Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Far From the Madding Crowd and other upcoming films!

Far From The Madding Crowd will be released May 1, 2015 and promises to be one of the best Period Dramas of 2015. It stars Carey Mulligan (Pride and Prejudice, The Great Gatsby), Michael Sheen (The Queen, Masters of Sex) and from what I can tell, Carey Mulligan does her own singing. While I am waiting for this one, I may reread the Far From The Madding Crowd, the sad tale of Bathsheba Everdene by Thomas Hardy. Or perhaps see one of the film versions, either Julie Christie's from 1967 or the newer Paloma Baeza version from 1998. All are well worth revisiting.

There are a few films which should have been in wide release by now which are being held up in distribution. I am not amused!

Effie Gray, which stars Dakota Fanning, Greg Wise and Emma Thompson was released to mixed reviews in the fall in the UK but is supposedly making it across the pond on April 3, 2015. It concerns the odd relationship between artist John Ruskin and his teenage bride. Fingers crossed! I love Emma Thompson and she wrote this one so I still have fairly high hopes.

A Little Chaos has fared a bit better with reviewers, and yet has still had it's released pushed back to April 17, 2015. I hope they mean in North America, not just in the UK. Directed by Alan Rickman and starring Kate Winslet, Stanley Tucci and Rickman himself (not to mention newcomer Matthias Shoenaerts from Far From the Madding Crowd), it is an unlikely tale of two landscape gardeners competing to design a fountain at Versailles for Louis XIV.

And if you can wait until fall of 2015, Suffragette is about the early feminists fighting for equal voting rights in Edwardian England. This one is star studded, with Meryl Streep as Emmeline Pankhurst and Carey Mulligan (I love her!), Helena Bonham Carter and Anne-Marie Duff as some of the suffragettes. My readers will know that this is a topic which I think deserves more attention. Some of my post links are below:

So it would appear that 2015 will be a wonderful year for Period Drama! And now if only some film maker would take on a Georgette Heyer adaptation. Fingers crossed!


The SECOND Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is definitely worth seeing. I liked it almost as much as the first film. My loyal reader Olga thought she liked it even better than the first one!

Like the first film, it follows the lives of British retirees looking for a less expensive (and more interesting) place to spend their twilight years. This one continues with Sonny (Dev Patel), his gorgeous fiancee Sunaina (Tina Desai) and their plans for yet another Anglo-Indian retirement home. It also shows the bumpy ride they have toward their wedding. I don't think I will spoil it for you by saying that the film ends with a wonderful wedding dance, Bollywood style.

The best thing about this film is of course the fab British cast. How can a movie with these amazingly talented actors be anything less than delightful? Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, Penelope just goes on and on! Director John Madden returns as well (Shakespeare in Love) to steer the ship.

I am afraid to say the worst thing about The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was Richard Gere. I don't know if it was the juxtaposition with the talent above, but his acting seemed very second rate. When he was attempting to woo Sonny's mother, I didn't believe a word he said! Am I being too hard on him? Did anyone else like him in this????

So the bottom line is to just go and see this. Enjoy the wonderful costumes, scenery and the not too heavy story line. It is just the kind of date film my husband and I enjoy and I'm sure you will too!


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Downton Abbey Season 5 Finale (The UK Christmas Special)

SPOILER ALERT! This post is intended for those who have already viewed Downton Abbey Season 5 Finale- The UK Christmas Special

Well Carson finally did it! It took an admission of poverty from Mrs. Hughes to spur him on, but he finally did it!

Mr. Carson: "I do want to be stuck with you...I'm not marrying anyone else"
Mrs. Hughes: "Of course I'll marry you, you old Booby! I thought you'd never ask!"

Ah, heartwarming stuff from Uncle Julian for Christmas Day in the UK. He learnt his lesson after killing off Matthew a few years ago. Last year we had Carson and Mrs. Hughes wading at the seaside, and this year we were crying over Tom's touching remembrance of Sybil in the nursery. Good tears however! And Carson's proposal!

Isobel and Violet had me laughing out loud a few times tonight although they both had some very touching scenes together and with their respective amours.

Isobel: "Proposals. Propositions. Not what one expects at our age."

