keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
2 hrs. 18 min.

Saw it this afternoon all by my lonely self, since everyone else had already seen it multiple times. It was a reasonably good adaptation--I only thought wistfully of a cut scene once. Bellatrix Lestrange and Luna Lovegood were beautifully cast, and of course the special effects were great.

I am still (irrationally) annoyed at Cho, though.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
(For ease of typing, and because the captions didn't use them either, I'm omitting accent marks.)

The Count of Monte Cristo
Starring Jim Caviezel & Guy Pearce
131 minutes (2 hrs. 11 min.)
Genre: Film/Adventure/Romance

After reading the novel and seeing the French mini-series, I have to declare this adaptation a complete failure. The plot is revised into a stereotypical swashbuckling adventure and the characters are flat (most of the interesting side characters are gone anyway). The movie is basically a cross between trashy action flick and trashy chick flick. Frankly, I'm disgusted.

Just from the DVD cover and blurb, I could tell that things were unpromising. Let me refer to the changelog: Dantes takes Napoleon's letter because he's a foolish, naïve idiot. Mercedes marries Mondego for an oh-so-convenient reason that keeps her from being a realistic woman who might seek comfort in whoever is available--no, she's a noble saint pretending not to be a foolish, naïve idiot (she also has no will of her own and is played by a terrible actress). Fernand and Mercedes do not have a meaningful relationship; he's unfaithful from the start and doesn't keep it a secret. Fernand Mondego is now Dantes's best friend, yet he thinks nothing of betrayal. Caderousse, Ali, Haydee, Valentine, and Maximilian are all cut. Dantes isn't arrested at his wedding but at a simple celebratory dinner, and instead of engaging in respectable duels, he has long, drawn-out swordfights with Mondego (having found out his friend before entering the Chateau d'If). Let's not forget Luigi Vampa acting double duty as the smuggler camptain, and Jacopo being indistinguishable from Vampa in personality. And the sadistic prison warden who likes whipping prisoners on the anniversary of their imprisonment.


All complexity is painted over with broad strokes of black and white, replaced by cliché character roles and trite dialogue. I'm not even going to go into character motivations, magically dis/reappearing foreign accents, and the usual reunion happy ending. Though it played to the popular crowd, the Bravo mini-series had its merits in faithfulness and memorable characters, with an earned ending. This movie, on the other hand, does not deserve to call itself The Count of Monte Cristo.

A list of related links is on the novel review.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
Le Comte du Monte Cristo
Starring Gérard Depardieu
400 minutes (NR)
French w/ English subtitles

The original Bravo mini-series, and no, I didn't watch the whole 6 hours and 40 minutes at once. I saw about three-fourths of it during French class and only now got around to checking it out from the library to finish.

Overall, I found this adaptations relatively faithful to the original novel. A few minor differences are present, such as Haydée's method of proving her identity (gorgeously suspenseful in the film and not quite so dramatic in Dumas's version). Spoilers )

More on comparisons in the next post...

A list of related links is on the novel review.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
Tristan and Isolde
Starring James Franco and Sophia Myles
Rated PG-13 (2 hrs 5 min)

I've been wanting to see this movie since it came out in theaters a wile back, but somehow I never got around to it. So I ended up watching with a beloved but commentary-prone friend and we giggled a lot at random things rather than luxuriating in romance (though I did tear up at a few parts). My notes are rather sparse and random too. Apologies in advance if you don't like randomness. (The horror!) Without further ado:

There's a character named Mello! Unfortunately, he showed no signs of eating chocolate. Did they even have chocolate in England at the time? I hope so.

My favorite character was Isolde's maid, who's everywhere saving Isolde from certain ruin. Except she's not in the ending scene, which made me sad. You think they could have at least stuck her on the side or something, for consistency. I guess in a way she's the character foil for Isolde because she's sensible and cautious. Hrm.

This film definitely deserves its rating, by the way (implied sex, suggestive nudity, explicit violence). I made the mistake of letting my three-year-old sister watch it with us. Oops.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
Pride and Prejudice
Starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen
Rated PG (~2 hrs)

Eee! Such an amazing movie. I love Austen's original novel, and I thoroughly approve of this adaptation. Elizabeth Bennet is played to perfection by Knightley; Mr. Darcy is just as handsome as everyone assured me. Absolutely lovely film, this was.

I knew it would be poignant, but the most touching scenes came when I didn't expect them. Lizzie's father laughing alone in his study after agreeing to her marriage--it illustrated the concept of laughing and crying at the same time without resorting to melodrama. My favorite character was, surprisingly, Charlotte, for her real sacrifice of marrying for comfort, protection, and financial security instead of love. Charlotte is "plain" and therefore not beautiful, or even pretty; she doesn't have Lizzie's prospects of making a good match, and she accepts the poor hand that Fortune has dealt her.

I did have some issues with the ending, however. The climatic panorama shot of Darcy walking in hte rain toward Lizzie was a bit long. Lady Catherine's objection to the marriage was sort of just brushed aside--I would have liked to see more resolution of that subplot. And ending on a kiss is classic chick flick, but I wanted a bit more substance and a bit less fluff for the classic Regency romance.

I still adore this movie though. For once, a book-turned-film hasn't been a terrible disappointment. Huzzah!
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
Genre: Fiction/Historical/Fairytale
186 pages (hardcover)

Another quick read, but this one is touching. Just the cover will tell you that--a Chinese brush painting on the left, half of an Asian girl's face on the right with her black eye staring at you. For those who don't know, I was originally born in China and am of pure Chinese ancestry--either first- or zero-generation, depending on how you count. So this book has a special significance to me. For one, I've always loved Cinderella stories, and I looked forward to reading a unique interpretation of the traditional carp version. For another, I understood all the references to Chinese language puns and tones, which was nice--actually being one of the informed readers instead of a clueless reader! It may be a bit confusing to Westerners, but nevertheless I think everyone with any inclination for fairytales should give this story a try. It's not long, and it's lovely--yes that's the word. Lovely.

In terms of style, Napoli writes beautifully, infusing her words with Chinese culture and that elusive storytelling quality so important for short fairytale adaptations. I especially admired the poems, though the rhyming is sometimes forced (it's much easier to rhyme in Chinese than it is in English). The verse has a distinctive "nature" tone similar to translated Japanese haiku. I only wish I could read the poems in Chinese with all the lilting, lyrical tones. (Though chances are I'd need pinyin to read it properly.)


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January 2011



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