Thursday Movie Picks: Period Dramas

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy almost Friday! It’s TMP time! The Thursday Movie Picks blogathon was spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… Period Dramas.

Ahhhh! This is one of my all time favorite genres and those who read my blog regularly knows I have a soft spot for Jane Austen, specifically Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility. But beyond that, I watch a TON of period dramas and so in order to narrow things down to just FOUR, I’m only selecting TV MINISERIES based on books. I actually love the miniseries (or limited series) format as it allows more time for character development and unpack the story in a deeper level. I happen to own ALL of these miniseries, that’s how much I love them!

So here they are in the order of release:

North & South (2004)


North and South is a four part adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s love story of Margaret Hale, a middle class southerner who is forced to move to the northern town of Milton.

Call me old fashioned but I feel like a lot of romances these days are all about instant gratification. I think the pent-up passion, the waiting, the stolen glances, etc. are what makes period romances so irresistible to me. I’ve seen my North & South DVD countless times and it never gets old. The casting of Daniela Denby-Ashe (Margaret) and Richard Armitage (John) are superb and they have a palpable chemistry, especially towards the end. I’ve even dedicated a post for John Thornton character in this post.

Similar to Pride & Prejudice, Margaret and John didn’t get off on the right foot initially, there’s also a proposal that didn’t go over well, which of course adds to the drama! I love that this story is SO much more than just a love story (though it’s the best part about it), but it also shows the changing economic landscape of the north and south of England during the Industrial Revolution, hence the title.

Jane Eyre (2006)


A young governess falls in love with her brooding and complex master. However, his dark past may destroy their relationship forever.

There are a whole bunch of Jane Eyre adaptations both on films and TV. Up until 2006, my favorite miniseries is the 1983 version starring Timothy Dalton that I’ve talked about here. Now, there are parts I still prefer the 1983 version, but overall I think this is a more compelling adaptation with a much more superior production quality. I love the fact that it’s a female-driven series both in front and behind the camera–directed by Susanna White from a screenplay written by Sandy Welch, surely a first in a Charlotte Brontë adaptation.

I love Ruth Wilson as Jane and Toby Stephens as the brooding Rochester who wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s not as stiff and stoic as previous Rochesters (Dalton excluded) that I’ve seen previously, which makes for a more fun dynamic. The banters between the two are lovely to watch, and I can see how Jane falls for her much older boss despite her better judgment. Stephens often comes across as too playful in the role but somehow it works well here and the emotional scenes between them are really heart-wrenching. Jane says Rochester is the only one who’s ever treated her like an equal and the filmmakers did a good job showing that.

Persuasion (2007)


Anne was in love with Frederick, who was rejected by her snobby parents 8 years ago. They’ve now hit hard times and rent out their mansion to his brother-in-law. He returns a Royal Navy captain. Will he remember Anne?

Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel, which is her last novel she fully completed before her death. The main protagonist, Anne is considered ‘old’ at 27 and has lost her bloom, while the man she rejected eight years ago is now a war hero and a wealthy man. Now, I have to say that the 1995 version is a much superior adaptation, but this one has its charms. I like the way Sally Hawkins portray Anne and Rupert Penry-Jones as Wentworth, while Anthony Head is hilarious as her vain and stuck-up father obsessed with his status in society. The scenery is gorgeous as it was filmed on location in Bath. The direction by Adrian Shergold is a bit baffling in parts, I don’t know why Anne is the only character who breaks the fourth wall, and I wish he didn’t have Anne run all over town to see Wentworth in the end. Overall I enjoyed this adaptation though, and I love this scene when they meet in Bath by chance during a rainy afternoon.

Death Comes Pemberley (2013)


Elizabeth and Darcy, now six years married, are preparing for their annual ball when festivities are brought to an abrupt halt. An adaptation of PD James’s homage to Pride and Prejudice.

It’s Jane Austen meets Agatha Christie! Somehow Pride and Prejudice is one of those classics that’s quite extendable. Now, unlike Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, this one is pretty much a continuation of the story of Lizzie and Darcy, who somehow still can’t escape the shadow of the dastardly Wickham. I LOVE Matthew Rhys as Darcy, this Welshman is masterful in any role and here he portrays the more mature, conflicted Darcy brilliantly. I was a bit skeptical about Anna Maxwell Martin as Elizabeth but I’ve grown to appreciate her portrayal and the fact that she’s actually more plain-looking as Lizzie is supposed to be in the book. As P&P fans, it’s always intriguing to imagine the life of our beloved couple past their blissful wedding. The way the script explores the Darcys relationship during this tumultuous time is quite fascinating.

