Netflix A-Z: The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

Next up on the Valentine’s Marathon and the Netflix A-Z selection, we’re at J! Honestly, I and J had such limited selections especially when focused on one genre, that the choice was easy.  This week, we’re going for The Jane Austen Book Club.  What’s a little Valentine’s Marathon without some form of Jane Austen, right? I didn’t think the movie was almost 10 years ago but the cast looks really good and the idea of our life and romances relating to Jane Austen novels is good one since most of Jane Austen’s novels are not just romance but a social commentary also.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

The Jane Austen Book Club

Director: Robin Swicord

Cast: Maria Bello, Emily Blunt, Kathy Baker, Amy Brenneman, Maggie Grace, Jimmy Smits, Hugh Dancy, Kevin Zegers, Marc Blucas

Six Californians start a club to discuss the works of Jane Austen, only to find their relationships — both old and new — begin to resemble 21st century versions of her novels.-IMDB

 Its hard to dislike any movie that uses Jane Austen and her works as the foundation of their story.  The Jane Austen Book Club is really the same thing.  The film isn’t particularly long but to also have to highlight the six characters relationships and the parallels to Jane Austen’s stories is a challenge in itself.  I think that Jane Austen Book Club might at times feel like its not taking enough time for the characters but it does a decent job for us to understand what each one is thinking.  What really takes it above is that the group itself is a variety of people that reflect kind of the different values that any group would have from liking being alone to recently divorced; younger college age versus older; and finally trying to spark a marriage while resisting temptation. Everyone comes down to the question: What would Jane do?

The Jane Austen Book Club

In their turmoil and dilemmas, Jane Austen’s stories give them light and a group of friends. There are moments that might seem a little overly sentimental or even quite predictable, except the cast itself does a fantastic job of carrying each of their characters and it makes for an entertaining film. What is even better is that everyone knows a different depth of Austen novels and with one being a complete newbie, it never loses its viewers in the context (hopefully because I am recently reading Jane Austen Classics so I may be biased).  As a Austen fan or simply an avid reader, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of being able to relate to people who find themselves through books.  That is exactly what these ladies are.  Sure, its about Austen and their lives relating to the stories but it also teaches them something different in each one and to make choices for themselves.

Jane Austen Book Club

The characters that had the most screen time definitely went to Maria Bello and Hugh Dancy who was the main characters who struggled to be together.  On one hand, it was a story of Maria Bello’s character, Jocelyn being somewhat like a modern day Emma who drags a guy Grigg (played by Hugh Dancy) in hoping to match him up with a recently divorced best friend, Sylvia (played by Amy Brenneman).  Except in reality, she tries to push away those feelings that she has for him.  While that is central to the story, it leads us to see the other stories as well.  We get Sylvia’s story as reading Austen’s actually lets her realize how to be independent as a divorced woman.  On the other hand, her daughter Allegra joins and gives a different younger perspective of the story.  Grigg is definitely the male voice in their analysis.  Another character worth mentioning is Prudie, played by Emily Blunt, and her heavy morals on self-control.  Maybe she falls into the Sense and Sensibility story as she tries to resist the seduction of a student (played by Kevin Zegers) but also wanting to rekindle her own marriage. There is a lot going on and the parallels are even harder to figure out if one story relates to an Austen novel/character or if it  just blurs together eventually. They definitely all have the contrasting personalities to show has a different interpretation of a situation and how to face it. Just look at the cast though, it is amazing and they absolutely deliver great performances.

Jane Austen Book Club

I think that is what is so good about Jane Austen Book Club.  Despite the dramatic moments, there is still a level of feel-good moments.  Everyone embodies a bit of Austen’s characters and without realizing it makes decision similar to those in her novels.  The storyline goes from month to month division where we see the book they are reading right before they jump into the meeting itself with just a little bit of events in between to give some context.  Maybe there are too many characters for its own good but it does keep a decent balance.

Overall, The Jane Austen Book Club is a fine little romantic drama-comedy.  It has a widespan of characters and tries its best to keep the Austen stories and context understandable even to those who don’t know much about it.  They divide the stories well enough to make us understand what (some of) the characters are going through.  The cast really takes the script and makes it their own and that is definitely the highlight.  While the story is a little predictable and maybe gets sentimental at other bits, there is still a feel-good factor.  The reader in me approves this movie very much. 🙂

Have you seen The Jane Austen Book Club? What did you think of it?

