tempestsarekind: (austen snark is the best snark)


(via Austenblog)

Didn't ITV do that wretched Mansfield Park with Billie Piper - the one that went, "oh, who cares if our heroine is nothing like the Fanny Price in the novel, no one today could identify with her anyway"? That does not exactly fill me with confidence. (Also, I had to stop watching Poldark because there wasn't nearly enough narrative tissue between its various happenings - which seems to be this generation's period-drama affliction, not actually devoting enough time to showing why things between characters happen - so that's strike two.)

Mostly, though, I just cannot get worked up over the idea of yet another P&P adaptation. Am bored already.


Aug. 5th, 2017 06:34 pm
tempestsarekind: (not supposed to be a heroine)
the Masterpiece adaptation of Little Women is apparently filming in Ireland; this seems wrong
tempestsarekind: (Default)
Another day, another wish that someone would cast Daveed Diggs as Christopher Marlowe…

*Yes, this is a Massacre at Paris joke. of sorts.

(This is one of the things I don't understand about the continued attempts at making Shakespeare a sexy rebel instead of the guy who kept his head down: Marlowe is RIGHT THERE, being completely extra - as the children say - writing scandalous stuff, actually being the innovator people want Shakespeare to have been.) (I'm thinking of that monstrously stupid moment in Anonymous - which one? you say - where all the other Elizabethan dramatists are gobsmacked that "Shakespeare" wrote AN ENTIRE PLAY in BLANK VERSE, like they hadn't all been doing that. But that's just the most egregious example that sprang to mind - although that moment in the Will trailer where someone gripes at Will, "You can't just make up words!" and he's all, "Well, someone must!" comes pretty close: making up words is what Elizabethan dramatists did; it's not some province exclusive to Shakespeare's genius!)

(yes, yes, I know, Shakespeare has "pre-awareness" or whatever they're calling audience recognition these days. But I find it hard to believe that anyone who's actually thinking about watching something like Will wouldn't watch a similar show about Marlowe instead, if you could just get someone to make it.)
tempestsarekind: (all the world's a stage)
I ask because the Folger Shakespeare Library dropped a link to this podcast interview with Craig Pierce and Shekhar Kapur, where they talk about creating the new TV show Will, into my inbox this morning:


Will I listen to it? (Another way of asking the same question as before.)

...I mean, I probably won't, because between the two of them, these men are responsible for three films that I really don't like - the Lurhmann Romeo plus Juliet and Kapur's two Elizabeth films, which lucked out by having Cate Blanchett in them, but are not actually, like, good, or nuanced, or even comprehensible. But if you have a higher tolerance for this whole "Shakespeare is totally punk rock, yo, not all stuffy like the Man says!" thing, here you go.
tempestsarekind: (geoffrey (not) at work)
"We also learn that Will’s father was gruesomely disemboweled for refusing to renounce his Catholic faith and embrace Protestantism. He periodically appears to Will à la Hamlet’s father’s ghost, one of many references to the Bard’s work that have an Easter egg-y, Shakespeare in Love aspect.

from this review of the TNT show Will:

I just…

I mean, look. I watched Due South and Slings and Arrows (to say nothing of, y'know, Hamlet), so like, in theory, I really love it when characters talk to the ghosts of their fathers, or others that they care for deeply. I just…don't trust this show to do a decent job of it? There's already so much nonsense piled up in the trailers I've seen; where would they even find the space for an actually illuminating heart-to-heart between Will and his unexpectedly deceased dear old dad?
tempestsarekind: (austen snark is the best snark)
I keep being tempted to come up with new headlines for this article, like, "Let's all celebrate a man's mediocrity!" or "Being male means never having to live up to your potential in order to still have people devote time and energy to you."

It's time to bring Branwell, the dark Brontë, into the light

I think this was the paragraph that really made my eyelid twitch:

Branwell’s imaginative terrain was vast and impressive. He had the ability to rework a variety of histories and literary genres, immersing himself in an imaginative world that showcases a sophisticated interpretation of the world around him. Yet, despite this engagement, his writings are often derivative and undisciplined, often degenerating into a rambling stream of consciousness. If nothing else, however, these early years saw Branwell as an instrumental figure that inspired his sisters to harness their own imaginations and opinions. Branwell’s contribution was influencing his sisters to become the perceptive, avant-garde writers we know. (my emphasis)

Ugh. So…he wasn't actually good at writing, is what you're telling me, but we should talk about him more anyway?

