Category: Reviews

Sanditon (ITV/PBS) Coming Soon to PBS

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January 12, 2020, PBS Masterpiece will be showing Sanditon in the United States. It has already aired in the United Kingdom and a few other places.  Those who have watched the series are biting their fingernails, waiting for the reaction across the pond that may or may not determine an announcement whether there will be a season two.  Hold onto your hats, ladies, and gents, because the ocean breezes can be strong. So what’s all the fuss about this fictional seaside resort? Well, let me explain.

Sanditon is based on Jane Austen’s unfinished novel. She died before finishing the tale. Screenwriter Andrew Davies decided to finish it, along with other writers who worked on the script and brought it to ITV in the United Kingdom earlier this year. The result of those eight episodes has stirred a storm like none other Jane Austen adaptation on screen thanks to the number of viewers that fall into two camps.

The Jane Austen purists were aghast at the storyline, as it contained nudity (bare male behinds running into the cold waters), too many sexual innuendos, free-flowing hairstyles, and men and women acting non-Regency style. (How dare he kiss her and not propose!) The ending added to the horror of it all, which I will discuss later.

In the other camp are throngs of women who have lost all senses and become absolute fanatics about the series. If you don’t believe me, you need to check out the Sanditon Facebook fan group.  I make no judgment about their often desperate and humorous posts. They only want one thing in life – a second season. Andrew Davies had the nerve to leave its viewers heartbroken in a very un-Jane Austen like ending with no happiness in sight.  How dare he? Well, the women of Sanditon fandom will hear none of it, and they have been on a mission to hound ITV, Red Planet Pictures, the stars, the producers, and whoever they can find to continue the story.  Will they?  Apparently, no announcement will be made until after it airs in the United States. Today the following was posted from the official Sanditon websites:

“We are so happy you enjoyed your trip to Sanditon! We are setting sail for the US and won’t have news to share with you on a second series until the show has aired there. In the meantime, thank you so much for all your support and love for Sidlotte!” (Official Sanditon Facebook Page)

Therefore, it is imperative that you, the viewers, become incandescently obsessed with this show or otherwise a deep depression will circle the earth because Charlotte and Sidney have no happy ending.

So, who are these characters? What is the story about?  Is it because dreamy Theo James, who plays Sidney Parker has actually given the infamous Mr. Darcy and run for his money?  I will let you be the judge of this man who at first has no redeeming qualities. However, in period clothing and with that face, what woman can resist him in spite of his faults? And he will flash his bottom as well, that is if PBS doesn’t edit that scene out. They better not, or there will be hell to pay!  {fans self}

Now that I have regained my senses…

Charlotte, the heroine of the story, in a chance encounter meets the Parkers who invite her to Sanditon. She’s innocent, outspoken, and absolute joy of a character, the eldest of more children than you can count. Her father allows her to accompany the Parkers to Sanditon but not without warning. “Be careful, Charlotte,” he says.  “Careful of what, papa?”  “Everything.”

Yes, there is much to be careful about, because the rest of the characters will leave a lasting impression. There are the grumpy aristocratic lady and her relations that can’t wait for her to die to get her money. Mr. Tom Parker, with tunnel vision, is the town’s entrepreneur who thinks only of himself, along with two hypochondriac siblings. There’s the mysterious Sidney, his other brother, whose slight twitch of a smile will make you swoon. He’s guardian to a rich heiress worth 100,000 pounds who can be a handful. Of course, what story doesn’t have its antagonist you love to hate? You will want to strangle Mrs. Campion, who by the way is married in real life to Theo James. Then poor Stringer, the victim of unrequited love. Many other characters will come onto the screen as well.

The series is well-acted, to say the least. Theo James and Rose Williams, who plays Charlotte, are fantastic in displaying their emotions. Andrew Davies and the writers have woven symbolism throughout the tale that you won’t pick up on until it’s all over and you lean back in your chair, grab a tissue, and sob. Then you’ll begin to ask yourself, what just happened? Why am I blubbering over this show? What has it done to me? Why can’t I sleep? Why do I need to buy a pineapple? Why do I have to run off and join the Sanditon Facebook Fan Group to find solace and comfort among others around the world?

Yes, Sanditon will do one of two things for viewers in the United States.  First, the purist Jane Austen camp will complain and refuse to accept this story with all the faults they can pick out. Others will lose their senses, get lost, swoon, go gaga over Theo James, and lose sleep until an announcement comes that season two will be filmed and released. After all, the story must go on! We need a ripe pineapple! Tom Parker’s debts have to be paid but not with Eliza Campion’s money. Sidney needs to come to his senses! Charlotte needs a happy ending! We need a resolution so we can sleep!

Enjoy, Sanditon. Oh, and be careful.  Be very careful, of everything starting January 12, 2020. The entire Sanditon fandom is counting on you in the United States to go crazy over this show. Their lives and eternal happiness depend on it.

