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Word Choice and the Stories We Tell Ourselves

Random people (i.e. my various relatives) often give me suggestions for blog posts. Something funny happens while we’re on vacation together — “you should write about this”. Some other fiasco occurs several seconds later — “add this to the story!” they squeal.

I recently received one such suggestion (though we were just out for dinner, not jet-setting around the world). I brushed it off, as I tend to — “please, I have plenty to write about without your help, thank you very much,” I thought. Then I got home and realized that while I do have plenty of ideas, I haven’t really gotten around to sharing them with you so much lately, dear people of the internet. And so, I bring to you to my dinner conversation from two weeks ago.

We were discussing a person whom I… dislike and want to avoid seeing. I believe these sentiments surfaced around the same time I was born — he is not a pleasant person to be around. (And no, not in a Mr.-Darcy-at-the-beginning-of-P&P kind of way, more in an weird-annoying-obnoxious-but-pretty-much-harmless-uncle kind of way. Anyways.)

“You’re still afraid of him?” my Post-Suggesting Relative asked.

“Well, it isn’t that I’m afraid of spiders” I said, “I just don’t like them.”

He was awed and shocked and impressed with my retort (as I hope you were) and suggested I write a post about this altercation. Cue eye roll and the rest.

Then I thought about it and realized the profundity of my retort. The post-worthiness of it.

All of life, it occurs to me, is just semantics. Our of understanding of the world, of ourselves and of others comes from the words we use and choose to think about them with. Effective communication depends on shared vocabulary, with words that have the same denotations and connotations to all parties. Unlike Newspeak in George Orwell’s 1984, modern English has a plethora of synonyms and sayings to choose from when we clothe our ideas in the words we think, say, and write.

The words with which you choose to express an idea give that idea different meaning than if you had expressed it in other words.

Thus, when I decide against something, I’ve been trying lately to express my decision (to myself and others) it in a way that it is just that — a conscious decision. It isn’t that I can’t clean my room — it’s that I choose not to. It isn’t that I can’t write at a given moment — I’m choosing not to. It isn’t that I can’t break school rules — I choose not to.

The effect is the same, but the cause becomes different. And by identifying and naming the true cause, I gain accountability and responsibility. It becomes a choice, because in the story I tell myself about my life, I am aware that it is a choice.

The same seems to hold true everywhere. My brother made a rude comment over the summer that I shouldn’t be afraid to go jet skiing. I tend to be one for irrational fears, and I was often teased for them in childhood. (Of course, it seems as though my siblings will never stop teasing me.)

But this time I had a rebuttal. I explained to my charming younger brother that I’m not afraid to jet ski. I’ve simply done it already and did not particularly enjoy it. Since it’s supposed to be for fun and I don’t find it to be such, why would I do it? So I choose not to.

Again, nothing actually changed, aside from the words through which I looked at the situation and therefore my entire perspective of the situation. And realizing this was so freeing. It took me from I can’t to I’m choosing not to. “And that,” as Robert Frost might say, “has made all the difference.”

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A Book- and Blog-iversary

On January 28th, 1813 Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s second novel, was published. On January 29, 2012, Welcome to My Shiny New Blog, the first post here on A Solitary Ramble, was published.

Coincidence? Yes. Yes it was. However, I don’t believe in coincidences, and I’m sure that this happened to happen for a reason. Probably so that I could conveniently celebrate P&P’s 200th book-iversary and my first blog-iversary in single post.

Photo credit: Wikipedia.com

Time to pop out the tea! Dust off the teacups! And throw ourselves another tea party? Well, maybe not. Mostly because I’m home for a few days. Which is an excellent thing, except for the fact that we don’t have fancy china here. And I’ve been so busy seeing friends and family and doing homey stuff that I kind of TOTALLY MISSED BOTH OF THESE -VERSARIES AND THIS POST IS SEVERAL DAYS LATEThere. Okay. It is so relieving to have gotten that out. I hope you can forgive me for being so remiss.

