Category: Reviews

The Spanish Princess

I’ve watched The White Queen and The White Princess twice. Now comes Starz with The Spanish Princess. It’s the story of Catherine of Aragon, who married Prince Arthur and eventually Henry VIII (his first wife). It looks amazing! Starts May 5th, so renew your Starz subscription and mark your calendars!  Love period drama.

Close Review: Noomi Rapace Shines in Vapid Netflix Bodyguard Thriller | IndieWire

I’m sharing this review after just watching this show myself.  It’s much more detailed than I can write but can add that Noomi Rapace is one hell of a woman. As far as females being the weaker sex, this woman is an exception. A bodyguard, no less, who can kick, shoot, strangle, and kill any man twice her size. Good movie, worth the watch. Violent but one must be to save your life and someone else’s.  Check it out on Netflix.

This violent Netflix thriller proves that Noomi Rapace is a bonafide action star, but she’s in desperate need of stronger material.

Source: Close Review: Noomi Rapace Shines in Vapid Netflix Bodyguard Thriller | IndieWire

Kris Marshall lands role in ITV’s Jane Austen drama Sanditon two years on from Death in Paradise exit

We’re a long way from Saint Marie.

Source: Kris Marshall lands role in ITV’s Jane Austen drama Sanditon two years on from Death in Paradise exit

‘Medici’ Season 3 Sells Ahead of Season 2 Premiere | Hollywood Reporter

I just finished Season 2 on Netflix. Frankly, I liked Season 1 better.  It picks up twenty years later so don’t expect to drool over Richard Madden again.  However, you may like the new Lorenzo de ‘Medici played by Daniel Sharman.

There is a lot of continual conflict between the Medici and Pazzi families that seemed to go on and on, which creates a lot of rehashing in episodes of why this feud has continued for so long.  I ended up with a few fast-forwards on the remote control.

Regardless, I’m glad there will be a Season 3 and hope that I will find it more to my liking as Lorenzo continues his influence on Florence.

The Italian co-production is getting bigger and better after the success of its first season.

Source: ‘Medici’ Season 3 Sells Ahead of Season 2 Premiere | Hollywood Reporter

The Lady in the Van (2015 Movie)

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Let me preface this review by stating that the British do make quirky movies.  You can put The Lady in the Van into the very quirky category.  Believe it or not, it’s a true story that had been told previously in a book form and on stage.  Alan Bennett, the author, tells of his relationship with the homeless (except for her van) Mary Shepherd. Wonderful and talented Maggie Smith has played this role both on stage and film.

The story centers around an elderly woman who drives a dilapidated van. She favors Alan’s neighborhood and moves the van from house to house early in her arrival.  The neighbors tolerate her presence and attempt to be kind, offering her food and the like, but she’s undoubtedly the most cantankerous old lady you’ll meet.

Alan is a bit of an oddball himself in this story.  He’s a playwright by trade, and you see him much of the time writing about this fifteen-year experience with Mary (or maybe it’s Margaret – nobody is sure).  In his own oddball way, he has a double of himself in the storyline – the one who lives life – the other who writes about life. Alan is also dealing with his aging mother as the story unfolds.

Mary Shepherd is an interesting character herself, having lived in her youth as a gifted pianist. Twice she attempts to become a nun but the church doesn’t believe she’s nun material. When an accident happens in her van years before, she is plagued with the belief that she had killed someone. The guilt sends her down a spiral hole of despair from which she never recovers.

Lady in a Van is an interesting character study, set in a very small portion of London with occasional visits elsewhere. There is plenty of screen time with her van that eventually ends up parked in Alan’s driveway for the period of fifteen years. Maggie Smith’s costumes consist of filthy clothing and a pigsty of a location, but she shines as usual with her talent.  You may, however, find the role a bit shocking and beneath her abilities from the grand Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey to a grungy, grumpy, and stinky old lady. However, since Maggie has owned this role in the past on stage, I dare say she was the only one to do it justice on film.

In the end, it’s the story of where life can take an individual. As an elderly woman, she appears to have no more worth than the rags she wears. Nevertheless, underneath all the filth is a woman who was once revered and applauded.

Maximilian and Marie deBourgogne (2017)

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Currently streaming on Starz is a spectacular series in six parts entitled Maximilian and Marie de Bourgogne.  It’s a German-Austrian co-production that I found extremely well done for a period piece, not at all minding the German and French spoken throughout with English subtitles. The story is engrossing enough to keep you glued to the dialogue as you are immersed in another time in history: 1477.  Dust off your history books, because if you’re like me you’ll be glad to know this storyline does a good job of keeping to the historical facts.  To add to the authenticity of this period drama are the sets and costumes that are well done, as well as the musical score.

