Thursday, November 20, 2008


Emma’s my favourite story by Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice isn’t that bad either but it’s probably because I enjoy watching the Emma movie even more. Gwyneth Paltrow plays Emma.

Emma Woodhouse is rich, smart, and loves playing matchmaker. Her governess, Miss Taylor recently got married and so it’s only Emma and her father in their huge house. Mr. Knightley (Jeremy Northam), Emma’s brother-in-law, visits them occasionally. He is the brother of Emma’s sister’s husband. He frequently advises Emma and warns Emma when she takes things too far.

Since Miss Taylor can’t spend much time with Emma anymore, she has acquired a new friend, Harriet Smith (Toni Collette from The Sixth Sense). Harriet doesn’t know who her parents are but she’s under the care of a Mrs. Godard. Ignoring Mr. Knightley’s warnings, Emma goes on to try to match make Harriet and the preacher, Mr. Elton (Alan Cumming). Unbeknownst to Emma, Mr. Elton was actually falling for her.

Harriet has another admirer, Mr. Martin, but Emma does not approve of him because he’s only a farmer. She thinks that Harriet deserves a better guy. Not wanting to upset Emma, Harriet listens to Emma and rejects Mr. Martin when he asked her to marry him!

I really, really love this movie! Gwyneth Paltrow is fantastic as Emma. I’ve always thought that Paltrow is an English actress but she’s actually American. She has the English look, that’s why she’s always playing the roles of English women.

All the same, I also enjoy watching the interactions between Emma and Mr. Knightley. I wanted to look out for secret glances between them to see how their relationship developed. Northam was also perfect as Mr. Knightley. They are now officially my favourite couple from books and movies.

The Secret Garden

All I can say is that this is a beautiful movie about magic and friendship. Sounds cheesy I know but it’s true. This movie can’t go anymore wrong except for some parts though. Mary Lennox (Kate Maberly) is a memorable character, without any doubt.

Mary Lennox tells her story of how she grew up in India without any love or attention from her parents. She can’t even dress herself and she’s ten years old. When an earthquake hit India, killing her parents too, she’s sent to England to live at her uncle’s manor called Misselthwaite Manor. The housekeeper, Mrs. Medlock, played by Maggie Smith arrives late to pick Mary up. She calls Mary a “queer, unresponsive little thing”. Poor Mary.

At the manor, the maid, Martha, with an interesting Scottish accent takes care of Mary. Mary also makes friends with Martha’s younger brother, Dickon (Andrew Knott). Mary also tells Dickon about the secret garden, which she found and together, they made it grow into a beautiful, colourful garden again.

Meanwhile, Mary accidentally found her cousin, Colin (Heydon Prowse), who has spent his whole life (ten years) in bed. I think he’s never tried to walk before. He’s adamant that he’s bound to die eventually and seems pessimistic. This makes Mary rather irritated with his behavior and she shows him that she won’t stand for any of his nonsense.

Like what I said earlier, it’s a story of friendship, magic, the discovery of a garden, family, love, etc. You’ll also find the song, “Winter Light” sung by Linda Ronstadt soothing and calming. Well, it’s soothing for me!

This is the 1993 film version.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Life of David Gale

Tonight, I watched another disturbing movie. How come I managed to picked them to watch, I have no idea. I was just going through the stack of DVDs and randomly selected the ones that I haven’t watched yet.

So, this movie is about a man who’s been given the death sentence for raping and murdering a woman. What’s ironic is that this man, David Gale (Kevin Spacey), a seemingly intelligent lecturer, is very well against the death penalty in Texas. And now he’s being charged for murder of a woman whom he knows. She’s also passionate about the protest against death sentences.

Just a few days before his execution, David Gale has agreed to do an interview with a journalist, Bitsie (Kate Winslet) from a prominent magazine. She and an intern set out to interview the guy. Well, she does the interview while her intern scours around looking for further clues.

While Gale relates his story to Bitsie, she soon discovers that he’s actually innocent of the crime of which he had been accused of. Now they’re running out of time and she’s determined to find out as much as she can so that she can prove Gale innocent in time before his execution.

It’s a really suspense-filled movie with a shocking ending. I was relieved to know that it’s a fictional movie. I thought there was a real David Gale who did what the Gale character in the movie had done!

The Magdalene Sisters

It sounds like a rather innocent title but then I should have given it more thought. Magdalene? It should ring a bell. Magdalene actually refers to Mary Magdalene, the prostitute who washed Jesus’ feet. I thought this movie was about sisters who probably came from a Magdalene family! How wrong I was.

This movie was thoroughly disturbing. On the cover of the DVD, it was written that it’s based on true events. Well, until I checked Wikipedia, I thought the four main woman characters were real women. They’re actually fictional but what happened to them at the Magdalene Asylum was true. In fact, the treatment at the real asylum was much worse than what was depicted in the film.

Anyway, it’s about four women who are considered as ‘fallen women’ because they aren’t ‘pure’ anymore. Margaret, who I think looks kind of like a smart girl, was raped by her cousin at a wedding. Bernadette, an orphan, is always flirting with boys. Rose gave birth to an illegitimate baby. Crispina gave birth to a baby out of wedlock too. Notice their similarities? They’re connected with men in one way or another but it’s them who have to suffer for it. That was during the 1960s in Ireland.

When I say that the movie was disturbing, it was literally disturbing. I felt uncomfortable and fidgety while watching it. I couldn’t stand the cruelty the girls received at the asylum. They were treated like scum, humiliated, bullied by the nuns, and even one girl was forced to ‘do a job’ for a priest.

I’m glad to know that the last Magdalene asylum was closed in 1996.

Edward Scissorhands

I absolutely love the haunting sound effects in this movie. You know, those ohhh, ahhh being sung by some choir or something. I first watched this when I was a small kid and was just intrigued with the guy who had scissors for hands.

Now that I’m older and understanding more things, I noticed the contrast being used in the movie. Did you notice the bright and cheery colours in the neighbourhood, from the houses to the people’s clothes? Then, Edward’s mansion is dark, gloomy, just enveloped in some sort of blackness. Even Edward (Johnny Depp) was dressed in black. Why was the contrast being used?

This movie is about a man, Edward, who was created by an inventor. The old inventor died before he could give Edward a pair of hands so he had to be content with scissor-hands. One day, an Avon saleswoman, Peg finds Edward all alone in his mansion. She then invites him back home and kinds of adopt him.

At first everyone in town was curious in the new, strange guy. He became popular immediately because of his talent at cutting bushes, dog’s hair, and people’s hair artistically and fashionably. You could say that he’s a creative guy.

Edward also falls in love with Peg’s teenage daughter, Kim (Winona Ryder). She behaves awkwardly toward him at first but then develops an understanding of Edward’s feelings. Kim’s boyfriend was also constantly making fun and bullying Edward. This makes things worse for Edward who’s just gullible.

A touching and poignant movie directed by Tim Burton.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

This is one of my favourite movies of all time. I’ll definitely never get bored of watching it and enjoying the jokes in it. I highly recommend this movie to people who like Robin Hood or just like English history. I’m not sure if Robin Hood really existed?

Kevin Costner is Robin Hood and some critics said that his attempt at speaking English without an American accent was pathetic. Huh, I didn’t notice that in the movie. He performed really well as the prince of thieves.

I also enjoy watching Morgan Freeman as Azeem or Great One, which is the meaning of his name! Azeem is Muslim while Robin Hood and the other English people are Christians. Although the Holy War was going on, Azeem and Robin Hood understood and trusted each other. Because Robin Hood saved Azeem from prison which they were in together, Azeem has vowed that he will save Robin’s life in future. That’s how they’re always with each other.

Of course there’s a love story in it too. Robin falls for his childhood friend, Marian, whose hair Robin burned when they were kids. Robin also has to fight off the Sheriff who desires to gain more power and also to take over King Richard’s throne. The Sheriff also had his eyes on Marian. So, she has two men fighting over her but it’s obvious that she prefers Robin more.

It’s a tremendously exciting and fulfilling movie. You’ll enjoy every minute of it! Oh, and do check out Alan Rickman’s performance as the power-crazy Sheriff! Quite different from his role as Professor Snape in Harry Potter, eh?