Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

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

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Mr. Holmes

Mr. Holmes is a lovely slow gem of a film. If you want the antidote to the summertime blockbuster, here it is! Based on the Mitch Cullin novel A Slight Trick of the Mind, Ian McKellen stars as an aging Sherlock Holmes who has given up the detective business and retired to the Sussex coast.

Wishing to set the record straight about his last case 30 some odd years previously (and struggling with early dementia) Mr. Holmes tries to recall and write down the details of this last case.

Mr. Holmes: I've decided to write the story down; as it was, not as John (Watson) made it. Get it right before I die.

Egged on by adorable Milo Parker as his housekeeper's son Roger the story proceeds in flashbacks to his last case, and more recently to Japan where Holmes goes to get some Prickly Ash plants which, when ingested as jelly, supposedly has restorative properties for the memory.

Ian McKellen, now 75 years of age, was a perfect choice to bounce back and forth from a spry 60 year old detective to a doddering, liver spotted 93 year old retiree tending to his bees and grumping at his doctor.

Hattie Morahan (Sense and Sensibility) is an ethereal "Woman in Dove Grey" who is at the center of the 30 year old mystery.

Laura Linney would have been perfect as the housekeeper Mrs. Munro if she could have nailed whichever accent she was going for. Still, I loved her in this! Unimpressed by the old man's credentials, she clashes with Holmes delightfully.

The chalk cliffs of East Sussex are a character in and of themselves. But Frances de la Tour, Hiroyuki Sanada, Roger Allam and Philip Davis give the supporting roles some real depth.

Roger: Have you ever been bitten?
Mr. Holmes: Stung! Bees don't have teeth!
[Mrs Munro appears]
Mrs. Munro: Have you ever been bitten?
Mr. Holmes: No. I have never been bit.

I can't wait to see this one again!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Suffragette Film October 2015!

I have been eagerly awaiting the trailer for the Suffragette film due out this October and wow was it ever worth the wait. I  have watched them three times now and I have cried each time. Give Carey Mulligan the Oscar now!

A who's who of British (and Irish and American) actors are in this. Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne-Marie Duff, Romola Garai, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson and Samuel West to name just a few!

I have never printed quotes before a film was released but here they are!


Male voice over: Women should not exercise judgement in political affairs.

Male voice over: If we allow women to vote it will mean the loss of social structure.

Man: You work at the Glass House Laundry?
Maud (Carey Mulligan): I was born there. Part time washer from when I was 7, full time from when I was 12."

Mrs. Pankhurst (Meryl Streep): For 50 years we have laboured peacefully to secure the note for women. We've been ridiculed, battered and ignored.

Maud: All my life I've been respectful. Done what men told me. Well I can't have that anymore.

Maud: We break windows. We burn things. Cause war's the only language men listen to.

Maud: What are you going to do? Lock us all up? We're in every home. We're half the human race. You can't stop us all.

Judge: What would the vote mean to you?

Mrs. Pankhurst: Never underestimate the power we women have to define our own destiny. We have been left with no alternative. Defy this government!

Mrs. Pankhurst: We don't want to be law breakers. We want to be law makers!"

Edith New (Helena Bonham Carter): The only way is forward!

Violet Cambridge (Anne-Marie Duff): Votes for women!

Alice (Romola Garai): The power is in your hands!

Join me watching this in October. And bring your mother, daughter, friend and spouse!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Poldark 2015 is a must see!

Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark
The new BBC miniseries Poldark finished in the UK this spring and begins in North America on PBS this Sunday June 21 2015. So...lucky me, PBS let me see this early in order to tell you what a fabulous series it is! I plowed my way through all 7 episodes and am very relieved to hear that it has been renewed for a second season!

Poldark and fiance Elizabeth in flashback
For those who don't yet know, the series opens with Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner from The Hobbit) as a redcoat at the end of the American Revolution who returns to Cornwall to find that his beloved fiance Elizabeth (the luminous Heida Reed) thinks he is dead and is about to marry his cousin Francis Poldark. Ross's father has died while Ross was in America fighting, but his inheritance consists only of a copper mine and a house which have both gone to ruin.

