20/04/2010

ON A FIRTHIAN EDUCATION - ANOTHER COUNTRY (1984) AND FEVER PITCH (1997)

Preface

Don't worry, I'm not starting a  long sermon, nor a novel. This is just a short preface to my  DVD reviews. You know,  I'm on an educational journey. Since I started blogging I 've been learning very much and every day I want to learn more. For instance, I know many of you admire and  love Colin Firth and consider him the ultimate Mr Darcy. Well, don't laugh out loud, please! but I saw him in Bridget Jones I & II, Shakespeare in Love and The Importance of Being Earnest at the cinema without knowing much about him, precisely without knowing he was Mr Darcy. My first P&P adaptation was 2005. Yes, I know, unforgivable. Now, since thanks to blogging I've also met very good friends who love Colin Firth  and know everyhting about him and his career and, since I absolutely don't wan't to lose or disappoint them,  I'm working hard to reduce my ... ignorance. Of course,  I've seen  Pride and Prejudice 1995 now, how couldn't I? But Colin Firth worked in so many other interesting films, that I decided to see at least some of them . So I started my Firthian education. In brackets:  dear RA fans, don't worry,  I'm a very faithful woman, ... one and for life!

ANOTHER COUNTRY (1984)
Cast - Colin Firth (Tommy), Rupert Everett (Guy), Anna Massey, Robert Addie, Tristan Oliver, Michael Jenn, Cary Elwes, Frederick Alexander


This text  was adapted for the screen by Julian Mitchell who had previously written it as a play. It tells about the lives of a group of brats from British aristocracy and is set in one of the most  exclusive male public schools in the 1930s.  Two protagonists: Tommy Judd and Guy Bennet .  One of them , now a spy for KGB living in Moscow, recalls those years in a long flashback : dandism, marxist ideals, homosexuality, repression,  hypocrisy and cricket characterized the protagonists' youth.
This film was presented at Cannes Festival in 1984 and signed the beginning of two really promising careers: Colin Firth's and Rupert Everett's.
I liked it. How couldn't I? Period film, amazing locations, 1930s England , great acting. Only that after watching Maurice or Dead Poets Society it seemed ... already seen. Then themes like marxism or homosexuality are dealt with in a  rather  rethorical, obvious way.
I loved Colin Firth's character though. Tommy  is an interesting teenager, rather unusual. Colin was already 24 when he played the part of this 17-year-old boy ready to bear scorn ,  unfriendliness and isolation in the name of his ideals. He is firmly attached to those ideals , at any cost. Uncommon young man, wise ,  smart and terribly witty.



Some of Colin/Tommy's lines are unforgettable:


1. Devenish : "I don’t see why you have to be against everything"
    Tommy: "I’m not. I’m for revolution"

2. (in the cricket chhanging room)
Wicked Fowler asks Tommy : " Are you trying to be clever or something?
And Tommy "I don’t have to try: I AM clever"
Then Fowler: " I’ve half a mind to ask Barclay for permission to beat you"
And Tommy:  "Well, you’ve half a mind, we can all agree on that!"

FEVER PITCH ( 1997)

Cast:  Colin Firth,  Mark Strong, Sarah Hughes, Holly Aird




There are at least three good reasons why I should have seen this film before.

1. It is based on one of Nick Hornby's works, he also  wrote the screenplay. I love his humour and have read several of his novels.
2. I'm surrounded by male human beings suffering from high fever pitch.
3. I am a teacher and the protagonists of the film are also teachers

Now I know what I lost. Great fun and sensitive dealing with contemporary society's obsessive manias, as usual in Nick Hornby. Hornby tried to self-analyze his soccer - mania in this story with irony and intelligence.
But how could Colin Firth move from calm and collected Mr Darcy to a coarse soccer hooligan like Paul Asworth?
Nick Hornby himself writes:

"Listen, it wasn't my idea, OK? I didn't insist on having Mr Darcy play 'me'; Liora Reich, the casting director, suggested it...though I immediately saw that she was right.
I  felt I had heard and made every joke it is possible to make on this subject within about ten minutes of Colin Firth's name first being mentioned; suffice to say that, yes,  I am bald and he is not, he is tall and I am not, my ears and stomach protrude more than his ears and stomach, he looks good on Tv in a wet white shirt and I ...well, nobody has ever given me a chance, actually, so I'm not conceding that one. The trouble is the TV and film actors look better than the rest of us - it could be argued that this is the whole point of them - and , in any case, physical verisimilitude was never a prerequisite. We were more interested in acting and stuff, and nobody can deny that Firth is one of the best actors of his generation. At Christmas 1995 , when we were casting, Pride and Prejudice was being watched  by 13 million people, and it was hard (for us anyway) to see Colin swapping from Austen breeches for the Arsenal boxer shorts". (from Nick Hornby, Fever pitch: The screenplay, London, Indigo, 1997)

Yes,  Mr Darcy  accepted,  it seems ...  he is a terrific Paul Asworth and he has a bald friend, Steve, played by Mark Strong.

