Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Director: Burr Steers
Writer: Burr Steers
Based on: Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel, which is in turn an adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel
Cast: Lily James, Sam Riley, Bella Heathcote, Ellie Bamber, Millie Brady, Suki Waterhouse, Douglas Booth, Sally Phillips, Charles Dance, Jack Huston, Lena Headey, Matt Smith, Emma Greenwell
Seen on: 12.6.2016

Plot:
Early 19th century, England: A strange plague has befallen the land and the dead are rising. In the middle of all this confusion is the Bennett family. Mr Bennett (Charles Dance) has trained his daughters Elizabeth (Lily James), Jane (Bella Heathcote), Lydia (Ellie Bamber), Mary (Millie Brady) and Kitty (Suki Waterhouse) in the deadly arts, but their mother (Sally Phillips) tries everything to get them married. So it is just as well, when two new young men enter their social lives – Mr Bingley (Douglas Booth), amiable and sweet and Mr Darcy (Sam Riley), arrogant and proud. Will the Bennett sisters find their perfect guys and not get eaten by unmentionables?

After my experience with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, I was very much prepared for needing all my sarcasm and irony (and alcohol) to enjoy Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Turns out that many of my fears were unfunded – P&P&Z is often intentionally hilarious, even if it does have some weaknesses.

prideandprejudiceandzombies Continue reading

Death Comes to Pemberley (P. D. James)

Death Comes to Pemberley is a novel by P. D. James, a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Plot:
It’s been 6 years since the Darcys married and their life would be pretty much perfect, if it wasn’t for the continued tension between them and the Wickhams. The evening of Lady Anne’s Ball is coming up – the social event of the season hosted by the Darcys. But the night before, Lydia Wickham arrives at Pemberley in a state of panic, screaming that her husband has just been murdered in the woods of the estate. Mr Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam mount a search party to find out what happened.

I was looking forward to this. A sequel to Pride and Prejudice, written by somebody with a reputation as a good writer should be awesome. But I was unfortunately disappointed.

pdjames_Death-Comes-to-pemberley

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a rewriting of Austen‘s classic novel by Seth Grahame-Smith with the goal to include zombies.

Plot:
Early 19th century, England: A strange plague has befallen the land and the dead are rising. In the middle of all this confusion is the Bennett family. Mr Bennett went to China with his daughters to train them in the deadly arts. After their return to England, their mother tries everything to get them married. So it is just as well, when two new young men enter their social lives – Mr Bingley, amiable and sweet and Mr Darcy, arrogant and proud. Will the Bennett sisters find their perfect guys and not get eaten by unmentionables?

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is fun. Grahame-Smiths changes don’t always occur seamlessly, but that’s alright. I got a huge kick out of the illustrations in the book and in general, I enjoyed reading it a lot. I was surprised by a few things, which I will discuss in more detail below.

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[SPOILERS for both the classic and this version]

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Fun for Teens, References for Me

When St. Trinian’s came out here, I figured I had to see it, because of Rupert Everett, Stephen Fry, Colin Firth and Russell Brand. Plus, it’s always nice to see Lena Headey. I haven’t seen any of the old movies, nor read the book or had any other connection to St. Trinian stuff before. [Just so you know.]

I think it’s mostly a film aimed at teenagers [My teenage sis will love it, I think.] and men who get off on sexy school girls. Which can potentially make for a pretty weird crowd in the theatre.

Gemma Arterton (middle) will be in the next Bond… and she’s definitely a good choice, at least considering sex appeal.

Anyway, the humour was mostly a bit bland, boring so to say… It had the usual jokes. It was nice, but it didn’t leave me rolling on the floor.

Except when Colin Firth and Rupert Everett were seen together and the movie references just flew around.

Ms. Fritton (Rupert Everett): We met in college. It was another time.
Geoffrey Thwaites (Colin Firth): And Another Country.

Or when Geoffrey walks up to Ms. Fritton in his wet white shirt, which was so much more revealing than in Pride and Prejudice. [And while we’re at it, how come Anna Chancellor always gets the Miss Bingley roles?]

