Thursday, 23 March 2017

Disney's Beauty and the Beast: Live action (2017) vs Cartoon (1991)

At the weekend I went to see Disney's new live-action Beauty and the Beast. After months of casting announcements, teaser trailers and 'first-look' clips, anticipation was high. But did I enjoy the final result? Yes, very much. I still prefer the original and (although it's probably made millions already and I'm very glad they did make it) the re-make was totally un-necessary. Still, there was lots to like and I wasn't disappointed.
1991's Beauty and the Beast was based on the classic fairy-tale, but like all Disney re-tellings it has its share of differences from the original. With some new ideas and more fully-fleshed out characters, Disney made the story it's own (although I'm inclined to think some of the ideas were Robin McKinley's first. The Library? Come on.) and the new film, while largely a faithful re-make, attempts to build more on the story, even adding in some tid-bits from the fairy-tale (such as Belle asking for a Rose, and her father being imprisoned by the Beast for taking one from his garden.) The thing is, Beauty and the Beast is already one of the Disney  classics with the strongest script and the best developed characters. As the first Disney animated film with a credited female screenwriter, Linda Woolverton's Belle is one of the most forward thinking heroines, and, as their budding relationship is prime focus of the story, the Beast is the first Disney prince to be as well-developed as his princess. Unlike with Cinderella and The Jungle Book, there's not much call for fleshing-out characters or story. We don't really want or need change from the re-make, so what's left to do? The new film is very faithful to the original - sometimes even frame to frame, but lets talk about the little changes.
In the lead up to he film, there was a lot of talk about Belle being 'an inventor' in the place of Maurice. That bothered me a little, because I felt they were trying to make her more of a 'feminist' (when she already is a feminist character) by making her smart in a different, more-valued-because-it's-more-traditionally-masculine way. She's already an intelligent, intuitive woman in a book-smart way! Whatever I thought about it wasn't really important however, as the inventor thing felt like a side-note added at the last minute. The only evidence we saw of Belle the inventor was the washing machine - and in fact, I found myself wishing they'd made more of that scene. It could have been very dramatic and emotional, but it kind of ended up as a wasted opportunity. 
They also needed to add some back-story, and so Belle and the Beast both get some sad family history involving the death of their mother. (Of course, this is Disney after all.) No spoilers, but I think Belle's back-story worked. It created a very touching relationship between Belle and her father (Kevin Kline, lovely and under-stated in his role) and culminated in a surprising and moving scene between Belle and the Beast, which I felt stepped their relationship up a notch. There wasn't really any logic to the magic book, but whatever. The Beast's backstory was less convincing, and I wonder why they bothered. It was supposed to explain why the enchantress cursed the servants too, but I would have left that line out. Not a good enough reason to curse people. Then there's the LeFou thing. In all the fuss around his sexuality, I was expecting something more than a few longing looks at Gaston and a 'moment' dancing with a man in a dress. If that's Disney's first attempt at portraying a gay character in a kids film, it's not exactly progressive. In real life, gay men are not all super flamboyant and spend their time creepily pining after their straight friends. Just look at Luke Evans, for one.  (Also LeFou's redemption at the end? I can see they were trying to make him vaguely sympathetic but did he really deserve to get off scot free? He stood by while Gaston did a lot of bad things. And the way things ended with the villagers didn't convince me either.) I'm nit-picking now, but on the whole I was cool with the little tweaks the re-make made. The new songs were lovely (doesn't Dan Stephens have a nice voice?) and the prologue worked well I thought.
So, what did I love? I loved that that they made it a proper musical, with big old-fashioned production numbers. The 'mob song' was a surprise favourite and they did 'Belle' and 'Gaston' so well. And 'Be Our Guest'! They were all great, actually. Luke Evans really shone (although I was expecting that) and Ewan McGregor's accent didn't annoy me too much at all. The casting was good, on the whole, and Emma Watson, who I was particularly worried about, was great, in the end. I still don't think she's a very good actress, but she's very beautiful and there's a likeable charisma about her. She's charming, and I thought she was well-cast. Plus, she's well-practised in acting with all that CGI because of Harry Potter.  Her costumes were fab and the yellow dress was gorgeous - particularly from the back when you could see the layers - and I liked the way it moved. The ballroom scene was also lovely, although it didn't quite give me the same chills that the original always does.

