Archive for the ‘Comedy’ Category

thor ragnarok

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is locked up in a cage by Sartur (Clancy Brow) a demon who claims to have initiated Ragnarok, a prophesy where Sartur will destroy Asgard.  Thor thinks he’s already stopped the prophesy, but flies to Asgard to talk to his father, Odin.  (Anthony Hopkins)  Instead of Odin, Thor finds Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who seems to have replaced Odin on Asgard.  With a little help from Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) Thor finds Odin, only to find that he’s dying, and Hela (Cate Banchett) who is Goddess of Death and also Odin’s first born, and also Thor and Loki’s sister, plans to take over the family legacy.When Odin passes away, Hela will have infinite power.  Odin passes away shortly thereafter, and the race is on to get to Asgard.  But Thor and Loki get sidetracked to planet Sakaar, which is ruled by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) who wants to pit Thor against his champion in a gladiatorial battle.  It turns out Thor already knows the champion of Sakaar, it’s the Hulk, but will beating the Hulk be as easy as Thor thinks and can Thor get back to Asgard before Hela takes it over?

Thor Ragnarok did something that I didn’t think was possible, it made me like a Thor movie.  The previous two Thor movies took themselves so damn seriously, this was a refreshing tongue in cheek take on the Thor story that this trilogy needed in the worst way.  The story is simple, which is crucial to a superhero movie, don’t overcomplicate things.  The backstory with Hela is equally as good, and those two elements alone make this movie worth watching.  There are drawbacks however, the whole Hulk fight scene is unnecessary, in fact Hulk is unnecessary, as is Dr. Strange.  Writers have yet to find a way to integrate Hulk into any avengers movie much less make a decent Hulk movie, in this one the Hulk is little more than comedy relief.  The ending is predictable, and when Hollywood runs out of plot, it pours on the fight scenes and special effects.  Thor Ragnarok is no exception, but Ragnarok is a welcome relief from a character and trilogy that was rapidly losing relevance, in the Marvel universe.

The performances are very good.  Chris Hemsworth is a funny guy, anyone who’s seen him in the Ghostbusters remake, admittedly not that many saw this, but those who did knows he has great comic timing.  Tom Hiddleston is also great as Loki, as he plays up the sibling rivalry again, this time for laughs.  But the best performance in this film undoubtedly belongs to Cate Blanchett, yes she is evil, but she underplays the evil so well that it’s subtle, and she has a reason for being angry, and that makes her performance all the more intriguing.  There are also good performances by Idris Elba Karl Urban, Tessa Thompson and of course Anthony Hopkins. These performances make a well-written movie even better.

The direction is good, the scenes burst with color, yes there’s a lot of CGI, but the film I is not overwhelmed by it.  The pacing is good, the movie moves along at a brisk pace for a movie that’s over 2 hours long, and the director gets a lot of good performances from a very talented cast.

Thor Ragnarok  Rock on!

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thelma and louise

Louise (Susan Sarandon) is bored with her life, and with her boyfriend Jimmy, (Michael Madsen)  so she decides to call up her friend, Thelma (Geena Davis) who is sick of her domineering husband, Darryl (Christopher McDonald) and so they decide to drive to Mexico.  Thelma ominously brings her husband’s gun along, in case there’s any trouble.  They go to a bar, and right away, Thelma gets too drunk and too flirtatious with a guy named Harlan. (Timothy Carhart) Harlan takes Thelma to the parking lot of the bar and tries to rape her.  Luckily, Louise gets to the parking lot just in time and shoots Harlan.  They are now fugitives from the law, on the run.

Louise calls Jimmy and asks him to wire her own savings to her; Louise also picks up an attractive, young hitchhiker named J.D., (Brad Pitt) at Thelma’s urging.  When Louise goes to pick up the money, Jimmy is waiting for her.  He asks Louise to marry her.  Does she accept?  Is J.D. is innocent and carefree as he appears?    What of Hal, (Harvey Keitel) the cop who doing the leg work to find Thelma and Louise, does he track them down, or do they escape to Mexico?

