Category: Popcorn Entertainment

Angel (2007)

3 Kernels

Stars: Romola Garai, Michael Fassbender, Sam Neill

Type: Movie

This film was recommended to me by a friend, and I found it quite interesting. Set in the Edwardian era in Cheshire, England, it’s a story about a young woman, who dreams of being an author. She comes from a poor background and is the daughter of a widowed grocery shopkeeper. As soon as you meet Angel, you will quickly pick up on her narcissistic tendencies.

Angel wants to be a writer, and is convinced she’s brilliant even before her first book is picked up by a publisher. :inserts laughter here: She writes romance novels, filled with her own fantasies. Of course, she’s an overnight success, which feeds into her need for attention, and Angel quickly learns to bask in the limelight.

Angel writes not only for success, but she writes to rewrite her own painful life by creating a world of her own imagination. As an author having had times of building my own make-believe worlds to shut out the pain of reality, I totally understood the driving force behind Angel Deverell’s need to rewrite her life in order to survive it. Creativity sometimes borders on a type of madness, and I think there has always been some stigma that the greatest of geniuses in any art form are a bit eccentric and unbalanced.

You soon learn, as the movie progresses, that Angel possesses deep emotional problems. She falls in love with the idea of loving a man that she has fantasized about, but when the fantasy becomes reality, it’s her undoing in the end.

Though the beginning is filled with what I call “fluff” of Angel’s rise in popularity as a writer, the unhappiness that eventually catches up to her isn’t a surprise. She loved her husband like the characters in her books loved their heros – blindly and with a tad of selfish and obsessive possessiveness. In addition, the home she dreamed of owning as a child called Paradise, becomes a reality when she makes enough money to purchase the estate. However, she soon learns that Paradise isn’t everything she had hoped for, and her home becomes her personal purgatory instead.

The costumes and indoor settings are stunning, but the cinematography is awful, which distracts from the story and cheapens the film. It’s too bad, frankly, because a bigger budget might have made this film a little more memorable. Fake backgrounds abound, and they are terrible. Romola Garai does a fine job portraying Angel, and I can’t complain about her performance.

All in all, I enjoyed it and would recommend it to my author friends. It’s the tragic drama of an interesting character’s life. Worth the watch if you’re into that sort of storyline.

Below is a trailer, however, it’s not the best of quality.

Shakespeare in Love (1998)

4 Kernels

Stars: Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, John Madden, Geoffrey Rush, and Ben Affleck

It’s been some time since I’ve watched this movie. I saw it when it originally came out, pretty much went on with life, and recently watched it again. Twelve years ago, I don’t think it impressed me as much as it did the last time I clicked play. It’s obvious that my life’s experiences over the years have changed my view of the movie. Does that ever happen to you?

In spite of the recent controversy stirred by the movie Anonymous over who really wrote the works of Shakespeare, one cannot help but honor the writer of the wonderful words he penned. I do know everyone screamed “foul” when Shakespeare in Love won the Oscar for best picture beating out Private Ryan. Perhaps the voters were in the mood for love, rather than entrails, blood, and gore. If you look at the reviews, you’ll see it’s really one of those love/hate relationships with viewers.

Frankly, I think there is a hidden brilliance behind this movie. It’s about the author who writes a love tragedy, while he lives out his own tragedy with the woman he loves. The affair between William and Viola ensues, and when it does, the well of inspiration Shakespeare thought had gone dry, suddenly springs forth renewed. Their scandalous affair leads to the penning of Romeo and Juliet.

As the story evolves, so does the tragic truth that they will never be together. He is bound by a previous marriage and lives a life of a lowly playwright and poet, while the woman he loves is bound by the Queen’s command and her father to wed another. The stage is set for a love affair that ends in loss and separation. When he realizes how their end will play out, he writes the tragic conclusion to the infamous play. Romeo is a man who cannot live without the woman he loves, much how William feels over his current situation.

When William’s debut of Romeo and Juliet is performed for the first time, by strange circumstances they play the roles — Will as Romeo and Viola as Juliet. Of course, in that day, women couldn’t be on stage, but Viola all along has violated that rule due to her desire to act. Their hearts are torn playing their parts, as they both know their lives will be torn asunder as soon as the play ends. She married that very day. Each are forced to follow another path — two star-crossed lovers unable to have one another. Alas, it was not meant to be.

