Tag Archives: costume drama

In the dark

Are you a fan of Poldark?

poldark

I only discovered the Masterpiece series — which recently began its third season on PBS — a couple of weeks ago.

Now I’m hooked.

Flash flooding yesterday in Chicago gave me the perfect excuse to binge watch seasons 1 and 2 on Amazon Prime Video. (PBS members can also watch past episodes on their local affiliate website.)

The saga of the Captain Ross Poldark and his family set in post-Revolutionary War Cornwall is wonderful costume drama. And Aidan Turner as Poldark? Well, let’s just say I finally have a reason to watch the Hobbit movies, too.

But tonight?  I will be glued to the tube watching season 3 of Poldark.

 

 

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Now you see it, now…

Dear Walking Dead director:

walking deadYou are so successful, you don’t have to listen to anyone, let alone a sticky blogger.

But I think you could learn a lot from the methods employed by the director of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

True, it’s a costume drama first and a zombie movie second, but zombies are its reason for being…although any Pride and Prejudice fan will recognize dialogue and plot lines that have been carried forward from the original text.

Except the zombies. They’re new. But they’re not in-your-face gory.

pride-and-prejudice-and-zombiesWell, their faces are half gone, and some limbs are missing, and your standard bloody-gutty zombie fare. But when the Bennett sisters expertly slay the zombie hoard — they trained in China — it primarily occurs off-camera.

Instead of watching blood and guts and gore spew forth, we get to see their expert swordplay and marksmanship. It’s really very fun.

And I for one didn’t miss feeling queasy one little bit.

 

 

I know too much

It arrived in the mail today —

Downton Abbey Season 4Downton Abbey Season 4, which is currently airing on Masterpiece PBS.

I wasn’t able to give it the attention it deserved until after 3:30pm.  But by 8pm — with a reasonable break to walk the dog and feed us both — I had watched all the remaining episodes.

I now know the secrets of Season 4. 

I still need to watch all the episodes one or two more times to get them committed to memory…but there’s no more waiting for each Sunday evening to roll around.

Oh, who am I kidding — I’ll still watch them then, too.

A weekend in the country

Oh, Austenland — I wanted to love you.

austenlandYou had it all.

A costume drama dressed up as romcom. Subject matter I enjoy ever so much. And a cast with the chops to make movie magic.  So what went wrong?

I blame the director.

The premise was great fun — a Jane Austen addict on a total immersion vacation — and it’s not like everything missed the mark.  But some of the actors were doing slapstick and others were letting the humor happen more naturally.

And in the same scenes, that difference was rather jarring.

austenland martin nobelyI did develop a crush or two — on JJ Feild, who portrayed Mr. Henry Nobely (right), and Bret McKenzie as the estate worker Martin (and who you may recognize from Flight of the Conchords).

So, while the movie did not win my heart like a Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice, the men did.

Time well spent.

Good show

Did you spy the lucky Brits chosen to participate in the London Olympics Opening Ceremonies?

Ewan McGregor. Kate Winslet. J.K. Rowling. Daniel Craig. Mr. Bean. Sirs Paul McCarthy and Kenneth Branagh…and the Queen herself, of course.

But what about the loyal subjects who got snubbed?

Mashable.com writer  Annie Colbert highlights 10 notable no-shows in director Danny Boyle’s epic extravaganza.

Ricky Gervais. Wallace and Grommit. Ask.com’s Jeeves. Pseudo-Brit Madonna.  And what about Robert Pattinson?

He could have really used the attention this week.

While I see the logic behind Annie’s picks, I think she missed the most obvious omission in Boyle’s Olympic costume drama —

The cast of Downton Abbey.

They were dressed and ready and waiting for their cue.  Seems like a misstep to me.

Just saying.

 

 

Movies matter

Do movies change lives?

Mark Cousins of The Telegraph spent six years traveling the world compiling a history of film.  That process convinced him that movies do indeed make a difference.  (They did in his life.  Six years — geez.)

