The week that was… [slowly] back blogging again

Hello everyone! Remember me? 😉 I’ve been back since very late Friday but after 30+ hour trip, I was still pretty exhausted that I didn’t have any energy to blog right away. Hope everyone’s doing well whilst I was off the blogosphere, well I was practically off-line entirely as I barely got time to even check Twitter in the past week and a half. Btw, it’s gonna be a slow return to blogging as I’m actually going to be away this Wednesday to San Diego (our planned vacation) for at least five days.

Nyekar
So long my dear brother… ’til we meet again

Anyway, this has been quite a whirlwind trip for me, but despite the sadness of losing my dear brother Peter so suddenly, I was very blessed to be able to spend some quality time with my one and only remaining sibling Paul (his twin), his wonderful wife and their three girls. It was a blast spending time with my three beautiful nieces (ages 9, 11 and 13) who happen to be all into movies, ahah, so we’d excitedly talk about movies they’re anticipating Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, not surprisingly both are based on young adult novels and feature a female protagonist 😉

Well, suffice to say I didn’t see a single new movie the past couple of weeks. I had to miss a few screenings (The Lone Ranger, World War Z), so the last screening I saw was Monsters University (review coming next week). I was really at the mercy of cable TV at my hotel and the [very] limited selections on the plane, but y’know, it’s actually not that bad. Here are the movies I happen to catch in the past 10 days:

CABLE:

  • Con Air (1997) – rewatch
    ConAir
    I actually saw this one twice in 2 days believe it or not, the first time on my own and the second time when my brother Paul came to visit me on my hotel and we ended up watching this again (with my nieces too) the second time around. Perhaps one of my fave Nic Cage movies, and he actually looks pretty bad ass in that wife beater, ahah.
  • The Avengers (2012) – rewatch
    Avengers
    I almost watched this one twice as well if I hadn’t fallen asleep, ahah. What can I say, it’s still as fun as the first time I saw it, and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) still stole the show 😀
  • The Grey (2011)TheGrey
    I’ve been curious about this movie for a while but I missed the first 20 minute or so by the time I switched the TV on. Some of the parts were quite boring but overall it’s actually a decent – albeit predictable thriller. Worth renting I suppose but probably not worth seeing on the big screen, even with the gorgeous cinematography. Liam ‘special set of skills’ Neeson is perhaps the only reason to watch this one, unless you’re a wolves enthusiast, ahah.

I also saw half an episode of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, the one with the late Andy Whitfield. It actually looked pretty good though I had to switch the channels during the violent battle stuff so I don’t think I can actually watch this show in its entirety.

IN FLIGHT:

  • Monsters, Inc. (2001) – rewatch
    MonstersInc
    Though the prequel was fun and exceeded my expectations, this one is still tough to beat. The scenes with Boo when Sulley & Mike first encounter her always had me in stitches!
  • Jane Eyre (2011) – rewatch
    JaneEyre2011
    I’ve got to admit I had a renewed appreciation for this Cary Fukunaga version. I wasn’t bowled over when I first saw it (read my review) but I think Michael Fassbender made for a soulful & magnetic Rochester (though Timothy Dalton’s portrayal is still my all-time fave) and Mia Wasikowska is superb in the title role.
  • Pride & Prejudice (2005) – rewatch
    PridePrejudice2005
    I always felt the urge to watch this every time it’s available. I think this Joe Wright’s film has become my favorite P&P version now, yes it even beat the Colin Firth one for me. I love Matthew MacFadyen as Mr. Darcy and Keira Knightley’s more than all right as Lizzy Bennett.
  • Big Fish (2001)
    BigFish
    I’ve been curious about this one for some time so I’m glad this was shown on the plane. It’s perhaps the most un-Tim Burton-like from the eccentric director. It’s a surprisingly moving fantasy film centered on father-son relationship. I quite like the cast, esp. Albert Finney and Ewan McGregor playing the old/young version of the character, and Billy Crudup as his son. It’s a bit confusing at times but it might be one of the most emotionally-charged Tim Burton film I’ve seen so far.

I actually almost watched Les Miserables on the plane but for some reason my earphone only worked on one ear, and I really can’t imagine listening to 2.5 hours of all that singing just from one ear!

Now, when I got back, I only watched a couple of things from Netflix streaming:

WhatToExpect

Though I initially shrugged this one off, but I’m glad I gave this a shot as it ended up being quite funny. The dudes support group is definitely the highlight, though I find Joe Manganiello (the actor & the character) so incredibly repulsive, ugh. I actually quite like J-Lo in this one though, but Elizabeth Banks is the most hilarious one of all the girls.

