Tag: Period Drama

Medici: Masters of Florence

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A new series, acquired by Netflix and popular in Italy, is now streaming – Medici: Masters of Florence.  If you’re a history buff, you might enjoy this new binge-watching opportunity regarding the Medici family who were bankers in the 15th century in the Republic of Florence.  For more historical information, run over to Wikipedia and READ HERE.

The story stars Richard Madden, Stuart Martin, and Dustin Hoffman, among others. It begins with the death of Giovanni, who is the founder of the Medici family empire. His son, Cosimo de’ Medici takes over the family business and learns that his father had been murdered.  The intrigue begins.

Be prepared to flop back and forth between a twenty-year period when Giovanni is alive and teaching his sons, as well as manipulating their lives to do his will. Sometimes it’s difficult to discover if you’re twenty years in the past or twenty years in the future, except for the difference in the hairstyles of the two sons.

Controlling, conniving, and underhandedly through bribery, the elder Giovanni influences the choice of the next pope. Its reward is to be the Vatican’s banker, which leads to prestige and additional wealth. In addition, he arranges a marriage for Cosimo (after sending away the woman he loves), and forbids his son to follow his true interest in life of art and architecture. The family business comes first.

I didn’t exactly find it the best of series for a few reasons:

  1. Miscasting – Dustin Hoffman is a poor choice to play the matriarch of the family – Giovanni. His acting is not up to par, and he just doesn’t fit the historical character’s role.
  2. Sound quality is absolutely terrible. Constantly, I had to crank up the volume to hear what they were saying, which I found annoying.  This is an Italian production acquired exclusively by Netflix (though not by Netflix), so I’m not sure if that is the reason.

What works:

  1. The semi-interesting historical story line.
  2. The ancient city of Florence and its architecture.
  3. The costumes.
  4. History lessons on screen, such as the Black Death pandemic that was estimated to have killed 30-60% of Europe’s population.
  5. The surprising plot twist at the end of Season 1.

Nevertheless, check it out for a new period drama feast but beware it may not be your best meal.

The Invisible Woman (2013 Movie)

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Three years late watching this movie, I finally sat down and streamed it last night on Amazon for $3.99 – The Invisible Woman.  Frankly, I had forgotten it existed until the Period Drama Appreciation Society on Facebook brought it up as a suggestion.  By the way, it’s a great group of 8,500 (probably mostly women) who are crazy about period drama from all over the world.  It’s a good group to join to get recommendations.

Charles Dickens.  A name known by many, and an author who has gone down in history.  Married and having sired ten children of his own, his now fat wife no longer interests him in spite of the fact he’s an older gentleman.  His treatment of her in the movie is atrocious, and whether fully true, I’m not sure.  He announces in the paper that he has separated from his wife.  At home, he has a handyman board up the door that adjoins their bedroom.  His wife is well aware that his affections have turned toward an 18-year old young lady, who is an actress and a mediocre one at that.

The movie, having received a not-so-warm reception upon release, is a bit odd.  Directed and starring Ralph Fiennes, I will admit he did quite well portraying the exuberant writer who loves his audience. His joy in life is telling a good tale that makes people think and tugs at the heart of its readers.  Nevertheless, on a personal note, his pursuit of the young Ellen “Nelly” Ternan is born from her admiration of his skill and love of his work.  Apparently, his fat wife does not possess the ability to adore him for his pen and brilliant mind, unlike Nelly who gushes with girlish adoration.

Of course, this is the Victorian era and men had mistresses.  Nevertheless, the obvious truth behind closed doors was not flaunted because society and religion knew it to be a scandal and sin.  Thus enters the “silent woman,” who cannot tell the world of her affair with Dickens.  She is kept hidden and well-cared for by the author, splitting his time between her and his adoring fans.

The movie portrays his mistress, Nelly, as a pining and broken hearted woman who looks upon her past with sadness.  Now married and with a child of her own, her lover has died and life has gone on physically.  The movie attempts drags us through her depression by multiple long walks on the beach as it flips back and forth between the present and the past.  The flips don’t always work, and perhaps it’s the way the tale focuses on her “blues” that makes it irritating.  Dickens’ coldness toward his wife and treatment is an abomination to watch, which takes your likeness of him as a man and turns it stone cold.  There are extremely slow and painful scenes of intimacies between the two, which itch your finger toward pushing the fast-forward button.

Nevertheless, the scandalous tale of Dicken’s true-life romance with an eighteen-year-old girl when he was forty-five, is an interesting peek into a man that many admire.  What is the truth behind it all?  If you read some of the reviews on Amazon, you’ll discover quite a few historical corrections regarding the affair and how it all played out in real life.  As for this version, I felt no empathy for Nelly or Dickens.

If you’re a period drama movie junkie, you might enjoy and then again you might not. I gave it 3 Kernels for your lovers of the Victorian era.

Lilies (2007 BBC One TV Series)

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It was a dark and stormy night, so I binged watched Lilies streaming on Netflix. This is an older BBC One eight-episode series regarding three young girls growing into womanhood in Liverpool after the Great War (that’s WWI in case you need to know).  The series was not renewed, and as a result, the last episode leaves you with many unanswered questions regarding where do their lives go from here.

The story focuses on six main characters:

  • The widowed father who is a grumpy, angry man, yelling at everyone in the household.  When he drinks, he becomes violent.  He is called “Dadda.”
  • Billy the son, who is a closet homosexual.
  • Iris the eldest daughter who takes care of the household.
  • May the middle daughter who gets in “trouble” (the pregnant kind of trouble), having an affair with her married employer.
  • Ruby the younger and outspoken lass of the group, who frankly I had a difficult time understanding due to her heavy accent. However, she gives you a wonderful education on corsets.
  • A Catholic priest, Father Melia, who falls in love with Iris and is sent away.

The story follows each of their lives during eight episodes focusing on their various jobs that come and go, as well as love interests for the three girls.  The series is not the best, and since it was not renewed, obviously it didn’t do well overseas.  If you’re looking for a period drama, it does have entertainment value even though it won’t be at the top of your absolutely love-it list.  Apparently, it’s loosely based on Heidi Thomas’ mother’s story about life in Liverpool after the war.

The last episode leaves a huge number of questions about where their lives end up afterward.  Does Billy finally come out?  Probably not due to the times and the fact it was a crime.  Does the priest return as a priest?  Does he tell Iris he loves her and leaves his calling to marry her?  Does May’s lover finally return to marry her and be a father to the baby?  Does Ruby end up marrying the German butcher she first hated and move to Russia?  Does Dadda finally get to find happiness?  Alas, we shall never know.

 

NETFLIX Streaming: 100 Period Dramas • Willow and Thatch

Attention Period Drama Junkies:

List of 100 Period Dramas on NETFLIX. Streaming historical period & costume dramas, best movies & television mini-series to watch now. 2016 Period Films.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: NETFLIX Streaming: 100 Period Dramas • Willow and Thatch

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