Thursday, November 21, 2013

Austenland


“If you were a woman, all I'd have to say is 'Colin Firth in a wet shirt' and you'd say 'Ah.”
- Austenland by Shannon Hale.


Based off the beloved young adult book by childrens writer and stay-at-home Mormon-housewife Shannon Hale, Austenland is a story of a young woman with an addiction to something she has yet to experience for herself. This obsession  is primarily focused on Jane Austen and her band of romantic caricatures. Varying only slightly from the book, thirty-something Jane Hayes has practically worshiped the popular words of revered romance writer Jane Austen since she first had a taste of Pride and Prejudice in her youth. It seemed that nothing would ever happen to plain-Jane until she decided to take things into her own hands. She immersed herself into Austenland, a place where die-hard enthusiasts can submerse themselves fully in the land that Austen created with her words of never ending passion and true love. There she discovers some surprising facts about herself, the people around her and most importantly, about the delightful Jane Austen, all the while finding the perfect Austen ending that every woman desires, whether she knows it or not.
My personal feelings towards this film are full of love and nerdy fan girl excitement. After reading the book for the first time at age fifteen, I knew that it was the kind of writing I wanted to get into when I grew up. So when I found out they were making film based on those highly entertaining words, and that it was to be directed by Jerusha Hess and starring Keri Russell, JJ Field, Bret Mckenzie and the hilarious Jennifer Coolidge, you can imagine my excitement. Not only was this movie the perfect pick-me-up for someone like me, but watching the film was so much fun because it was just so lovely to look at. Some of the best things I noticed about this movie were definitely the design, lighting and cinematography. Not to say the acting wasn’t awesome, but as you could probably tell, this was just a fun movie to make for all the actors involved, so it was obviously not a venture to act these characters out.  
The design of the film, especially involving the colors, was very soft and obviously girly. I just felt like the design crew of this film had so much fun creating feminine and fun sets for scenes. Seeing as the main sets for this film were Jane’s apartment and the Austenland mansion, the detail in both sets are very rich in sparkle and period piece decorum. One of my personal favorite sets was Jane’s bedroom, an area which resembled a little girls bedroom, bright and cheery and full of little trinkets, with the colorful words “Darcy Was Here” hung above her bed.
The lighting in this movie greatly contributed to the feeling of euphoria and lightheadedness that I could just image Jane was feeling during her stay at the fictitious Austenland. During one of the scenes where Jane is floating down the river with Martin, a servant boy played by the fantastic Bret Mckenzie (one half of the famous New Zealand duo Flight of the Conchords), the lighting creates a feeling of easygoing happiness. You can tell that they took care to use as much natural light as possible and in creating the feel of a rom-com used plenty of soft light to coincide with the even softer colors.
And lastly, the cinematography of this movie deserves a great big thumbs up. Even though it was a low budget film and wasn’t likely to hit any big theaters, the idea that everyone in this movie gave their all for the sake of the book and just the overall fun of the movie makes it a favorite of mine. It’s nice to know that other people can care as much for the story as I did when I first read it. Together with the detail of the sets, costumes, lighting and camera shots, the movie just added up to be not only something to laugh at and enjoy immensely, but to watch over and over again simply to enjoy the cinematography.
Overall, I give this movie a five out of five in that it fulfilled all of my requirement for a good movie. And, how can you say no to JJ Field’s adorable face? Now that’s just not possible.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Physick of Deliverance Dane

   First of all, I would like to apologize for leaving my poor little blog for long a time to fend for itself. With graduation, more newspaper writing, moving from my childhood home, getting ready for college and my internship, you guys have become a little bit neglected. But do not fear for the tumultuous mumbler is here, and ready to provide a little insight into my literary pursuits and slightly off the wall wisdom. 
  The first book I would like to introduce to your bookshelves is The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. Now, I'm just going to admit that I took an Advanced Placement history class, and the only things I learned from it was the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and the fact that gays and lesbians had their own secret clubs under houses in the early nineteen hundreds. And yeah, those are some pretty random things to remember. But reading this book, I remembered a butt-load historical facts then I did listening to my teacher go on tangents that ended up with him either crouched down on his knees yelling about how fascinating the experience of American expansion was or on a table yelling about how fascinating the experience of American expansion was. 
  I'm pretty sure that this fact is attributed to the amazing author, the brilliant and brainy Katherine Howe. 
 Now usually I would write my own plot summary, but I'm feeling a bit lazy, so here ya go:
   "Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie’s grandmother’s abandoned home near Salem, she can’t refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest—to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge." - www.physickbook.com/


I give this book a four out of five. The reason you didn't get a five Katherine is because you made the main guy love interest in the story have a ponytail. How could you Katherine. How could you. Other then that though, I highly recommend it. 
Next on my list of books to read: House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Etsy…. Pretty Cool, Ain't it?

