Tag Archives: Austenland

Girl’s Guide to Top Ten Adorable Cult Films

3 Aug

by Madeline Iva

It’s August! Time to make with the grabby hands before the slow, relaxed days of summer give way to the hustle of September. Grab a peach smoothie and your favorite guy, and let all your worries go while you enjoy these 10 Adorable Cult Movies — each is it’s own funky mix of whimsy and romance, sprinkled throughout with subversive feminist tropes, and SFF joy.

Here are some films that subverted the 80’s ethos.

Desperately Seeking Susan:

80’s fashion deliciousness and the essence of Madonna distilled.  She was a free-spirit, a mooch, a not-just-one-man kinda woman–the definition of a woman who didn’t draw inside the lines.  You couldn’t be her, but you sure as shit think she’s cool.Note the subtle Alice in Wonderland devices, as Susan steps through her sliding door (i.e. The Looking Glass) into a new world.

Earth Girls are Easy:

Jeff Goldblum is hot.  Okay–geek-hot, but this movie recognized that!   EGAE is a movie that rolls around in sexual objectification, even as it rejects old skool values for 3rd wave feminism and a hard core ‘whatevs” attitude.  The iconic song “I Want ‘Em Big and Stupid” was a cry from the heart back in a time when erom didn’t even exist.  When this movie came out, Jeff and Gina were married, and no one knew who Jim Carey and Damon Wayans were.  Seriously.


America was clueless when this film came on the scene that it was a clever remake of Jane Austen’s Emma.  (Not me! I watched it the first time thinking “Elton? Elton.  Why is that name so familiar?” And blurted out “Oh My GOD, it’s EMMA!” in the movie theatre when she got out of the car. With great styling, this story of valley-girl redemption is fluffy and fun –but also a solidly crafted movie.  R.I.P. Brittany Murphy, before you went blonde & skinny and you know, died.  Props to Alicia Silverstone for holding onto her vegan ethics in Hollywood.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai:

Peter Weller, you may teach art history now at Syracuse University, but once you were an 80’s cult legend.  Pre-Robo Cop, pre-Naked Lunch, here was a role in which you showed what a movie star you could be.  The film had a very interesting low-budget SFF style we’ve never seen before or since.  Alas, Ellen almost ruins the movie with her overwrought acting, but then again, she has to go eye to eye with an evil slug that’s going to sting her face to death, so.The classic quote from this movie shouldn’t be “Remember: where ever you go, there you are.” It should be, “Hey, hey, hey.  Don’t be mean.” The film is a cult legend, but also is everything the 80’s wasn’t about–which is why I lurv it so hard.

Then the 90’s came: sigh. We finally got to look back at the 80’s and shudder.

Romy & Michelle’s High School Adventure:

I was the Janeane Garofalo character in this movie–minus the cigarettes.  At least that’s what it felt like on the inside. (I’d still rather stick a cigarette in my eye than go to my own high school reunion.) You might be surprised that I would hail a movie which in turn celebrates Pretty Women (shudder), but this movie was groundbreaking as it planted a flag in the quivering flesh of America, advocating female friendship first.  Fromance–you never looked so good.

More recently:

Bend It Like Beckham:

Yes, you get John Rhys-Meyers.  Yes, you get a fabulous multi-cultural feminism that will carry you away, and YES, you get to cheer the idea that women can have what they want — but it doesn’t have to be the same thing for every woman.  Huzzah!

Life After Beth:

You just won’t know just exactly where this movie is going.  A shout out to Matthew Gubler in his supporting role.  This is a small film about a guy’s big problems with his girlfriend–which we ultimately realize really are HIS issues…and symbolic.  Audrey Plaza stars in this film — which is reason enough to watch it in my book.

Warm Bodies:

R is Nick Hoult, and Nick Hoult is hot.  Nuff said. 


Oh, this film did not go where I thought it would.  It was FABULOUS! Have you seen it? You gotta check it out. How I wish this film had been around when I was a little girl.


The one…the only.  I’m sorry, but J.J. Fields is the *best* Darcy evah!!!!!!! I’ll just confess here: we watch this film allllllll the time.  I could quote the lines to you by now.  This is the film to watch if you’re having a sad day–it will make you feel better.  Our heroine finally decides to take charge of her narrative—you’ll want to as well, after you see this film.

Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.



Austinland: Best Summer Movie Evah!

1 Jun
J.J.Field as Mr. Nobley: a disapproving, cold gentleman--or is he?

J.J.Field as Mr. Nobley, a disapproving, cold gentleman–or is he?

by Madeline Iva

Heigh-ho! Filling in for Kiersten Hallie Krum today while she’s off on va-ca (sorta).

It’s officially summer! — And with summer comes great summer reads and summer movies.

I’ll be giving you the fa-shizzle on Mad Max this Thursday here at Lady Smut, and we’re having a LadySmut summer reads give away at the beginning of July.  Meanwhile, I wanted to talk to you about a great summer movie to load up into the old DVD player.

We’re talking AUSTINLAND! I’ve mentioned it once before, in a post on my love for all things historical HERE — but the movie didn’t really get it’s full due.

