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A Decade of Emma’s Smiles

The sweetest girl I know turned 10 this past week.

When Emma was four years old, a friend of ours recruited her to be in a small, independent video production called Little Voices, which was sort of an LDS version of Kids Say the Darnedest Things. If I could only show you one thing to introduce you to my not-so-little-anymore girl, this clip would be it.

(Emma is on the left…)

Little Voices (2000): MP4 | Ogg

Over the years, I have been the blessed recipient of a million of those smiles (I’ve gotten my share of those furrowed eyebrows, too.) And every day I give thanks for having those smiles (and eyebrows) in my life.

I can’t tell you how much I love that girl…

Colin Ithn’t a Firth-Rate Kither

In the recent discussion about Pride & Prejudice my sister, Jenny, made the following comment:

“As much as it hurts me to say this, I must agree that the A&E 1995 smooch is seriously lacking in the dy-no-mite department.

“I’ve reviewed it a thousand times, and to me it still looks like the first painful play-practice kiss between two awkward romantic leads who haven’t even kissed anyone in real life yet. (Believe me: I have participated in several of these onstage kisses before, and therefore am quick to recognize similar anguished, awkward smooches.)”

And I was immediately reminded of another of Mr. Firth’s kisses in a different film. So this seems like a good opportunity to do a little compare and contrast.

Exhibit A: Pride and Prejudice

My friend, Laurie (who I had the pleasure of seeing again at Emma’s dance concert this past week), once starred in a production of The Music Man opposite a gentleman who was…and I’m trying hard to be diplomatic here…”not necessarily a native speaker of the language of love.”

When they were rehearsing their big love scene for the first time, they got to the part in the script where they were supposed to kiss, and she stood there staring ardently into his eyes and waited for him to make his move…and waited…and waited…and waited.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he whispered, “Pssst, I’ll go to the right…”

Which he did.

No “letting things happen naturally”…no organic, fluid, natural movement…no romance. To him it was all angles, and trajectory, and ensuring that two noses didn’t try to occupy the same space at the same time.

Mr. Firth seems to come from the same school of smooching.

In the clip you’re about to see, Jennifer Ehle is staring ardently into Mr. Firth’s eyes and waiting for him to make his move…and waiting…and waiting…and waiting. (She waits even longer than it appears because I had to trim the previous 5 seconds of ardent staring to conserve bandwidth.)

When he finally does move in for the kiss, it’s not until he’s halfway there that he realizes that not only will their noses collide before their lips do, but he’s likely to knock her unconscious with the brim of his hat. So, at the last possible second, he “goes to the right.”

Let’s watch…

Pride and Prejudice (1995): The Kiss: MP4 | Ogg

(Before we go on, what’s up with that line about an inch above his collar? It looks like they only applied Ben Nye’s Pasty British Beige™ down to his collar, not thinking that he might twist his neck and reveal the less-sallow skin underneath.)

Now, you can call that a “chaste kiss” if you want, but I think Jenny’s assessment of “seriously lacking in the dy-no-mite department” is more accurate.

It’s as if the director told them, “Look, there’s a good chance we’ll get in trouble for this kiss, so to avoid having the Jane Austen Enforcement Battalion of North America swoop down on us like a gaggle of Edwardian Valkyries, whatever you do, don’t move your lips! Just kiss and freeze.”

Which was probably fine with Mr. Firth since he appears to be incapable of moving his lips when kissing anyway. Why do I say that? Because there’s additional evidence to support the claim.

Exhibit B: Love Actually

I remember seeing this kiss in Love Actually for the first time and thinking, “This is the man that women have been (chastely) lusting after all these years? He kisses like a haddock!”

But in this case, the director appears to have pulled Mr. Firth aside and said, “Look, Colin, your agent just called to remind us about the ‘no mandible movement’ clause in your contract, so in this scene just try to keep everything else moving, OK? Open and close your jaw, turn your head from side to side, clutch her skull in ever-more-awkward ways. Just do whatever you have to do to disguise the fact that you kiss like a haddock.”

Love Actually: The Kiss: MP4 | Ogg

Don’t get me wrong. I quite like Colin Firth and I think he’s an excellent actor. (And I say this even after sitting through Trauma at last years’ Sundance Film Festival, for heaven’s sake!) And I can’t imagine anything worse than having my own kisses recorded for posterity and then having them dissected, diagrammed and critiqued by others, but this is the price you pay for Darcyhood.

You can’t stand as an impossibly high standard in smoldering good looks, gentlemanly graces, and economic viability, without being held to the same high standard in lip locking.

If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kissing…

German Undergraduates With a Taste for Autobiography

“I think that this feigning, this ceaseless pretense of interest in matters to me supremely boring, was what wore me out more than anything else. If the reader will picture himself, unarmed, shut up for thirteen weeks on end, night and day, in a society of fanatical golfers — or, if he is a golfer himself, let him substitute fishermen, theosophists, bimetallists, Baconians, or German undergraduates with a taste for autobiography — who all carry revolvers and will probably shoot him if he ever seems to lose interest in their conversation, he will have an idea of my school life.”

— C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)
Surprised by Joy, 1956

Blobby Farm

Blobby Farm Launch Announcement

All of us here at Tiny Pineapple are thrilled nigh unto incontinence to announce the new home of Maria Samuelson’s fantabulous Blobbies: BlobbyFarm.com

“Where,” according to the press release, “frumpy, free-range plush toys roam the countryside of Newbraska. You’ll also find bibs, finger puppets, cards, buttons, and whatever else we can come up with to entertain you. Peruse the site, buys a little something, and spread the word.”