Overall, I would highly recommend going to see Beauty and the Beast. The original is perfect and can't be beaten, but this was a nice homage, made faithfully and with love. It was lavish and lovely to look at, the cast was good and the feel and heart of the original is well in tact. It's fun and easy watching, and I'm sure I'll go and see it at the cinema at least once more!

Have you seen it yet? What did you think?
(For other animated/live-action film comparisons see: What I'm Watching)

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Mini-reviews: Reading and Watching :)

There's not been much on TV lately has there? Or on the regular channels anyway. Between Christmas and Spring there's always a bit of a slump - which is irritating since it's the time of year we're most in need of something to take our minds off the dreary weather. So, I've invested in a Netflix subscription, finally, and it's doing it's job so far. Thought I'd do some mini-reviews on what I've been watching, and also reading.


What I'm Watching:


I was gutted that I didn't see Moana at the cinema, but I've finally filled in the gap in my modern Disney knowledge. It was really good! Still hasn't knocked Tangled off my top spot for the new Disney renaissance (has this Disney era got a name yet?) but I think it might have narrowly beaten Frozen. Moana is an adventure story about discovering who you are, etc. etc, and was closer in tone to Mulan and Pocahontas - which are my favourites, actually  - than the more traditional Disney Princess films. It also reminded me a bit of Dreamworks' Sinbad (anyone remember that one?) The animation was gorgeous, from the setting and the water to the look of the characters. They're getting so good at hair now, Moana's must have been even more of an animator's nightmare than Brave, considering how often it gets wet.

It didn't matter in the slightest that there was no love interest, and I loved the friendship that grew between Maui and Moana. The music was great too, although all the songs did sound very similar. My only gripe would be - and this is going to sound so cheesy - that Moana didn't really go on enough of a 'journey' other than the physical. She was a strong character from the very beginning, who knew essentially what she wanted and what she needed to do, and other than a couple of brief moments of doubt she stayed that way. When you compare it to how much Mulan grows throughout her film, or even Elsa and Anna from Frozen, Moana seemed so sorted. I liked that she was the superhero of her movie, and she was cool. But I think they could have afforded her a bit more vulnerability. (She was an Aragorn, rather than a Frodo - if you see what I mean) Saying that, if Moana had come out when I was a kid, I'm pretty sure she would have been my favourite princess. All that feisty, singing about how she loves the water stuff would have been right up my seven year old street.

Jane the Virgin


I'm not that far into Jane the Virgin yet, but I'm really enjoying it. I've found all the characters refreshingly likeable and I particularly like the relationships between Jane and her family. The two men in Jane's life are also interesting and different, if a little too good to be true (I'm team Michael all the way, although looks-wise, it's got to be Raphael.)

I love the tongue-in-cheek tele-novela format, and the randomness of the plot-lines. I love that Jane wears great clothes, but is bit curvier than your usual leading lady, so I can gage better how they'd look on me. (Not a good enough reason to like a show, I know, but it helps.) I also love how sunny it is where they live, although it makes me ache to be on holiday. Try this if you're looking for a fun girly show, with real heart and lots of drama.


Just started on this mini-series and enjoying it so far, although the premise is a bit bizarre. Basically, it's a Western, but set in Victorian Yorkshire. Has you scratching your head that, doesn't it? Jenny from Call the Midwife plays a widow with two children (although she does not look young enough to have a daughter that age) who is left with her husband's debts and is forced to find work in the new town of Jericho, which has sprung up around a new bridge being built, and is mainly populated by the navvies working on it.

I suppose they must have done their research but the whole look seems so far from the Victorian England usually depicted that it's hard to get your head around. And one thing is certain, Yorkshire does not get that much sun.  There's a great cast though, and although I feel it might take me a few episodes to get properly into it, it's got lots of potential. Shame they never commissioned a second series.


