Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sense and Sensibility

What am I doing reviewing such an old film? Hasn't every Jane Austen fan already seen it? What is the point of bringing it up?

The reason I write this is because I have come to see that this is one film that, though regarded as good family fare, is not truly appreciated for the gem that it is. It's a film that may take repeated watchings to fall in love with, but that is because it has a good deal more to it than first meets the eye.

I'll admit, the first few times I saw it, I didn't think it much out of the ordinary. I vastly prefer the books of "Pride and Prejudice" and "Emma" to "Sense and Sensibility" and my brain automatically assumed that the movie would fall into the same order of preferance.

My opinion started to change when I read the diaries that Emma Thompson kept during the shooting of the film. I began to see the craft and brilliance behind the film and was ready to look at it with new eyes. I realized that Thompson and the rest of the crew had pulled out everything that was good about this book, and worked to strengthen the weakenesses.

Last night I finally did watch it again and found myself savoring every moment. That is usually only a description I'd apply to Pride and Prejudice, so it astonished me to find the same beauty and perhaps even more depth of the heart within this older (and non-color corrected) film.

Though the book of "Sense and Sensibility" is one of Austen's earliests and not nearly as well crafted as her later works, in some ways it is even more accessible to ordinary young women than, say, Pride and Prejudice. Marianne and Elinor are not just dealing with the question of whether to marry for love or money, but with the question of "how does one conduct oneself when one is in love?" And that, believe it or not, is a question that every young person deals with. Do they show themselves richly enamored (as Marianne does) or remain guarded and aloof (like Elinor)?

The times may be differant now, but even though our society embraces the openness of Marianne, we also see Marianne's heartbreak and embaressment repeating itself over and over again in our young people.

We are also introduced to two unusual (for Austen) but also strangely accessible love stories. We see Elinor fall in love with a man whom she discovers is engaged to another. And like so many girls these days, she has to hid her emotions and force herself to be happy for her rival. Why? Because it is the correct thing to do. And Elinor does it without bitterness or jealousy. Not because she is a saint, but because she is sensible.

Then there is Marianne, who falls in love with a man who is good looking and charming, and holds her heart out wildly for him and all the world to see. But he is not Prince Charming (though Hollywood would say he should be) and rides off with money instead of love. Marianne is left heartbroken, very literally in the sense that she nearly dies because of it.

But there is still hope for her because of Colonal Brandon, a character who is admirable and honorable in every way. The sort of man that (again, by Hollywood) would often be shoved off as "the old guy" and seen unfit for our beautiful heroine. And yet in this story one cannot help falling in love with Brandon and wishing desperately that Marianne's eyes would turn from her unworthy but handsome Willoughby to the devoted and wise Brandon.

But more than the story, it is the Characters themselves who make this story memorable. And I find it truly a joy to watch the actors at work.

There is Emma Thompson who, though a good fifteen years older than Elinor is meant to be, plays the part of the older Dashwood sister perfectly. Kate Winslet (who is one of my favorite actresses) is a perfect romantic and beautiful Marianne.

Alan Rickman was brillantly cast as Colonal Brandon, and in my opinion there could be no better actor for the part. And even Hugh Grant as Edward manages to make that character much more likable than I found him in the book.

The supporting cast is extremly enjoyable as well. Having widened my viewing selection since the last time I saw the film, I have a new appreciation for the abilites of Imelda Saunton as Charlotte Palmer (well known for her work as Professor Umbridge in the Harry Potter series) and cracked up just about every time Hugh Laurie (Now the sarcastic Dr. House) came onscreen as her - yes, sarcastic- husband Mr. Palmer.

And beyond all this, it is simply just a well made film. The screenplay is extremely well done(I mean, Thompson won an Oscar for it!) and the Cinematography is really quite good.

And those, my friends, are the reasons why I found myself completely in love with this movie at last.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


If Pride and Prejudice had Facebook.

Many, many thanks to my friend Delaney for putting the link to this on her blog and thereby granting me many many laughs!

This is basically a facebook news feed of the events in Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice." It's absolutely hilarious, and doesn't take that long to read, so fans of P&P- click the link above!

The Mystery of the Presents Under the Tree

One of my favorite things about Christmas is the mystery of the presents under the tree.

That's not to say that I don't love giving gifts as well. I do. In fact, the older I get the more I enjoy it, and the more I suspect that gifts are my secondary love language. (Words of Affermation is primary). I really love choosing the right gift for the right person, making sure it's unique and special.

But I also, as I said before, love the mystery of the presents under the tree.

It's the inner detective in me that loves looking at those packages, matching them up to what I know I asked for, and trying to figure out what is in each one. Of course, now that I'm an adult, it's usually pretty easy to figure out what package holds what present.

So does that mean that the interest of the mystery fades as I grow older? Certainly not!

When my mother was a child, her parents used to use a code on their presents. They would make up new names for each of their children and label the packages with those names. The answer of which child belonged to which name would not be revealed until Christmas. My mother, who doesn't find mysteries very interesting at all, absolutely hated it.

Well one year my siblings and I found out about this tradition, and somehow we persuaded our parents to use a code on our presents. It instantly raised the drama and guessing games to a new height, and ensured that we still had surprises on Christmas morning.