   Hey all you wanderlusting strangers! Check out my Etsy shop! It's pretty weird that about a week ago I had never even heard of Etsy and now I'm sellin' stuff on it. Crazy isn't it!! So, you know, If you don't want your firstborn child to be mine forever, I highly recommend you check it out. I hope you know that wasn't a threat. Just a suggestion  :)………


(You know you wanna click it… Come on… just once…. no one will even know….)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Actor & the Housewife

   My favorite author strikes again!!! This time a hilariously Mormon novel about a housewife, Becky Jack, and a friendship with her movie crush, Felix Callahan. For me, I absolutely loved the language that Shannon Hale throws out there with her two leading characters. They are quirky, quick, truthful and hilarious, the kind of language that I use with some of my best mates, making these characters feel like fast friends. If your in the mood for a book that will make you laugh, cry and ponder all in the space of one page, you've found your book.


   I for one imagined Becky as the author Shannon Hale and Felix as James Van Der Beek (the "Don't Trust the B… in Apartment 23" version, just a little less preoccupied with himself). 

 
Aren't they just adorable?






Thursday, December 20, 2012

Midnight in Austenland

   Austenland has yet again trapped me its grasp. Shannon Hale's lovable characters and actually relatable story lines came to life in the equally entertaining sequel to Austenland.


   As an author of children's books, Shannon Hale has really stepped up a bit as a young adult writer. She is funny, witty, exciting, gossipy; really everything Jane Austen would be proud to see as translated into her story lines.
   This particular Austenland visit is voiced by the one and only Charlotte Kinder, the lonely and cheated on divorcee with two children with a voice of brilliant confusion, who is also, surprisingly, a self made millionaire. She has completely given up on love and marriage and the whole schpeal until reading the Jane Austen books for the first time. It's after that that she gets a whole month off from work and her kids and gets a chance to go on vacation. By complete chance, that vacation ends up being in Austenland. If you're a guy and reading then first off; how did you get here? And second; just imagine Austenland as being hunting camp,   only you always get the biggest and the best of what your hunting and you are also surrounded by Victoria's Secret super models who are always happy to cook and clean at a snap of your finger.
   So of course, the hilarity, drama, bewilderment and sexy sexy men ensue. I highly recommend this book, along with it's twin book to all woman (and men who want to learn how to sweep the ladies off their feet) who love the sheer thought of love, Jane Austen and very, very entertaining writing.
   Missus Shannon Hale, I applaud you and your dedication to awesomeness!

Here's a story from Shannon about an experience she had on the set of Austenland. 

    Did I mention that there's a movie? Well there is and it looks awesome! It's gonna be directed by Jerusha Hess (co-director of Napoleon Dynamite)! It stars Keri Russell, JJ Field, Jennifer Coolidge and Bret McKenzie!




   

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Actor of Thee Week

   This week I have noticed, admired and applauded the very talented and very mysterious Kevin Spacey. I first noticed him after listening to Thomas Newman's composings for American Beauty, which is a film that he  took home an Oscar for, along with five other of his co-workers who also won.
                                          

  According to IMDB,  "Kevin Spacey Fowler was the youngest of three children born to Thomas and Kathleen Fowler in South Orange, New Jersey. His mother was a personal secretary, his father a technical writer whose irregular job prospects led the family all over the country. They eventually settled in southern California, where young Kevin developed into quite a little hellion - after he set his sister's tree house on fire, he was shipped off to the Northridge Military Academy, only to be thrown out a few months later for pinging a classmate on the head with a tire. Spacey then found his way to Chatsworth High School in the San Fernando Valley, where he managed to channel his dramatic tendencies into a successful amateur acting career. In his senior year, he played "Captain von Trapp" opposite classmate Mare Winningham's "Maria" in "The Sound of Music" (the pair later graduated as co-valedictorians). Spacey claims that his interest in acting - and his nearly encyclopedic accumulation of film knowledge - began at an early age, when he would sneak downstairs to watch the late late show on TV. Later, in high school, he and his friends cut class to catch revival films at the NuArt Theater. The adolescent Spacey worked up celebrity impersonations (James Stewart and Johnny Carson were two of his favorites) to try out on the amateur comedy club circuit.
           
