Gentle Readers! Remember the tidbit about a modern-set adaptation of Persuasion (creatively called Modern Persuasion) starring Alicia Witt being in pre-production? The idea of it engendered a bit of interesting discussion online, mainly around the question of whether the central theme of Persuasion–that is, giving up love for duty–could be satisfactorily rendered for 21st century audiences. Well, whether we think it can be or not, someone’s tried it. The film actually was, er, filmed, and will be released on digital next month! It’s got a trailer and everything!
Of course we’ll watch it, though to be honest it strikes us as maybe a trifle above the vaguely Austen-themed Hallmark Christmas movies that Deborah Yaffe mocks so amusingly, but we will withhold judgment till we see it. December is the time of year that we crave fluff and feel-good, and maybe even middling JAFF (along with new episodes of The Crown and The Mandalorian) will tide us over till spring training starts.
Manipulative, callous and cruel – the beautiful widow Lady Susan Vernon is on a manhunt. To restore her broken fortunes the greatest coquette in England sets out to snare a rich husband. She will stop at nothing to achieve this goal including forcing her own daughter Frederica into an unwanted marriage. Will Lady Susan’s weakness for pleasure derail her own notorious intrigues? Literature’s greatest villainess is about to take center stage. This hilarious adaptation illuminates Austen’s earliest novella while paying homage to Georgian theatrical traditions.
Long-time AustenBlog readers will remember Lynn Marie as the author of our very favorite stage adaptation of Northanger Abbey. Check it out–it should be a good time!
We say it is “in development” because it appears the script, reportedly by Jessica Swale, is not yet completed. However, we have our Anne Elliot: Australian actress Sarah Snook, best known for playing Shiv Roy in Succession (which we haven’t seen, but hear good things).
The film will be directed by Mahalia Belo and produced by Alison Owen and Debra Hayward for Monumental Pictures (also known for, gulp, Harlots and, um, Cats. *cringe*).
This project seems to be relatively far along but we won’t get excited until we see the first grainy paparazzi shots from the set or costumed publicity stills. Until then, let’s not talk about it like it’s a done thing. We can look forward with interest to a big-screen adaptation of many Janeites’ favorite Austen novel, certainly, but keep it under control! Dorothy is serving tea in the conservatory for those who need it.
As we were very much looking forward to going to Cleveland in October for the JASNA Annual General Meeting, we were sad when it was canceled*, though we agree with the decision and feel it was the responsible thing to do. However, we (by which I mean all JASNA members, not using the royal we in this case) will still be able to enjoy an AGM this year, virtually!
We were so pleased to be asked to participate in the blog tour for Natalie Jenner’s debut novel, The Jane Austen Society. We were intrigued by the story description back when the book was first announced and have been excited to read it ever since. We were even more excited to be offered the opportunity to review the audiobook, read by Richard Armitage. We love audiobooks and have listened to several read by Mr. Armitage in the past, and they were all wonderful performances, which made the offer difficult to turn down. However, we weren’t sure if we would be able to participate at first, as we have been working extremely long days at le travail de jour during the current Interesting Times (safely home at AustenBlog HQ, thankfully, and we fully recognize our privilege). We usually listen to audiobooks during our daily train commute, which of course is not happening right now, so we weren’t sure if we would have the time; but then realized we could listen to the audiobook on our daily ten turns in the shrubbery around the parking lot, and signed on. We have broken the review into two parts: the story itself, and the audiobook performance.
Gentle Readers, here is another treat for us while we are confined to our homes. We may even be able to lure Dorothy away from her garret for this one.
Streaming Musicals will present a free streaming event of Paul Gordon’s musical adaptation of Pride and Prejudice on Friday, April 10, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time, with a rebroadcast at 10 p.m. ET. From the website:
Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet (Mary Mattison) meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy (Justin Mortelliti). But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice?
