Weekend Roundup: In a Period Drama Mood

Happy Monday everyone! Another full week in store for me this week, but I’m excited for the Jurassic World and Inside Out screenings back to back Tuesday and Wednesday.

This weekend ends up being rather busy but I managed to fit in a couple of rewatches and a new movie I haven’t seen before, the Irish animated fantasy Song of the Sea (review upcoming). My tumblr feed has been filled with all kinds of Jane Austen gifsets lately and so it puts me in a period drama mood.

BBC Sense & Sensibility (2008)
SenseSensibilityBBC2008

Most Austen fans would say that their favorite is Pride & Prejudice but for me, Sense & Sensibility reigns supreme, followed by Persuasion. So nearly every year I have to watch at least one version of this adaptation. The Ang Lee version is still superior on the whole, it’s after all one of my top five favorite films of all time. But there are quite a lot of things I love about this version, especially in the casting of Hattie Morahan & Dan Stevens as Elinor Dashwood & Edward Ferrars, respectively. Oh and I also love Janet McTeer as Mrs. Dashwood. Hard to beat Alan Rickman but David Morrissey is more than adequate as Col. Brandon and I’ve grown to like his portrayal more and more. I didn’t care for Dominic Cooper as the dashing cad Willoughby though, and still don’t this time around.

Bride & Prejudice (2004) 

BridePrejudice2004

This is a Bollywood version of Austen’s most popular novel. I’ve reviewed it here, and this is such a fun movie to watch over and over. So goofy and at times hilarious, but I think it captures the essence of the story as Austen intended. Aishwarya Rai is mesmerizing as Lalita Bakshi (Lizzie Bennett) despite being far too beautiful in the role. Martin Henderson provides quite an eye candy as Darcy with his dimpled good looks, and fellow Aussie Daniel Gillies makes quite a charming Wickham. Gurinder Chadha did a nice job adapting the classic story and somehow fit it into the Indian culture. I thought that the portrayal of Lizzie’s parents are spot on, especially Mrs. Bakshi who’s unabashedly eager to marry off their daughters. Naveen Andrews makes for the most charming version of Mr. Bingly, can’t imagine any of the British actors be up for THAT kind of vigorous dancing, ahah.

North and South(2004)

I’ve dedicated a post for Richard Armitage‘s performance as John Thornton in this amazing BBC miniseries a while ago. It still stands as one of my top five period dramas of all time!

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From time to time I’d watch clips of this on Netflix streaming, but this weekend I watched the last two episodes… and of course the ‘Look back… look back at me‘ scene gets me every time! Nothing like a gorgeous tortured soul to stir my heart and Armitage looks positively gorgeous as the venerable & vulnerable Mr. Thornton.

The Rise & Fall of Versailles (2009)

Speaking of gorgeous, of course not a weekend passes by these days without at least one Stanley Weber viewing 😉 And because of the recent casting news that Stanley will be portraying a French nobleman in Outlander season 2, I re-watched this documentary on King Louis XV. It’s also available in the full French version called Le Soleil Noir (The Black Sun) which I’ve also seen despite not having English subtitles.

LeSoleilNoir2009

For anyone who’s into French history, this three-part documentary that goes all the way to the French revolution is fascinating and insightful, not to mention damn right sexy! The French sure knows how to make history lesson so titillating by casting such hot young actors as their monarchs, ahah. Louis XV is known for being quite a virile King with a colorful sexual history and this documentary doesn’t shy away from that. The set pieces and cinematography is fantastic for a TV documentary and it was filmed on location in Versailles. It’s especially fun to watch this as I was just there last year. So Outlander fans curious to see Stanley in French aristocracy regalia, be sure to catch this one and it’s on youtube and Hulu!


Well that’s my weekend, what did YOU watch?

Rental Pick: Bride & Prejudice (2004)

This review is part of Impassioned Cinema‘s Romance February Event. Check out this hub page for more romance films’ reviews from other bloggers.

