Saturday, August 31, 2013

I've Been Awarded!!! : )



 I have been awarded the Elegant Blogger Award by Belle from In My Life...! I am so excited! I've never gotten an award like this before, but it seems to be very similar to a tag, and I love tags. : ) So here goes! : )

 Rules
  • When you receive the award, link back to keepcalmandsparkle1099.blogspot.com and the blog that nominated you (belleinmylife.blogspot.com)
  • Display the award button in the post
  • Answer all of the 12 questions given in this post (do not make your own questions)
  • Nominate 8 bloggers
  • Notify them that they have been awarded
 Questions

#1 What made you decide to start blogging?

 Until last fall I didn't really know what blogging was, and I never imagined I'd start blogging myself! Then by chance my sister Sadie and I came across Old-Fashioned Charm, (I think we found it through googling an image or something like that) and I was very intrigued. I took an instant liking to dear Miss Laurie (hello, Miss Laurie, if you're reading this!), and through her blog I found many other delightful blogs which I started to read. I've never really had many friends who have the same interests or opinions as I do (or who are as ridiculously infatuated with literature), and when I began to read other girls' blogs I found many kindred spirits and lovely people I wished to know better. I've always loved to write, and when I started reading other people's movie reviews and character profiles and posts about literary characters, I thought, "You know, I could do that." : ) It took me a long time to come up with a name for my blog, but then I decided on the title of one of my very favourite hymns. Sadie and I had originally intended to share a blog, but then we each decided to make our own. (Visit her blog here.)
  So that's how it all began! I began blogging in February of this year, and I have so enjoyed it ever since. I shudder when I think of some of my first posts, though! My first blog design was a horror, too, but that was because I hadn't really figured out how to do anything yet. (I've never been at all tech-savvy, so when I began blogging I really had NO idea what I was doing!) I think I've gotten much better at it, though, and I'm so glad that I started blogging!
  (There is also a great deal of thanks owing to Miss Laurie of Old-Fashioned Charm for being my very first inspiration-- thank you, Miss Laurie!) : )

#2 What is your fashion style?

  Well, basically 1940's librarian. : P Seriously! Of course, my favourite fashion era would be the 1910s, but one simply cannot go around looking like that in this era, it's just plain-down impractical. I think the styles of the 1940s are very practical and pretty and they suit me perfectly.
  My favourite clothing brand is Land's End, because their clothes are classy and high-quality. Sorry, that sounded snooty! I mean that their clothes are not just something cheap you would buy from Old Navy (no offense to Old Navy), but they're very well-made and last a long time. Plus a lot of their clothes are vintage and 1940s style, and I absolutely LOVE their dresses! : )






My ideal shoes!




Keri Russel in The Magic of Ordinary Days. (Good movie.)


Allie Hamilton in The Notebook (Bad movie.) : P


 #3 What is something none of your followers know about you?

  Um.....well, I have a stuffed rabbit named Elbert whom I have never introduced on this blog. I received him for Christmas from some dear friends when I was 2 years old, and he has become quite an iconic figure. He has a personality all his own and is quite a character, almost like part of the family. : P I'm not really sure why I named him Elbert instead of Albert, but for some reason I've always been quite adamant that it was spelled with an "E" instead of an "A".
  Hmm, what's another thing? Oh, something you all know (or maybe you haven't noticed), is that I always use the British spelling of "favourite" on this blog. I'm not sure why-- I use the American spelling (oops, I almost said normal spelling!) in emails and letters, but usually in my writing I use the British spelling so I guess it's kind of an odd habit. Random bit of trivia for the day.
  I don't know of anything else of interest off the top of my head. If you have a question, though, feel free to ask away! : )

#4 What are some of your blogging goals?

   To be a light for Jesus and an inspiration to others. To make new friends, to be a source of humor and encouragement, and to have maybe a few more followers. : P Hehee.

#5 Where is your favourite place to shop?