The first time I saw this movie, I thought it was an acceptable escapist feminist revenge fantasy.  I see it now and I can’t stand this movie.  The only character who’s got any redeeming characteristics is Louise.  Thelma does one stupid thing after another that gets them deeper and deeper into a hole. So much for being a feminist’s dream movie. J.D. is not what he appears to be, Darryl is the king of the jerks, Jimmy who appears decent has a dark side, and Hal the cop chasing them seems to be the only man who has any empathy at all.  Even the waitresses and superficial and empty headed.  Bar patrons are rapists, and truckers are harassing stalkers.  Khali Khouri who was lauded in the book I just read, wrote a screenplay full of one dimensional, superficial characters in my opinion.  Thelma is supposed to show some growth but her dramatic arc from stupid to wise happens too quickly to be believable.

The acting is adequate.  Susan Sarandon really stands out in this movie, as she does in most movies, and gives a hellacoius performance.  She’s gotta stay one step ahead of the law, and one eye on her friend, and her performance illustrates the frustration she must endure, and also the joy of being free from the things that are shackling her.  I don’t think Geena Davis should have been Oscar nominated, she’s playing the ditzy airhead she always played and wasn’t convincing when her transformation takes place.  Brad Pitt was just asked to be a pretty boy, take his shirt off, and flex his muscles and that’s what he did.  Michael Madsen was very good as Jimmy, he gives the character depth, and a quiet strength. Harvey Keitel with a Southern accent is unintentionally funny, and the accent makes it difficult to take the performance seriously.

The direction is only so-so, while there are some stunning visuals of the American Southwest, but the pacing is inexcusable, it is so painfully slow that it’s painful to watch.  I kept watching hoping the story would move and it didn’t move fast enough, not even remotely fast enough for me. There was so much about what a great director Ridley Scott is in the Over The Cliff book, and he is a good director for science fiction, this story is not his milieu, so he was right in not wanting to direct it.  He shouldn’t have.  He got some good performances, and some not so good ones.

Thelma and Louise.  Don’t Louise sleep over this one.

Movie Review: The Big Sick (2017)

Posted: November 10, 2017 in Comedy, Drama, Romance
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Kumail Nanjani (Himself) is a Pakistani stand-up comedian, he tells his parents, Azmat (Anupam Kher) and Sharmeen (Zenobia Shroff) that he wants to be a lawyer.  Kumail is dating an American girl, named Emily (Zoe Kazan) despite meeting many Pakistani girls to please his parents.  Soon enough, Emily finds out that Kumail is dating all these girls behind her back and she breaks up with him.  After he has moved on, Kumail gets a phone call, and is shocked to hear that Emily has a really serious viral infection.  The doctors may need to do an operation to remove the virus and keep it from spreading and the y may need to put Emily in a medically induced coma to operate.  The doctors can’t find Emily’s parents, Beth  (Holly Hunter) and Terry (Ray Romano) so Kumail has to decide whether to sign the papers or not. What does he do?

First and foremost, this movie was marketed as a light romantic comedy, but the actual movie is light-years away from a light romantic comedy.  This movie is 2 hours of drama, and melodrama with a few jokes sprinkled in.  The main character is an unlikable SOB, who lies to his parents, and girlfriend, and his girlfriend, the other main character,  is in a coma, gee, are we having fun yet? There are jokes in this movie, but the viewer has to slog for hours of really depressing movie to get to those jokes.  Is it worth it?  Not for me it wasn’t.  The ending is not that great either, there are at least two false ending before getting to the real ending, which makes the real ending all the more annoying.  The standup comedy scenes funny, are and the comedians are good.  There are some good performances here, but don’t  watch this film  waiting for a laugh out loud comedy, because it’s not.

Kumail Manjani is really not a likable guy and since he’s playing himself in a true story from his life, he must not be a likable person in real life.  His humor is also an acquired taste, something like a deadpan understated humor.  Zoe Kazan has a whiny voice that makes her character hard to stomach, when she’s not comatose. The people who make this movie watching are Emily’s parents. Ray Romano, who also has a whiny voice is not annoying in this movie, he’s actually very sweet and understanding, and funny in a way that this movie needed.  Holly Hunter plays Beth as a feisty Southern wife and mother who’ll fight anyone to save her daughter, but she does it while making the character endearing, which is not an easy thing to do.  The Pakistani characters were one-dimensional, and somewhat stereotypical, and that made Anupam Kher and Zenobia Shroff’s jobs very difficult.  I’ve seen Anupam Kher in Silver Linings Playbook Bend It Like Beckham and a few Hindi language film, and he usually plays the father in these movies, so this is not s stretch for him.  But the father is such a tradition-bound character that there’s not much for Kher to do as an actor. The mother is similarly boxed in.

