Harry Potter Blogsplosion Day 8: Adam’s Film Review of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Welcome back to the Harry Potter Blogsplosion! Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the fourth (and Kim’s favorite) adventure in the series.  It once again stars Daniel Radcliffe, as the title character, and Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint as his trusty sidekicks.  Harry is in his fourth year at Hogwarts and finally comes face to face with a human form of Lord Voldemort, played by Ralph Fiennes.

The movie starts off with Harry Potter having a nightmare consisting of Peter Pettigrew, Lord Voldemort (who is unseen), and an unknown man.  Harry watches as Voldemort kills an elderly man who was standing near them watching them.  It is as Voldemort yells “Avada Kedavra” that Harry suddenly wakes up.  Harry awakens to find Ron and Hermione watching him to make sure he’s ok.  Assuring them that he’s fine he goes back to sleep, only to wake up a few hours later for the Quidditch World Cup finals.  While everyone is sleeping post-match, the Death Eaters, who are the faithful servants to Lord Voldemort, terrorize the campsites to announce to everyone that Voldemort’s return is imminent.  After narrowly escaping the Death Eaters, Harry and his friends return to school to learn that Hogwarts will be hosting the Triwizard Tournament.  Three different schools of wizardry send representatives from their respective schools to compete in a series of events that push their magical skills and endurance to the limit.  The winner of the tournament wins the Triwizard Cup, a small fortune, and bragging rights for their school. Controversy arises when Harry Potter, 3 years younger than the 17-year-old cut off age, is the fourth candidate to be chosen to compete.  With Harry as an extra champion, four candidates will now vie for the title instead of the usual three, including Viktor Krum from the Durmstang institute, Fleur Delacour from the Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, and finally Cedric Diggory (played by a pre-Twilight Robert Pattinson).  The three tasks they face are: steal a golden egg from a dragon, save a loved one trapped in the lake, and find the Triwizard Cup in the heart of a giant hedge maze filled with obstacles. While in this last challenge, Potter is transported to a place where for the first time, he comes face to face with a human form of Lord Voldemort.

After the dark take of the third Harry Potter film, this one has a bit of a lighter look.  There seemed to be more of the magic that makes Hogwarts so appealing and makes it a place you’d really want to visit.  Mike Newell the director, had a way of making every shot count. The shots were beautiful and really made Hogwarts this magical yet accessible place.  I don’t feel that this was done in the first three films.  One of my favorite shots of the film was when Harry was crossing the long bridge on Hogwarts’ grounds.  Before they zoomed in on him, they held off just long enough to make you notice what an amazing shot it was. The most beautiful shots in my opinion were of the Yule Ball.  The use of cinematography in the film just makes each shot magical.  The music went perfectly with these scenes and really played off of the characters emotions, just like a good score should.

Ralph Fiennes is the PERFECT villain. He just embodies what Lord Voldemort should be.  Not having read the books, I didn’t have any idea of what Voldemort should be like.  He is the perfect combination of creepiness and pure evil, just what a villain should be.  I imagined him not having a heart and kicking puppies in order to get into the mindset of the role.  He was definitely the highlight of the movie.  I was eagerly waiting for him to finally appear and when he did, I was so excited.  My eyes were drawn to him and I listened to every word he spoke.  I can’t wait to see him play this role more in later films; I’m excited to see how he develops Voldemort’s character. It was also interesting to see Harry and Ron as just regular teenage boys.  They are so powerful with their wizard powers that I think the viewers often forget that they’re teenagers, and it was interesting to see them being nervous around girls and awkward with their first love.  

All and all, I think this was the best of the Harry Potter films I’ve seen thus far.  The story was the most unique, and I liked the addition of new characters and finally getting to see Lord Voldemort.

