Bramwell (1995-1998)

4 Kernels
The Victorian Way of Life

Stars: Jemma Redgrave and David Calder

Type: British ITV Four Seasons (28 episodes)

Let’s get something out of the way. I love British TV. Seventy percent of what I’ll review has been filmed by the English. It fascinates me. They are great storytellers. Drama is their forte, as well as comedy–hands down.

Twenty-eight episodes later, you’ll be well educated in the Victorian way of life if you tune into Bramwell. I watched it originally on Netflix, but as you know stories come and go there. However, the DVD’s are available on Amazon.

The series is named after its main character, Dr. Eleanor Bramwell, a woman physician in 1895. Her father is a doctor, as well, and his daughter has decided to follow in her father’s footsteps. However, in 1895, women physicians struggled to be taken seriously by their male peers in the same profession. The series begins in a hospital, where after a heated argument with physician in charge, Eleanor embarks on opening a thrift medical center to treat the poor with the help of a financial supporter. Her father is appalled over the idea.

It’s here in this setting that the series embarks upon a variety of stories revolving around her patients and staff, interspersed with her home and social life in an upper-class environment. The medical cases are crude, such as treating women thought to be too hysterical by removing their ovaries to “calm them down,” to the early methods of surgery without the wearing of masks and sterile conditions. It’s a wonder anyone lived, frankly, through half the medical procedures. Nevertheless, it’s a time of learning and knowledge for the medical profession, even if they are still in the dark ages about some practices.


Overall the series is wonderful portrayal of Victorian life, manners, courtship, class differences, evolution of medical knowledge, and a woman’s place in society. Eleanor Bramwell is a feisty woman, who at times I wish I could knock up side the head. Her character is stubborn, independent, and bull-headed. However, she was born in a time when women were spreading their wings and demanding better treatment. Eleanor, however, is so opinionated in her vie for change, that she thinks she is always right – about everything. On the other hand, her treatment of the poor and attitude toward the sick is her redeeming quality.

Every other character that came and went throughout seasons one through three, were great additions to the story. Eleanor is unmarried, but has a main love interest in her life, another doctor. The man is frankly a scoundrel, as far as I am concerned. Even in all of her self-professed intelligence, Eleanor didn’t have an ounce of sense when it came to men.

Seasons one through three are wonderful. Season four falls flat on its face. Many of the main characters are gone, including her father. My suggestion is skip four, and save yourself the pain. It sorely lacks the brilliance of the first three. Read a synopsis instead to satisfy your curiosity.

If you like the Victorian Era, this is the series for you.

A Dangerous Method (2011)

7489a-dangerous2bmethod1 Kernel

Stars: Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender

R Rated Review

Okay, the disclaimer is up. It’s a shocking movie. If you’re a psychologist buff who has studied the works of Jung and Freud, this movie could be your cup of tea. If you’re an individual who has been beaten and sexually abused, hide the play button. It could resurrect repressed memories you had hoped to forget. Watch at your own risk. On the other hand, if you read Fifty Shades of Grey and liked it, this movie could be right up your alley.

This movie is supposedly based on a true story. Enters Sabina Spielrein – painfully played by Keira Knightly, I might add. She arrives at the mental institution, Carl Jung (played by Michael Fassbender) is her doctor. He sits in a chair behind her and starts to embark on the method of psychoanalyzing a disturbed woman. Sabina contorts into all sorts of physical language from her face to her toes, and confesses to her doctor that she’s been abused, beaten, and likes it. In today’s language that would be translated into kinky sex. She enjoys being naked, tied up, and beaten as a result of what her father did to her as a child.

As her treatment progresses, Carl meets his idol, Sigmond, and they discuss her case. However, Sabina, as she becomes more stable, entices her doctor into a relationship. Married and about to commit professional suicide, Jung has an affair with her anyway. If that isn’t bad enough, he satisfies her sexual needs by binding her and beating her with a belt. The act portrayed on screen is far too long on screen, as you watch her contort in pain but enjoy it sexually. The man who is suppose to cure her ends up reinforcing her behavior instead. The outcome is disastrous.

Jung becomes as addicted to her and their affair (even though at one point he tries to break it off), as she is addicted to her behavior. He gives you the impression he loves the dominant male position of spanking her bottom with his belt as much as she loves it at the receiving end. Whether Jung really did go that far in real life is questionable, since he’s well known and revered in his work. From what I’ve read the affair was real, but I’d like to believe the remainder is Hollywood contrived.

The interaction and professional discussions between Jung and Freud are interesting to watch. Surprisingly, Sabina eventually goes on in life to become a psychiatrist herself. Jung helps her achieve that goal. The affair eventually ends, the two part, she marries and finds her own successful career, while Jung wallows in regrets.

Frankly, I had high hopes for this movie, but it turned out rather discouraging and convoluted to watch. The timeline jumps from one period to the next. Scenes happen that make no sense and are followed with no explanation. For example Freud suffers what appears to be a heart attack or stroke in one scene, the next he’s perfectly fine. Huh? The acting on Kiera’s part can only be described as painful to watch earlier in the movie, and bland by others.

Not my cup of tea, especially standing in their bedroom watching drawn out scenes of Sabina tied to the bed and beaten with a belt for sexual arousal. I didn’t count the number of times; I only remember saying to myself, “Enough already, I get the point.”

Refund please.