It’s actually quite fitting to have both of these dates so close on the calendar and bound eternally to one another in this post. I mostly started this blog to drool over Mr. Darcy in a public manner. I guess that didn’t happen much… Except for here. Oh, and here. And probably a little bit here.

My blog’s name, in fact, is lifted straight from a scene in Pride and Prejudice:

Elizabeth’s sister Lydia and her new husband, Mr. Wickham are paying a visit to the Bennets. Elizabeth is sitting outside, reading a letter from her aunt (which explains the exact conditions under which Lydia’s wedding came to be), when Mr. Wickham intrudes on her reverie. “I am afraid I interrupt your solitary ramble,” he says, as he joins her.

Aside from the Austenticity of the phrase, I thought it was quite fitting for my brand new blog. It represents me, because (like Lizzy who will walk three miles in the mud, getting her petticoats six inches deep in mud) I’m rather fond of taking walks through the countryside in solitude. Of course, by the countryside I mean the side-walked, suburban streets. And, unlike Lizzy’s, my petticoats aren’t quite long enough to reach the ground.

Also, I figured that these posts would mostly be solitary rambles — sitting by myself at the keyboard, ranting and raving to myself.

Joking aside (just kidding, I don’t know how to shove joking to the side) I think we should take a moment to admire and love Miss Elizabeth Bennet as much as Mr. Darcy does. Because, really, the girl’s amazing. And I don’t think we expend enough energy on adoring her.

Besides inspiring me to get off the couch and get some eye-brightening exercise (if you catch my reference), she literally changed who I am as a person. In far too many ways for me to count.

Credit: allystruth.tumblr.com

From what I hazily recall of the dark ages before Lizzy and I met, I used to be really into following the rules (at or at least appearing to do so). I used to literally tremble in the face of authority (mostly in the form of school principals). Thanks to Lizzy, I managed to stand up to my high school principal last year — in a witty, impertinent manner, no less — on an important matter. And then I stormed out of the man’s office in a huff. Kind of like that time Lizzy stood up to Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

I’m not really sure that this was quite what Jane wanted me to get out of her sparkling novel.

And while Lady C had no real power over Lizzy and her choices, this principal’s “yes” had the power to change my entire year last year (and, you know, probably the entire course of my life, if we’re going to be melodramatic about it).

Besides, I knew I’d be getting a big, fat, ugly NO from said principal anyways — this was not our first meeting on the matter — so I figured I might as well finish the ordeal with a clang.

Among other things, Lizzy has turned me into quite the impertinent  sharp-tongued young lady. (“No, she has not. It was ONE time,” the voice of reason in my head wants you to know.) And I love her for it.

“I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, and how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least I do not know,” wrote Miss Austen of her heroine one day.

I couldn’t agree more. 

For the Love of Jane

I first got acquainted with Jane Austen when I was in grade ten. It changed my life. Obviously. It was also the start of a delightful little obsession. An addiction you might even say. And then I kind of got over that. I really thought I was cured. Turns out I was just in remission, ’cause the sickness is back. Will it ever be gone for good? I sure hope not.

A modern imagination of Jane. Probably more accurate (and pretty) than the other “fake” pics floating around. If you’re as ardent (crazy) a fan as me, you know what I mean. If not, google it. There is more out in Jane’s corner of the web than you would ever care to know. Photo credit: pemberley.com

With the start of the summer (during which I planned on reading lots of new books) I find myself going back to Jane. Maybe it’s because with high school ending and The Rest of My Life starting (as if), it’s nice to have something consistent and familiar to go back to. To borrow a metaphor (actually a simile, but whatever) used a lot with regards to rereading, going back to Jane is like being re-acquainted with a dear old friend. Except, while the old familiarity, shared memories and old jokes are still around, when you meet up with someone from your past, you can’t expect that they’ll be exactly the same as they were when you were close. Which is okay, because you’ve also changed. While Jane’s words have remained the same since the last time I read them (and for the past two hundred years) I’ve certainly changed, so my reading and understanding of those words has too. We (the book and I — just in case I lost anyone there) have a different relationship now. It can’t be the same as it was before, but you know what? That’s okay.