5 out 5 stars

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Warner Brothers
PG-13, 157 Minutes

Harry Potter Blogsplosion Day 6: Sam’s Film Review of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Please join me in welcoming back Sam Cushion for today’s film review.  Sam is an amazing musician who creates musical scores inspired by books!  He has most recently created an unofficial score for The Hunger Games.  To find out more about Sam, check out his website here

Prisoner of Azkaban is the first of the Potter films to have a new director, Alfonso Cuarón. Chris Columbus did however stay on as a producer.  With Cuarón in the directors seat, Prisoner of Azkaban breaks out of the “child’s film” mold that the first two films seemed to fit into.  Gone are the flashy special effects, and in their place are the amazing sets and scenery that leave the viewer in awe.  The cinematography also adds a more mature and art-film like quality to the film as well.  There is also an increased emphasis on the characters of the film. Cuarón manages to effectively capture the teens’ inner turmoil and isn’t afraid to dwell on the darker side of the third book.  This also helps add to the maturity level of the film.

The film is also more appealing to a larger audience because it’s considerably shorter, just under 2 hours and 10 minutes.  It does not bog down or bore the audience with an attempt to capture EVERY element of the book, like the first two films did.  Unfortunately, no film will ever match the quality of the book it is based on, but Cuarón’s selection on what parts of the book to include are very well-selected.  Cuarón managed to bring life back into what some thought was a dying franchise at the time.  He also was able to make it more enjoyable for an older audience by making it darker, scarier, and more mature.

The soundtrack for Prisoner of Azkaban is also nothing short of amazing!  The Potter films have seen several different composers over the years, but none as good as Williams.  You cannot deny the very high bar that was set by him in the first three films.  Composers who have followed luckily haven’t missed that bar, nor have they exceeded it.

The Prisoner of Azkaban is nothing but a brilliant film!  Perhaps that is due to the fact that it was the last film with John Williams as composer or the direction of the new director.  Nevertheless, Prisoner of Azkaban has been one of my favorites of the Harry Potter, books and the film doesn’t disappoint.  I really do wish I could be more critical of this film, but in all honesty I can’t think of anything that disappointed me.  All in all this remains one of my favorite in the Potter films since it was released in 2004.

4 out of 5 Stars

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Warner Brothers
PG, 141 Minutes

Harry Potter Blogsplosion Day 5: Sam’s Review of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling + GIVEAWAY

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Please join me in welcoming guest reviewer Sam Cushion. Sam is an amazing musician who creates musical scores inspired by books!  He has most recently created an unofficial score for The Hunger Games.  To find out more about Sam, check out his website here.  Welcome to the Reflections of a Book Addict family Sam!!

I must first start by stating how honored I am to be able to be apart of this Harry Potter Blogsplosion!

After another dreadful summer spent at the Dursley’s it is time for Harry to embark on another year at Hogwarts. Before arriving to his third year at the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry Harry learns of the escape of a prisoner from Azkaban, Sirius Black, who has supposedly escaped to find and kill Harry for spoiling Voldemort’s plans.  Due to Black’s escape the security at Hogwarts is heavily increased, with Dementors, to protect the students.  Adding to this, Harry begins to learn more about the dark arts under the tutelage of the new defense against the dark arts teacher, Remus Lupin.  All of these new stressors begin to stretch Harry to the breaking point, all the while he continues to experience an increasing threat from his arch nemesis Voldemort.  Everything comes to a head when Ron is attacked by a large black dog while out with Harry and Hermione, and is dragged into the Shrieking Shack while Harry and Hermione are attacked by the Whomping Willow.  As they contemplate what to do next, they can hear Ron’s screams echoing from the shack.  Will they be able to save him in time?  Will Harry be able to escape from Sirius Black?

When Azkaban was first released it was claiming to be Rowling’s strongest work yet. Each book was getting better and better, and I must say that I agreed.  At this point in the series, the plot of each book becomes so intricate, that it would be nearly impossible for me to tell you every single thing that happens.  From the time The Prisoner of Azkaban was released and even to today, it  has been one of my favorite of the Potter books. So many very important events occur that it is hard to know where to start. We are introduced to Remus Lupin, the new defense against the dark arts teacher, Hagrid becomes a teacher, Harry discovers his Godfather, his new Firebolt broom, the Marauder’s Map – I could go on forever!

