Tags: movies

e. st v. millay

Mondays

I am so useless on Mondays - I always have been but when you're still at home it's so hard to make yourself go back to work.

Have y'all seen Emma? I'm pretty enchanted with it, apart from some of the casting (Jane Fairfax looks much older than Emma, Frank Churchill isn't very handsome or charming, and Harriet is supposed to be gorgeous - Harriet being very ordinary-looking in the movie annoys me both because I wrote a whole fic based on the sexual tension of Emma admiring her and because I also read a great chapter on how Austen played with the 18thc trope of the deserving, lovely illegitimate girl who gets taken up by a great lady and turns out to be legitimate after all). While I've thought before that the world doesn't need any more Austen adaptations, I would actually love to see a Pride and Prej movie in this same brightly lit and ironic-but-realistic style. 2005 is of course heavy on the realism but for the sake of playing up the romance (muddy, farmy Longbourn vs clean, monumental Pemberley) and 1995 looks ironically at the grotesque characters and seriously/romantically at the others while using realism for that '90s candlelight-drenched heritage-film experience. An adaptation that makes Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy look a bit silly at times, like Emma holding up her skirt in front of the fire/getting a nosebleed or Mr. Knightley being dressed by his valet/flinging himself on his parlor floor, and filmed with bright colors and wide-angle shots of the landscape overlaid with Maddy Prior singing English folk songs, would be a welcome addition to the canon.

First spencer test has come in, and I've screwed up the shoulders! Need to lengthen the front from them (and therefore grade the collar). Sometimes I just don't adequately visualize these things. Original post: https://chocolatepot.dreamwidth.org/1029745.html - please comment on Dreamwidth: https://chocolatepot.dreamwidth.org/1029745.html?mode=reply
e. st v. millay

Ever After is the best Cinderella adaptation, and an excellent feminist movie

and just a great movie in general

1) The stepfamily have carefully drawn characters - they aren't just stock stereotypes. Do they still fit within some pretty obvious tropes? Yes, but each one has their own motivations. The stepsisters are also intelligent, which is often not the case in more recent Cinderella movies. Marguerite is clever and her well-planned flirting would work on someone less jaded; Jacqueline is obviously presented as the less-pretty and less-clever sister, but she's never stupid. The old family retainers don't get much to do, but they have their own strength and resilience, and their own moments of emotion.

2) Danielle is set up from the start as tomboyish, fighting with Gustave in the mud, and she's never shown doing anything "girly" - most of her work on the estate is physical - but there's no dialogue pontificating on how she's not like other girls. It's clear enough from what we see that she's scrappy and that she does things (whether out of inclination or because she's ordered to) that ladies in general and her stepsisters wouldn't. Likewise, she's both intellectual (reading and internalizing Utopia) and clever (taking Henri as "anything [she] can carry"*), but she's never set up to knock down a cardboard sexist who thinks women are dumb. Essentially, the filmmakers put her strength and unconventionality into the story, rather than coming up with ways for people to announce and signpost it, apart from one line of dialogue from Henri, where he's admiring her many abilities.

3) Danielle's best friend is Gustave, who is physically less strong, generally averse to conflict, and an artist - not traditionally masculine. At the same time, he never resents her and also isn't a Nice Guy. Solidarity!

4) The costuming is top-notch. No, it's not an accurate representation of sixteenth-century French dress (it's more like fifteenth-century Florentine), but everything fits and is well-made. The details are excellent and the fabric looks real; worn clothing looks tired out from actual wear. Nothing stands out to my eyes as chintzy or cheap, or like a dozen were made from the same pattern.

5) It sticks to the Cinderella framework enough to feel familiar, but only uses it as a framework, rather than a stencil that must be filled in. Probably the biggest divergence is to make the ball the scene of Danielle being found out and rejected, the opposite of its function in the fairy tale, but using Leonardo da Vinci as the godmother and then working the godmother into the story as a mentor for both Cinderella and the prince is inspired.

I just ... really love Ever After, okay. It holds up!

* Okay, if there's one way it's not a great movie it's the use of the Roma as plot element and threat, and then a way to show how enlightened Danielle is

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e. st v. millay

The costuming is at least well-made if inaccurate

The Antique & Artisan Show was a success! As far as I can tell without knowing how much money we brought in or having read the vendor comment cards - it just seemed like more people were buying. One told me that she felt our $4 admission fee was hampering sales, but IMO the issue is that her handspun yarn cost $38 per skein. I bought quite a few things for presents (and some for me), lost all the Silent Auction items I'd bid on, and purchased a $75 box of dozens and dozens of Needlecraft magazines dating from 1921 to 1940 - several years are complete and many are almost so. The dealer's been selling them out of the box for ages, $3 apiece/$7 for three, so it's been picked over some ... but it's still an amazing deal when you consider how much magazines with fashion info cost on eBay.

I recently discovered the Jane Austen + Text Posts Tumblr, which is a pretty great read. Her textual criticism is 100% fantastic, although sometimes I think her history is a bit less so, or at least ... it's not that it's bad, it's just that sometimes she states things very confidently and I'm like, do you know this because you read a text with references to primary sources on the subject or do you just Know This? However, she makes it all up to me with:

Pride & Prejudice - I know this one is one of the most divisive and contentious bits of Discourse ever to exist among nerds as there are just MORE to pick from and it’s the novel most people are familiar with. SO I will just say that I have Strong Opinions on all of them but for BEST it’s kind of picking from among adaptations which have all disappointed me in some way so I’ll say if you were to COMBINE the better elements of both the 1995 miniseries for timing and thoroughness with the 2005 feature film for artistry and visuals (and don’t come at me handwaving #aesthetic as though it’s not important, because that’s what cinema IS, and lighting/framing/visual cues are SO SO SO important when telling a story through film!) then you’d probably have something I’d feel comfortable calling The Best. On their own, neither truly satisfies me.

