Movie Pitch will be an occasional and crappy column. Here I will conjure up alternate universes where better movies exist instead of the ones that are unleashed onto the viewing public. The first movie I will be talking about is my second official 2013 movie (the first being On the Road).
(ph. THE MOVIE WAFFLER)
So. I don’t necessarily dislike Beautiful Creatures. It’s The Twilight Saga meets Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Why the Scott Pilgrim reference? The movie’s protagonist, a Southern bookish jock unicorn named Ethan Wate, is played by Alden Ehrenreich, whose comic expressions would have made him the overlord of Studio-era screwballs. I really need to watch Tetro. Anyway, he finds himself dreaming the perfect girl into existence. She’s Lena Ducahnnes (Alice Englert), who is moody and inflicts her Natural talents and change the weather, occasionally making rain fall on the very spot where her boyfriend Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) stands. Basically she’s inflicting her angst onto a submissive guy. She can do this not because she’s a vampire but because she’s a witch or a ‘caster,’ the movie’s supernatural race who dress like Alexander McQueen was still alive (sigh). And instead of abstinence we have a heterosexual white couple who can’t get their hands off each other, expressing their intimacy in a health way and without creeping out audience members who are older that the book/movie’s target market.
But I don’t care if Lena Duchannes, and Ethan Wate or Hannah Horvath and JoshUA exist, no matter what the latter looks like. I just don’t like watching people fall in love with selfish people.
So instead, here are movies that can occur within Beautiful Creatures’ universe that I would rather have seen.
a) A movie where Lena’s mysterious uncle Macon Ravenwood, played by Jeremy Irons, narrates the movie. His voice should have put him in every movie ever made, Hollywood.
b) The second half of the movie reveals Lena’s evil mother Sarafine, who has possessed Lena’s boyfriend’s best friend’s mother Mrs. Lincoln (Emma Thompson), Sarafine turning the latter from a dowdy ‘church lady’ into the kind of woman who lingers at an uptown bar during last call – no judgment. I know there isn’t going to a franchise out of the book series because this movie landed at a pathetic 5th place at the box office during Valentine’s Day. It even feels like the movie was preparing for franchise failure by what happens between Lena and Sarafine. The book’s real ending is that Sarafine retreats but promises to come back – within different bodies. As much as I don’t want to rob Emma Thompson of work can you imagine a movie series where a villain was a different veteran actress? Think of the possibilities. Anyone from Harry Potter. Emily Watson, Miranda Richardson, Joely Richardson, Patricia Clarkson, Michelle Pfeiffer. Female Glengarry Glenross. Sophie Okinedo.
c) This is the most important one. Unhappy caster families are unhappy in their own way. Aside from a ghostly uncle and an evil mother, Lena also has a quasi-evil cousin named Ridley (Emmy Rossum). The movie dedicates a whopping minute or two telling Ridley’s back story, showing a good caster turning bad. That back story could have been its own legitimate novel and French Extremity film. And Shameless aside, it’s time for Rossum to play a compelling lead role in a film.
Now let your imaginations run wild.
- Beautiful Creatures Review (Robert Harding) (entertainmentmaven.com)
I finished this book on February 15th for a Jane Austen Book Club. We’re never going to have our first meeting. Sad. The first thing that comes to mind is the dialogue, impressionistic between the Dashwoods, focusing instead on portraying a pastoral tone through narrative. The novel seems more dialogue-centred during chapters when Elinor and Marianne encounter male characters. Some conversations are either omitted, or through hearsay, obscured so that even the Dashwoods don’t know their endings. dialogue is important both in form and content in this book because it cements or disintegrates the female characters’ engagements with their suitors.
Had Austen been born in this era, Elinor would have rolled her eyes at people, especially when it comes to the alleged relationship between her and one of Marianne’s suitors, Colonel Brandon. This platonic relationship is probably Elinor returning the favour to Marianne with the latter’s few conversations with the former’s suitor Edward Ferrars. Marianne and Edward both hate jargon, the former’s poetic personality refreshed by Edward’s simplicity.
The book also perfectly encapsulates female heartbreak. I’ve seen it personally and it’s nasty and can almost suck the soul out of someone. Yes, and even if the book is mostly from Elinor’s perspective, Marianne’s heartbreak is more tragic. Speaking of conversations, Elinor has a last conversation with Willoughby that doesn’t really make him sympathetic, no matter how hard Austen tries to sway us.
The only adaptation of the book that I’ve seen is from Emma Thompson’s screenplay. Willoughby’s introduction scene still makes me giddy, even if I know how he really is. Eventually having to cast herself as Elinor, Thompson is the wrong age for the part. But I can’t help but hear her voice when I’m reading Elinor’s dialogue. Pardon the limp wordplay, but Thompson’s adds sensibility and soul to make Elinor and Austen proud. Also, House is in this movie.
Coming out of the 90’s my lists would have sucked. I was twelve, I grew up on HBO Asia and Kristie Alley. I’ll be harsher towards the pictures than the actresses, because honestly, every woman in this list did some great work, but ten years after the 90’s, I had the chance to see better performances and films. Here’s what my list looks like now. Italics indicate Oscar winners for said categories.
- Jodie Foster (Silence of the Lambs, 1991)
- Linda Hamilton (Terminator 2: Judgment Day, 1991)
I don’t understand how James Cameron’s campaign for her failed.
