Emma Thompson Becomes a Dame Wearing Sneakers

Inspiration, Thumbs Up

This newspiece is from June, but I just found out: Emma Thompson was made a dame in Queen’s Birthday Honours for her services to drama.

I know her mostly through her adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, but I’ve seen her work elsewhere, too, and admire it.

The best thing about the news, though, is that she appeared at the ceremony in sneakers!

The News Herald Jonathan Brady Emma Thompson Dame Ceremony

Jonathan Brady / Press Association via Associated Press.

Women wearing sensible shoes get so much undeserved scorn. It’s utterly ridiculous – why on earth would anyone spend time picking on women’s choice of footwear is beyond me. (Yes, I do know why: patriarchy.)

It’s lovely to see a successful woman not giving a darn and wearing what she pleases!

Found via Yashar Ali on Twitter.

Close Quarters: Hello, My Name Is Inigo Montoya…

Design & Designers, Geek out!, Stunt Double

I actually did a double take while looking at this elaborate bedroom gallery wall:

DSponge Peaches Freund 18-bedroom-north-22-800

Yes, it IS Inigo! Smack in the middle in a fancy gilt frame.

Seeing Inigo’s portrait reminds me of how my sister and I went to see The Princess Bride (without knowing what it was about), came out and went straight back in again to see it for the second time in a row. It turned out to have been the last weekend it was showing locally in the theaters, too. It was the first and only time I’ve done that, and I’ve never regretted it. 🙂

“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

From the small but unabashedly colorful and inventive home of freelance designer and author Peaches Freund. Found via design*sponge – visit the post for more photos of Peaches’s incredible style!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Awesome Mashup: Pantherpuff Girls

Design & Designers, Movies & TV, Stunt Double

PrimePremne designed an incredible mashup of Powerpuff Girls and women from Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther movie. See for yourself:

Ript Apparel PrimePremne Pantherpuff Girls

PrimePremne via Ript Apparel.

Available from Ript Apparel. Found via Graphic Policy on Twitter.

I’m in transit (hopefully without a hitch) much of today; hope this scheduled awesome cheered up your day.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Roundup of Some Black Panther Costume Design Articles

Design & Designers, Geek out!, Movies & TV

Black Panther opens tomorrow! I am so excite! I’ve been looking forward to it since forever. Ok, not forever even if it feels like it; something to the effect of July last year is more like it.

To me, visuals have been one of the most interesting aspects of this installation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here are a few of the costume design articles I found most useful.

Spotted Online: Life-Sized Boba Fett Wall Decal

Movies & TV, Room of Awesome, Stunt Double

I had to share this in honor of the U.S. opening of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Nicole Balch used a life-sized Boba Fett wall decal to finish off her son’s Star Wars -themed room, and the results are fantastic.

Nicole Balch Making It Lovely Sons SW Room

Nicole Balch at Making It Lovely.

Kudos! Visit Nicole’s blog for the full details.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Jenkins’s Wonder Woman Movie Inspired Vocabulary Change in ASL

Geek out!, Stunt Double, Thumbs Up

Apparently, there’s been a vocabulary change in American sign language (ASL) because of the Wonder Woman movie. The 6-panel gif below shows an exchange between an ASL-using audience member and Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins.

Jenkins Wonder Woman ASL Comment1Jenkins Wonder Woman ASL Comment2Jenkins Wonder Woman ASL Comment3Jenkins Wonder Woman ASL Comment4Jenkins Wonder Woman ASL Comment5Jenkins Wonder Woman ASL Comment6

[audience member in ASL] “In the 1970s, when you have Lynda Carter, I was a little girl and I would copy it and I would sign like this.” [shows the old Wonder Woman sign that involves multiple segments]

[in ASL] “However today, because of this film, we have changed it for this.” [crosses her arms like Wonder Woman in the movie]

[Patty Jenkins, delighted] “Wow!”

[in ASL] “So these little deaf girls are signing now ‘Wonder Woman’.”

[in ASL] “And when I grew up we were doing the multiple signs, so thank you. Thank you!” [applauds in sign language]

[Patty Jenkins] “Wow! That’s so cool! That’s so cool! That’s awesome! Thank you! That is amazing!”

Wonder Woman interview with Patty Jenkins, Connie Nielsen and Lucy Davis at the Apple SoHo, August 23, 2017.

Yay & wow! To have changed language with your work really is awesome. 🙂

Found via I Bought the Airline on Tumblr.

