Movie Review: Becoming Jane


Based on what’s known of Jane Austen’s life, Becoming Jane is a heartbreaking and beautiful film in which two passions clash.

Jane is introduced in the first scene as a dedicated storyteller. She’s deep in concentration, whispering words as she writes them. The most poignant word haunted me as I watched the film: propriety. That’s ironic, because in her day it was frowned upon for women to be writers—it was improper.

5126

She isn’t thinking about marriage, anyway. She cares only for her novels, determined to feel nothing romantic—

Until she meets a young lawyer named Tom Lefroy. Society doesn’t want them together. For a great deal of the film, even Jane isn’t sure she wants them together. Though it was powerful, Jane’s romance isn’t what made my own heart ache.

As a writer, I cringed at the prejudice Miss Austen endured. Jane seems most alive in the scenes where she’s writing in her room. Society scoffs at novels, and a woman who writes is at a disadvantage.

By the end of the story, I found myself reflecting on three things:

  • Storytellers have always been misunderstood. Not all writers are introverted like Jane or myself, but we do things society finds bizarre, even if it’s no longer disastrous for one’s reputation.
  • If written with skill, dialog is enough to take one’s breath away. Becoming Jane had phrases that made me pause the movie to write them down. Storytellers, can you immerse an audience with just a phrase? If not, practice like I’m planning to.
  • We are obsessed with happy love stories. There are so many that when a bitter one comes around, you remember how strong love can be.

In the movie, Miss Austen made an unselfish decision. It’s a powerful tribute to the author who captivated so many readers, shifting the focus from characters to their own author.

2007_becoming_jane_006

Not all storytellers are the same, but this movie tells a hard truth: Most of us will feel alone or misunderstood at some point in life. We might not end up like Jane, but it’s a passion that demands our all.

Becoming Jane almost made me cry. The heartbreaking outcome of Jane’s only love makes it sink in how weak love makes us, and what we may have to give up for it.

I recommend this film, but make sure to bring your tissue paper.

Movie Review: Begin Again


Stories can lose their soul if edited too much. This is true regardless of the medium used—books, movies, music. It’s a struggle not to polish a piece so thoroughly that it loses its humanity, a truth told in the film Begin Again.

Dan used to be a successful music label executive, but he hasn’t adapted to changes in the industry. It’s not that he has nothing to choose from—demos are mailed to him every day. He just doesn’t want to pick up a bad record saturated in auto-tune.

The determination to live by his standards, not bowing to what’s popular, has gotten him in trouble. He hasn’t signed an artist in years. It’s having disastrous effects on his career, even changing the way his family sees him.

When the record company fires him, it kills what remained of his confidence. That night he finds himself at a bar, drinking away his misfortune. In this moment of crippling hopelessness, he overhears an acoustic performance that’ll change everything.

begin-again

Gretta (Keira Knightley!!) is a songwriter recovering from a difficult breakup. Prompted by a friend, she’s reluctantly gone onstage to play her latest creation. No one seems to be listening but Dan, who approaches her and asks if she would consider working with him.

He could get his job back. She could land a record deal. What really happens is healing: Dan and Gretta are both lost souls, but help each other back up.

The songs alone are interesting, because they’re recorded on the streets of New York where life can be heard—this includes traffic, people, angry pedestrians. It created a sensation of music roaming the sidewalks, filling people with life.

Though Gretta’s songs are powerful, I had to check online to make sure Keira Knightley was singing. It was just bizarre to see her behind a microphone. People have criticized her voice, but I thought it lovely, the lyrics human enough to draw me in.

Begin Again teaches that art shouldn’t look or sound the same. It reminds us not to give up on our passions. Human feelings will capture hearts, time and time again. And we should not compromise who we are if it leads to unhappy success.

If we’re passionate about something, we ought to be careful. Some paths promise happiness, but will only make us drag our feet.

This story celebrating honest art made me contemplate my motives. Do I write because I love it, or for the sake of an audience? Would I compromise my story’s soul for the sake of a larger number? Am I going to follow trends I don’t like, just to make a name for myself?

These are questions all storytellers should ask. It’s tempting to follow crowded paths to success, but remember—we might forget the sound of our own voices, trying to mimic others.

Movie Review: Walt Before Mickey


Storytellers learn so much researching those who came before us. From them, we learn there’s never an easy path to getting an audience; tears will be shed, friends lost, and there’ll be moments in which we’re tempted to give up.

I have a book about Walt Disney in my towering TBR pile; it will no doubt be a wonderful read, when I get around to it. I’ve already been inspired by his story because of the movie Walt Before Mickey. Stories are told in film as well as books; storytellers ought to pay attention to both.

1759513h

Walt Before Mickey follows Disney’s life before the creation of Mickey Mouse. It’s a movie that shows there’s genius in failure; it doesn’t only bask in the cartoonist’s success. There were powerful scenes showing Disney penniless and alone on the streets.

In those scenes, it’s difficult to imagine him fulfilling his dream.

This movie also shows moments of grand determination. Disney has a dream, and he’s going to work himself to the bone until it comes true. He won’t buckle under pressure from his family. He keeps going, showing willpower I can only hope to have one day.

It’s inspiring because it shows that hard work pays off. Not only that, Walt Before Mickey celebrates things he did achieve before his greatest success. It shows that, even if we’re not where we want to be yet, the journey can be lovely.

The setting was beautiful, costume and dialog making me want to travel by train or write on a typewriter. I could almost smell the cigarette smoke; these scenes evoked a sense of being in the story.

Chasing a dream is never easy, and it’s often tempting to give up when we’re almost there! Walt Disney’s story shows that the greatest artists have felt disheartened. However, they persevered—and to this day, their dreams survive.

Walt Before Mickey reminds us success might be sitting before our very eyes. In the movie, Walt finds a mouse on his desk and keeps it as a pet for a while. In the last scene, after the premiere of the first Mickey film, he encounters another mouse in an alley.

The movie is great for people who enjoy historical fiction; it will inspire any dreamer going through rough times. Like Walt’s mouse, success might be looking right at you; harness your passion and work hard, until you can make it happen!