For most of humanity, women have been limited to the roles of being wives and mothers. Their education, if they received any, was minimal, and their ability to have the same experiences as their male counterparts was virtually non-existent. There was only one exception to this rule, which can only be classified as the oldest profession in the world.
In the 1998 film, Dangerous Beauty, Veronica Franco (Catherine McCormack) is a young woman in 16th century Venice. Though she comes from an aristocratic family, she has no money. When her lover, Marco Venier (Rufus Sewell) is forced to marry another, Veronica has two choices: join the Church or become a courtesan. Her decision is to become a courtesan. Unlike other women in her culture, Veronica has freedoms and opportunities that wives do not have.
Problems erupt when the Inquisition comes calling. She has become too popular and respected among the male elite and of course, because of that, Veronica has a target on her back. Her only way to survive is to rely on Marco, but that does not mean that he will automatically stand by her.
I really liked this movie. It speaks to the double standard that women still have to deal with. It also points out the hypocrisy of male leaders, who both use us for their sexual needs, but are quick to condemn us when push comes to shove.
In our capitalist, materialist based society, it is easy to forget those who are not as fortunate as we are. Sometimes, it falls upon a fictional hero to remind us of this fact.
Zorro has been a popular character for over a century. His story and his Robin Hood view of the world has inspired more than a few adaptations over the years.
Back in 1998, The Mask of Zorro was a box office hit. Six years later, the film’s sequel, The Legend of Zorro hit theaters. The narrative starts ten years after the previous film ended. Don Alejandro De La Vega (i.e. Zorro) (Antonio Banderas) and his wife Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) are happily married with a young son.
But work and his alter ego is starting to pull Alejandro away from home. Feeling dissatisfied with the status of her marriage, Elena leaves her husband. She finds companionship in the arms of Count Armand (Rufus Sewell). Alejandro is more than jealous of his wife’s new partner. He begins to suspect that Armand is part of a scheme to prevent California from becoming a part of the United States.
Compared to its predecessor, the reviews for this film are not good. In this case, I disagree with the reviewers. The Legend of Zorro is not the most intellectual film, but that’s ok. It is one of those movies that is just fun to watch and the perfect vehicle to step away from reality for a couple of hours.
I loved that Elena’s role in this film is expanded. More than just the pretty love interest, she is as badass as her husband. I also loved the casting of Rufus Sewell. He is one of those actors who has perfected the art of playing a villain.
The story of forbidden love is akin to catnip for many writers. The question is, can the writer or writers create a story that stands out from the pack?
In the 2006 film, Tristan + Isolde, James Franco plays Tristan, a prince who is second in line to the British throne. Sophia Myles plays Isolde, the princess from an Irish clan who is feuding with the British. Needless to say, this is not a match that would be approved by either side. Isolde marries Marke (Rufus Sewell), but does not forget the man she loves. Will the lovers be able to build a life together or will they be fated to hide their love to survive?
The film is based on the story of a mythical, yet forbidden love between Cornish Knight and an Irish Princess. The problem with this film is that unlike another famous tale of forbidden love (Romeo and Juliet), it does not have same oomph. While it helps that Rufus Sewell’s character is the main reason that the lovers are kept apart, even he cannot save this film.
For many, when we think of Queen Victoria, we conjure up the image of Victoria in her later years. Still mourning the death of her husband, Victoria is wearing black and looking every inch like the regal Queen we imagine her to be.
On Friday, I had the pleasure of watching the first episode of the new series, Victoria.
Based on the book by Daisy Goodwin (which I am reading now, look for the review either tonight or tomorrow), Victoria wakes up in 1837, a short time after her 18th birthday. Her uncle, the king is dead and she is now Queen. Her first act as Queen is to step out of the tightly controlled life she has lived under her mother, the Duchess Of Kent (Catherine Fleming) and her mother’s adviser, Sir John Conroy (Paul Rhys). Leaning heavily on Lord Melbourne (Rufus Sewell) for advise and support, she develops what appears to be an infatuation.
I have been a fan of Daisy Goodwin’s books for a few years now. When I heard about not only the book, but the series, I became excited. Neither has let me down yet. What Daisy Goodwin has done both on-screen and on the page (she wrote the screenplay), is present an image of Victoria that few today would recognize. In the place of a morally strong older woman is a young girl who feels like any young girl, regardless of her station. She is young, impetuous, has a temper and likes to laugh. The thing that I liked the most that humanizes Victoria is that, to put it simply, she is human. She is young, she makes mistakes, but she also picks herself up and moves forward with her life.
I absolutely recommend it and I look forward to seeing the full series when it airs in the US in January.
Victoria premieres on January 15th, 2017, at 9pm on PBS.
In the 2006 film, The Illusionist, Eisenheim, nee Eduard Abramovich (Edward Norton) is a magician with a growing reputation in 19th century Vienna. Duchess Sophie von Teschen (Jessica Biel) is invited onto the stage to participate in an illusion. On the surface, this relationship seems like a magician and a randomly chosen audience member. But it is so much more. 15 years ago, Sophie and Eduard fell in love but class and religious differences kept them apart. After 15 years, the spark of love is as strong as it ever was.
Now there is another obstacle in their way: Sophie’s fiance, Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell). More than a marriage of convenience than of love, Leopold has no problem resorting to less than honorable means when it comes to ensuring that the wedding will take place.
I have mixed feelings about this film. While the screenwriters relied heavily on a standard narrative and characters, they used the magic as an element in the film. The filmmakers also cast Rufus Sewell as the villain. This is not the first time he has played the villain/antagonist.