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Post by Admin on Fri Apr 22, 2011 8:55 pm

The Flix List: 15 favorite period drama heroes – Part I

April 15, 2011 by rtm

As a huge fan of period dramas, I’ve been wanting to make up this list for quite some time. To double the fun, I invited my Twitter pal and fellow period drama enthusiast Paula G. to collaborate with me on this one and we came up with no less than 15 of our favorite romantic heroes from various literary adaptations on both TV and movies and the actors who portray them beautifully. Because of the length, this post is divided into two parts, so please come back tomorrow to find out who else make the list.


What makes a great romantic hero? In a lot of cases, it isn’t just the attractiveness of the actors, their abilities, the script, the period costumes, etc. There’s one word that’s going to get overused here, and that’s chemistry. Chemistry will make you believe anything; lack thereof will put you to sleep. So here are the first eight on the list that got it right (listed in random order):
1. John Thornton – North & South

Paula – Ruth recommended North & South to me, as I hadn’t seen it before or read the Elizabeth Gaskell novel it’s based on. I watched part of it on YouTube, and very soon added it to my Netflix queue. Simply because, although Richard Armitage is not my usual cup of tea looks-wise, there is a lot of chemistry between the two leads, and by the time they get together, I reckon everyone has been willing it to happen. Most romantic scene (so far): Thornton defends Margaret to his mean mother & sister.

Ruth – I actually heard about BBC miniseries when I saw a clip on YouTube and was instantly mesmerized by Richard’s smolder. Forget Darcy, Thornton’s the real deal, his torment is something even guys today can relate to. He actually has an occupation and business crisis he has to deal with, so he’s not just sitting around all day thinking about which girl to marry. Though he loves his mother dearly, he’s no mama’s boy. Oh and that chemistry with Margaret, woof [fanning myself]… have you seen the bewitching kiss on the train station? There’s a reason I chose they’re my favorite romantic couple. Anyway, I’m a fan of Richard for life because of this piece, in fact, I’ve suggested him for various roles, i.e. a futuristic Robin Hood and Uncharted‘s Nathan Drake. He’s one of those Brits I’m still waiting to hit it big in Hollywood, hopefully his role in The Hobbit will lead to more high-profile projects!

2. Edward Rochester – Jane Eyre (2011 and 1983 version)

Paula – (2011 version) I’ll take this opportunity to shill for my favorite in the role from my favorite version, Michael Fassbender. It has been argued that any filmed Rochester should be as physically unattractive as he is described in the novel. I counter by saying that an adaptation needs some shorthand. Because the novel’s sexual undertone has to be conveyed in a hurry to get it into two or three hours, the chemistry needs to be believable straight away. Fassbender really captures Rochester’s crankiness, sense of humor, and vitality. If you watch him during the scene in which he’s officially introduced to Jane, you really get that nobody’s ever talked back to him and he kind of likes it. And later, when he says he’s looking to marry a girl who will “regenerate me with a vengeance,” we know he isn’t talking about a visit to the spa. Most romantic scene: The proposal scene is always good but I offer these alternatives: One night in Rochester’s room, Jane puts out one fire and sets off another… Jane and Rochester banter over her wages…Rochester finally tells Jane the truth about Bertha Mason —and Jane’s so into him she needs God’s help to leave him.

Ruth – (1983 version) I’ve dedicated an entire post for my favorite Rochester, because to me, Dalton captured the darkness of the quintessential tortured soul, as well as the intense love he has for Jane. Then there’s the way he delivers every line with so much emotion… his voice alone is a ‘character’ in itself that brings life to role like no other. Most romantic scene: The bedroom fire & proposal scenes pack heat, but I also love the part when Rochester’s been sleeping in front of Jane’s door waiting for her. When she came out, she tripped on him and fell right into his arms. Rochester holds her with such indescribable longing as he whispers sweet nothings into her ear… man, that Jane certainly has some amazing willpower!

P.S. Fassbender is my second favorite Rochester. He’s swoon-worthy for sure, this role proves the amazing range this Irish-German actor has. No wonder he’s in such a high demand in leading man roles!