Now Matthew Goode as Wickham is absolutely perfect casting, esp. in displaying his vulnerable side as he stand accused of murdering his own best friend. He also never looked more ravishing in his red uniform, yowza! Jenna Coleman is quite irritatingly hilarious as the over-the-top Lydia, and I love the pairing of Eleanor Tomlinson (as Darcy’s younger sister) and James Norton who are besotted with each other. The production values are incredible, gorgeous set pieces, costumes, and especially the legendary Chatsworth House as Pemberly estate. I can’t recommend this enough for anyone looking for a good mystery and intrigue in a costume drama.

Have you seen any of these? Which are YOUR favorite period dramas?

The Case of Being Spellbound: Musings on Movie Crushes

I’ve been wanting to write this post for some time… but seeing how swoon-worthy Gregory Peck in Spellbound I feel like indulging. Besides, one of my longtime crush is having a birthday this Saturday, another one has a movie opening this Friday, and my friend Novia just happened to be celebrating her Monthly [Cillian] Murphy series on her ultimate movie crush, so today just seems as good a time as any. Admit it, we’ve all got our share of movie crushes. Some last only as long as the film you saw him/her in question remains in your memory, but some crushes linger for years.

So what really constitute as a movie crush?

I think a real crush is when you like an actor so much you just can’t get enough of them. You want to see everything he’s ever done, and you’re willing to track down even the most obscure little thing you could find, even if he has only like 5-minute screen time. That’s what I did as a wee girl when I fell for Christopher Reeve in Superman. Or the time I ordered a DVD of this British sit-com Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married all the way from New Zealand because Gerry Butler has a part in it, ahah. Turns out to be a pretty funny show thankfully.

Contrary to what you might think, I don’t fall for actors very often. Well, you know, the whole butterfly-in-the stomach variety. In fact, I was surprised how much I was struck by Peck in Spellbound… It was a big swoon moment as I watched the way he looked at and held Ingrid Bergman… I was um, spellbound by his gorgeous face (and how his ears sort of stick out a bit), the way his dark hair kind of curl on his forehead, his deep voice. There’s also that quiet grace about him that I always find irresistible in a man. So yeah, it’s one of those rare swept-off-my-feet moments that when it happens, I kind of want to cherish it.

I can only think of a few such hypnotic moments. If you read this blog long enough, none of this is a surprise to you. Back in December 2004, it took the second viewing of Phantom of the Opera for me to fall for who else but ze Butler. It was a seduction scene when the masked genius led the young ingenue Christine to his lair. Well let’s just say she wasn’t the only one to come under his spell, ehm. A couple of years ago, watching Mr. Thornton in BBC’s North & South got me swooning over Richard Armitage. It’s a tough role to match as I haven’t been that mesmerized by anything else he’s done since (hopefully his role in The Hobbit would mean he gets more movie roles!)

Another time I recall was in Sense & Sensibility, the moment Col. Brandon was struck by Marianne’s beauty (and her singing) and the way he’d secretly steal glances from her and read to her with such affection, I will forever be a fan of Alan Rickman because of that role. Oh, and I can’t possibly leave out the moment I saw Dalton emerged as Rochester in 1983 Jane Eyre. He fell off his horse and I fell head over heels in love 🙂 I had already fancied him as Bond, but it’s his portrayal as Rochester that did me in. There were other less-intense-but-still-memorable crushes such Gabriel Byrne in Little Women, Karl Urban in The Lord of the Rings, Christian Bale in The New World, Lee Pace in The Fall, Eric Bana in Troy, and Tom Hiddleston in Thor, to name a few.

