Tag Archives: British Period Drama

The English Game Review

One of the major conflicts over the course of human history is between the working class and the ruling and/or wealthy class.

The English Game premiered on Netflix earlier this year. Written by Julian Fellows (Downton Abbey), this six part series tells the story of how football (soccer for us Americans) became the sport it is today. In 1879 England, football is a game played by amateurs. The teams are made up of members of the upper class who are well, overprotective, of the game.

When they are confronted with other teams who come from the working class, the conflict becomes more than football. It represents the idea that the traditional social hierarchy is changing. Those who were born on the lower end of the hierarchy are no longer content to remain where they are. They want a piece of the action, so to speak, and are more than willing to fight for their rights.

Representing the upper classes is Arthur Kinnaird (Edward Holcroft). Standing up for the working men and women is Fergus Suter (Kevin Guthrie).

I enjoyed watching the series. Though it is a BPD (British Period Drama), the narrative is not the standard BPD narrative. It tells the story of a time in which the world was changing and the forces it took to create that change.

I recommend it.

The English Game is available for streaming on Netflix.

Leave a comment

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

Flashback Friday: Upstairs Downstairs (2010)

When it comes to BPD’s (British Period Dramas), the audience only sees the world from the perspective from the upper classes. The world is not seen from the point of the view of the servants or the average working folk.

In 2010, the reboot of the 1970’s series Upstairs Downstairs premiered. Both programs told the stories of an upper class aristocratic couple and their servants living in 1930’s England.

At the outset, the premise of the program sounded interesting. But it had two strikes against it. The first strike was that I tried watching Upstairs Downstairs, but it didn’t hook me as I hoped it would have. The second strike was that Downton Abbey premiered at the same time in the States and the rest is history.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

Leave a comment

Filed under Downton Abbey, Flashback Friday, History, Television, TV Review

Throwback Thursday: Desperate Romantics (2009)

Art is forever changing. For every artist that creates work based on the standard of the era, there are other artists who are willing to take risks and try something new.

Desperate Romantics was a television miniseries that aired back in 2009. Starring Aidan Turner (Poldark), Amy Manson (Once Upon a Time), and Rafe Spall (Wide Sargasso Sea, a prequel to Jane Eyre), the program tells the story of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Set in Victorian era England, the viewers follow the story of four artists who set out to create a new way of seeing the world through painting.

When I originally heard about this series, it seemed to be right up my alley. It had all of the elements of a BPD (British Period Drama) that usually grab me as a viewer pretty quickly.

But, I am sorry to say that I couldn’t get into the series. There was something about it that just didn’t click.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Charlotte Bronte, History, Jane Eyre, Once Upon A Time, Poldark, Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

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....

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Books, Feminism, Jane Austen, Movies

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. 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Books, Feminism, History, Movie Review, Movies, Politics

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. 

1 Comment

Filed under Feminism, History, Movie Review, Movies, Politics

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. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Feminism, History, Movie Review, 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

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, History, Movies