Sunday, 30 September 2012

Macfadyen VS Firth

Okay...okay...I'm just going to come out and say it because there is no easy way to build up to this.

I believe Matthew Macfadyen (henceforth to be known as MM) was a better Darcy than Colin Firth.

*shields self from inevitable barrage of pointy objects*

Look, I've had this argument many a time with fellow P & P enthusiasts whose line of Firth defense is more or less to stick their fingers in their ears and go 'LA LA LA LA LA LA' very loudly until I stop poisoning the air with my crazy talk.

The more articulate amongst them are blinded by the brilliance of the 1995 adaptation in which Mr Firth so brilliantly starred. Notice I said brilliantly? He was brilliant. There is no question about it - Colin Firth is an excellent Darcy.


MM's portrayal was mired in the less successful 2005 adaptation and it seems his performance is tainted by association (at least, in the eyes of many Firthians).

While the 1995 miniseries clocked in at nearly six hours, Joe Wright attempted to squash the story into barely 120 minutes. Things were going to be altered, excluded, changed, as is the case with pretty much any film adaptation of a text of its size. No one complains nearly as vocally about Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility and this is because there was no miniseries of the 1995 P&P calibre to compare it to. Poor MM never stood a chance. No one was able to appreciate his performance because they were too busy comparing the production as a whole to the vastly more detailed 1995 one.

There is no question that Colin Firth was an inspired choice for the portrayal of Jane Austen's most famous gentleman character.

Exhibit A

But here are my main three reasons for thinking MM did it better:

1. He is closer in age to the character as he was written. 

Boom. Colin Firth was in the longer adaptation and could speak more of the dialogue, but MM was THE RIGHT AGE. And as for attractiveness, well that's perhaps the most subjective factor of all. I think both men were aesthetically appropriate for the romantic lead in a Regency era film. They are both tall, dark and handsome and to say one is better-looking than the other is a wee bit too shallow for me to endeavour.

2. He is vulnerable, and you can see it.

Upon beginning the text, one would be forgiven for thinking Mr Darcy was a stuffy, snobby douchebag with a pole up his arse. As the story unravels, we witness his shyness, and the fact that he is somewhat socially inept becomes endearing. What Elizabeth perceives as his 'pride' comes less from self-absorption and more from self-preservation. His arrogance is a mask, and one he uses to protect what he is feeling from anyone who may not be suitably intimidated. I like MM's depiction of this because he let's the audience glimpse it, just momentarily, before the mask comes back up and he goes on the defensive. This is probably best displayed in the proposal scene in the rain (and YES, I know they took poetic license with the rain, I'll talk about that in a sec).

3. The scene at Pemberley with Georgiana.

I think when Elizabeth observes him with Georgiana, and the effect she has on him, this is the moment her feelings change for real. I know it's hard to argue with the lake scene from 1995 (and THAT is why you cannot complain about the rain scene in the 2005 version), but MM at Pemberley showed Lizzie his most human side, even after she had rejected him. And that, more than anything, proves to her that she was wrong about his pride.

From the way I've been describing him, it sort of sounds like MM has been dropping his guard all over the joint, but rest assured this is not the case. He is still quintessentially Darcy, using his moments of vulnerability to provide the audience with a glimpse into his psyche, in an adaptation that isn't long enough to include telling lines of his appreciation for 'fine eyes'. The whole world is perfectly at liberty to prefer Colin Firth, but these are the iron clad reasons for my own opinion.

Isn't it amazing that I procrastinate SO HARD on my assignments and manage to come up with this instead of doing any work? I really need to get a life.

Oh. And, um...

PS. Another reason to hush up about the rain scene...

So there.

Saturday, 29 September 2012


This is from a Facebook note I wrote last year. But I'm posting it here because it feels more important here :D

I have often wondered what I would do if I found an injured animal on the side of the road. (Sadly, they've all been dead so far. Cold, dead roadkill.) If it were someone's pet, a domesticated animal like a dog or a cat, obviously the answer is 'Help it.' But possums and birds and other assorted wildlife are a different story. I have some friends who would think it the height of stupidity to ignore them and insist on driving around in their car with old blankets and cardboard boxes in case such a situation arises. I have other friends who would think it absolutely moronic to give them a second glance as they are 'just a bird' or 'just a possum'. But if you've ever seen an animal in pain and have been in a position to do something about it, you'd have to be pretty heartless for the thought not to cross your mind.