I have to add here that the coast of Cornwall is as large and as gorgeous a character as the hunky Ross Poldark. Full marks for cinematography here, especially when Ross is galloping along the cliff with Demelza perched on the saddle. Apparently tourism is up significantly in Cornwall already, but if you think fine weather is usual in this part of England you may be surprised. I once heard a West Country resident describe their weather as "roobish"!

Oh yes, Demelza (I love that name), the scrappy miner's daughter Ross brings back from Redruth Fair. She looks like a boy at first, but then when she returns with Ross (accompanied by her dog Garrick) to be a kitchen maid, she is gradually tamed into a fetching but still rather earthy love interest for our hottie Ross Poldark. Demelza is played by Eleanor Tomlinson (Georgiana Darcy from Death Comes to Pemberley) and is quite adorable, especially when learning how to dance!

And then we have Francis Poldark (played by American actor Kyle Soller), who does marry the lovely Elizabeth but alas, he is a poor substitute for his cousin Ross. He is constantly bossed around by his dismissive father and ends up being very unprepared to take over as head of the family. Oh, dear!

Verity Poldark is the sweet dutiful sister of Francis, who takes care of an awful lot in the big house, just as the spinster sister was expected to do in the 18th century. But will she find love later in the series? Let's hope so. I think Ruby Bentall (The Paradise, Lark Rise to Candleford) is just perfect as the long suffering Verity.

Speaking of great casting, Jack Farthing is a perfect baddie as George Warleggen, the new moneyed banker/industrialist and constant rival to Ross. So of course he slithers after the lovely Elizabeth. Ewwwwww! Comic relief is provided by the lazy tippling servants Jud and Prudie and the elderly Aunt Agatha who often fails to hold her tongue.

I think the best compliment that I can give to this miniseries is that I am now compelled to read the books, as I am invested in all of the characters, and I can't wait until next year to find out what happens. Thankfully there are 12 novels, written by Winston Graham starting in 1945 (Ross Poldark) and ending in 2002 (Bella Poldark), which he published just before his death. Apparently he based the character of Ross on a fighter pilot he met on a train during the war and Demelza has similarities to Graham's Cornish wife Jean Williamson.

So enjoy this wonderful BBC miniseries. I couldn't quite get into Outlander (I tried, really I did!) but this one captured my heart.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Far From The Madding Crowd- Proposal Scene Transcribed

  'Come,' said Gabriel, freshening again; 'think  a minute or two. I'll wait a while, Miss Everdene. Will you marry me? Do, Bathsheba. I love you far more than common!'
  'I'll try to think,' she observed, rather more timorously; 'if I can think out of doors; my mind spreads away so.'
  'But you can give a guess.'
  'Then give me time.' Bathsheba looked thoughtfully into the distance, away from the direction in which Gabriel stood.
  'I can make you happy,' said he to the back of her head, across the bush. 'You shall have a piano in a year or two - farmers' wives are getting to have pianos now - and I'll practise up the flute right well to play with you in the evenings.'
  'Yes; I should like that.'
  'And have one of those little ten-pound gigs for market - and nice flowers, and birds - cocks and hens I mean, because they be useful,' continued Gabriel, feeling balanced between poetry and practicality.
  'I should like it very much.'
  'And a frame for cucumbers - like a gentleman and a lady.'
  'And when the wedding was over, we'd have it put in the newspaper list of marriages.'
  'Dearly I should like that!'
  'And the babies in the births - every man jack of 'em!
  And at home by the fire, whenever you look up, there I shall be - and whenever I look up, there will be you.'