Photo credit: goodreads.com

My very first impression of Jane Austen was (appropriately) based on Pride and Prejudice. For the first several pages, that impression was not a wholly positive one. A teacher (The English Teacher) recommended I read it and I was really excited to do so. Then I did and I thought that teacher was insane for suggesting it. It was just so prim and proper and old-fashioned-y. Although, I do have to admit that I didn’t really understand it at first. That’s probably an understatement. I thought Lady Catherine De Bourgh was Mr. Collins’ wife. That was not fabricated for your amusement, I could not make such ignorance up. And in my defence, how was I supposed to know WTF a “patroness” was? Why else he would need some woman’s permission to come visit his relatives, unless they were married? It’s a good thing I switched to The Annotated Pride and Prejudice before he started courting and proposing to half the girls in Hertfordshire, all because Lady C wants him ‘settled’. Then it would have gotten really confusing. And weird. And Mr. Collins is weird enough without my misunderstanding his relationship status with Lady C.

Once I actually understood P&P (or at the very least understood what was going on in it) I fell ardently in love with it for the same reasons I had initially disliked and misunderstood it. The primness. The propriety. The old-fashioned-y-ness. It also may have had something to do with Colin Firth in a wet shirt, but you know, whatever. Anyway, as the cliche goes, high school kind of sucks, and Jane was my escape. I could float away into the world she created with her well-chosen, beautiful worlds and forget about everything else. I’d live in ravishing country estates with my new best friends Lizzy, Emma, Catherine and Marianne; I would swoon over Mr. Darcy, Mr. Knightley and Henry Tilney, doodling their names all over my Science notebook, in my best, most Jane Austen-y cursive. I was more “well-adjusted” by the time I got to grade eleven and twelve, finally finding my place with a steady group of friends, but until then, I had Jane. She helped me so much during that awkward year and to her and her heroines (and we can’t forget those heros) I will always be grateful.

There is NO screenshot that can possibly do justice to this moment. Also, posting pictures such as this one is half the reason I started this blog. I’m being serious.

I read P&P literally about three or four consecutive times upon first meeting it (in addition to at least as many viewings of the five and half hour movie), so since then I’ve tried (at times in vain) to stay away from it. That’s because Jane’s words have become so engrained in my mind that they’ve begun to (dare I say) lose their power to excite and instil new ideas. I thought it would be best to wait for a little to reread it, so I can take new and more profound meaning from those beautiful words and see them with fresh eyes rather than just looking at them on a page and doing little more than skimming due to my over-familiarity. Actually, keeping with the friend metaphor, it’s much like the way we can’t (and often just don’t) always judge and assess our close friends  objectively (or always notice all their merits) because we’re so used to them and all their idiosyncrasies. I’ve also been keeping carefully away from Emma because I really adore that one and wouldn’t want this to happen with that.

Now I’m re-assessing Jane with my reread of Northanger Abbey and it’s a very interesting experience. For some reason, I thought that despite my love for Catherine and Henry Tilney, I never really read this book that much, so it was immune to this phenomenon. It became my go-to for when I needed a jolt of Jane’s humour. Or was just between books and needed something to fall back on. But it now occurs to me that I’ve read the book at least three, (but potentially closer to five) times, in addition to watching the movie just as much, in the past two years since I first read it. So it’s more familiar than I thought. Kind of like a friend you like, but only hang out with a lot because you have a bunch of mutual friends, and then you’re suddenly struck by how close the two of you have gotten. It’s sort of like that. Let’s say. (It’s really not like that. I love Northanger Abbey and always have. It would have been a more appropriate simile if I had been talking about Mansfield Park — we’re only friends because it happens to be written by Jane — but that would never happen. Neither Fanny or Edmund are people who I can relate to, be entertained by, aspire to be like or swoon over.)