I've been catching up on this on BBC iplayer - well, actually, I've only watched the first episode so far. But it was so good. Based on the book by Alex Haley and also on the previous series (a huge hit in the 70's)  Roots follows an African-American family through the generations, starting with Kunta Kinte, who is taken from his village in Africa and sold as a slave. Each episode focuses on a different character but so far I've only seen Kunta's story - it was heart-breaking and a difficult watch at times, but the acting was great (particularly from Forest Whitaker as Fiddler) and it was powerful, gripping TV. Great production values too.

I read the first part of the book when I was younger, and I knew the story vaguely before that, as my friend at school watched the old series when we were about thirteen and explained the plot to me in great detail. It stuck in my head (as it had obviously stuck in hers) and I'm glad I'm finally going to find out what came next. Something about Chicken George? Excited for the next one anyway. I can't understand why it was shown on BBC 4 rather than one of the main channels - surely it should have been one of the big TV events of the year, especially since there's nothing else decent on terrestrial telly at the moment?

What I'm Reading:  

I've not been reading much of late, been in a bit of a slump. But I have been slogging through Colin Dexter's Last Bus To Woodstock  which is the first book in the 'Inspector Morse' series. I've been enjoying Endeavour so I thought I'd give it a go, but it's not really my thing. Written back in the eighties, the way Dexter writes about young women is a bit un-pc (apparently we all run in a "namby-pamby way" and are prone to falling instantly in love with aging police inspectors) but it's not vindictive and I do really like the relationship between Morse and Lewis. I laughed out loud at their exchanges a few times. I also bought a very beautiful illustrated copy of Game of Thrones in the sale at Waterstones - reduced to a fiver because one page was a teeny bit ripped. Absolute bargain. I love how it's so heavy it just sort of falls open, and you can sit with it on your knee without having to hold it. The pictures are by a few different illustrators and they're a bit hit and miss for me, but some of them are lovely. I like the black and white ones best, particularly these (below) of Arya with Ned, and Sansa with the Hound.


Have you read or watched any of these? What have you been loving lately?

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Oscar dresses 2017

Last year I did a post with my sisters and my mum, 'critiquing' the Oscar dresses, although you couldn't exactly call it that. It was more like chatting random rubbish, but it was good fun, so I thought I'd record our ill-informed opinions on this year's outfits too. We've no Genevieve this year (she's away at uni in Bath) but my dad stepped in instead. Hope you enjoy! Firstly though, a disclaimer: I know all of these dresses are beautiful really, as are the people in them. And Rosie says to tell you she'd had a tooth out yesterday (or part of a tooth, the dentist yanked at it for ages but didn't manage to get the whole thing and she's been referred) so was in pain and feeling less kindly than usual.

Ruth Negga


Mum: I'm not sure I liked her dress
Rosie: No I didn't.
Me: I think it's nice. I like her headband thing and the earrings. But it looks like something out of, what was that film? Crimson Peak.
Rosie: Yes.
Dad: It looks like there's a big blue stain on it.
Me: No, that's a ribbon, it's supposed to be there. Something to do with the Muslim ban? [It's to support the American Civil Liberties Union, read more here]

Emma Stone


Rosie: Yeah, I like that.
Mum: Mmm. I don't think I do.
Me: Do you not? I do, it's like, 20's. The fringe.
Rosie: It looks good on her though, doesn't it?
Mum: Well I mean it's...nice.

Janelle Monae


Mum: That's very Elizabethan.
Me: Yeah, it looks like something off Reign.

Taraj P. Henson


Me: That's nice. Her figure looks great.
Rosie: It's blue?
Me: I think so - and velvety? Flattering on her.


Nicole Kidman


Me: They're all wearing this funny colour. This funny, washed-out...I mean, it's pretty though.

Viola Davies


Me: Do we like this one? It's a good colour on her.
Rosie: Bit boring.
Mum: I like it I think.
Me: Dad?
Dad: Too red.

Octavia Spencer


Mum: I liked this fluffy one.
Rosie: I like the top bit, I don't like the bottom bit.
Me: It might have been more flattering if it went straight down.

Isabelle Hubert


Dad: Her head looks stuck on.
Me: We're supposed to be commenting on the dresses.
Dad: The dress? Makes her head look stuck on.
Mum: I like it, it looks very simple. Very French.

Naiome Harris


Dad: It makes her shoulders look too skinny.
Me: It's okay, but -
Rosie: Yeah, it's a bit of weird shape.