   Definitely a bookstore. I go ga-ga in bookstores: just ask my sister Sadie. : P I love Barnes and Noble, but I've only been to one once and there isn't one anywhere near where I live (what is up with that?), but actually I prefer smaller bookstores because they're more quaint. One thing I love about most bookstores is that they don't just have books, but also blank journals and stationary and things like that.
  There's also a second-hand clothing store I've been to a few times called Gypsy Moon, and I've gotten some really nice vintage things there. As for other clothing stores, I really don't have much fun shopping for clothes, so I wouldnt' really say I have a favourite place to shop for clothes. My wardrobe is an eclectic mix of hand-me-downs from friends and neighbours and my sister Molly, things that my parents or grandparents have given me, things that I've bought at thrift stores, and some things that I just pulled out of the dress-up trunk. : P

#6 What would your ideal amount of blog followers be?

  This is kind of a tough question. I love it when I see I have a new follower and I would like more, because that tells me that someone out there who enjoy my blog and that's one of my main goals, but like Belle said, when you have so many followers you don't get to know them all as well, because when you have 200 or 300 that would pretty much be impossible. So I really don't know what my ideal amount is, but I suppose it's really out of my control anyway! I would like to have many more than 14, but I really don't care about getting into the triple digits. It's the people themselves who matter, not how many of them there are.

#7 What are your talents?

   Alright, I really don't want to sound vain, but since you asked.....I'm told that I am a very talented singer. I've always loved to sing and it's still one of my favourite things to do. I sing pretty much all day. : ) For a while I entertained the notion of singing with the Metropolitan Opera someday, but then the Phantom of the Opera phase calmed down some. : P It's not something I want to do for a career, but I will always love it.
  Also writing, although I think I'd probably call that a gift rather than a talent, but sometimes the two are interchangeable. And I'm pretty good at imitating people, if I do say so myself. And I'm somewhat of a talented actress, although I've never actually been in a real play. Well, yes, there was that one time, but we won't bring that up. *evil wink* Really, I only act on my own or with my sisters, but that's monstrous good fun. : )

#8 Are you a leader or a follower? 

   To be honest, I'm really both. Sometimes I prefer leading, and sometimes following. I'm not sure that I'm by nature one or the other. Sometimes it's rather intimidating to be a leader, or if I don't feel capable, and that's when I opt to play the role of follower, but sometimes if I feel like everyone else doesn't know what they're doing I'll take charge.

#9 What is one of your favourite quotes?

  I absolutely ADORE quotes! I love collecting them and I have several notebooks full of them. I think it would be very difficult to pick and absolute favourite, but here is one of my favourites:

    "There is something delicious about writing the first few words of a story. You can never quite tell where they'll take you. "     ~Beatrix Potter

  If you've seen the movie Miss Potter (which is one of the most beautiful movies ever, I might add), you've heard that before. Quite a number of my favourite quotes are from Beatrix Pottter, actually. Charles Dickens also has some really good ones. : )

#10 Do you have a favourite book or book series?

   Do I have a favourite book. Did you really just ask me if I have a favourite book? : P Hehee.

  I actually have three favourites, it fluctuates depending on the season which one of them holds the honor of being my absolute favourite. Right now it's While We're Far Apart by Lynn Austin, but my other two favourites are Fire by Night and Hidden Places, both by Lynn Austin. Hehee, I'm sort of biased. : P My favourite series is definitely the Refiner's Fire trilogy, of which Fire by Night is the second book. I've read that one twice and it is definitely my favourite, but the first one will always hold the special place of being the first book of Lynn Austin's that I ever read. The third one isn't as good in my opinion, but I still would like to read it again. The trilogy is about the Civil War and follows the lives of different members of a family and their slaves, and it's just amazing. Talking about it makes me want to read it again!
  Another series I love is the Lizzie Searches for Love trilogy by Amish author Linda Byler. I used to get annoyed with Amish fiction-- I still kind of do. I mean, what if they dont' want all these silly romance novels written about them? However, Linda Byler is actually Amish herself, and it only took about a half of one book--no, more like two chapters-- for me to determine that she was my new second-favourite author. Here writing is similar to Laura Ingalls Wilder, and one of my favourite things about the Lizzie books is the relationship between Lizzie and her sisters. No one who has never had sisters can write about them like that. And Lizzie is so much like me that it's just plain-down weird. Some of the things she says make me think, "that is JUST like something I would say!" She is definitely a kindred spirit and I don't think there is any literary character qutite so dear to me as Lizzie Glick.  

