Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bleak House

Bleak House, Bleak House. . . where to begin?

I finished watching it a couple of days ago. I watched pretty much all of the second half of the series in one sitting. . . it's that hard to stop once you get pulled into this drama.

With scores of characters and inumerable plot twists and turns, it would be pointless to try to give a plot synopsis here. Besides, I wouldn't want to spoil anything for you if you haven't already seen Bleak House.

Mr. Smallbone (Phil Davis)

Adapted by Andrew Davies from yet another Dickens masterpiece, this marathon 8 1/2 hour, 15 part BBC series was hugely popular when it first aired in the UK in 2005. It garnered critical acclaim and high viewing figures in the UK, America, and here in Australia, too.

I'll try to outline some of my thoughts on the series:

*The cast is excellent. My favourites are Charles Dance as the villainous Mr. Tulkinghorn, and Phil Davis as "Shake-me-up-Judy" Mr. Smallweed, but every single member of the cast was absolutely outstanding. 

Mr. Tulkinghorn (Charles Dance

*I found the camerawork a bit intrusive. It's bold, it's different, but it will cause the production to look dated in x years from now. The "whish-bang-CRASH" in between scenes got old pretty quickly. 

*First-rate production values, as you would expect from a big-budget BBC period drama. Good costumes, good sets. . . there are countless details to pick up in nearly every frame. I think it's definitely a series that will reward a second (and third, and fourth, and fifth) viewing. There's also a nice score by John Lunn (who also composed the score for Lorna Doone, one of my favourite movie soundtracks).

Esther Summerson (Anna Maxwell Martin)

*I'm not always a big fan of Andrew Davies' adaptations, but I have to admit, he's a done a great job here. Each episode is well-balanced and fast-paced. And the story is not too hard to follow - you do have to pay attention, but it's not like Little Dorrit, where the finale left a lot of people (me included) scratching our heads.

I have to be honest - I don't like this series as much as Our Mutual Friend. Watching (and reading) OMF, I completely fell in love with the story and all of the characters. The storyline (I should say storylines, for there are many. . . ) of Bleak House are brilliantly conceived, but not as much to much my taste as Our Mutual Friend. Romance and biting social satire are what I love in my Victorian novels. The latter qualities are present in Bleak House, but not in such abundance as they are in Our Mutual Friend. And I thought the cast for Bleak House, good as it was, didn't have quite as much charisma as the cast from OMF.

Lady Dedlock (Gillian Anderson)

Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed Bleak House, and it didn't take long for me to be completely drawn into the story. I would highly recommend this for any fan of any of the following: Dickens, BBC period dramas, or good TV drama in general.

Be warned: much of this series is quite dark in tone and subject matter. There are one or two scenes that are a bit gruesome, though nothing to warrant anything more than a PG rating. Just remember, this isn't Pride and Prejudice!

4.5 out of 5 stars. Oh, I feel so hard-hearted giving it only 4.5. . . alright, make that 5 out of 5!

+A brief overview of the DVD bonus features: I was a little disappointed here, to be honest. I bought the "special edition", I expected a bit more in the way of bonus material. There are three 15-minute interview with Gillian Anderson, Charles Dance, and Denis Lawson. There is commentary available on several of the episodes, and there's a photo gallery. That's it.


Current Mood: Sleepy

Friday, July 24, 2009

My sisters' blogs

My 11-year-old sisters recently started blogs of their own! Both of their blogs are set to private, so if you're interested in reading their blogs, please let me know what your email address is. You can leave a comment here, or if you're not comfortable with posting your email address online, email me at: missmorland (at) y7mail (dot) com

This is probably only open to people who I "know" fairly well, so if you've never a comment on my blog and I don't know who are, you might not get invited. Sorry, I really don't mean to be rude! :-( I'm just being protective towards my sisters, not nasty towards any of you!

If you've commented before and I know who you are, please go right ahead! My sisters would love to get a few more readers and comments on their blogs. :-)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Regency World Awards and Emmy nominations

The winners of the Jane Austen Regency World Awards have been announced!

Colin Firth won the award for best-ever Mr. Darcy.

Best-ever Mr. Darcy?

Could someone please explain to me what it so good about Firth's Darcy? *Sighs*. I still don't get the Firth-as-Darcy thing. Maybe I never will. I'll take David Rintoul's or Matthew MacFadyen's Darcys over Colin Firth's any day of the week! CF just isn't right as Darcy, in my opinion. Plus, I don't think he's all that good-looking - wet shirt or not.

Sense and Sensibility 2008 picked up three awards - best adaptation, best actor (David Morissey as Colonel Brandon), and best actress (Hattie Morahan as Elinor Dashwood). Hugh Bonneville (Mr. Bennet in Lost in Austen) won the award for best supporting actor.

Click here to read the full article at the Jane Austen Centre website.

Matthew MacFadyen as Arthur Clennam in Little Dorrit

Now - Emmy nominations! The BBC's adaptation of Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit has 11 of them! Yay! However, I must concur with Charleybrown - why were Matthew MacFadyen and Claire Foy snubbed??

Here are the awards Little Dorrit is up for:

  • Outstanding Art Direction For A Miniseries Or Movie
  • Outstanding Casting For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Special
  • Outstanding Cinematography For A Miniseries Or Movie
  • Outstanding Costumes For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Special
  • Outstanding Directing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Dramatic Special
  • Outstanding Hairstyling For A Miniseries Or A Movie
  • Outstanding Miniseries
  • Outstanding Music Composition For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Special (Original Dramatic Score)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie (Tom Courtenay [Mr. Dorrit] and Andy Serkis [Rigaud] both received nominations for this award.)
  • Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special

Here's hoping it wins them all!