Prisoner of Azkaban is a very critical part of the Potter saga because we begin to learn more about Harry’s parents and the world as it was under Voldemort’s reign.  Even though Voldemort is not in this book, his evil presence is never gone from our thoughts.  Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s friendship grows stronger and we begin to feel even more like they are slowly becoming Harry’s family.  Ron’s father even takes on the role of father figure to Harry.  Remus Lupin gains the trust and loyalty of readers as he guides Harry through some difficult situations, as well as shows Harry a glimpse of who his parents were.  Our fondness for Dumbledore grows even more as he, as always, believes undeniably in Harry.  Of course we cannot forget Hagrid, who appears to be the rock behind Harry’s actions.   Harry’s life seems as though it is starting to fill up with people who truly care about him.

Each time I read about Harry, Ron, Hermione, and the other students at Hogwarts in Prisoner Of Azkaban I am reminded of why this is among my favorites in the Potter series. So much more is revealed about each character, bringing them all to us in a new light.  Harry, being only thirteen, is maturing into a young man instead of the young boy from books one and two. He grows wiser, and tries more and more to understand his past as well as the future that is to come.  The emotions throughout the whole book turn from childishness to adolescence, revealing to the reader the person and wizard Harry is destined to be.  As a person who loved Harry’s character as a lost, ragged boy, I found this new fearless, intelligent young man evolving throughout the story creating a special place in my heart.

4 out of 5 stars

Scholastic (1999)
Hardcover 435 pages
One lucky winner will have the opportunity to win a copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Paperback) by J.K. Rowling.  For your chance to win simply leave a comment in the thread below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight of Saturday July 30, 2011.  Winner will be picked at random and announced on Sunday July 31, 2011.  Giveaway open to US & Canadian residents only. Good luck!!

Harry Potter Blogsplosion Day 4: Savanna’s Film Review of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Please join me in welcoming back gust reviewer Savanna New! Savanna is the co-producer of The Hunger Games Fireside Chat and is also an associate editor at Picktainment.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets just can’t seem to catch a break! As I mentioned yesterday in my review of the book, when forced to choose, most fans usually describe Chamber of Secretsas being their least favorite book in the Harry Potter series (at least, that’s been my experience).  It’s an astonishing work of literary genius, to be sure, but just doesn’t stand out as much among its brethren.  The movie adaptation, which I will be looking at today, constantly receives a lot of flak as well.  Last year, one of my co-associate editors at Picktainment, Adam Spunberg, surveyed hardcore fans, along with a few Picktainment staff members, and asked us all to rank the first seven Harry Potter films.  How did Chamber of Secrets fare?  Adam wrote, “Sporting just 2% of the first-place votes and 69% of the bottom half, Secrets ought to just take some gillyweed and sulk among the Merpeople.”  Ouch!

So, what is it about the film that draws such a muddy reception?  You would think the things that make the book less attractive to readers – a slightly formulaic plot structure that’s “too” similar to Sorcerer’s Stone and a lack of the powerful and intricately woven storylines that characterize Rowling’s subsequent works would fade away behind the veneer of movie magic.  And they do, to an extent.  The movie has its own set of problems, which I’ll lay out below; fortunately, though, there are also a lot of really wonderful aspects to this film, which should definitely not go unrecognized.

Magical Moments:

  • Richard Harris is absolutely moving in his final turn as Dumbledore, delivering his lines with the sort of wise gentleness and winking spirit that make the headmaster such a lovable character in the books.  My opinion may be an unpopular one, but I’ll probably always prefer Harris’s Dumbledore to Michael Gambon’s. I like my Dumbledore with a twinkle in his eye, not a harsh snarl on their lips.

  • Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy?  Yes, please!
  • The design and voicing of Dobby could have gone very, very wrong.  Thankfully for all of us, it didn’t.