Midway (Movie 2019)

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Sometimes I really don’t understand critics or what they expect. Thank goodness, I didn’t listen to them and went and saw the movie after seeing the high audience rating. I don’t think I’ve ever shed a freaking tear at the end of a war movie but I did at this one.

My father served in the south Pacific during WW2 in the army. He was fortunate to come home alive. However, watching movies like this really takes an individual into the center of the horrors of war and being able to see and deeply appreciate the brave young men who turned the tide of the war around in decisive battles like Midway.

Needless to say, the visual effects were stunning and those dive-bombing fliers were something else. What brave men! The lack of character development complained about by critics is pish-posh. They failed to apparently read the credits at the end about the real men portrayed in this movie and their character who saved our country from possible invasion had we lost. I didn’t really care about the script complaints either. What I did care about, was the reminder and deep sense of gratitude this move left me with at the end when I departed the show, thanking lives long gone.

RIP brave men of Midway.

Sanditon: why are Austen fans so enraged by Andrew Davies’ ending?

ITV’s dramatisation of the unfinished novel has offended the sensibilities of many Janeites. Alison Flood wonders if this makes sense

Source: Sanditon: why are Austen fans so enraged by Andrew Davies’ ending?

Soon Sanditon will be coming to PBS and those of you in the USA will be able to watch this production (January 12, 2020).  Having seen it myself, I can say there is much to enjoy and much to cry about as well.

Sanditon is a continuation of Jane Austen’s novel, but you’ll only see the first episode cover the eleven chapters she wrote. From there, the story unfolds from another pen — well many pens from book adaptation to screen.  It’s an engrossing story, not only about the main love interests of Sidney and Charlotte, but a story of endeavor, greed, foolishness, love, jealousy, and a myriad of other emotions all rolled up into wonderful characters. It will eventually grab onto you, hold your interest, and then break your heart cruelly at the end.  It has nudity, sexuality, and a few shocking scenes.

Those who enjoyed the series have ranted and raved about the ending, and are now campaigning, insisting, and stalking ITV, the stars, writers, and producers to finish the story in Season 2.  My gut tells me they won’t, but we’ll see.

The story is grossly unfinished, just as Jane died before finishing the book.  Is it worth watching?  Sidney and Charlotte’s journey is definitely worth the watch, the changing of a hurt man’s personality, the growing into womanhood of a young girl, laced with touching and beautiful scenes that will sweep you away in Episode 7 and early in Episode 8. There will be characters you love, hate, and could punch for their foolish ways. It’s heartbreakingly lovely altogether, and Sidney Parker definitely gives Mr. Darcy a run for his money.

Peterloo (Movie 2018)

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I have been anxiously waiting for this movie to stream on Amazon in the United States.  Since today is the anniversary of Peterloo (August 16, 1819), and my ancestors are from Manchester, I checked to see if it was finally available.  Alas, it is on Prime now to watch, but unfortunately, much of the movie is a massacre as well.

Because this is such a historical event, I had hoped to enjoy the film. My ancestors were poor, and parts of the movie broke my heart frankly. Though they lived in Manchester around 1850’s and onward, which is much later than this occurrence, it still tugged at my heartstrings because I knew they struggled in some of the poorest areas of the city.

The movie is long, but contains quite a few familiar faces of English male actors. Directed by Michael Leigh, it appears to have been praised in England (read here The Guardian’s Review), I personally found the film tedious and poorly acted in many scenes. If you love to listen to great orators of the English language, you may be enthralled by some of the speeches. Frankly, I was impressed by their ability to memorize and deliver such large portions of script.

The movie, 153 minutes long, is filled with talk, speeches, and not much else, until 60,000 to 80,000 people gather for a peaceful demonstration to hear pro-democracy rhetoric by radical orator Henry Hunt, who called for parliamentary reform and repeal of the corn laws. If you wish to read the historical account, good old Wikipedia has a page on the Peterloo Massacre.

The sad end is the last fifteen minutes of the movie watching the Calvary arriving to drive the crowd away. Of course, they drew their sabers and history records eighteen dead and 400-700 injured.  I would have thought that tidbit of information would scroll at the end of the film, but it did not. It ended with three journalists from London, Liverpool, and another paper (Leeds, I think), talking about writing a story about the Peterloo massacre. It was termed that because the aftermath looked like the battle of Waterloo, only it happened in St. Peter’s Field.

Sadly, I do think the movie could have been better and more engaging. Instead, it became a snooze fest for me, and I did fast forward through a good thirty minutes of it to get to the part where everyone assembles at St. Peter’s Field.

What we can take away from the story, though, is that this was a dark period of cruelty perpetrated against the poor who only wanted a better voice in the House of Commons.  Instead, they were silenced by the swords, and men, women, and children died all because they wanted more food on their tables and better lives.

