Persuasion adaptations

Jane Austen’s Persuasion is one of my favourite books. It’s a toss up for me whether I like Pride & Prejudice or Persuasion more. In 1995 there was a near perfect Persuasion adaptation made by the BBC, starring Amanda Root as Anne Elliot and Ciaran Hinds as Captain Frederick Wentworth.

I can’t tell you how often I have watched this version of Persuasion, I just love it. I also love how into the ending they also incorporated a little bit of the ending Jane Austen had orginially written before she changed it to the current ending (which is much better and contains that beautiful letter). If you’ve seen this adaptation, it’s the scene near the end where Captain Wentworth comes to speak to Anne in the name of his Admiral Croft and asks painfully whether Anne is indeed to marry her cousin Mr. Elliot. They are interrupted and she can never answer but that little scene is so nicely incorporated into the plot. I could go on about this adaptaion for ages, but I won’t right now.

In 2007 ITV made another adaptation with Sally Hawkins as Anne and Rupert Penry-Jones as Frederick.

While the main actors were lovely, some of the supporting cast was not (most notably the one who played Anne’s sister Mary) and they gave some good quotes out of sequence to other characters (why?). Also, what was up with the mad dash Anne did at the end through Bath? Despite it’s deficiencies I have gone back to this adaptation now and again and I like it well enough.

I even got my hands on a 1971 miniseries of Persuasion starring Ann Firbank as Anne and Bryan Marshall as Frederick.

Ann Firbank, by the way, was also with Richard Armitage in The Crucible.

That Persuasion version I only saw once, it was quite close to the book if I recall correctly but also slow moving and a little too serene. I did like Firbank and Marshall in their roles, though, with the right amount of unease and awkwardness and long silent looks.

There is also a 1960 miniseries, but according to Wikipedia that version is most likely lost. Seeing how popular Emma or Pride and Prejudice are, there haven’t been quite as many Persuasion adaptations but it looks like that is changing.

There is a new Persuasion movie in the making, starring Sarah Snook and Joel Fry. I’ve never heard of Sarah Snook before but I do ‘know’ Joel Fry from his supporting role in the fun movie Yesterday. The actors do look interesting, I hope they’ll be good and that the story/movie will be good as well.

There’s also a Netflix Persuasion movie in the making, starring Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot. Apparently it’s a modern retelling of the story and just yesterday I read that it will also star Henry Golding as Anne’s cousin Mr. Elliot. Gotta say I could see him in the role of Frederick as well. I really like Henry Golding.

No mention yet on who will play Frederick, so I am very curious to find that out. I’m also feeling a bit iffy about this project. Will it be any good? I’m neutral on Dakota Johnson but not so neutral on modern setting remakes. I’ve seen a few and many are not so great. Most notably, in the recent two or three years, Hallmark has been making some modern setting Austen movies that are loosely based on Jane Austen’s novels (though no Persuasion as yet) and they are all terrible. Sometimes I only recognize the names, the characters just aren’t there and the stories are so bare bone Austen, you could hardly call them Austen either.

Yesterday I watched another modern Austen adaptation made last year, this time a Persuasion one which is not Hallmark, but not far off that mark either. It’s called Modern Persuasion (uninspired title) and nope, that movie really wasn’t it. It tried a little too hard to be witty (although some jokes did make me smile). The story was there, the characters sort of as well but I have no idea why it was necessary to change the names so much. Anne Elliot (played by Alicia Witt) was called Wren Cosgrove and Frederick Wentworth (played by Shane McRae) was called Owen Jasper (really, how is that an improvement?). Witt was alright, even if a little too pouty, but McRae sadly had no Wentworth charisma whatsover, he looked uncomfortable in the role.

I have a feeling that the man who played the Captain Benwick character (actor Dominic Rains), named Sam Benson here, would have made a much better Captain Wentworth or Owen Jasper as he was called here.

I found most of this movie to be awkward, I hope the modern Netflix version that is being filmed will be much better than this.

There are a few good modern adaptations of Austen novels out there. I quite loved the Bollywood meets Hollywood Bride and Prejudice, I loved Bridget Jones’s Diary, I loved the YouTube webseries The Lizzie Bennett Diaries and Clueless is a pretty good modern Emma adaptation. Heck, I even (very surprisingly) enjoyed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies that, despite being a costume drama, is very modern with the zombies added in. I so hope the new Persuasion set in modern times adaptation can fit in with those and won’t be like the Hallmark ones or the Modern Persuasion movie I just saw. The more traditional Persuasion that is being filmed has big shoes to fill and I have slightly higher hopes for that one. In any case, I am quite happy these adaptations are coming and I’m looking forward to seeing them.