We will be taking a little Netflix A-Z break starting next week!
Ultimate 80s Blogathon starts on Feb 15th and that will be the main focus.
However, before that, Valentine’s Marathon ends with the two Nicholas Sparks movies I haven’t reviewed yet.
Lets hope its not too cringe-worthy! 😉

All The Wrong Reasons (2013)

I have to admit that the only reason I saw this was because of Cory Monteith and how is passing brought a lot of attention to this movie.  Who knew sitting on the plane would mean I could catch up with Canadian productions? Although, this one does get a little in the dark and slow side.  Either way, I didn’t know that before it started and there was more than one surprise 😉

Lets start with a little synopsis!

all the wrong reasonsDirector: Gia Milani

Cast: Karine Vanasse, Cory Monteith, Kevin Zegers, Emily Hampshire

An ensemble film about four everyday people: a store manager, a security guard, a fire fighter and a clerk who struggle in the aftermath of trauma.-IMDB

Thats a good start for a synopsis.  A store manager James Ascher (Cory Monteith) who wants to move up to be a regional manager.  While on the side, he deals with his wife, Kate Ascher (Karine Vanasse) who is eyes of the store he manages but has people intimacy issues and doesn’t want to be touched after a family tragedy.  However, the new recruit as store clerk, Nicole (Emily Hampshire) seeks to salvage whatever feelings of youth she has and drowns herself in irresponsible actions and spendings while struggling to take care of her son and ends up seducing James.  Finally, there is the amputated and physically recuperating firefighter, Simon (Kevin Zegers) looking to regain his position at the fire department while working temporarily at the store as security. He and Kate slowly confide in each other as they learn to get pass the traumas they have both gone through.

all the wrong reasons

I watched All the Wrong Reasons over a month ago and its fading a little in my memory (which probably isn’t a good thing). I just felt like I needed to write about it because I’m going to say that although this movie isn’t really for a lot of people, if you can find a deeper meaning to it all, which I did because I had lots of time on a 14 hours flight to ponder my life, it actually felt real.  Real in the sense that its portraying a bunch of flawed people in the world living their everyday lives each with one aspect of their life magnified and obsessed over.  In a world where people can be influenced by others, who need others and grow in good or bad ways depending on the influences.

All the wrong reasons

As I was going off on a ramble up there, thats kind of what I think this movie is trying to say.  I’m not completely sure either but these people all have this skewed view of life.  Cory Monteith’s James and Emily Hampshire’s Nicole being the best in the world of lost and confused and really aiming hard to find a reasons to mess up their lives monumentally without really thinking that its wrong.  You know, getting caught up in the moments that feel so good but are just so toxic for you? James Ascher is that dick of a manager who is so fake that you can see it when he smiles.  He wants to  look good so bad that he doesn’t even know it when he has even lost who he really is and when he loses the uptight act, well, he loses control completely because before you know it, he’s manipulated by the woman who acts like she’s real sweet but actually will do ridiculous things before she’s even put any thought to it and turns everything upside down.  You get the idea, right? Just not such pleasant human beings….

all the wrong reasons kevin zegers

I’m skipping ahead of myself.  I should probably justify why this movie might not be for everyone.  For one, its really heavy and extremely slow.  I had a lot of saved up patience working here because of the length of the flight (and being on vacation helps also).  Either way, this movie moves along really slowly and doesn’t really link everyone together, other than the fact that they work together and that James and Kate are a couple for a while as it tries to give us an idea of everyone’s story. However, the second half of the movie (approximately) does pull itself together and ends this thing in a pretty acceptable way and I actually had a pretty good laugh while having a rather intense moment also. Maybe its just because the characters of Simon and Kate connected with me a lot more and I just really was cheering them on.

all the wrong reasons karine & kevin

While we’re on the subject of Karine Vanasse’s Kate and Kevin Zegers’s Simon, they were possibly the best part of this movie.  I’m not huge on Quebec productions but I’m slowly learning more about them and in all honesty, Karine Vanasse never disappoints me.  At least, so far she hasn’t.  She was my surprise in this one (the one I mentioned in the beginning). You can check out my review of  her other movie which is also one of my faves, My Daughter My Angel HERE. Honestly, when I first saw her here, the surprise came with a little doubt of not being sure how she’d handle the whole English speaking movie but then they also gave her some “random” French speaking moments.   Kate went through a lot of crap and the family trauma she went through caused so much damage that she was scared to literally touch someone else.  We soon realize that it was probably a deeper issue that needed a bit more understanding and care and even trust and the feeling of not getting hurt.  Sure, it was awkward to watch as Simon stood still while she touched him gently but there were times those moments felt like they gave out more than it was just showing and I felt like there was a deeper connection between the characters.  Kate’s story appealed to me the most but in hand, it had to be given to Simon’s character.  Simon was a really good character.  He was really in a similar situation to Kate but his trauma was mentally just accepting himself again with an amputated limb and living with that.