  'Wait, wait, and don't be improper!'
  Her countenance fell, and she was silent awhile. He regarded the red berries between them over and over again, to such an extent, that holly seemed in his after life to be a cypher signifying a proposal of marriage. Bathsheba decisively turned to him.
  'No; 'tis no use,' she said. 'I don't want to marry you.'
  I have tried hard all the time I've been thinking; for a marriage would be very nice in one sense. People would talk about me, and think I had won my battle, and I should feel triumphant, and all that. But a husband...'
  'Why, he'd always be there, as you say; whenever I looked up, there he'd be.'
  'Of course he would - I, that is.'
  'Well, what I mean is that I shouldn't mind being a bride at a wedding, if I could be one without having a husband. But since a woman can't show off in that way by herself, I shan't marry - at least yet.'
  'That's a terrible wooden story.'
  At this criticism of her statement Bathsheba made an addition to her dignity by a slight sweep away from him.
  'Upon my heart and soul, I don't know what a maid can say stupider than that,' said Oak. 'But dearest,' he continued in a palliative voice, 'don't be like it?' Oak sighed a deep honest sigh - none the less so in that, being like the sigh of a pine plantation, it was rather noticeable as a disturbance of the atmosphere. 'Why won't you have me?' he appealed, creeping round the holly to reach her side.
  'I cannot,' she said, retreating.
  'But why?' he persisted; standing still at last in despair of ever reaching her, and facing over the bush.

  'Because I don't love you.'
  'Yes, but...'
  She contracted a yawn to an inoffensive smallness, so that it was hardly ill-mannered at all. 'I don't love you,' she said.
  'But I love you - and, as for myself, I am content to be liked.'
  'O Mr. Oak - that's very fine! You'd get to despise me.'
  'Never,' said Mr. Oak, so earnestly that he seemed to be coming, by the force of his words, straight through the bush and into her arms. 'I shall do one thing in this life - one thing certain - that is, love you, and long for you and keep wanting you till I die.' His voice had a genuine pathos now, and his large brown hands perceptibly trembled.
  'It seems dreadfully wrong not to have you when you feel so much!' she said with a little distress, and looking hopelessly around for some means of escape from her moral dilemma. 'How I wish I hadn't run after you!' However, she seemed to have a short cut for getting back to cheerfulness, and set her face to signify archness. 'It wouldn't do, Mr. Oak. I want somebody to tame me; I am too independent; and you would never be able to, I know.'
Oak cast his eyes down the field in a way implying that it was useless to attempt an argument.

  'Mr Oak,' she said with luminous distinctness and common sense, 'you are better off than I. I have hardly a penny in the world - I am staying with my aunt for my bare sustenance. I am better educated than you - and I don't love you a bit: that's my side of the case. Now yours: you are a farmer just beginning, and you ought in common prudence, if you marry at all (which you should certainly not think of doing at present) to marry a woman with money, who would stock a larger farm for you than you have now.'
  Gabriel looked at her with a little surprise and much admiration.
  'That's the very thing I had been thinking myself!' he naively said.
  Farmer Oak had one-and-a-half Christian characteristics too many to succeed with Bathsheba: his humility, and a superfluous moiety of honesty. Bathsheba was decidedly disconcerted.
  'Well, then, why did you come and disturb me?' she said almost angrily, if not quite, an enlarging red spot rising in each cheek.
  'I can't do what I think would be - would be...'
  'No, wise.'
  'You have made an admission now Mr. Oak,'  she exclaimed, with even more hauteur, and rocking her head disdainfully. 'After that, do you think I could marry you? Not if I know it.'

  He broke in passionately: 'But don't mistake me like that! Because I am open enough to own what every man in my shoes would have thought of, you make your colours come up your face, and get crabbed with me. That about your not being good enough for me is nonsense. You speak like a lady - all the parish notice it, and your uncle at Weatherbury is, I have heerd, a large farmer - much larger than ever I shall be. May I call in the evening, or will you walk along with me o' Sundays? I don't want you to make up your mind at once, if you'd rather not.'
  'No - no - I cannot. Don't press me any more - don't. I don't love you - so 'twould be ridiculous,' she said, with a laugh.
  No man likes to see his emotions the sport of a merry-go-round of skittishness. 'Very well,' said Oak, firmly, with the bearing of one who was going to give his days and nights to Ecclesiates for ever.
  'Then I'll ask you no more.'