Always (1989)

5 Kernels

Stars: Holly Hunter, Richard Dreyfuss, John Goodman, Brad Johnson
:Reaches back to the old movies on VHS:

“Always” will always been one of my all-time favorites for romantic movies. I still own it on VHS, and really need to update to DVD.

With all of the recent fires in Colorado and the pictures of planes dropping fire retardant chemicals upon the raging forests below, it’s a good time to dust off this movie and watch it again. It takes you into a world of aerial firefighters, who risk their lives to save the forest.

The story revolves around not only their jobs, but the love between a hot-shot pilot (Pete, played by Richard Dreyfuss) and his girl, Dorinda (played by Holly Hunter), who works with the crew. The analogy that love can either be a flash fire that burns quickly, or one that burns slowly and lasts forever, is part of the message buried within the story.

Steven Spielberg directed the movie, and it’s sort of a rehash of “A Guy Named Joe” from 1943. Instead of being set in WWII, it’s set in a war of a different type. The movie is a great comedy, with Goodman playing Al, who is another pilot who doesn’t take the fool-hearty chances that Pete does. Between the two of them, there are some great laughs when they taunt each other as best friends.

Pete is a terrible risk taker. Dorinda knows if Pete keeps up his antics of taking chances, one day his number is going to be up. She has that premonition and asks him to quit and take a job as a trainer instead. Reluctantly, Pete finally agrees, but not before one last flight that takes his life in a blazing explosion.

The remainder of the story is a fantasy-filled adventure of Pete haunting Dorinda and Al. Dorinda, can’t move on, and Pete can’t seem to let go. Al is crazy Al, only now he’s smart and teaching the younger generation to fly the planes above burning timber, rather than doing it himself. Audrey Hepburn plays an interesting role in the afterlife, which is actually her final film appearance.

It’s a moving and funny movie that I’ve liked for many years. Dreyfuss is at his best. Goodman is funny. Holly is heartfelt in her grief, and her cutesie new lover boy (Brad Johnson) is definite eye candy. The life and atmosphere of the men and women who risk their lives to put out forest fires is an educational watch and well worth the time on a recliner or couch.

Favorite Lines: (Dorinda) He’s too beautiful. He’s too much twisted steel and sex appeal. I can’t be with a guy that looks like I won him in a raffle. (Speaking of Ted Baker, her new love interest.)

(Pete) [Speaking to Dorinda after he’s dead] I know now, that the love we hold back is the only pain that follows us here. (Wow! What a line to think about.)

 

My Mom’s New Boyfriend (2008)

2 Kernels

Stars: Antonio Banderas, Meg Ryan, Colin Hanks, Selma Blaire

Type: Movie
(Straight to DVD in the US)

There was a time when Meg Ryan was America’s sweetheart on film. After seeing her in this movie with her Botox lips (some say implants) and a smile that makes her look like the Joker, I want to cry.

When the movie first started, I thought it interesting that the camera didn’t focus upon her face for a very long periods of time. Some shots were glancing seconds or side and back views. Now I know why. Even with makeup head on, and hair that kept falling into her face and obscuring her looks, it didn’t help to hide what had happened to Meg Ryan’s face. I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and cry “why?” It’s obvious that the cover for the DVD box has been Photoshop altered to repair the damage.

Looking beyond the physical changes to Meg, I cannot say that this movie had very many redeeming qualities rather than being a mildly entertaining romantic comedy. It played very limited worldwide, no doubt flopped, and then went straight to DVD in the United States. You’ve probably not seen it in theaters, that’s why.
It’s about a fat woman with low self-esteem, who has a dead husband that was a sod and in prison. One day her son, who turned out well and has a career with the FBI (played by Colin Hanks-Tom Hanks’ son), leaves on a hush-hush mission. Marty (Meg) flops on the floor of the airport after saying goodbye to drown herself with food and drink. Suddenly the light goes on that she needs to change after someone drops a quarter in her coffee cup as he walks by thinking she’s homeless. As a result of that one incident, she changes her ways and turns into a skinny rail with a protruding rib cage (the new look of beauty).

Her son, who hasn’t seen his mother in three years, returns home to find a changed body and a mother who is gone off the deep end. Rather than finding herself through traveling the world and studying various religions, as she tells him over dinner, I thought she lost herself instead. The woman has a loose screw. She’s running around dating various men, out at all hours of the night, and humping an 18-year old in her own home, who looks like he’s 16 with a mentality of a 14-year old. Frankly, it was crass.

Enters Antonio Banderas (Tommy), who we are led to believe is the “bad boy” art thief. He meets the family by accident, and suddenly becomes involved in their lives. Marty and Tommy fall in love, and supposedly have a hot scene in the bedroom playing itsy-bitsy spider. Well, I’d play anything in bed with Antonio myself, but the scene fails big time and is far from a tender moment of romance between two lovers – its’ a joke.

Everyone has secrets, it appears. Her son ends up investigating Tommy and is part of an FBI stakeout to watch his movements. The movie ends revealing he’s really not a bad boy after all. Ah, love. He kisses Meg’s Joker smile, and they live happily ever after.

I almost want to apologize for my lack in liking the movie. Instead, the only message I came away with it is this: Watch out for plastic surgery. It can kill a career.

On the lighter side, I’ve seen more recent pictures of Meg. She seems to be looking better as she embarks on her 51st birthday, and I’m not sure if that’s due to corrective surgery or not. However, she was so pretty to begin with, that I don’t understand why she had to mess with perfection and not choose to age gracefully like other stars.

What do you think ladies?


Favorite Lines:
None.

Favorite Scenes: The Credits

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