King’s Day in quarantine again

It’s King’s Day here in The Netherlands today where we celebrate the king’s birthday (he’s 54 today). Normally the country errupts into one big orange festival but we’re still in Corona crisis quarantine lockdown, so it’s all low-key yet again. Last year we already spent an even more low-key King’s Day in lockdown at home. Quarantine isn’t as strict and as new as it was last year so this year we opted for a little more mobility.

Junior was picked up by three friends at the end of the morning and they spent the day having their own little party amongst themselves and walking in a nature area where they saw this…

Meanwhile at home mini me had some studying to do for exams tomorrow and I had some homework to do for my Stephen Macht drama masterclass that I hadn’t gotten around to earlier. I first watched a bit of our royal family on TV visiting the city of Eindhoven in the south for a socially distanced birthday celebration where they participated in a socially distanced talk show setting and played a virtual quiz game. It was good that I could fastforward a lot of it (hadn’t watched live from the beginning) as it wasn’t that interesting but I did get a bit of an impression.

I then turned to my homework, watching the drama Tender Mercies from 1983, a movie I hadn’t really heard of before, despite the movie earning an Oscar for best script and for best actor Robert Duvall. Thankfully, it really was a good movie…

Afterwards Mr Esther, mini me and I decided to drive to Den Haag and take a walk around there. Some cities were apparently very busy and people were asked to leave according to the news but Den Haag wasn’t bad at all. The sun was out, we got some fish to eat at a fish stand, the trams even had little Dutch and orange flags and it was at least a little bit festive as we walked around for maybe an hour and a half…

When we got home again, Junior was back and sitting in the sun in our front garden (yes, we have the flag out for the occasion, a thing Mr Esther always likes to do) with the cats around as well…

At 7 pm I had my third Stephen Macht drama masterclass which was again interesting (a longer post will follow at some later time). I do notice in the background that he has what looks like Billy bookshelves from Ikea (we have the same but in a lighter wood colour and in white).

After a late dinner the family reunited in the living room again to watch soccer on TV (Madrid versus Chelsea in the Champions League).

The day ended with some gazing at the beautiful full moon. Couldn’t get a good picture yet as it is still quite low and obscured by trees but I got a little something…

I hope next year we can have a real King’s Day with the country turning into an orange street party again with open air junk sales, music in the streets and cafés and restaurants open again to all the celebrating people. I hoped the same last year and look where that got me. Still, a woman can wish, can’t she?

Muted Oscars

As is our yearly tradition, our family friend came over last night to watch the Oscars with me, despite us having seen none of the movies. Well, I saw one, the Borat movie, but it hardly qualified me to pick favorites.

We had a nice dinner, then played Yahtzee with the family and then watched the red carpet arrivals. There’s a nice overview of red carpet looks here at Vogue, in case you’re interested. Lots of plunging necklines and bare skin for the ladies (I was sometimes worrying about possible wardrobe malfunctions) and glitter. My favourite was what the singer H.E.R. wore (never heard of her before), she looked gorgeous; I loved the colour of her outfit and that it was a pantsuit and the scarf on her head, also the long hair cascading down and even the glasses.

Most handsomely dressed man on the red carpet was Riz Ahmed to me (simple, sleek, elegant) and his wife looked quite gorgeous too.

I liked that there was less frenzy on the red carpet…

By the time the awards show started at 2 am our time, Mr Esther and the kids had already gone off to bed and it was just my friend and I who were still up. To keep ourselves awake and invested, I had a printout of the nominees at the ready where I could mark the winners and keep a tally of what movie won how many awards…

… and of course my friend and I gossiped throughout, which is always fun. We stayed awake with coffee (for her) and coca cola and M&Ms and some other snacks and it worked, we didn’t fall asleep.

I’ve heard several news outlets call the ceremony ‘muted’ and I’d have to agree with that. I liked the smaller venue and the tables making it all look a little more intimate…

… but even so, somehow there was a detachment, like no one knew quite how to act or react. It felt like everyone was making sure there was no jumping up and hugging and maybe they weren’t allowed to be too vocal for fear of spreading respiratory droplets as no one was wearing masks? In any case, there was this sense of detachment. There were very few clips, the nominees were just read out without any fanfare, apart maybe from the acting categories, where each actor received a short, cringy speech which only Joaquin Phoenix refused to participate in when he announced Best Actor.