As far as movie crushes go, seems that I always fall for either a Brit or Aussie. Even if I had no idea where the guy is from, or how obscure he was or how small a part he has in an big ensemble-cast movie, I’d end up being attracted to someone outside of the US. It’s almost a mathematical certainty (well I said almost because I did fall for the California-born Peck instead of he equally-dashing Brit Cary Grant). I don’t know if it’s because my first ever crush was my British ESL teacher, but I think the Brits/Aussie actors just have a more charming personality to go with their looks, not just in movies, but also in interviews/talk show appearances. Now, before you hurl anything at me, I’m not saying American actors aren’t attractive, in fact, some are too perfect-looking that it actually becomes a turn-off for me. Bradley Cooper, Matthew McCougnahey, Chris Pine and the suddenly buff ‘it boy’ Ryan Gosling, seem to fit into that category.

A Taste for the Obscures

Henry Cavill and Gerry Butler were unknown when I first noticed them, and a lot of my crushes are not exactly household names yet. As an actor becomes too famous though, sometimes my fascination would wear off. I kind of feel that way about Michael Fassbender now, though obviously it’s not a fault of his that he’s getting recognized for his work. Overexposure can be such a killjoy, that’s why superstars like Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Leo DiCaprio don’t do anything for me.

Anyway, I don’t know where I’m going with this. I guess Gregory Peck just inspired me to just write about other movie crushes in the past. So thanks for allowing me to indulge a bit in between my search for more Peck’s classic movies to watch, ahah.

Now your turn. Please share your own movie crushes… who’s your long-time crush and which one(s) captured your heart recently?

Houdini Magic Tickets Blog-a-thon – What I’d do if I had them

Thanks to my friend and loyal FC reader Dan Stephens from Top 10 Films for inviting me to join this fun blog-a-thon! Dan explained in this post that the idea for the blog-a-thon comes from the film Last Action Hero starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The basic idea is what if you had a magic ticket that transported you into any movie you wished? What films would you want to enter the world’s of?

In order to help focus our responses whilst still keeping ’em open to all kinds of wonderful ideas and every film under the sun, each of us will base our posts around these questions below. So here we go …

What character would you most like to be sat next to on a plane?

I don’t know why but I immediately thought of a superhero alter ego to pass the time on a long flight, though most likely these two would be flying on their own planes. But hey, who said it has to be a commercial plane, so why not shoot for the stars? 😀 Initially I thought it’d be nice to be sitting next to Bruce Wayne (without Alfred on board preferably) but I feel that Bruce is more on the quiet side so I think the gregarious Tony Stark would be more entertaining. Both guys have a lot going on in their life, but I think Stark is more inclined to share them and be more chatty and flirty on the plane 😉

What character would you most want to enjoy a passionate romance with?

Ooooh this is a juicy one… and naturally the one I grapple with the most, ahah. As I’m such as sucker for those tortured souls, I go back and forth between the Phantom of the Opera (the Gerry Butler version of course, I mean even with just a half of his face he’s sexy as hell!) and Jane Eyre‘s Rochester (the Timothy Dalton’s 1983 version). But I think I’ll go with Rochester as Phantom’s lair is rather creepy. The passion and longing he displayed as he looked at Jane is so irresistible… here’s a man who’s capable to give his whole heart to the woman he loves, what could be more attractive?

If you were a cop who would you want as your partner?

Ahah, this question makes me laugh as I REALLY don’t want to be a cop nor would I be good at it. So for that reason, I’d pick someone who can perhaps do the job on his own without my help… and that is John McClane of course. Not only is he bad ass, but he’s witty and fun as well… plus, I like cops who’re as great in car chases as he does in intense shoot outs!

What animated feature would you love to walk around in?

I’d loooove to go back into the Medieval era of Sleeping Beauty. What with those friendly animals on an enchanting forest, where everything looks like a spectacular painting with gorgeous, vivid colors. Preferably the handsome Prince Philip would be my tour guide as we walk around the forest and his castle serenaded by Tchaikovsky’s music. I figure Maleficent would be too busy chasing Aurora and the three fairy godmothers are busy protecting her that we’d have the whole weekend to ourselves 😉

What movie gadget would you love to try out (or steal)?

I’d LOVE to get my hands on Tumbler from Nolan’s Batman series. I mean that’s the coolest movie ride ever and clearly Bruce Wayne loves it, too! Plus, in case anything happens, there’s the batpod as a backup, so really whats not to love?

What film’s plot would you alter and how would you do it?

