Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My fave British (non period) comedies

Four Weddings and a Funeral 1994
Young Bridesmaid: What's bonking?
Scarlett: Well, it's kinda like table tennis, only with slightly smaller balls.

Love Actually 2004
Sam: Let's go get the shit kicked out of us by love.

The Full Monty
Dave: Anti-wrinkle cream there may be, but anti-fat-bastard cream there is not. 

A Fish Called Wanda 1988
Ken: Rev-enge!
Otto: [laughing] It's K-K-K-Ken! C-c-c-coming to k-k-k-kill me! How you gonna c-c-c-catch me, K-K-K-Ken?

Calendar Girls 2003
Chris: Lawrence, we're going to need considerably bigger buns.

Educating Rita 1983
Rita: Christ! My customer! She only come in for a demi-wave, she'll come out looking like a flippin' muppet!

Notting Hill 1999
Keziah: No thanks, I'm a fruitarian.
Max: I didn't realize that.
William: And, ahm: what exactly is a fruitarian?
Keziah: We believe that fruits and vegetables have feeling so we think cooking is cruel. We only eat things that have actually fallen off a tree or bush - that are, in fact, dead already.
William: Right. Right. Interesting stuff. So, these carrots...
Keziah: Have been murdered, yes.
William: Murdered? Poor carrots. How beastly!

Bridget Jones's Diary 2001
Mr. Darcy: I like a woman with an arse you can park a bike in and balance a pint of beer on.

Death at a Funeral 2007 (not 2010!)
Jane: Would you like a cup of tea, Sandra?
Sandra: Tea can do many things, Jane, but it can't bring back the dead.

Kinky Boots 2005

Lauren: Lola, you're gonna have to excuse Charlie. We don't have many transvestites in Northampton.
Lola: I'm not merely a transvestite, sweetheart. I'm also a drag queen. It's a simple equation. A drag queen puts on a frock, looks like Kylie. A transvestite puts on a frock, looks like... Boris Yeltsin in lipstick. There, I said it.

About a Boy 2002
Marcus: Suddenly I realized - two people isn't enough. You need backup. If you're only two people, and someone drops off the edge, then you're on your own. Two isn't a large enough number. You need three at least.

Pirate Radio (The Boat That Rocked) 2009
Dave: So tell us Mark, now at the very end - what was your secret? How did you get all them girls?
Mark: Simple. Don't say anything at all.
'Young' Carl: Nothing?
Mark: Nothing. Then, when the tension becomes too much to bear, you finally, finally, you just say: "How about it, then?"

Bend It Like Beckham 2002
Wedding Guest: Lesbian? Her birthday's in March. I thought she was a Pisces.


So, there you have a list of some of my favourite British Comedy Films (not period pieces). I have obviously left a few off of my list which should be there so please help me out and leave a comment with your faves, whether they are on my list or not!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gosford Park 2001-a Robert Altman classic

Gosford Park 2001
Gosford Park is a classic British ensemble piece, set in England at a country house weekend in 1932. It was written by Julian Fellowes(of Downton Abbey), who really knows what the English aristocracy do and did at their country houses on the weekends, so he is in his element here. And director Robert Altman is also at his best with the large talented cast, overlapping dialogue and improvisation which gives realism to this brilliant film.

Apparently, this film was originally conceived by Bob Balaban (who plays American producer Morris Weissman) and Robert Altman in 1999 when Altman suggested a whodunnit and asked Julian Fellowes to write the script.

Kristen Scott Thomas in Gosford Park
Kirsten Scott Thomas plays the aristocratic lady of the house, Lady Sylvia McCordle, who won her husband by drawing cards with her sister to see who would marry the older (but rich) Sir William McCordle (played by Michael Gambon).  Not sure if she won that card game or lost it! She plays the perfect snob and apparently had to apologize to her fellow actors after filming as she started truly becoming Lady Sylvia!

Lavinia Meredith: I don't care what's changed or not changed as long as our sons are spared what you all went through.
Lady Sylvia McCordle: Not all. You never fought, did you, William?
Sir William McCordle: I did my bit.
Louisa Stockbridge: Of course you did.
Lady Sylvia McCordle: Well, you made a lot of money but it's not quite the same as charging into the cannon's mouth, is it?