- Irene Jacob (The Double Life of Veronique, 1991)
- Emma Thompson (Howards End, 1992)
- Patricia Arquette (True Romance, 1993)
- Julianne Moore (Safe, 1995)
- Brenda Blethyn (Secrets and Lies, 1996)
- Demi Moore (G.I. Jane, 1996)
- Pam Grier (Jackie Brown, 1997)
- Kate Winslet (Holy Smoke, 1999)
- Silence of the Lambs (1991)
- Last of the Mohicans (1992)
- The Age of Innocence (1993)
- Heavenly Creatures (1994)
There’s a few people in my social circle who thinks this movie is ‘ugly.’ I will one day square off with them.
- Casino (1995)
- La Haine (1995)
Changes yet still romanticizes my perception of Paris.
- Twelve Monkeys (1995)
- Fargo (1996)
- Saving Private Ryan (1998)
If anything, the advantage it would have had against Thin Red Line is how varied the colours are in this film.
- The Thin Red Line (1998)
Then come the lists of what I thought then. This is probably a mix of what you guys think as overrated AND underrated.
Old Best Actress List
- Nicole Kidman (Far and Away, 1992)
The performance is less complex but more lively than her work a decade later.
- Winona Ryder (Little Women, 1994)
- Kate Winslet (Heavently Creatures, 1994)
- Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility, 1995)
- Claire Danes (Romeo + Juliet, 1996)
Still has the best rendition of the ‘what’s in a name’ soliloquy. Too bad she sucks now, Temple Gradin.
- Madonna (Evita, 1996)
I’m still glad this went to Madonna. It would have been just another notch on Meryl’s belt.
- Demi Moore (G.I. Jane, 1997)
- Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth, 1998)
- Sarah Michelle Gellar (Cruel Intentions, 1999)
I don’t understand how she hasn’t made the ‘best evil teen’ list they make once a year.
Old Best Picture List
- Hook (1991)
What? It has Magge Smith, Dustin Hoffman and Julia Roberts in it.
- Dracula (1992)
- Heavenly Creatures (1994)
Still love it.
- The Lion King (1995)
- Evita (1996)
Still one of the best edited movies.
- Hamlet (1996)
- What Dreams May Come (1996)
- Titanic (1997)
You did too. And again, James Cameron can sink a boat.
- As Good as it Gets (1997)
- Elizabeth (1998)
I kinda think it’s an obscene film now.
The Merchant Ivory adaptation of E.M. Forster’s Howards End has its Murnauesque tendencies. A drama about property, class, and family, the film’s first four minutes have no dialogue, as Ruth Wilcox (Vanessa Redgrave), owner of the titular house, walks ghostly outside in the garden. She looks in while her husband Henry (Anthony Hopkins), the rest of her family, and a guest, Helen Schlegel (Helena Bonham Carter) are inside having a party. The film evokes a poetic atmosphere within the English suburbs, with the grass and wisteria and trees and the moon. Helen lightly blames the moonlight for her short engagement with one of the Wilcox son, Paul.
Helen’s poor friend Leonard Bast gets enthralled by his environment as well, and thus gets his silent sequences. They meet after a lecture on Beethoven’s Music and Meaning, showing his intellectual side despite his poverty. She steals his umbrella, he walks in the rain to get it back. He goes on walks because of a book he’s read, much to the chagrin of his wife Jacky. He also has a strange recollection of his first meeting with Helen, the gates close on him but she looks back, smiling.
Howards End is a movie of many tones, but I don’t mean that it’s uneven. There’s the comedy of errors tone, when the other Wilcox son Charles (James Wilby) drives the Schlegel aunt to the house. She confuses him for Paul and a row ensues. Helen and Margaret (Emma Thompson) are pretty funny characters themselves, calling themselves chatterboxes, the Schlegel children critical of their outspoken ways.
Then there’s the elegy, represented by Ruth. If you’ll indulge me in overreading, Ruth is also after a Biblical figure of unwavering loyalty and standing by her family. She was born in Howards End, Howard being a prominent name in some noblemen, a family plagued by tragedy. She’s kind of fragile, most of her children have grown up and married. and her husband tends to leave her in the house for business. She symbolizes permanence, shocked by the notion that Margaret has to move from the house where the latter was born. She has bursts of energy now and then, thanks to Margaret’s friendship, and there’s an implication that Henry and her family bring her down. This role’s part of the roles Redgrave has been getting in her later years, a woman haunted by her past.
There’s also a sense of urgency in the film’s drama, culminating in the forty minute mark, with Margaret becoming the protagonist. She’s like sunshine to this movie, her early moments especially with Ruth, we see her smiling and accommodating. Ruth’s last wish is that Margaret would inherit Howards End, Henry eventually asks Margaret to marry him. In Ruth’s last moments, she inadvertently passes the torch to Margaret, her silence replaced by Margaret’s protestations. Thompson made leading roles out of being the elder sister or friend with the voice of sanity, and her Margaret is still that archetype to Helen. But here in Howards End, she’s stuck between Helen’s idealism and Henry’s ruthless prejudice. Her last fight with Henry is one of the riveting arguments I’ve seen in a British period film and perfectly encapsulates Forster’s liberal stance.
There’s no need to say that Anthony Hopkins is amazing in this film. He plays his character with charm, ruthlessness yet repressed humiliation, opposite yet same from the cannibal that won him the Oscar. It’s reminiscent of other actors doing something different after their Oscar-winning or infamous roles. Like Marlon Brando dabbling in musicals after winning for “On the Waterfront,” or Denzel Washington becoming a sensitive shrink after becoming a psychotic cop, or Jack Nicholson playing a wounded playwright after playing a homicidal novelist, or John Wayne playing fatherly after playing racist.