Current Mood: Disappointed

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Photos from the set of Cranford sequel

Thanks to Elisabeth from the S&S forums for sharing the link.

Have a look at this huge gallery of pictures from the set of the upcoming Cranford Christmas special! There are hundreds of pics. . . I'm never going to have time to look at them all! But what I have seen has certainly whetted my appetite for more Cranford. Looking forward to the sequel! :-)

Look at how much little Harry has grown since the first series! Unbelievable. He can't have grown that tall in just a couple of years!

Miss Pole (Imelda Staunton) still has that feather sticking out of her hat.

Click here to view the full gallery.

Current Mood: Tired

Friday, July 10, 2009

Watch the trailer for Emma 2009!

There's a new mini-trailer of sorts for Emma 2009 on the BBC's website. Click here to see it!

My thoughts: looking at this, I predict that this new adaptation will be on a similar level to Sense and Sensibility 2008. - A good Austen adaptation, but not quite on par with the BBC's recent period drama masterpieces - like North and South and Cranford.

And what on EARTH is up with Emma's proposing to Mr. Knightley?? Mr. Knightley 's proposal to Emma is absolutely adorable - my favourite part of the book!

Well. Go and watch it, then come back and tell me what you think!

Current Mood: Contemplative

EDIT: I've watched the trailer again a couple of times, and it's clear that Emma isn't really proposing to Mr. Knightley. . . however, I'm still a bit concerned about that scene!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Falling in love with Dickens :-)

A "pardnership" broken - the opening scene of the book and the movie
I recently ordered some DVDs from Amazon - my favourite Jane Eyre adaptation, Jane Eyre 1983; and two Charles Dickens BBC series - Our Mutual Friend and Bleak House. I'd seen JE before, but I'd never watched the other two series.
Last Friday I came down with a cold. One of those colds that causes your nose to drip,drip like a tap, no matter how many times you blow it. Ugh! My nose is sore and red yet. Anyways - Friday, sick with a cold, it seemed like a good opportunity to watch one of my new DVDs. I picked Our Mutual Friend. The first episode had me hooked! But then when I started watching what I thought was the second episode, I found myself totally confused. Someone had died, at least two marriage proposals had taken place, and I'd somehow missed it all. I was in fact watching the third episode - I had somehow inadverdently missed ep. 2. But by the time I had figured this out, ep. 3 had gotten so exciting, I simply couldn't stop to go back and watch ep. 2.

So, technically, I have only seen three-quarters of Our Mutual Friend. Next time I watch the series, I'll make sure I see the second episode!
Almost as soon as I'd finished watching the last episode, I decided that I really, desperately wanted to read the book! Fortunately my mum was able to pick it up from the library during her Saturday morning shopping trip [thankyou so much! :-) xoxo] - while I was at home, sniffling away.
It is a massive volume! 900 pages! I knew it was a largeish size book, but I didn't know it would be that big. . .

Bradley Headstone (David Morissey) and Rogue Riderhood (David Bradley)
I am now almost one-fifth of the way through (which may not sound like much, but it equates to a couple hundred pages!), and I am thouroughly enjoying it! Previously, the only Charles Dickens novel I had ever finished was A Christmas Carol. I tried to start The Old Curiosity Shop a couple of years ago, but couldn't get into the story. Now, I feel like Dickens and I are finally getting to know each other properly.

Eugene Wrayburn (Paul McGann) and Lizzie Hexam (Keeley Hawes). All screencaps taken by yours truly!
Dickens' prose in Our Mutual Friend is absolutely delicious! And the characters! The amiable Mr. and Mrs. Boffin; Mr. Venus, the bone articulator; Gaffer Hexam, with his grisly mode of scratching a living; Silas Wegg, the "literary man with a wooden leg"; Mr. Eugene Wrayburn and Mr. Mortimer Lightwood, lawyers and best friends; Mr. and Mrs. Veneering; Mr. and Mrs Podsnap. . . to name just a few. As with any Dickens saga, there are dozens of different characters to have to keep up with.
There is no more effective way of keeping warm on a chilly winters' evening (it's the middle of winter here, remember!) than by curling up in a comfortable corner with a nice fat volume of Dickens for company.
Current Mood: Calm

EDIT: nearly everyone who has read this post has clicked on the second image from top, trying to view it at full size. Well, just for you, I uploaded the full-size screenshot. Click here to view!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

If you had a time machine. . .

Time for a new poll!

If you could travel back in time, which era would you most like to experience?

~Antiquity (ancient times)~



~Baroque & Georgian~




I'm glad you're voting in the poll, not me! I'd have a very hard time trying to choose.

View paintings full size: Antiquity, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Regency, Victorian, Edwardian.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Pride and Prejudice poll results

The results are in! Thankyou everyone for voting!


P&P 2005 - 41 votes, 38% of total

P&P 1995 - 59 votes, 55%

P&P 1980 - 2 votes, 1%

P&P 1940 - 4 votes, 3%

It comes as no surprise that the BBC's 1995 adaptation reigns as the most popular version of Jane Austen's novel. In the end, though, the results were a good deal closer than I expected. For most of the time the poll was open, P&P '95 had about twice as many votes as the 2005 version. Just in the last few days, however, there have been a lot of votes for P&P '05, bringing it within 18 votes of P&P '95.

Once again, a big thanks to everyone who voted in this poll! This was such fun. In fact, I think think there'll be a new poll coming soon. . . any suggestions or ideas for a new poll?

Current Mood: Sleepy