Tag Archives: Hugh Bonneville

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

Flashback Friday-Tsunami: The Aftermath (2006)

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami was one of the most devastating natural disasters of recent memory. It is estimated that about a quarter of a million people died in fourteen countries.

The 2006 television movie, Tsunami: The Aftermath, is the story of a diverse group of Tsunami survivors whose lives are forever transformed by the experience. Starring Hugh Bonneville, Gina McKee and Chiwetel Ejiofor, as three of the survivors, this television movie is about the will to survive against all odds.

Tales of survival after a natural disaster are nothing new. These stories have been told by human beings since the dawn of time. But what makes this story stand out how each of the character’s go on a different journey, but somehow, their experiences find ways of coming together.

I recommend it.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Flashback Friday, History, International News, Television, TV Review

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

Daniel Deronda (Book and Movie Review)

Daniel Deronda is George Eliot‘s (born Mary Ann Evans) final novel.  Published in 1876, it blends two different stories with one central character.

Gwendolen Haroleth is down on her luck. Gambling the last of her money away at casino in Germany, she meets Daniel Deronda, a young man who saves Gwendolen by returning to her a necklace she had gambled away the night before.  There the story breaks off into two different stories: Daniel’s and Gwendolen’s.

Gwendolen’s mother has recently become a widow for the second time. She takes her children and moves in with her brother. Knowing that she has to marry and marry well, Gwendolen meets Henleigh Grandcourt, an older man with a mistress, several illegitimate children and a less than warm personality. He proposes marriage to Gwendolen and she accepts him, despite knowing that her marriage will disinherit his children and break previously made promises to his mistress.

Daniel has been raised by Sir Hugo Mallinger, a man he believes to  be his father. But his heritage and his true parents are a mystery. As he is boating on the Thames, he prevents Mirah Lapidoth, a young Jewish singer from killing herself. Mirah is looking for her family. Daniel through meeting Mirah, begins to connect to London’s Jewish community and answer some questions about his unknown past.

In 2002, Daniel Deronda was made into a miniseries with Romola Garai as Gwendolen, Hugh Bonneville as Grandcourt, Hugh Dancy as Daniel and Jodhi May as Mirah.

I enjoy the book and the movie. In a literary era when the only Jewish character is Fagin from Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist, Mirah and her brother Mordechai are drawn as fully formed human beings, with good and bad qualities.  The movie has an excellent cast with as much taken from the book as any adaptation from novel to the screen can be taken.

I recommend both.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, George Eliot, Movie Review, Movies

Becoming Jane/Miss Austen Regrets

There are often two sides to any story. There are also two perspectives in life, one of youth and one of maturity.

Jane Austen is a remarkable author. Her books are still read and performed 200 years later. Despite all that we know about her life, there is still a myth about the woman and her writing.

In 2007, Becoming Jane  introduced movie goers to a young, pre publishing and pre-fame Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway). She hopes to write for a living, but knows that the only way to support herself and her family is to marry. She is approached with a marriage proposal by Mr. Wisley (Laurence Fox), the nephew of Lady Gresham (Dame Maggie Smith). But she is attracted to Tom LeFroy (James McAvoy).

This movie is decent. Having no conclusive evidence that there was a romance between Jane Austen and Tom LeFroy, the writers relied on what is known of her life, combined with a little fictionalized romance based upon her books.  It’s always interesting to see the young writer living their life and developing the idea(s) that will one day become their stories.

A year later, Miss Austen Regrets premiered. Approaching her 40th birthday Jane Austen (Olivia Williams) is visited her brother, Edward Austen Knight (Pip Torrens). His oldest daughter, Fanny Knight (Imogen Poots) is of a marriageable age and has been in the company of John Plumptre (Tom Hiddleston). She is looking to her aunt for guidance in regards to the potential marriage to Mr. Plumptre. At the same time, she is getting sick while an old suitor Rev Brook Bridges (Hugh Bonneville) returns to her life.

We don’t know much about Jane’s personal life. Her sister Cassandra burned many of her sister’s letters after her passing. This TV movie shows us the older Jane. Still in the prime of her life and churning out stories, but as we all know, she died far too soon at the age of 41.  I recommend this movie.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Jane Austen, Movie Review, Movies

The Perfect Austen Fan Satire

A fan satire is created on a very fine line. If it is done properly, it  is Lost In Austen. If it is not done properly, it is Austenland. I’m not going to talk further about Austenland, because it is simply not worth the effort.

Amanda Price (Jemima Roper) is a Janeite. She finds solace from her job and her less than Darcy like boyfriend (who proposes marriage drunk using the tab from his beer can as an engagement ring) by reading Pride and Prejudice.  She finds Elizabeth Bennet (Gemma Arterton) in her bathroom and they switch places.  Amanda soon finds that she has irrevocably altered the plot of Pride and Prejudice and must find a way to set things right.

I love this miniseries. The in-jokes are there, the characters we know and love (or hate), are also there. Hugh Bonneville and Alex Kingston are perfectly cast (and age appropriate) as Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. We even learn Mr. Bennet’s first name. Elliot Cowan is smoldering and sexy as Fitzwilliam Darcy.

