Thursday, 12 February 2015

Five of My Favourite Romantic Films

Valentine's Day is coming up and to mark the occasion I thought I'd talk about five of my favourite romantic films. Maybe you're like me and hate Valentine's Day but the occasion did give me an excellent excuse to talk about some of my favourite things :) 

The Young Victoria (2008)
This film dramatises the early reign of Queen Victoria and it mostly focuses on her courtship with Prince Albert. This film is incredibly romantic and beautiful. Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend have a terrific chemistry between them and the supporting cast is superb. The film is mostly historically accurate but Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend are much more attractive than the real-life Victoria and Albert were, and the film fudges some facts in order to make the ending more dramatic and romantic. I'm a real stickler for historical accuracy but I loved this film so much that I didn't mind the changes at all! Rating: PG

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008)
This film is an adaptation of the book of the same name. The story is both a comedy-of-manners and an update on the Cinderella fairytale and it's set in London just before the start of WWII. It's a truly delightful and heart-warming film. I loved both the book and the film but I actually loved the film slightly more. I found the film more romantic than the book and whereas the book is set in 1938 the screenwriters chose to set the story a year later so they could incorporate the looming threat of WWII. It gives the film a little bit more substance than the book.  Rating: PG

Northanger Abbey (2007)
I felt I should include at least one Jane Austen adaptation on my list and in the end I went for this one because the story is so underrated. Northanger Abbey is one of Jane Austen's lesser-known works but it's actually one of my favourites out of her novels. It's hilarious and adorable and Henry Tilney is by far my favourite Austen hero. I'd take him over Mr Darcy any day! The 2007 ITV film adaptation of the book isn't perfect but it's still a very fun film and the three leads - JJ Feild and a pre-Hollywood Felicity Jones and Carey Mulligan - are delightful. Rating: PG

Amelie (2001)
Amelie is truly magical. The soundtrack is beautiful and the story is quirky and charming with a touch of magical realism. The film has stunning location shots of Paris and I love that the story involves the characters going on treasure hunts around the city. Rating: 15

A Very Long Engagement (2004)
This film re-unites Amelie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet with that film's leading actress Audrey Tautou. It also stars Marion Cotillard who's since gone on to become a big star. A Very Long Engagement has a darker and more serious tone than Amelie but it's still a beautiful and moving film. It's based on a book that I have yet to read. I really ought to get round to it. Rating: 15

Thursday, 5 February 2015

'Richard III' by William Shakespeare (1600)

Synopsis: Richard III is the conclusion of Shakespeare's War of the Roses history plays. It seems that the War of the Roses have finally come to an end with the defeat of Henry VI and the House of Lancaster. Edward IV of the House of York is the new King of England and his younger brother Richard is the Duke of Gloucester. Richard is a bitter and deformed hunchback who has decided to become a villain. He is determined to take the throne of England and by any means necessary. Although Henry's widow Margaret of Anjou attempts to warn the nobility of Richard's true intentions she is ignored. Richard is able to lie, manipulate and murder his way to the throne. However as soon as Richard becomes king his reign is immediately put under threat. The exiled Henry Tudor has a claim to the throne and has returned from Brittany. The noblemen that Richard has managed to alienate then flock to Henry's side and Richard is forced to defend the throne that he usurped.

I've read several of Shakespeare's tragedies and comedies but Richard III is the first history play that I've read. I suppose it must seem a bit odd that I read the final War of the Roses play first but I was assigned to read Richard III in my second year at uni. I never actually managed to finish the play though and I've been meaning to go back to it ever since.

I was somewhat disappointed by Richard III. I liked it well enough but Richard and Margaret are the only interesting characters and there were a lot of scenes in the play that I found pointless and boring: were all of those scenes with those random citizens really necessary for example?! I think this play is too long. But having said that there are some brilliant scenes in Richard III - the opening scene, the two Margaret scenes, Richard's seduction of Anne - and Richard is a compelling villain.

I'm still excited about seeing The Hollow Crown's adaptation of the play next year. I'm sure the play is far more entertaining when it's seen live, or in this case acted-out. I know there are a lot of people out there who don't see the point in reading Shakespeare's plays at all. "You wouldn't read a film script", they say, "Shakespeare's plays were written to be performed. If you don't see them live then you're not going to appreciate them properly. It's as simple as that." That argument has always made me feel indignant in the past. There are quite a few Shakespeare plays that I first encountered through reading and I still found completely gripping and engaging: Othello, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, Coriolanus. I think I understood those plays perfectly well thank you very much! However I can't deny that I didn't particularly like The Tempest when I read it only to love it when I eventually got to see it live. I hate to admit it but I guess the naysayers might have a point. I'm sure I'll enjoy The Hollow's Crown's Richard III. According to my introduction the play is often shortened when performed and I think the actors will be able to flesh out the secondary characters more. And Benedict Cumberbatch is playing Richard which is, you know, amazing!

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

My Reactions to the 'To Kill a Mockingbird' Sequel

The news is on in the background. I'm looking at my phone. Hang on, what's that? Why are they talking about Harper Lee?! She hasn't died has she?! Here it comes...

Wait. What?! A sequel?! A sequel to A Kill a Mockingbird?! They're publishing a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird! And it's actually been written by Harper Lee!

After all this time?!


*And Emma Stone has the best facial expressions!*

Hehe! It's past 1am right now and I'm feeling both tired and hyper. It's odd how those states of mind can coincide. And by the way, can the Sherlock fandom pleeease stop whinging and complaining about the two year waits between series now? I say this as a Sherlockian. Seriously people, get some perspective!