The thing is, I don't even really have any opinions about Branwell, ordinarily. It's just that every time I hear about him, it's usually someone trying to make him central to the successes of his sisters, or focusing on him and his antics rather than on the creativity and artistic discipline of, you know, the Brontes who actually had flourishing literary careers. (The recent TV costume drama about the Brontes, To Walk Invisible, was regrettably guilty of this, passing over the composition of whole novels in an eyeblink while spending whole scenes on Branwell's conning their father out of money to spend on liquor.) I'm not saying that we should never talk or think about Branwell; rather, I feel like he gets talked about all the time - and maybe out of proportion to his actual accomplishments. It's that same insidious desire we seem to be afflicted with, culturally: we rack our brains to figure out ways to make a man responsible for a woman's literary successes - whether it's spending ages trying to work out who the "Master" of Emily Dickinson's poems might be, or making whole movies devoted to the idea that Jane Austen only became a novelist because Tom Lefroy recommended Tom Jones to her and broke her heart, to this. Why is it so hard to give these women their due? It's just dressing up the Victorian idea that Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell could never really have been women in slightly more modern clothing: a man had to have had his hand in the thing, somewhere.
tempestsarekind: (books and flowers)
To Walk Invisible, airing on the BBC later this month:

I'm planning to try teaching Jane Eyre again this year in English 9 after failing at it my first year: we just ran out of time to actually finish the novel; I hadn't realized how long it actually takes to get through The Odyssey while trying to teach students to close-read! But I'm wondering whether it might be fun - if time allows, of course - to also talk a bit about the role of the Brontes in the popular imagination, from their first publication onward. It'll be interesting to see what sort of response this period drama gets.
tempestsarekind: (martha at the globe)
In case you want to think about something else today - this is the first thing I've heard about this show that sounds worthwhile:

‘Will’: Jasmin Savoy Brown Joins TNT Drama About Young William Shakespeare
(link to Deadline)

I don't know who she is, but she's going to be playing Aemilia (Lanyer) Bassano. So that could be interesting (although I still can't get over that playwright in the trailer being scandalized that Shakespeare "made up words" - like Elizabethan writers didn't do that all the time!).
tempestsarekind: (manuscript [little women])
So someone made a movie about Emily Dickinson? Starring Cynthia Nixon as Dickinson? Here's the trailer:

I am…I won't say unhappy, exactly, but disquieted, at the least. I don't know why, particularly: I have no indications that the film is not good, and I usually like costume drama. Maybe it's because Dickinson seems such a private person to me that it feels particularly wrong to presume to imagine what was going on in her mind and heart.

(This makes no real sense, because I've read quite a few of Dickinson's letters since I wrote a research paper on women's "romantic friendships" in the 18th and 19th centuries, and Open Me Carefully was a major source for that essay. Also, I have been to the Dickinson Homestead and the Evergreens [the house next door where Emily's brother Austen and his wife Susan - who was also Emily's dear friend, and the addressee of the letters in the Open Me Carefully collection - lived] more than once. So it's not exactly that I think the filmmakers ought to have left Dickinson her privacy - more that I think she ought to be left to speak for herself, in whatever riddling ways she chose?)

(I never feel this way about, say, Shakespeare. I might disagree with portrayals of him - since "my" Shakespeare is actually the quiet, circumspect Droeshout Shakespeare, the kind of man who could see the word "temperate" as the highest word of praise for a loved one - or I avoid them because I'm not especially interested, but I'm not upset by the fact that they exist. And my problem with Becoming Jane is that it was terrible and offensive, not that it was a biopic about Austen. I rather liked Miss Austen Regrets, after all.)

I assume, though, from the trailer, that Jennifer Ehle has been cast as Susan, and if I'd ever before thought about who ought to play Susan, I would have chosen Ehle in a heartbeat. So there is that.

ETA: Well, now I'm doubly disappointed. According to IMDb, Ehle has been cast as "Vinnie" Dickinson - Emily's sister Lavinia. It turns out that Jodhi May has been cast as Susan - which is the only time I've ever been disappointed that Jodhi May was cast in something! But I also don't remember seeing her in the trailer, which suggests that Susan might not have a big part, and that's too bad, given how important she was to Dickinson. "One sister have I in our house," she once wrote in a poem to Susan, "and one a hedge away." And here's how that poem ends:

I chose this single star
From out the wide night’s numbers -
Sue - forevermore!

TNT's Will

May. 25th, 2016 10:36 pm
tempestsarekind: (wtf?)
So…the TNT show Will (which has apparently been picked up for ten episodes) has released a trailer:


1. Well, that looks cheap and terrible.
2. Seriously, why are the costumes so awful?
3. I guess you can tell that this show is "modern and edgy" because that One Woman (™) in the trailer basically wears her hair like a current-day high-school student.
4. ahahahaha ha what, can you imagine any Elizabethan playwright ever complaining that "you can't just make up words"??? Oooooh Will, you rebel, you made up words! Just…like everyone else in your profession!

