Alice in Movieland











This movie does what few romantic comedies do and lets us see *after* the Happily Ever After of the first movie. Six weeks into her relationship with Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), Bridget (Renée Zellweger) begins to question how perfect her life has become. Despite being in a relationship with a man who clearly loves her (or maybe *because* of it… hmm…), Bridget’s insecurity increases to enormous proportions. Her self-esteem plummets as she views herself unreasonably harshly in contrast to the pedestal Mark is on. She is certain he sees her in this same light (fat, socially inept, and generally not good enough for him) and her insecurity turns to jealousy when she compares herself to Mark’s beautiful colleague Rebecca and begins to despair that he may be having an affair. He’s not, of course, but jealousy and insecurity are nearly incurable once set in motion. Additionally, in the wake of a pregnancy scare, they struggle with how different their backgrounds are. It all comes to a head at a luncheon with their parents when Mark says they aren’t thinking about marriage yet. Bridget’s certainly thinking about it and this comment crushes her already fragile view of their relationship. She breaks up with him very soon after. Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) is thrown back into the mix when Bridget’s boss hires him to do a televised travelogue series and wants her to be his co-host. Thankfully, she brings Shazzar along for protection, because, once in Thailand, Daniel turns up the charm and tries to get Bridget into bed. But you have to give her credit! She *is* at least a little smarter in some respects than the first movie and leaves him shocked at his lack of success. On their way out of the country, however, Bridget is arrested for carrying cocaine (the souvenir from Shazzar’s vacation fling). Daniel does nothing to help her and Bridget lands in jail. After some time, Mark arrives in legal capacity to tell her that she will be released, but still seems to be hurt from the breakup and tells her that he’s only the messenger. But once Bridget is set free and makes her way back to London (now a bit of a celebrity because of her ordeal), her friends tell her that Mark worked tirelessly, traveling to several countries, pulling in favors from top officials, to get her released (which somewhat echoes P&P’s Darcy’s background efforts). Hoping against hope that he still loves her, she bursts into a meeting at his legal office to ask him to take her back. He excuses himself from the meeting and, after a slight blunder on her part, asks her to marry him. The movie ends with her catching the bouquet at her parents’ vow renewal wedding.

There are a few things we could say about this movie. Yes, it is obviously a sequel and, therefore, some of the things like her unflattering tv adventures and her battle to resist Daniel and the fight between the two guys do seem a little overworked. And, yes, as one reader remarked about the first movie, the ending here too does seem a little too abruptly “storybook” in it’s sudden, near perfect, happy resolution. And, YES, Bridget is remarkably more stupid in this one and the first half of the movie (with her and Mark) is almost painful. Yes. I will grant you all these things. … I still very much love this movie (in a very different way from the first). I love the first movie the way I love all romantic movies with a happy ending: for its vicarious emotional high. This movie… What I love most IS the painful part. The part where she’s being completely insecure and paranoid and jealous and utterly hopelessly stupid… I love that part. It is the greatest of negative lessons. I know exactly how she’s feeling. I see exactly how she gets there. I know why and I identify soooo much, because I have felt that way too and it SUCKS. I can see why she is so crazy and acts so rashly, so… stupidly. Every time I watch it, I cringe and I want to yell at the screen for her to stop being retarded, but I love it, because it’s very cathartic for me. It reminds me not to be that way. Every time I watch it, I resolve to be sane! And secure. And trusting. The next time I am in a relationship, I will *not* be Bridget. I will trust him when he says he loves me (if indeed it should be obvious that he does). I didn’t believe him last time and I ruined everything. Bridget reminds me of that. …and, yet, amazingly, Bridget gets a happy ending (yeah, maybe that part’s slightly unrealistic, but after the first half it would be cruel not to give us *some* emotional reconciliation or bring us up a notch).

Oddly, my biggest complaint is that I hate the poster. In the first one, she’s all sweet and pretty looking. Here, it might as well read, “Uhhhhhhh… Me no know…” She looks Retarded (and fatter and hardly like the same person). Hate this poster. HATE, HATE, HATE this poster.