Today I was driving to my boyfriend's and saw a dead bird in the middle of the road. But five minutes later when I was driving back along the same road, I saw that he in fact wasn't dead - he'd moved himself to the kerb and was lying there, his breathing very shallow and with his wing all bent up behind him. This has happened one other time, but as soon as I opened the car door to check on him, the bird got up and flew away (otherwise known as 'the time Emily got punk'd by a bird'), so I was aware of shock and how quickly birds can recover from it. In this case, I decided just to wait a little to see if he would recover. Stupid, inconsiderate, mentally-impaired drivers were screaming past with no regard for him, their tyres missing him by centimetres, so I parked my car close to him so they'd have to drive around me and couldn't get as close to him. As I waited, calling my Dad to ask him about the RSPCA, some neighbouring honey eaters started divebombing the injured bird so I got out of the car and stood near him. The poor little guy was following me with his eyes, but he didn't look like he could move his head. He looked like a crow (but I later found out he was a raven, and have christened him Edgar). I called the RSPCA and they told me they accept injured wild birds if you bring them to their Burwood headquarters. Apparently the notion that it's unsafe to touch birds is an old wives tale and the woman on the phone said just to get a towel and a cardboard box to drive him in. I had no such materials with me so I called my boyfriend's house. 

After establishing that my boyfriend's parents now think I'm some sort of slow hippie for wasting my time with a bird, I drove back to his place to borrow a towel and by the time I got back to Edgar, he still hadn't got up. He let me walk right over to him and crouch down next to him. At this stage he'd been lying there at the mercy of cars and other birds for a good thirty minutes so I figured an appropriate time to wait had elapsed. I v-e-r-y slowly put the towel around him. He looked at me suddenly like 'EXCUSEMEWHATDOYOUTHINKYOUARE- oh, you're not squishing me. Cool'. I wrapped the towel around him and lifted him up and he sat very still in my arms, just watching me. I moved him into the passenger seat of my car and put him on a little nest made from a reusable shopping bag. It was a long drive down Burwood Hwy and I probably pissed off all manner of drivers because I didn't go very fast, but my car is uncomfortable and juddery at the best of times so I didn't want to make it any worse for Edgar. I talked to him the whole time about stupid things and he just stared at me, making sure I didn't do anything freaky like touch him or anything. I also considered the possibility that he may suddenly regain his strength, fly out of the towel and peck me to death before I could get out of the car, so I kept an eye on him too.


We got to the RSPCA and despite all my gentle driving, the bump over the driveway made him sort of shimmy out of his towel. Even though he was free of the towel, he seemed content to just sit on the seat. I parked the car, and opened the door and went to pick the towel up. He stood up and hopped onto my dashboard. 'YOU'RE ALIVE!' I yelled ecstatically. He looked at me grumpily, sitting wedged between the dashboard and the slanted windscreen. 

I opened both doors of my car and the back windows. 'Come on sweetpea! Time to fly!' He continued to stare at me and not move, so I held up the towel and nudged him with it. He hopped down onto the seat and let me push him out onto the driveway. He sat there for a bit, his wing still looking a bit bent, but he'd proven he was able to hop around. He didn't want to go back in the towel. Every time he saw me lift it, he'd hop away, but he wouldn't fly. I put my hands on my hips and told him in no uncertain terms that if he didn't want me to put him back in the towel he'd have to show me he could fly. The honey eaters were already divebombing him again (seriously, what is it with those birds?) and he wouldn't fly away. Just hopped around looking lopsided because of his wing. So I threw the towel over him and wrapped him up again. He looked so fuzzy and cute and grumpy just sitting in my arms, but his breathing seemed a lot calmer. 

I took him into the RSPCA building and they put him in a cosy little box. They took my details and gave me a ref number if I wanted to follow up on how he was doing and I went on my merry way. 

Maybe if I was running late for something, or even had something to do that I could have been late for, I wouldn't have done it, but I know I wouldn't have felt great about leaving him there. So maybe I am a dumbarse for wanting to help a wild bird but poop to anyone who says it. Sometimes it's nice to feel like you saved a life.

Friday, 21 September 2012

The F word.

I am a feminist. Now I know that many people who read this, whether you know me personally or not, whether you've stumbled across this blog by accident, whether you typed in a random series of keywords which somehow lead you here, or whatever, will have already formed some kind of opinion of me based on that one sentence: I am a feminist.

This intrigues and scares me. What will your opinion be of me? What tasty morsels of personality will that word - feminist - have triggered in your mind? It is a tragic but true fact that many people these days - men, women, children, transsexuals etc - will perhaps blanche, nay, flinch a little, at the word FEMINIST. The negative connotations this word evokes automatically encourage people to distance themselves from it.

'Oh, I wouldn't call myself a feminist. I believe women should have equal rights and men are no better or worse, but really, I'm not one of those, like, crazy feminists.'


