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.

Woman Walks Ahead (Movie 2018)

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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)

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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.

Line of Duty Season 5: Ted Hastings and Kate Fleming RETURN…  Yes!!! 

LINE OF DUTY fans were in for a treat last night when Jed Mercurio dropped a teasing look at the upcoming fifth season of the hit BBC drama after the Bodyguard finale.

Source: Line of Duty season 5: Ted Hastings and Kate Fleming RETURN as Steve Arnott unrecognisable

Kate & Alfie: Redwater (RTE One & BBC One 2017)

kate and alfie3 Kernels for the Show – 1 for the Stupid Ending

I don’t think I’ve ever watched a television series that has left me so bleeping mad that I cursed at the end and screamed, “what the hell?” BEWARE, before you tune into this BBC mystery now streaming on BritBox. They canceled the bleeping show and left everyone hanging at an extremely critical point in the story. Before you invest yourself in six episodes, please be aware it’s going to cause you to swear at the end.

After saying all that, it’s a story about a woman who returns to find her long-lost son who she gave up for adoption 32 years earlier.  Apparently, it’s based on characters from the soap opera EastEnders, which I haven’t watched. It’s filmed in Ireland.

As the story unfolds, it’s a fairly good mystery with a few surprising twists that kept my interest through the six episodes. It’s the ending that leaves you hanging, but apparently the question of “survival” is answered upon the return of the characters to EastEnders, which I’ve not seen.  I can only say it’s a rotten way to treat the audience and poor planning for those who are not invested in the soap opera or its characters.  Frankly, it’s down-right cruel RTE One and BBC One.  What were you thinking?

If you want to read more about the show and episodes before investing the time to watch it with the full knowledge of the outcome, I suggest you travel over to old Wikipedia.

 

Mystery Road (Acorn TV 2018)

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My first thought at seeing the landscape in this Australian outback setting brought a question to mind.  How do people live in such a harsh environment? Wonderfully shot with some stellar overhead views of the vast scenery comes a crime mystery about two missing men on an outback cattle station.

Judy Davis plays a sassy middle-aged policewoman (Emma James) who is reluctantly paired with Aaron Pedersen (Jay Swan), an over-zealous detective.  Emma is quirky and knows the town/area like the back of her hand, while Jay saunters in as the gun-slinging Aussie cowboy type in boots and a hat ready to get dirty and solve the crime.

The six episodes of what happened and who-done-its keep audiences well engaged in a mystery that unfolds bit by bit.  Like a slow peel of an onion, the more layers stripped away in this mystery down a dusty road, the stinkier the core becomes. It’s a great show, well acted, and engaging.  The Aussies are giving the Brits a good run for their money on this outstanding series.

Interspersed between the main crime are the sideline stories of father and daughter problems, as well as a drinking estranged wife. Add that to the brother and sister relationship and secrets from centuries past regarding their ancestors who settled the land before them, you have some good side plots.

Check out the series but bring bottled water.  After a few hours of the dry Outback, you may get thirsty along the way or need a dish of ice cream to cool off.

 

 

Republic of Doyle (2010-2014 CBC)

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Making my way through the fourth season and having peeked at the last episode of the series, I’ve been hooked on the Republic of Doyle, a CBC Canadian television series, for the past few weeks. The show quickly sucked me in, wore me out, regained interest, and keeps me going eventually through seasons five and six.

Meet Jake Doyle, the womanizer private detective, in business with his father. Set in the colorful St. John’sNewfoundland and Labrador location, you get to ride along in a few terrifying road trips in Jake’s classic GTO car.  Between the women and the cases, it’s filled with interesting and terrifying characters that keep your interest.  The comedy of the show is intermixed with family and others who make up the eclectic cast that often goes and comes in episodes.  A surprise episode with Russell Crowe is thrown into the mix. Nevertheless, the basic family core is pretty much the same throughout give or take a few siblings.

One question remains unanswered, however.  How often can a person get hit in the head and knocked out before there is brain damage? Since this happens to Jake and his assistant, Des, multiple times, you begin to realize it’s just part of the writer’s ploy to make it ridiculous.  If you can get past that often irrational plotline, you will enjoy Jake’s blue eyes, six-pack abs, and interesting character.

As far as the cases go, they are sometimes repetitive but usually interesting. Jake breaks the law more often than not but his romantic love interest on the police force is his saving grace in many ways.

To be honest, after season one through three, I got a little burned out and had to recoup by watching season two of No Offense. I quickly binged that with the six forty-five minute episodes and have returned to the Republic.

If you’re into PI shows, you will probably enjoy this one via Canada.

 

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