  • Chamber of Secrets, the movie, follows the book almost too closely, if such a thing is possible (and I hate to say that it is, considering how much I disliked the “liberties” that Alfonso Cuarón took when directing Prisoner of Azkaban).   A lot of unnecessary shots and scenes are present, but as a fan it’s truly incredible to see things like the Burrow, floo powder, Howlers, the flying Ford Anglia, Polyjuice Potion, and mandrakes brought to life.  And I relish the Quidditch scenes, given that those subplots basically disappear from the later films.
  • Two words: Kenneth Branagh.  This movie is worth re-watching just for his hilarious performance as new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and wizarding world celebrity, Gilderoy Lockhart.

Squib Stuff:

  • When in doubt, blame the director.  I think that Chris Columbus – who also directed Sorcerer’s Stone – is the main reason why many fans don’t seem to care for Chamber of Secrets as much as the other Harry Potter films.  His style is just to cutesy, clean, and sparkly for some.   Both Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets have always felt a bit like children’s holiday movies to me, and the tone that they evoke is not representative of the series at all.
  • Many of the scary scenes just aren’t scary enough.  The moments featuring Harry alone in the dark corridors of Hogwarts are really well-done – and appropriately creepy – but whenever Ron and Hermione are around, the mood tends to lighten unnecessarily.  Add a dose of ill-placed, jaunty music, and it’s the Scooby-Doo Gang resurrected.
  • I love Shirley Henderson, but I will never understand why they cast a woman in her late 30s to play Moaning Myrtle, who died while she was a student at Hogwarts.  Ghosts don’t age, last time I checked.

Maybe it’s because I’m starting to already get a bit weepy at the thought of “it all ending” on July 15, but as I watched The Chamber of Secrets for the umpteenth time in preparation for this review, I found myself treasuring and savoring each moment with a fondness and nostalgia that I’ve never really felt before.  Chamber of Secrets will never be my favorite Harry Potter film (or book), yes, and it certainly has its flaws, but it’s one-eighth of the unforgettable journey that we’ve been a part of for the last ten years and will always have a firmly rooted place in my heart.

4 out of 5 Stars

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
Warner Brothers
G, 161 Minutes

Harry Potter Blogsplosion Day 2: Adam’s Film Review of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

This is the first movie blog post for Kim’s Harry Potter Blogsplosion, so where better to start than with the first movie. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was an excellent movie, and it got viewers excited for the series of movies that would be made after this one. Starring (at the time unknowns) Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint as the trio of heroes Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger, this movie of wizards and witchcraft tells a story that people of all ages will love.

At age 11 , Harry Potter doesn’t really know about his past. He lives with his aunt, uncle, and cousin who all treat him like a piece of dirt. They force him to do all of the errands around the house, on top of making him live in a little cupboard underneath the stairs. On his cousin’s birthday and a trip to the zoo, Harry begins to realize that he has the powers to make things happen just by thinking about them.  There is no explanation for how this occurs; only that Harry can somehow cause physical changes in his environment by merely thinking about them hard enough. At the zoo he helps a python escape, while trapping his cousin in the snake’s cage.  After this event it is revealed that Harry is in fact a wizard, and is then invited to attend the prestigious Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  Initially his aunt and uncle balk at the suggestion, but after some convincing by Hagrid, the groundskeeper of the school, they agree to let him go.  Hagrid takes Harry under his wing and informs Harry about some of his past and who his parents were. While on the train he meets two other new students, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, and the trio become fast friends. They then meet Draco Malfoy, who is less than pleasant to them. While at the school Harry and his friends learn more about Harry’s parents and learn more about the powers they hold and how truly powerful they can be. They learn of a break-in at a nearby wizarding bank, and they begin to try to solve the mystery themselves. Can they make any progress under the threat of expulsion after less than one year at school?

The movie itself is highly entertaining. The plot is highly imaginative and in my opinion really makes the book (written by J. K. Rowling) come to life. As I was watching the movie, I truly believed in magic and truly believed that there is a school in England where students learn witchcraft. The way the movie was filmed was very magical and very out of this world. The director, Christopher Columbus, shot the movie in a very interesting style. He made the real world of England very dark and dreary by including a lot of gray and dark tones. In contrast to that, Hogwarts was always shot in a very colorful and vibrant light, making it seem more magical. The colors really popped out and really reflected Harry’s attitude: clearly he wasn’t happy being treated the way he was in his ordinary “muggle” life, but really became his own person and more true to himself at Hogwarts.

