to offer viewers and was curious if she was going to be speaking with her native British accent or with an adopted American accent. I have since found that there are many actors in this movie that I’ve seen elsewhere, and some in strange places. Hugh Dancy was in King Arthur? Kathy Baker played Mia on Gilmore Girls? Maggie Grace looks like Odette Yustman in Cloverfield, and I’m extremely confused as to why Maggie’s face is so familiar and yet I’ve never seen any of her shows.

Now, onto the movie. Maybe I should be honest, I did use this movie to glean insight into Jane Austen’s books. The wide range of characters allowed for a wide range of perspective into the six books that Austen wrote. And, I may like this movie because I am partially a Janeite, but OH WELL! It was fun to go through the books again, one by one, and relive bits and pieces of them, as well as Austen’s life. For Mansfield Park, it was harder for me to understand what the characters were talking about as I haven’t read that book and I’ve seen one adaptation once. For me, “once” is remarkable.

There are plenty of things to say about the movie itself. The characters were indeed a lovable bunch, especially in their opposing ideas about what Austen meant with this or that. We have Allegra vs Prudie when the book club begins, along with Prudie’s ideas of what an Austen book club is supposed to be about. Jocelyn trying to set up Sylvia with Grigg even though Grigg wants to be with Jocelyn–that was fun to watch and I loved its resolution.

I have to admit the way the book club begins is quite interesting. Going into the movie, I was under the impression that all of these people knew each other.  But they didn’t. Bernadette meets Prudie when she bursts into tears at a movie theatre for Jane Austen movies. Jocelyn meets Grigg at a hotel that is having a Buffy convention and allows for a nod to science fiction/fantasy lovers. Chance encounters. That are believable at least.

Looking at the stats for the movie, I find that this was originally a book by Karen Joy Fowler. I will have to read it some day and compare this adaptation with its original, especially since I have seen Robin Swicord’s name on other adaptations I’ve seen and liked. Interesting. Also interesting is the fact that this is yet another adaptation that I have to read the book for, and that, at the moment of viewing, I had no idea it was an adaptation until after the fact. I didn’t even see the ‘Based on’ title they always add. Must’ve slipped by me.

So… for The Jane Austen Book Club

Screenplay: Robin Swicord

Directed: Robin Swicord

Based on the book by: Karen Joy Fowler

Rating so far: A+

Yes, Austen’s novels are about women, and as men may not feel that the lives of women living and loving are that interesting, they will scorn my rating, but I believe that this movie, and Jane’s books too, should be enjoyed by many. I myself have learned that Jane’s books are about living: the way we live, whether it’s right, how we change, why we change. For me, that is interesting. It just so happens that Jane’s books have a female slant (ie, this is about women and how they change ) and may be seen as “chick lit” by those who scorn chick lit because these women fall in love. But beware, falling in love is only one piece of Jane’s puzzle, and it may not even be a piece at all.

Now I’m not really making any sense. I suppose I should move on and tell you that I have started Book 3 for my semester: Pamela (or Virtue Rewarded) by Samuel Richardson, Letters 1-25. I am on Letter 12 and I will say that I am glad that I am not a poor, beautiful maid in the power of a master. I’d be very scared if the master tried to make sexual advances on me and that world is not empathetic to women who have been molested. The Garden of Eden at work, where woman’s virtue is precious and if she should lose it because someone took advantage of her, well it must be her fault, right?

The beginning doesn’t bode well for the rest of the book. It doesn’t help that I have many other books I should be reading before school starts, like Sweet Hereafter, and I have ideas bouncing around my head about a modernized version of Sense and Sensibility. I started working on a screenplay for it. The ideas are good, but so far it seems a little dry to me. There are some good scenes between characters that I might use for my Creative Writing class, but I think it’s like SNW: I have to let the idea of the two sisters’ stories germinate in my head for awhile (a year at least, lol) before I can get used to the idea of them in a modern setting and what might happen.

Okay, I’m tired. Going to bed. Read Jane Austen with pride, dear readers!