Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby Malia » Thu Sep 24, 2009 5:07 pm

Thanks for your review, BrokenLyre. I'm so happy to see a Keatsian review. You reinforce all of my thoughts of what the movie would be like for Keats fans, so I'm definitely going to go into it with the mindset that this is Fanny's story and it is not about Keats the poet. It is, if anything, about Fanny and Keats, the lovers. Keats as a lover is different than Keats as a poet. Certainly, Keats amongst women (the way he interacted with them) is different than Keats amongst men. So, we aren't going to get a full-on, complex portrait of our man (shame!) but it sounds as if we will get a good art-house movie of a tragic love story.

I got a strong vibe from reviews as well as the clips I've seen that this Keats is going to be an ethereal, angelic, and kind of "weak" person. More the Adonais of Shelley's imagining than the strong, masculine figure of Brown's pencil sketch.

I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I'm looking forward to giving my own review of the movie when I see it on Oct. 2nd.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby Saturn » Thu Sep 24, 2009 5:24 pm

Thank you as well for that review BrokenLyre. Your description of the film is pretty much how I imagined it would be; it is not, nor do I think was it ever intended to be KEATS: THE MOVIE, or a bio-pic of Keats life, but a picture about Fanny and Keats' doomed relationship, a tragic love story.
I don't think in any case a film could ever sufficiently explore the depths of Keats as a man, or as a poet, or indeed fully capture the realities of Fanny and Keats' relationship [of which we know comparitively little] because much is conjecture anyway.
Those of us who have followed this project since its inception have known for quite some time that this was very much going to be Fanny's story; not that Keats was neglected but that Fanny's part in things was to be the ultimate focus.

In these regards I expected to be disappointed, and am reconciled to these, and will enjoy it nonetheless I'm sure.

Perhaps the fact that Keats is not really fully developed is a good thing, at least in terms of inspiring those who watch it and want to know more about Keats to investigate further...
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby Aquarius » Thu Sep 24, 2009 5:52 pm

I have yet to see the movie, (not until Oct 3), but I can see how many lovers of Keats would want this to be a Keats Biopic. I remember reading an interview of Campion where she stated that she knew she did not want to make a biopic, because she found them to be too general. My feeling is that Campion wanted to make a very specific film about Fanny and Keats relationship. Ben Whishaw even mentioned in an interview that there was a scene in the film showing Keats going into a rage of jealousy against Fanny, which was cut out at the last minute. He admitted to being upset about it's omission, but he later understood it would have taken the film in a different direction.

I am slightly bothered that the film (from the few clips I've seen) portrays Keats as kind of this ephemeral artiste. People who don't know anything about Keats might leave the theater with a one-dimensional reading of his character. For example, I was reading viewers reviews in the NY Times and one reviewer wrote that he didn't want to watch a movie about a "weak artiste" who died a virgin without living his life to the fullest. Boy, did that irritate me. Keats was not weak at all, if you think about how he battled his illness, and about how much beautiful poetry he produced in such a short time. If anything, he had a tremendous amount of will power and drive to accomplish what he did. Also, from my understanding Keats was not a virgin. I think Campion wanted to focus on the tenderness and beauty of the love story from Fanny's point of view, and she couldn't do that *and* tell a story about Keats the poet, without losing focus. I still can't wait to see it, though!!!
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby Saturn » Thu Sep 24, 2009 6:02 pm

Most of the bad reviews I've read are from people who know little and care less about Keats, and the general ignorance of many is annoying. I don't expect everyone to know or care who Keats was, but if you're a journalist reviewing a film about a famous historical and literary figure, even the most cursory glance at any mini-biography or wiki page would dispel most of the ignorant opinions of Keats as some effeminate and sickly stripling boy. Much as I love Shelley, his Adonias [a great poem nevertheless] has done much to present this picture of Keats and it is much to be lamented that nearly two centuries later many still hold this view of him.
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Lovely Review by Roger Ebert

Postby Aquarius » Thu Sep 24, 2009 6:11 pm

After reading his review I am 3 times more excited to see the film than I already was. Ebert also seems to show more knowledge of Keats in his review and admits that he's visited Keats House many times. It seems those reviewers who have written good reviews of the film, are the ones who actually have read Keats. His review begins: "John Keats wasn't meekly posing as a Romantic poet. He was the real thing.."

