Category: Reviews

Howards End (Starz 2017-18)

Howards End4 Kernels

Howards End is not new to the screen, having been adapted by the book written by E.M. Forester’s into a movie in 1992 staring Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins.  Starz has a new series out that expands on the movie version in four parts, starring Hayley Atwell and Matthew Macfayden.

It’s a slow moving and somewhat odd story of three families in the scheme of English society, focusing on the middle-class Schlegels, a wealthy family named the Wilcoxes, and a poor working class family named the Basts.

The Schlegel family, who consist of three siblings, meet the Wilcoxes, and through various interactions and visitations become acquaintances. Margaret Schlegel forms a friendship with Mrs. Wilcox. At her death, she leaves her family home, Howards End, to Margaret.  The children and Mr. Wilcox decide that the bequest scrawled on a piece of paper during her illness should not be honored.

As time passes, Mr. Wilcox forms an attachment to Margaret.  In the storyline enters the Basts, who have an integral part to play in the tale of the three families.  Frankly, it’s a convoluted intersecting of all involved.  The story is filled with conversation in every scene, which requires your attention to understand the characters and their motivations for their behavior.

Having watched the 1992 version and this mini-version, I am inclined to prefer the latest Starz television production.  It’s well acted, with good choices of those who played the parts of each of these complicated characters.  The story is definitely not for everyone, and probably enjoyed more by those who love the Edwardian era before WWI.  The sets and costumes are done very well, which helps to immerse the audience into the times and values of the day.

I’ll throw four kernels at the screen for this one.

Bodyguard (Netflix 2018)

Bodyguard5 Stars

Thank you, Netflix for purchasing the rights to show the BBC drama Bodyguard. No this isn’t a remake of the Kevin Costner/Whitney Houston hit. Rather, it’s a BBC One production that grabbed the United Kingdom audience and now gets to grab you wherever you are.

It stars the talented Keely Hawes and Richard Madden (who takes a while to understand his accent). Fantastic acting by all the cast, a nailbiting, tense thriller to keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat.

Richard Madden plays the character of David Budd who is assigned as bodyguard to protect the Home Secretary Julia Montague played by Keeley Hawes.  She’s a high and mighty politician while he is a former soldier dealing with residual PTSD but packing a gun. The story revolves around tense political scenes, terrorists around every corner, broken marriages, and love affairs. To top it off, it’s the usual well-done British show with the tense music in the right spots.  Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, the plot twists in a surprising direction.

Great British television!  There’s nothing like it, and this is one of the best.  Just read the reviews online, and you’ll see many agree.

Woman Walks Ahead (Movie 2018)

Walks Ahead4 Kernels

I grew up watching cowboys and Indians on television and in the movies. In fact, when I think back about how many pictures I did watch, that’s probably why I cannot stand to see another one as an adult.  However, in my Prime email from Amazon this morning, this was advertised.  I knew it to be recent and I like Jessica Chastain, so I thought I would check it out.

It’s a true story about a widow from New York who came out west to paint Sitting Bull. Hollywood portrays her as a childless widow, when in fact in real life, Catherine Weldon did have a son.  In 1890, she boards a train from the big city and travels to the plains of the Dakota intent on meeting the infamous chief.  Her one mission is to learn about him, his people, their treatment, and paint his portrait.

It’s a well-acted and soul-searching look into a time period when the United States didn’t play fair when it came to the Indians. A lot of hatred existed between the white and the Indians on the reservation, and Catherine does her best to help with the intent of making waves in Congress for better treatment.  Unfortunately, she also is hated by the locals for her sympathies toward the Lakota tribe.

Michael Greyeyes, who plays Sitting Bull, is much younger and more handsome than the real man who walked the earth. Romantic undertones by Hollywood are mixed into the story, focusing on his relationship with Catherine.   Jessica Chastain is a fine actress who plays a wide spectrum of characters well.

If you have Amazon Prime, I recommend this movie as a freebie. It didn’t garnish great reviews though.  In the end, a bit of history comes up on the screen, but you may have to hit stop to read it as editing doesn’t give you more than a few seconds to speed read the content.  I was unaware that this time period in the movie is a precursor to the massacre at Wounded Knee, where over three hundred men, woman, and children Lakotas were killed in 1890.

Suffragettes with Lucy Worsley (2018 BBC)

Lucy5 Kernels

I don’t usually blog about documentary shows, but my female readers (and males too) might really eat this one up like candy.

Perhaps since we’re facing mid-terms in the United States this November and it’s time to vote again, this might give you the incentive to register and get out to exercise your right.  Even though this is about the British woman who campaigned for the vote in England, it is no less poignant to realize the sacrifices many women made to bring change about in a man’s world.

Our wonderful Lucy Worsley, is an English historian, who does fascinating shows from the King’s Bedchamber, Six Wives, Empire of the Tsars, Tudor Treasure: A Night at Hampton Court, and many other wonderful documentaries.  This particular one is probably the best I’ve seen with re-enactments and personal testimony of the ladies who fought.  Frankly, it’s far better than the recent movie in 2015.

Like many others, I knew about the protests, the arrests, the forced feedings while incarcerated, but I didn’t appreciate the years and ingenuity these ladies used.  Yes, perhaps much of it turned radical and violent out of anger and frustration because no one cared to listen. Parliament ignored and pushed the women to their limits. Violence brought about the attention they craved, but ultimately it took a World War to bring about change.  You may judge them for their violent tactics, but some of their other schemes were down-right brilliant.  Who knew that Edwardian women understood the power of branding?

The show is currently streaming on BritBox.

It’s even got 100% on the Tomatometer.

%d bloggers like this: