So, it's Friday evening. I have less than a week until I am entirely done school (well, for the hols). It feels so good to think that and repeat it over and over again, but then I remind myself that I still have two essays and two exams to complete within this time period, and I haven't started on any of them. But no matter, I've always worked best under pressure, and I'll undoubtedly get it all done. I'm not worried about that. But I do dread the work and time to be spent on it all, having to stay up late, use up several bottles of eyedrops and force extra-dark coffee mix down my throat (I kid about that last one... somewhat).
Okay, enough of that. I'm sure reading about my schoolwork and the consequences for my own laziness are boring you readers (all two of you) to death. On to a movie review.
* Please excuse me if I make no sense. I haven't slept in two days.
So guess what I'm eating? That's right, humble pie. But not just a slice - the whole damn thing. That's how bad I feel about prematurely dismissing Joe Wright's Pride and Prejudice [B+/A-, still deciding] all these months leading upto its release. You see, the 1995 BBC version is very dear to my heart (I feel it's definitive) and the Austen novel is one of my favorite literary works ever, so you can see why I viewed this umpteenth adaptation with suspicion. My immediate dislike of the project also stemmed from the fact that Wright had cast Keira Knightley in the lead, an actress that I have had a less-than-stellar track record with. But I was wrong, my friends. I was so wrong. While I still feel the BBC version is better (it's four hours long, so obviously it has more depth), this effort stands firmly on its own. What makes it special in my eyes is the sheer cinematic vibe I got from it; Simon Langton's helming of the mini-series was straight-forward and no-frills (which is fine, it worked for the production). But Wright does awe-inspiring work here; the camera is never static, but constantly moving, following, spinning, darting, exploring - this dynamic approach involved me. I was riveted because I was being engaged as a viewer, placed immediately within the context of the characters' environment. The two ball sequences are especially characteristic of this inexplicable technique, and I simply let myself be led by "window" of the camera (those sequences must have been extremely difficult to get perfect!). The film obviously looked absolutely gorgeous, but not because of the objects and actors in front of the camera; rather, I felt it was due to the fact that Wright was so diverse in his approach. Not for a second did I expect where I would be "looking" next - his work was brilliant, varied and dazzling (Elizabeth twirling on the swing, the bizzare Rear Window tribute with the camera moving from window to window, the choreography of the camera following the dances). I only was turned off by two of his decisions (the cutaway to Lizzie and Darcy dancing alone together, and then the borderline-cheesy finale). If this movie had to be singled out for only one Oscar nomination, you know my vote would go. I also must credit the screenplay (written by Deborah Maggoch, aided by Emma Thompson), which managed to encompass and give depth to all the significant turns of the novel without turning it all into a streamlined "Coles-Notes" skeleton of the original text. I don't know how they managed to do it, but I would certainly love to get some pointers from them. As well, the casting, which initially turned me off - once again, I eat my words. This is the first film in which I liked Keira Knightley - she managed to catch the essence of Lizzie without copying Jennifer Ehle's perfection. This Elizabeth is younger, a little more flirtatious and definitely feeling some sexual tension for Mr. D. I loved her take on the character, and I am no longer apprehensive about seeing her get an Oscar nomination for this. As Mr. Darcy, Matthew MacFadyen is a little less sturdy, but his approach to the character was also interesting in that it exposed the more vulernable feelings buried deep within. All in all, a fantastic film by any standard. It made me laugh, it captured me from beginning to end. Hell, I even got misty-eyed (I blame Donald Sutherland, who manages to nail a moment of emotional nakedness so precise, authentic and tender that it made several audience members burst out into sobs). Bravo, everyone.