Maggie Smith as Constance, Countess of Trentham and her maid Mary (Kelly Macdonald)
Dame Maggie Smith is spot on as usual as the ultra snobby Aunt Constance, Countess of Trentham who is perennially short of cash and who thrives on gossip, put-downs and other people's hospitality.

Constance:   Mabel is so clever to pack light. Why should one wear a different frock each evening, we're not in a fashion parade.

Jeremy Northam as Ivor Novello in Gosford Park
Jeremy Northam sang and played the piano appearing as real life actor/singer/composer Ivor Novello. Novello wrote the famous song Keep the Homefires Burning which was very popular during WWI. Novello's real songs were used for Northam to sing (and for Maggie Smith to deride) although most of the gorgeous piano playing was done by Jeremy Northam's brother Christopher who is a concert pianist.

Morris Weissman: How do you manage to put up with these people?
Ivor Novello: Well, you forget, I make my living impersonating them.

Too many other wonderful actors to do justice to them all in this short post. Emily Watson as the head maid Elsie, Clive Owen as the mysterious hunk of a valet who finally kisses little Mary "I've wanted to do that ever since I laid eyes on you!"  Woohoo!

Dame Helen Mirren and Dame Eileen Atkins as the two main ladies in the downstairs area who have untold tales in their pasts. Ryan Phillipe and Bob Balaban as the horrid Americans. Tom Hollander, Charles Dance and Michael Gambon as some of the men, and darn fine actors in this too. I think the jam scene with Tom Hollander and Sophie Thompson is one of my favourites. "Try the strawberry!"

Wrotham Park at the Darcy's Ruby Wedding Party "Oh, crikey!"

And I wouldn't be thorough without mentioning the house in this, Wrotham Park. It is not open to the public, so unless you attend a wedding there, you will never see the inside of the house which is so gorgeous and a character of its own in this film. I did recognize the stairway with all of the portraits lining the walls where Bridget Jones pulls Mark Darcy out into when they are at the Ruby Wedding Party. "Oh, crikey!" However it was apparently also used as a filming location for The Way We Live Now, Jeeves and Wooster, Daniel Deronda and Sense and Sensibility 2008 among many others. Now I may have to re-watch these to see if I can recognize any of the rooms!

Now I need a few of you to comment with your favourite scenes or characters or lines from Gosford Park. I know I missed a few!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling

The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling with Samantha Morton and Max Beesley
The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, an adaptation of the 18th century comic novel by Henry Fielding was first brought to my attention in a promo spot at the beginning of my Pride and Prejudice 1995 VHS tapes (my god, am I ever old!). There was an adorable little interview with some of the cast, including Benjamin Whitrow (Mr. Bennet from P&P and Squire Allworthy from Tom Jones). He was talking so affectionately about this miniseries that I made sure I taped it when it aired on TV in 1997.

Max Beesley as Tom Jones
Narrated by  John Sessions playing Henry Fielding himself, the running gag is that he is very long winded and keeps getting cut off in hilarious ways. This film is part farce and part social commentary with some characters (and names) that likely inspired Dickens. Max Beesley is the titular Tom Jones, a foundling bastard, left in the bed of the appropriately named Squire Allworthy, a man with the highest morals and high hopes for his adopted son Tom. Of course Tom has to arrive at that morality in a really roundabout way, after tasting all the delights that the world has to offer and after being dragged to the lowest point a human can reach, all the while entertaining us with his adventures.

Brian Blessed as Squire Western from Tom Jones
A few notable supporting players (of which there are so many I can't do them all justice) are Brian Blessed as the boorish blustering Squire Western, who is a delight to watch and so over the top! Samantha Morton is also wonderful as Tom's love interest and neighbour Sophia Western. She is a super combination of tender female and explosively tempered daughter of the blustery Squire.  Her ladies maid Honour is played brilliantly by Kathy Burke, comedienne extraordinaire who mugs for the camera delightfully.

James D'Arcy as Mr. Blifil in Tom Jones
James D'Arcy does an awesome job of the hateful Mr. Blifil, although you do feel for him when you see the unusual relationship he has with his mother. And the characters of Square, Thwackum, Partridge, Lady Bellaston and Lord Fellamar are given lots of good screen time which is great.