The acting was top-notch, especially given that the majority of the cast was so young. I’m not saying that young actors aren’t good, but they were all relatively unknown before the movie was shot, and they were all able to carry this big movie with many high expectations beautifully. One performance in particular that impressed me was Emma Watson as Hermione Granger. She played the brainy side-kick to Ron and Harry very well, and really stole the scenes she was in. Also Alan Rickman as Professor Snape was a standout as well, as he adds the quality of a good mysterious character to the movie and really adds to the sense of the unknown and foreboding in the movie.

All and all, the movie was a highly entertaining piece of work. I was as entertained watching the movie as a 25-year-old as I was when I first saw it at 15. I really enjoyed the acting, the direction, and the amazing world of wizarding that came to life. Like always, I leave you with a question: do you believe in magic?

4 out of 5 stars

Until next time, happy viewing.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
Warner Brothers
G, 152 Minutes

Adam’s Film Friday – A Review of The DaVinci Code

Hey all! Welcome back to another Adam’s Film Friday. I hope you have all been reading about Kim and Todd’s European vacation and have been in awe over the gorgeous pictures. This week’s movie is based on one of my favorite books, The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown. This movie was made in 2006 at what I would consider the height of the DaVinci Code hysteria, and it stars Tom Hanks as the genius symbologist Robert Langdon, who finds himself involved in an international conspiracy where he is a main suspect.

The movie starts off with a hooded man named Silas (Paul Bettany) chasing Jacques Sauniere, the curator of the famous Louvre Museum, through its Grand Gallery. Before Silas kills Sauniere, Sauniere admits that the keystone, an ancient artifact that Silas is searching for, is found “beneath the rose” at the Church of Saint Sulpice. Silas is a member of the Opus Dei, a super secret religious group whose aim is to protect the secrets of the Catholic church. Sauniere was a member of the Priory of Sion, a group that is charged to protect the location of the Holy Grail from those who have sought it for centuries. The Priory counts among its former members Leonardo DaVinci, Isaac Newton, and Victor Hugo. Now, both groups are at odds over the location of the Grail, with the Priory trying to keep it a secret while Opus Dei is determined to find it, no matter the cost. Robert Langdon enters this puzzle when he is asked by the French Chief of Police, Bezu Fache (Jean Reno), to come solve a cryptic puzzle in the Grand Gallery comprising of Sauniere’s body and his blood, which can only be seen under a black light. While he is there, Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tatou), a cryptologist who works for the French police, comes in stating that she has a message for Robert Langdon. The message instructs Langdon to call a phone number and enter a code. The message is actually Neveu’s voicemail telling Langdon he’s in danger and needs to run. It turned out that there was a part of a message, covered up before Langdon arrived, asking for Langdon to be found. The message was meant for Neveu, who is revealed to be Sauniere’s granddaughter. Langdon and Neveu are able to avoid capture, and set off to solve the mysteries left by Sauniere for both of them. Will they be able to escape the French police?  Will they be able to find Silas and find out what Opus Dei’s true intentions are with the Grail?

The movie, although nowhere near as good as the book, was highly entertaining and suspenseful. The casting was nearly perfect, with Tom Hanks becoming this Langdon character that I had read so much about and was fascinated by his story. Audrey Tatou was the perfect choice for Sophie because she walked the fine line between smart girl and adventurous sidekick. Hanks and Tatou played off of each other really well and had really good chemistry. The casting of all the characters are exactly how I imagined when reading the book and thought the way the story was told was really good.

One of my favorite aspects of the movie was its adaptation from book to screen.  Dan Brown wrote the book in such a vivid manner that the pictures he paints come automatically to your head.  These images were rendered and transferred to the screen as best as the adaptation could make them.  You’re probably surprised that I just said those last two sentences considering I said earlier that the book is better than the film.  The book had this certain spark and urgency to it as you were reading, that I think no matter who starred in the film or who directed it, it would still be an almost impossible feeling to recreate.