FEVER PITCH is an enjoyable  romantic comedy about a man  , a woman   and a football team, Arsenal. It is only loosely based on Nick Hornby's best selling autobiographical novel. Paul Ashworth is an English teacher who  believes his long standing obsession with Arsenal serves him well. But when he meets Sarah, one of her colleagues his world of certainties starts cracking. Their relationship develops in tandem with Arsenal's roller coaster fortunes in the football league...

Thank you,  Mr Firth. It was a great pleasure to watch these two movies. A great pleasure,  indeed. Now, what's next? What are the unmissable ones in a good Firthian Education? I guess there are still many yet to go.

7 comments:

tyme_4_t said...

I adore Colin Firth! but please proceed with caution while reading the following comments...

For me, his Mark Darcy in the "Bridget Jones" movies is so wonderful - more wonderful to me than his Fitzwilliam Darcy in "P&P" (MM is MY Darcy)
**ducking to avoid being hit by P&P 1995 dvd**

I thought Colin was fantastic in "Easy Virtue" as the "burnt out veteran of the Great War" It was great seeing him not playing a stiff British bloke.

And I will be adding "Fever Pitch" to my list of dvds to watch...

And just think soon we will be able to watch both our Darcy's together on screen in 2011 in "The Promised Land"

Karen said...

AWW! Glad you did it, my dear friend!
And I'm happy to hear that you're enjoying your 'Firth-Education', so far ;)
As you already know, Colin Firth IS my ultimate Mr Darcy - MM who? - but I admire him (and his acting abilities) in many other productions.
Are you seriously asking what's next?
I could give you a very long list of the 'unmissable' ones, beware!
But knowing a bit of your tastes, I'd just suggest - in addition to those you've already watched -
A month in the country (you can't miss it!)
Dutch Girls (just because he's so cute in it!), Apartment Zero (incredible performance by Damanhimself, although not your cup of tea at all!)
Wings of Fame (a weird, interesting indie production)
The hour of the pig (unusual subject and... well, you'll see ;)
The Master of the Moor (another superb performance by him)
My Life so far and And when did you last see your father (what about England in the 30s?)
Conspiracy (a chilling, gripping and powerful tv movie!)
What a girl wants (just for the eye candy :P)
and finally
A Single man.
Enjoy,
xx KB

lunarossa said...

Hi MG, Totally agree with you and Karen above. Colin Firth IS the ultimate Mr Darcy. But this shouldn't make us forget the rest of his career. Loved Another Country, I found it better than Maurice maybe because I loved the University college backdrop and I like Rupert Everett as well. Karen is right, Colin's earlier films are worth watching although they often are a bit "unusual". Liked A Month in the Country and The Master of the Moor (set not far from where I live). And what about the lavish production of The Importance of Being Earnest? So funny! And his naughty performance in Relative Values? A little gem. And if you haven't seen it yet, his portrayal of Robert Lawrence in Tumbledown about the Falklands War really makes you see that he's an all-around actor and not only a heart-throb. And his Vermeer? Well, I'd better stop here...Ciao. A.
PS Detest Where the Truth lies and Trauma though!

Alexa Adams said...

Has no one mentioned Nanny McPhee? I love children's fantasies and thought Mr. Firth and Emma Thompson delightful in this film. Also, while I am not a fan of either Abba or Mama Mia (I wish I could get a refund on those theater tickets), in the film adaptation Firth is hysterical, especially when he cuts loose.

missbluestocking said...

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You should have seen my face when I read the bit about you not having not Firth played (IS) DARCY!!!! Wow. I was so shocked! I thought it was some universal truth!

I'm curious now. Knowing that you are a connoisseur of period movies...which did you prefer? The 2005 or 1995 adaptation?

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@missbluestocking
True! And I can understand your shock. But you know I have really learned a lot since I've started blogging. I think I've already written somewhere that I saw North and South before 1995 Pride and Prejudice. And my favourite version between 1995 and 2005 P&P. I can recognize the older one is very well done and closer to the text than 2005. Than Firth /Ehle acting is far superior than MF/KK's but I just can't totally dislike my first P&P on screen. You see, it is like first love, you recognize it was just a crush but ... so exciting. I started collecting DVDs only couple of years ago and my knowledge about period drama has improved, I hope. Thanks June.

kaprekar said...

I really liked Firth when I saw him in P&P and at that point would have happily watched him in anything, but in those days (without the Internet) it was much harder to find stuff. I later realised that I had already seen him in Another Country some years previously, but before P&P I did not know who he was. I also saw him in Girl with a Pearl Earring a few years ago and attended a Q&A for that film with him and SJ. It was nice to see him 'in real life' but I can't remember a thing he said now! A Single Man was his best ever performance IMHO. In summary, I enjoy watching Firth as an actor but I realise now it was Mr Darcy I really loved in P&P so I wouldn't really call myself a fan as such.