AllStarSuperman

I might’ve seen parts of this before but my hubby and I started watching this on his iPad and we ended up watching the whole thing on our TV. It’s interesting how there are some things here that seem to echo Man of Steel, well I guess the other way around as this animated feature was already released in 2011. I like that Superman is dying of radiation poisoning and making the ultimate sacrifice for humanity. Even the soundtrack is pretty good. Definitely a must for Superman fans!


Well, that’s my week so far, folks. What have you been watching? Anything good?

FlixChatter Review: Jane Eyre (2011)

After nearly a year of waiting, finally I got to see the latest version of one of my favorite classic love stories, Jane Eyre. The oft-filmed Charlotte Brontë’s gothic novel has been adapted into tv and motion pictures more than two dozen times, not to mention countless theater work of the same name. It’s amazing that after its first publication in London in 1847, one hundred and sixty four years later the story still resonates and beguiles people the world over.

Fukunaga on Jane Eyre’s set

Even if you haven’t read the book, I presume most people are familiar with the story of a young governess who falls for her employer who’s twice her age, the ultimate Byronic hero Edward Rochester. Brontë’s Jane Eyre is decidedly darker than many romantic period dramas, such as those by Jane Austen or even Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South, there are elements of mystery and horror that plague the protagonists’ lives. 33-year-old director Cary Fukunaga is fully aware of it and makes the most of those elements into his sophomore effort (his first was the acclaimed immigrant-themed indie Sin Nombre).

Instead of a straight review, for this purpose I’d like to list what works and what doesn’t in this adaptation. It’s longer than usual because there’s just a lot to cover, so bear with me.

The Good:

Fukunaga’s direction – He preferred natural light for much of the film, forgoing camera lighting and instead opted for candles which created the proper dark, moody and gloomy atmosphere that matches Rochester’s temperament perfectly. He used some hand-held camera work to great effect — Jane walking through the corridor, narrow gates, etc. — but not too much so that it became distracting. The extremely gloomy and rainy setting give the beautiful Spring-y backdrop during the day scenes much more impact, and they seem to mimic the sentiment the protagonists are feeling.

Thornfield Hall, Rochester’s expansive mansion looked like something Count Dracula could comfortably settle in. It almost became its own character in the story and adds the necessary spookiness we come to expect from this Gothic tale.

Click to see a larger version

Judi Dench as Mrs. Fairfax – When does Dame Judi ever disappoint? Apparently never. Even in small roles, the scenes she’s in are one of the best ones in the movie. There was an important scene involving Jane and Rochester where Mrs. Fairfax didn’t utter a single word, but she made quite an impact just with her expression. With that bonnet and frumpy frock, it’s hard to imagine she’s the same woman playing James Bond’s formidable boss, M.

Mia Wasikowska as Jane – A lot of the issues I have with literary adaptation is that the supposedly plain heroine usually ends up being played actresses who are too glamorous for the role. Fortunately in this one, Wasikowska was believable as a plain young girl, though she obviously is a pretty girl. At 18, she’s also the perfect age for the role. If I were to nitpick though, she’s not exactly ‘little’ as she’s described in the novel as Rochester doesn’t quite tower over her.

In any case, I thought she did a wonderful job carrying the film. She captures the essence of the strong-willed character who holds her own against her much older subject of her affection, and one who despite ‘not being well-acquainted with men’ doesn’t seem intimidated by them.

Michael Fassbender as Rochester – In many ways, we evaluate a Jane Eyre adaptation by its Rochester, and as long as we use that ‘calculation,’ I think he measures up quite well. He has a strong screen presence and is the kind of actor who’s usually the best thing even in a so-so film (i.e. Centurion), and he makes the best of what’s given to him for the role. By that I mean, given the relatively short screen time, which is less than what I had hoped to see, he was able to make us care for Rochester.

Which brings me to…

The not-so-good:

This cliff-notes version feels way too fast. With a complex story like Jane Eyre, no doubt it’d be a challenge for any filmmaker, no matter how talented, to pare it down into a two-hour movie. So it’s inevitable that this film just moves along too quick for me, it’s almost at breakneck pace! Of course that is not Fukunaga’s fault and he really made the most of it, but still this version just leaves me wanting more. I guess this is perhaps a more ‘accessible’ version for the crowd that otherwise would not watch Jane Eyre. But to me, the story is compelling enough that an extra half-hour would only enhance the viewing experience and allow enough time for the characters to develop authentic connection.

Click to see a larger version

Dialog omission. Again, this is not a criticism as much as a ‘wish list’ on my part, and perhaps a result of being ‘spoiled’ by the comprehensive 1983 version (which at 5.5 hours is perhaps the longest adaptation ever). Of course it’s impossible to include every single dialog from the book, but I was hoping at least some of the important ones are kept. The famous quotes such as  “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me”, Do as I do: trust in God and yourself”, Reader, I married him” are not spoken in this adaptation.