The direction is not great, the pacing is slow, the story is two hours long, which is death for a comedy, and the great performances come not from the leads, but from the parents of the daughter, who are also Hollywood veterans.  The director is a television show director for the most part.  This looks like his first feature film. Judd Apatow  produced this, it didn’t seem like he had a big budget or needed one for that matter.

The Big Sick Not infectiously Funny.

Movie Review: The BFG (2016)

Posted: October 21, 2017 in Comedy

the bfg

Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) is a ten year old orphan living in London.  One night, she looks out of her window, and sees a giant.  He calls himself the Big Friendly Giant, (Mark Rylance) because he doesn’t eat children.  For this reason he has been ostracized by the other giants in the Land of the Giants.  BFG takes Sophie to the Land of the Giants and tells her what he does for a living.  BFG captures people’s dreams, and creates dreams for children.  Sophie sees the nice dreams and nightmares of people and is enchanted.  But the other giants get Sophie’s scent and want to eat her.  After protecting Sophie, he takes he back to the orphanage, but she wants to go back to the Land of the Giants with the BFG.  After heading off another attack by the giants, Sophie comes up with an audacious plan to get rid of the giants once and for all, does the plan work, or do the giants feast on the children of London?

There are movies made for kids, and there are kid themed movies made for adults.  The BFG is strictly for kids, there is a good giant willing to protect the little girl from the other giants.  While it is a laudable theme to have a noble giant protecting the youth of London, the story ends up being simplistic and predictable.  There is also an overreliance on special effects, instead of developing the characters or plot, there are some nice moments between the BFG and Sophie, but not enough to sustain a two hour film.  There is also some bathroom humor that only kids would find funny.

The BFG is a movie where the acting makes the script better than it is.  Ruby Barnett plays Sophie as a precocious girl who’s not afraid to talk back to an adult, even when the adult is a 24 foot tall giant.  But she adds just enough emotion to make Sophie sympathetic to the viewer.  Mark Rylance plays the BFG with wit, charm, and a twinkle in his eye, making the giant a very approachable person.

A good movie uses CGI to supplement a good story, but the BFG, seems to be overwhelmed by special effects, and while some of the effects are vibrant and colorful, the over-reliance on special effects is distracting.  Steven Speilberg directed this movie, and unlike Jaws where he kept the shark under wraps for much of the movie, special effects get in the way of the storytelling here.  The pacing is slow, which doesn’t help anything.  There’s a good story in here somewhere, but Speilberg didn’t find it.  In E.T., he found the magic between a group of kids and an alien.  In Close Encounters, there was the excitement of alien visitors.  There is no sense of excitement or wonder here, too bad.

The BFG:  Big Floundering Grandiosity.

luke cage

Luke Cage (Mike Colter) works as a sweeper in Pop’s Barber Shop in Harlem.  One night after sweeping up, Luke sees his co-worker Chico (Brian Mac) rush out to a car with his friend Shameek.  (Jermel Howard) Chico and Shameek want to take money from Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, (Mahershala Ali)  owner of a club called Harlem’s Paradise, and infamous gangster.  Luke also works at the club, and Cottonmouth offers him a job, but Luke has a quiet life, does he want to get mixed up in saving Chico from gangsters or being Cottonmoth’s bodyguard?

I like this episode of Luke Cage it has the requisite amount of mystery surrounding Luke.  It has some primarily African American references like the iconic if somewhat hackneyed black barbershop.  Luke has some interesting interactions with the ladies, some interesting black cultural references, Luke is reading Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. For all the good writing and the social consciousness, there’s a lot of the n-word flying around, I found it excessive.  I know the writers are trying to keep it “real” but Harlem is the epicenter of the black renaissance, let’s try to treat the characters with some respect.

The acting is great.   Mike Colter is very good as the laconic Luke Cage.  Mahershala Ali is a simmering cauldron of rage as Cottonmouth, and Alfre Woodard is also good as a corrupt politician who is all sweetness and light in public, but something else entirely when the cameras aren’t rolling.

Episode 2:  The Code of The Streets

Pop (Frankie Faison) asks Luke to find Chico, but Cottonmouth wants to locate Chico too. The police, headed by Detective Misty Knight (Simone Missick) also want to find Chico.  Who gets to Chico first?

There is so much in this episode.  The viewers get a backstory about Pop.  There’s an interesting subplot between Misty and Luke.  There is real and largely unspoken tension between Luke and Cottonmouth.  There are the cultural touchpoints, Luke is reading Walter Mosely in this episode, and this episode finally provides the impetus for Luke to get off the sidelines.  The acting is superb, especially between Ali, and Colter, who holds his own in the scenes between him and Ali. There’s also some good chemistry between Colter and Simone Missick.

