Love has to power to change everything. Hate included.
The 2016 film, The Exception, takes place in Holland during World War II. Stefan Brandt (Jai Courtney) is a Nazi officer whose task is to ensure that spies have not found a way into the home of the former German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm (the late Christopher Plummer). Along the way, he falls for housemaid Mieke de Jong (Lily James), who is hiding her Jewish identity in hopes of surviving the war.
This movie would normally be celluloid catnip for me. While the cast is fantastic and at the top of their game, I could not get into it. There is no other explanation other than I was bored. Whatever narrative hook this film possesses, it was lost on me.
Rebeccais one of those books that readers come back to time and again. There is a reason that Daphne du Maurier‘s novel of love, jealousy, and secrets is considered to be a classic.
The Netflix reboot starring Lily James, Armie Hammer, and Kristin Scott Thomas premiered earlier in the week. The unnamed narrator and future Mrs. de Winter (James) is introduced as a paid companion to a wealthy woman who is eager is climb the social ladder. In Monte Carlo, she meets Maxim de Winter (Hammer). Maxim is a widower and the owner of Manderley, a sprawling estate on the English coast. Swept off her feet, she says yes to his marriage proposal.
But upon arrival at her new home, she discovers that all is not what it seems. Her husband’s deceased wife, Rebecca still haunts her former home. The housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers (Scott Thomas), takes pleasure in tormenting the new Mrs. de Winter via the memory of the previous Mrs. de Winter.
I wish I could say that I loved this adaptation. The truth is that it was not what it could have been. There is a certain something in the novel that raises the hair on the back of the neck. That feeling is missing from the movie. The other issue that I had is that as good an actor that Lily James is, she is not quite right for the part.
Her performance was stronger when her character began to realize the truth. As a viewer, I couldn’t wrap my head around her youth and naivete in the beginning of the story. Among the main actors, Kristin Scott Thomas was the best part of the film. She was both creepy and charming, if that combination is ever possible.
She discovers that Dawsey is part of a book club entitled The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Included in this club is Amelia Maugery (Penelope Wilton) and Elizabeth McKenna (Jessica Brown Findlay). Intrigued as to why and how Elizabeth disappeared, Juliet starts to investigate what happened during the German occupation of the island during the war. Along the way, Juliet discovers a new family and a new love that forces her to re-consider where she wants to go in life.
Award worthy, this film is not. That being said, it’s the type of movie one watches after a long week to relax. Though it helps that several of the main cast are Downton Abbey alum, it is does not do enough to overcome the film’s flaws.
Many movies start off with the premise of “what if” and go on from there. It is up to the screenwriter(s) to make the “what if” narrative feel new and alive instead of boring and predictable.
In the new film,Yesterday, Jack (Himesh Patel) is a singer-songwriter who just can’t get a break. One of his only fans is his long time bestie and manager Ellie (Lily James). Though he yearns to be a professional musician, he earns his bread by working at a local big box store. Then there is blackout all over the world and Jack is hit by a bus.
When he wakes up, he discovers that The Beatles have been erased from music history. Taking advantage of his knowledge, Jack starts to see his music career become a reality. But at what cost to his conscious and his relationship with Ellie?
Yesterday is charming, engaging and insightful. The music is obviously catchy. Jack’s arc over the course of the film is both cinematic and down to earth. I also appreciated the color blind casting of Patel in the lead role. As both actor and singer, Patel brings a level of reality to this performance in this otherwise out there world that his character inhabits.
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.
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.
Winston Churchill was one of the greatest politicians and orators of the 20th century. He will go down in history as one of the men who saved Europe, democracy and Western civilization from the Nazis.
The new movie, Darkest Hour, starts off as World War II is beginning to engulf Europe. Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) is being forced to resign as Prime Minister due to his inability to lead the country during wartime become obvious. His chosen successor is Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman), whose reputation up to this point is not flawless. Churchill’s wife, Clemmie (Kristin Scott Thomas) convinces her husband to take the position. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Layton (Lily James) is hired as Churchill’s personal secretary. He is not the easiest man to work for.
Churchill has a choice to make. There is the possibility of making a deal with Germany and stopping the war in its tracks. Or, they could fight, knowing full well that lives will be lost in the process.
This movie is pure Oscar bait. Oldman’s performance is truly exceptional. He is so good that I thought that at times, I was watching a documentary about Winston Churchill rather than watching a film with a fictional narrative and actor Gary Oldman playing Winston Churchill. I also appreciated that instead of putting Churchill on a pedestal, he is shown as a flawed human being who is suddenly thrust into a job that requires a decision that will forever change not just the fate of Europe, but the whole world.
As usual, this recap contains spoilers. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the episode.