There’s also an issue with the way some of the lines were delivered, I just find it lacking bite, y’know that certain oomph that an actor does to bring those timeless words to life.

Jamie Bell seems miscast. Now, keep in mind I really like Jamie as an actor and have said so many times in this blog. However, I don’t feel he’s right for the role of St. John (Sin-Jin) Rivers. First, when you’ve already got someone as striking as Fassbender as Rochester, I’d think the casting agent would have to find someone much fairer than he. No offense to Jamie, but that’s not the case here and he certainly doesn’t fit the book description of ‘tall, fair with blue eyes, and with a Grecian profile.’ Now, physical appearance aside, he also lack the solemn and pious sensibility of a Christian missionary.

Unconventional storyline – Moira Buffini’s script tells the story in flashback mode instead of following the novel’s linear storyline. The movie starts off right as Jane is leaving Thornfield, which is right smack dab where the main crisis of the story begins. Now, I can understand that it’s done to make it less boring rather than following the five distinct stages of the book faithfully. Yet it gets confusing at times to figure out which part happens in the past or present. I think for someone not familiar with the book, the shuffled timeline might be a bit tough to follow.


In conclusion, despite me leaving the theater wanting more, I really think this is a worthy adaptation. The production quality is really top notch, with gorgeous cinematography, affecting light work and music that serve the story well. There is even one scene of Jane and Rochester that Fukunaga took liberty with that’s quite tantalizing. It caught me off guard but wow, I must say that scene left me breathless and is an effective way to convey how much Jane longed for her true love.

But in the end, as far as Rochester is concerned, even though I adore the actor, Fassbender still hasn’t replaced Timothy Dalton as my favorite in the role. Sure, the production is much inferior to this one, but what makes a Jane Eyre story so fascinating and memorable are the heart-wrenching connection between the two main protagonists and the dialog spoken between them, so in that regard, the 1983 version is still the one to beat.


4 out of 5 reels

Those who’ve seen this one, feel free to offer your thoughts about the film. Also, if you’ve seen several adaptations, which one is your favorite?

THIS JUST IN: JANE EYRE 2011 trailer debuts!

I know I just posted a trailer yesterday but I have been anticipating this for so long! Ever since I saw the 1983 BBC version of Jane Eyre, I fell in love with Charlotte Brontë’s Gothic romance and Dalton as the the ultimate Byronic hero Edward Rochester. I love how faithful it was to the book, but the entire production is rather tedious and the costume, lighting, etc. left much to be desired. Then I learned about indie director Cary Fukunaga’s vision of the movie, and was really intrigued by his vision. As a fan of the novel, he intends to capture the dark and spooky atmosphere of the novel, as the story is so much more than a period romance.Well, judging from this trailer, looks like he achieved what he set out to do.

First look of the new Rochester


Last September, I couldn’t help pondering about which actor could play Rochester. Now, the German-born Michael Fassbender wasn’t on my list, but after seeing him in the trailer, I’m more than pleased by the casting choice! Dalton was a tough act to follow and I wasn’t impressed by Toby Stephens’ portrayal in the latest BBC version, but Fassbender looks poised to be my new favorite. Yes, he’s still far too good looking for the role, just like most other actors playing Rochester. But the important thing is he’s able to bring that mercurial, tortured-soul sensibilities the role requires, but with ample of sex appeal 😀

The overall look of the movie definitely looks promising and with a top notch the supporting cast! Here’s the cast info from my previous post: Dame Judi Dench will play Mrs. Fairfax, the housekeeper of Thornfield Manor who hires Jane, and disproves of Jane’s relationship with Rochester. One of my fave young thespian Jamie Bell (Defiance, Billy Elliot) will play St. John, a young clergyman who helps Jane in a time of need, and turns out to be connected to her by blood. Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky, An Education) will play Mrs. Reed, Jane’s terrible aunt, who terrorizes and abuses Jane as a orphaned child.

I know that a lot of people out there probably think, ‘another Jane Eyre adaptation?!’ But this one might offer what have been missing in the previous adaptations… staying true to the novel whilst keeping the tone fresh and contemporary. I absolutely can’t wait until March 11 of next year for this!

Oh, I just found another still photo that’s just been released… I’m dying to see how the proposal scene goes with Jane’s ‘Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless?’ heart-wrenching speech. I adore the one from the 1983 version, it’s just one of my favorite scenes in the miniseries.

Any Brontë fans out there? What do you think of the trailer… and specifically, Fassbender as Mr. Rochester?