Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Movie Reviews: Jane Eyre and Fantastic Beasts

I've reached the stage of my life where I don't want to be bothered with a movie unless I know it's going to be good. And I'm kind of picky- I want the acting to be good, the plot and dialogue engaging, not too much action, not too slow, not glamorizing sin, not depressing, but not too fluffy, the list goes on. This one was everything I hoped it would be. Why, yes this IS high praise from me,

The best thing about this 2011 British Jane Eyre was Mia Wasikowska. She was understated, subtle, and so believable as Jane- a deep thinker, an old soul.

But but but... JANE EYRE WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE ATTRACTIVE. C'mon guys, can we have ONE movie with a plain female protagonist? She was supposed to be plain! That was part of the charm of the book- these two plain characters, misfits in some ways, not attractive (and in her case not valuable) in the eyes of the world- and yet with a love that made those things irrelevant.


Guess what? Edward Fairfax Rochester was played by young Erik Lehnsherr! I mean Michael Fassbender. So weird to see him in this role, and yet he was so good too!

And Dame Judi Dench played the housekeeper, so odd to see her in a supporting role.

No 2 hour movie is ever going to satisfy fully someone who loves the book. I wish they hadn't skipped the whole Rochester dressing as an old gypsy and reading Jane's face. But I guess we can't have everything.

I was very pleased to see that one of the best lines of the book stayed, and was said with just as much heart wrenching passion as the book demanded:

“Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! - I have as much soul as you, - and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you!”

And also that at the great wrenching moment that she held herself away from him because of what she believed to be right, they DID leave in the source of her strength as she cried out, "God help me!" Because of course as I wrote earlier, her faith was such an important part of the story.

Anyway, loved it, you should watch it. I only wish it had been longer, and with an epilogue.

(Fun fact: There are EIGHT Jane Eyre films already made with the earliest in 1910, and the latest, this one, in 2011.)

Well, let's get down to the movie review you REALLY came here for- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

My sister and I watched the trailer, and were instantly charmed- 1920s Britisher visits 1920s America and plunges into 1920s wizarding world. So fun! We were especially charmed by the awkward protagonists- both Newt Scamander, but also Tina Goldstein.

But then I watched the movie, and though I did enjoy it, it left a lot to be desired. I supposed basically it needed to be a book, to fill in the details, to make the characters more familiar and beloved. We liked them, but didn't really get to know them well. Tina looked stressed out THE ENTIRE MOVIE. The first time we saw her smile I think was in the last scene. Newt rarely looked us in the eye. Yes, I get that he's the offbeat animal crazy adventurer, but I still didn't feel like I knew him by the end, except for his love for his beasts. (And can I just say that as he yelled 'They're not dangerous' a zillion times... that didn't seem to be strictly truthful?)

Also, there was a little too much action and destruction for my taste. I mean it's okay that those things happened, but wouldn't it have been nicer to include more dialogue-rich scenes like the dinner at Tina's place instead of so much time wasted chasing various beasts all over New York? Oh well, maybe I wasn't the target audience.

Still, in spite of all that, I appreciate a new world of imagination to plunge into, and am excited that it's part of a trilogy, so two more movies to look forward to.

Side note: I occasionally stumble upon the Harry Potter fandom- and it seems a little over the top. I mean I understand- you loved the books and the movies, you've re-read and re-watched them a zillion times, and it feels so good to feel like you belong to this world of people who feel the same way. But I feel like there is a line between heartily enjoying a fictional world, and losing track of reality as that world becomes your main identity. Sounds like an escape from reality to me. There's a big, fascinating, even magical world out here in the real world guys! Come on over!

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