Now, for this question, I don’t really have an alternative solution, but the one superhero movie ending that I always find preposterous (yes even in this genre!) is the ‘turning back time’ sequence in Superman: The Movie. I’ve already mentioned that in detail in ScarletSp1der’s blog post on It Should’ve Ended This Way. Perhaps leaving it as a cliffhanger would’ve been more heart-wrenching, though I know in a superhero movie people probably expect a more uplifting ending [shrugs].

What one film would you most want to be transported into, simply to be a part of that world?

I was so mesmerized by the enchanting city of Paris in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris… which look spectacular both during the day or at night, and even more so in the rain! Plus, when the clock strikes midnight, I’d get to experience a whole different side of the City of Lights and meet a whole set of inspiring people who’ve helped shape the creative world as we know it.

On the other side of that coin…

The world I would NOT want to be transported into:

That’s got to be anywhere there’s a zombie epidemic, especially 28 Days Later. No matter how much I love London but the scenes of the deserted city is just so darn creepy. I don’t think I can survive very long at all being chased around by terrifying zombies!

So that’s my answers. Don’t forget to visit Dan’s post to see what other people have done with their magic ticket. Now, what would YOU do with yours?

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?

Reminiscing on my favorite Rochester – Jane Eyre’s 1983 BBC miniseries

The 2011 Jane Eyre’s film adaptation I’ve been waiting for quite a while opens today… alas, only in limited release. So that means I have to wait another two weeks before it finally opens in my neck of the woods.

My love for Jane Eyre started out perhaps five or six years ago when I came across this YouTube fan-made music video of the BBC 1983 version set to a Hoobastank’s song The Reason, an odd choice of song I thought but it kinda works for the story. In any case, it prompted me to rent this miniseries from Netflix, as well as bought the book (though I’ve only read the later half). I’ve also since seen two additional TV adaptations, the 1997 one with Samantha Morton and Ciaran Hinds and the most recent BBC adaptation with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens in 2006, but neither one ever came close to replacing the 1983 version. The reason? Well, isn’t it obvious? Timothy Dalton as Rochester, of course!

Yes, the production quality is far from perfect — poor lighting, uninspired costumes and sets and the totally dull, almost irksome music leave much to be desired. But once Dalton appears on-screen, you won’t notice ’em … or anything else for that matter. I love how faithful this miniseries is to Charlotte Brontë‘s vision, much of the dialog are taken from the book and the actors did a remarkable job delivering them convincingly. Zelah Clarke as Jane looks like a midget next to the 6’2″ Dalton and sometimes it’s a bit distracting, but her performance was strong and full of conviction which creates a powerful dynamic between the two.

Dalton is absolutely astounding as the ultimate Byronic hero. With that voice and screen presence, he’s born to play this role. I initially thought he’s far too handsome for a character that’s described in the book as someone ‘not possessing of a classic good looks.’ Though I’d be hard pressed to find a woman who thinks Dalton is ugly, we must remember that this was written in the 1800 where the standard beauty is fair hair, fair skin, with some kind of Greek statue-like features. So with that in mind, Dalton with his square jaw, dark hair and rugged, masculine features fits the physical description of the role nicely. But more importantly, he captures the essence of Rochester’s persona, the flawed hero with mercurial mood, ill temper, and a torrid past that still haunts him and ravages him with guilt.

Dalton imbues the complex character with such fire that makes other actors’ interpretation pales in comparison. Some plays the character way too angry who’s practically yelling the entire time (Hinds) or too romantic and a bit oversexed (Stephens). I know I’m going to get a lot of flak for saying that as that adaptation and specifically Stephens have a massive following, but hey, it is what it is. I really think Dalton’s interpretation is superior as he’s got a nice balance of danger, passion and longing, all the while retaining that mysterious and unpredictable aura about him that makes him so unnerving but yet so darn attractive. Rochester is the quintessential tortured soul and in Dalton’s eyes, that pain and forlorn-ness is apparent, especially in the scene where Jane was about to leave him for good, you could see his desperation and fear of losing her. There’s that frailty in him as he hits that breaking point and THAT scene to me is what sets Jane Eyre apart from other period romance. Dalton himself has said this role is one of his best works, and I absolutely concur. He totally sets the bar for the performance for me, or as my friend Prairiegirl said to me when I lent her my dvd recently, ‘Dalton spoiled it for me. I doubt anyone else will ever come close…’

Well, I’ve been going on and on about how terrific Dalton’s Rochester is. But why don’t you just check it out for yourself in some of my favorite scenes:

The ‘fire’ scene:

I knew you would do me good in some way, at sometime… I saw it in your eyes when I first beheld you…

Farewell, Mr. Rochester:

And how do people perform that ceremony of parting, Jane? Teach me; I’m not quite up to it.