Ophelia (Movie 2019)

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Let’s get something straight. Whenever somebody suggests that I watch a play by Shakespeare, I usually run the other way. Except for Romeo and Juliet, I’m pretty much Shakespearean ignorant. With a mere high school education and no college course to make me study literature, his famous works have not been on my top-ten to-do list.

Have I watched Hamlet before? I’ve tried. I’ve read the synopsis and snoozed through it, as well as started to watch it on television and snoozed through that or turned it off.  Now, take the same story, and have it told through the eyes of a woman, Ophelia, and you’ve got my attention.  As IMDb says, “It’s a re-imaging of Hamlet, told from Opehlia’s perspective.”  Apparently, it’s based on a novel by Lisa Klein.

The movie was directed by Claire McCarthy and stars Daisy Ridley (Ophelia), Naomi Watts (Gertrude), Clive Owen (Claudius), and George MacKay (Hamlet). It’s a well-done movie with beautiful cinematography, costumes, and acting.  You don’t need to worry about that old-English Shakespeare speech either, as the dialogue is understandable.

Since I’m not crazy about Shakespeare, I do appreciate those writers and directors who have the boldness to take old works and modernize them just enough for us who don’t have a master’s degree in literature to understand and appreciate the stories.  It helps us little folk without all those fancy degrees actually enjoy it on our level of understanding.

If you’re looking for a classic tragedy (and believe me the ending is tragic enough to illicit a tear), you might want to watch this fantastic movie.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Where can you watch it?  Check it out at Ophelia: Watch At Home.  I rented it off Amazon for $5.99.  Cheaper than a ticket at the theater and you make you own popcorn free.

Also, perhaps the picture below will jog your memory about her story.

ophelia

Artist – John Everett Millais “Ophelia”

 

The Wife (Movie 2017)

4 Kernels

wifeI finally had the opportunity to watch The Wife, streaming on Starz.  If you are an author and haven’t seen the movie, you may wish to check it out.

The movie is based on novel of the same name, and stars Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, and Christian Slater.  Glenn Close plays the wife, Joan. Her husband, Joseph Castleman, has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, and they travel to Stockholm with their son for the award ceremony.

It’s a convoluted story, with flashbacks from the present to the past. Flashbacks include young Joan, who falls in love with her professor, Joseph. He teaches writing, but Joan is actually the talent between the two.  Set in 1960, Joan is faced with the reality that most publishing houses are not interested in female authors.  However, she is driven to write.

In a poignant conversation with an author at a reading, come these lines. They are spoken in a conversation between the young Joan Castleman and an author by the name of Elaine Mozell, who is disillusioned with the publishing house gatekeepers (those rascals are still around by the way).

“I love to write.  It’s my life.” (Joan Castleman)
“Don’t do it.” (Elaine Mozell)
“A writer has to write.” (Joan Castleman)
“A writer has to be read, honey.” (Elaine Mozell)

After Joan marries Joseph, who attempts to write a book, she helps to rewrite his poorly devised first draft.  As the genius between the two, and because he is a male, the book gets published and it a runaway best seller.  As the years follow, Joan writes, while he keeps house and watches the kids. Now that they are in their twilight years with grown children and grandchildren, the Nobel Prize is now Joseph’s crowning achievement. No one is wise as to who really wields the pen in the background, except for another author who wants to write Castleman’s biography.

Joan, of course, is frustrated after years of living with a narcissist husband who takes all the credit for her hard work. He’s been unfaithful to his wife throughout the years — just one of those men who can’t control his urge to stray.  But Joan, you see, has been the good wife, until finally the typewriter ribbon of life breaks and she’s had enough.

Glenn Close received multiple nominations and awards for her performance. I will say that I’ve not always been a fan of hers but she is outstanding in her performance.  The movie is also fraught with dysfunctional family ties between father and son, which becomes part of the conflict but not the central story.

In any event, I write this review because I have to write, and I love to write.  The problem is when you are an author, you really are driven to write.  You attempt to stop.  I know I do when sales on my books suck, and no one reads them.  I mean what’s the point? A writer needs to be read. I tell myself the same story — don’t do it.  Just give it up.  Of course, I don’t heed that advice.

Outlander Based on Books – Coming to Netflix

Interesting article. Netflix has picked up the first two seasons.  Diana is working on another book. This article was published in Oprah Magazine on May 15. Follow link to read.

Gabaldon is currently working on the series’ ninth book titled Go Tell the Bees I’m Gone.

Source: Outlander Based on Books by Diana Gabaldon – Outlander Books in Order

Line of Duty – S5 (2019)

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Thank God for Acorn TV for us across-the-pond fans. Line of Duty, the BBC hit and highest rated series in the UK, is now on Acorn TV.  It started May 13th.  Like a junkie on drugs, I watched five episodes straight in the row until I couldn’t keep my eyes open.  Savored episode six with dinner the next day while eating my microwave TV turkey and gravy (what else).  What a freaking season!  This show is addicting.