Robert (Hugh Bonneville) is no longer the invalid and is eager to return to his every day life. But Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) would prefer her husband to take baby steps.
Still smarting from the hospital issue (which thankfully appears to be finally resolved), Violet (Dame Maggie) is planning to go to the continent for a month. But before she leaves, thorough as she ever is, she leaves her mark. First, after Isobel (Penelope Wilton) shares the surprise invitation to Larry Grey’s wedding, the Dowager drops in on the future Lady Merton. After a few minutes, the bride to be admits that the only reason Isobel received the invitation was because the young lady is not thrilled with taking care of her future father in law. The episode then ends with the gift of a puppy. That is what I call a family matriarch, tying up all of the loose ends before leaving for Europe.
The Crawleys are off the races at Brooklands. Joining them is Edith’s (Laura Carmichael) new editor Laura Edmunds (Antonia Bernath). While Henry (Matthew Goode) and Mary (Michelle Dockery) are officially an item, the race and the ensuing crash that kills Charlie Rogers (Sebastian Dunn) creates questions about the future. In what maybe history’s first drunk call, Henry calls Mary after the race, drunk on grief and alcohol, proposing marriage. Mary breaks up with Henry. Tom (Allen Leech) reminds Mary that being hurt is part of life. My kudos go to Goode and Dockery for not saying much after the crash, but actions speak louder than words. Like the characters on-screen, the audience at home was surely thinking Matthew (Dan Stevens) and how his death left a hole that can never truly be filled.
After a very quiet and awkward dinner, Bertie (Harry Hadden-Patton) and Edith sit quietly in the drawing-room. Also filled with thoughts of life and death, Bertie proposes marriage. Edith’s yes is tentative and almost slips out the truth about Marigold. If he is as good of a guy as I hope he is, he will accept that there is no Edith without Marigold.
I keep wondering if Rose (Lily James) will return. There are only two more episodes left. Lily James has been a very busy girl over the past year, but it would be nice to see Rose one last time before we officially say goodbye to the Crawleys.
Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) finally got a taste of his own medicine. Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) and Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) concoct a plan that Mrs. Hughes hurt her hand and is therefore, unable to cook. That means either one of two things: starvation or Carson has to cook (shocking, I know!). The look on his face was priceless and hilarious. I don’t foresee Mr. Carson complaining about his wife’s culinary skills again.
Mrs. Patmore’s bed and breakfast is open for business and already tainted by scandal. The couple sitting in her dining room are Mr. and Mrs. but not Mr. and Mrs. to each other.
Julian Fellows sadistic streak toward Anna (Joanne Froggatt) and Bates (Brendan Coyle) seems to be over. There were no medical scares this episode.
On the educational front, Andy (Michael Fox) is given the opportunity by the local school teacher to complete his education and Molesley (Kevin Doyle) is offered a position as a teacher. Daisy’s (Sophie McShera) exams are coming up and her success is imminent.
Baxter (Raquel Cassidy) is still worrying about Mr. Coyle and his influence over her. I don’t think she needs to worry about that.
Thomas (Rob James-Collier) is still looking for another job. Though with Molesley receiving the offer of the teaching job, the job search may not be necessary.
Dowager Quote Of The Week
“Nobody is always friendly.”
There are two more episodes left. The drama is being amped up fast. Where it will end? We will find out very soon.
The average American woman is a size 14. But according to Hollywood, most of the Fashion industry and Madison Avenue, the ideal woman is no bigger than a size 4.
Recently, Kelly Clarkson has received some very public criticism about her weight.
Lily James, star of the newest film adaptation of Cinderella, has received her own fair share of criticism. Some have accused the actress and the filmmakers of perpetuating the idea that only skinny girls can have a happily ever after.
Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.
If a women puts on a little weight or is naturally curvy, she is told in more ways than one that she need to loose weight. If she is naturally skinny or loses too much weight, there is concern that she has gone too far in the other direction.
The media and Hollywood have been telling us for decades the size of the clothes that you wear dictates your happiness and how your life will turn out.
For once, I would like to hear that every woman, regardless of her size and shape, told that she is beautiful, just as she is.
The people at Lane Bryant have the right idea. If only the rest of the world could catch up.
Jane or Lydia Bennet???? (Bella Heathcote, Dark Shadows)****- IMDB does not specify who she is playing, but but my guess is either Jane or Lydia.
Caroline Bingley (Emma Greenwell, True Blood)
Bear in mind that not all of the casting has been announced. I’m still ambivalent about Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy, but only time will tell. Overall, I am extremely pleased with the casting and will be very happy to sit in a dark movie theater and watch the Bennet sisters kick some zombie a$$.