3. Col. Brandon – Sense & Sensibility

Paula – Alan Rickman may be more known for his antagonist roles like Hans Gruber and Severus Snape, but he does a great job in this film with quietly and subtly portraying complete and total unrequited devotion. He so vividly shows love at first sight and then represses it for the rest of the movie. That is, until his beloved is so desperately ill that if he doesn’t have something to do, he shall run mad. In Jane Austen’s novels, it’s always the quiet steady ones who are worth the wait, as Marianne discovers. I thought Rickman had great chemistry with Emma Thompson as Elinor, which really made the story’s crossed signals believable. Most romantic scene: Brandon rescues Marianne from a rainstorm.

Ruth – One of the major reasons S & S is my all time favorite film is because of Rickman’s sensitive portrayal as Col. Brandon. As I said in the Jane Austen rain scenes post, Brandon is the most compelling of the three male characters, as is the case in the 2008 BBC version with David Morrissey as Brandon. He’s a bit more expressive in his affection for Marianne but Morrissey’s got that dark, brooding look and quiet grace that I think is perfect for the role.

4. Frederick Wentworth – Persuasion

Paula – Strictly as the character is written, Wentworth is a bit of a cipher. This is Austen’s intent as we are meant to see everything from Anne Elliot’s point of view and thus cannot know Wentworth’s mind or intentions. I think the best version is Ciaran Hinds in the 1995 feature film; Amanda Root is my favorite Anne Elliot as well. Most romantic scene: Wentworth writes Anne a love note while they are both in a room full of people and, under Mrs. Musgrove’s nose, devises a way to get it to her.

Ruth – The tale of second chances at love is what makes me love Persuasion so much. As Paula said though, we’re deprived of Wentworth’s viewpoint which can be a challenge for the actor playing the part. I was so taken by this story I actually bought a book called Captain Wentworth’s Diary by Amanda Grange which was quite a fun read. I agree that the 1995 film is the superior adaptation as well, though the 2010 Masterpiece Theater version has a more appealing production qualities and the dashing Rupert Penry-Jones as Wentworth. It’s a shame though they didn’t have him wear a Navy uniform the entire film! Both actors convey their repressed passion well, which makes the few breathless-ness moments he shared with Anne in the film all the more impactful.

5. Fitzwilliam Darcy – Pride & Prejudice

Paula – And now…also from the year 1995…from the Romantic Period Hero Hall of Fame…Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. As an aristocratic curmudgeon attracted to the “wrong” girl from a mortifying family, Firth does Darcy’s hauteur, studied indifference, confusion, resolve, and passionate love so well, it’s impossible not to picture him when you read the book. Firth was so brilliant in the role, he played it again (brilliantly) in the two Bridget Jones films.

Most romantic scene: Of course the wet-shirt-in-the-lake scene is justly famous, but I also love the scene, quite early on, when Elizabeth shows up at Netherfield to visit her sick sister. As she strides into the dining room in her her muddy dress and boots to the disapproving stares of the ladies, Darcy can only smile. P.S. Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle had so much chemistry, they got together in real life.

Ruth – I’m not going to deny Firth’s place as every girl’s favorite Jane Austen hero, and I too was quite skeptical about Matthew MacFadyen’s casting in the 2005 version. But upon second viewing, his Mr. Darcy rendition actually grows on me. He’s got gorgeous eyes and has that longing look down pat, and my favorite part is when his hand touches Lizzy’s as he helps her to her carriage, an electric spark between them sort of ignites and he sort of tries to shake it off (unsuccessfully I’d imagine) That’s the stuff dreamy love stories are made off [sigh] …

6. Mr. Knightley – Emma

Paula – Gallant manners, witty repartee and devilish grin…no wonder rich, spoiled Emma Woodhouse starts to get jealous when Jeremy Northam’s Mr. Knightley pays attention to the mysterious Jane Fairfax and naif Harriet Smith. But does he love her back? We know he does but it’s funny to watch them figure it out. PS: Does anyone know this guy’s first name? She’ll be calling him Mr. Knightley when she’s 60. Most romantic scene: Northam’s expression is priceless as Emma asks Mr. Knightley to dance at a ball, saying something like “It’s not like we’re brother and sister.”