I love the addition of Matthew Goode as Mary's new love interest. Please let this be the beginning of lots of Matthew next season. Mary looked pretty darned aroused as he jumped into his sports car and zoomed away. Well done!

The second best looking character in this episode was Brancaster Castle (Alnwick Castle the home of the Duke of Northumberland and his kickass Duchess). We have seen this lovely property standing in for Hogwarts in Harry Potter but it is breathtaking!

Alun Armstrong rather stole the show a few times with his evil butler Stowell, whose permanent expression of distaste is hilarious! A rather fun matching of evil wits between Barrow and Stowell. And the interesting but unlikely personality transplant of Lord Sinderby after Rose's heroics were entertaining. Again, Rose and Atticus are just soooo adorable. I'm going to miss them when they go to America.

Molesley and Baxter were also vying for adorable couple of the night when they spent their days off together pubbing in York...OK, trying to verify Mr. Bates's alibi. And I refuse to say anything more about the ridiculous Bates storyline in protest. End it now Julian Fellowes!

And I will end with Matthew Goode in his fast car. Phwoar!

Mary: "Heavens, what a snappy chariot. Mr. Rogers clearly has hidden depths."
Henry Talbot: "It's mine. But thanks for the compliment!"

Other Best Lines of the Week:

Violet: Lord Sinderby, Branson and Barrow. Not what I call a recipe for a peaceful weeks shooting.
Isobel: Makes you wonder what they'll be shooting at by the end of it!
Violet: Bwahhaha!

Violet: I am sad to say I shall never again receive an immoral proposition from a man. Was I so wrong to savour it?

Mary: Suffice it to say the butler is back in his box.

Branson: You see where I come from there are quite a few Marigolds.

Isobel: And You've never strayed again.
Violet: I've never risked everything again.
Isobel: That's not quite what I asked.
Violet: It's all the answer you'll get.

Sybbie: Donk!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Downton Abbey Season 5 Episode 8

SPOILER ALERT! This post is intended for those who have already seen Downton Abbey Season 5 Episode 8

Isis is gone and Anna is in the clink. What the heck is wrong with Julian Fellowes??? He has got to be kidding. Just when you think that we are in the clear with Bates, the police inspectors come to the house for the umpteenth time looking for someone short! (sound of hair being torn out by me).

On a lighter note, a wedding is a great way to finish the series (well we still have the Christmas Episode next week). Even if we did have to put up with Mrs. Shrimpy aka "Insane Mother" and Lord Sinderby aka "His Crustiness". Poor Rose and Atticus! They are sooooo adorable and deserve much better. Thank goodness the silly setup photos of Atticus didn't throw Rose off more than momentarily. Mrs. Shrimpy has done her worst now but it looks like Lord Sinderby is going to be trouble in the future.

Thank goodness Daisy didn't bolt in the big metropolis after all. You have a farm to run in Yorkshire my dear! And what was the nonsense with Denker and the new footman about? Is she the new O'Brien come to stir things up? Can't wait to see her lock horns with both Formerly Evil Thomas and Delightfully Snotty Spratt in the future.

Lovely acting from Mrs. Patmore this week. However I am glad the memorial story line is finally finished.

Prince Kuragin certainly gave Dame Maggie some pause for thought. Did he have to refer to wanting to hop into the sack with the Dowager however? Shudder! I hope she will send him on his way. Now Isobel however should really get together with Lord Merton. Fingers crossed for that relationship.

Tom is going to Boston, Mary is being sad instead of being horrible and Lord Grantham is finally in on the Edith and Marigold story. I wondered when the penny would drop now that Marigold is living at Downton.

Well, I will leave you with this lovely full length photo of Lady Rose in her drop dead gorgeous wedding dress. I believe it was a vintage find by the costume department. Bravo!!! Click on the photo to enlarge it for a better look.

Best Lines of the Week 

Lady Mary: Why does she (Edith) have to carry on as if she'd invented motherhood?

Countess Violet: Though love may not conquer all, it can conquer quite a lot.

Prince Kuragin: I wish to spend my final years with you. As a friend. As a lover. I don't seek scandal. Only love.

Daisy: London is full of possibilities. Sometimes I think my life has no possibilities at all. I feel as if I've been down a coal hole and someone's opened a lid and brought me into the sunlight.