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090923/REVIEWS/909239998
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby Saturn » Thu Sep 24, 2009 6:46 pm

Excellent review, thanks for that Aquarius, Ebert is a superlative critic, and this review is the most knowledgable and perceptive one I've yet read.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby BrokenLyre » Thu Sep 24, 2009 6:51 pm

Thanks for the link Aquarius. I agree with Ebert's assessment of the movie. I particularly agree with his insightful statement that:

"It is famously impossible for the act of writing to be made cinematic. How long can we watch someone staring at a blank sheet of paper? It is equally unenlightening to show the writer seeing something and dashing off to scribble down impassioned words while we hear him reading them in his mind. Campion knows all this, and knows, too, that without the poetry, John Keats is only a moonstruck young man. How she works in the words is one of the subtle beauties of the film. And over the end credits, Whishaw reads the ode, and you will want to stay."

Stay you must through the end credits. I want to see it again, at any rate - sooner is better.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby Malia » Fri Sep 25, 2009 1:36 am

I just saw a commercial for Bright Star on the TV. Strangely enough, it was on PBS (non-commercial television) after an episode of BBC World News. It was a little different than the trailer, but still had that irritating voice over (sigh). Pretty neat to see it promoted, though!
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby riverborn » Mon Sep 28, 2009 12:17 pm

If you like a movie of subtle moods and textures you will like Bright Star. B+ movie. I realized, as I watched it, that I was being confronted with my ideas, my internalizations of Keats, as I viewed the director's portrayal of him. Keats was fun loving, somewhat more so when he imbibed, but would he have danced an Irish jig for the Brawne family at Xmas? Would Keats have been as glib and at ease with Fanny as he was portrayed? Do we get a realistic sense of Keats depression, his mood swings, his "horrible morbibity of temperment"? I think that those of us who love Keats have internalized him so deeply, made him so much a part of our own mythic interiority, that the real Keats has probably been lost to all of us. So Campions protrayal is likely no less "accurate" than anyone elses would have been. Posthumous Keats the man is like a poem, free to be remet by each greeting spirit throughout time, an artifact to be refound by each generation. We can re-enact his tragedy, worship his poetic genius, but can we find him?

I thought that Whitshaw captured much of the Keats who tended to be social and apart at the same time. I thought that his face to be a reasonable facsimile of Keats but the body was wrong- a Shelley body so to speak. Keats was short but very broad shouldered. Probably a body type very hard to find in our modern world.

I thought the portrayal of Brown to be too overbearing. I doubt that he interfered and was up Keats rear as much as he is seen to be in the movie. I also doubt that Fanny was as smart, sensitive, and clever as she was portrayed. Keats was not comfortable around women, he likely had a few sexual encounters (one perhaps leading to his purported s.t.d. and subsequent mercury "cure"), but no relationship as such. So to assume that his genius with words, his mental, emotional, and spiritual acuity, would spill over in his choice of a first love, is probably wrong. Besides using the word minx, Keats suggests that Fanny is sort of a chatty Kathy, a fly off the handle chatterbox, who perhaps speaks before any of her thoughts have come together (in one of his less noble moments Keats also gives a written description of Fannys physical faults- perhaps a way to deflect possible criticism that Fanny was no La Belle Dame). An opinon from which I would extrapolate that this was a woman who did not live out of much depth, nor someone who would thirst for an appreciation of poetry. After Keats death Fanny did write Fanny Keats (they became friends of a sort) to express her ongoing grief, but, unlike Campions end of film notes, Fanny Brawne did not wear black for years and keep Keats forever in her heart- that is Campions fiction.

I would also suggest that Keats discomfort with women, beginning with his mother (it was said of her that she would lift her skirts to high to cross a mud puddle in order to show off her fine legs), fueled his poetry. His portrayal of the fatal woman in La Belle, the elusive moon goddess, his feminine characterizations of the nightingale, the Grecian Urn as a "bride, Moneta the admonisher, and the goddess resurrected in the the autumn fields, all suggest a man in search of the feminine whether as destroyer and as divinity. Did Keats hunger for the divine feminine in reaction to his confusion about the flesh and blood feminine?