#11 Out of all the synonyms for elegant, which would you describe yourself with (smart- stylish- dressy- graceful- dainty- fine)?

   Probably fine, and stylish. Definitely not dainty, but sometimes I can be graceful. Other times, however, I'm so clumsy you would never guess I was a dancer! : P

#12 What is your favourite flower?

   For a girl like me who LOVES flowers, it's awfully difficult to pick a favourite! I think probably chrysanthemums (and yes, that is the correct spelling : P), because they're such rich and sophisticated colors, and they bloom in the fall. I also love gladiolus (it's so weird to call them that instead of just plain glads!), and sunflowers because they're just so bright and happy and pretty.

 Well, those are the questions! I am going to be a naughty girl and only nominate 5 people, because most of the people I would nominate have already been awarded. So I hereby award....

-Miss Laurie

-Julia

-Melody

-Maria Elisabeth

-Hamlette


 To all my lovely readers, I am afraid I have been very remiss of late as far as posting goes, aside from games. (By the way, if you haven't played my Period Drama Hat Game, I'd just love it if you would!) I am hoping to post some more interesting things soon, as well as a movie review or two. I've kind of been lacking in ideas this week, so when I saw that Belle had awarded me I was so excited because it meant something to post! That's not the only reason I was excited, of course, since this is my first award. So thank you Belle! : )
  I hope to post some very lovely things this fall and I have several new ideas. Oh, and that reminds me....





  IT"S FALL!!!!!!!
 
Well, almost. Hehee. Tomorrow is the first day of September! I'm practically dancing with excitement. : )

 Have a wonderful day everyone!


Friday, August 30, 2013

Period Drama Hat Game



This weeks' game will be similar to the Dresss Game I posted two weeks ago. Below are 12 hats from 12 different period films. The scoring will work the same as it did for the dress game: 5 points for guessing the movie, 5 points for guessing the character who wears the hat, and 5 points for naming the actress. I hope you enjoy it! : )
 (Please excuse the scary whitened faces in some of the pictures-- some of them I couldn't crop without taking off a lot of the hat, so y'all will have to deal with it. Sorry. ) : P

  Hat #1


Hat #2



Hat #3



Hat #4


Hat #5


Hat #6



Hat #7



Hat #8



Hat #9



Hat #10



Hat #11


Hat #12


Have fun! : )

Which of these hats is your favourite?



Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sense and Sensibility (2008): A Review




  Sense and Sensibility is my favourite Jane Austen story. It has been ever since I saw the 1995 movie several years ago, which quickly became one of my favourite movies ever, if not my very favourite. However, until less than a year ago, I had no idea that another version of Sense and Sensibility even existed, so when I heard of this one, I naturally knew right away that it would not be nearly as good as the 1995 version. For a long time I didn't even have an interest in seeing it at all, but just recently my sister and I decided to just go ahead and watch it, just to see what it was like.
 I didnt' really have very high expectations, and to be honest, I was prepared to despise it. So, Andrew Davies wanted his chance at Sense and Sensibility, did he? I had read several reviews and heard good things and bad things about this adaptation, but the only way to find out what it was really like was to watch it.
 It wasn't as bad as it could have been, maybe not even as bad as I thought it would be. Actually, it wasn't bad at all. Well, maybe the first scene could easily be classified as "bad" (we skipped it altogether since we had read it was rather "racy"), but in short the miniseries was pretty tolerable. My sisters and I have been calling it "that awful miniseries", but that's really only a joke. : P
  I've decided to write my own review, to express my thoughts on this adaptation, and to compare it with my beloved 1995 version. So be warned, people. There is bound to be ramblings and comparisons ahead, so if you are one of those who prefers this version and does not like to hear it made downplayed or made fun of, you may not wish to proceed. However, if you enjoy ramblings and comparisons, criticisms, poking fun at Andrew Davies and the like, then read on. : )



 Naturally I had my doubts about Hattie Morahan as Elinor, but I was pleasantly surprised by her performance. Unlike Emma Thompson, she was exactly the right age, and although at first glance you might not think her very pretty, I think she was just pretty enough for Elinor without being beautiful, as Marianne is supposed to be. All in all, I thought she played the part very well, which is more than I had expected. I can't think of anyone who would have played the part better, and I now I would very much like to see more of Hattie Morahan. 