But despite my newfound familiarity with Northanger Abbey, and every single exchange between Catherine and Henry, I’ve changed and learned and grown since last reading it (or any novel by Jane). So there’s this weird disparity. On the one side, I feel overly familiar with the plot and dialogues and phrasing but at the same time I am continually shocked by how much I seem to have missed or misinterpreted the first few times I read it. Despite all my ardent love and admiration (as well as how many times I have read and reread each of Jane’s novels) I’m beginning to realize that I didn’t understand her works as thoroughly as I thought I originally did. Yes, Jane’s novels are set in fancy country estates, where her characters’ interactions are ruled by a very official laws of etiquette, but it turns out that this by no means implies that her novels are prim, proper or flowery. It turns out (and I say this as the biggest complement I can think to bestow) that Jane Austen was an ironic, sarcastic, satirical bitch. There are lines in Northanger that I cannot believe are written before my eyes and I wonder how they could possibly escaped me the first several times I read the book.

A lot of the new insight I’m seeing comes from my deeper understanding of and appreciation for satire and irony. I’ve (almost) always understood that you can’t take everything Jane says or all of her character’s words and actions at face value. I seem to be one of the few people who truly understands that when Jane coined the phrase “a truth universally acknowledged”, she intended for the phrase to imply that the clause following it isn’t really a cold, hard fact, people just think it’s the truth. For example, it is a truth universally acknowledged that universally acknowledged truths are true — i.e., a lot of people think that universally acknowledged truths are true, but they’re not. But, I don’t think I really understood the extent to which you really can’t trust a single word that flowed from Jane’s pen. I have made some pretty major life decisions based on lines in Northanger Abbey only to realize later that the line I was basing my life around was meant ironically. (I can’t share what those “major life decisions” are or what lines they are based on, because these decisions will seem fairly minor to you. Also, my misinterpretations and consequent decisions make me feel — and would make me look — like quite a silly, ignorant, little teenager.)

But the really interesting thing that I’ve been wondering lately is about the nature of this growth and deeper understanding. I can obviously understand Jane’s works differently now that I’ve grown and internalized the idea of irony a little more. The question is, was that learning and growth independent of Jane and her works, or was it Jane who taught me about irony and satire, and now I’m finally able to (consciously) apply it back to the works that taught it to me in the first place? It’s kind of a circular argument and it’s probably a bit of both.

Have you been rereading much lately? Are you gaining new insight or is it more of just a trip down memory lane? What’s on your summer reading list?

Fictitious Crushes

Come on, I know you all have at least one. I admit, within the safe, anonymity of the internet (yes, irony intended… the internet’s a scary place) to having several. First there was Mr. Darcy. Of course. Really, I think having (at the very least) a slight crush on Mr. Darcy has become a cliché by this point in time. Same goes for P&P being your favourite Austen, and Elizabeth Bennet your favourite heroine. It gets old. It’s been done to death and it’s not very original. (Which is not to say, that these three points aren’t true of me, it’s just I feel silly admitting a sentiment shared by so many.)

You know what’s unique? Those people who ardently admire and love Edmund Bertram and Fanny Price. Unfortunately (or not) I’m just not one of them. Personally, I’m a huge admirer of Henry Tilney and Mr. Knightley. That’s unique enough for me. Really, I don’t understand why more people aren’t in love with them. They don’t neglect the girls they love for someone else. They aren’t arrogant and snobby. They’re nice, good guys. I mean, Mr Knightly rode through the rain for Emma! How many guys would ride, 16 miles from London, through the rain for you? And Mr. Tilney understands a good muslin. I’m with Mrs. Allen on this one, if he understands a good muslin, he’s definitely a keeper.