All and all I thought the DaVinci Code was a fun movie experience. If you want the full story, I would say check out the book and then see the movie: you won’t be disappointed. Between the direction of Ron Howard and the strong performances of Tom Hanks, Audrey Tatou, and Paul Bettany, this story really made a great translation from page to film.

4 out of 5 stars

The DaVinci Code (2006)
Columbia Pictures
PG-13, 149 Minutes

#37 A Guest Review of The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly

The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly: Book CoverMy latest guest review for Austenprose was posted today, so make sure you go check it out!

My review is on The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly, a contemporary novel heavily influenced by, you guessed it, Little Women.  It follows the imaginary great-great-grandchildren of Jo March, most specifically Lulu who turns out to be greatly similar to Jo.  We follow Lulu as she watches her sisters settle into the lives and career paths they’ve chosen for themselves, while she herself struggles to find her path.  She happens upon a box filled with Jo March’s letters, and it is with the help of these letters that she begins her transformation. 

For a direct link to my review, click here!

Adam’s Film Friday – A Review of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

This week’s movie took me on adventure to a place I thought I knew. This amazing place is the land of Narnia, from the movie Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, sequel to Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

The story takes place 1,300 Narnian years after The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which corresponds to only one year in the real world. Narnia has changed profusely since the Penvensie children left. The Pevensie children: Peter (William Mosley), Susan (Anna Popplewell),  Edmund (Skander Keynes), and Lucy (Georgie Henley), have returned to England and their everyday lives from their previous adventure in Narnia. Narnia, which started off as a magical land where animals are anamorphic and magic reigns, has now become a dark, evil place after having been taken over by the Telmarines, who now reign with an iron fist.

The story begins with the birth of a baby boy that sets a series of events in motion, the goal of which is to kill the heir to the throne of Narnia, Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes). Miraz, Prince Caspian’s uncle, is behind the plot to kill him to ensure that his newborn son will ascend to the throne. Realizing this, Prince Caspian’s professor rushes him out of the castle and into the woods. There he is picked up by two dwarfs and a badger, who are representative of Narnia from the past. They take Caspian in, but not before he blows a horn, sending Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, who are currently in a subway station in London, back into Narnia. No longer the magical place they remember, it has a dark and depressing aura that permeates the land. When they save the life of Trumpkin (Peter Dinklage) from the Telmarines, they learn the truth about what has happened to Narnia and the changes since their last visit. After meeting some of the ex-rulers of Narnia who ruled before all the changes occurred, they decide to reinstate Prince Caspian as king in order to hope for a better future.

This movie was a lot darker than the first Chronicles of Narnia, but just as interesting. It showed how things change, but also how things aren’t as perfect as we remember them. I especially enjoyed the interactions between animals and humans because they make me think of fables and Greek mythology.  A lot of the characters were similar to mythological characters, even physically as some were half man, half beast.

Another great aspect was the music used in the score. A great film score should be able to enhance the movie viewer’s experience, and have them close their eyes and still be able to see the action in his/her mind’s eye. This score allowed the viewer to do so: when there was fight scene, the music had the viewer’s heart pounding. When there was a sad or emotional scene, the music played ever so softly. I thought that the score, even being as diverse as it was, was extremely well put together.

All in all, I felt The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian was an extremely entertaining movie. Although not a part of my favorite genre, I still really enjoyed the story and was for a few hours taken into Narnia, and kept on the edge of my seat. Like always, I leave you with a question. Do you believe that a magic world with talking animals and mythological creatures exists, or is that merely a figment of one’s imagination?

4 out of 5 stars

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)
Walt Disney Pictures
PG, 150 Minutes

#32 A Guest Review of The Truth About Mr. Darcy by Susan Adriani

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I recently reviewed The Truth About Mr. Darcy by Susan Adriani for the Austenprose blog.  The novel was originally published as Affinity and Affection

The Truth about Mr. Darcy is a Pride and Prejudice “what-if” variation.  Adriani poses the question, “What if Darcy came clean and told Elizabeth straight up about his prior dealings with Wickham?  Would it have changed her mind about him?  Would Lydia have been able to be saved from a horrible marriage?  These plot paths and more are explored in the novel.