But I have to admit that I very much enjoyed the fight scene in this movie. While they obviously put it in because the one in the first movie had been such a hit, it really does work in the story line. Mark needs to confront Daniel (after all, he thinks Daniel slept with her again) and that seems a very sweet expression of how much Mark cares for her. YouTube is woefully lacking in clips of this scene, but I did find one (sorry about the quality):

There is, of course, talk of a third Bridget Jones movie, but nobody seems to know much yet.

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{January 20, 2010}   Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

Alright, back to my backtracking… where was I? Oh yes. I had reached Alan-Rickman-overload and needed to watch something/anything else. Bridget Jones’s Diary popped into my head as an option I hadn’t seen in forever, so I went for it. …and fell in love with the irresistible Colin Firth.

The movie is based on Helen Fielding’s book of the same name and is a modern retelling of/spin on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Instead of Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters, we now have Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) and her band of friends; in place of Wickham, we have Bridget’s boss, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant); and standing in for Mr. Darcy, we have… Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth). Mark Darcy, that is. *clears throat*

Starts off with Bridget arriving at her mother’s annual Turkey Curry Buffet, dreading the idea that her mother would probably try to set her up with someone. She was right. Her mother almost immediately introduces her to Mark and runs away, hoping they’ll hit it off. Nervous, Bridget makes a fool of herself by rambling on about her drinking and smoking habits. Minutes later, in line for the buffet, she overhears him telling his mother that he doesn’t need to be set up, “particularly not with some verbally incontinent spinster who drinks like a fish, smokes like a chimney, and dresses like her mother.” Ouch. Hearing herself described in that manner, Bridget realizes she needs to make some changes. She vows to lose weight, find a respectable boyfriend, and stop fantasizing about her boss. To keep track of these New Years’ Resolutions, she starts a diary (hence, our title). Well, she very quickly fails at the last two and, instead of ignoring Daniel, in short order begins shagging him. He, however, equally quickly cheats on her with a colleague who’s over from the states. When Bridget finds out, she is devastated, but resolves that she “will not be defeated by a bad man and an American stick insect.” She quits her job at the publishing house to get away from him and is hired elsewhere as a television journalist. Meanwhile, she has continued to periodically run into Mark Darcy (EVER accompanied by his assistant Natasha). At first, he was the last person she wanted to see, believing (based on Daniel’s account) that Mark had previously slept with Daniel’s fiancée, leaving Daniel brokenhearted. Now however, despite having been very dour at every meeting while she was dating Daniel, he professes to like her and, indeed, seems warmer at every meeting, especially when he comes by on her birthday and attempts to rescue the dinner. Things fall to pieces, though, when Daniel interrupts their little party. Mark, uncomfortable with being in the same room as Daniel (and possibly believing that Bridget is about to take him back), leaves but immediately returns to have it out with him. Insert funny sissy fight. When Daniel is knocked out with the last punch, Bridget sides with him (one nearly wonders if he might not be faking for exactly that purpose). Only later does Bridget realize her mistake when she learns from her mother that it was not Mark who slept with Daniel’s fiancée, but Daniel who slept with Mark’s wife, leaving Mark, not Daniel, the brokenhearted one. She hurries to apologize only to discover that he is planning to leave to take a job in America. To comfort her, her friends decide to take her to Paris, but, at the last minute, guess who shows up. :)

The message of the movie is simple: be brave enough to be yourself and, in the end, someone will love you just as you are. It’s a message that all women long to believe, but which is too often told to them unconvincingly by someone who has it all together. Not this time. That’s where this movie triumphs. Bridget hits a note with women everywhere becuse she *doesn’t* have it all together and EVERY woman can identify with her in one way or another, be it her wobbly self-image, her battles with weight, her difficulties with men, or simply her struggle to come into her own. What woman hasn’t wondered whether she is the one exception who will never get it all together and find her happy ending? What single woman in her 30’s hasn’t heard the ticking clock and felt like she was the only one left alone? When Bridget unveiled her private thoughts to the world, a cry went up, a cry of recognition, as females everywhere rejoiced that they weren’t alone, they weren’t abnormal. Bridget’s frankness and candor is both refreshing and delightful and her honesty in her successes *and* failures gives women hope and reassurance. As she gives us the gift of laughter, we are freed to release our fears as well. Bridget found love in the end. We will, too.