And, going back to Pride and Prejudice for a moment, I think we need to discuss a certain Mr. Darcy some more. No, not in a drooling, must-re-watch-five-hour-movie-AGAIN type manner, this is a far more serious discussion. I have something else to admit. A far less common confession. I’m really not all that in love with Mr. Darcy. I know, it’s a shocking, obscene thing to say. I’m sorry, but it’s true. But the thing is, what I love about Darcy is how perfect he is for Elizabeth, not how awesome he is as a person. Well, okay, I take that back, he’s an awesome person, and his capacity to change is immensely admirable, as is “his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien; and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year” (chapter 3). But I just don’t think he and I would get along very well. Like, for example, if this wasn’t real life and I were to meet Mr. and Mrs. (i.e. Elizabeth) Darcy, sure they would be “civil” enough to my face (Lizzy did train him well), but as soon as they got home to Pemberley, they’d entertain themselves for hours laughing at my hyperbole and excitability and over all ridiculousness. I think I’d get along far better with Mr. Bingley, although, he’s so sweet and naïve that he may just get on my nerves.

Of course, there’s also Gilbert Blythe from the Anne of Green Gables books. He’s just so… ahhh. Like Tilney and Knightley, he’s such a great guy. And, I mean, he basically worships the ground Anne walks on and keeps up this immense love for all eight books, never waning for a moment. And finally seeing the adorable movie just escalated this “admiration”. Have you seen that movie? Have you heard the way he says “sorry” to Anne after he calls her carrots (which was totally just because he likes her and wants her attention)? It is just too, too cute. (Although, do we Canadians really say sorry like that? Is that how we talk? I’ve never noticed…)

I wish I could have found a clip from the movie, either “carrots” or “sorry” — too cute… It’s the 1985 movie, for anyone who’s interested
Photo credit: the-inn-at-lambton.cultureforum.net

Furthermore, he’s such a good sensible foil to temper Anne’s romanticism and airiness, which makes him the perfect match for me too! (Because obviously Anne and I are pretty much the same person. I wonder how L.M.M. wrote a book about me almost a hundred years before I was even born? Of course, I find that I can relate to her most in the first book, when she’s somewhere around 12 or 13. After that, she gets way more mature than I am…I say this as an eighteen year old…) Regardless, Gilbert is welcome to call me “carrots” any day of the week (you know, regardless of the fact that I’m a brunette, not a red-head).

There are, there have been and there will be many more, that’s just scratching the tip of the iceberg (is that a mixed metaphor? A mixed cliché?), but those are the most prevalent ones that come to mind.

Anyway, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, who else has fictional crushes they want to admit to? (Warning: If you say Mr. Darcy, I can and will judge you for being unoriginal and cliched. If you don’t say Mr. Darcy, I can and will judge you for being an unfeeling, incomplete human being.) To all the lady lovers out their, who are your favourite fictional females?

Little Women

Photo credit: Amazon.com

Unlike most of my other favourite books, Little Women was shockingly not recommended by my (very favourite) former English teacher. I actually thought about giving the real book (as opposed to the unreal book) a try after reading The Mother-Daughter Book Club, an adorable young adult series that I borrowed from my little sister. In the first book they read Little Women and in the next few they go on to read Pride and Prejudice and Anne of Green Gables. So obviously this is an awesome series for this fact alone. In fact, while my sister reads these books because (like most normal people when reading a book) she genuinely cares about the characters, I read them solely for the allusions to the books I actually read. Like, for example, one of the main characters, her mother’s obsessed with Jane Austen, so she and her brother are named Emma and Darcy after Jane’s characters. And every chapter starts with a quote from the book their book club is currently reading. Let’s just say this series is pretty awesome.

So, I began reading Little Women over the summer, after borrowing it from a friend who told me it was amazing. She was right. I love little women so, so very much. It’s just such a deliciously, delightfully light read, with lots of little pieces of gold that are so true to life.

I also really liked the nice, warm happy ending when the whole family bonding so sweetly together. I think that, especially in today’s age of technology and the constant focus on money and financial success, it it so nice and refreshing to have the emphasis placed on family and love and all those things, which, to me,  are what really matter.

Now, I know that some people aren’t so satisfied with the fact that Jo ends up with Prof. Bhaer, but personally I thought it ended just right in that respect. No, it wasn’t quite like Pride and Prejudice where I fall in love with him by the end, but it really isn’t about if love him, it’s about Jo loving him! Even in P&P, the whole reason I love Mr. Darcy is because he’s so perfect for Elizabeth. Same goes for Prof. Bhaer, I like him and I’m satisfied with Jo’s marriage to him because I think they’re right for each other.