  Apparently it's "in" to stand on cliffs wearing long coats with the wind blowing your hair. Just an observation.



 As for Marianne...hmm. I don't think I even have to say that Charity Wakefield was not the Marianne that Kate Winslet was. Besides that, I don't think she's very pretty. She might be considered pretty, but as my sister thoughtfully pointed out, she probably wouldn't have been considered pretty back then. I wasn't too impressed with her acting skills, either. At times she made Marianne seem spoiled and ungrateful ("There's nothing to wear! Why are we so poor?"), and at other times she made her just seem....stupid. It is my opinion that while Marianne is passionate to the point of being ridiculous and sometimes so impatient as to be rude, she is not truly ill-mannered or ungrateful. Charity Wakefield made the character seem so shallow, and I didn't like that. She also made her seem extremely self-absorbed, which I supposed Marianne is to a certain extent, but I really didn't like the scene when Colonel Brandon comes to Barton Cottage and Marianne deliberately avoids seeing him by going outside in the rain, especially with Margaret complaining about the rain and how stupid her big sister can be. Alright, she didnt' say those exact words, but no doubt that's what she was thinking! And why did Marianne have to drag Margaret along anyway? The whole thing seemed unfair. I was practically seething. And then Willoughby showed up, which only compounded the situation, but we won't go into Willoughby at this moment. So no, I didn't like Charity Wakefiled as Marianne at all.




  Despite my dislike of Marianne, she and Elinor did really seem like sisters, so that at least is to the actresses' credit. There seemed to be a lot of scenes at night when they were going to bed, which became a little repetitive, but  overall I think they both did a nice job with the sister relationship.


 Janet McTeer was kind of pathetic as Mrs. Dashwood. I know Mrs. Dashwood is supposed to be kind of overly emotional and whiny at times, but this Mrs. Dashwood seemed to have very little personality. She wasnt' exactly a bad actress, but she had one very great fault: she was not Gemma Jones. (And yes, that was a Marianne quote, in case you didnt' catch that. One of the rather stupid ones, I might add.) I'm not really sure why they couldnt' cast this thing better, because most people were very disappointing in their roles, but I suppose it is not for me to criticize anyone. (Hehee, that was a joke.) She wasn't horrible, but she could have been so much better. Actually, if you ask me, no one could be better in the role than Gemma Jones, but then, you didn't ask me. : P 


  Lucy Boynton is adorable. I think the very first I heard of this miniseries was when I found out she was Margaret. I've always thought she was a good actress for being so young, and even though this was not one of her best roles that I've seen, I thought she did alright. I was a little surprised that they called her Meg instead of Margaret, but that does seem more like a little girls' name than Margaret, and even though it was complete improvisation, I was okay with it. Some of her lines were cute, and others you could tell were supposed to be cute but just came across as sort of annoying, but most of the time she was cute.


 
I'll admit, one of the main reasons why I finally decided to just go ahead and watch this adaptations was because of Dan Stevens. Ever since seeing him as Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey, Dan Stevens has been one of my favourite actors. And he was perfect....only he wasn't Edward. Dan Stevens made Edward the perfect gentleman, but he wasn't awkward like Hugh Grant was in the 1995 adaptation. He didn't try to become a gentleman and live up to his mother's high expectations of him simply because he neither wanted to nor cared, whereas Hugh Grant not only didn't care, but he didn't really know how. I thought he did a very good job (well, OF COURSE he did!), he just wasn't the Edward I know and love. Maybe his Edward is close to the book, but I will always prefer Hugh Grant.






 The scene where Edward is chopping wood was possibly one of my favourites in the entire miniseries. : ) I know that must sound extremely fangirly of me, but it's true. Sadie pointed out, though, that they kind of stole the scene from Amazing Grace, since it's raining and he has his coat off and everything, but I didn't really mind! In the next scene when he leaves Barton Cottage, I wanted to say, "Wait, Edward! We need more wood!" Actually, I may have said it out loud. I may even have shouted it.


    While he was tolerable as Edward Ferrars, to me Dan Stevens will always be Matthew Crawley, and Hugh Grant will always be Edward Ferrars.