2017 Jane Austen Rewatch: Persuasion

Books & Mags, Movies & TV

The last but certainly not least in our Jane Austen rewatch, Persuasion is a novel of pressures, choices and second chances, posthumously published in 1817. The heroine, 27-year-old Anne Elliot, has never come to terms with her refusal to marry the great love of her life due to the prudent advice of a friend in loco parentis. The he returns to the neighborhood 8 years later…

Jane Austen Rewatch Persuasion

JASNA provides a map for tracking the physical locations of the story:

JASNA Persuasion Locations map-pers-1200

Map of locations in Persuasion. Jane Austen Society of Australia, via JASNA.

Like Mansfield Park, there aren’t terribly many screen versions of Persuasion. We rewatched the 2007 and 1995 movies, although apparently also a miniseries from 1971 is available.

The newer movie (from 2007, screenplay by Simon Burke, directed by Adrian Shergold) stars new-to-me Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot. Rupert Penry-Jones, whom I know from the British spy series MI-5, plays Captain Wentworth. Unfortunately, I find both performances listless and unenergetic, even though the script – bafflingly – has Anne indefatigably running all over the city of Bath after Captain Wentworth at the end of the movie.

Minor performances, for example by Anthony Head (Giles! from Buffy!) as Sir Walter Elliot, are ok. There are some other oddities in the writing, filming and music which diminish my enjoyment of the story, but it looks like they actually went to Bath, which is great.

The 1995 Persuasion, however, is excellent. The screenplay is by Nick Dear, and Roger Mitchell directed Amanda Root as Anne Elliot and Ciarán Hinds as Captain Wentworth. I really like Root’s understated and considerate version of Anne; Hinds works well enough even if a few scenes tend towards hammy.

Although the picture quality is grainy, the soundtrack is nice, and there are subtitles (not a given on older DVDs). The props, locations and costuming are also great. This is my favorite version so far – in an ideal world, of course, we would be due another adaptation.

Read more about this Jane Austen rewatch project.

2017 Jane Austen Rewatch: Emma

Books & Mags, Movies & TV

Emma (1815) was the fourth and last of Austen’s works to be published during her lifetime. In it we follow the titular character’s growth from a good-intentioned meddler-in-romance to a more mature and self-aware young lady.

Jane Austen Rewatch Emma

Here, again, is a map provided by JASNA for tracking the physical locations of the story:

JASNA Emma Locations map-emma-large

Map of locations in Emma. Jane Austen Society of Australia, via JASNA.

Our rewatch included three versions: two movies and a miniseries. I’ve since discovered that there’s a version transposed to India (Aisha, 2010), which sounds interesting. Clueless I’ve no interest in, and I’ll skip the 1972 miniseries, too.

Extraordinarily, the year 1996 saw two movie releases based on Emma. Both are solid adaptations with decent plot arcs, very good acting, and wonderful locations and sets.

The first is written and directed by Douglas McGrath and stars Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma Woodhouse and Jeremy Northam as Mr. Knightley. Occasionally Paltrow delivers some of her lines in an overly whiny manner, but fortunately those are rare. I haven’t seen Northam in anything else, but his Mr. Knightley was quite good – efficient and proper but not as acerbic as Mark Strong’s Mr. Knightley.

A very neat tidbit is to see young Obi-Wan Kenobi Ewan McGregor singing – he has a fabulous voice! One thing I cannot stand in the McGrath movie, though, is Paltrow’s changing hairstyles – it seems like the production might have employed two different hair designers, one of whom wasn’t up to the job.

My favorite, incredibly dry line delivery:

Mr. Knightley [to Emma when they’re practicing archery]: “Try not to shoot my dogs.”

The other 1996 Emma is written by Andrew Davies, directed by Diarmuid Lawrence and features Kate Beckinsale as Emma Woodhouse and Mark Strong as Mr. Knightley. Overall, I’d say the casting is stronger in this version. The otherwise excellent Olivia Williams (elsewhere e.g. in Dollhouse) is a little wooden as Jane Fairfax, but I love the rest of the cast. Bernard Hepton’s Mr. Woodhouse is such a darling!

My favorite speech comes when the self-important Mrs. Elton discusses foppish young men:

Mrs Elton Scourge of Puppies

Mrs. Elton: “Ah! But you must know I can be very severe upon young men. I have a vast dislike of puppies, quite a horror of them. Had he turned out to be a puppy I might have said some very cutting things, you may be sure. I am a scourge of puppies, am I not, Mr. E.?”