Well, summarising, it was nice, had some good scenes, but I just wasn’t the target group.

[SPOILER WARNING FOR MAMMA MIA!, OF ALL THINGS.]

[Oh, and btw, maybe you remember that when I posted about Mamma Mia! there was this comment, where Dee told me that Colin Firth couldn’t possibly be uncomfortable with portraying a gay character because he kisses Rupert Everett in St. Trinian’s. Well, he doesn’t. Sure, they get together in the end, but there’s never more than a hug seen on screen.
Which pissed me off. Seriously, people, I didn’t go to this movie to see them make out (although that would have been an attractive sight), but if you have two guys, who get it on together (regardless if one of them dresses up as or plays a woman or not), show them kissing, just as you would with a heterosexual couple. It is not shocking anymore (or, the people who are still shocked by this, need to be), it’s just plain weird when you have loads of special shoulder squeezes. Really.]

Further Reading:

An Interview with Anna Chancellor

Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

Pride and Prejudice is Jane Austen‘s first novel (albeit published only after Sense and Sensibility) and the first novel I read by her. And it’s good. I know why it’s considered a classic.

Although I like Sense and Sensibility a bit better (judging from the movies), I figured I’d start with Pride and Prejudice, because I just saw the BBC version as well as the 2005 movie. [Yeah, I like Jane Austen a lot.] [And a combination between the two movies would be the perfect adaptation.]

Anyway, the story, I think, is widely known, I won’t dive into that right now. If you don’t know it, read the wiki article I linked to above.

Interesting to see the differences between the movie(s) and the book. The book leaves a lot of room for interpretation, mostly by having a lot of dialogue, without specifying how it is said.
So, for example, comparing the two movie version, I wondered, if Charlotte Lucas was actually happy. In the BBC version, she seems really very unhappy with her choice to marry Mr. Collins, in the 2005 movie she seems very content with her situation. And – as I see it in the book – the 2005 version is truer to the original. Charlotte pursues Mr. Collins and goes with seeing eyes into the marriage, knowing exactly what she’s going to get and being satisfied, even if not happy, to get just that. [Also she’s 27, so she doesn’t have much of a choice anymore.]

I was a bit disappointed in Mr. Bennet. I always really liked him and his sarcasm, and that’s not missing in the book, but reading about him, he seems more like an asshole. But still very funny.
And Mrs. Bennet, if that’s possible, is even more annoying in the book.
I always had the secret hope that despite their different tempers and characters and their constant annoying each other, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet actually liked each other, but the book made it very clear that it isn’t so.

I was surprised at how short the whole thing was. I suspected that the book had to be much longer to fit everything that was in the movie, but Austen writes mostly in scenes and describes a lot of things in a couple of sentences. I was really surprised, when the second ball took place already on page 24 (or so). [And I thought, I’d need a month to read it… a week was all it took.]

Summarising, a really good read.

Thank Goodness, the 70s are over…

I saw Mamma Mia! and, boy, am I glad that nobody dresses in silver (or violet or blue or …) one piece body suit thingies anymore.

What can I say, I don’t think I need to see it ever again. There were some funny scenes (when they sing Dancing Queen or Does Your Mother Know), I really loved the interpretation of Lay All Your Love On Me, but if I ever want to see them again, there’s youtube.

So, what was wrong?

First, most of the main actors couldn’t sing. Except for Amanda Seyfried and Dominic Cooper, who were obviously cast for their singing abilities and not their popularity, it was awful. The best thing I can say is that I don’t really remember Stellan Skarsgard‘s singing and that Julie Walters‘ singing didn’t suck completely. Pierce Brosnan probably would have a nice rock voice, but not a good voice for singing ABBA songs, which are too high for him.