Bent coppers – that’s what it’s about.  You don’t know who to believe.  Suspicion with a capital “S” pointing to Superintendent Ted Hastings.  By the end of the episode, you’re raging on Twitter #lineofduty – Free Ted.

Here’s a good rundown from DigitalSpy about Season 5 and how it may be frustrating to some viewers.  Naturally, the mystery remains.  People you thought were the good guys are turning out to be the corrupt guys.  Where is Season 6 going to take us?

Season 5 is interrogation overload, for sure (…let me turn your attention to page…), and by the end there still is corruption in the force.  Of course, the writers and producers are going to make us wait again to find out what comes next.  Buggers.

And one last thought, for a woman who can play parts such as docile Mrs. Darcy in DeathB Comes to Pemberley, Esther Summerson in Bleak House, or Bessy Higgins in North & South, Anna Maxwell Martin can really play a woman on a mission with a bitchy attitude that makes you squirm in your seat.  Let’s face it, when you want to gag a character in a TV show, the actress is doing a great job of making you despise her.   Well done Anna.

And last, but not least, there definately (pun here) should be multiple kudos flung at Adrian Dunbar.  Well done, Superintendent.  You had me shaking in the hot seat with you.

The Spanish Princess (Starz 2019)

Spanish-Princess-Starz-Poster-758x758 The White Queen, The White Princess have past, and now The Spanish Princess is the new Starz series based off of Philippa Gregory’s books.  I enjoyed The White Queen more than The White Princess, but that doesn’t matter. The story has moved years ahead with Henry VII and Queen Elizabeth awaiting the arrival of the Spanish Princess to marry Arthur, the heir to the English throne. Betrothed as children, Catherine of Aragon, the daughter of the two Spanish monarchs is about to save England, bringing the power of Spain behind a weakened and bankrupt England.

The only difficult switch between these series is that the cast changes each time, and continuity of character is often lost.  Three Margaret Beauforts have played the three series, all who have portrayed the parts much differently.  However, based on the years that pass between each series, it’s probably understandable that the same actors cannot always be available to carry on the characters as they age in a story line.

In The White Princess, we watched young and uncertain Henry VII take the throne, surrounded by enemies and those would who take the title back from him. Now aging and still somewhat fraught with self-esteem issues and a controlling wife, he anxiously awaits the marriage of Catherine and Arthur to bring stability back to England.

We are introduced to a young Infanta (the daughter of a ruling monarch of Spain), who is headstrong and certain in her calling to become Queen of England.  She’s obedient to her mother, assured, and not afraid to speak her mind. Her purpose in life is to rule England alongside her husband, however, shortly after they wed Arthur dies.  Along the sidelines is a younger and more roguish Henry (he says, “please call me Harry”), who will soon take his place as Catherine’s husband instead.

The historical timeline is not accurate.  They depict Henry as the younger brother of Arthur much older. Historically, Arthur was fifteen and Henry ten at the time when Catherine arrived. She was sixteen. Charlotte Hope plays the young princess and fits the older stereotype, however, the actress’ accent makes it difficult to always catch watch she is saying.

Of course, this is an adaptation, if you will, of history itself.  Slightly altered to make the Spanishstory more interesting, rather than letting you wait all those years after Arthur’s death for Henry to become of age (seventeen) before he marries Catherine.  In this story line, the sparks are already flying between the two, and as history records, supposedly, Catherine and Henry were happy for many years. Of course, the son he wanted never arrived and eventually his eyes wandered after twenty years of marriage to Anne Boleyn.

I thought it interesting in the second episode that they allude the marriage was consummated between Arthur and Catherine, when in fact she denies it after Arthur’s death.  In a sense, they leave the audience hanging.  For some reason, I thought they would stay true to her claims, but now it really opens up the question whether she did lie in order to marry Henry and save her marriage.  We will never know.  Somewhere I read that Arthur boasted after the wedding night that “last night I was in Spain,” which was quoted in episode two.

Die-hard historical lovers will bewail this series, and they have already done so. Complaints from the wrong ages to terrible accents have filled social media. Also, don’t get the fashion experts started, or you’ll be drawn into debates about the clothing and hairstyles.  Nevertheless, I say, let Starz and Phillipa Gregory have their creative liberties to tweak history. The story is interesting, and frankly, I haven’t thought much about what Catherine went through to come from a foreign land and marry Arthur. It’s a good perspective on what she endured and the challenges she faced.

Women of this time period were pawns in the game of thrones being married and carted off to kingdoms to form alliances. They had no choice, but destinies to fulfill whether they liked them or not.  I can watch this series with interest based on the fact it makes me think about her mark on history.  For me, that’s good enough.

 

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