Viggo Mortensen


Mum: Oh is that Aragorn? He looks good, doesn't he!
Me: He looks great.
Dad: Who's that?
Me: Viggo Mortensen. Aragorn.
Dad: Oh, yeah.
Me: I think he gets better with age.
Dad: But does he get any parts?
Me: Yeah, that's why he's at the Oscars. He's nominated.

Dakota Johnson


Mum: Mmmm...
Dad: Mess, really.
Mum: Yeah, I think it's a mess too.
Me: I think it looks a bit like...on that wedding dress programme, Something Borrowed, where they make over the Mum's wedding dress. Before they change it, and it looks a bit yellowed. It's that colour again.

Halle Berry

Mum: Is that Halle Berry with the hair?
Rosie: Is that her real hair, do you think?
Mum: I like that, one of my favourites. I love the bodice of that dress, and the way it moves.

Jamie Dornan


Me: Why are all the men wearing white? (Dev Patel was too.) He looks like a waiter, but scruffy.
Rosie: He looks like he'd bottle you.

Riz Ahmed:


Dad: He looks like he's got bandy legs.
Me: Look, let's concentrate on the outfits:
Dad: No, but what he's wearing, makes his appearance like that. So it is relevant.

Chrissy Teigen


Mum: I don't really know what that does for her body shape.
Me: No, it makes her boobs look big. But not in a good way.
Mum: The drape thing looks odd.
Me: If it didn't have the slit, it'd be nice. It'd balance out more.
Rosie: Yeah.

Brie Larson


Me: I like that.
Mum: Yes, I think that's very nice.

Kirsten Dunst


Me: Not sure on that one.
Rosie: No, makes her look short, the way it's cut.
Dad: I think it's ok.
Me: It's a bit T.K Maxx.
Rosie: Yeah, definitely.

Karlie Kloss


Me: That looks nice, I like the shoulder, the cape bit.
Rosie: She looks like she's draped in a hospital curtain.
Dad: Her head looks like it's hovering above her neck.
Rosie: Isn't that what most people's heads are like?
Dad: Yeah, I know but it looks like there's a gap between the neck and her chin.
Mum: It's too white.
Dad: Yeah, she looks like she's just wrapped a bed sheet round her.

Emma Roberts


Dad: Vile.
Rosie: No, that's not bad, I don't mind it.
Me: I think it's nice but it annoys me with the necklines...
Mum: They're all too low.
Me: Not too low, just too wide apart. It should be a V-neck not a U- neck.
Dad: It looks like they haven't actually finished making it.
Rosie: I like Dad's comments - they give an interesting viewpoint.
Dad: I haven't really seen a nice dress yet.

Hailee Steinfield


Mum: I'm not fussed.
Dad: I think the dress is nice, it's just her.
Me: I like her, what's wrong with her?
Dad: No, but that dress is very nice, it just needs to be on somebody else.

Olivia Culpo


Me: I like that.
Mum: I like it, but the cleavage is all too low.
Dad: Her arm looks very long, doesn't it? Her right arm.
Rosie: I like it, I like the little black ribbon.
Mum: Yeah, that ribbon adds, doesn't it.


Felicity Jones


Dad: It's alright.
Me: It's not flattering.
Rosie: No, it's wrong somehow.
Me: It's pretty, but it makes her look like she's got a big waist, and she's tiny in real life.

Leslie Mann


Me: I like that, but I don't think the colour suits her. But it is nice.
Dad: I like that.
Mum: It did look good actually when you saw her moving round in that, I have to say. A lot of swish to it. She obviously went for the Beauty and the Beast look, didn't she?

Andrew Garfield


Dad: Oh, was Andy Murray there?
Rosie: It's not Andy Murray, It's Andrew Garfield.
Me: From 'Spiderman'.
Dad: Oh, he looks like Andy Murray.

Matt Damon and Luciana Barroso


Me: Oh, that must be Matt Damon's wife. I like her dress - I think?
Rosie: It's okay.
Me: It's a bit futuristic.
Mum: But also sort of 1930's sort of style.

