Friday, July 20, 2007

Becoming Jane... underrated by reviewers

Say what you like... my  opinion is based upon personal preference.  Not without flaws, I enjoyed Becoming Jane even more the second time around.  (And yes,  I have read all of Jane Austen's novels... several times...) 

Superbly acted.  A sweeping score.  Smart screenplay.   (Warning Spoilers- read no further if you don't already know Jane Austen's romantic travails.) 
Whether founded in truth or not, the story kept me engaged long after the credits.  Even haunting me while I slept. Was it the poignancy of her doomed romantic circumstances? (It takes two to...waltz.)  Or the admission that a female novelist can't have it all-  marriage, family and career?   I found myself relating to the peaks and valleys.   As a writer, a searing new story idea can tear me in one direction... and "what's for dinner" in the other,  and soccer chauffeuring  in yet another.    As 19th century as it sounds,  domestic commitment is a reality. 
For me.  (At least while I have school age children.)

I was swept up by the interludes- the misunderstandings,  the eye contact, the desperate kiss, the jeering arguments in the forest (How romantic these passionate arguments are on screen! In real life?  I'd smack him.  Well, she DID smack him at one point.  But it lead to a kiss, and hmmm- in the 21st century?... I don't know.  But hey, it works for me on screen!)  

Anne Hathaway- as Jane Austen.  She crafted this part exceedingly well.  A far step beyond Diaries and Prada.   Her longing,  anguish, and tears- genuine.  

James McAvoy- as Tom LeFroy.  Perfectly geeky, and yet, eye-chocolate in so many intelligent ways.  Cool to a tee.  Marvelous acting- in pitch and timing.  (He had ME convinced.  I was running away at dawn!)  
First up-  saw him in Narnia, and thought- this man is way too alluring for a faun... then, bring on the C4!  he's casted in The Last King of Scotland, Starter For Ten,  Becoming Jane,  Penelope,  Atonement, and Wanted.
Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, and James Cromwell all acted their chops off.  Very fine.  And Anna Maxwell Martin- something MUST be said about her performance- beguiling and demure as Cassandra, Jane's older sister.  Her bereavement scene was all too genuine.) 

One of my many favorite scenes:  

Jane is eagerly seeking Mr LeFroy at the Ball. But instead., her fateful search brings her to a dance with Mr Wisley- a suitor that she had recently rebuffed.  Midway through the dance she is suddenly swept into Tom's lead-   eyes locked upon one another in magnetic discovery.   Enchanting.  

Loved the screenwriters cunning references to situations in Austen's novels.  Contrary to what some reviewers had to say,  I think these clever references made it all the more fun.  Very fun indeed.   But not without "trouble."  (Bring tissues.) 

Quote during their first dance:  
Tom LeFroy:  "I think that you, Miss Austen, consider yourself a cut above the company... 
Jane Austen:  Me?
Tom LeFroy:  You, ma'am.  Secretly.

Take THAT, oh-ye-highbrow reviewers...


Saturday, July 14, 2007

COMING SOON!!! 3rd Annual Root Beer taste testing contest

ONLINE Root beer POLL CLOSED! Virgils brand root beer won first place!

Friday, July 13, 2007

How is it possible??

Well- it just isn't!! I must be dreaming. Because you couldn't possibly be eighteen years old! 36 hours of labor- ending in a c-section. (OR rather beginning with a c-section.)

I haven't taught you how to make marinara sauce yet-(wait a sec- that's not a good idea.) When you were little, I remember telling you to "SLOW DOWN!" You must have thought I meant not to run so fast. Actually, Nick, I was suggesting that you not GROW so fast.

Do all kids grow this fast? I mean... seasoned parents told me their kids did. But that was THEIR kids, not mine. (Hey, these were the same seasoned parents that warned me, "Before you know it, they won't want to be seen with you." What? That's not true- IS IT?- Nick? - Nick? Are you there? Where'd he go?)

Hmmm. I guess you didn't listen to my pleas to 'slow down.' Because here you are, Nicholas Teague Coyle, eighteen, registered with selective services, going on a pre-senior road trip with some buddies, working on a feature length film for a school project, and able to vote in 08.

And yet you have always been wise beyond your years. You were the one that at the age of 4 looked at my tummy and pointed, "There's a baby in there... and it's a girl!" And then 8 months later before Annie's birth you comforted me, "Don't worry, she's going to be able to get through the hallway, mommy." And she did.

I remember the first summer your voice changed into that of a man's. I was upstairs in my room and suddenly I heard Annie downstairs talking to a stranger. I ran down... only to see you, a cute little twelve-year old with eyes as dark as a couple of antique coins, sitting next to his sister on the couch discussing the latest Harry Potter book. No squeaking, faltering voice- you had caught a summer cold, your voice dove down to your toes... and it never came back up.

You've been my contant drip line of humor crossed with a bit of mad scientist. When you were 13, I remember instructing you to put the chopped celery into the soup at 5:30 p.m.- when 5:30 came along- you couldn't remember what you were suppose to do with the celery. So... you ate it. I can almost imagine the mind-talk on that one.

What a stunning man you are becoming! But there's work left to do- for example: dressing-up means more than clean shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, napkins are folded with the point facing left, and generally people bring their dirty dishes down from their room more than once a month.

I forgot to say, those seasoned parents also said... "you're a parent forever..." Now there's some advice I can live with.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Atlanta!! Veni Vidi Vici!

Recently we had a lay-over in Atlanta. (We came, we saw, we conquered... Food, that is.)

"I'm HUNGRY..." became my daughter's mantra an hour into the 3 hour plus flight. Never mind that she had a large breakfast an hour earlier. Never mind that I gave the kids travel bags filled with snacks before boarding. Never mind the paper-wrapper flavored cookie (or was that cardboard?) Delta gave us. She was hungry. (This is the same baby that the pediatrician once warned me about -'this ones going to need to eat every 20 minutes...' WHAT?)

Whenever I looked at Annie in 31A from my private window seat in 36E (sadly we had a little problem with seat selection,) she mouthed the words that makes every traveling parent cringe... "I'm..HUNGRY!" (When Annie was a toddler it mattered not how much she ate before we left the house- as the car engine flared and we got just far enough away from the refrigerator, she became "over-torturous" (inside phrase) with hunger and thirst.

"Well, eat your snacks," I mouthed back as the jet engine flared.

But with lips turned downward, she mouthed "I already did."

(Ut-oh, no frige in my purse.) We were in trouble. Annie is personality challenged whenever she's HUNGRY. Our little problem with seat selection wasn't looking quite so bad afterall.

Oh well. Without sounding like a food shnob- this shtory has a fairy tale happy ending because we located a divine restaurant in downtown Atlanta shortly after landing- Veni Vidi Vici.. AND it just-so-happened to be the most delectable meal we had on our entire vacation. Two of us had home-made twisted spinach tortellini- bunched together with in a softly singing citrus sauce. (Shnobby enough?) LaaaAAAaaaah. The other two of us had White Lasagna- thin sheets of durum perfection plopped into formation with cheeses from afar. Annie purred. We all did.
Our eyes rolled to the back of our heads. Yum. And dessert was just as... shweet. And so was Annie.

Veni Vidi Vici!!