Sunday, March 05, 2006

Comic timing

If 2005 was the Year of Ray Charles, then 2006 is the Year of Jane Austen.

Jane Austen was a genius of her time, and ahead of her time. If she lived in this age, she'd be a popular writer a la Candice Bushell, Helen Fielding, and J.R. Rowling. Her writing has such sharp wit I bet she even giggled after coming up with such an eloquent yet elegant prose.

I just watched "Pride and Prejudice" and declared it one of the most delightful movies of the year. A crowd-pleaser, no less. Sometimes a crowd-pleaser might just be what the moviegoers need in midst of sequels, remakes of sequels, sequels of remakes of sequels, or plain film noir. "Walk The Line" was just like that earlier last year.

What makes "Pride" a winning picture has to do with the simplicity of the storyline. Simple people finding simple love. What's wrong with that? This time, Jane Austen's heroine is Lizzie Bennet, the second eldest daughter of the wacky Bennet family led by the impeccable Donald Sutherland. Lizzie is very smart, well-read, and assertive. She's not afraid of speaking her mind, even opposite such annoying creatures as the overly Oscar-nominated Judi Dench (her acting is mundane and formulaic, not from the heart). The moment when Lizzie told Judi Dench "You have insulted me in very way possible. Now please leave my house." It was a cinematic moment as memorable as Jack Nicholson's "You can't handle the truth" monologue in "A Few Good Men" or Al Pacino screaming "Attica" in "Dog Day Afternoon."

It was my revenge against Judi Dench and over-redacting in general.

Anyway, back to Austen's world - It's a fantastic fantasy world, but it's more realistic than that. Think of a middle ground between Neverland (not MJ's) and Manhattan through Woody Allen's lenses. Wit, sarcasm, straight-forwardness, feminisim, feminity, great manners, and superb comic timing are only a few words to describe Jane Austen's world. It's more than that. Jane Austen's novels give us hope, and remind us the true version of everyday life isn't so bad. Humanity does not set a high bar for itself, but we must set higher bars to achieve something special in humanity.

Jane Austen's messages are universal. We can all share it if we embrace life a little more. I've been a little detached from reality lately. And Austen's positivity has given me renewed energy.

In the perfect world, we all should live in the Austen land. In reality, few of us do, but it doesn't hurt to try. If you live your life and get close to ideals of Jane Austen, then you can say "I haven't done so bad."

Ang Lee directed a splendid adaptation (by Emma Thompson) of "Sense & Sensibility" about 8 years ago. That was just a brilliant movie. This year, Ang came back with another masterpiece employing some of Austen's virtues and qualities. Tonight is Oscar night, let's see if Ang will get the highest honor. I know the Jane Austen spirit is with him. If he wins (which is very likely), this is indeed the year of Jane Austen.

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