I’m sure some people think that Jo should have gotten together with Laurie in the end, but I just don’t see that working out. When I was younger and read the abridged version (which you can read about here) I actually did think they should end up together. When Amy met up with him in Europe, while Jo was at home, I was under the impression that Jo wanted Laurie, despite her protests and that was why she was sad. I thought Amy was such an obnoxious, little brat.

However, upon reading the real thing, I realized that she really didn’t care about Laurie in that way. She genuinely wanted him to find someone else and was glad that that someone else was her sister. She and Laurie wouldn’t have made a good couple, they’re too similar, like two tornadoes, they each need someone who can ground them and is different enough to be a foil. I think they work so much better as brother- and sister-in-law.

Furthermore, by the end, I really wanted Jo and Prof. Bhaer to get together because of how desperately she finds herself wishing for his proposal. He comes  to visit the town where she lives and stays nearby for a bit, frequently coming to visit her household. On I think it’s his final day, she goes to off to the market to buy something where she hopes to bump into him — who hasn’t done such a thing? When they do meet, she’s just in agonies, wondering if maybe she had read him wrong and he really doesn’t plan on proposing at all. When he finally does, I, for one, was elated for her. It didn’t really matter how felt about him, Louisa May Alcott wrote it so effectively that I completely empathized with Jo and wished for exactly the same things she did, regardless of my own sentiments (if that make any sense…) And that, I think, is what makes effective writing.

The thing I love so much about this book is its capacity to make me both laugh and cry. I thought it was the perfect balance between reflective and (mostly) realistic, (especially in the way she addressed John and Meg’s marriage, showing that even with all their love, it wasn’t perfect, but something they had to work  at) while also keeping it light and entertaining.

To see my previous post on Little Women click here.

For a list of my other favourite books click here.

Much Ado About “The Vow”

The other day, my friends and I went to go see The Vow starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum (cue girls dramatically sighing and violently fanning themselves). It was fine, and for a Romantic Comedy/Drama, it was definitely one of the better ones I’ve seen lately.

Credit: aceshowbiz.com

I kind of hate Jane Austen though. It’s just that, she kind of ruined all such movies for me. I mean, Jane  started the romantic comedy (well, okay, that may actually have been Shakespeare… Much Ado About Nothing anyone?). Jane (and yes, we are on a first name basis) and Shakespeare knew how to write romantic comedies. And they did it well. They used rom-coms as a vehicle for their brilliance. Their humour is funny on many levels and provides meaningful social commentary about so many things. They’re about so much more than the boy getting the girl (or the girl getting the boy) in the end.

We all (presumably) know how Jane’s novels end (and if you don’t, you should really find a different, less awesome blog to read, or maybe go read all of Jane’s novels, like, this second — spoiler alert, the girls all end up with the right guys in the end, oops, sorry to ruin it for you). We know that if we’re reading/watching a Shakespearean Comedy, they’re likely going to end up married and no one’s going to die (or be brutally murdered); if it’s a Shakespearean Tragedy, the opposite will probably hold true. But that doesn’t matter, what matters is how they get to the end, not what the end is. It’s literature, plot is irrelevant. (Well, I don’t know if that’s quite true, but that’s an entirely different discussion…) The point is, in real rom-coms (and by that I mean the stuff of Shakespeare and Jane) the happy ending is just a bonus.

Whereas in movies like The Vow, plot tends to count… a lot. And the thing is, they really lead you on, and they want you to fall for the fact that the male and female leads may not get back together. The problem is, either you don’t fall for it at all, or you’re me and you fall for it too much. During the movie, I nearly squeezed my friend’s arm off and she had to promise me that they’d get together in the end. So you have all these high emotional stakes and you’re thoroughly invested, but then when they do end up together? You want to be happy, but, please, you saw that coming. It just isn’t good enough. It isn’t worth the emotion strain they just put you through. Suspending your disbelief just wasn’t worth it.

