Florence Foster Jenkins (Movie 2016)

2 Kernels for the Movie/Story

4 Kernels Kiss for Hugh Grant

Streaming FREE for Amazon Prime members, is Florence Foster Jenkins.  Tired from a long day’s work, I plugged in and finally watched the movie.  It was a rather interesting story, but laced with sadness and irritation.

Hugh Grant (now old enough for his AARP membership) is still quite the looker and deserved his Oscar nomination.  Meryl Streep (who has never been a favorite of mine on the screen – sorry) was tolerable as Florence, whose character I found irritating and not just because she couldn’t sing. Simon Helberg aka Howard Wolowitz made it to big screen as Florence’s accompanist on the piano, Cosme McMoon, and was nominated for a Golden Globe for his portrayal.

The movie, of course, is based upon Florence Foster Jenkins’ love of music and dream of being a singer.  Lied to by her voice coach, encouraged by her husband, and Cosme quietly agreeing in order to keep his job, she actually believes that she can sing.  Unfortunately, she is utterly terrible.  Out of love or some other motive, no one has the gall to tell her to her face how horrible she sounds, so she continues to pursue her career taking it all the way to a performance at Carnegie Hall.

When you consider the fact, and if it is really true as portrayed in the movie, it’s a sad state of affairs that those who purported to love her misused her in such a way. Perhaps her husband didn’t see it as such, attempting to be supportive, but in the end it damages her more than helps.  Her marriage is a strange one, having been infected with syphilis in her first marriage she has never consummated her second.  Her husband, St. Clair, receives his comfort outside the bonds of marriage with another woman at an apartment that he keeps.  It’s an arrangement that is understood but never acknowledged even between the two of them.

Though an interesting story about a real-life person, I found the movie painful to watch by the extended period of off-tuned singing the audience is subjected to in order to make the point. When you listen to the actual recording of Florence, it pretty much sounds the same as Steep, sadly to say.

In retrospect, I would have preferred more background of their marriage and her life up to this point, rather than the one and only focus of her lessons, recital, the recording she paid for, and her ultimate rise to fame for some odd reason. Those sole points do not enlighten the audience as to who Florence was as a person beside her horrible voice. Her character itself isn’t portrayed as an intelligent or endearing one but rather odd, making it seem all the more cruel that people continue to humorously go along with her misguided intentions.  It is such a miss-match between her and St. Clair, you wonder why they fell in love and stayed married.

Her booking of Carnegie Hall, of course, is the pinnacle of her singing career.  However, when she comes across the one scathing review her husband tried to keep her from reading, her health deteriorates from a broken heart of finally realizing she couldn’t keep a tune after all.

I really cannot give the movie much more than a two on this one, but I’ll give Grant a four kernel kiss for his acting and handsome face.

Escape to the Country (BBC)

Escape3 Kernels

Have you ever had a dream that you knew in your heart would never come true?  Are you brave enough to watch a show about that dream and torture yourself by seeing others live it instead?  Well, click your heels three times and say with me, “escape to the country in England.”

Currently streaming on Netflix is this wonderful BBC insight into country living.  It’s a reality show where individuals or couples are seeking to leave the bustling cities and find a property in a quaint village in the English countryside.  The host shows them three properties that fit into their desires (i.e. budget, number of bedrooms, size of lot/land, location), with the last one termed as the “mystery home.”  After viewing each of the properties, the home seekers guess the price before being told the actual listing.

The show covers a variety of counties in England.  What is nice about each location visited, is that the host introduces interesting tidbits about the small country village’s history and what they may be famous for in the way of special goods, i.e. leather, lace, candy, etc., and then shows examples of how these are made. (The lace one blew me away! I never knew the intricacy and hours of work for one piece of handmade lace.)  It gives the guests and the audience the flavor of the locality, along with stunning views of national parks, rolling hills, dramatic coastlines, etc.

Frankly, I’ve only been through three episodes shot in York, Wiltshire, and Devon.  Future episodes are Dorset, Shropshire, Scottish Highlands, West Wales, East Midlands, North Dorset,  Gloucestershire, Northumberland, Cornwall, Somerset, Cambridgeshire, and Hertfordshire.

Usually, my mouth doesn’t drop open while watching television, but I’ve had a hard time keeping it shut while entering some of these properties.  From the typical country thatch roof to converted barns to small estates to Georgian-style houses, I’m green with jealousy wishing I could live in one of these fabulous places, in a country village setting.  Alas, life will probably never grant me that dream.  (Perhaps, I should be glad based on the murder rates on so many fictional British crime shows.)

On the downside of this series, you are left with the knowledge of which house the guests like but not given the knowledge of what house they actually purchase!

If house hunting bores you, this is not the show for you.  However, if you’re curious about English properties in the country, their cost, etc., you’ll love the show even though it’s not a five-star British period drama with a handsome duke to sweep you off your feet.  Instead the properties will enthrall and cause your heart race to increase.

Oh, you lucky Brits!  I’m green with envy.

BBC Films’ Lady Macbeth: Our Bodies Ourselves – Got Fandom?

With excellent performances and cinematography that subtly kills, it shows you that class wins, even if those who have it are not the best people. This is not pretty viewing. It’s not a pleasant one. But it is necessary viewing and it’s in my top five films of 2017… so far. If you can catch this at the cinema, do it. It won’t be a wasted trip, that’s for sure.

Source: BBC Films’ Lady Macbeth: Our Bodies Ourselves – Got Fandom?

Wishing it would get here!

Everything We Know So Far About Howards End

Another period drama coming our way.

Many are claiming the period drama could be the next Downton.

Source: Everything We Know So Far About Howards End

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