Saturday, May 02, 2009

Ray-views and more

Rayning P&P

The amazing popularity of the miniseries continues fifteen years on from its filming. Just consider that around this time fifteen years ago 24-year-old Jennifer Ehle was possibly being fitted for a dark-hued wig of curls, or learning the steps to Mr Beveridge's Maggot, or rehearsing "TLMINTWICEBPOTM".

GLENN MCDONALD in the NC Triangle area News & Observer shows excellent observation skills himself when he notes:
[...] The BBC series manages what so many previous (and subsequent) adaptations have not: To effectively balance the period melodrama with Austen's exceedingly subtle wit and feminine (if not quite feminist) point of view. The casting of Ehle and Firth proves critical in this regard. Both are really quite brilliant in their ability to deliver Austen's multivalent dialogue -- communicating volumes with the airiest of bon mots. The highly mannered wordplay is an epic poem of passive-aggressive euphemism, and it takes serious acting chops to convey the depth of emotion underneath. [... ]

(my own underlining added in the above)

Svet Atanasov has an in-depth review at the blu-ray page which is worth reading if only for his almost apologetic disclaimer of writing from an man's point of view. This piece is accompanied by some really lovely and HQ photos which can be seen enlarged by clicking on those provided within the article. He concludes that he can "comfortably state that Pride and Prejudice will become a “poster-child” for the Blu-ray format" and also saying;
[...] I think that one of the key reasons why Pride and Prejudice won the hearts of many Jane Austin fans is the terrific emphasis on detail, which Simon Langdon and his team achieved; and I don’t necessarily mean the excellent decors and costumes. Rather, I believe that it was the ability of the actors to express accurately the complex emotions and feelings Jane Austen’s characters struggle with.[...]

Michael Giltz at huffingtonpost agrees with me when he says "this is one of the greatest miniseries of all times [...] Absolutely essential."

Doug Nye of McClatchy-Tribune News Service calls it "The best film adaptation ever of Jane Austen’s 'Pride and Prejudice'" and adds "Particularly impressive are Colin Firth as Darcy and Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet."

Lex Walker writes a wide-ranging review also worth reading, another self-admitted strictly man's point of view, in which he humorously but gently muses on the Firth-Feenom. He begins by calling it "... the stereotypical woman's holy grail of films". But he ultimately admits to the right way of thinking :"Most of the women out there openly profess their love for this series - and that's fair. It is a well-crafted story (Jane Austen, I mean come on) and the lead performers excel in every way."

It isn't a ray-view nor is it P&P, but this interesting P&G review trickled in recently. It has more to say about Ms Ehle than most coverage of this film. I don't really understand the "metaphorical bird" allusion though, so any illumination from readers who do would be appreciated.

The Doan Scale

Blogger Brian Doan responded to a challenge to "Name 10 film characters that are your favorite and explain why. " He's now my top favorite blogger, I think. But not surprising, right?, with a name like that !
[...]Everyone talks about Colin Firth (who is excellent) and Andrew Davies' adaptation (ditto), but for me it's Ehle who holds the whole thing together. She is expert at delivering Austen's witticisms, but so much of the film rests on her face and her movements. I don't mean that in prurient way (although she is quite beautiful), but rather want to suggest how hard it is to look right, in period garb, while sometimes doing nothing.
How many actors can't escape modernity and create a feeling of anachronism, or clutter the space with too many tics or gestures? It takes a lot of courage to remain still, and still seem in character. Ehle does this expertly, and it's her responses to things-- the look of warmth or humor or sadness that can flash in her eyes, as her face quickly rearranges itself into a mask of propriety-- that I remember. They give her Lizzie a weight and texture that other performances in the role simply can't match.

This recaps some of the discussion we've had at the forum about stillness-in-acting and distilled-emotion and I heartily concur with his insights. Is he just brilliant on his own ... or is it everyone with that name?

What a Waste and Missing Limbs

A ton (that's 2000 lbs) of reviews are available for Is Anybody There? which co-stars Rosemary Harris. Most are of the cookie-cutter variety, but a few are original enough and relevant enough to be worth linking here. The overall theme, regarding the subject who is of interest here, seems to be on the lines of, "Too bad her talents are wasted, under-used", A sampler:

Rex Reed in The New York Observer writes, "In fairness, Is Anybody There?, like all British films, boasts a splendid cast of character actors, including Anne-Marie Duff, Leslie Phillips and the sadly wasted, still-radiant Rosemary Harris."

