“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”
In the 2000 movie, Songcatcher, Professor Lily Penleric, PhD (Janet McTeer) is denied a promotion at the school where she teaches. Feeling like she has to get away for a while, Lily visits her sister, Eleanor Penleric (Jane Adams) who runs a rural school in Appalachia. There she makes a discovery that could take her career to a new level: ancient Irish-Scottish ballads that have been handed down from parent to child over the generations. Because the community is isolated, the songs have remained untouched and unknown by the outside world.
While Lily starts to collect the songs and use them as a mean to secure the previously turned down promotion, she starts to appreciate not just the land, but the people who call the area home. She also meets Tom Bledsoe (Aidan Quinn), a local war hero and musician who challenges Lily on her reasons for wanting to share the music with the world.
This movie is one of those movies that is underappreciated from my perspective. It’s not a huge spectacle of a movie with grand special effects, but that’s ok. Sometimes I just want to watch a movie with human characters telling a human story.
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.
Cast: Cathy/Catherine (Juliette Binoche), Heathcliff (Ralph Fiennes) and Ellen (Janet McTeer)
Pro’s: This is a beautiful adaptation. Filmed on location in Yorkshire, this movie has the perfect cast. The plot of the book remains unaltered. I love the fact that instead hiring another actress to play Cathy, Juliette Binoche, plays both mother and daughter. Ralph Fiennes has this rabid, animal like sexuality that comes through the screen.
Cast: Cathy (Charlotte Riley), Heathcliff (Tom Hardy) and Ellen (Sarah Lacashire)
Pro’s: Again, the producers choose to film on location in Yorkshire. Tom Hardy and Charlotte Riley have this enigmatic, powerful chemistry as the doomed lovers. (Does it also help that, according to IMDB, they are together off screen as well as on screen?) All in all, this is just a well done adaptation.
Cons: The screenwriters did some re-arranging of some parts of the novel. But other than that, I cannot think of any cons.
And the winner is….I’ll put it this way. I prefer the 1992 movie, but someone else may prefer the 2009 mini series.