Now that we are all so mature and intelligant, we use a double code. So far this year we have had appearances of "Wolverine" "Colossus" "Shadowcat" and "Rogue." We're still waiting for Nightcrawer and Storm to show up. (As you can imagine, part of the fun is getting to assume the name of our favorite characters on Christmas morning.)

So that is why, even though I've left childhood behind, I can still enjoy the magic and mystery of the presents under the Christmas Tree.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ben Barnes + Twilight

My reaction? "Please do not link those two names together!"

From Narniaweb:

Ben Barnes Rumored to Be Seeking Role in "Twilight" Sequel
MTV writes: With the buzz building for these roles, MTV News has confirmed that 27-year-old "Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" heartthrob Ben Barnes is throwing his hat into the ring. The actor is already quite popular with the "Twilight" fanbase and shares the same manager as both Copon and "Twilight" star Cam Gigandet. Barnes is believed to be campaigning for the role of Aro, a mind-reading vampire whose "New Moon" encounter with Edward and Bella helps shape their destiny together. Thanks to Trinity for the alert.

Considering all that I've posted on this blog, can someone tell me why I'm groaning instead of cheering?

Oh, it's my subconcious remidning me of how creepy and icky Aro is. BLEH.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

If Austen Villians met each other...

...what would happen?

My friend Alex passed this oneshot onto me and I think it's a well done and hilarious piece of work. Congrats to the author, whoever she is!

How Important is a Cell Phone?

For those of us who have them, the answer would be "Indispensible." The majority of the American population over the age of 16 (and I'm afraid it's probably even younger than that) has a personal cell phone. And really, they are marvelous inventions that most of the time make our lives much, much easier. Except, of course, when one is taking a name and gets interupted by a vibrating phone.

However I recently went two weeks without a phone due to loosing my old one and I was forced to really face the reality of how much we depend on our phones. I actually managed to survive just fine, but I found myself feeling quite amused and slightly annoyed whenever someone said "but it's dangerous to drive without a cell phone!" or something along those lines.

Because, of course, it's only in the last decade that cell phones have been really common. For thousands of years before that people went on great journeys and adventures without cell phones and managed to survive just fine! I mean, Christopher Columbus discovered America without a cell phone. The Apostle Paul went on all of his missionary journeys without a cell phone. Father Abraham traveled from Ur to Canaan without a cell phone. Those were all much more dangerous journeys than driving fifteen minutes to visit one's grandparents - even if it IS snowing outside.

Sure, all those journeys would probably have been easier with cell phones, but the point is - they managed without them. So it's really not something worth fussing or worrying about if you have to go two weeks without a cell phone. I mean, you still have pay phones and house phones and internet and, if all else fails, smoke signals.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

A friend of mine who is starting out into the world of Independant filmmaking just made a really cool short film for an upcoming youtube contest. It is a very well made film that they were able to make with some pretty amazing equiptment and actors. It's well worth the 5 minutes it takes to watch and if you like it, I encourage you to pass this message on! It would be awesome if a young independant Christain filmmaker like Brooke could win the youtube contest!

Here is the e-mail she sent to me-

Hello everyone!
I just wanted to let you know that I have finished my first short film for the Sundance/YouTube contest called Project: Direct. The film is five minutes long and it is titled "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall". It was shot using the Red camera, and it's about a mirror that reflects the truth. Please watch and rate it on YouTube and spread the word! I would really appreciate if you would add your comments and tell your family and friends to watch the film. Sundance judges will vote for the top 10 films of those submitted. YouTube users will have to vote for the winners out of the 10. I will need everyone to vote if it gets that far.

Here is the link to the film blog: where you can read more about the film. I hope you like it!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Brideshead Revisited

No, this isn't a review because I'm not nearly smart enough to begin unraveling all the threads and meanings in this book. All I know is that I loved it - strange as it is - and I'm willing to reread it for the rest of my life in an effort to figure it out.

I'm curious though. I know some of you have read it and I would like to know some of your thoughts on it. Why do you like it? What do you see as the meanings and themes within it?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Discernment vs. Discretion

My friend Chloe brought this to my attention as another contribution to the ongoing discussion of what, as Christains, should be our attitude towards media? I rather like it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Preparing for Christmas

I'm trying to actually prepare for Christmas this year. It's difficult because suddenly everything in my life is revolving around SOTB (check the movie blog for the latest news!). I've noticed this tends to be a trend. For the past four years or so there has always been something major occuring in December that takes my focus off the real meaning of the Holiday season. And so Christmas always tends to take me a little by surprise.

There are two things I'm trying to do to keep me mentally aware, if not completely focused, on the season. One is just playing Christmas music. This isn't hard because it's probably my favorite part of the whole holiday- I adore Christmas music. Granted, some of it is secular, but even the secular stuff makes me go "Oh, it's Christmas."

Secondly, of course, is interacting with the Christmas Story. I've been reading some of the passages in Luke, this time with more of a interest in Mary's story. I also told Mary's story to one of the little girls I nanny. It's surprising how little young children really know beyond "Baby Jesus in the Manger." And so I wonder, how much do most adults know?

At some point, probably not until the 23rd or 24th of December, I'll pick up book four of Bodie and Brock Thoene's A.D. Chronicles. Book four through six deal with the nativity story and are extremely well done. Hopefully I'll be able to do a few blog posts on those.