Ruth – I don’t think I can add any more to Paula’s astute description of Northam’s Mr. Knightley (his first name is George apparently, a perfect English gentleman’s name). There’s that twinkle in his eyes that is so beguiling, especially during the archery scene when he quipped to Emma, ‘Try not to kill my dogs‘ I can’t believe how exasperating it is to watch Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma though, I need to see the 2009 version with the more affable Romola Garai and Jonny Lee-Miller as Mr. Knightley!

7. Newland Archer – The Age of Innocence

Paula - The idea of a guy trapped in a loveless marriage strikes me as more tragic (for all concerned) than romantic. I realize this is more or less the premise of Jane Eyre as well but for whatever reason, though it’s a gorgeous film overall, it just depressed me.

Ruth - What’s more gorgeous than the cinematographic and opening title of this movie? The explosive sparks between Michelle Pfeiffer and Daniel Day-Lewis! Yes, watching the stifling society’s norm suck the life of these people can be depressing, but heart-wrenching is perhaps the term I’d use. The pain and passion are palpable and undeniable, and Day-Lewis as Archer is just superb. It’s a beautiful, haunting and heartfelt performance that makes me think he would’ve made a fantastic Rochester as well, but then again, is there really a role Daniel can’t play?…

8. Robert Dudley – The Virgin Queen

Paula – If the real Robert Dudley was anything like he’s played by Tom Hardy, Elizabeth I’s famous willpower would have gotten quite the workout. This boy is naughty. He cracks her up with his witty remarks and devilish grin, he presumes too much, and he takes liberties with the Royal person (not like that, though she wants him to). However, she has known him since childhood, he is great fun after a hard day squabbling with the Privy Council, and he always has her back. No wonder she loves him forever, though she isn’t willing or able to marry and has to banish him from Court (for secretly wedding a lookalike lady-in-waiting!).

Hardy has such great chemistry with Anne Marie Duff that, although I knew what was going to happen, I actually teared up when his character died. Most romantic scene: Any in which Dudley steals a kiss from the Queen.

Ruth – Oooh I have not seen this adaptation but with Tom Hardy as Dudley AND Kevin McKidd in this one, I better put this on my Netflix queue, pronto! What I love about Hardy is he’s got that mischievously sexy aura about him that’s so effortless. An essential quality for any period leading man… well, of any genre for that matter!

Well that’s it for Part I, stay tuned this weekend for the rest of the list. I will have a poll at the end (which I’ve never done before!) for you to vote on your favorite!

We hope you’ve enjoyed the list, please share this post using any of the social media icons below, we’d really appreciate it. Comments always welcome! Very Happy

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Post by Admin on Mon Apr 25, 2011 12:39 am

Sunday, April 24, 2011
Damaged Heroes

On Friday I was chatting on twitter with Marg in Australia about one of my fictional men—Gareth in Named of the Dragon—for whom I've always had a "thing", and Marg agreed he was attractive. "Broody, damaged type," she said, and meant that it a good sense. Later on that night, in that serendipitous way that sometimes happens, I went to see the new film adaptation of Jane Eyre (starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender, above) whose hero, Mr Rochester, could be the dictionary definition of the "broody, damaged type". And reader, I adored him.

Loved the film so much I went back for a second time today, to see it over. And with Rochester AND Gareth sitting brooding in my mind, now, I've been thinking about why I find some damaged heroes so attractive.

Notice I say "some", not "all", because with my apologies to Brontë-lovers everywhere, I have to tell you Heathcliff's not my type. I mean, there's damaged, and there's Damaged, and some brooders have gone so far to the dark side that the only thing to do, in my opinion, when you meet them is to run.

No, damaged heroes only work for me if they are of a certain type, like Rochester, or Mary Stewart's Raoul in Nine Coaches Waiting, or the Captain in The Sound of Music, men who aren't psychotic but are cut off in their way from life, grown cynical and disillusioned. Men who have the strength of mind and character to function well, to hold their own, but who inside are heartbreakingly lonely.

It all goes back for me, I think, to my love of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale in childhood, with the kind and generous beast who needs the girl to save him. Only her love, freely given, can restore him to his true self.

In a way, that's true of all my favourite damaged heroes, only in the stories that I love the best the woman's not the rescuer so much as she's a catalyst, an independent equal who brings meaning back into the hero's life and gives him someone else besides himself to care about, and want to be a better man for.