Zellweger did an incredible job with this role, moving to England well before filming in order to immerse herself in the setting and learn the language (British, as opposed to American, English) and the accent. She even took at job at a publishing house for a little while. She was totally committed to the part and pleasantly stunned the rest of the cast with her work ethic. As a result, she delivers a performance of haunting honesty and gives her character, already so alive to Fielding’s readers, a very human face and further endeared her to viewers.

Firth does an excellent job as Darcy (by now, he’s had enough practice with the character). On subsequent viewings, it’s fun to pay close attention to Mark’s expressions each time he sees Bridget and watch the subtle progression. Firth has extremely expressive eyes and seems to be a master at controlling exactly how much emotion they reveal. He makes reserved, apparently snooty lawyers hot. Grant, on the other hand, was outrageous in his role as Cleaver. If Firth’s was a job in subtlety, hiding Mark’s great sensitivity behind a guise of aloofness, Grant’s job was to go over the top in portraying Daniel as a suave womanizer. He succeeded brilliantly. He’s slimey enough to despise, but too charming to hate.

Gemma Jones and Jim Broadbent played the parts of Bridget’s parents. Their subplot nicely rounded out the movie. And, by the by, two of Bridget’s friends seemed strangely familiar to me. You might recognize them. Tom (James Callis) went on to play Gaius Baltar in Battlestar Galactica and Jude (Shirley Henderson) later had the part of Moaning Myrtle in two of the Harry Potter movies (In her first scene, where she’s crying on the phone to Bridget, her voice is unmistakable. And, amusingly/coincidentally, she’s in a bathroom.)

Needless to say, this is one of my favorite movies. After watching it online, I just had to go out and buy it. Barnes & Noble had a Buy 2, Get 1 special, so I got Bridget Jones 1, Bridget Jones 2, AND the 5-hour BBC Pride and Prejudice! A very nice beginning to my Colin Firth collection. (Gee, I wonder which movies I’m going to review next?? :-p)

This trailer mix-up humored me. Very funny.



{January 12, 2010}   An Awfully Big Adventure (1995)

I have to admit to liking this one despite the ending. Actually, despite the ending, it’s one of my favorite Alan Rickman movies to date (though, for certain reasons, I must leave the rating very harsh).

Set in 1947, it centers on the theatre company in Liverpool, England, which stage-struck 16-year-old Stella joins as an apprentice. Almost instantly, she falls for Meredith Potter (Hugh Grant), the company’s director, who is aware of her feelings and enjoys toying with her. The company rehearses and performs several plays, but when the lead actor breaks his leg, P. L. O’Hara (Alan Rickman) joins the cast to replace him. He’s dashing (yummy) and a legend on the repertory circuit, but immediately takes note of Stella, feeling he knows her somehow. They swiftly become **cough** involved, but Stella stays emotionally detached, viewing it as a chance to “practice,” still blindly in love with Meredith. O’Hara, on the other hand, *is* becoming attached. Sadly, though, he knows she’s only using him to become more experienced, as on one occasion she even calls out Meredith’s name as O’Hara makes love to her. After sex, he asks her, “Don’t you love me just a bit?” and she flatly states, “No. I love another.” When Stella later accuses him of being jealous and storms out, swearing never to return, he goes to visit her aunt and uncle (whom she’s lived with since her mother left her as an infant). When O’Hara asks about her mother, he accidentally discovers that she was his former lover… and realizes that Stella is his daughter. In a frenzy of confusion and emotion, he races to the docks (not sure why) and, in his hurry, slips on a wet patch, hits his head, is knocked unconscious,  falls into the water and drowns. … (I went slack-jawed) … When Stella hears the news, she is horrified, thinking he committed suicide because she left him. She never learns that it was an accident or that he was her father (sad, but probably for the best as that would have really warped her mind).