Pride & Prejudice, based on the classic novel by Jane Austen, is a new musical adaptation by Tony Award nominee Paul Gordon (Broadway’s Jane Eyre). The show was filmed at the Tony Award-winning TheatreWorks Silicon Valley in Palo Alto, CA., where it played its world premiere from December 4, 2019 to January 4, 2020 and established an all-time box office record. The production was directed by TheatreWorks’ Founding Artistic Director Robert Kelley and choreographed by Dottie Lester-White.
After the free premiere, one can still stream the play, though there will be a rental or purchase fee similar to that of movies ($4.99 to rent, $19.99 to purchase).
You needn’t fear that the actors are in danger from one another: the play was recorded last year. Gordon’s musical adaptation of Emma is also available to stream, though one must pay for that one.
It is unclear if these will be available to view outside the U.S.
We are all keeping our social distance these days, and many of us, other than the superheroes in the medical profession and restocking grocery stores, are spending all of our time in our homes. The delightful ladies of Drunk Austen have thus put together a Virtual JaneCon to be held this weekend, March 28 and 29, featuring speakers and movie watch parties. Meetings will be held on various social media and conferencing software. The activities are still coming together, so check out the event schedule for more information.
Seriously, everyone who doesn’t absolutely have to go out, please stay home.
We are hunkered down here at the fabulous high-tech AustenBlog World Headquarters, and maintaining proper social distancing. Dorothy has been basically locked in her garret watching the North and South series on repeat, occasionally emerging to make another pot of tea and mumbling something that sounds like, “Save us, Richard Armitage.” The Editrix is herself indulging in a re-watch, in order*, of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Infinity Saga films, so all we have to say to that is Hail Hydra.
*not including The Incredible Hulk, sorry, we are ride or die Ruffalo, all hail Professor Hulk
Anyway! We have seen comments on the World Wide Web that some of our Gentle Readers and other online friends have expressed an interest in seeing EMMA., but in the Prevailing Times, when cinemas are closed and, even in better times, many films might not even make it to one’s small town, they were not able to see the film before Everything Happened. So we are pleased to inform our Gentle Readers that EMMA., as well as several other recently released films, are available to rent digitally right now. That link has streaming information for the U.S. as well as other countries. (Here at AustenBlog HQ, we use Google Play Movies and “cast” the film to our television via Chromecast.)
It is more expensive ($20 in the U.S.) than most movie rentals, but cinema tickets are not a whole lot less than that these days, at least here in the Editrix’s area (unless the adorable high schoolers selling us a ticket take one look at our gray hair and give us the senior discount for which we’re still a few years short of being eligible, no complaints mind you) but, more importantly, we really wanted to support this well-made, beautiful, funny, sweet, intelligent film. We support and empathize with those who simply cannot spend that sort of money on a movie at this time. However, if you want to watch the film, and can spare the rental fee, this is a good opportunity. We also wish to note you can watch it as many times as you want in a 48-hour period after first starting the film, at least on our service, with 30 days after the rental fee is paid to actually start watching. We watched it twice, and it held up extremely well over both viewings, and we noticed things we didn’t on our first viewing. And yes, we still really like Johnny Flynn. Can we maybe get him in an MCU film?
We were not really sure that the world needed another adaptation of Emma. There are already several, not bad if not spectacular, although none are really the definitive adaptation that fans of the novel hoped for; but all enjoyable in their way. One can nitpick at all of them, but we don’t find any of them tiresome, and that’s saying something. Promises of a “fresh” take on an Austen novel always impel Dorothy to keep our vinaigrette and the bottle of medicinal Tullamore Dew to hand, as “fresh” takes so often mean the imposition of the makers’ often incorrect interpretation of historical manners on Herself’s work. (Bonnets in period films are a clichė because everyone wore them!) However, everything we heard and saw about Autumn de Wilde’s adaptation, EMMA. (capitals and period, as used by the studio, to distinguish it) , made the film seem entirely unobjectionable. We knew little about the actors portraying the main characters, but were very pleased with the selection of Miranda Hart as Miss Bates and Bill Nighy as Mr. Woodhouse, as we thought both perfect choices. So when the members of the Editrix’s JASNA region received an invitation to a free screening, we hastened to sign up for a pass, as everything pointed to at the very least a couple of hours of entertainment.