This is the perfect Austen satire.  I highly recommend this mini series to every Janeite.

Leave a comment

Filed under Jane Austen, Movie Review, Movies, Pride and Prejudice

Monuments Men Review- Monumental, Maybe

History is a surprising thing. Something when you think that all of the details have been shared, a new twist appears.

This is Monuments Men.  The movie is based on a book by Robert Edsel, about a group of art specialists who are dispatched to Europe just after the Invasion of Normandy during WWII. Their mission to find and save precious works of art that are in danger of being destroyed by the Nazis.

They are led by Frank Stokes (George Clooney). The motley band of anti heroes include James Granger (Matt Damon),  Bill Murray (Richard Campbell), Walter Garfield  (John Goodman),  Cate Blanchett (Claire Simone), Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban),  Jean Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin), Sam Epstein (Dimitri Leonidas) and Donald Jeffries (Hugh Bonneville).

Among World War II movies, this is something new and different. It was little long, but I enjoyed the movie. The movie had a fish out of water quality to it, being that the characters that were part of the Monuments Men were not young men in their teens and early twenties, but men old enough to be their fathers.  Cate Blanchett as the only woman, whose character is critical in assisting our heroes in reaching their goals is in the beginning questionable on where her loyalties lie, but it becomes clear as the movie progresses on what she is looking to get out of this journey.

I enjoyed it, I just wish it was a little shorter.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Movie Review, Reviews

Downton Abbey Series 4 Episode 6 Recap

*-As usual, these recaps contain spoilers. Read at your own risk if you haven’t seen Episode 6.

Upstairs

Can we talk about Mary and Charles Blake in the mud and then eating scrambled eggs, which she made?  That was a rom-com setup if I ever saw one, especially with the pig man conveniently not around when he is needed.  A part of me says that any man that Evelyn Napier, who tepidly attempted to tell Mary that he is attracted to her,  brings to Downton and attracts Mary’s attention should come with a warning sign.  However, Charles Blake is smart, attractive and realistic and he has a Benedict and Beatrice relationship with her.  And of course just as we think that Mary and Charles Blake might be going somewhere, Anthony Gillingham returns and dodges the question about his off screen fiance. Did we honestly think that Julian Fellows would let us off that easily?

Robert has to go to America to bail out Cora’s brother. We all know why Hugh Bonneville wasn’t seen for the rest of the episode. He is in Monuments Men, which I hope to see very soon.

Do you remember that childhood rhyme about the kissing couple? Rose and Jack, sitting in a boat, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes an explanation about why her parents have biracial grandchild.   She also does the walk of shame and evades Rosamund’s questions about why she really in London. Wasn’t there a little movie called Titanic about a doomed couple called Jack and Rose on a boat? I don’t think this will end well.

I like the changes in both Edith and Rosamund’s characters. Rosamund, who previously was Downton’s resident Yenta, promised Edith her complete support, even if it meant a scandal.

Edith, over the past four seasons has grown from an angry, hurting and vindictive young woman to a mature woman who must make some real life altering decisions. The kudos goes to both Laura Carmichael and Julian Fellows, as both performer and writer to show the audience how this character has grown.  The decision on whether or not to abort her pregnancy just broke my heart.

Some have used the story line as a platform for their pro-life views.  The way I see it, Julian Fellows did not use Edith’s decision as a platform to share his opinion on abortion as either pro-life or pro-choice.  I don’t think a recap of a television show is the right place to share one view’s on this topic.  However, I will say that the decision she made was the  one she thought was best for her, her future and the fetus that will become her child.

That being said, let’s go down a to a lighter topic.  Isobel plays Florence Nightingale to  Violet, who does not want to show her son that she is sick. Forced to go to the political event alone, Tom briefly meets a young woman who might become the next Mrs. Tom Branson?

Downstairs

Bates does not want to go America with Lord Grantham, still worried about his emotionally fragile wife.  Mary convinces her father to bring Thomas instead. While in America, Thomas gives Baxter the task of reporting back to him the reason that he and not Bates was to go to America.

Alfred returns for a visit and Daisy and Ivy are back to the same old argument. Am I the only one who is tired of this?

With the return of Lord Gillingham, comes his valet. While the rest of the downstairs, is laughing, Mrs. Hughes and Bates are both sending death stares toward Mr. Green.  Elsie “Mama Bear” Hughes is back,  not afraid to face Anna’s rapist.

Analysis

Julian Fellows continues to surprise us.  Not only with the decision for Edith to keep the pregnancy going, but also for the scene between Mary and Charles Blake in the pig pen. We haven’t seen that kind of smile from Mary since last series, before Matthew died.  We’re coming to the end of the series, I have a feeling that Julian Fellows has a few more tricks up his sleeve.

Dowager Moment/ Line Of The Week

“Goody, goody.” Violet, playing a game of Gin Rummy with Violet after spending the last few days in bed. Tempered, but still Violet.

Leave a comment

Filed under Downton Abbey, TV Recap