Category Archives: Downton Abbey

The Chaperone Movie Review

The opportunity to travel offers more than what it appears to be. It is more than the place one goes to, it is the emotional experience and the growth that comes with travel.

The 2018 movie, The Chaperone, is based on the book of the same name by Laura Moriarty. At the age of fifteen, future silent screen star Louise Brooks (Haley Lu Richardson) is given the opportunity to study dance at a prestigious school in New York City. But a fifteen year old girl cannot travel alone, especially in 1922. Norma (Elizabeth McGovern) is there to make sure that Louise stays out of trouble.

But Norma has her own reasons for leaving Kansas and her family behind. Can she find the answers she is looking for and will Louise become the star that she dreams of becoming?

Penned by Downton Abbey scribe Julian Fellows, this movie is interesting. I appreciated the parallel character arcs of the lead characters. Though their end goals are different, their individual journeys are remarkably similar. I also appreciated the relationships with the men around them are secondary to the relationship between Norma and Louise.

However, compared to Downton Abbey, this movie is kind of meh. Though I have not read the book yet, I did not have the chill up my spine that I had with Downton.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

The Chaperone is available for streaming on Masterpiece.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Downton Abbey, Feminism, History, Movies, New York City

Downton Abbey Movie Review

On the surface, transforming a popular television program into a film seems easy. The beloved characters and well known narrative are already in place, it is just a matter choosing how to expand the world beyond what already existed on the small screen.

But like many things, it is often easier said than done.

The Downton Abbey film premiered last night. Set a year and a half after the television show ended, everything is tranquil. But tranquility, as it always does on Downton Abbey, does not last.

King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James) will be visiting the Crawleys while on a tour through Yorkshire. The news forces the Crawleys and their servants to be on their A-Game. But being on their A-Game is a challenge to say the least.

Upstairs, Robert (Hugh Bonneville), Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) and the rest of the family are preparing to be the perfect hosts for their majesties. Downstairs is a flurry of activity, which requires the steady hand of Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) to keep everything running smooth. That steady hand is not helped by the royal servants, who take over the running of the ship while the King and Queen are in residence at Downton.

There are quite a few movies that have been made based on television programs. A good number try, but don’t live up to the reputation of it’s television predecessor. Downton Abbey not only lives up to that reputation, it builds the reputation of the series and the world within the series.

Though some reviewers have stated that this movie is strictly for the Downton Abbey fan base, I disagree. It helps to have at least some knowledge of the television series, but it does not hinder the overall enjoyment of the film if one goes in as Downton newbie.

I absolutely recommend it.

Downton Abbey is currently in theaters.

Leave a comment

Filed under Downton Abbey, History, Movie Review, Movies, Television

Thoughts On the full trailer for the Downton Abbey Movie

A good movie trailer is essentially a tease of the full movie. It gives enough away to tempt the audience to pay to see the movie, but it doesn’t (well hopefully it doesn’t) give away too much of the narrative.

The full trailer for the Downton Abbey movie was released earlier today.

Based on the uber-successful BPD Masterpiece television program of the same name created and written by Julian Fellows, the movie starts in 1927, a year after the series ended. King George V and Queen Mary will soon be visiting Downton, causing all sorts of commotion. I also fully expect there to be plenty of personal drama between the characters while the household is preparing for their royal visitors.

I am definitely looking forward to seeing this movie.

P.S. Whoever decided to end the trailer with a delicious verbal duel between Isobel (Penelope Wilton) and Violet (Maggie Smith) is a genius.

Leave a comment

Filed under Downton Abbey, Movies, Television, Thoughts On....

Best Books Of 2018

I’ve read quite a few books in 2018. Below is the list of the best books of 2018, at least from my perspective.

  1. Becoming by Michelle Obama: Mrs Obama’s autobiography is insightful, down to earth and one of the best autobiographies that I have read in a long time.
  2. House of Gold by Natasha Solomons: House of Gold was described by another reviewer as a Jewish version of Downton Abbey. I couldn’t think of another description if I made it up myself.
  3. Pride by Ibi Zoboi: A modern-day Pride and Prejudice set in New York City, this Jane Austen adaptation feels old and new at the same time.
  4. We Are Going to Be Lucky A World War II Love Story in Letters by Elizabeth L. Fox: The story of a marriage during World War II told in a series of letter that will make you believe in love.
  5. My Girls: A Lifetime with Carrie and Debbie by Todd Fisher: When Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds departed this world two years ago, no one knew them better than their brother and son. The book is a love letter to them by one of the people who knew and loved them best.
  6. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah: A young girl growing up in the wilds of Alaska learns some hard truths about life, love and marriage.
  7. American Tantrum: The Donald J. Trump Presidential Archives by Anthony Atamanuik and Neil Casey: Based on the character created by Anthony Atamanuik on The President Show, it is a what if story in regards to the fictional Presidential library of you know who.
  8. Not Out Kind: A Novel by Kitty Zeldis: Just after the end of World War II, two women from vastly different worlds meet in New York City and forever change each other’s lives in the process.
  9. Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters by Anne Boyd Rioux: 150 years after the publication of Little Women, the book still resonates with readers across the globe and across the cultural landscape.
  10. The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict: Behind every genius is a supportive and loving spouse. But what happens when the spouse is denied her own genius because she is a woman?

That’s my list, what are your favorite books of 2018?

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, Downton Abbey, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Movies, New York City, Politics, Pride and Prejudice, Star Wars, Television

Thoughts On The Downton Abbey Teaser Trailer

When Downton Abbey left the air in 2015 (or 2016 if you were in the States), it left a mark on our culture as few television shows have.

The teaser trailer for the Downton Abbey movie was released today.

Like all teaser trailers, this trailer gives nothing away, other than the movie is coming. The job of the teaser trailer is to announce that the movie is coming and to start to drum up excitement for the movie.

Downton Abbey is and will always be one of my favorite television shows. I am super excited about this movie and I cannot wait for it to hit theaters next fall.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Downton Abbey, History, Movies, Television, Thoughts On....

House of Gold Book Review

There is an old Chinese proverb:

“May you live in interesting times”

Natasha Solomons’s new book, House of Gold starts a few years before World War I. The Goldbaum family is one of the wealthiest and most powerful Jewish families in Europe. Everyone within the family knows their place and their responsibilities. The men go into the family business. The women marry their cousins and produce the next generation of Goldbaums. The main character in House of Gold is Greta Goldbaum. A member of the Austrian branch of the family, Greta is independent and intelligent. She would love to live by her own rules, but she also knows that she is going to do her duty, one way or another.

She marries Albert, a distant cousin from English branch of the family. Like many arranged marriages, their relationship is slow to take off. When Greta is made mistress of the family garden, she begins to see that things are not so bad. She may even start to get to know her husband in the process.

Then war breaks out. World War I consumes all of the Europe. There is no amount of influence or money that can shield the Goldbaums from the horrors of war. As the war rages on, the family is torn apart and Greta must make a decision. She must choose the family she left in Austria or the new family she has come to love in England.

This book is amazing. While the beginning of the narrative is a little slow, it takes off about a third of the way in and does not let go until the very end. What hooked me most is the main character. While Greta is certainly a woman of her time, she is not one to automatically submit to her husband. She is intelligent, a little defiant when she needs to be, and has a backbone.

Another reviewer compared House of Gold to Downton Abbey. The comparison is spot on and this book is amazing.

I absolutely recommend it.

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, Downton Abbey, Feminism, History

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Movie Trailer

The translation from the page to the silver screen is often a dicey one. Especially for a beloved book.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer was originally published in 2009. In 1946, Juliet Ashton is a writer looking for next subject. She received a letter from a man living on the island of Guernsey, whose residents survived German occupation during World War II.

Recently, the trailer for the film adaptation was released.

While I could not get through the book, the movie looks very interesting. One of the appealing aspects of the movie (for me at least) is a mini-Downton Abbey reunion. Lily James, Penelope Wilton, Matthew Goode and Jessica Brown Findlay are all part of the cast. While the film will not hit US theaters until later in the year, I can only hope that the film delivers on the promises in the trailer.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Books, Downton Abbey, History, Movies, Writing

Downton Abbey: The Exhibition Review

At first glance, Downton Abbey appears to be just another BPD (British Period Drama).

But it so much more than that. Set in an English aristocratic home in the early 20th century, the focus of Downton Abbey is the story of the Crawley family, led by the Earl and Countess of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern) and their household staff.

Recently, Downton Abbey: The Exhibition opened.

The visitor is first greeted by Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) and Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan). Mr. Carson is eager to show the visitor the upstairs where the family lives, but he questions why the visitor is interested in seeing the downstairs portion. The visitor then goes up three flights of stairs, starting with the kitchen and areas where the staff congregate, then following the escalators upstairs to see the areas of the house where the family lives.

The exhibit is sheer perfection. Containing costumes, exact replicas of  the sets, audio clips, video clips and so much more, the exhibit was made for the fans. It’s as if the creators of the exhibit were able to read our minds as to what would like to see and experience.

When a television show is as beloved as Downton Abbey is, an exhibit like this is akin to coming home. It is as if the visitor is a fly on the wall of the set. It is beautiful, it is enticing and worth every moment of my visit.

It is a must see.

Downton Abbey: The Exhibition is at 218 West 57th Street between Broadway and 7th Avenue until January 31st, 2018. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Downton Abbey, History, New York City, Television

Time And The Conways Review

Family, if nothing else, is f*cked up.  Just because we love each other and we have the same DNA does not mean that sometimes we can’t stand each other.

The revival of the J.B. Priestley play, Time And The Conways, is set in two different time periods, 1919 and 1937. Mrs. Conway (Elizabeth McGovern) is the widowed matriarch of an upper middle class family in Britain. She has six children: Alan (Gabriel Ebert), Hazel (Anna Camp),  Robin (Matthew James Thomas), Kay (Charlotte Parry), Carol (Anna Baryshnikov) and Madge (Brooke Bloom). The rest of the cast includes two family friends, Joan (Cara Ricketts), Gerald (Alfredo Narciso) and a friend of Gerald’s, Ernest (Steven Boyer).

A friend who saw the play a few weeks ago said that these characters need to be in therapy. I couldn’t agree more. Mrs. Conway is not a bad mother, but her parenting skills need some improvement. I’ll be frank, I saw the play because Downton Abbey is and will always be one of my favorite television shows. I was not going to pass up seeing Elizabeth McGovern live and in person. What I liked about the play is that the playwright not only plays with the grey areas of life, but also that family is not the picture of perfection that we, as an audience almost expect.

I recommend it.

Time And The Conways is at The American Airlines theater until November 26th, 2017. Check the second link above for showtimes and ticket prices. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Broadway Play Review, Downton Abbey, History, Life, Television

Dark Angel Review

Mary Ann Cotton has the notoriety of England’s first female serial killer. She is known to have killed at least two of her husbands, several of her children and a number of others. To this day, the exact number of the people she killed is a mystery.

The television movie Dark Angel told the story of Mary Ann as she begins to slide down the ladder toward murder and depravity. Airing last night on PBS, it starred Downton Abbey’s Joanne Froggatt as the main character. The audience meets Mary Ann when she is an ordinary wife and mother. Life has not been easy for her, but she has found a way to survive the hardships that have been thrown at her. But as she begins to lose her loved ones, something breaks in her, sending down a path that once tread upon, cannot be un-tread upon.

After watching Ms. Froggatt play Anna Bates for six seasons on Downton Abbey, it was refreshing to see her step into an entirely different role. Mary Ann is very much the underdog, both as a woman and a member of the lower class in Victorian era England. While on one hand, the audience can feel disgusted and horrified by her actions, in a certain light, we can almost sympathize with her. She lived in era when women, especially women from the lower classes were denied the right to an education and a career. Mary Ann did what she thought was right to survive, if a modern audience may not agree with her actions.

While my only criticism is that it went a little fast for me narrative wise (even for a 2 hour television movie), it was still enjoyable.

I recommend it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Downton Abbey, Feminism, History, Television, TV Review