Rochester, in the book, calls himself "Heart-weary and soul-withered", and says of being around someone like Jane that "such society revives, regenerates; you feel better days come back—higher wishes, purer feelings; you desire to recommence your life, and to spend what remains to you of days in a way more worthy..."

And I find it rather interesting that in each story—Beauty and the Beast, Jane Eyre, The Sound of Music, and Nine Coaches Waiting—the heroine not only leaves, but runs away...returning later of her own free will to give the hero what he needs to become truly whole again: her love.

Of course, in my own damaged hero book, the heroine stayed put after she'd left until the hero came to her, but that's just me. And if I ever meet a real-life Heathcliff I'll be getting that restraining order...

What are your thoughts on the damaged hero?

(Don't forget to come back Thursday, to read Julie's next post)
Posted by Susanna Kearsley at 8:58 PM

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Post by Admin on Sun May 01, 2011 9:43 pm

In Which I Watch ‘Jane Eyre’ and Come Away with an Appreciation of Mr. Rochester’s Clothes
On May 1, 2011, In Film, art, fashion, By Wes

I saw a very great movie last night, adapted from a very great book: Jane Eyre. Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga and starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender, it’s a gothic, moody period piece with mystery, romance, etc. But look at those clothes!

Going for tousled here.

Looking sharp, and sharply unpleasant.

Formaly informal.

Ahh, love and fashion.

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Post by Admin on Tue May 03, 2011 7:43 pm

Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Which is the best "Jane Eyre"?

By my count (according to Wikipedia) there have been at least 28 motion picture and television adaptations of Jane Eyre (my favorite novel of all time).

I honestly can't remember how many of those I've seen, but I know it's been at least 3 or 4.

The most recent features Mia Wasikowska as Jane and Michael Fassbender as Mr. Rochester. I happen to think Mia is the perfect Jane. Somehow she manages to combine the plainness of Jane with a luminous near-beauty that makes it very understandable that Mr. Rochester could fall for her.

Michael Fassbender has been called the sexiest Mr. Rochester ever, and that's probably true. Fassbender can't help but be sexy; he's inherently so.

If Mia Wasikowska is the perfect Jane, though, I actually think we've yet to see the perfect Mr. Rochester. Has any adaptation really been true to how Charlotte Bronte described Edward Rochester--his black hair and almost-black eyes?

Mia Waskikowska as Jane Eyre--the perfect combination of plainness and beauty

George C. Scott as Rochester, Susannah York as Jane--not buying it!

I especially couldn't buy the 1970 version starring George C. Scott as Mr. Rochester and Susannah York as Jane. George C. Scott? Really? In the book, Mr. Rochester is about 38 years old. If Michael Fassbender was too young for Mr. R, Scott was too old!

What do you think? What's your favorite movie or television adaptation of Jane Eyre? Share, please, and tell me why!

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Post by Admin on Fri May 13, 2011 10:07 pm

Thursday, May 12, 2011
Thursday, More About Books and or Movies
Good morning!

Theodore is reading me the warnings off the pages from the pharmacist about the medications he has taken for years. It is difficult to concentrate on writing a blog under these circumstances. If you are taking Warfarin, do not bleed, is the gist of this one. Hmmmm....who'd- a thought it?

I ordered out the old Jane Eyre from eBay, and it arrived yesterday afternoon. I watched it immediately due to having eaten a large lunch out with prospect of a free later afternoon when we'd scratch from the refrigerator.

It is amazing how beautiful this old black and white movie is. Joan Fontaine is incredible. She made Rebecca when she was nineteen, so must have made this shortly after, as she was still very young. And there, dying in the hideous Lowood School, is eight year old Elizabeth Taylor, just as beautiful as ever. And there, dancing ballet and frisking about charmingly at Thornfield, is very tiny Margaret O'Brien. Talk about old friends!!!