   He briefly attended Los Angeles Valley College, then left (on the advice of another Chatsworth classmate, Val Kilmer) to join the drama program at Juilliard. After two years of training he was anxious to work, so he quit Juilliard sans diploma and signed up with the New York Shakespeare Festival. His first professional stage appearance was as a messenger in the 1981 production of "Henry VI".Festival head Joseph Papp ushered the young actor out into the "real world" of theater, and the next year Spacey made his Broadway debut inHenrik Ibsen's "Ghosts". He quickly proved himself as an energetic and versatile performer (at one point, he rotated through all the parts in David Rabe's "Hurlyburly"). In 1986, he had the chance to work with his idol and future mentor, Jack Lemmon, on a production of Eugene O'Neill's "Long Day's Journey Into Night". While his interest soon turned to film, Spacey would remain active in the theater community - in 1991, he won a Tony Award for his turn as "Uncle Louie" in Neil Simon's Broadway hit "Lost in Yonkers" and, in 1999, he returned to the boards for a revival of O'Neill's "The Iceman Cometh"."

                           
                                       
(Here's a video of Spacey doing impersonations. 
He is so GOOD! Sorry if there is a bit of swearing)



   Also according to IMDB, Spacey commented in a 1998 interview with the London Evening Standard, "the less you know about me, the easier it is to convince you that I am that character on screen. It allows an audience to come into a movie theatre and believe I am that person".   And it was that quote, along with the Spacey's talent of impersonation that made me want to award him my award of "Actor of Thee Week!".    Sorry Kevin, but this award is only for bragging rights since I am way too poor to give you something. 



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

AoTW... Rebekah Staton

   Actor of the week, after about a year of not doing it, is tentatively back on the list! Of course I don't think I'll actually do this every single week, but the idea of finding and appreciating fellow thespians (I took two years of drama class, if that counts) is a valuable and entertaining contribution towards all of your educations.
   This week I would like to thoroughly appreciate the actress Rebekah Staton! I first noticed her on one of my favorite British television comedies, Spy (I seriously suggest you check that show out) and didn't realize that I had already watched her act in other shows until I checked out her IMDB page for more info on the show. She actually plays the Marion on the Tess of the D'Ubervilles! It was such a differance in looks and character that I would never have guessed!

Tess of the D'Uberville



Spy


   She was born in 1981 and raised in Staffordshire, England where she was trained in acting at the Royal Acadamy of Dramatic Arts. She has been involved in many productions including State of Play, Outlaws, 2006's Jane Eyre, Doctor Who, Happy-Go-Lucky, Inside Men, and the recent Groove High. 
   I applaud you Rebekah, where you are able to play such a variety of characters, all enjoyably so. *Applaude*!!!
















Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Reader

   The Reader, written by German author Bernhard Schlink is a novel that I became interested in by way of my all time favorite composer, Thomas Newman. Now I know that Thomas Newman didn't exactly compose any of the music featured in the movie The Reader, but the music could just very easily be his since it's just that good.
   Every time I would go youtube searching for the genius and classy musings of Thomas, my suggestions would always pop up that I should look at the soundtrack for The Reader. Of course I was a little hesitant about listening to it since I am extremely picky about composers works, a fact that very few people know about me, but I just couldn't shake the feeling that I should at least try.

  I have to say; it was amazing. I was hooked to the dramatic overtures that the songs began with and how they ended abruptly, giving no time for an answer to your question; how does it end? 
   Now you have to understand that I was of course intrigued by the actors and actresses in the movie and of course the history lesson it provided and the wonderful music. But, I was turned off by the raunchy details of the book, (particularly the relationship young relationship between the two main characters) so bear in mind that I did skip a lot of the more 'steamy' scenes to save myself the details of Michael and Hanna's relationship and how they came to become so interestingly entangled. 
   The book is written beautifully and without a doubt about what the author believes Michael's thoughts are. It's very truthful and realistic which I found refreshing in a post-WWII story. I especially loved the fact that it is set in post-WWII Germany, a place that not many of my fellow Americans thought to consider after this horrific period of history.
    Some of my favorite scenes, both in the movie (I only watched clips) and the book, were the courtroom scenes. The movie, directed by the talented Stephen Daldry, portrays such a difficult subject as post WWII Germany in such a truthful light that the courtroom scenes, to me at least, were full of heat and tension. And you know how I love tension in my books. But what I loved most about it was that those courtroom scenes and the particular people in it is that it showed both me and Michael the cold truth about what kind of a life Hanna was living before their relationship and why the details of her past drastically affected the rest of her. The fact of the matter is that it wasn't exactly a shocker, but it was a subtle surprise. A surprise that relates to the real world better than any high thriller T.V. drama these days  and causes much more trouble than it should. 
From the scenes that I saw, the movie was just as groundbreaking as the novel. And how could you not give the sweet David Kross props for his acting skills and ability to learn English as a second language next to German. And he has a super cute face, so how could you simply not like him?
      I give The Reader by Bernhard Schlink and the (scenes from the) movie (that I saw) by Stephen Daldry a four out of five stars.                                                                                    Next up: Cold Mountain…….