Michelle Williams and Busy Phillips


Me: I know that one in the Green, what's she off?
Dad: Judy Dench?
Rosie: Judy Dench?
Me: Dad, have you got your glasses on?
Dad: The one on the left?
Mum: She's just got a Judy Dench haircut.
Me: That's Michelle Williams. No, she does look a bit like Judy Dench there actually.
Rosie: She does.

Laura Dern


Me: That's nice.
Mum: Just simple and a bit classy.
Rosie: Kind of starry.

Alicia Vikander


Me: Right, I saw this in another picture and it looked better.
Mum: I saw her presenting the prize in it and it looked really good actually - but I'm sure the woman announced her as 'Olivia' Vikander.
Rosie: I think she's very beautiful.
Me: She'd look good in anything really.

Priyanka Chopra


Dad: I like it, although it looks a bit like wallpaper.
Mum and Rosie: Yeah, it's nice.
Me: The thing is though, this doesn't have any back or sides.
Mum: It must be very revealing if it doesn't have any back or sides?
Dad: I think we need to see it from the side to get the full impact.
Me: No,  I don't think we do.

Dev Patel and Anita Patel


Me: Aw yeah, he brought his mum didn't he.
Mum: She looked very lovely in her sari-style dress. And so proud when his name came up for his nomination.

Our favourites of the night:
Me: Janelle Monae.
Rosie: Brie Larson.
Mum: Dev Patel's Mum.
Dad: Leslie Mann ("the yellow dress.")

Did you watch the Oscars this year? Who were your best - and worst - dressed of the night?

Monday, 13 February 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Rom-Com's you might have missed

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a Valentine's Day special (favourite romance tropes/types) and I thought I'd dedicate it to one of my favourite film genres - and one that's arguably a dying breed - the rom-com. In the nineties, romantic comedies were everywhere, with Nora Ephron and Richard Curtis churning out classics like they were going out of fashion. Good thing too, because they kind of did. Still, the noughties produced a few gems too, and below are some you might have missed out on. If you're looking for something new this Valentine's (as opposed to watching Notting Hill or You've Got Mail for the gazillionth time) why don't you try one of these? (Or if you'd rather avoid romance at all costs, see my list of Non-romantic films for a girls night!)

Bride and Prejudice
What it's about: Pride and Prejudice set in modern day India.
Why you've not seen it: A Bollywood version of Pride and Prejudice sounds like it could be a bit gimicky - there aren't many big names and you missed it at the time.
Why you should give it a go: Fun songs, some clever adapting of the story and Aishwarya Rai (I tell a lie, she's a name) is great as Lalita Bakshi - the Lizzie Bennet character.
Disclaimers: I think it needs more chemistry between Lalita and Darcy and all the big Bollywood numbers might not be to everyone's taste. I love them though! (see my review: here)



What it's about: A hapless waiter falls in love with a gold digger on the French Riviera (played by Amelie's Audrey Tatou) but since he has no money to win her, he begins to pick up some tricks instead... 
Why you've not seen it: It's French, with subtitles.
Why you should give it a go: A slyly funny and original storyline, a charming Gad Elmanach and the very beautiful and charismatic Audrey Tatou.
Disclaimers: It's basically a farce, but whatever. I loved it.


What If

What it's about: Wallace and Chantry meet at a party and decide they want to keep in touch.  Romance is off the table as she has a nice long-term boyfriend, but they're just so right for each other!
Why you've not seen it: Isn't that the plot of When Harry Met Sally? And is it possible to take Daniel Radcliffe seriously as a romantic lead?
Why you should give it a go: The answer is yes to both of the above. It's a well worn trope - 'can men and women really be just friends?' - but Daniel Radcliffe is adorable in a young Hugh Grant sort of way. If he was looking for a niche I think Rom-Coms would be just the ticket. Richard Curtis should get on that.
Disclaimers: Some of the humour is a bit gross - I could have done with a few less conversations about Elvis's bowel movements. Also Wallace and Chantry? Where did they get those names from?