There’s a lot of deeper feelings trying to be portrayed in All the Wrong Reasons.  For that, I feel like if you connect with the characters successfully to whatever extent, the enjoyment will be there.  This movie throws punches at its audience and sets everything so slow that maybe everything gets lost in translation.  Maybe there was even a lot of beyond the lines and not enough shown.  I’m totally basing this on how I felt about it but then maybe Gia Milani (director and screenwriter) wasn’t even trying to show that.  What I’m trying to say is that All the Wrong Reasons is not a perfect movie and its far from it.  Its an average drama that tries to trigger some emotions about the crazy stuff normal everyday people have gone through.  Everyone has their own story and their own ambitions and even their own hidden fears that maybe they don’t know about.  They aren’t perfect and they try everyday to seem like everyday is fine and live in their comfort zone.  There’s a lot that I think is trying to be said here but it is a little fuzzy at times 😉 But the ending really does make up for the whole crazy process of it 🙂

I really don’t know how to end this.  If any of what I said appeals to you, you should check it out.  No strong recommendations either.  I’m sure not rushing out to grab it off the store shelves (but thats because I don’t watch dramas too much) but I’m pretty sure one of these days, I will pick it up and want to rewatch it because I felt there was some strong performances.

Have you seen All the Wrong Reasons? If you have, am I overthinking the whole thing?

Halloween Marathon: Frozen (2010)

This movie made me feel like a total victim of false advertising, especially when the cover said something like a “gut-wrenching horror film” and then IMDB says that its not, but its a drama thriller, which is what I felt it was also.  Either way, I do enjoy myself a good thriller 🙂 Lets check it out!

frozen posterDirector: Adam Green

Cast: Shawn Ashmore, Emma Bell, Kevin Zegers

Joe (Shawn Ashmore), Dan (Kevin Zegers) and his girlfriend Parker (Emma Bell) head to a ski trip.  After taking a few runs and heading in to eat, they decide to go back to catch one last run before it closes.  After begging to have the permission to go up for a last minute run, they hop onto the chairlift and it stops halfway.  Hoping that the chairlift will start again, they eventually realize that everyone has left when the lights go out.  A storm is coming, the weather is cold and frostbite is hitting them.  They need to figure out a way to get out of their situation as the park only opens a few days later.

Frozen

 

Frozen is definitely a drama thriller.  Its actually a pretty good one and the one advantage it has is that it has a short enough running time to make it not feel like a drag but rather keep the intensity and drama in some form of balance.  I’m not saying its the best thriller out there but its a decent story.  The drama arises mostly from the problems between the three.  This movie suffers a bit from predictability.  For the most part, between my boyfriend and I, we figured out a good part of what would happen and for once, at least, the ending didn’t exactly piss us off.  That usually surprises me these days 🙂

frozen 1

All the actors here are familiar faces either from parts of TV series that I’ve seen or from some movie here and there.  I think they delivered quite believable characters.  In a movie like this, where its really them against the elements/environment, whatever you want to call it, its really about them. They are the ones who make the call and the events that happen after that, they need to deal with all of it.  The girl was probably by far the most annoying out of the three, but maybe it was just because of the role she was given to play. However, as the movie progresses, because of all the quality time on screen with each of the characters, I started to feel the pain, horror, and devastation from the whole situation.  The fear of dying and the unknown and just really doing everything possible to survive.

frozen 2

Sometimes, I find that this is really the scary part that does qualify it in the area of a horror flick.  What scares us is how no one can control the natural environment around us, for example, the changing weather, the temperature and wildlife.  Its a decision that can only be bad and worse and making that choice.  In this one, they really put it quite well together.

Before I started this post, I was thinking of whether it is an effective movie and after writing this out, I really think it is.  It really makes the audience feel like they are in the moment and consider what they would do in that situation.  For sure, some of the characters make some stupid choices but a lot of it dials down to luck when faced with the unknown in a deserted area. I’d really recommend it if you like this sort of drama thriller with just a touch of psychological horror.  The movie is slow and quiet for a good part so don’t go into this expecting a lot of action but rather more thinking and making desperate decisions in an extremely desperate situation.