(I’m not sure how Emma’s Lady Skewampus would feel if she knew she was being referred to as “frumpy,” but we’ll just skip some of the less-flattering adjectives when we read her the news.)

To celebrate the launch of the new site, Maria is sponsoring a “Design a Blobby” Contest, for which Emma and Zoë have been preparing for the last two weeks, so you’d better get to work.

The character descriptions alone are worth taking a lunch hour to browse. Take, for instance, the following for Blobzilla (which I should have snapped up when I had the chance):

When dark clouds of foreboding settle over Newbraska, tiny twins who live in a matchbox sing a siren song over the still waters of the sea to awake Blobzilla from his slumber in his tent at the public campgrounds. He gets up, scratches, stretches, tests his flaming belch and sets off to save the land.

…or this for Martin Sheen, Jr.:

Martin was found in the crack of a thrift store couch along with $1.37 in change, a pink barrette, and Burt Reynolds. Mr. Sheen is currently watching Stakeout 2.

Go! Browse! Buy!

Pride & Prejudice: Let’s Start The Discussion…

Pride and Prejudice (2005): One Sheet

I should admit up front that I was predisposed to dislike the new version of Pride & Prejudice. My well-documented feelings for Ms. Knightley notwithstanding, I had some serious doubts going into it, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Some people are going to be predisposed to dislike the film simply because it’s not the much-loved 1995 BBC mini-series.

Some people are going to be predisposed to dislike Matthew McFadyen simply because he’s not Colin Firth.

Some people are going to be predisposed to dislike Keira Knightley simply because she is Keira Knightley.

I was concerned that the original trailer billed it as being “from the producer of Love Actually and Bridget Jones’ Diary,” which had me imagining an overly-episodic affair, bouncing back and forth between sixteen individuals’ stories all being told in parallel.

Another concern was that there was nothing on director Joe Wright‘s resume that would give you any indication that he was capable of pulling something like this off. (The same could be said for screenwriter Deborah Moggach.)

And at only 127 minutes, it was bound to be awfully “Cliff Notesy”.

Well, since I don’t have time to write a proper review, let me just throw out a few random thoughts to start the discussion:

  • First of all, I loved it. From beginning to end, top to bottom, left to right. It’s not a perfect film, by any means, but there is so much about it that is perfect that I’m willing to forgive its shortcomings.

  • In a packed theater of over 500 people, I think I was the only lone male. And it was obvious from the faces of some of the gentlemen in line that they were not happy to be there.

    In fact, before the show started I made a quick trip to the bathroom, and as I was standing at the urinal, two men came in and and took up positions on either side of me. The one on my left let out a big sigh and said to the one on my right, “Chick Flick! What did we do to deserve this?”

    But his masculine protestations might have carried a little more weight if he hadn’t been wearing a “Yanni World Tour 2005” T-shirt.

  • Keira Knightley is absolutely stunning in the film. Again, I’ll admit to a certain pro-Knightley bias, but she’s absolutely stunning in the film.

    You’ve got to hand it to anyone who is brave enough to take on the role of Elizabeth Bennet…period. Everyone who has read the book has their own vision of what Elizabeth Bennet should be, and it would be practically impossible for anyone to live up to those expectations.

    I think Jennifer Ehle benefitted from the fact that nobody (at least on this side of the pond) knew who she was. She was a blank slate upon which people could project their own preconceived vision.

    But since Ms. Knightley comes with some previous baggage <ahem>, you’ve got to admire her for taking the risk. (I admire her for other reasons, too, but that’s a topic for another discussion…)

    Well…speaking of those other admirable qualities, there will be some who will contend that she’s too attractive to play Elizabeth Bennet, but as far as I can tell, the only person in the book to intimate that Elizabeth is “no beauty” is Caroline Bingley.

    And even if she’s “not half so handsome as Jane,” as her mother says, when you’ve got Rosamund Pike playing Jane, that’s not much of an insult.

    I was a little concerned that Ms. Knightley was going to be too modern for the role, but she’s not at all. And it will come as a relief to many to know that Ms. Knightley’s was able to keep her habitual lip-pursing in check for the duration of the filming.

    And, finally, did I mention that she’s absolutely stunning in the film?

  • I think the entire Bennet family had a fantastic chemistry. There’s a familial sense of humor underlying all of their scenes together that’s really nice.

  • Keira Knightley and Judi Dench in the same room? Pinch me!

  • The thought occurred to me as I was typing her name just then: Pride & PreJudiDench?

  • Tom Hollander is the best Mr. Collins yet.

  • Claudie Blakely is the best Charlotte Lucas yet.

  • Rupert Friend, who plays Mr. Wickham, looks like Orlando Bloom’s weedy younger brother.

  • Though somewhat “Cliff Notesy” by necessity, the script was excellent. (It apparently benefited from an uncredited sprucing up by Emma Thompson, though she does get a “Special Thanks” at the end of the credits.)

  • I thought the camera work was brilliant, but did anyone think that the recurring spinning theme (during the dance, on the swing, etc) was too much?

  • [SPOILER ALERT] Delaying Lizzy and Darcy’s first kiss until the final frames of the film was a brilliant strategic move. By the time they actually locked lips, the women around me were literally humming with anticipation.

  • I would be interested getting the female perspective on Mr. McFadyen’s Mr. Darcy. I think there are going to be some who really don’t care for him at all, but I actually liked him better than Colin Firth. (Heresy!)

Anyway, what are your thoughts? Am I completely out to lunch on this one?