Movies I Like as Much as (or More Than!) Their Books

I’m a notorious book snob and it’s no secret that most movies based on books disappoint and/or enrage me. I’m rarely excited about upcoming movie adaptations (example: Ready Player One) and you can typically find me rolling my eyes at trailers and grumbling about the issues I’ve already spotted.

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Underrated Books

Underrated books – we all have a list of books we love that we think don’t get enough attention. I sort of love this because sometimes books get so much hype that they don’t live up to people’s expectations or might be ignored by someone because everyone and their brother and their cat is telling them they have to read this damn book. But at the same time, I want to talk about some of the books I love that are less well known.

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Austen Month Announcement

It’s February once again, so that means it’s Austen Month. Why? Because I started focusing on Jane Austen’s work in February two years ago and now I’m just going to keep doing it…until I stop! This year I’ve picked six books (though Austenland is really just an optional re-read, so it’ll be last on my list) that include modern retellings, a paranormal reimagining, and non-fiction.

Netflix has decided to pull almost everything Austen related (grrr!) so my movie options are limited but I’ll probably rewatch Austenland and Clueless (it’s Emma!) and Becoming Jane. I might watch Death Comes to Pemberly, but I’d like to read the book first, so we’ll see.

As usual, I’ll be using #AustenMonth on Instagram and Twitter. Feel free to join me!

I’m also participating in a read-along of Gone with the Wind with some lovely ladies on Instagram, so you might see some posts about that as well.

Book Review: Austenland

By Shannon Hale

My Edition:
Paperback, 196 pages
2007, Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9781620404867

Jane Hayes has a pretty good life – except that she’s had a string of terrible relationships and she’s holding out for her fantasy man, Mr. Darcy. When a distant relative leaves Jane a vacation to Austenland in her will, Jane has a chance to live out her fantasy and hopefully get all that Darcy craving out of her system and face the real world. Or perhaps she’ll find her own Darcy after all?

I’ll admit, I saw the movie first, unaware there was a book. The movie was adorable (I love Keri Russell) and it turns out that it was pretty faithful to the book – which makes sense because it looks like Hale helped produce and write the screenplay.

After that letdown featuring our dashing Darcy as the most boring vampire in existence, I just wanted something fun and fluffy and Austenland delivered. Jane brushes up on her Regency era knowledge and sets out, excited to put this Darcy obsession behind her and also “swear off men for good.” Throughout the book she’s got a good sense of humor and she had a realistic mix of emotions regarding her experience in Austenland. Naturally she struggles with the swearing off men bit, and she drifts between finding the Regency experience fun and freeing, and totally ridiculous. I think that might be how I’d feel if I were to visit, so I was easily able to connect with her character.

At just shy of 200 pages, there’s not a lot to say about the book without giving away plot points. It’s a quick, entertaining read and I wish it were actually a little longer. Fans of the movie will likely enjoy the book and if you haven’t seen the movie but often wondered what it would be like to put yourself in an Austen novel, you’ll likely enjoy this too.

I only wish I didn’t have the movie cover (despite the hunks on the cover).

Nostalgia Watch: Jane Austen Movies

nos·tal·gia [no-stal-juh] – noun:

A sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

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Long before I was reading Jane Austen’s novels, I was watching films based on them. To be honest, I probably didn’t realize Sense and Sensibility was a novel the first time I watched the movie adaptation starring Alan Rickman. Alan Rickman was the sole reason I borrowed that movie from the library – well, actually, Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet also had something to do with it, but Alan was the key factor in my interest.

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I mean, look at that sultry stare!

This film, directed by Ang Lee was released in 1995 with a screenplay by Emma Thompson (which is news to me!) Apparently it took Thompson five years to adapt the novel for the screen, but I think she did a wonderful job, and her writing won an Oscar, so I can’t be the only one to think that!

But I recall borrowing S&S from the library repeatedly (until some years later when I had my own copy on DVD) for my Alan and regency romance fix. I mean, who doesn’t love a helpless lady being carried through the rain by a hot man?

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Yes, I used to wish that was me.

After this, I moved on to the BBC mini-series of Pride and Prejudice (also from 1995) starring Colin Firth, because in high school my quest for hot (albeit older) British men was (and still is) unstoppable.

However, it turned out that the six part, five and a half hour (probably incredibly faithful) adaptation was not handsome enough to tempt me! *cough* I mean, it was boring. All Firth’s beauty couldn’t get me more than a few hours in. I hadn’t read the book yet and I think that’s part of what failed to keep my interest. I think I’ve attempted to watch it once since that first time and still never finished.

Mr. Darcy is grumpy because I’m missing out on the iconic lake scene, which is most certainly not in Miss Austen’s novel but is most certainly appreciated by female fans. Perhaps this month I’ll actually manage to watch this…

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It was some years later before I started my next round of Austen inspired films. This time, I actually read the book first: Bridget Jones’s Diary. Excellent book, by the way. And wouldn’t you know, the film has a couple of my old favorites, and no strangers to Austen films, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant!

Directed by Sharon Maguire, 2001

This film provided me with a more modern Darcy that I could really get behind. My memory is fuzzy, but I don’t think I’d read Pride and Prejudice yet, but this film did give me a good idea of what the plot contained. Now, having read the book, I know Bridget is not the modern adaptation of Lizzie Bennet, however she’s a more relatable character for viewers than a literal translation of the original.

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Me, in bed, watching Bridget Jones

I’m not sure how I discovered it, but Bride and Prejudice had me instantly interested. Still not sure if I’d read the novel at this point, but who wouldn’t love a Bollywood rendition of the classic?

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I’ll admit, I’ve never see another Bollywood film, so I’m not sure if this is at all true to the genre, but boy is this movie fun. I went right out and bought this on DVD too. This was released in 2004 and I wish I’d been able to see it in theaters.

Bright colors, song and dance, possibly the most obnoxious Mr. Collins type of all time, and another pretty sexy Darcy…what’s not to love?! Seriously, check it out.

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Now, I know I read Pride and Prejudice and solidified my love for Jane Austen before I found another great British min-series – Lost in Austen. This beauty is from 2008 and lets Darcy lovers watch their fantasy unfold when main character Amanda gets the chance to walk right into the world of Pride and Prejudice. She even makes Darcy recreate the infamous lake scene from Colin’s series (and now I’m really wondering why I haven’t dedicated six hours of my life to watching that…)!

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This movie was a fun spin on P&P especially because Amanda doesn’t just magically replace Lizzie, Lizzie jumps at the chance to explore the modern world.

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Next comes the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice which I was late to watch because I’m not a Knightley fan (I just think she’s bland and has a fish mouth, but she gets great roles!) and Darcy wasn’t an old British man. But I have to admit, they did a great job with the adaptation. They even put in a nice kissing in the rain scene (not in the book, but should be) and a kiss at the end as well (also not in the book and really should be!)

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He’s a bit young, but still a decent Darcy

Last, but not least in my Austen related film journey is Austenland – another fun adaptation from 2013. It’s also a book, on my TBR this month, but who knows if I’ll get to it?

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In this film, adorable Keri Russell pays to attend Austenland, a sort of interactive Austen lovers getaway, where you can immerse yourself in the world of her novels. Only Russell doesn’t have the cash that it takes to get the best package, so she’s treated much like one of Austen’s middle class heroines.

There’s plenty of cute guys in it too!

So tell me…

Any films here that you particularly enjoy? Or any cinematic Austen adaptations you think I’m missing out on?