I wasn’t really invested in any of the wins this year as I hadn’t seen the movies but I was quite happy when Emerald Fennell won for Best Original Screenplay, just because I like her and really liked her on Call the Midwife a few years back. I was pleased for Daniel Kaluuya as well for Best Supporting Actor.

His speech, however, did ramble on and I kinda wished he would just stop. He even thanked his parents for having sex at one point which prompted this reaction from his mother…

You can clearly see her mouthing “What’s he going on about?” and I was wondering the same thing.

There was a weirdish music quiz moment which ended with Glenn Close doing a “da butt” move…

I really liked her outfit too, by the way. Speaking of music, I’ve got to say that I didn’t really like any of the nominated songs. It was nice to see H.E.R. win but only because that meant I could admire her in her lovely outfit.

Nomadland ended up winning 3 Oscars, it’s already been on my “I want to watch” list as I quite like Frances McDormand and the director Chloé Zhao (in the middle below) made a good impression on me as well.

My favourite speech of the evening was given by the Best Supporting Actress Winner, the Korean actress Yuh-Jung Youn. She had already disarmed me at the Bafta’s two weeks ago and I really enjoyed her at the Oscars too. She was fangirling over Brad Pitt and Glenn Close, she spoke about how weird it is to be competing for Best Actress when the films are all so different and the jokes about her sons made me laugh. She really makes me want to watch Minari as well.

The evening had a weird last hour. First off, the In Memoriam section was completely rushed, maybe because it was set to the upbeat tempo of Stevie Wonder’s I’ll Be Loving You Always. Some images lingered, while others just flew by. In honesty, I, with my limited skills, could probably make a better fan video than that… What was also weird was that the Best Picture Oscar came not at the end but before the Best Actress and Actor Oscars, that felt strange.

Last, but not least, the ending of the show was really abrupt. Apparently everyone had expected Chadwick Boseman to win Best Actor posthumously but in the end Anthony Hopkins won (again, I had no preference and was pleased for Hopkins, as I would have been for any of the others). Hopkins wasn’t there and there was no one to accept the award for him and so after the announcement of his win the show abruptly just ended. Totally weird. My friend and I just looked at each other in a “what was that?” kind of way. So, we switched off the TV at around 5.20 am and 10 minutes later we were snoozing in our beds.

There was a reaction from Anthony Hopkins this morning, which was quite endearing…

Overall, I was left feeling that I liked that this show had been more intimate, diverse and a little less flashy but it also missed some enthusiasm and it all felt a little strange. Quite fitting, maybe, as we do live in very strange times now.

Strong historical women

I’ve been catching up on strong women in history movies of late, women I had heard of or only had rudimentary knowledge of but now I feel I know a little better. Of course I don’t see these movies as documentaries but they did give a nice little deepdive into who they were.

I started with On the Basis of Sex about supreme court judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg (played by Felicity Jones) before she became a judge. It followed her early career and her groundbreaking win in a case where she argued to not discriminate against a man as a carer for his ailing mother on the basis of his sex. That laid the goundwork for later equal women’s rights laws. I also love how Ruth’s marriage is portrayed here, a real partnership between two equals, the way (for me) that a marriage should be, a give and take in equality.

I love how this is not about a superhero female lawyer but that it’s about a woman who quietly fights for justice in her own unique way. I know Felicity Jones is not for everyone but I have really liked her since I first saw her in Northanger Abbey quite a few years ago and she doesn’t disappoint here either.

Hannah Arendt focuses on (not surprisingly) Hannah Arendt as she follows the trial of Adolf Eichman, leading her to coin the famous term ‘the banality of evil’. It was a good and thought provoking film with a great performance by German actress Barbara Sukowa but it was also a very slow moving and sometimes tedious to get through story. Either that or I watched it too late at night when I was too tired to follow all of the thoughts laid out in the film, which meant I felt my eyes drooping on occasion. Even though it was slow, the movie did stick with me for a little while so I think I need to watch this one again, when I am feeling more alert.

I like that this is not about a woman battling and fighting for a place in a man’s world, it’s a movie about a strong and already respected woman in her own right who lives life on her own terms, a political theorist (I understand she didn’t see herself as a philosopher) trying to make sense of the evils of the Holocaust. It’s well worth a watch (even if a tad slow).