He's smiling.
 Colonel Brandon was Bradley Headstone. *Ahem* THAT didn't go over too well at first, but surprisingly he was one of the better actors and I actually didn't mind him as much as I thought I would. He wasn't perfect, but he did alright. His worst scene was probably the one where Colonel Brandon tells Elinor about Willoughby, because I couldnt' really take him seriously since, you know, he's Mr. Headstone. It really is a pity that David Morrissey will always be marked from now on in my mind! However, it was nice to see him as a decent character for a change, and he did do tolerably well.



Dominic Cooper was probably the worst cast character in the entire miniseries. He was AWFUL. Greg Wise's Willoughby was charming and handsome and realistically pitiable, but this Willoughby was just plain-down horrible. He wasn't even handsome, for goodness' sake. He wasn't even within ten miles of being handsome. It is supposed to be understandable why Marianne falls in love with Willoughby, but the whole time we were thinking, WHY does she even like him????
The scene where Willoughby cuts off a lock of Marianne's hair was just plain creepy. "Pleeeaasssse, let meeeee." But then, he was just plain creepy. Which brings me to another point: Willoughby isn't a creep. He is a scoundrel, yes, but not a creep. In the 1995 version (see? I warned you there would be comparisons!), in the scene where Willoughby tells the Dashwoods that he has to leave for London on business, you could tell that he did love Marianne and was truly sorry to leave her and that it actually pained him to go away. In this adaptations, he was like, "Oh, sorry, I have to go to London on business.... no, I don't think I'll ever come back....it was nice meeting you....bye." He was even kind of smiling, like it was no big deal that he had to leave! Arggg. Several times throughout the miniseries I just felt like telling him to shut up. Actually, I may have once or twice. : P
  Please someone tell me that the scene where Willoughby comes to Cleveland is not in the book. That was just weird. After he had deceived Marianne, deceived them all, broken her heart and married an heiress, he still had the nerve to come back? I thought Elinor told him off just fine. Who cares about your lonely soul, Willoughby.


  Sir John Middleton was, like most everyone else, a complete disappointment in comparison to Robert Hardy (a.k.a. Mr. Tite Barnacle.) He did look a lot like someone I know, though, so that was pretty funny.  : P In the old version, Sir John was annoying but still kind and generous, but this Sir John was basically just annoying. And his mother, oh! Was it just me, or did she bear a striking resemblance to Mr. F's Aunt in Little Dorrit? She was almost unbearable. I'm afraid that almost the entire time we were watching this, my sisters and I kept pointing out how much better everyone was in the old one. 



 Fanny Dashwood was even more horrible than in the '95 version. She was literally insufferable. She was almost too awful, and whenever she was on screen I just wanted to slap her. Harriet Walter was not nearly this bad! I know Fanny is supposed to be awful, but is she really supposed to be quite this awful? And her son was the ugliest child I do believe I have ever laid eyes on, impolite as it may be for me to say so. In short, I was glad she wasn't in it any more than she was, and if she had been in even less I would have been okay with that.

I love Anne's face in this picture. : )
  The Steele sisters were absolutely hilarious. Ever since we finished it, I have been quoting Anne's line "Oh, I always say the wrong thing!" over and over. And what was with her northern English/American/weird accent? I don't know, but she absolutely put me in stitches. Of course, by the time the Steeles appeared on screen, I was already in stitches and still recovering from Edward's Chopping Wood scene, so....yeah. I'm glad they added Anne, because in the old one they left her out and I think she was a nice addition, providing some much-needed humour.
 The scene where Anne accidentally tells Fanny Dashwood and Mrs. Ferrars Edward and Lucy's secret was a riot. Anne's just sitting there stitching away, rambling on and on without thinking and then suddenly--
  "Anne? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?"
  "I'm sorry! It just popped out!"