Thomas Hardy's original proposal scene (because they couldn't put all these wonderful words into the film!)

Far From The Madding Crowd

I was able to see the latest adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Far From The Madding Crowd this weekend (despite it's limited release) and it was wonderful. I am turning into quite a Carey Mulligan fan! Mulligan does an admirable job bring to life one of the first truly modern women in English literature, the fabulously named Bathsheba Everdene. With just the right blend of sauciness and impetuosity she takes us through the difficult journey of a Victorian woman ahead of her time.

Matthias Schoenaerts at first seems an unlikely choice for the solid, trustworthy and aptly named Gabriel Oak. One would think that the mere fact of his Belgian accent would at first rule him out for this quintessentially English character. And yet, even though he occasionally loses his tenuous grip on a West Country accent, he really works in this role. There is a grounded sensual quality to him which is lovely opposite Carey Mulligan's impulsive headstrong Bathsheba.

Michael Sheen as Mr. Boldwood, the middle aged farmer who falls for the valentine joke hook, line and sinker is just perfect. His mad mooning over our heroine hits just the right tone and it certainly feels as if Mulligan's Bathsheba is tempted to put him out of his misery and marry him (if only for that amazing house!).

But of course, what is a gorgeous house compared to a sexy soldier in a scarlet uniform? Especially one who whips out his sword and takes her breath away with her first kiss. Well, if you don't already know how this ends, I shan't spoil it for you.

I have to give a shout out to Jessica Barden who steals a few scenes as sidekick Liddy. Now I have to go back and watch her in the modern day version of FFTMC Tamara Drewe. She was hysterical as the teenage Jody in that little gem! Juno Temple is fine as poor Fanny Robin but has only a few brief scenes. Apparently most of her work ended up on the cutting room floor. Pity.

Thankfully Sparky the dog got lots of screen time however as Old George. :)

In any case this is a wonderful film adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Far From The Madding Crowd. It does suffer from the usual adaptation issues arising from the compression of a novel into less than two hours time, as well as the need to "modernize" the language. I totally understand the need for both so thankfully it will drive many fans back to the original novel as it did for me. In fact I reread the book for the first time in fifteen years before and after seeing the film. Reading it after the film was actually way better! So bravo to all involved. Mission accomplished.

I will be adding this one to my DVD collection with pleasure. Gorgeously filmed and well acted!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Call The Midwife Season 4!

I am thrilled to announce the arrival of Call The Midwife Season 4 on Sunday March 29th on PBS! And amazingly, it is as wonderful as the last two seasons. I was trying not to read any spoilers online last fall from the UK but I did hear some happy murmuring on Twitter about the new season. They were right.

The first episode is all I have watched so far, and it was really Trixie's show this week. She had me crying a few times. Who knew the party girl from the first season had such depth? I really didn't miss Cynthia or Jenny at all! And the new midwife Barbara Gilbert (played by Charlotte Ritchie) is apparently a bit of a klutz, but is really quite adorable as an earnest Vicar's daughter transplanted to Nonnatus House.

Sister Monica Joan has some rare moments of lucidity, grumpy Sister Evangelina has a mysterious medical issue she is trying to ignore, and Chummy made barely a cameo before lurching off in a car. I was feeling very nervous for the bystanders when she was reversing with that manual transmission!

Hopefully I haven't given too much away. And I hope you will enjoy this season as much as I am. Go Trixie!


P.S. I can't wait for the new nurse Phyllis Crane, played in Episode 2 by the marvelous Linda Bassett (the pianist from Calendar Girls, Queenie from Larkrise to Candleford and Mrs. Jennings from the most recent Sense and Sensibility). Her character Phyllis is described as "officious". I can't wait!

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!




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