The Proposal:

Do you think that because I am poor, obscure, plain, little that I am soulless and heartless?

I must leave you (in two parts):

Mr. Rochester, I no more assign this fate to you than I grasp at it for myself. We were born to strive and endure–you as well as I: do so. You will forget me before I forget you.

Now that the 2011 version is out, here’s my review on the film and how Michael Fassbender’s performance as Rochester fare against Dalton’s.

Now that I’ve shared mine, tell me who is your favorite Rochester and why?

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?

Chat-Worthy Upcoming Flix: ‘Coriolanus’, Nolan’s Superman/Batman & ‘Jane Eyre’ remake


If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know that I’ve sort of aspire to be a casting agent. One of my casting wish is to have my fave actor Gerard Butler to co-star with fellow Scottish actor Brian Cox. The multi-award winning actor is known for his villainous roles in Troy, Bourne Supremacy and X-Men 2, and he’s the first actor to play the role of Hannibal Lecter in Michael Mann’s Manhunter. Well, talk about wish granted! William Hurt’s apparently no longer attached to this project as previously reported, and Cox is his replacement! He joins another esteemed thespian Vanessa Redgrave, who just co-starred with him in the TV project The Day of the Triffid.

To refresh your memory, Coriolanus is Ralph Fiennes’ directing debut in which he’d play the lead role and Butler is playing his arch enemy Tullus Aufidius. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Fiennes cast actors with theater background for this Shakespearean political tale. Coincidentally, Butler’s professional acting debut was playing the title Coriolanus, and his other stage work was Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer with Rachel Weisz.

Empire reports that shooting will start on location in Belgrade starting St. Patrick’s Day next week, and this is the most intriguing part: “… we’re told that the story will take place in a contemporary setting, so don’t expect togas.” Well, as much as I love to see ’em showing off their legs, I’m kinda digging the modern flair of this, a la Baz Luhrmann’s version of Romeo + Juliet.  In any case, we know the cast is impressive, but looks like Fiennes’ rounded up some stellar crews as well. The script is penned by John Logan (Gladiator, The Last Samurai, The Aviator), and he’s also got cinematographer Barry Ackroyd and sound mixer Ray Beckett, who are fresh out of their BAFTA and Oscar win for The Hurt Locker.

I hope this is just one of many more ‘meatier’ roles to come for Gerard, and by that I don’t mean showing off his abs … though if that’s the case here, who am I to complain? 🙂

Nolan speaks on Batman/Superman combo project

Wow, not a week goes by about some kind of news on the two DC comic superheroes, with Christopher Nolan at the center of it all. Last month I blogged about the British auteur’ involvement as a mentor in the next Superman movie. Now the man himself is working every fanboy/girl in a tizzy with a spatter of updates on the two highly-anticipated projects.

As found in the L.A. Times Hero Complex Blog (who sat down with the director over tea in his Hollywood home), these words coming from his mouth is enough to wet my appetite: “It’s very exciting; we have a fantastic story” – referring to the indestructible Man of Steel, the biggest kahuna of all superhero. Interestingly enough, the idea came about during Batman’s relative standstill. Apparently not one to twiddle his thumb, writer David Goyer (chief collaborator on Nolan’s two Batman films) came up with his dream vision of the Kryptonian hero:

“He basically told me, ‘I have this thought about how you would approach Superman,’” Nolan recalled. “I immediately got it, loved it and thought: That is a way of approaching the story I’ve never seen before that makes it incredibly exciting. I wanted to get Emma and I involved in shepherding the project right away and getting it to the studio and getting it going in an exciting way.”

But since a director hasn’t been secured yet, and casting is probably going to take an even more arduous process, this project still seems so far away in our horizon, so I just don’t want to get too fired up. Batman 3 is probably a ‘closer’ prospect, but even that Nolan still won’t confirm his directorial involvement. It is interesting, as the reporter points out, ‘how inspirations originate.’ Notice how Nolan’s Batman films have such a spectacular cast? I mean he’s got the likes of Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman and Tom Wilkinson in supporting roles. Well, that idea came from Donner’s Superman:

“I went to the studio with the analogy of ‘I want to cast the way they did in 1978 with ‘Superman,”’ where they had [Marlon] Brando and Glenn Ford and Ned Beatty and all these fantastic actors in even small parts, which was an exotic idea for a superhero movie at the time. It really paid off too. As a kid watching ‘Superman,’ it seemed enormous and I realized later by looking at it that a lot of that was actually the casting, just having these incredibly talented people and these characterizations. And Marlon Brando is the first guy up playing Superman’s dad. It’s incredible.”

Despite his coy attitude, my hunch is that Nolan will indeed helm this project, so I guess we can expect the same kind of caliber ensemble in the third Batman installment. He did confirmed that his brother Jonathan is writing the script (another reason to think he won’t let someone else direct it): “My brother is writing a script for me and we’ll wait to see how it turns out…. He’s struggling to put it together into the epic story that you want it to be.”

As The Dark Knight ends with the caped crusader being a hunted fugitive, it’d be nice to see the third as a ‘closure’ to Nolan’s Batman franchise, so I really appreciate his answer to the ‘What happens next?’ question: “Without getting into specifics, the key thing that makes the third film a great possibility for us is that we want to finish our story,” he said. “And in viewing it as the finishing of a story rather than infinitely blowing up the balloon and expanding the story.”

I’m not particularly concerned about who’ll be the villains and all that, I think that just comes naturally with a great storyline. Besides, any great director would (or should) know how rudimentary it is to get the villain right in such a franchise, as you can see in casting Heath Ledger as the Joker, arguably the best superhero villain we’ve seen to date. That is why I’m confident that Nolan won’t go the ‘circus freak’ route with the villains as Joel Schumacher did. It might work in the comic book world, but it just comes across very silly to the point of obnoxious in the movie adaptation. One thing for sure though, don’t count on Mr. Freeze making an appearance as long as Nolan’s involved. Bravo!

A ‘darker’ Jane Eyre? Yes, please!


As a huge fan of the Charlotte Brontë’s gothic tale, I was so psyched to hear that Michael Fassbender’s been cast as Rochester, especially since I was rather dismayed to hear the Wuthering Heights’ remake is getting Gossip Girl’s Ed Westwick (ugh!). Alice in Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska also seems to be a fitting choice as the petite yet indomitable young governess. Both actors are definitely on the rise, and apparently so is the director.

Cary Fukunaga is a 33-year-old director of Japanese/Swedish descent whose highly-acclaimed writing/directing debut Sin Nombre won directing award at Sundance last year, as well as other nods from various film festivals. On top on such credence, Jane Eyre is one of his favorite films. Movieline asked if he’s “.. daunted by remaking one of his favorite films? Not quite, Fukunaga said.”

“The Orson Welles-Joan Fontaine version was of an era. You wouldn’t make a film like that anymore. I’m a stickler for raw authenticity, so I’ve spent a lot of time rereading the book and trying to feel out what Charlotte Brontë was feeling when she was writing it. That sort of spookiness that plagues the entire story…there’s been something like 24 adaptations, and it’s very rare that you see those sorts of darker sides. They treat it like it’s just a period romance, and I think it’s much more than that.”

I really like what I’m hearing here. It’s definitely more than just a period romance. The essence of the Jane Eyre story is gothic and dark, so I’m intrigued by how Fukunaga will tackle that aspect. You probably already know that I love Timothy Dalton’s portrayal as Rochester in BBC’s 1983 version, but the entire production left so much to be desired. It’s got some gothic undercurrents but it’s just lacking something overall that I hope to see in this version. At least they seem to get the casting right. I can see Fassbender bring out that mercurial mood and volatility of the Byronic hero. The rest of the cast is shaping up nicely, too. Here’s some detailed info on who’s playing what (courtesy of Filmstage):

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.

In any case, not that there’s a correlation, but the last time a director of Asian descent (Ang Lee) tackle a literary classic, the result was the much beloved – and one of my fave movies of all time – Sense & Sensibility. I absolutely can’t wait for this movie, but looks like it won’t be out until 2011.