Just like Heaven

What it's about: Mark Ruffalo is a young widower who finds his newly rented apartment haunted by the previous owner, workaholic doctor Reese Witherspoon.
Why you've not seen it: Reese Witherspoon makes some terrible Rom-coms along with the good (for every Legally Blonde, there's a Legally Blonde 2) and this looked like a bad one.
Why you should give it a go: This is actually pretty decent. It's romantic and sweet, and Mark  Ruffalo is almost at his 13 Going on 30 peak of loveliness. (That's another one to check out if you haven't already).
Disclaimers: The ghost-y stuff is, admittedly, a bit weird and special effects are more Sabrina the Teenage Witch than big budget.

Sunshine on Leith
What it's about: A jukebox musical based around songs by The Proclaimers. Two best friends return from the army and try to settle back into life in Edinburgh.
Why you've not seen it: You only know that one Proclaimers song and there wasn't much buzz around the film.
Why you should give it a go: The songs are great, the characters are relatable and it's romantic and feel-good.
Disclaimers: It's not feel-good the whole way through - there are some grim bits including a heart attack, a bomb blast in Iraq (or Afghanistan?) marital infidelity and broken dreams. But the songs do a lot to lighten the mood...

While You Were Sleeping

What it's about: A lonely young woman finds herself involved with a family not her own, when she saves the life of the eldest son on Christmas Eve and accidentally leads them to believe she's his fiancée. Things get complicated as, while he lies in a coma, she begins to fall for his brother.
Why you've not seen it: There were so many good rom-coms in the nineties this slipped under the radar. It's gentler than some and the screenwriter's not a big name.
Why you should give it a go: It's possibly one of the loveliest ever, and my favourite. Bill Pullman finally gets to be a leading man rather than the guy who gets dumped, and he and Sandra Bullock have amazing chemistry.
Disclaimers: It's a Christmas film really, but not so Christmassy that it needs to be confined to the festive period.


What it's about: A girl born with the nose of a pig has to find one of her own to love her, in order to break the curse.
Why you've not seen it: It all sounds  pretty bizarre and the reviews weren't great.
Why you should give it a go: James McAvoy has never been more attractive than he is in this film. And it's actually a fun story with a good message about self-acceptance and some great actors, including Peter Dinklage, Christina Ricci, Reese Witherspoon (who also produced) Nick Frost and Richard E. Grant
Disclaimers: Admittedly, it is a bit weird.


What it's about: Will Smith is Alex Hitchens - a 'date doctor' who helps men present themselves the best way to get the women they want. But his own love life isn't always plain sailing.
Why you've not seen it: The premise might sound a bit sleazy - but it's not at all.
Why you should give it a go: Will Smith in a rom-com? What's not to like? And the first half in particular is really clever and fun.
Disclaimers: I didn't think the main girl (played by Eva Mendes) was quite likeable enough, and the last act isn't quite as good as the first.

Sliding Doors

What it's about: A Woman's life takes two separate paths - one where she catches that train home, and one where she doesn't.
Why you've not seen it: Again, there are so many good nineties rom-coms, you've likely not seen them all. And maybe you were too young for it when it came out.
Why you should give it a go: It's a clever and interesting premise, and I like that the two men in Helen's life are a bit different from your usual rom-com standards.
Disclaimers: Gwyneth Paltrow's fake English accent is good - but annoying. As is John Hannah as the romantic lead.
Walking on Sunshine
What it's about: After travelling to Italy for her big sister's wedding, the protagonist discovers that the groom is an old fling of hers. Oh, and it's a musical.
Why you've not seen it: From the trailer, it looked like a crap Mamma Mia - and Mamma Mia wasn't exactly great art to begin with.
Why you should give it a go: It doesn't take itself too seriously, the male lead is gorgeous, the eighties soundtrack is fabulous and feel-good and there's a scene where Greg Wise (Willoughby from Sense and Sensibility, with a very dodgy tan) sings 'Faith' by George Michael.
Disclaimers: It is basically a crap Mamma Mia.

Seen any of these? Any under-ratted rom-coms you could recommend? And what are your all-time favourites?

Saturday, 11 February 2017

'I love Austen week' tag

As it's Valentine's on Tuesday, Hamlette at Hamlette's Soliloquy is running an 'I love Jane Austen' week, and I thought I'd join in, since the tag looked fun. Here're my answers to her questions... (note: I had to change all the 'favorite's to the English spelling, because it was killing me.)