Episode 3:  Who’s Going to Take The Weight

Luke decides not to go after Cottonmouth directly, but let him suffer death by a thousand cuts.  Cottonmouth and his cousin Mariah (Alfre Woodard) discuss their differing visions of Harlem. Misty sees that Luke is in the middle of what’s going on lately in Harlem, but she can’t put her finger on what he’s doing. Misty’s partner Detective Rafael Scarfe (Frank Whaley) talks to Chico, he’s ready to turn on Cottonmouth.

This is more an action episode, and not an introspective episode, which is too bad, because I liked the quiet, introspective Cage, and not the action oriented Cage, anyone who watches the series will know why. Domingo Colon is introduced as head of a rival Latino gang, but there’s not much character development thee yet.  There’s a plot twist, but it’s badly written.  If I told you why, I’d spoil the plot. Good acting again by the principles, especially Mahershala Ali, Alfre Woodard, Mike Colter, and Frank Whaley. The acting saves a somewhat shaky script in this episode.  The episode is named after an old school rap tune.

Episode 4:  Step In The Arena

As Luke tries to extricate himself and his landlady Connie Lin (Jade Wu) from a precarious position, Luke thinks about a turning point in his life.

This is mostly a flashback episode that fleshes out some of the details referred to in the first episode.  It’s interesting, although it has similarities to other Marvel origin stories. The acting is very good, and the script is interesting, as it leaves many things unexplained.  This episode is named after a Gang Starr album.

Episode 5: Just to Get a Rep

As Cottonmouth extorts small businesses in Harlem, Luke tries to clean up the streets of Harlem.  Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) comes back to Harlem, why is she here?  Cottonmouth and Luke both show up to an important event in Harlem.

This episode had some interesting things going on, a new character, Cottonmouth always plotting, an evolving relationship between Misty and Luke, and lots of lectures from Luke about Harlem’s legacy.

Episode 6: Suckas Need Bodyguards

Detective Scarfe is shot and wounded by Cottonmouth, he escapes.  Now everyone is trying to find Scarfe, Misty is looking for her partner, Cottonmouth is looking is looking to finish the job, and Luke is looking for someone to protect.  Where does Scarfe go?

This is similar to the where’s Chico episode, everyone looking for Scarfe, but who finds him first.  Not sure what Claire Temple’s function is, but she’s immediately Luke’s sidekick.  I’m usually not a fan of Rosario Dawson’s acting, but she and Mike Colter have some easygoing banter.

Episode 7:  Manifest

As Cottonmouth plays the keyboard, he reflects on life with Mama Mabel, (Latanya Richardson Jackson) Uncle Pete (Curtis Cook) and little Maraih. (Megan Miller)  He wonders what could have been, but settles into what is.  Cottonmouth thinks he has a surprise for Luke, but Mariah really has a surprise for Cottonmouth.

Most of this episode was backstory on Cottonmouth and his dysfunctional family.  Let me tell you, they put the diss, in dysfunctional.  And boy oh boy  there is more than one twist in this episode, one that I never saw coming.  And this one was well-written, and well camouflaged.  The scenes with Luke and Cottonmouth sizzle with tension  as the actors try to outdo each other. Alfre Woodard is also very good in this episode.

Episode 8:  Blowin’ Up the Spot

Something happens to Cottonmouth, and Mariah blames Luke.  Misty wants to talk to Luke, but Claire is hiding him.  Luke has a new enemy, Willis “Diamondback” Stryker. (Erik Le Ray)  What’s his problem with Luke?

For a show that started out with such high minded ideals, this show has devolved into a show with lots of shooting, killing and violence.  They’ve turned Alfre Woodard into some kind of character from Empire.  Claire doesn’t really have a well-defined role, again, the viewer has to guess what she does and where she fits in.  I’m disappointed because this show had great potential, and it seems to be jumping the shark with five episodes to go in season 1.

Episode 9:  DWYCK

Claire takes Luke to visit an old acquaintance.  Misty gets interrogated by a department psychologist.  Diamondback consolidates Cottonmouth’s empire, with Mariah’s help.

