Serving up Mr. Darcy : AUSTENLAND

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Would you take a vacation to role play in your favorite era, or step inside the recreation of a book?  Maybe simulate being an astronaut or go aboard a vessel and pretend to be a swashbuckling pirate?  Well, if any of that sounds like a fun proposition, then you'll appreciate Austenland.

Keri Russell plays a woman named Jane who has been unlucky in love.  Maybe because she's too wrapped up in her favorite character from Jane Austen's novel Pride & Prejudice to appreciate a 21st century man; although, we do get to experience a couple of the guys she has dated, and a fictional man would be far preferable to these flesh and blood duds.  Actually, the scenes of Jane in her everyday life goes into a bit more detail then we really need.  I think the Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, life-size cardboard cut out, English tea sets, lace doilies, collector's dolls, other Jane Austen paraphernalia and British touches found around Jane's apartment is enough to set up the character.  It would have worked to just see her find an advertisement for Austenland, empty her bank account and be off on the journey.

The movie reminds me a bit of Billy Crystal in City Slickers, which does have a lot of set up before he and his cronies take off on their cattle herding adventure; but in that movie you have to get it's a mid-life crisis.  In Austenland this is who Jane has been forever, she's just amazed that there is now a place for her to fulfill her fantasy of living in the Regency period, playing whist and whiling away the hours on an English country estate in polite company, with the potential of being courted by a surly, awkward, Darcy-esque gentlemen. (Which I have to admit all sounds pretty darn good to me, I'd pay).

Upon arriving at Austenland Jane is greeted by a still gracefully aging Jane Seymour who plays Mrs. Wattlesbrook, the very strict, absolutely no modern contraptions (ie. cellphones, laptops etc.) proprietress of Austenland.  Despite her no-nonsense demeanor Mrs Wattlesbrook can be quite accommodating to her Platinum paying guests - the hilarious and buxom Miss Elizabeth Charming (Jennifer Coolidge) and the simply annoyingly Lady Amelia Heartwright (Georgia King) both of which receive elaborate gowns and illustrious back stories for their characters while visiting Austenland.  Where poor Jane who could only afford the Copper package, is attired in awful brown muslin and an even less attractive hairstyle. She's given the moniker of Miss Erstwhile and a background dossier of orphan.

Keri Russell was pregnant in real-life during filming, so the ugly gowns did hide the baby bump.

Then we get to meet the men.  All hired actors, paid to be players in these women's fantasy of courtship and hot elegance. If you've ever been to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire you get the picture.  There's of course a not as good looking version of Colin Firth (J.J. Fields) a dark haired stable boy (Bret McKenzie) a gallant popinjay (James Callis) and a super sexy Captain from the West Indies (Ricky Whittle).

Ok, so far my description completely fails to mention this movie is wacky, comedic, and sometimes down right zany! (Be sure to stay for the end credits).  Austenland is produced by Twlight series writer Stephenie Meyer; co-written by the book's author Shannon Hale and director Jerusha Hess (who co-wrote her husband Jared Hess' movies Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre), These (3 Mormon) woman do a fantastic job of appealing to the Jane Austen fans who can laugh at themselves, while entertaining regular movie-goers, (men too) with a quirky story of finding love. Jennifer Coolidge of course steals many scenes with her Christopher Guest brand of ad-libbing.

As my sister put it, if this movie were real-life, Jane would have been a much bigger geek, with a cat. However, I think keeping Keri Russell's character mostly grounded throughout the movie allows her to be more accessible to a wider audience.  

Oddly, the next day, I was watching the Today show in which they featured a story on this bigger than life size (12 ft) statue of Mr. Darcy from the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, in which Colin Firth as Mr Darcy emerges wet-shirted and dripping from the lake of his country estate. READ MORE.

LAMB Score: 3.5 out of 5

+++++++++FIFTY SHADES OF GREY - Christian & Anna Announced++++++++++

I know I shouldn't be excited about this, but yes, I did read all three Fifty Shades of Grey books by E. L. James - and enjoyed them despite myself. So it's great to finally find out who will play the leads in the movie version.

I'm surprised, but rather happy Focus Features and Universal Pictures went with two relatively unknown actors - Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson.

Last year, I wrote a 50 Shades of Grey Book of Hours blog post after finishing the trilogy.

 Movie opens August of 2014!

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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