My Grandparent’s War Review

The past has much to teach us, if we are willing to listen.

The new four part miniseries, My Grandparent’s War premiered last night on PBS. This four part series follows four prominent British actors as they learn about what their grandparents went through during World War II. In the first episode, Helena Bonham Carter explores wartime experiences of her paternal grandmother Helen Violet Bonham Carter and her maternal grandfather Eduardo Propper de Callejón. The next three episodes tell the family histories of Mark Rylance, Carey Mulligan, and Kristin Scott Thomas.

I truly enjoyed the program. If nothing else, it was just a reminder that that more things change, the more they stay the same. The generation that lived through and survived World War II will soon be gone from this Earth. It is therefore, incumbent upon us to hear their stories in whatever form we can.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

My Grandparent’s War airs on Sunday night at 8PM on PBS.


The Trial of the Chicago 7 Review

If nothing else, history is cyclical. The experience of one generation is often repeated time and again.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 premiered last weekend on Netflix. The movie tells the story of seven men who are accused of inciting a riot during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Among the defendants are Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne), Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen), and Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). One of the lawyers they hired to represent them is William Kunstler (Mark Rylance).

On the other side is Richard Schultz (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a lawyer for the government whose job is to ensure that a guilty verdict is obtained. On the judge’s bench is Julius Hoffman (Frank Langella). Judge Hoffman is more than eager to see the men thrown in jail.

Though the movie takes place in the late 1960’s, the comparisons to 2020 are too obvious to ignore. The cultural and political divisions back then were as rigid as they are today. If nothing else, it is reminder that there are some things in this world that are constant. The details may change, but the basic frame is unchanged.

Narratively speaking, the tension goes a bit slack in the middle of the film. But other than that, the movie is well done and worth watching.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is available for streaming on Netflix.

Wolf Hall Review

It can be said sometimes that politics, whether in our time or in another era is often the most compelling drama.

Wolf Hall, based on the 2010 book by Hilary Mantel, premiered on PBS last night.

Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance) is the son of a blacksmith.  As an adult, he he has risen above the station that he was born into, using a unusual combination of intelligence and deceit. What is about to happen will pull him even farther from his roots and close to to the most powerful man in England, King Henry the VIII (Damian Lewis).

Henry has been married to Katherine of Aragon (Joanne Whalley) for twenty years. But the marriage has not produced a son and Henry is anxious about the succession of his line. Cardinal Wolsey (Jonathan Pryce) has been give one task by the king: convince the Pope to annul Henry’s marriage to Katherine so he can marry his mistress,  Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy). But so far, the Cardinal has failed to convince Rome to allow the annulment. Enter Master Cromwell, who will become Henry’s closest adviser. Through his efforts, Henry will be able to annul his marriage to Katherine and marry Anne.

As Master Cromwell rises in the ranks, the tricks he uses become questionable. In the process of becoming King Henry’s closest adviser, what will be sacrificed to achieve his goals?

Broken up into six individual episodes, Wolf Hall is a master class in television. Even those who are well versed in period and the stories of the characters will be blown away. I was mesmerized by this program. The acting is top notch, the details are everywhere and the story, even though it is set in 16th century England is as old as time.

I absolutely recommend it.

Wolf Halls airs Sunday nights on PBS.

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