For a direct link to my review click here

As always, thanks to Laurel Ann at Austenprose for the opportunity to review!

This is my seventeenth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

This is my third completed review for the Chunkster Challenge

Adam’s Film Friday – A Review of Grey Gardens

This week’s movie, Grey Gardens, is another stab at a biopic, but more in the traditional sense of the genre.  It was a made-for-TV movie which aired on HBO and starred Jessica Lange as Big Edie Bouvier Beale and Drew Barrymore as Little Edie Bouvier Beale.

The original concept behind this movie came from a 1975 documentary, also titled Grey Gardens, produced by the Maysle Brothers: Albert and David. The movie followed Big and Little Edie Bouvier Beale, who were the aunt and first cousin of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, respectively. The duo, after a series of hardships, become recluses in their East Hampton home Grey Gardens, which soon becomes unfit for habitation because of unsanitary conditions. Jackie O gives Little Edie and Big Edie $32,000 to get the house clean and in a livable condition, so they can remain there.  The story garnered much attention, and the Maysles (who originally wanted to produce a movie on Jackie O and her sister’s life growing up in East Hampton) decided to make a documentary about the Beales instead. The TV movie switches back and forth from scenes of the movie being filmed to stories from the past explaining how the Beales became people they were.

I absolutely loved this movie. I thought the story was extremely unique, and rather than being filmed in chronological order, I thought it was interesting that the plot went back and forth from the past to present. As the viewer, you really got an understanding as to why this house was so important to them and how the characters all ended up in the situation in which they did. The movie just had something about it that made it so appealing to the viewer: the acting was top-notch (especially for a TV movie), the story very heart wrenching yet funny at times, and overall it made for an enjoyable movie experience.

One thing that was definitely a stand out for me was the performance of Drew Barrymore as Little Edie. Normally Drew Barrymore in my opinion is a one-note actress; she seems to play the same character in a lot of her movies. She’s always played the quirky character that is loveable despite her faults. With that being said, I was thoroughly impressed and surprised with her performance. She played Little Edie from ages 19 to 60. To have the ability to play someone over a four decade period takes not only dedication, but also the ability to play the multiple sides of this character. In the beginning her character seems so hopeful that she is going to escape Grey Gardens and make something for herself, but by the middle, she realizes how dependent her mother is on her and how she won’t get out until her mother dies.  Due to the eccentricity of Little Edie, it would have been very simple for the performance to look as if Barrymore was making a mockery of her or doing a less than flattering imitation of her. The performance was more of Barrymore’s take on Little Edie, rather than her trying to mimic her voice and her movements, which also led to making her performance that much more believable.

Originally after viewing the movie, I was upset that there wasn’t more of an appearance of Jackie O. Jeanne Tripplehorn portrayed Jackie O, and despite being only in the movie for six minutes, she was able to garner an Emmy Nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a miniseries or made-for-TV movie. I thought she was so good in her one scene that I found myself wishing there was at least one more scene that she was in. As I sat down to write this review, I came to the conclusion that the main story behind the movie and main factor pushing this movie was about the dynamic between Big Edie and Little Edie. Even the actors who played Big Edie’s husband, the Maysles, or even Cap weren’t in the movie all that long. At its heart the movie was about the dynamic between mother and daughter. Despite their craziness and despite all of the other relationships they had, at the end of the day they really could only truly depend on each other.

All and all, I truly enjoyed this movie. It had me laughing some moments then nearly in tears in the next scene and it held my rapt attention for the entirety and definitely lived up to my expectations. Like always, I leave my readers with a question: If you could spend the rest of your life in one place and one place only, where would you stay? Until next time, happy viewing to you!

5 out of 5 Stars

Grey Gardens (2009)
HBO Films
PG, 104 Minutes