Brawne married a sensible businessman, had a family, lived a reasonably long life, and, except for admitting to her husband and kids that she had known Keats, never let the truth out until she was near death. At that point she turned Keats love letters over to her kids who then sold them for a nice future retirement. The true Fanny lies somewhere between the images held by Keats and by Brown. I think it would be a mistake to trust Keats judgement of her in this matter. He was a man in love for the first time.

Little things: when Fanny is telling Keats how wonderful his last book of poetry is, she begins to recite La Belle Dame. this poem, of course, was never in that or any other volume of poetry. Keats wrote the nightingale ode in a little glade near Hampstead Heath. Fanny could not have seen him from the house.

All IMO of course.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby Saturn » Mon Sep 28, 2009 5:03 pm

...but apart from all that you loved it? :lol:
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby riverborn » Mon Sep 28, 2009 6:58 pm

I liked it. I would like to see a counterpoint movie about him. One about the dark underworld he often inhabited, the Keats of "the fall of hyperion", the Keats full of both mortal and immortal nature, the Keats who saw the ultimate tragedy of all human experience, the beauty of the world in which that drama unfolds, and the healer who tried to redeem us from the unalterable. A Christ figure if you will.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby BrokenLyre » Tue Sep 29, 2009 12:03 am

Here here Riverborn! I agree - we all would like the see the complex Keats of the odes and Hyperion. The strong and moody Keats (especially as known from his letters to Fanny). We will have to wait for another attempt, unfortunately.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby Saturn » Tue Sep 29, 2009 3:52 am

I wouldn't look for a film to reflect all those things, forget about that. it isn't possible to show all sides, and all interpretations of Keats' life and poetry. If you want that go and read a biography. Everyone has their own Keats, mine isn't the same as yours, riverborn or BrokenLyre yours, or anyone else's. This film is Jam Campion's Keats, it's her response, her interpretation [along with the actor's performance of her script].

I think you were expecting too much from one film, bearing too much weight on it to be THE Keats of your imagination and your hopes, dreams and expectation.

I never had any illusions about this Keats being the 'real' Keats [as if anyone, alive or dead really can know someone completely]. This is one sliver of the prism, one colour in the spectrum, one person's idea of what Keats was like.

I will watch the film [hopefully if it's showing] in the full knowledge that there will be much that doesn't ring true, that I disagree with and am not happy with but, thinking in terms of the broader picture, if it ignites the spark of interest in only one person in every theatre that sees it, it is worthwhile.

The more Keats the better; while this Keats may not be to mine, or to the tastes of many here, it is still wonderful that there's a major film out there which presents some of Keats poetry and life story and the world is better for all that.

I say bravo to Jane Campion for having the taste and judgement to see in Keats a story worth telling and [from what I can glean] telling it in a beautiful, moving way.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby BrokenLyre » Tue Sep 29, 2009 4:46 am

Yes - very true Saturn - not to be at all dismissive but I feel like we are re-writing similar thoughts about Campion's slice of Keats - from previous threads. And good to hear it again - that indeed, this is Campion's view of a particular time in Keats's life. She said as much in her interviews. I will never see a movie that represents "my Keats" and I have to accept that. I really enjoyed the movie because of what I brought to the movie and I really look forward to seeing it again.

Saturn stated it well (in my view);

"The more Keats the better; while this Keats may not be to mine, or to the tastes of many here, it is still wonderful that there's a major film out there which presents some of Keats poetry and life story and the world is better for all that."

Thanks for the reminder.
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Re: Bright Star reviews, ratings etc. *SPOILERS*

Postby BrokenLyre » Tue Sep 29, 2009 5:03 am

Change of subject (from my own previous to this - sorry!). I just ran across examiner.com which said that Bright Star has expanded to 130 theaters (from about 45) in the US. That is good news! You may all get to see it yet. From the web site, examiner.com I copied the following:

"Elsewhere, the period romance Bright Star expanded to 130 screens and debuted at No. 7 on the AME chart. Inspired by the love story of 19th century poet John Keats, it had the week’s highest Metacritic rating, and coupled with a dazzling 8.2 IMDB rating (No. 3), positioned itself as a possible Oscar contender. Its per-screen average of $5,200 was second only to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs among the B.O. top 20."

Cool.

For those who need the link:
http://www.examiner.com/x-956-Atlanta-M ... ovie-chart
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