Yes, it’s a twisted, messed up ending, but so freaky, it’s hilarious. I HATE that he dies!! So tragic. Sooo messed up. So emotional. And I know the oedipal implications ought to be disturbing, but with Alan Rickman it’s just kinky. I think I need a cold shower.

ADDITIONALLY, we get to see him dressed as a pirate, Hook to be exact, as the company does Peter Pan. Very entertaining. Also fun to see Hugh Grant play a poof. He’s the perfect cad. That said, this movie has very deep characters and a second viewing (or 3rd, or 4th), gives one a better grasp of who they are as people and why they behave as they do. Another reason repeated viewing helps, or very close attention the first time, is that important bits of information are laced in very subtly and, if you aren’t listening, they’ll slip right by. This is going to be one of those stories that I go back and read the novel for in order to get an even more complete picture.

Final note: I found it intriguing that the title was actually taken from a line in Peter Pan: “To die will be an awfully big adventure.” Kinda puts a spin on things… What do you think they were trying to say?

I tried to post the trailer, but embedding was disabled, but you can watch it on YouTube, as well as the entire movie (note: part 7 isn’t broken – it just takes a full minute or so to start playing, presumably due to an error while it was being uploaded).

 



{January 11, 2010}   Sense and Sensibility (1995)

I started my adventure with Alan Rickman’s Sense and Sensibility. I call it Alan Rickman’s because it was his movies I continued following for the next week and a half (my entries here will follow suit).

The cast boasts several of my favorites: Alan Rickman *obviously* (Colonel Brandon), Hugh Grant (Edward Ferrars), and Emma Thompson (Elinor Dashwood), and I was delighted to see Gemma Jones and Hugh Laurie in supporting roles. Kate Winslet plays Marianne Dashwood and impressively portrays the younger sister’s passionate and impetuous temperment, as well as her prideful disdain for Elinor’s careful reserve and ponder-things-in-your-heart approach. I believe that pride is why Marianne is not my favorite of the two sisters. It is, however, this conflict in approach which the story centers upon.

From the beginning of the movie, Elinor is attracted to Edwards, but quietly treasures it away because she has no assurance of his returning the feeling. This appears to have been for the best when she meets a girl claiming to be his fiancée and must bear a broken heart in silence. Emma Thompson does a wonderful job of subtly showing the pain Elinor hides as she believes all hope is lost. Meanwhile, Marianne falls hard for Willoughby (played by Greg Wise) and hardly notices (though when she does notice, she looks down on) the more sedate Colonel Brandon. Brandon’s love, however, though restrained, never fades. Difficulties trouble both women, but by the end of the movie, Elinor is able to open up and share her emotions and Marianne has learned the wisdom of not letting her emotions carry her away.

In addition to playing the part of Elinor, Emma Thompson wrote the screenplay. She did a wonderful job of preserving the spirit of the book while freshening it for modern viewers. Most notably, she  added the scene where Marianne is standing in the rain, looking over to Willoughby’s estate on the far hill, repeating his name and the sonnet they had shared, and then is carried back by Colonel Brandon. The addition of this scene is brilliant because 1) it parallels her having been carried home in the rain by Willoughby earlier and 2) the sonnet she is whispering about her love for Willoughby (“Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove. Oh no, it is an ever-fixèd mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken”) is seen to perfectly describe Colonel Brandon’s love for her.

This is the performance in which Alan Rickman stole my heart. One of my favorite movies. Cemented my love of Austen and period romances. I consider it a must-have for any woman’s movie collection, though the entire thing can be found on YouTube here. I’ve embedded the trailer below and, further down, there’s a clip of Alan Rickman discussing what it was like working with Taiwanese Ang Lee as the director, as well as a deleted last scene.

Sites for more Sense and Sensibility info and reviews:

Additionally, there’s a clip of Ang Lee discussing the movie himself, but you have to go to YouTube to watch it because embedding was disabled.

And lastly, a scene they deleted from the end of the movie:



et cetera