As a fan of the Austen’s most celebrated novel, naturally my interest is piqued when I first heard about this project. I’m actually not a big fan of Bollywood musicals, even though it’s massively popular in my home country, but as Roger Ebert put it, this is not a Bollywood movie, but a Hollywood musical comedy incorporating Bollywood elements. It’s an amusing review as Mr. Ebert seemed to be distracted by miss Aishwarya Rai‘s beauty as he’s writing it, but really, who can blame him??

Former miss Word 1994 Rai lights up the screen as the Indian Lizzy Bennet, she gained 20 pounds to play this role in order to look more ‘plain,’ though like the Keira Knightly in the Joe Wright version of Pride & Prejudice, she is a far cry from being a plain jane. Despite that, I think Rai is able to capture the strong-willed as well as vulnerability of Lizzy Bennet and there’s certain warmth about her in the scenes with her sisters.

I like Gurinder Chadha’s previous work, a soccer rom-com Bend It Like Beckham, which also deals about bending the rules of society. This time Chadha takes on Austen’s classic tale, in which the protagonist’s mother is eager to find suitable husbands for her four unmarried daughters. Chadha stayed pretty closely to the original story, even the Indian names for the characters are somewhat similar – the Bennets are now the Bhakshis, Mr. Collins is Mr. Kholi, and Bingley is Balraj, etc., only Darcy and Wickham are the only names kept for the original.

This is the first time I saw miss Rai on film as it’s her first movie done entirely in English and found her to be very charming and stunning beyond belief. I think Julia Roberts once called her the most beautiful woman in the world and it’s a fitting title. New Zealand actor Martin Henderson with dimples to die for is convincing enough as Mr. Darcy though he doesn’t have the charisma of Colin Firth or even Matthew MacFadyen. Still I think the two protagonists have a sweet chemistry.

Another thing I love about this movie is the hilarious supporting cast, especially actors playing Mrs. Bakshi and the Bakshi’s distant relative who’s matched up with Lalita, Mr. Kholi (Nitin Ganatra). Ganatra is especially hilarious as the Westernized businessman who prides himself in his success as a hotelier in L.A. The way he’s trying to woo Lalita will have you in stitches! Fans of the TV series LOST and ROME will recognize Naveen Andrews and Indira Varma playing brother and sister. Naveen is such a charismatic actor and a pretty awesome dancer as well!

One thing that wasn’t done as well is the relationship between the devious Mr. Wickham (Daniel Gillies, you might recognize him as Kirsten Dunst’s fiancee in Spider-man 2) and Lalita. Chadha took much more liberty on that storyline what with the chase that involve the London Eye and scuffle between Darcy & Wickham, but still the essence of the story about him running off with Lalita’s younger sis was there.

The filmmaker doesn’t take things too seriously, silly moments of grandios proportion are done in tongue-in-cheek fashion, such as the scene on the beach when Darcy and Lalita took a stroll, suddenly a ridiculously large gospel choir serenading them, joined by a group of California surfers swaying their surfboards! The hilarious cultural comedy when Lalita’s youngest sister performed the cobra dance that almost gave Darcy a heart attack is a hoot, too!

Any fans of Austen should be entertained by this movie. It’s a classic comedy of manners done in the most jubilant way. The script is skillfully written to account for not only the class systems. If you think the poster looks vibrant and festive, the movie lives up to it. There are quite a few song and dance sequences and characters do burst into song and dances in the middle of the scenes, but they’re balanced by a witty script and a dynamic pace. Incredibly colorful and unabashedly effervescent, no matter what mood you’re in, it’s tough not to be buoyed by the feverish energy of this movie. I like this movie so much that it’s one of the 8 movies I’d bring if I were stranded on a desert island.

Check out the trailer below:



Have you seen this movie? Well, what did you think?

Top Ten Movie Couples Wish List – Continued

As promised in my previous post of Top Ten Movie Couples, here’s the rationale behind my wish list of actor/actress pairings I’d love to see on-screen:

1. Gerard Butler & Eva Green
I love Eva in Casino Royale, she’s got the perfect combination of intellect + sex appeal. Pair her with the sexy, Scottish bad boy and watch the screen combust!