Mr Rochester in the novel is a dramatic, brooding personage, full of emotion, rage, longing, and as such he is beautifully portrayed by a gloomily lit Orson Welles who did full justice to the role. The quiet, understated Mr Rochester played by Michael Fassbender(2011) might be preferable company for spending the rest of your life with--but--nah. We'd rather have the ups and downs of living with a real maniac like Orson Welles. Certainly we'd rather have the watching of him. One flaw in the old film (amongst others probably) (I have not watched it critically yet), anyway one flaw is that at the end of the film, blind as a bat, he swoops down and plants a wonderful huge kiss square on the lips of Jane...and you think--good, but...? Or do you think about it or are you just swept away as we ladies can be?

It's funny that Mr Rochester complains about being an innocent lad taken in by a conniving woman--twice. How often do we need to be taken in before we wake up? Often, apparantly. He was taken in by marrying the lady who now resides in the tower...and he was taken in by Adelle's mother, a scheming dancing girl in Paris. He is a person led by his heart, apparently, and it is good that he finally fell in with Jane Eyre. His good luck. Also good luck, as we learn in the last sentences of the novel and the 1945 film, that his eyesight comes back in time for him to see the huge brilliant eyes of his first son. I remember reading that book and feeling so much pleasure and gratification when I read those words. Charlotte Bronte granted him and us that favor.

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Post by Admin on Fri Jul 08, 2011 10:28 pm

List: 10 Cinematic Heterosexual Chemistries that Scorched the Screen

08 Jul 2011 Leave a Comment

Like last week’s LGBT list, this installment will look at the chemistry between couples in film; this time heterosexual. Criteria demands that definitive romantic interest be found by at least one character. Like all of my lists, this is personal preference. Two actors may have fabulous chemistry together, like say, John C. Reilly and Melora Walters in Magnolia, but they were never considered for this list, despite being one of my favorite cinematic couples. Why? Great chemistry is not enough. Palpable is again the word of choice, (also scorching, as is used in the list title) but beyond that, a certain secret ingredient must be present. What that is I could not say; I will attempt to reason through it via my explanations. We all have our own reasons for being particularly drawn towards certain romantic interactions between two characters.

There will undoubtedly be a couple of choices on here that will elicit a “Hmm…I would not think of these two for a list like this”. But that is precisely what makes a list like this so great; everyone’s would likely be drastically different. Sexual interaction between couples on this list has an extremely wide range from wildly intense relationships to a chaste boy-meets-girl romp. There is a nice mix of films here, recent and old, a few from other countries. There are many different kinds of love stories, allowing a wide range of circumstance to be present. Also interesting is that none of the actors on this list appears more than once.

A lot of this is treading the same introductory ground as the LGBT chemistry list, I realize. But I hate posting lists without intros or reasons. As frustrating as it can be, as I always confront my limitations as a film blogger head-on, it is important for me to work through it and never simply plop down a list and click on ‘publish’.

I sincerely invite you to list some of your own choices for this list in the comments section. I would love to read them.

Beware: There are some spoilers in the mix.

10. Humphrey Bogart as Phillip Marlowe and Lauren Bacall as Vivian Rutledge in The Big Sleep (1946)

Choosing between To Have and Have Not and The Big Sleep was difficult, but I went with the latter, mainly because I happen to love the film a lot more. Bogart and Bacall as an onscreen pair muster up intimidating hype, seemingly impossible to live up to. That it does is a feat. That it goes further and surpasses the hype is difficult to fathom. Bogart and Bacall transfer their lifelong romance to the screen which continues to incite wonder today. They are backed by a screenplay co-written by Faulkner (yes, that Faulkner) that memorably sacrifices coherence for an addictively broad tone of consistent intrigue. Furthermore, the exchanges (chockfull of risqué innuendo and wordplay) between Marlowe and Vivian reveal a playfulness; a constant testing of the minds. Yes, Bogart fares equally well with Martha Vickers and Dorothy Malone (it is understandable that the producers were worried about just how good Vickers is, resulting in her performance being chopped up). That does not dim our appreciation of the famous couple’s work here.