Susan Flintshire: Do you find it difficult to get staff?
Lady Sinderby: Not really. But then, we're Jewish. So we pay well. (snap!)

Lord Sinderby: Divorce signifies weakness, degradation, scandal, failure.

Countess Violet: My dear, love is a far more dangerous motive than dislike.

PS Thank-you to my fave character Molesley (and I suppose Julian Fellowes) for making me look up the Wallace Collection. I must see that if I am in London.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Downton Abbey Season 5 Episode 7

SPOILER ALERT! This post is intended for those who have already seen Downton Abbey Series 5 Episode 7

Isis!!!!!! I can't see to write this for the tears. It's almost as bad as losing our darling Sybil! I have to say that as corny as Julian Fellowes' writing is at times, I really loved the tender scene at the end of this episode. If we had to lose Isis, at least she got to die with dignity surrounded by love. Cora is right. May we all be so lucky when our time comes.

On a lighter note, the young ladies of Downton are now sorted for a while. Lady Rose is engaged to her Atticus Aldridge. Could we have a happy ending on Downton for a change? Well, perhaps not with Rose's mum the ever spiky Susan appearing back from India.

But the lame "tableau" at the Cinema seemed to have done the trick for Mabel Lane Fox and Tony. By the way, do the Brits really pronounce it Kinema or is that just Charles showing off his Public School Latin pronunciation? And I suppose Charles bogging off to Poland is just another future history lesson on the Nazis from Julian Fellowes? Sigh!

The weirdness with Lady Edith bringing Marigold to Downton was odd even for this show. And can we finally put the Anna/Bates/Mr. Rapist story to rest? No, I suppose not.

I must say I do enjoy the fireworks at every other dinner scene at Downton. Larry Merton is every bit as much fun as the redheaded school teacher.

And Molesley snickering below stairs at Tom Branson's use of the word "bastard" in reference to horrible Larry Merton had me in stitches. I LOVE Molesley! Possibly the best character ever to arrive at Downton Abbey! More Molesley!!!

My next fave is Spratt and his keeping the Dowager Lady Violet from getting too comfortable with her new maid Denker. But again, I adored the tenderness with which Violet admitted to bitchy Mary how much she will miss the company of Isobel when she leaves. Awwwwww. But how sad Isobel looked saying farewell to her Dickie man. Oh dear!

I suppose we have to say goodbye to Lady Rose so she can go and publicize her role as Cinderella (in the live action Disney film with Daisy as one of her evil stepsisters- more on that later next month).

And does Tom Branson have to take Sybbie to Boston? She is so adorable playing Pooh sticks with her papa and throwing hunks of moss into the stream saying "Why...why...?" Why indeed Sybbie.

Best Lines of the Week (mostly Dame Maggie this week):

Countess Violet: He's a man. Men don't have rights. (Snort!)

Countess Violet: My dear, a lack of compassion can be as vulgar as an excess of tears. (only Violet can put Mary in her place like this!)

Countess Violet: I've got used to having a companion. A friend, someone to talk things over with. Isobel and I had a lot in common. I shall miss that.

Spratt: She (Denker) takes after the dachshund. She is quite untrainable.

Lord Grantham: If you ask me, it's absolutely crackers! (for once, he's right)

Mr. Mason: Education is power. Don't forget that. There's no limit to what you can achieve...There are millions out there who could have done so much if they'd only been given an education. (I hope many young viewers watching in many countries take this to heart. Bless "Lord Fellowes" for being a socialist after all. Hurrah!)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Last Tango in Halifax

Alright, I realize that Last Tango in Halifax does not qualify as Period Drama, however this is my blog and I am really enjoying watching this on Netflix this winter. In fact this is one of the few things that can keep me on my stationary bike for a full hour!

Written by Yorkshire lass Sally Wainwright, this series is based on her mother's story of losing touch with a high school sweetheart and the romance which happens after finding him on the internet decades later. Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid are both acting royalty in England and do an amazing job as the septuagenarian lovers.

Wainwright has a talent for dialogue which makes the relationships alternately touching, hilarious or heartbreaking. There never seems to be a false note, no matter how unbelievable the situation.