Seriously, what even.

I hesitate to even put this under the "costume drama" tag, but I guess I'll go ahead.
tempestsarekind: (ophelia has so few options)
I started reading this article expecting it to be one of those finger-wagging pieces about how the sheeple just like escapism and fancy dresses, and was pleasantly surprised. It has a little bit of that ("At this moment, what we want from our relationship with a national past is this: to draw the curtains, shut out the noise of the world, and put on a box set. Thinking about Tudor history is, at least in its laziest manifestations, an excellent way of not thinking about history"), but by and large it remains an exploration of why the Tudor story resonates with people:

Tudormania: Why Can't We Get Over It?

Tee hee:

Jessie Childs, a popular historian who has written about the period, said: “The Tudors are very clearly defined for children: you have Henry VII, the battlefield king; then Henry VIII, the tyrant who marries six times; then Edward VI, the boy king; then Lady Jane Grey, the nine days’ queen; then [the Catholic] Mary I who burns 300 people; and then Elizabeth I, the virgin queen. They are like a boyband: each has an identity. If you look at the Plantagenets, on the other hand – people don’t know which is which.”

I bought Jessie Childs' book God's Traitors ages ago - when it first came out in the States, in fact - but haven't yet found the time to read it…alas. Anyway, the author also speaks to Hilary Mantel, as well as to other historians who want to widen the scope of what we talk about when we talk about the Tudors.

[Edited to add: …huh. I got this link via Twitter, so I went back and clicked on the Twitter handle of the author of the article. It turns out that she wrote Under Another Sky, a book about Roman Britain that I…appear to have misplaced, actually, but I found a copy of it on sale in a bookstore in York when I was there, which is good because I don't think it was published in the US. But it also turns out that she wrote This New Noise, a book about the BBC that I read about a little while ago and wanted to look up. I did not know that these two books were even by the same person!]

Then there's an article on how aspiring actors from farther down the social ladder are increasingly being shut out of the profession in the UK. These have been bubbling up for a few years now; this one takes its starting point from the show The Night Manager. (I haven't seen it; it will probably go into the bin of "stuff about machinations that I really don't want to watch," along with House of Cards.) The article also takes a tiny swipe at costume drama, so these two articles wind up being a tiny bit related:

Why working-class actors are a disappearing breed

And what, you can’t help wondering, is our obsession with period drama all about? Downton, suggests Josie Long, comedian and co-founder of the charity Arts Emergency, “speaks to that certain weird thing that is going on in the UK. Something very repressive that is reflected in our art.”

It’s what happens, she thinks, “when you don’t have different voices coming through”. And “posh fetishisation… posh as aspiration” becomes a defining feature of our culture.

Posh is at the very heart of mainstream viewing, a cornerstone of all TV schedules and a guaranteed seller abroad. The Night Manager is currently being broadcast in America on the cable channel AMC, which contributed a large part of its £18m budget. It’s a vision of Britain that sells.

The piece itself is a more interesting look at this phenomenon than simply "Downton make drama all posh now." But I'm sure there is some sort of "Downton effect," even if it is more about making money than having it: just as it's harder to sell comedies internationally because they tend to rely more on specific cultural contexts than action and superhero films, it is probably easier to sell costume dramas and literary adaptations abroad - if only because costume drama tends to assume that you have to explain the historical setting at least a little bit, and that explanation works just as well overseas. It is frustrating, though, to be a fan of costume drama and have it assumed that you must just want to watch posh people lounging about in frocks, as opposed to being interested in fictional explorations of what life was like in the past. I would love to have a wider range of costume drama available - even just getting a show set in the Tudor period that didn't take place at court would feel like Christmas!

That's separate from the main point of the piece, though, which focuses on how hard it is to pay for a place at drama school, and then to find work in the industry if you do. (And as always, don't read the comments: Guardian articles about the arts are always overrun by people who fling about the word "luvvies" and seem to think no one should ever expect to be paid for art, because it's not a real job like plumbing. One wonders whether these people watch TV or movies, or listen to music, and what they think would happen to their own lives if we made it impossible for people to make a living while making art.)
tempestsarekind: (austen)
Hmm… A recent Atlantic piece on the Emma Thompson and Ang Lee Sense and Sensibility, by literary critic Devoney Looser:

Sense and Sensibility and Jane Austen's Accidental Feminists

The changes Lee and Thompson made to Austen’s original story meant the title Sense and Sensibility no longer alluded to just the characteristics of its heroines. It now applied to the heroes as well, with Rickman and Grant’s characters proving men could combine a heightened emotional sensitivity (“sensibility”) with the traditionally masculine bedrock of clear-eyed rationality (“sense”).