My absolute favorite, though, is the Emma miniseries from 2009 (adapted by Sandy Welch, directed by Jim O’Hanlon). The version has several strengths, starting with excellent casting. Romola Garai stars as Emma Woodhouse, and – yay, again a treat for me! – Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightley. His is by far the most enjoyable Mr. Knightley performance I’ve seen. Mr. Knightley is often played as rather curt and strict, which I find not just offputting but a mistake. The interpretations of Harriet Smith by Louise Dylan and Miss Bates by Tamsin Greig are also the most enjoyable I’ve seen.

All major characters are introduced at the beginning of episode 1, which helps people new to Austen. Moreover, this version does the epilogue clearly and succinctly, without massive infodumping. In addition, I immensely enjoy the music, the set dressing, costuming and propping, and other visuals.

It’s a thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyable Emma. In fact, if the same team were to make other Austen adaptations, I’d go to great lenghts to see them. Finally, let’s face it: the longer form better fits the depth of Austen’s genius, and that’s that.

Enjoy this sneak peek from PBS:

MASTERPIECE Classic’s Emma begins Jan 24, 2010 | A Sneak Preview | PBS

Read more about this Jane Austen rewatch project.

2017 Jane Austen Rewatch: Mansfield Park

Books & Mags, Movies & TV

Moving on with our grand Jane Austen rewatch. Mansfield Park (1814) was Jane Austen’s third published novel and her first to be conceived and written when she was an adult. The story follows the growth of poor Fanny Price, who is de facto adopted by her wealthy relatives and transported miles away from her family.

Jane Austen Rewatch Mansfield Park

Here is a map provided by JASNA for tracking the physical locations of the story:

JASNA Mansfield Park Locations map-mp-1200

Map of locations in Mansfield Park. Jane Austen Society of Australia, via JASNA.

We only had access to two movie versions: one from 1999 and the other from 2007. I’d also like eventually to see the 1983 miniseries, for I see several familiar names among the cast.

Unfortunately, both adaptations have some issues. The 2007 Mansfield Park (screenplay by Maggie Wadey, directed by Iain B. MacDonald) casts Billie Piper (Rose in Doctor Who) as Fanny Price, and she does a good job. However, I don’t like Blake Ritson, so this Edmund Bertram remains uninteresting to me. There are also some pacing issues and an odd scene or two.

If you like Hayley Atwell as Agent Carter, you might want to check this one out, though, for she’s very good – a believably lively and charming but wily Mary Crawford. The rich but simpleminded Mr. Rushworth is expertly played by Rory Kinnear (who also performed Tanner in the three latest Bond movies).

What I really like, though, are two supporting characters: first, Fanny’s dear brother William is included (which the 1999 movie doesn’t do); second, Jemma Redgrave’s interpretation of Lady Bertram makes it believable that someone would’ve wanted to marry her (whereas the 1999 Lady B. is almost implausibly lethargic).

The older of these two Mansfield Park movies (written and directed by Patricia Rozema) is based not just the novel but also some events gleaned from Austen’s letters. It’s an interesting choice, and had we a dozen or so adaptations I’d probably appreciate it more, but as Mansfield isn’t often filmed I think it creates more missed opportunities than not. Another miss is Fanny Price’s wardrobe – bleah.

This movie is a treat for me in other respects: one of my favorte actors, Jonny Lee Miller, plays Edmund Bertram. He’s more recently – and deservedly – starred as Sherlock Holmes in the series Elementary. Lead actress Frances O’Connor projects Fanny’s vulnerability beautifully. The rest of the cast are great, too. For example, Lindsay Duncan gives an excellent, excellent double performance as both Fanny’s mother Mrs. Price and aunt Lady Bertram (even though I disagree how the character was written), and Hugh Bonneville’s Mr. Rushworth thoroughly demonstrates the actor’s genious and range.

Favorite fleeting moment: Hugh Bonneville’s Mr. Rushworth wiggles his pinky in his ear (presumably) to clean it while walking outdoors with his new fiancée, Miss Bertram. You can see it in this official trailer:

Mansfield Park | Official Trailer (HD) – Frances O’Connor, Jonny Lee Miller | MIRAMAX

How… quaintly… charming (not!) of the character, and a simply brilliant piece of acting!

Read more about this Jane Austen rewatch project.