Apart from the singing, there was the acting, which had theatre written all over it, in huge, blinking, red neon letters. Theatre acting is not bad in itself, but it is different from movie acting for a reason. When you got a camera that catches every wrinkel in your face, there is no need for big gestures, they just seem weird. Which is exactly what happened here. And they managed to make Meryl Streep seem like she can’t act. Which is some kind of achievement, I guess.
Also, the way the story was structured is very theatre-like. I guess that’s due to Phyllida Lloyd, who also directed the Broadway version.
They could have done a little more adapting. Just a bit.

[SPOILER]

Colin Firth, I love him. No doubt about that. But he was completely miscasted. If there’s someone, who screams “straight” with every pore of his body, it’s him. And he seemed so completely, amazingly and unbelievably uncomfortable with hugging the young guy, who played his lover, that I actually pitied him for having to do that (I wouldn’t have minded, the guy was cute…).

[END SPOILER]

Okay, that probably sounds like I suffered the whole time, which is not true. I enjoyed Julie Walters (she’s just good in everything she does. And she’s really cool as Elvis) and Christine Baranski a lot, as well as Stellan Skarsgaard.

I laughed and I like the music (every 5 years or so, I even dig out the Best Of CD I own and listen to it), it was fun to see the young hippy versions of the guys and Meryl Streep.

I probably would have enjoyed it more, though, if I had been alone in the movie. Well, my sister could have stayed, but that’s it. People actually clapped along. Newsflash, dear audience: THEY CAN’T HEAR YOU! I understand that sometimes you might want to sing along softly, a verse or two. But clapping??? Really not happening.
[Deadra meant that I’d have to see it more like those Sing-Along Rocky Horror Picture Show showings. To which I say: You’ve gotta earn the right by dressing up first, then you can sing along and shout Weiss and throw toilet paper as much as you want (though I haven’t heard of anybody clapping along). But before I don’t see anybody in one of those one piecers and those shoes, and before I don’t get a warning that those things will happen before I buy the ticket, I stay annoyed.]

But what really killed me, was the buzz in the toilet afterwards, people screaming out “Dancing Queen, young and sweet, …” and one woman in particular, who said to a friend, “I love Colin Firth. But already since 1995, when he was in Pride and Prejudice…” [Translation: “I saw him first, he’s mine, mine, mine!”] [Well, I saw Valmont and that film is older, so he must be mine… But wait, L. saw Another Country before me, so he must be hers!]. I actually had the strength not to laugh out loud. Who’s the bigger person now?

Bookstore

I’m in a bookstore at least once a week. Usually, I even buy something (even if it’s not for me), sometimes I can resist. But right now, I’m a little shocked because of what they have to offer right now.

Walking into the German section of my favourite store (favourite because close to home, rather cheap, huge, big English and Fantasy-SciFi section and a cinema and coffee shop nearby. The only thing that could be better would be if the coffee shop was a Starbucks), I stumble upon huge piles of “Rhett Butler’s People“. I haven’t read it, but frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. The concept alone makes me shudder.
After a risky escape, I find a little safety behind the next pile until I realise it mostly consists of books I either already have (in English, since at least 6 months), am not interested in or T.C. Boyle’s “The Inner Circle“, which in itself is not bad but it has been published 3 years ago in English, the hardcover version was published 2 years ago and the paperback a few months ago – from hardcover to paperback over 1 and a half years? What happened?
Disappointed I make my retreat – to the safety of English books. Or so I thought. After considering to buy another Christopher Moore novel just because it sounds so hilarious (I still haven’t read Lamb – The Gospel According to Biff), I discovered a monstrosity which makes Rhett seem a perfectly sane book: Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure No, that’s not a typo. Basically, you are Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice) and you have to get Darcy to marry you. You can get points (which you should keep track of on a sheet of paper) for being witty, getting richer and I don’t know what. And of course you get to make some decisions which make you go to another page.
The last time I read a book like this was when I was twelve or so and it was a Knickerbocker Gang novel. And then I was already bored.
Honestly, suddenly Jasper Fforde‘s “First Among Sequels” doesn’t seem so fantastical anymore.