What's maybe ironic about this quotation is that (as I'm sure you know) sensibility was absolutely a male characteristic as well as a female one in Austen's day; if Edward Ferrars and Colonel Brandon don't display it in the novel (snug farmhouses, etc. - although I think Brandon, with all his running off in the middle of parties and fighting duels, actually does display a fair amount; it's just that everyone forgets it because Marianne says that thing about his wearing a flannel waistcoat), it's because they serve as foils for Willoughby, who uses the idea of sensibility very much to his advantage to beguile Marianne. Austen always seems slightly skeptical of sensibility, from "Love and Freindship" ("run mad as often as you choose, but do not faint") all the way through Persuasion (where the most important question about Byron's poetry is how to pronounce the title of one of them, and Anne worries about letting the mournful Captain Benwick read too much poetry). It's worth thinking about the ways in which "masculinity" changed in order to make sensibility something that needed to be given to male characters in the film as something signaling the "new man," rather than argued against because it was commonplace.
tempestsarekind: (oh noes)
Young William Shakespeare TNT Pilot ‘Will’ Casts Lead, Shekhar Kapur To Direct


(Deadline is marked as spam on LJ, so I hope this will get around it)

*runs in singing 'I hate everything about this paragraph, la la la'*

Elizabeth helmer Shekhar Kapur is directing the pilot, which comes from Craig Pearce, the longtime writing partner of auteur filmmaker Baz Luhrmann. It tells the wild story of young William Shakespeare’s (Davidson) arrival onto the punk rock theater scene that was 16th century London – the seductive, violent world where his raw talent faced rioting audiences, religious fanatics and raucous side-shows. It’s described as the hot, contemporary, dangerous version of Shakespeare’s life, played to a modern soundtrack, exposing all his recklessness, lustful temptations and brilliance.

*runs back out again screaming 'look it's not your grandma's Elizabethan period, aren't we soooo contemporary'*

ugh ugh ugh

(also, weirdly, I can't tell whether this has any connection to that "Shakespeare-in-Love-meets-Game-of-Thrones" CW pilot that involved witches and conspiracies or whatever, or if this is in fact an entirely different Shakespeare pilot.)
tempestsarekind: (austen snark is the best snark)
Joining the already-in-progress “Indian Summers” on Sunday are another “Masterpiece” series, the six-part World War II story “Home Fires,” and a three-part true-crime thriller, “The Widower.” It’s enough period drama to placate the most ardent “Downton Abbey” fan.

The influence of that PBS blockbuster can be seen in “Home Fires,” in which the disputatious relationship between rival women’s-club leaders played by Francesca Annis and Samantha Bond is similar to the pairing of Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton in “Downton,” though less entertaining."

PBS’s ‘Home Fires’ and ‘The Widower,’ Slaking a Period-Drama Thirst

Yes, because two women who disagree are of course exactly like two other women who disagree! All costume dramas are basically the same and people watch one costume drama for all the same reasons that they watch any other costume drama!

I swear, why do so many people say such stupid things about this genre? If you felt you had to make a Downton connection, you could have gone with the fact that Samantha Bond is actually on Downton Abbey, instead of this ridiculous "these two ladies are just like this other pair of ladies" remark.

Also, does The Widower even count as period drama, really? It's set in 1993!
tempestsarekind: (your strange behavior puzzles martha)

Hattie Morahan has apparently recently been in not one, but two Sherlock Holmes-related properties: Mr. Holmes, the film starring Ian McKellen; and Arthur and George, the miniseries starring Martin Clunes (and also featuring Charles Edwards, who has played Benedick and Richard II for Shakespeare's Globe, and was also on Downton Abbey).

Looking up Hattie Morahan led me to a 2013 film I hadn't heard of (in which she has a role) called Summer in February, starring Dan Stevens and Dominic Cooper - both of whom were in the Andrew Davies adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, in which Hattie Morahan played Elinor Dashwood.

Looking up Dominic Cooper led me to The Lady in the Van, starring Maggie Smith (the third Downton alum in this update, along with Charles Edwards and Dan Stevens). Perhaps unsurprisingly, given that the film was written by Alan Bennett and directed by Nicholas Hytner, the cast also includes - along with Dominic Cooper - Frances de la Tour, Stephen Campbell Moore, James Corden, Samuel Anderson, and Samuel Barnett, all of whom were in The History Boys. (I knew Samuel Barnett was in the film, thanks to Twitter, but didn't know about all of the other History Boys alums.) Jamie Parker does not seem to be in the film, but Roger Allam, who played Falstaff to his Hal at the Globe, is.

