13 November 2010

Bridget Jones's Diary (starring Renée Zellweger)

Bridget Jones's Diary is yet another well-known film which we had heard of many times, but which neither of us had seen. We remedied that this week.

It's based on a novel, which I also haven’t read, and which apparently takes its storyline loosely from ‘Pride and Prejudice’. There’s a nice irony in that Colin Firth, who played Mr Darcy in the BBC series of Jane Austen’s classic, plays Mark Darcy in this film - Bridget's mother wants her to marry him, but when she first meets him he is wearing an amazingly frumpish outfit and does not seem appealing at all.

The story is about a year in Bridget's life, beginning with her New Year resolutions; these include the determination to lose weight, drink less, smoke less, and stop fantasising about her boss, Daniel Cleaver. Hugh Grant, who stars as Daniel, and something of an office Casanova, is actually much more appealing than Colin Firth in this film. So it's not surprising that Bridget likes him, particularly when he begins a little flirtation with her.

I didn't feel that Bridget, bears much relation to any of the Bennet girls in 'Pride and Prejudice', although I suppose she is meant to have a modern resemblance to Elisabeth. However, her mother, played in an over-the-top way by Gemma Jones, is quite as ghastly as Mrs Bennet though not as amusingly so.

I thought the film was nicely done, and there are certainly some humorous moments but it’s not the hilarious comedy some reviewers suggest. Hugh Grant and Colin Firth are both excellent, and make it worth watching; Renée Zellweger is very believable as Bridget, surprisingly likeable despite being so caught up in material things and obsessive about her weight. Unfortunately, I found the smoking and excessive bad language very off-putting - and rather unnecessary. It means that the UK rating is 15, the US rating R, although the story itself probably have been rated 12/PG-13 if it had been less crude.

Worth watching for a light evening in, but not one that will stick around in my mind for very long.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

06 November 2010

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? (starring Katharine Hepburn, Katharine Houghton, Sidney Poitier and Spencer Tracy)

'Guess who's coming to dinner?' is apparently a landmark film, which was made in 1967. I wasn't very old then, so it's not surprising that I didn't see it at the time; more surprising, perhaps, is that I had not even heard of it before Amazon recommended it to me, based on my wishlist and DVDs I had bought.

The story is about Joanna (Katharine Houghton), a young white woman, who falls deeply in love with John (Sidney Poitier), an intelligent, much-sought-after doctor. John also happens to be black. I gather that this was pretty much unheard of in the USA in the 1960s, when – although it’s hard to imagine, from our more enlightened times – it was illegal in several states for ‘mixed race’ marriages.

However, Joanna is confident that her parents, who have brought her up to be extremely liberal minded about race, will be delighted for them. John is less certain about his parents. What nobody expects the extremely negative reaction from Tilly, Joey’s family’s much-loved cook and housemaid, who is also black. All the parents, too, have to battle their initial shock at something they were not expecting. Joanna's parents, played brilliantly by Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, have a major struggle to see if they can reconcile their theoretical beliefs with the actual situation in front of them.

The feel of the film is rather ‘1950s’ – I was surprised it was made as late as it was, and that was not just due to the content. There were some very fake-looking scenes supposedly featuring sunsets or other outdoor views, which were nothing of the sort. Still, the acting was good, the script excellent (given its vintage), and I felt totally involved in the film and characters all the way through.

Even though the particular subject-matter is now long out of date, this film gives a fascinating insight into some of the ways we deal with prejudice of any kind, and how difficult it can be to reconcile what we believe in theory with a situation involving someone we love.

Definitely recommended. Rated PG in the UK and apparently not rated at all in the USA.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews