Tag Archives: British Period Drama

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.

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Mr. Malcolm’s List

The intrigue of love and romance never gets old.

One of the newest entries into this basic narrative is Mr. Malcolm’s List.

This short film, directed by Emma Holly Jones and written by Suzanne Allain (who also wrote the book of the same name) is absolutely brilliant. Written in the spirit of Jane Austen with a multi-cultural cast, this piece is sure to delight fans of Jane Austen and British Period Dramas.

Jeremy Malcolm (Sope Dirisu) is the most eligible bachelor of the season. Miss Julia Thislethate (Gemma Chan) is sure that she is the future Mrs. Malcolm. But Mr. Malcolm has an extensive list of qualities that he is looking for in a wife. His friend, played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen (whose character is nameless for the short film) is trying to tempt Mr. Malcolm into matrimony. Enter Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto), Julia’s friend. Julia plans to use Selina as revenge against Mr. Malcolm for his rejection of her suit, but in doing so, she may ruin her friend’s chance at happiness.

I adore this film. It has all of the hallmarks of a BPD (British Period Drama), with the biting satire of Jane Austen. But at the same time, but it feels entirely new. Not only do I love the color blind casting and the completely female production team, but I also love it is also going to be made into a feature length film.

There are only a handful of films where I gladly pay for the movie ticket well before the movie hits theaters. Mr. Malcolm’s List is one of these movies.

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Mary Queen of Scots Movie Review

Seeing a woman in the halls of power is relatively new in the course of human history. At best, in the past, women have been help-meets, wives and servants. At worst, they are disposable to relegated the background of history.

The new movie, Mary Queen of Scots (based on the book Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart by John Guy) takes place in the 16th century, when two women ruled England and Scotland concurrently. Elizabeth I of England (Margot Robbie) has successfully ruled England without questions of her legitimacy to the throne. The only issue that she is without a husband and a child. Her cousin, Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan)  has recently taken her place as Queen of Scotland after the passing of her first husband. She knows that she has to marry and bring a male heir into the world, but she is not willing to marry for the sake of politics.

Both Mary and Elizabeth wish for peace between their kingdoms, but the men who council both Queens are not content to bow before women, nor are they willing to let two women maintain a political friendship. Around them, the seeds of discord are being sewn. Will Mary and Elizabeth rule their respective countries in peace or will the interference of the men around them result in upheaval and violence?

It takes a certain kind of BPD (British Period Drama) to appeal to a wide range of audience members. While Mary Queen Of Scots falls squarely within the BPD genre, it has a specific message that appeals to a certain kind of audience member. While I very much appreciate the timely message of women in power and how we react/treat them, this film is a bit on the heavy side when it comes to the narrative.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

Mary Queen of Scots is presently in theaters. 

 

 

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The Favourite Movie Review

Politics can sometimes be construed as a game of one upmanship.

The new movie, The Favourite takes place in England in the early 18th century. Queen Anne (Olivia Coleman) is on the throne, but she is not the one who is running the country. Emotionally unstable and in bad health, she relies heavily on her friend, Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz), who unofficially rules in the Queen’s stead. Enter Abigail (Emma Stone), a cousin of Sarah’s whose family has fallen from their aristocratic roots. Abigail is looking for a job and soon climbs up the ladder as Sarah’s maid. As Sarah becomes more involved with the war with France, Abigail takes her place as the Queen’s emotional support system. Seeing that power is within her grasp, Abigail takes it and challenges anyone who would dare threaten her new-found power.

This movie is very interesting. The dirty game of politics is usually confined to men. But in this film, the women play dirty, pull no punches and do what they have to do to gain or stay in power. Couched in the language and imagery of a BPD (British Period Drama), but adding layers of politics, feminism and history, this film is a must see.

I absolutely recommend it.

The Favourite is presently in theaters. 

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Colette Movie Review

It has been said that behind every great man is great woman. But what happens when that woman decides to take the spotlight on her own?

In the new movie, Colette, Colette (Keira Knightley) is a young lady from the countryside who married the much older Willy (Dominic West) around the turn of the 20th century. Willy earns his living as a writer, but does not do the writing himself. He has a team of writers who work under him. Soon after taking their vows, Colette join her husband’s writing team. Her books become the most popular fiction of the day. But while Willy gets the acclaim, Colette remains in the shadows. That is, until she decides to not only publicize the truth of the authorship of the book and while doing so, flouts gender norms.

Based on the true story of Colette, whose full name was Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, this movie is not the typical BPD (British Period Drama). It resonates with modern audiences because it still speaks to us today. Questions in regards to gender norms, gender identities, sexual identities, a woman fighting for her voice to be heard are still being asked in 2018.

I recommend it.

Colette is currently in theaters. 

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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. 

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Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice Book Review

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the BDP (British Period Drama) genre, like most genres is mostly bereft of characters of color.

In 2013, the movie Belle finally broke the color barrier for the BPD genre.

Paula Byrne’s 2014 book, Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice, is not just about Belle, but the events that led her uncle, Lord Mansfield’s ruling on the Zong massacre.

I adore the movie Belle. It is much more than the standard BPD. It speaks to a modern audience about race issues, women’s issue and other human rights issues that are just as relevant today as they were in the 19th century. That is reason I read the book. The book and the movie, however are vastly different. The book reads like a college textbook and not like the entertaining movie that subtly speaks to the audience about issues that 300 years later are still being discussed.

Do I recommend it? No.

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Late Flashback Friday-North And South (2004)

The romance genre, depending on the reader and the writer can either be one of two things: predictable and boring or exciting and engaging. Elizabeth Gaskell’s classic novel, North and South, is the latter. Set in the fictional industrial town of Milton during the 19th century, it is the story of the rocky courtship between Margaret Hale and John Thornton.

In 2004, the book was made into a mini-series. Margaret Hale (Daniela Denby-Ashe) has spent her entire life in the South of England. When her father (Tim Pigott-Smith) looses his position with the church, he relocates his wife and daughter to Milton. To support his family, Mr. Hale finds work as a private tutor. One of his students of the mill owner John Thornton (Richard Armitage). Margaret believes John to be haughty and full of himself and sympathizes with the mill workers. John thinks Margaret is a snob and speaks of what she knows nothing about, especially the delicate balance between the workers and the owners that keep Milton going.

Among movies and miniseries in the BPD (British Period Drama) genre, this is one of the best. Based on a beloved classic with a cast of actors who have played roles in Downton Abbey, Jane Austen adaptations and other period dramas, it is worthy of the praise that had been heaped upon it. Add in the Lizzie and Darcy like chemistry between the two leads and you had the perfect BPD.

I recommend it.

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Flashback Friday-The Black Velvet Gown (1991)

There is nothing like a romantic BPD (British Period Drama). Except that some are better than others.

Based on the book by Catherine Cookson, The Black Velvet Gown revolves around a family whose circumstances are changing for the better. Riah Millican (Janet McTeer) is a widow with three young children. She takes a job as a housekeeper for the reclusive former teacher Percival Miller (Bob Peck). Miller educates Riah’s children and will leave her the house at his death, but on condition that she never remarry. Years later, Riah’s daughter, Biddy (Geraldine Somerville) is hired as a laundress in a wealthy house. Her education marks her as different from the other staff and catches the eye of one of the sons of the house.

I have not seen this program in a very long time. While it has the hallmarks of a romantic BPD, it is also an engaging program that entertains.

I recommend it.

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Thoughts On Downton Abbey

*-This post contains spoilers about Downton Abbey. If you do not like spoilers and have not caught up to the most recent episode, you are reading at your own risk.

With the final episode of Downton Abbey airing in the United States tomorrow night, I’ve been thinking about a few things.

We need to drop the #PoorEdith hashtag. What I realized is that Edith is one of those characters who despite multiple setbacks, just keeps on moving forward. Whether it was crushing on Matthew (whom she lost to Mary), getting engaged to Sir Anthony (who dumped her at the alter) or getting involved and getting pregnant by Michael Gregson, who was older, married and is no longer of this world, her barometer in choosing men is not quite working. Edith has classic middle child syndrome. She is the Mary Bennet of Downton Abbey and the Jan Brady of BPD’s (British Period Drama). She is not the beauty of the family like her elder sister, nor was she rebellious enough to choose her own path like her late youngest sister. She was simply Edith.  If I could write Edith’s story line for the sixth series, I would have her go her own way and create  her own happiness. Frankly, after all she has been through, she deserves a little happiness.

There are some among the fan base who would like to see Mary and Tom get together. I disagree.

Mary and Tom do have a lot in common. They are around the same age, they are both single parents due to the fact that they both lost their spouses early in their children’s lives and their long term goal is to ensure that their children stay in Downton Abbey for many years to come. But they are ill matched as a romantic couple.

Looking at the series from a writing perspective, a Mary/Tom romance would cheapen the story. Julian Fellows has created these wonderfully complex and highly entertaining story lines. Yes, a Mary/Tom romance would be convenient and easy to write, but it would be too convenient and too easy. It is far more interesting as a viewer to see them with other characters in a romantic relationship while balancing their responsibilities as parents and caretakers of the legacy of the Crawleys.

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