9. Tippi Hedren as Marnie Edgar and Sean Connery as Mark Rutland in Marnie (1964)

There is nothing really romantic about this pairing and it may seem like an odd choice to some. Hitchcockian perversity hits an all-time high here in a forced relationship rife with trauma and sometimes laughably dated ‘Intro to Psych’ character work. Mark sees Marnie through his own arrogance; as an impenetrable pet project. Marnie allows Hitchcock to visually display the inner psyche in an even more outwardly purposeful way than ever before. The director is just as fascinated by Marnie (and Hedren for that matter) as Mark is. The film is short on plot (rare for the director) and is instead entirely about Marnie’s inner demons. As Mark tries to figure her out, so do the filmmaker and the audience. Countless time could be spent looking at this film with a feminist perspective, likely finding the film more problematic and reductive than anything else. As for the chemistry, many think the opposite and feel something is lacking between the two. I give them, and the film, more credit; the two have a ton to work with and their oddly successful coupling owes more to the material than anything else. These two are on the list primarily because of their unique circumstances, and that each scene carries with it an obsessive desire to penetrate one woman’s mind, creating uncommon tension.

8. Ralph Fiennes as Count László Ede Almásy and Kristin Scott Thomas as Katherine Clifton in The English Patient

Components of The Big Sleep and Marnie include crackling dialogue and situational captivation, but The English Patient’s inclusion on this list is entirely based on the pure unadulterated passion between Fiennes and Thomas. Their scenes are all-consuming; the definition of romance. It does not even feel like acting. The lacing of love affair and tragedy makes for all-the-more heavy impact.

7. Monica Vitti as Vittoria and Alain Delon as Piero in L’Eclisse (1962)

Antonioni’s third in a trilogy on alienation amongst the young and beautiful further proves why Vitti was the perfect cipher for the director’s examination of ennui and lack of communication. But for this list, we can forget about all of that. With Alain Delon thrown into the mix, we have arguably the two most beautiful people of their time period in a film together; Alain Delon and Monica Vitti. The mere prospect of the pairing turns my brain to rot. In practice it is a dream come true. While the characters are a means to justify the end for Antonioni’s grander vision, it does not lessen the impression these two leave with the viewer. He is an enthusiastic stockbroker and she is an unsure young woman who doesn’t know what she wants. Moving beyond physical attraction becomes a problem between the two. The struggle between wanting something more, and being unable to coalesce into anything substantial, leaves them at a standstill. Still, their physical attraction is something to behold. The scene featuring the two kissing between glass is a lengthy poetic dance, and it might be the sexiest scene from any of the couples featured here.

6. Maggie Cheung as Su Li-zhen and Tony Leung as Chow Mo-wan in In the Mood for Love (2000)

Who says a couple needs to get physical in order to have smoldering chemistry? Nary can a kiss be found in Wong Kar-wai’s seminal and sumptuous period film. It is because the two never consummate their feelings for one another that make the interactions between Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung so special. While countless other hackneyed films about affairs exist (and many good ones), In the Mood for Love is all about not acting on ones feelings for another. How often do you see a story like this? Leung and Cheung are magical together. Cheung is decked out in some of the most beautiful period costumes known to film. Wong regular Christopher Doyle unforgettably captures the actors and creates atmosphere with his camera. And Shigeru Umebayashi’s famous score captures the yearning between Mo-wan and Li-zhen. This may sound like a beautiful film with nothing much going on underneath, but the opposite is true. Every scene between Leung and Cheung is riddled with layers and the film is beautifully acted with innumerable subtlety. They have motives for acting on their feelings because they believe their spouses are cheating; and yet they do not. You will not find unconsummated passion that matches this film.

5. Mia Wasikowska as Jane Eyre and Michael Fassbender as Rochester in Jane Eyre (2011)

From my initial review of this year’s adaptation of Jane Eyre; “It is when the two actors are brought together that the magic happens. It is a rare thing when the romantic leads have the chemistry the story demands them to have; these two do. The film is most engaging when the two are onscreen together, not just from of the power their scenes have, but because of the way they portray the evolution of their relationship. Buffini makes sure that different circumstances surround each scene they have together, making every single interaction between the two unique.”

4. Cary Elwes as Wesley and Robin Wright as Buttercup in The Princess Bride (1987)

The reason The Princess Bride has remained ever so strongly within our hearts is because it is pitch-perfect on all counts. This also goes Robin Wright and Cary Elwes as Buttercup and Wesley. They have chemistry to spare but it is because there are several kinds of tension apparent. In the beginning, they display the sweet and pure simplicity of love. When she is unknowingly kidnapped by him, a hateful banter forms that presents an oppositional romance. There are times when intensity takes hold not present in those first few scenes. By the end, we are back where we started with the innocence of the beginning, as they share the only kiss the two shares in the film.