I actually like the Misty interrogation, but the Claire Luke storyline is getting utterly ridiculous, and the intensity and quality of the acting has gone way down.  The writers are featuring Diamondback, Shades and Mariah, now and Luke and Claire, but Luke and Misty have the best chemistry.  The writers should pair Misty and Luke in more episodes, but I fear the series is too far gone.

Episode 10:  Take it Personal

Diamondback and Mariah plan to get a new ammunition to cops.  Luke learns more about Reva’s past.  He also learns more about Diamondback’s past.  Police get rough in their search for Luke, who is framed for killing a cop.  Misty is in danger as she enters Harlem’s Paradise.

I liked  the backstory on Reva and Diamondback, but the actor playing Diamondback is no Maharshela Ali.

Episode 11:  Now You’re Mine

Diamondback takes hostages inside Harlem’s Paradise, including Misty, Claire, and Candace (Deborah Ayoridnde) who may have evidence to clear Luke of one of the crimes he’s accused of.  Does Luke save the day?  Or will police capture him?

This was an interesting episode, for the first time in a long time, I cared about what happened to these characters.  Claire and Misty are developing a rivalry and that is also interesting.

Episode 12: Soliloquy of Chaos

After Misty survives being shot inside Harlem’s Paradise, police arrest Luke.  He escapes and tries to find Diamondback.  Domingo, (Jacob Vargas) head of the Latin gang, is looking for Diamondback, to take back control of gun running from him.  Shades is bailed out by Diamondback, only to have his life threatened by Diamondback, so he and Mariah contact Luke with an offer to take out Diamondback, but before they can act, Diamondback shows up to Pop’s and challenges Luke mano a mano.

Here is the episode leading up to the climactic finale, I like that it was pretty much a Claire free episode, Misty is a much more interesting character, and I’m glad they’re getting her involved right in the middle of things.  Diamondback is not the villain I preferred, but he’s the villain I was given, so here goes nothing.  Let’s see what happens.

Episode 13:  You Know My Steez

The epic showdown between Luke and Diamondback ensues, but what happens next?

The epic showdown wasn’t so epic, and the other main characters squeeze through enough loopholes to ensure a second season. One of those loopholes is especially badly written, and at times this episode is edited like a Best Of Luke Cage episode.  Disappointing.

 

Overall, I’d say for the first 7 episodes, Luke Cage was a very sharp, well-written, intelligent series.  The acting is vibrant filled with intensity Mahershela Ali is the best actor in this cast and he brought everyone’s skill level up with him.  The scenes with him and Mike Colter crackle with excitement.  The writing was good filled with references about black writers, and lifting Harlem up.

After episode 7, the acting suffered, after an initial good impression, Rosario Dawson became nothing more than a love interest, and good actors like Frank Whaley are limited in their roles.  Even a great actress like Alfre Woodard was hamstrung by writing that turned up the violence, and turned Woodard into an Empire esque character.  I liked Simone Missick, who plays Misty Knight, but they de-emphasized her role to bring in Claire Temple, bad move.  Missick and Colter had great chemistry.  And the writers of the comic book gave Misty a lousy power, I can’t even figure out what her power is by watching the show.

The writers also forgot all the cultural touchpoints of Harlem, and Luke Cage just became another conventional show.  Too bad, it had so much potential to be a groundbreaking show and it took the easy way out. The finale was the final chance for this show to redeem itself, and it did not.

Luke Cage:  Boxed itself in.

Beatriz At Dinner

Beatriz (Salma Hayek) is a massage therapist and aroma therapist in California.  She visits one of her wealthy clients named Kathy (Connie Britton) to give her a massage. Kathy is having dinner prepared for her husband Grant’s (David Warshovsky) boss, Doug Strutt (John Lithgow) a wealthy global land developer, with an infamous reputation.  Unfortunately, Beatriz’s car breaks down, and she can’t go home until her friend can fix the car, so Kathy invites Beatriz to stay for dinner, she reluctantly agrees to stay.  Immediately, Beatriz feels out of place with Kathy’s friends, the women talk about the foibles of the latest reality show star, and her leaked video, and the men drink, smoke, and talk about business.  Awkwardness turns to tension when Beatriz and Doug sit down and have dinner, and Doug questions Beatriz’s immigration status, and Beatriz enquires about if Doug was involved in a development in her hometown in Mexico.  But Beatriz loses her cool when she finds out that Doug has killed a rhino during a safari.  She yells at Doug and throws his smartphone at him.  Kathy requests that Beatriz go upstairs and take a nap.  Instead, Beatriz does a Google search on Doug Strutt, and finds out a lot more than she expects. She comes back down and says she wants to perform a song, but does she have something else in mind?

I really wanted to like Beatriz at Dinner, but the script had too many issues. What the script does well is show the awkwardness between people of different classes, ethnicities, and social strata.  But it does most things very badly.  The story hinges on Beatriz not having a ride home, apparently no one in the film has heard of Uber.  The characters are mostly caricatures, with no connection to real life people, the rich guests are only interested in increasing their material well-being, and Beatriz is a saint, who feels the pain of every living thing.  For such a cutting edge story, the gender roles are disappointingly conventional, the women gossip, while the men talk business, and they are separated by gender, until the dinner.  There is a false ending, and then a real ending, which is worse than the false ending.  The writer is so eager to make a political statement about the current state of American politics that they forgot about character development and writing a story that people would care about.

John Lithgow plays a character with obvious similarities to our current President, but as hard as Lithgow tries to humanize Doug Strutt, the writing makes Strutt a cartoonish oaf.  He doesn’t have or show any empathy or even a simple connection to another human being. Salma Hayek is a good actress, she de-emphasized her beauty for this role, as in Frida, but Beatriz is too good to be true.  She’s a holistic healer who feels the pain of her animals and in all things from nature.  Now outside of California, no one knows what a holistic healer is, never mind being able to relate to who she is, and what she’s going through. The only thing Beatriz doesn’t do is walk on water.  If the writer gave her some flaws, she would be more interesting and more relatable. Salma Hayek pours a lot of emotion into the role, but she is boxed in by bad writing, and isn’t allowed to explore the full dramatic arc of the character. The rest of the actors have even less material on which to build their characters.

The direction is a mixed bag.  Miguel Arteta definitely has an eye for visual direction, there are some beautiful shots of the Mexican waterways, but the pacing of this movie is painfully slow.  This movie is less than an hour and a half long, but it seems much longer.  The performances are ok,  but I don’t know that Lithgow or Hayek need to have their performances shaped by any director.

Beatriz At Dinner:  Lots of sizzle, very little steak.

love and friendship

The recently widowed Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckensale) has gone to live with her brother-in-law, Charles Vernon (Justin Edwards) and his wife Catherine, (Emma Greenwell) in their palatial home Churchill.  Susan has her eye on the much younger Reginald De Courcy (Xavier Samuel) who is also Catherine’s brother.  The age difference is shocking to Reginald’s father, Reginald Sr. (James Fleet) who is determined to stop the courtship. Quite suddenly, Susan’s daughter, Fredrica (Morfydd Clark) shows up at Churchill , and she is panicked at the thought of marrying Sir James Martin (Tom Bennet) a wealthy dolt, who wants very much to marry Fredrica, but Fredrica has fallen for young Reginald at first sight.  Nothing seems to be standing in the of Susan and young Reginald getting married, but then Lucy Manwaring  (Jenn Murray) confronts Reginald with some shocking news about Susan.  What is this news?  Does it make Reginald rethink his upcoming nuptials?  Who does Susan marry?  Who does Fredrica marry?

This is a period piece, set in 1790 based on a Jane Austen novella.  It’s a comedy of manners filled with polite titters and not large guffaws.  Most of the laughs come from Susan manipulating her daughter, her best friend and the men in her life to get her desired result. The James Martin character provides more laughs with his absurdist, buffoonish character.  If one digs deeper, there is a bit of social commentary about why women married in the late 18th century, but it’s subtle like the rest of this movie.  I’ve seen better Jane Austen adaptations, Emma and Sense and Sensibility, but this is pretty good.

The acting is good.  Beckensale seems very comfortable with the Jane Austen turn of phrase, and she probably feels good being able to act in a role that doesn’t involve vampires or werewolves.  This is the kind of role she should be playing. Tom Bennett is extremely funny as the clueless suitor of Morfydd Clark, I wish he had a bigger role.  The rest of the actors play their character roles well, but no one really stands out, other than Beckinsale and Bennett.

There’s not much that stands out about the direction, the pacing is very slow, dull Victorian England looks appropriately dull, there’s nothing visual to spice thing up.  The director does something rather amateurish, in my opinion.  He puts the character’s names in the opening scenes, so instead of explaining who they are through exposition, the viewer reads who they are, which is an immature way to tell a story.

Love and Friendship:  Beckinsale is no plain Jane, in this Austen adaptation.