The story centers around two key players in the chessboard of the fifteenth-century politics in Europe. Marie is the daughter of Charles the Bold, the Duke of Burgundy, who is killed in battle by the French. With no male heir, Marie is made duchess. However, Burgundy is a male fiefdom and from day one she becomes the pawn of those in power in Burgundy and France, each attempting to wield their political maneuvers. She is encouraged to marry the Dauphin of France, who is a mere boy, as France wants Burgandy back in its power.

Then, in a faraway land of Austria, resides Maximilian, the son of the Holy Roman Emperor.  He is encouraged to wed Marie but balks at the idea until circumstances finally lead him to Burgundy.  Like a knight in shining armor, with integrity and purpose, he comes to save the day.  The series is a sweeping story of war, politics, and endearing love between two young people. Unfortunately, in real life, and portrayed with such emotion it made me cry at the end, their happiness is ended by tragedy.

I think what I liked about this series is the wonderful job the two leads did, emotionally portraying these historical characters learning to rule.  Many of the children of the main monarchs in this tale — France and Austria are merely pawns of their parents in arranged marriages to other kingdoms.

Anyway, highly recommend if you have Starz.  If not, you can get it on Amazon for $8.95 a month or purchase each episode for $2.99.  It’s worth just paying $8.95 to watch the six episodes and then you can cancel.

There are a few sex scenes but tame compared to Outlander’s first two seasons. Also, it’s a brutal time of war and torture so you may see some unsettling scenes but it’s not overly graphic and gory.

Oh, and as a matter of trivia, Queen Elizabeth II is a descendant of Maximillian, which makes his character even more interesting.

Christmas Movies 2018

Thankfully, I don’t have the Hallmark channel.  Only Netflix and ION television are putting Christmas movies in my path.  I’ve watched a few this year, so here it goes.  No doubt I’ll post again with more to come as I waste precious time I should be using to write.

PotterThe first one makes me wonder if I have a sick sense of humor since the poor movie received 0% on the tomato meter of Rotten Tomatoes. I apparently enjoyed the odd story but must have missed it last year.  It came out in 2007 and is streaming on Netflix.

Pottersville is the story of Maynard, a down-to-earth regular nice guy, whose wife is into an absolutely absurd, crazy, a kinky outlet.  You’ll have to see it to believe it.  When he discovers his wife with another man, he goes on a drinking binge and decides to dress up in a costume that makes him look like a hairy monster.  With a gorilla head, paws with claws, and a fuzzy body, he runs around the town. The next day, reports come in that people saw Bigfoot.  Of course, one sighting of Bigfoot, and the entire town goes bonkers and descends into Bigfoot mania.

Maynard really wants to tell the truth that it’s him behind the mask, but when he sees the outcome of his drunken night and how the town has come alive, he keeps it a secret.  I don’t know what it was about this movie, but I thought it cute and had a few good laughs.  Not much in the way of romance. Some parts are just stupid, I’ll admit.  Well, at least 53% of the Rotten Tomatoes audience liked it.

***

Okay, ladies, back to princes.  Netflix has a sequel to A Christmas Prince.  It’s A Christmas Prince: The Royal cristmas princeWedding.  It continues the story from last year.  The prince is now king since his father died.  It focuses mainly on Amber’s return to Aldovia, with her father in tow, before the wedding and her acclimation to becoming the queen.

Everyone attempts to mold her into the royal protocol and ways of doing things, while she comes kicking and screaming along the way.  Richard, her husband to be, is awfully busy with affairs of state, dealing with a country in debt and nothing working as it should.  The evil cousin returns but he’s not so bad this time.

It’s the usual fluff.  Can’t say I was overwhelmed by the story though Netflix users seem to be piling on five stars.

***

Swtcih

Your next royal movie (le sigh), The Princess Switch.  It’s another overused trope – two lookalikes who switch places.  The commoner, Margaret, in this switcharoo is a baker from Chicago who owns her own bakery.  The royalty, duchess of Montenaro, is betrothed in an arranged marriage to a prince.  Vanessa Hudgens plays the parts, doing quite well from speaking in a haughty poss-English accent to a down-to-earth woman who loves to bake.

Same old story.  Gee, let’s switch places.  The duchess wants a moment to see what life is like on the other side, while Margaret had always dreamed of her prince charming.  Of course, each enjoys their new roles in life and each fall in love with the individuals they should not.

It’s a fairly enjoyable movie but overly similar to so many others that use this story, which creates a tad bit of boredom and yawning.

I also watched the Christmas Crush on Netflix that came out in 2012.  Didn’t finish it.  Oh, my gosh, so over the top with four girls who attend a high school winter reunion ten years later.  Spare me.  If you hated high school, you’ll hate this one.

Another I used the fast-forward button on repeatedly and didn’t finish, Christmas Wedding Planner, on Netflix, came out in 2017.

That’s it for now!

 

Howards End (Starz 2017-18)

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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)

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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.

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