2. Russell Crowe & Amy Adams
Crowe is a sensitive hero despite his tempestuous aura, whilst Adams is the reigning sweet princess after her terrific turn in Enchanted. They’d be great in something like The Painted Veil, about an ordinary couple going through extraordinary circumstances.

3. Rufus Sewell & Aishwarya Rai
After being in a series of duds lately (including the now cancelled CBS show Eleventh Hour), Sewell ought to get a new agent already! He’s a great character actor who somehow often got cast as the baddie in a given love story (The Holiday, The Illusionist). I’d love to see him do a cultural romantic drama with famed Bollywood’s actress miss Rai (former Miss World 1994) where he’d end up getting the girl.

4. Christian Bale & Emily Blunt
If you’ve been reading my blog you know I love Bale in various romantic scenes he’s been in. Too bad he seems to gravitate towards tortured souls, desolate characters these days. I know he doesn’t like rom-coms, which is fine by me, but it’d be great to see more of him playing a normal guy dealing with relationship issues (kind of like what he did in Laurel Canyon), where he doesn’t starve himself or chop anybody off with an ax. Fellow Brit Emily Blunt stole scenes in The Devil Wears Prada and Jane Austen Book Club. She’s a beautiful & talented actress with great comic skills.  She’d be a suitable match for the ever so serious Bale.

5. Henry Cavill & Sophia Myles
My favorite underrated actor and actress, they both have earned their dues to finally hit the big time. Henry is tall, dark & handsome whilst Sophia is the petite, blond starlet (kind of the British Scarlett Johansson). He’s currently in SHOWTIME’s The Tudors and she was last seen in CBS’ Moonlight (which I think wasn’t a good enough show for her talent). I’d love to see these two in something like The Notebook or Before Sunrise.

6. Johnny Depp & Kate Beckinsale
Johnny is believable in almost anything he does, and I like Kate in Serendipity. She should do more drama/smart rom-com like that, so I’m glad she’s abandoned the Underworld franchise. Hmmm, I could see them do a remake of Wuthering Heights.

7. Timothy Dalton & Emma Thomson
My favorite Bond & Charlotte Bronte’s Rochester + classiest Jane Austen character (Sense & Sensibility‘s Elinor) – oh wouldn’t that be awesome! I can’t fathom why an impossibly good looking, classically-trained seasoned actor like Timothy isn’t busy fending off offers. He’s still dashing even in his early 60s! As for Emma, after seeing Last Chance Harvey, I adore her even more. It’d be great to see these two thespians work together in something like that.

8. Eric Bana & Halle Berry
Everyone may be swooning over Hugh Jackman more these days, but Eric is the ‘boy from Oz’ I find captivating. A former stand-up comic, the down-to-earth charmer makes any flix watchable, especially with his adorable accent. I just think Halle would be an interesting match for Eric in a smart thriller with a tangled love story thrown in.

9. Edward Norton & Maggie Gyllenhaal
These two are massively talented actor with an Indie/artsy flair. I’m surprised they haven’t worked together by now. Both are unconventionally good looking for those who favor brains over beauty. I’d say Edward is the anti-Matthew McConaughey and Maggie the anti-Megan Fox, and that’s a very good thing.

10. Daniel Henney & Rachel McAdams
I first knew about this incredibly hunky Korean/English actor from my sister in-law, and then saw him on-screen for the first time in Wolverine. In this increasingly global everything, isn’t it about time we have a real Asian heartthrob that isn’t known only for his martial art! Not sure yet about his acting skills, as he’s mostly done Korean movies, but US audiences will get a chance to see him in the new CBS series coming this fall, Three Rivers. I just pick Rachel because I thought she was great in The Notebook and Red Eye, I doubt I’d be paying much attention to anybody else once Mr. Henney is on screen though, ehm.