Sarah Lancashire plays the snooty lesbian headmistress daughter of Celia (Anne Reid) and Nicola Walker plays the "modern Bathsheba" Gillian, an oversexed sheep farmer and daughter of Alan (Derek Jacobi). Obviously there are some fireworks when these two worlds collide, thanks to Alan and Celia's developing relationship.

And if you get addicted to Sally Wainwright's work like I have, you'll be happy to know that she has two other wonderful series currently on Netflix- Scott and Bailey, a detective drama series with three women in the main roles. How refreshing to see entire scenes played out in the WOMEN'S LOO!

If you like your crime drama even grittier, Happy Valley is Wainwright's ironically named latest series starring Sarah Lancashire (again!) as a gritty police Sergeant in Yorkshire. More dramatic and fewer moments of levity made this one a harder slog for me but if you want to see James Norton (the sexy vicar from Granchester) as a criminal who will make your flesh crawl, this one is for you!

And FYI, although there are only two seasons of Last Tango in Halifax on Netflix at the moment, a third season has already aired in the UK and a fourth season has been announced. Hurrah!


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Downton Abbey Season 5 Episode 6

SPOILER ALERT! This post is intended for those who have already seen Downton Abbey Season 5 Episode 6

Great Episode! My goodness a lot happened in this one, and it was all fabulous! Champagne and ice cream for Edith and Marigold, as they have finally broken free from Downton and taken off, likely to run the newspaper in London. I think that was the best possible reaction to the news about Mr. Gregson. Bravo Edith!

And I was very happy that Edith told off Lady Mary before she left. Atticus Aldridge didn't seem put off by the sisterly squabbling: "I'm sorry Mr. Aldridge but you might as well know what we're like."

And Lady Mary is back in the saddle again, bobbed hair and all. I can't wait to see her string Charles Blake along now and try her tricks with him. I think she may find he is not the puppyish follower she is used to. Yeehaw!

Dr. Clarkson says Thomas will have to learn to live with his natural proclivities, and we now are sure that Baxter is a saint! Molesley is a frustrated history teacher and was that a marriage proposal or a business proposition from Carson to Mrs. Hughes? From the smirk on her face I think she assumes the former.

The older set and their romances were simmering away. It seems as though Isobel has decided to accept the proposal from her exalted suitor and Violet seems quite resigned to the fact. These two are getting to be wonderful friends with their cards and their jigsaw puzzles. Lovely!

And one of the steamiest scenes in this episode was between Violet and her Igor. He is one hot Russian silver fox, and if the Dowager Countess could have stopped staring disgustedly at her muddy tea and concentrated on her old flame, her frostiness may have thawed a little. Ah, soon methinks!

Anna and Bates ended up pretty well in this episode too. The happy snuggling is back, now that she knows he didn't off the rapist after all. I hope she sets him straight about Lady Mary's unnamed contraceptive device pretty soon. Does this mean we finally can set this drawn out plot to rest and get down to some "Married Love" between the Bates's? (by the way, does anyone else have an uncontrollable urge to read that Marie Stopes book?

Kudos to Cora for giving it to Lord Grantham about his sanctimonious attitude and telling him to march right back into that marital bed. Man the ladies were hot in this episode!

But Isis is ill? Noooooooo!!!!!!! Just don't let Dr. Clarkson take a look at her. Let's hope it was just a dodgy dead squirrel.

Best Lines of the Week (and they were really good this week!)

French Yorkshireman Hairdresser: At least she can carry it off. Most of them look like bald monkeys.

Dowager Violet to Mary: Oh it is you! I thought it was a man wearing your clothes.

Dowager Violet: All this endless thinking, it's very overrated. I blame the war. Before 1914 no one thought about anything at all.

Lady Edith: I'm just amazed that even you would choose the day after I learn the man I love is dead to try out a new fashion.

Prince Kuragin: I wanted you from the moment I saw you. More than mortal man ever wanted woman.
Countess Violet: That is an historical detail.

Countess Violet: We all pander to Spratt in this house. He rules us with a rod of iron.

Cora: If you can honestly say you have never let a flirtation get out of hand since we married, never given a woman the wrong impression, by all means stay away. Otherwise, I expect you back in my room tonight.

Mabel Lane Fox: Why turn up looking like a cross between a Vogue fashion plate and a crate of dynamite?



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