Now, I don’t know how Jane and Will(iam Shakespeare) do it, but they get away with using the same formula (nay, they invented the formula) and somehow, I’m rarely disappointed. (Except for Mansfield Park… that book just pisses me off.) Perhaps it’s because Jane and Will were geniuses and the lame-o screenwriters writing this nonsense are not. (That’s not to say I don’t adore some of this nonsense, Mean Girls is completely one of the greatest movies of all time, right up there with P&P ’95, but even so, it’s a little um, romanticized… to say the least. It all works out in the end and everyone gets to be friends? Have these people been to high school? The school I go to is not clique-y, at all, and even still, I assure you we’re not all best friends.)

At this point in the movie, the woman sitting in front of us told her daughter to cover her eyes. Credit: eonline.com

One rant I’d like to go on about this movie is with regards to Channing Tatum. It seemed to me as though every three minutes Channing Tatum was either shirtless or quasi-naked. My friends were all but drooling and while I can definitely empathize, it really added little to nothing to the movie.  And yes, I know, we all love the pond scene (in P&P ’95), oooh, and this one, but that’s different! Yes, it is! Those scenes were “perks” added by Andrew Davies, they were absolutely NOT written by Jane. While they did add something to the movie, they aren’t why we watch that movie, right? Right? Someone back me up here! That movie would have been just as good without those scenes (probably) and I, at least, would have still watched it a million-and-a-half times without them (again, probably). The Vow on the other hand? Where would it be without Channing Tatum prancing around shirtless? Nowhere, that’s were it would be. On the cutting room floor. My friends and I went to see it almost solely for the shirtlessness (at least that was one friend’s motivation). While that may have added a certain dimension to the film, it certainly shouldn’t have been the best part.

I think it’s silly to make a movie like that which will make big money at the box office due to the actors’ level of attractiveness but has little greater significance. Besides, I really don’t see what the big deal with Channing is, he has nothing on Darcy, Knightley or Tilney, I mean, he doesn’t even have an accent!! (Shh, don’t tell my friends I said that, they may disown me.) But, I guess that’s Hollywood — perhaps The Artist is a little more my speed. That was a good movie, I love the interesting way it explored film as an art form versus a business venture.

That being said, there were a lot of parts I did like. Namely the super adorable wedding (that kiss afterwards was really cute and I thought Rachel McAdam’s dress and veil were awesome) and Rachel’s hair when it was short and dark (especially in the wedding scene). All the flash-backs to the way they were before were also pretty sweet. They certainly made an attractive couple.

So, I quite subjectively and perhaps arbitrarily give it 3/5 stars. However, I’m not really sure how the whole stars rating thing works and if I were to rate a whole bunch of movies my rating system would not be consistent.

So, have you seen The Vow? What did you think?

Mr. Darcy at the Oscars

We just finished watching the Oscars at my house (although, I guess that’s the same for everyone else who was also watching them…).

I’m delighted that Meryl Streep won best actress for her spectacular portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. It was such a wonderful film and she definitely deserved it. I’m also thrilled by all the recognition that The Artist got. Jean Dujardin played George Valentin beautifully, bringing him to life to the point that I barely noticed he wasn’t even speaking. It was a marvelous film, all though, I must say, I’m a tad bit surprised that it won best picture. I was really rooting for The Help … at least Octavia Spencer got best supporting actress, she was just BRILLIANT as Minny.

A thoroughly gratuitous picture of The Look Photo credit: janeaustenfilmclub.blogspot.com

Of course, my favourite part of the show was when Colin Firth came on to present the award for leading actress. Despite his ever-increasing age, he still is Mr. Darcy after all! He began to speak and, as he was likely saying little of consequence, my family began a conversation about one thing or another. I promptly hushed them, politely pointing out that “we do not interrupt Mr. Darcy when he’s speaking.” Because, while it’s not as though he was professing his ardent love and admiration for our (his) dear Lizzy, that accent is just to die for!

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