Harriet is about the life of Harriet Tubman, who in the mid 1800s escaped slavery in Maryland and went on to free 70 more slaves from the southern plantations after that. I know very little about Tubman and I really liked this movie which gave me more of an insight into who she had been. Cynthia Erivo was truly remarkable as Minty aka Harriet, I was surprised when afterwards I found out that Erivo is actually a British actress, she was so good!

The story was dramatically well told, Harriet was a strong and very determined character who wouldn’t let anyone sway her from her path. The music was good too, especially the spirituals in it made me want to listen to the soundtrack. I don’t get that urge often when I watch a movie.

Cynthia Erivo sings herself, what a gorgeous voice she has. The song “Stand up” that she co-wrote was nominated for an Oscar but lost out to Elton John…

I then saw Big Eyes, about painter Margaret Keane (played by Amy Adams, I watched the movie because of her), another woman I knew nothing about. She painted the famous big eyes paintings in the 1960s that were also turned into countless posters and postcards. Her husband (played by Christoph Waltz) marketed and took credit for all her work for many years and she let him out of fear.

It is depressing to see her become isolated from others, caught in a restricted world alone with her husband and lying to her daughter (from her first marriage). It is then a relief to see her subsequently emerge and come into her own at the end. I had no idea about any of this, so it was an interesting watch for me.

As usual, Amy Adams is brilliant in this, can someone please finally give her that Oscar?

Last but not least, I watched Misbehaviour, a movie about the 1970 Miss World competition, held in London, hosted by a quite sexist Bob Hope. Claiming that beauty competitions demeaned women, the newly formed Women’s Liberation Movement achieved overnight fame by invading the stage of the Miss World show. At the same time, that show also became the first time a black woman from South Africa was allowed to compete and the first time a black woman (from Grenada) won.

Keira Knightley, Jessie Buckley and Gugu Mbatha-Raw starred in this movie (I especially love the latter two although Keira is really good in this one too), alongside a few other good names (Rhys Ifans, Keeley Hawes, Leslie Manville, Greg Kinnear). I like how this movie shows the point of view of the protesters as well as of the contestants, especially the two black women who use the competition to try and find emancipation. There is a conversation after the contest between the winner Jennifer Hosten (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and protester Sally Alexander (Keira Knightley) in the bathroom, both discussing their points of view and I just wish that scene had lasted longer. I enjoyed this movie too.

All of these movies are well worth seeing but my fave of these have been Harriet and On the Basis of Sex, the latter even leading me to watch the 2018 documentary RBG, which gave a fascinating insight into Ruth Bader Ginsburg. These are ‘just’ movies, so by nature dramatized and maybe not 100% accurate in the stories they tell, but I do love them and how they bring these stories to the awareness of people today. We’ve come a long way in many things but these movies also remind me that we have a way to go yet as we still fight many battles today against racism and sexism.

Procrastination Sunday

So, today I was supposed to do our weekly groceries and a whole load of laundry but then mini me asked if we could go to Rotterdam for the afternoon. Anything to procrastinate doing household chores, so off we went. We stopped for some bubble tea with little apple flavoured poppy tapioca balls which she loves so much and some churros. I’m neutral on both bubble tea and churros but after a really wet day yesterday it was nice to sit outside and enjoy a little bit of sun while sipping a drink on a bench…

It was chilly, though, so we didn’t stay long. We drove through Rotterdam for a bit…

Of course, groceries still needed to be done after I got home (whirlwind shopping in 45 minutes before the supermarket closed) but being rushed was worth it after a lovely afternoon with my daughter.

This evening, after I got home from my grocery shopping, my brother in London called to tell me he had just seen Emma Thompson at his Waitrose supermarket! She lives not far from where he lives and I have walked by her house before but, unlike my brother, I have never seen her ‘in the wild’. He was waiting to get into the supermarket when she and an elderly lady (he thinks her mum) came out and took off their masks. Seeing Emma made him think of me and we ended up chatting on the phone for an hour. He didn’t take any pictures but Emma must have looked something like this (pictures taken earlier this year and last year)…

We had a late dinner and then we happened upon the BAFTA awards on TV, so that had to be watched. This means that the laundry (already partially washed thanks to Mr Esther) has yet to be folded but folding laundry is overrated isn’t it?