This is a miniseries which will not fail to disappoint. It is however a bit bawdy, which is unsurprising considering that the novel had quite a reputation for being "low" entertainment, including sexual promiscuity and prostitution. As someone interested in genealogy, I can certainly support the fact that there was an awful lot of pre-marital hay rolling in the 1700s and bastard children abounded! In any case, you may want to take this into consideration especially if there are young children around. The subject is treated with a light touch however, almost always for comic effect.

This miniseries is fun and sweet and crazy all at the same time. It will also transport you to the year 1749 with gorgeous locations and costumes which will pull you right in. The musical score is so wonderful (by the talented Jim Parker) that my husband requested the CD for his birthday one year and just about wore it out.  I think this miniseries is best savoured in six one hour chunks, which is how my original VHS tapes were packaged. Plus you will want to make it last because it's so wonderful!


P.S. Yes, I did take my moniker from this film. I mashed the names of two characters, Jenny Jones (the purported mother of Tom) and Bridget Allworthy (the Squire's sister). Kudos to Professor Miriam RF who was the only one to guess the origin of my name!

P.P.S. I wish I could say that I enjoyed the book, as I usually love to read the novels of my fave adaptations, but alas I found this one a bit too wordy for my taste. At least I understand the joke about Henry Fielding the narrator blathering on and getting cut off all the time. Perhaps I am not the only one! Bless the film makers for finding the wonderful story amongst all those words!


"It is not enough that your designs, nay, that your actions, are intrinsically good; you must take care they shall appear so." -Henry Fielding
Henry Fielding's Tom JonesThe History of Tom Jones [VHS]The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling and Other Works by Henry Fielding (Unexpurgated Edition) (Halcyon Classics)HISTORY OF TOM JONES - A FOUNDLING CD UK BBC 1997 28 TRACK (OCD012)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Penguin English Journeys-a gorgeous boxed set of 20 books

Penguin English Journeys Box set of 20 books

I found these today while poking around on the internet (don't ask me how, I don't remember the sequence of clicks!) and thought I would share them. They are reprints of old books which wander through the countryside of England. Churches, food, gardens, houses...they are all celebrated in these books which can be purchased separately or as a boxed set of 20 books. I managed to find a seller on who would ship them to me in Canada (you have to look for one that says International delivery rates) for about £30/49 USD. Not bad considering they sell for about $10 each over here! Plus, I didn't want to have to decide on just one or two.

However if you can only get a few, here are some suggestions.

Let Us Now Praise Famous Gardens by Vita Sackville-West
In this unique gardening chronicle Vita Sackville-West weaves together simple, honest accounts of her horticultural experiences throughout the year with exquisite writing and poetic description. Whether singing the praises of sweet-briar, cyclamen, Indian pinks and the Strawberry grape, or giving practical advice on pruning roses, planting bulbs, overcoming frosts and making the most of a small space, her writings on the art of good gardening are both instructive and delightful. Generations of inhabitants have helped shape the English countryside - but it has profoundly shaped us too. It has provoked a huge variety of responses from artists, writers, musicians and people who live and work on the land - as well as those who are travelling through it.English Journeys celebrates this long tradition with a series of twenty books on all aspects of the countryside, from stargazey pie and country churches, to man's relationship with nature and songs celebrating the patterns of the countryside (as well as ghosts and love-struck soldiers). -description taken from Amazon

Cathedrals and Castles by Henry James
Some Country Houses and Their Owners by James Lees-Milne
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard and other poems
I'll bet you can't choose just one! And aren't these covers reason enough to purchase one or two? And they are all bite-sized at just about 125 pages each. Now I can't wait for our wretched postal strike to end so that I can receive them ASAP.

Let Us Now Praise Famous Gardens. Vita Sackville-West (English Journeys)Country Lore and Legends. Jacqueline Simpson (English Journeys)The Pleasures of English Food. Alan Davidson (English Journeys)Cathedrals and Castles. Henry James (English Journeys)Life at Grasmere. Dorothy Wordsworth and William Wordsworth (English Journeys)Through England on a Side-Saddle. Celia Fiennes (English Journeys)Some Country Houses and Their Owners. James Lees-Milne (English Journeys)Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard and Other Poems. Thomas Gray ... [Et Al.] (English Journeys)



Related Posts with Thumbnails