Know what? Fuck it, Bridget Jones’s Diary is my favourite adaptation of P&P. Bride & Prejudice is also very good. I saw it three times in theatres, including once by myself, and have no regrets whatsoever.


This is an opinion I respect. In honor of her I'm watching PPZ this morning - I could rant on about worldbuilding issues, but tbh what I think is most disappointing is the way that Elizabeth is 99% a different character than in canon, yet they don't seem to believe that they lost anything in taking her from "a witty, self-assured young woman who likes a laugh" to "she's the MODERN Austen heroine, if you don't like it, DEAL".

I am liking this new season of Who. The premiere did nothing for me - not sure why - but Smile was great. I like Bill, she's well cast and well written.

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e. st v. millay

Thoughts on Fiction Lately

The Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph

You may remember that I picked this book up at the museum's book sale. It's by Frances Chamberlaine Sheridan (1724-1766), which is a fantastic name, right? She married an actor/director and wrote several plays (two of which were put on by David Garrick, which was a Big Deal) and novels, encouraged by Samuel Richardson. Her son was Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the writer of A School for Scandal.

Sidney Bidulph is a three-volume novel, and I've just come to the end of the first volume. IMO, it should be studied alongside or instead of Pamela or Clarissa - it's a much better read and just as literatury. So this is an epistolary/diary novel about a young woman having a suitably dramatic life: she lives with her mother, and her brother brings home a friend for her. The two fall in love and are preparing to get married, but a Moral Impediment is found (the friend impregnated a young woman) and her mother cuts off the match, with Sidney sadly complying. After a while, they (minus the brother - he's inherited their father's title and is off doing his own thing all the time) go for a long visit to a friend of the mother's, where the mother and her friend set Sidney up with a different young man. She's not in love with him but appreciates how gentlemanly and good he is, so they get married and the affection comes later. Several years and two daughters later, the friend comes back into the picture as her husband turns out to be having an affair with a neighbor; the neighbor is revealed as a nasty person who was involved with the friend impregnating the young woman in a bad way, and she orchestrates the husband into believing that Sidney's having an affair, and he hypocritically kicks her out. (End Vol. I.)

One of the things I really like is that, unlike Richardson, Sheridan doesn't hit you over the head with THIS CHARACTER IS BAD or THIS CHARACTER IS A PARAGON. The mother's actions are conventional and what most would have lauded, and Sidney's filial obedience is praised by the text (and I think by the author), but there's certainly critique of the social norms. There are also some side stories that contribute to the critique - the young woman's isn't finished yet by a long shot, Sidney suspects that she's not as innocent as she makes out (which at this point could mean anything from "she kind of wanted to have sex with the friend" to "she helped orchestrate their encounter to trick him into marriage"), but there's certainly a condemnation of what happened to her; the mother's friend has a daughter that married against her mother's wishes for love, and the narrative is very sympathetic to her and unsympathetic to her mother.

Finding Dory

SO CUTE. I wasn't sure if I was going to go see it - I'm a bit older than the demographic that's all "we've been waiting ten years for a sequel to Finding Nemo!" - but I saw it had 95% on Rotten Tomatoes and decided to do it. Collapse )

Crown Duel (Sherwood Smith)

I got this and its sequel, Court Duel, out of the library because of a rec online related to The Goblin Emperor (I think?). I was surprised that they turned out to be fairly slim YA volumes, but because they're older YA - back when it was "children's literature but a bit more complex and mature" - they're not full of the adolescent bullshit that usually makes me put YA books back on the shelf without finishing. The heroine is a teenager in a sexism-free medievalloid setting, and she and her brother have to rebel against the king on their father's death. She gets captured by the young aristocrat leading the king's forces, who they'd initially written off as a gambling fop, and they're clearly being set up for a future romance. I love it! (So far.)

Ilvermorny

My Ilvermorny opinions are probably somewhat controversial. (Link to JKR's writing on the first/biggest American magic school here, in case you haven't seen it.) It took me some time of pondering and mulling over to get at what was bothering me. See, Rowling doesn't even do the kind of interaction between Muggle and magical history and culture that people are expecting from her in other countries in her own. Magical Britain in Harry Potter is not just like modern day Britain, but with wands. She doesn't deal meaningfully with the Protestant Reformation/Jacobite Rebellion/reign of Victoria/WWI home front or the differences between all the regional cultures in the UK. It's very reasonable to say that you can do that to your own culture but not someone else's, but it seems like the common thought is that she was especially accurate to Britain and then did America worse and "wrong".

Basically, Rowling's worldbuilding is equal parts pastiche and Rule of Funny/Cool, and people want more standard urban fantasy worldbuilding. The magical world in HP is a thing totally apart from the Muggle world, not separated by a thin curtain so that every state/city has essentially the same culture on both sides. And TBH I wouldn't want it any other way.

... Actually, thinking about it, I would probably go with tight ethnic enclaves for American wizards, with some marrying in from local Muggles. There's definitely not a high enough population to support them spread out over the entire continent.

Writing

I just cannot write lately. I had a pretty good idea recently that could probably work as a novel but realistically, I know I could only do as a longer short story. Part of the problem is that I can't seem to get it started, and part is that I can't figure out what I'd do with it afterward. It's not salable (except maybe to a magazine from the Edwardian period), and if I put it on Amazon, do I use a pen name? Should I republish A Worthy Connection under a pen name? LIFE. I need someone else to make my decisions for me.

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