17 February 2007

Movie Night

I rented and watched two movies last night. One was "Marie Antoinette" which just came out on video. I'm not sure whether to recommend it or not--I leave it up to your own conscience. I certainly wouldn't show it to anyone under the age of sixteen or so. The costumes were fabulous, especially the shoes (designed, as many have pointed out, by Manolo Blahnik), and I enjoy that sort of visual feast as much as the next clothes-obsessed girl. The music was interesting, mixing period music with rock, which worked for the most part. There was an updated version of "Fools Rush In" the lyric of which was appropriate to that point in the film, but sung very badly. Mostly, it served to underline how silly and extravagant Marie Antoinette was, and it did show a little of the contrast between the Austrian archduchess Maria Antonia and the French queen she became. (The Austrian court may not have been perfect, but it was prudish and pious compared to the French court.) The ending, in which the royal family are being taken away from their palace which has been trampled by the revolting peasants, serves to humanize them at last.

The other movie was much more light-hearted and I enjoyed it more--the pseudo-Bollywood "Bride and Prejudice." I can only really think of two scenes which would offend--the singer Ashanti dances rather suggestively in a scene where she gives a concert (she doesn't otherwise appear in the film), and a brief scene where one of the male characters is very scantily clad and attempting (but failing) to appear seductive. The storyline is adapted from Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" (a tale much-loved by the writers of this blog, in case our pseudonyms didn't give it away) and is, on the whole, very faithful to the story.

The Bennett family part is played by the Bakshi family, a nice middle-class Indian couple and their four daughters Jaya, Lalita, Maya, and Lakhi (the "Kitty" character got lost in the shuffle). As you can see, they've even striven to keep the names the same. They've kept, slightly altered, some of my favorite lines from the original--near the beginning of the film, Lalita declares in response to her mother's speculations about the visiting Indian-Englishman, "Any single guy with lots of money must be shopping for a wife" (a paraphrase of the first line of the book, which the BBC put into Lizzy's mouth in their seminal adaptation). Mr. Kohli, the Mr. Collins stand-in, is hilarious as an Indian immigrant who has made it relatively big in Los Angeles (much is made of him having a green card) who comes back to India looking for a "traditional" wife. William Darcy is a wealthy American who comes to India with his friend Balraj Bingley to attend the wedding of another Indian-British friend, and there they meet the Bakshi family. Fun music and dancing, banal lyrics, and amusing cultural misunderstandings ensue. If you like Pride and Prejudice and musicals, give it a try.

[Edited to add: Indian native costume is gorgeous, and the Indian actresses in this film certainly do their costumes justice.]

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