The premise is that a Jane Austen obsessed super-fan goes off on a pricey vaca to England where she will be immersed in Austenland.  The guests dress in period costume, conform to period manners, and be subjected to all kinds of cheesy/tacky over-the-top a-historic touristy behavior from the other daffy ‘guests’ and even daffier staff.  Here’s a preview:

Bret McKenzie always delivers the comedy.

Bret McKenzie always delivers the comedy.

Several things to note:

1) It didn’t get good reviews.  Why? People are crazy, is all I can say.  This is one of the best rom-coms EVAHHHHHHHH!

2) J.J. Field is a find — where’s he been all my life?

3) The real reason I wanted to see this movie is Bret MacKenzie from FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS–and he’s hilarious in this film.

4) You’d think they’re mocking us folk who are regency obsessed.  Oh, they are.  But if you delve deeper, you’ll see that at its heart this movie is about *true* romantic regency values.  TALLYHO!

5) The soundtrack is fabulous–the credits are a riot.  The costumes are glorious.  The acting is great.  The sets is full of campy stuffed lambs, pheasants, and deer–but also provide the English glorious that we crave.

Really–it’s a film in which you get to have your cake and eat it too.  Originally it was a book.  Go watch it/buy it or READ IT right now!


Click to buy

And follow us at LadySmut.com where we’ll romance you right out of your pantaloons.

Poldark: The *Other* Outlander

2 Apr

by Madeline Iva

God, I love lavish historical dramas.  This week at LadySmut we’re celebrating the last week of Droughtlander, and Kiersten will probably have much to say next Monday about the first episode of Outlander, Season Two, Episode 1.

It was a harsh barren land for historical drama when I was growing up.  My mom told me about something called The Thornbirds–both the book and the made-for-TV show.  She told me the entire plot one time during a long car ride and it sounded awesome, but I never got to see it myself.

Yet I will get to see this awesome new series revived from that Thornbirds-ish time — it’s called Poledark. Yes — another amazing production from the other side of the pond. It’s being updated. Remember that hot dwarf Kili in The Hobbit? That’s him! That’s Poldark. Meanwhile, feast your eyes on this preview:

Poldark comes back from losing the war in America, only to find things are rotten at home and the lady he loves is now with his cousin.  Boo! He rallies, it’s complicated, and we root for him.  They had me at the horse running across the green cliff tops.  The sucky part is that it doesn’t land on the U.S. shores until June on PBS. 😦


Austenland. Best. Darcy. Ever!

Why are we so swept away with historicals? Why? Things are so much better now for women, for everybody–so why do we love them so obsessively? Maybe because of the emphasis on beauty–both of women, men and of nature. There’s also an emphasis on goodness and firm character, as well as on plain ole heroism. Bonus points for the overt attention to the dangers of evil seducers.  Historical romances are where I first learned that beauty can draw rakes and cads out of the woods and to beware.  I think I learned more about how to avoid date rapists, douche bags and other toxic forms of man through historical romances than I ever did from my mom. (A woman who, alas, was drawn to cads.)

I liked OUTLANDER–what am I saying? I loved Outlander. Talk about a visual feast!  The TV show was just an excuse to go back and re-read the first two books.  They are so whack.  Whoever could have guessed that a time-travel Scottish historical adventure romance would be this whompishly successful? Gabaldon threw everything in there but the kitchen sink.  In book two, when the romance is pretty well settled, it’s fascinating to note how Gabaldon keeps us romance readers going.  She does it by having the hero and heroine drawn apart, and then back together.  Then apart again, then back together.  Over and over, it’s like the soothing cycles of waves washing on the beach.

Belle -- j'dore.

Belle — j’dore.

I realized that one standard I have for historicals like Outlander which I don’t have for everything else is that I want to enjoy them over and over again. So here’s my go-to list for lush costume historical movies, classic books, and historical romances that I’ll read or watch over and over:

For movies it’s LAST OF THE MOHICANS, A ROOM WITH A VIEW, and SENSE & SENSIBILITY.  Also check out BELLE if you haven’t before.  There’s an awesome satire about people who love love love Jane Austen’s period and historical romances (C’est moi) which is the movie AUSTENLAND. It’s so good it hurts–I SWEAR!

Want some heartbreak? Try CAMILLE by Alexander Dumas.  The movie is very different, but also excellent in a dreamy way, and it stars Greta Garbo.  Also try VILLETTE by Charlotte Bronte–so overlooked, yet really brilliant.  It’s almost an anti-romance for it’s time–heck, for this time too–and quite, quite radical.

I am all sensibility when it comes to Historicals.

I am all sensibility when it comes to Historicals.

If you insist on genre romances, try some Georgette Heyer.  No sex, but really good slang, and if you’re surrounded by crass vulgarians you’ll love the emphasis on manners and civility.  Here are my two all time favorites to reread: THE GRAND SOPHY (maybe the most perfect light historical romance ever written?) and FREDERICA.  Also good are: The Quiet Gentleman, Sylvester, or the Wicked Uncle, Arabella, The None Such, Cotillion, The Convenient Marriage, These Old Shades, and Devil’s Cub.

Pushing aside my worship of all things Georgette Heyer, my other two all time favorite go to’s for historical romance are Joanna Bourne’s THE SPYMASTER’S LADY, and Loretta Chase’s LORD OF SCOUNDRELS.  These are books I can reread a thousand times over and still find delightful.

So enjoy! And follow us at LadySmut.com.


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