ETA: Just to bring this whole thing full circle, IMDb says that Frances de la Tour is also in Mr. Holmes…along with Hattie Morahan.
tempestsarekind: (very few dates in this history)

On the one hand, David Dawson - very good.

On the other hand…this trailer is strikingly incoherent about exactly when this show is supposed to take place (beyond the dark, cool-paletted, what-is-color? Middle Ages, of course), or what exactly is going on besides "battles, lots of." Also, somewhat perversely perhaps, I would like someone to decide that just because they have the budget to spend a lot of time on battle scenes, that doesn't mean that they have to. I'd kind of like someone to tell a story like this (whatever story this is; I'll get back to you once I've looked at something other than this information-free trailer) solely through scenes of intrigue and planning, and worried hushed whispers from the women who have just as much at stake even if they aren't the ones wielding the swords - just to show all the stuff you're freed up to spend time on when you aren't choreographing and shooting yet another battle sequence. And I'd like the trailer to suggest that women have some other purpose besides sex and being menaced, but let's not ask for the moon, I guess.
tempestsarekind: (peddlers of bombast)
…you are excited by the fact that the opening voiceover in this trailer (which is set in 17th-century New England) forms its first question - "What came we to this wilderness to find?" - without the use of auxiliary 'do'.

The Witch Trailer and Poster: 1630s New England Was a Scary Place

This is because, as stated above, I am a ridiculous human. But that kind of thing is so rare in movies!

(Auxiliary 'do' involves the use of the verb "to do" as an auxiliary rather than a main verb: he did go, where go is the main verb, as opposed to he did the dishes. In Present Day English, we have to use auxiliary 'do' to form most questions and negative statements: Did he go to the store?; he did not go to the store. In Early Modern English, auxiliary 'do' is in use but not required: you could also say Went he to the fields this day? or he went not to the fields.)
tempestsarekind: (regency house party [s&s])
1. It cracks me up that the triangles of the "Play" buttons on the various videos on the website are done in these wavering, old-timey lines instead of just being normal triangles:


2. I obviously haven't seen episode 3 yet since it hasn't been broadcast yet, so perhaps I'll feel differently tonight, but based on the trailer: does anyone else think that the Ross/Demelza relationship is being rather rushed? They've only had a few interactions, none of which have seemed to have any romantic undertones on Ross' side, and suddenly the trailer is all hushed, tempting whispers in Demelza's ear… I remain open to being persuaded, but I have a hard time imagining how the episode will get them to this point in a convincing way.

(I felt this way last week with the whole Verity subplot, as well: small spoiler ))


Edited for post-episode review: well, that escalated quickly. But if they do what I hope they'll do episode 3 spoiler )
tempestsarekind: (dido plus books 2)
…Aw man, they knew just how to push all my costume-drama buttons, didn't they?

What I like most about it so far, I think, is that they weren't afraid to just drop us into this world of honor and pride and family obligation and let us accept that these were the feelings that overwhelmingly influenced people's behavior - instead of trying to gloss them over and make them more palatable to a modern audience. I think perhaps Ross is a bit too friendly with his tenants (they called him "Ross"!), but they are mostly of an age with him, so I can imagine that he might well have grown up with them in a more relaxed way. But I really like Ross' interactions with Demelza: he rescues her, but he also treats her like a servant; he's fair to her, but not overly kind. I'm sure their relationship will change as the show progresses, but I like that it's started this way. And more personally - I'm an only child, from a small family, so I tend to forget how interconnected people's extended families can be; I liked that aspect as well.

Before watching the episode, I thought that casting Aidan Turner in a role where he was likely not to get to smile was rather a waste, but now I think that the warmth he shows so easily comes out in unexpected moments - as when he smiles at the children enjoying the Punch-and-Judy show on market day, for example - and helps to balance out the quick anger and the brooding that might otherwise be too much.

Also, I am very excited for the inevitable Demelza-wears-a-dress scene. :)

ETA: Rather than starting a new post - is anyone else watching The Crimson Field? Wow, that first episode was a lot. And spoiler ) I've missed Oona Chaplin's face, too, after the premature cancellation of The Hour (sob), so it's lovely to see her here. And Suranne Jones as well!

I don't get why PBS tends to throw all its new dramas at one at once, though, instead of spreading them out. They've been doing pledge drives for absolute weeks now, with nothing but the same tired old health programs on ("Change Your Brain, Change Your Life" and the like), and then both Poldark and The Crimson Field starting tonight.


tempestsarekind: (Default)

September 2017



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