Archives for posts with tag: carey mulligan

Northanger Abbey is perhaps Jane Austen’s least appreciated book, at least by me, for much of my life. I thought it would be like the others, but it’s not. It’s even spoofier, and it’s a spoof of Gothic novels. Now, Gothic novels are kind of bad. The Mysteries of Udolpho is remarkable chiefly because absolutely nothing (and nothing shocking) happens in it.

Catherine Morland (Felicity Jones) has read too many novels, and she thinks life resembles them. When she ends up in an old country house, she nearly ruins her life by treating it and its inhabitants as if it were a castle in a Gothic novel.

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This TV adaptation is near-perfect. The younger son of the Tilney house, Henry (JJ Feild), likes her, and is tolerant of her many faults. He calls her on them, but not insultingly. His sister, Eleanor (Catherine Walker), is gentle and mature. If they were the only three people in the novel, you might observe, it would be very boring. But Catherine also encounters less virtuous and much dumber people: Isabella Thorpe (Carey Mulligan), who is an insincere fortune-hunter who tries to entrap both Catherine’s brother and Henry’s; John Thorpe (William Beck), Isabella’s brother, who is a blowhard and wants to marry Catherine for her (nonexistent) money; Captain Tilney (Mark Dymond) and General Tilney (Liam Cunningham), who are cold-hearted and generally unpleasant.

My only real quibble with it is that John Thorpe is not good-looking enough to be a plausible alternative to Henry. He’s unbearable and he looks like the back end of a cab. It’s not charming for Catherine to be taken in. But everyone else is great–JJ Feild is exactly handsome enough for Henry, Felicity Jones is adorably but not irritatingly naïve, and all the adults are hilariously one-dimensional dramatic types. Carey Mulligan is hateful.

Of this run of made-for-TV Austens, this is the most pleasant. It’s like a small gelato of period cuteness.

Director: Jon Jones
Rating: so delightfully light
Length: 84 minutes
Score: 4/5

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If I’m mad at this movie, which I sort of am, it’s mostly because I am permanently mad at Bathsheba Everdene, and only slightly because of a joint incompetence on the part of the editing and continuity people, who either never bothered to tell us time had passed or paid no attention to time of day and what people were wearing.

Anyway, as Thomas Hardy adaptations go, it’s adequate shading to good. Scenery lush, costuming slightly mannered but handsome, casting decent, writing heavy-handed and slightly more feminist than the source material. Is “feminist” the right word? Is maybe “less deeply misogynist” the phrase I seek?

Carey Mulligan smirks constantly, which I hate, and Bathsheba never struck me as a smirker, but it’s not wrong. Matthias Schoenaerts is handsome, solid, and a total fucking nitwit, but that’s Gabriel Oak for you. Michael Sheen as Boldwood is convincingly unbalanced; Tom Sturridge is…not the man I would have cast as Francis Troy, but, again, effete isn’t an incorrect direction to go. Juno Temple’s Fanny Robin is not as heart-breaking as she ought to be.

Stray notes:

  • Seriously, Gabriel Oak: fiction’s greatest nitwit.
  • I was idly mapping Hunger Games people onto this, prompted by the Everdene/Everdeen thing, and if Suzanne Collins meant that… Finnick is Troy, Gale is Boldwood? Because Peeta sure as shootin’ is Gabriel, and I just managed to make myself hate both Bathsheba and Katniss even more than I already did, which is impressive.

Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Rating: PG-13
Length: 119 min.
Score: 3/5.

I was struggling with the genre on this one, but I figured “Coen Brothers” fit the bill. Two points to start:

1. I missed when Justin Timberlake became a proper actor, and I’ve seen nothing else he’s done, so that threw me.

2. I desperately hate movies about people who, for whatever reason, feel entitled not to be fully paid-up members of the human race.

So. The music is amazing, and early 60s New York is lovingly (too lovingly, perhaps) sketched out for us. And that’s…about as far as this movie got me. This is a movie about crappy people, who are crappy to each other, and to whom crappy things happen. Fair enough, I guess.

But also: almost nothing does happen. You start out being sorry that you have to watch Oscar Isaac get hit in the face, because you figure it’s unlikely that he really needed to be hit in the face, and at the end you maybe still think that he didn’t need to be hit in the face, but you don’t really care one way or the other. I’m not asking for grand personal growth on the part of the protagonist, or his friends, or his damn cat, but something would be nice. I know with Mausam I was complaining that it went off the rails, but with this I was honestly waiting–hoping, even–that someone would shoot Brad Pitt in the head. He wasn’t even in the movie.

….yeah.

Stray points:

I could not understand a word Garrett Hedlund said. I can’t tell if this is an improvement on either Troy or Tron.

Conversely, Carey Mulligan’s accent was well-enunciated but terrible, as were her bangs. At least she didn’t smirk.

John Goodman observing that everyone knows that you jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, not the George Washington, was painfully hilarious.

There is something about Adam Driver that really, really puts me off. I think it’s his face.

Directors: Joel & Ethan Coen
Stars: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, Justin Timberlake
Rating: R, for a really impressive number of four-letter words
Length: 104 min.
Score: 3/5. You can’t ignore how carefully it was made, or how good the music is. But oof.