Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Jane Eyre: a straight-up feminist

Front Row Reviews gives 4 1/2 stars to Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights:

Arnold resists pathos by having her cast perform with a gestural minimalism. To the narrative’s inevitability, she bravely adds the strains of its characters’ internalised desire, with brief cut-aways to nature – to blossom in spring, to an autumnal tree branch blowing against a window – adding an obvious kind of symbolism that also suggests underlying brutality. The natural order of things denies romance.
Like the director’s previous work Fish Tank (2009), though, this is a rather grim, humourless affair. Its general misery overrides the particularity of Heathcliff and Cathy’s heartbreak. Divided into two halves of an hour each, the film seems too long by three reels, and doesn’t quite sustain its early intensity. Though Scodelario’s performance as the older Cathy is remarkably succinct, Howson is burdened with the task of adding nuance to Heathcliff, now a self-made man, even as the film’s stretched duration and his one-note torment risks turning us off.
Apparently coherent and meaningful in her chosen aesthetic, Arnold betrays her possibly hipster approach at the film’s close, as festival-friendly pop act Mumford & Sons swell on the soundtrack, breaking the established diegesis and thereby undercutting the direction’s raw simplicity. It doesn’t quite work, bringing as it does unhappy memories of Nas at the end of Fish Tank, and it seems to reignite the suspicion that Arnold’s grim’n’gritty palette is as limited as we first thought after all. For a moment, there, Wuthering Heights seemed to suggest otherwise. (Michael Pattison)
While this Midland Daily News columnist discusses the 1939 and 1970 adaptations of the novel and concludes:
Hopefully if you see the 1939 version and then the 1970 version, you’ll say that the 1970 version was definitely better. (Virginia Florey)
Inspired by comments on The Hunger Games, The Philly Post argues that tough women are not under-represented in pop culture:
Women are tough. They are smart. They are capable. And they are totally screwed when it comes to health care and money in America.
But they are not under-represented (or under-respected) in pop culture.
Sure, free-thinking Mary Magdalene may have been painted as a hussy in the Bible, but there have been bad-ass female characters in literature (and later in film and television) for eons. Take The Canterbury Tales, written at the end of the 14th century: The counter-culturally feminist wife of Bath uses dirty jokes to argue for female dominance and the right to control her body. (Perhaps our current Republican leaders should revisit AP English class.) In the Scarlett Letter, set in the 17th century, the inspiringly resilient Hester Prynne thumbs her nose at conventional society. Jane Eyre is a straight-up feminist.
These female characters were not damsels in distress, they were free-thinking, wise women who made decisions for themselves. And to think: All of this before the phrase “Roe vs. Wade” meant anything to anyone! (Erica Palan)
The Halifax Courier looks into the plans for a wind farm in Brontë country. Jane Eyre is reviewed by My Bookshelf (in Italian) and Magia y Hechizos Eternos (in Spanish) while Cary Fukunaga's adaptation is reviewed by Pablo & os filmes (in Portuguese) and Mikaelas filmblogg. My Dear Trash posts about April Lindner's Jane and Beth's Books writes about Margot Livesey's The Flight of Gemma Hardy. BooksPlease posts about Agnes Grey.

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