No one can say it better, so please drink in the words of the brilliant and inimitable Caitlin Moran:

"a) Do you have a vagina? and b) Do you want to be in charge of it? If you said 'yes' to both, then congratulations! You're a feminist."

While ensuring I didn't make a knob of myself by misusing the word 'inimitable', I typed the word 'feminism' into my nifty computer dictionary thingy and was presented with this definition:

'the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men'.

By this definition (and let's face it, the nifty computer dictionary thingy is a pretty credible source), anyone who supports the idea of feminism is a feminist, and not just women.

So I say to you all, men, women, children, transsexuals etc, do you believe women are men's equals? Yes? Bang. You're a feminist. Brava! Do not be frightened! Being a feminist does not make you any of the following: crazy, angry, strident, vocal, stupid, radical, anarchic, hysterical. It doesn't mean you cannot be any of these things and more (and these people are often quite fun to be around), but it does mean you are automatically a million times LESS LIKELY to be any of the following: a Neanderthal, a  sexist pig, a misogynistic throwback to the freakishly recent Mad Men-esque* era of sexual politics.

Being a feminist also does not mean you have to agree with everything Caitlin Moran, Germaine Greer, Mary Wollstonecraft and Emmeline Pankhurst have said and written. These ladies and their contemporaries are mouthpieces for the generations, but as part of the institute of free speech and the ability to string a coherent thought together, you are entitled to form your own opinions! Yay for free will! There is no 'one type' of feminism. You do not have to align your beliefs on fashion, abortion, lesbianism, body image, religion, lifestyle etc in order to present one set of ideas with all the other feminists. That is the beauty of individuality.

I'm sure people will read this and resist the urge (or perhaps give into it) to roll their eyes. Go right ahead, I can't stop you (there enters our cheeky friend, Free Will, once more). Maybe those people will think I am wasting my time and energy by typing this ("But Emily, women can vote and work and drive and be the boss of people and everything. We're all equal already, dammit"), but the more I read and think about this, the more I notice the sexism and inequality that plagues the female race STILL, in today's day and age.

You only have to look at advertising (particularly photographs), listen to various popular music (see a crapload of hip-hop and rap), look at some of the zingers the potential future leader of Australia Tony Abbott has come up with, or let comedians defend each other on the use of 'harmless' rape jokes. It's our responsibility, not just as feminists but as human beings to start pushing for more respect. I'd like my grandchildren to view us as a generation of happy and respectful citizens and for that to happen, there needs to be a higher standard of esteem for our fellow homosapiens.

And now I need to go to work. Maybe I will continue this another day, maybe not.

*I enjoy Mad Men and it's satirical nature as much as the next person. So don't be hatin'.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Spring :)

So it's spring! YEOW! Pretty excited by the sunshine that has started peeking out. I'm still taking my Vitamin D tablets, but hopefully I can come off them if the weather keeps up and just stand out in the sun instead!

My library hermit activities have continued and I think I may have a serious addiction to books. At least I'm not spending heaps, but seriously. I borrowed 9 books in two days last week and am going back again today. I've been trawling the internet for recommended YA authors and have let myself discover a lot of American authors I hadn't seen before like Elizabeth Scott, Courtney Summers, Stephanie Perkins, Gayle Forman and Sarah Dessen. It's nice to see the different topics people incorporate into fiction, and it is helping with my own writing because I am seeing what authors can get away with in the YA genre. Up until this year I had tended to stick with Australian YA authors (not a conscious decision, just how my reading habits ended up evolving) like Melina Marchetta, Maureen McCarthy, Jaclyn Moriarty and Markus Zusak. Maybe I should change one of my initials to M, as it seems to be the go to letter for successful Australian authors :D

I went to the Melina Marchetta/Morris Gleitzman seminar that was part of the Melbourne Writers Festival and came away awed and inspired. I have seen Ms Marchetta talk before, and enjoyed it just as much this time. I was completely enamoured by Morris Gleitzman. I've read many of his books (what young Australian bookworm hasn't?) but am now resolved to read all of them. What a genius of a man. I also went to see Vikki Wakefield talk at the State Library about Friday Brown. I am pretty darn excited to read this book. I enjoyed All I Ever Wanted, but from the sound of it, Friday Brown is going to mess us up even more. Can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

In the meantime, I am just working, watching Breaking Bad, new Doctor Who and Shameless. I am trying to organise myself to start my next assignment early but procrastination is far more appealing at the moment, so we'll see. Still have not heard back from either literary agent I submitted my manuscript to, but I've decided no news is good news, as it's not a rejection yet :)

I'm going to go for a walk in the sun to the library now. I am going to try and remember these kind of perfect, cruisy days when I am freaking out about working full-time (one day, distant future).

Ciao for now xo