1.  Which did you experience first, a Jane Austen book or a movie based on one?
My first Jane Austen 'experience' was the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. I must have been quite young, because I can't remember a time when I hadn't seen it. I waited a while to read the books though, and I started with Northanger Abbey - which I read when I was maybe fourteen/fifteen?

 2.  What is your favourite Austen book?
Pride and Prejudice. Which is a boring answer, but true. It's the funniest, lots of dialogue - and I found it easiest to read because I already knew the story and the characters so well.

 3.  Favourite heroine?  Why do you like her best?
Ooh, this is hard. I love them all (apart from Marianne, who I can't stand.)  Probably Elizabeth Bennet, because she can laugh at herself. And I love her relationship with Jane, the way she understands her so well and is empathetic even though they're very different. (Unlike in the Marianne/Elinor relationship.)

 4.  Favourite hero?  Why do you like him best?
For years it was Henry Tilney (he'd definitely make you laugh the most) but now I think I'd say Edward Ferrars. (Edward and Elinor are my favourite couple, too.) He's kind and shy and decent, and there's no self-importance about him. I reckon I'd feel most relaxed around Edward.

 5.  Do you have a favourite film adaptation of Austen's work?
The 1995 Pride and Prejudice. Obvious, again. I also love the Felicity Jones/J.J Field  Northanger Abbey - Andrew Davies is unbeatable (except when it comes to Sense and Sensibility. I preferred Emma Thompson's.)

 6.  Have your Austen tastes changed over the years?  (Did you start out liking one story best, but now like another better?  Did you think she was boring at first, then changed your mind?  Etc.)
No big changes of heart, but I see little things in the stories differently. I've got less patience with Mr. Bingley nowadays (he doesn't treat Jane very well if you ask me) and I'm more sympathetic to Mrs. Bennet (honestly, someone has to think about the '5 unmarried daughters' problem and her husband's hardly useful) and less sympathetic to Mr. Bennet (yes, he's hilarious, but dads shouldn't have favourites.)

 7.  Do you have any cool Austen-themed things (mugs, t-shirts, etc)?  (Feel free to share photos if you want.)
I've got a cute mug from The Literary Gift Company with all the characters on. Got my eye on the quotes mug too...

 8.  If you could ask Jane Austen one question, what would you ask her?
Ah, probably what happened to Kitty and Mary. Did either of them ever marry? And (although I'd probably not be brave enough to ask) what happened during that period when her sister burnt her letters? There must have been a mystery man, musn't there?

 9.  Imagine someone is making a new film of any Jane Austen story you choose, and you get to cast the leads.  What story do you want filmed, and who would you choose to act in it?

Well they've never made a decent Mansfield Park so it'd have to be that. I find it very difficult to like Edmund, but I think Shaun Evans (Endeavour) would do a lot to make him attractive. Then maybe Aneurin Barnard, (Cilla, The White Queen, War and Peace) - who I love  - as Henry Crawford and Jodie Comer (Lady Chatterley's Lover, Thirteen, My Mad Fat Diary) as Fanny. She's a great actress, she's done a bit of period drama and I think she could play the slightly judgemental, jealous and pining-after-her-cousin sides of Fanny while also keeping her sympathetic. Because she is sympathetic, in the book. And maybe Jenna Coleman (or Tuppence Middleton?) as Mary?

Above: Mansfield Park casting ideas, Fanny, Edmund, Henry, Mary?

 10.  Share up to five favourite Jane Austen quotations!

"Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?"
- Lady Catherine, Pride and Prejudice
“It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley.”
- Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice
"My Dear Lizzy,
"I wish you joy. If you love Mr. Darcy half as well as I do my dear Wickham, you must be very happy. It is a great comfort to have you so rich, and when you have nothing else to do, I hope you will think of us. I am sure Wickham would like a place at court very much, and I do not think we shall have quite money enough to live upon without some help. Any place would do, of about three or four hundred a year; but however, do not speak to Mr. Darcy about it, if you had rather not.
"Yours, etc."
- Lydia's letter, Pride and  Prejudice
"Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you."
- Captain Wentworth's Letter, Persuasion
"I will not say that your Mulberry trees are dead; but I am afraid they're not alive."
Jane Austen (from her letters)