Philip at atomipopcorn said "The supporting cast does some fine work, but I feel for actors like Rosemary Harris; she feels underused."

At Spectator Deborah Ross has a humorous review (and, for whatever reason, semi-vicious digs at Peter O'Toole), maintaining a criminal wasting of top-notch talent.

Kelly Jane Torrance at The Washington Times offers a nice review with very good things to say about the incredible talent of the supporting actors.

Several reviews have hinted at some features of the character Ms Harris plays in the film.
At hollywoodand fine "Rosemary Harris, as a woman with one leg who wants to convince a male resident to dance with her"

James Christopher in The Times mentions pawing and plucking "in a fruitless search for romance"

John Walsh
at The Independent notes "Rosemary Harris, despite her prosthetic leg, tries to appear alluring to the tippling lothario, without success. "

JONATHAN L. FISCHER in Philadelphia's The Bulletin says "[...] the comedy — mostly typical geriatric sight gags — stays in the hands of a retinue of veteran British character actors, like Rosemary Harris [...] "

Listen up!
A Streetcar Named Desire available on audio. "[...]Rosemary Harris embodies Blanche with all the flare, attitude and Southern drawl commonly associated with the cultural icon. [...] This recording captures the cast of the 1973 Broadway revival (which won Harris a Drama Desk award and Farentino a Theatre World award)."

Wanna take me to Lunch on May 15th?

We could chow down at The 75th Annual Drama League Awards Ceremony and Luncheon where, among other things, "[...] nine past recipients of the Distinguished Performance Award -- Norbert Leo Butz, Stockard Channing, Christine Ebersole, Rosemary Harris, Frank Langella, John Lithgow, Mary-Louise Parker, Stephen Rea, and Sam Waterston -- will be honored on this dais for their work this season. "

It would seem we'd have every right to be there since Everyone On Earth Nominated For A Drama League Award

Okay then, How about Carnegie Hall on June 15?

We could go to see Theodore Bikel: The First 85 Years "The 7:30 PM concert in the Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage will boast the talents of Alan Alda, Arlo Guthrie, Rosemary Harris, David Amram, Beyond the Pale, Artie Butler, Patricia Conolly, Judy Kaye, David Krakauer, Tom Paxton, Serendipity 4 (Shura Lipovsky, Merima Kljuco, Tamara Brooks and Bikel), Noel Paul Stookey and Peter Yarrow, Susan Werner and Michael Wex. "

Event also announced at broadwayworld
and Sing Out! News Service

Or a Play from Sep 15th on?
The Royal Family Tickets and Information

Canada's Greatest, and it's not Gretzky

Variety reports that "Canuck film distributor E1 Entertainment has inked a deal with Senator Distribution to pick-up Canuck rights to rights to five pics [...] "The Greatest," written and directed by Shana Feste, stars Pierce Brosnan and Susan Sarandon as a couple who learn their son's girlfriend is pregnant after he dies in a car crash. Pic will be released next spring."

Also reported at hollywoodreporter

Down to Earth with Colin Firth
Blogger Nikki shared a firthhand experience worthy of Bridget Jones herself. Enjoy! (evidently he is very very tall).

Terminating Time and Producing Purses

Mark Bostridge reviews Jane's Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World By Claire Harman.
" [...] a major factor in Jane Austen's longevity as a novelist must be the apparent timelessness of her work. To a large extent, her books are unattached to specific times and places. 'She stopped the clock', writes Harman, and now is always her time."

Need to open up some bookshelf space, make good use of those extra copies of Pride & Prejudice, and at the same time feed your handbag hankering? Meet Caitlin Phillips who "[...] goes through 500 to 750 books every year. But not because she's a speed reader. Instead, she cuts out all the pages and replaces them with beautiful fabric, to transform old books into stylish purses. [...] The most requested book is Pride and Prejudice — overwhelmingly so, Phillips says. "It's a great book, but I did not realize truly just how popular it was." [...]"

In the category: too late to do you any good at all, but I'll post it anyway

BBC 'Pride and Prejudice' writer to speak at UT

Through my own procrastination, I just missed letting you know of this chance to hear Andrew Davies being grateful to Jane Austen. Though if anyone out there did attend, we'd love to hear about it if you want to share.

Today's footnote. Never again will I allow myself to wait this long between blogs under the misapprehension that there is not enough information available. I severely underestimated the sheer human ability to fill a blank panel with words.

(Still mourning the lovely Kate's exit but confident the bear took second place.)