3. Jimmy Stewart as Alfred Kralik and Margaret Sullavan as Clara Novak in The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

If I can get The Shop Around the Corner on any list of mine, you better be damn sure I’ll try. Don’t get me wrong; this absolutely deserves to be here without a doubt; there was no sacrificial lamb to get this cherished treasure on the list. Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan were one of the first couples that came to mind when brainstorming for this. First, they don’t really care for each other. Then, he discovers that she is the pen pal he has fallen in love with. He has an advantage, and their interactions change. Indeed, she disdains him all the more, never withholding harsh criticism when possible, while he sees her in a new light entirely. While the film classifies as romantic comedy, their conversations go far past the depended-upon witty banter. There is something truly special, and indeed indescribable, at least to me that these two bring on the screen together. There are times where they speak and it is as if there is nobody else in the world. I also recommend seeing their other onscreen pairing in The Mortal Storm, a much more serious film that does not get the recognition it deserves.

2. Maggie Gyllenhaal as Lee Holloway and James Spader as E. Edward Grey in Secretary (2002)

Sadomasochistic relationships are so very rarely, if ever and certainly not in the US, portrayed with any kind of seriousness, matter-of-fact storytelling or examination. I consider Secretary to be an important film. Yes, this topic had been broached before, but the kind of exposure this film received, makes this a remarkable feat. The characters Gyllenhaal and Spader play are developed; the film rightly never looks down on them, displaying a kind of exhilarated acceptance that truly is ‘scorching’. Spader and Gyllenhaal are outstanding together. They give the film the mandatory feeling of desperate and uncontrollable need. They also give their characters the proper dimensions required of them and are able to throw themselves into every scene and moment. I also love that Gyllenhaal is our protagonist and that the audience enters his world via her character as opposed to the opposite. And to top it off, the film has a happy ending. Spader and Gyllenhaal have never been better.

1. Emmanuelle Devos as Carla and Vincent Cassel as Paul in Read My Lips (2001)

The moment I started brainstorming this list, I knew my number one, even though it was a film I had only seen several months ago for the first time. Describing it is a daunting task, but here it goes. Cassel and Devos share something together here that I have never seen before and their dynamic is mesmerizing. It manages to balance a passionate undertone, but at the same time, contain a quietness and subtlety that is stunning to witness. Also, the film is told from the female perspective; she is the voyeur here, the one captivated by Cassel. She hires him as an assistant, knowing he is an ex-con, but he is attractive and her work environment is such a miserable place for her; why not? In the workplace, she is in control of him. He works for her. He is not very interested in her, but once he learns she can read lips due to significant deafness, he becomes interested in what she can do for him. For every element of control she has, he exploits her for his own criminal purposes. Yet, she willingly jumps into this scenario, knowingly allowing herself to be used. And he does care for her; kind of. It’s a very quiet streak of kindness, not threatening his motives, but still ever-so-present. She is dowdy, mocked by co-workers, feeling ugly and useless. The attention Cassel give her may have ulterior motives, but it is attention nonetheless. She is needed by someone, and she is willing to subject herself to this for that need from him and from those all-too quick moments of appreciation before he goes back to taking her for granted again. As you can see, there is so much going on here between these two, and it is incredible to see Cassel and Devos play this so sexily and subtly together.

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Post by Admin on Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:17 pm

LH Confidential

Sep 23 2011 by Lorraine Howard, Irvine Herald

NOW ladies out there, here is a treat to the eye.

I saw the new Jane Eyre film and have to say Michael Fassbender makes a dashing Edward Rochester.

From his sexy half Irish, half Yorkshire rich accent to his acting ability to carry off this classic leading man, he is perfect for the role.

It’s a classic love story and although I know the plot inside out, this adaptation made for gripping viewing as our plain Jane heroine finds her man.

And let’s be honest, any man who can look sexy in a nightdress is a must.

I am sure if Charlotte Bronte was alive she would approve of the choice too.


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