As far as the stars, I wasn’t enthralled seeing Colin Firth act like a sod. Judy Dench was fine, as usual, in a short role of Queen Elizabeth I. She won the Oscar for best supporting role.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Geoffrey Rush were their usual on film. Gwyneth, for me at least, always seems the same on film, no matter what the role. Nevertheless, she walked away with an Oscar for best actress that year. Cate Blanchett was nominated for her role in Elizabeth, which I thought was far more deserving. :tosses in my two cents:

Joseph Fiennes as William Shakespeare makes for good eye candy. He plays well the role of the tortured writer, searching for his muse, passionate about life and storytelling. Fiennes’ eyes are very expressive. :tosses in another two cents:

Favorite Lines: (Hugh Fennyman) Who’s that? (Philip Henslowe) Nobody. He’s the author.

(Isn’t that the truth! LOL)

The Young Victoria (2009)

4 Kernels

Stars: Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend

Type: Movie

Once again, like a magnet, I’m drawn to another historical movie regarding the British and their monarchs. If you’ve watched Judy Dench play Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown, as Queen Victoria in her later years, you’ll find this opposite end of Victoria’s life just as fascinating.

It’s a story of Victoria coming into her own person as a young lady and Queen of England. Her life is played like a game of chess by her mother and advisers, while the world around her moves the pieces to places of power and alliances. The story focuses upon Victoria meeting the handsome Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Even though the match seems to be cleverly orchestrated, the two fall in love. I thought it quite interesting that the Queen had to propose, and Prince Albert could not.

Victoria’s love of Albert is touching, though you have to wonder what it was like for a man to play a subservient role to his wife, the Queen. Though she puts him in his place on one occasion through a heated argument, they eventually learn to be one together during the early years of her rule.

Of course, it’s Hollywood, filled with a script of conjectures and probably void of reality. Nevertheless, I found the movie entertaining and interesting. It was well acted, the lavish life of the royals, the period costumes, and the coronation in all it’s pomp — it’s what the British do best.

My only complaint was the ending of the movie. It seemed rushed and all too quick. (Of course, I shouldn’t complain, since I’ve received that same comment in a review of my first book.)

Also, if you liked this movie, but haven’t seen Mrs. Brown, I highly recommend that you do. You’ll see the brokenhearted Queen still in love with her dead husband, who finds an unusual friend in another man.

Favorite Lines: Princess Victoria: Do you ever feel like a chess piece yourself? In a game being played against your will.
Prince Albert: Do you?
Princess Victoria: Constantly. I see them leaning in and moving me around the board.
Prince Albert: The Duchess and Sir John?
Princess Victoria: Not just them. Uncle Leopold. The king. I’m sure half the politicians are ready to seize hold of my skirts and drag me from square to square.
Prince Albert: Then you had better master the rules of the game until you play it better than they can.

Favorite Scene: Waltzing at the ball, of course!

North and South (2005)

5 Kernels


Stars:
Daniela Denby-Ashe, Richard Armitage and Tim Pigott-Smith

Type:
BBC Television Series

 

Based on 1855 Victorian novel North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell, which I have read, comes the wonderful television adaptation by the British. I’d be a dunce not to give this series less than five kernels, because frankly it ranks as one of my favorites. The perfect story of two personalities who clash, but can’t help falling in love with one another. The stern businessman, John Thornton, and the feisty and independent Margaret Hale. The dichotomy of their worlds collide in this wonderful series.

Margaret’s father, a former vicar, for reasons of conscience moves his family from the south of England to the northern industrial town of Milton. His wife, daughter, and housekeeper follow him without question, but are faced with the difficulty of acclimating to a world far different from the one they’ve known.

Since I have English family members who came from northern England (Manchester) and were business tradesmen (brick makers) during the Victorian era, as well, I found this series fascinating. The struggle of the poor working men, women, and children, compared to the hard and strict owners of the mills portrayed the struggle of each class in their bid to survive. The mill owners are trying to make enough to keep open, while the workers are starving and dying from poor working conditions and low pay. The rise of unions, strikes, and hardship tug at your heart throughout the story.

Richard Armitage was broodingly dreamy! Daniela Denby-Ash was a perfect fit for Margaret. The pair made a great iron-upon-iron relationship that finally blends together in perfect harmony. Needless to say, I loved the series. The ending was heartwarming, and the final relenting kiss of Margaret’s lips upon the hand of the man she loved was priceless.

Favorite Lines: “I wish I could tell you how lonely I am. How cold and harsh it is here. Everywhere there is conflict and unkindness. I think God has forsaken this place. I believe I have seen hell and it’s white, it’s snow-white.” (Margaret Hale)

“One minute we talk of the color of fruit, the next of love. How does that happen?” (John Thornton)

Favorite Scene: The train station at the end where Margaret finally expresses her feelings and Thornton kisses her tenderly. Sigh… Let’s just relive it here.

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