Here’s his list of the Top 10 movies that changed the world.

Me?  I don’t need to travel the globe to know movies make an impact.  I can’t imagine life without them, so my list is a bit more personal.  (Okay, it’s completely personal.)

Top 10 Movies that Changed My World

The Godfather (1972): Due to my youth, I didn’t see the movie when it was released.  But thanks to an overly enthusiastic film professor in college, I spent six weeks of my life watching it. And analyzing it.  As a result, I hate it and all things mafia.

The Way We Were (1973): This was my introduction to Robert Redford and movie romance.  I have been faithful to both ever since.  I’ve watched that film literally hundreds of times.  The opening strains of its Oscar-winning song start the waterworks every time.

Foul Play (1978): This Chevy Chase-Goldie Hawn comedy was Chevy’s first movie post-SNL and introduced Dudley Moore to American audiences.  It was also the first time I remember laughing with my mother in a movie theatre.  Cherished memory.

Airplane! (1980): I was sick when I left the theatre — facial muscles and ribs sore from laughing so incredibly hard.  I think I knew even then that I was witnessing the birth of a whole new genre of comedy.  “Ain’t that a pisser.”

Ordinary People (1980): I went to see this film because Robert Redford directed it — I told you I was faithful — and was stunned by the subject matter, the performances, the mood, the music.  Who knew Mary Tyler Moore could be so cold?  I have watched it again and again.

Amadeus (1984): My love affair with costume drama began with this amazing film.  I knew very little about Mozart before I saw it; it inspired me to learn more.  If it’s on television, my day is decided (and it takes about a day to watch — it’s that long).  Mesmerizing.

Broadcast News (1987): I was working at a television station and dating a news reporter when this movie was released, so it hit very close to home. Loved hearing a Southern accent on a leading lady, too. (Holly Hunter should have won the Oscar, btw.)

When Harry Met Sally (1989): I think this movie appears on most women’s Top 10 lists.  We all have those friendships with men that either have or could or should spark something ‘more.’  This was the fantasy with the perfect actors cast to make it come true.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994): A movie ‘bromance’ with Morgan Freeman in the mix to make it heartfelt and meaningful.  Everything about this movie is perfect — the setting, the script, the casting.  Another marathon, it takes up a whole day when it comes on TV, but it’s worth it.

The American President (1995): It was Aaron Sorkin’s warmup to The West Wing, and what a wonderful one it was.  Michael Douglas and Annette Bening make every word ring true, and Martin Sheen learned a few tricks — as Chief of Staff — that came in handy for his future role as President Jed Bartlet (also a Sorkin production).

In the more than 15 years since, lots of other great movies have had an impact on my life.  But these 10 laid the foundation for the films, filmmakers and stars to come.

I’ll be thinking of them today as I head to — where else? — the theatre.

The real thing

I was more than a little excited when I saw the first trailer for Robert Redford’s The Conspirator two months ago.

Costume drama has that effect on me — James McAvoy does, too.

So while most moviegoers this weekend went tropical at the animated Rio — or were terrified by Scream4 — I spent my Saturday afternoon in a circa-1865 courtroom reliving the conspiracy trial that followed the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln.

I chose right.

Redford captured the aftermath of Lincoln’s assassination — the nation’s shock and grief, the worry of a new Confederate uprising, the lust for revenge and speedy ‘justice’…even if the evidence wasn’t there.

It’s easy to draw parallels to our world today.

Articles say Redford was working with a tiny budget; it wasn’t evident on-screen.  The period details were all there.  The parade of name actors was also impressive, even if the script didn’t always give them much to do.

No, The Conspirator shines because of two performances: Robin Wright as Mary Surratt, one of the accused, and McAvoy, her initially reluctant attorney, Frederick Aiken.

They are fierce and brave and, ultimately, are what make this movie an intensely moving experience.

“Doing the unrealistic is easier than doing the realistic.”  — Tim Ferriss