 Oh my goodness, the Palmers were just awful. I can't even find a picture of them at this moment and I don't really want to waste time trying, but they were nothing like Hugh Laurie and Imelda Staunton in the old version. That's another thing about this version: the '95 version was chock-a-block full of excellent actors, and this one had about....three. Even the smaller characters were great actors in the old one, but in this one people like the Palmers were just obscure "dummy actors", as Michael Gambon would say. Mr. Palmer had about three lines, and Mrs. Palmer had none of the silliness that Imelda Staunton had. She and her mother (Mr. F's Aunt) were not even in the least funny together, they were just boring. That was the main problem with most of the actors: they were boring. The main reason why Anne Steele was so entertaining was because everyone else was so unutterably dull that by the time she appeared on screen we were like, "Finally, a character with personality!" That is not to say that no one had personality-- Elinor did, and Edward did, but most everyone else was just blah. So well done, Anne Steele. Turns out, you don't always say the wrong thing.



  The duel scene was rather far-fetched. I haven't read the entire novel (yes, I know, I know, for shame), but something tells me that this scene was something old Andrew Davies just decided to make up to add unnecessary drama. I mean, really, sword-fighting in Jane Austen is pretty much nonexistent. I for one thought it was weird.


  The end was absolutely adorable. I loved the scene where Edward comes back and finally declared his true feelings for Elinor, only Sadie kind of ruined it by randomly announcing that she was not going to use hairspray for her skating exhibition that evening. Still, it was beautiful, and I thought Hattie Morahan did and exceptional job with that scene in particular. And Edward running around chasing chickens was one of the most adorable things I ever saw. : )


  I have always thought that Marianne and Colonel Brandon's wedding was rather sudden, and it seemed even more sudden in this adaptation because Marianne had been so indifferent and even rude to the Colonel until after he rescues her (from her own stupidity, I might add), and then one night she suddenly says, "Elinor, Colonel Brandon asked me to marry him and I said yes." I suppose it is meant to be sudden, but I thought they made it happen a little too fast.


  Another thing I thought was odd: why did they live by the sea? It's Devonshire, not Cornwall! Suddenly the fact that they lived on the coast was a huge element. The whole shell thing was pretty strange too. All in all I thought the cinematography of this version was much darker and more subdued than the old one, which I didn't really care for. Jane Austen isn't supposed to be so dark, in my opinion.
 Also, I thought most of the music was too dark and gloomy. It was alright, but nothing to scream about. I first heard of composer Martin Phipps when I saw North and South, but this music wasn't nearly as good. It was pretty, but it was a little too repetitive and the soundtrack only seemed to have two or three themes that were played over and over and over again. Most of it sounded a bit too modern for the story too, especially the theme that is played near the end when Elinor is shown standing on the dock and then sitting on a bench on the shore. I was kind of disappointed that the music wasn't better, since I love the North and South music so much. Sadie declared that Martin Phipps must be taking stupid lessons from John Williams. (Kudos if you can name what movie that's from!) : P


 Most of the filming was pretty dark, and the sun only shone a few times. Most of the scenery was pretty, though, except Barton Cottage was even more run-down and lilliputiant than it was in the '95 version. Sadie and I immediately recognized Norland as Thornfield Hall from Jane Eyre (2011), and so then when we saw that Delaford was Donwell, I thought, hmmm. Have we stooped to stealing locations, Andrew Davies? Actually, Sense and Sensibility was filmed before bothe Emma and Jane Eyre, so nevermind. : P

   
The costumes were very pretty, for the most part, but....yes, you know what I'm going to say: they just weren't as pretty as the 1995 ones! Elinor's dresses were my favourites, and I liked how the girls wore the same dresses over and over again, because it showed that they didn't really have very many dresses to choose from. Most of Marianne's dresses were pretty too, but some of them were a bit more colorful and bright than I generally like. Most of the time Marianne looked kind of disheveled too, I'm not sure why. Maybe it was because she wore her hair down.....? What I want to know is, how come so many more people complain about Keira Knightley wearing her hair down in Pride and Prejudice, and then Charity Wakefield just gets away with it without remark? Well, I'm remarking. It looked sloppy. Come on, Andrew Davies, this is the Regency, remember? (Not that Andrew Davies has been promoted to hairstylist, but he does have influence.)

   All in all, I was annoyed by some things (*ahem*, Willoughby), but I was also pleasantly surprised by other things, and I am glad I watched it after all. In my opinion it is not nearly as good as the 1995 version, but it is worth watching if you like the story or if you just like period dramas in general.

Have you seen this adaptation?
Do you prefer this one or the older one?





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