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Posts Tagged ‘Downton Abbey’

Continuing in my pursuit of viewing all things “Pride & Prejudice“, I offer two more tangential movie reviews: “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” and “Austenland” and a third made for TV series: “Lost in Austen“.  The reviews are in the order I watched them, not in preference or year of release.  Because this post covers three “films”, it will be considerably longer than normal.  Feel free to skip it and come back another time if you’re not “into” P&P.
Lost in Austen” (2008) – TV Series 4 part on YouTube
This is a four part TV mini-series for a privately owned (not-BBC) channel in England called ITV.  The movie is a rom-com adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice” book, but is really kind of a “Back to the Future” (back to reality?) feel.  Basically, the lead (Amanda Price, played by Jemima Rooper) is so in love with the book, she stumbles into it through a portal in her bathroom.  She retains all of her knowledge of the book and Elizabeth Bennet (played by Gemma Arterton) “replaces” her in our time.  Basically, what happens in a romance story if you know all the story but as soon as you join the story, the story is irrevocably altered.  Mostly, comedy (and romance) ensues.
The rest of the main characters are: Elliot Cowan as Fitzwilliam Darcy, Tom Mison as Mr Bingley, Morven Christie as Jane Bennet, Tom Riley as George Wickham, Hugh Bonneville as Mr. Claude Bennet, and Alex Kingston as Mrs. Bennet.
Once you know the premise, the TV-series is 70-80% predictable.  Given that, I still enjoyed it.  Rooper is not brilliant, but she carries the load and does it more than adequately.  Cowan is not “my” idea of Mr. Darcy, but he’s not bad.  Strike that.  He is better than most.  He is stern and formal without being Hollywood handsome.  And then he comes out of the pond…  LoL!  Adequate is true with the rest of the cast with the exception of Bonneville.  For whatever reason (mostly “Downton Abbey“, I think), I really like him as an actor and I thought he is very good as Mr. Bennet adding depth which is not always in some of the other portrayals in other versions of P&P.
The series uses the characters from P&P and kind-of follows the novel’s plot, but has (and ends with) significant variance.  Final recommendation: strong.  If you are a “P&P” fan, I think you’ll enjoy this series as an addition / alternate universe to Austen’s P&P.  If not, it is at least tolerable as rom-coms go.  I found it better than “tolerable”, but that may just be my taste.  If you are not a “P&P” or rom-com fan, why are you even bothering to read this review? (Just kidding…)
I watched this on YouTube for free and I would definitely consider buying it if it ever came out in my price range ($5).  Each episode is about 40-45 minutes, so you are looking at almost three hours of viewing commitment.
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” (2016)
I know that “everything” goes better with Zombies these days, but I really didn’t know what to expect before viewing this version of P&P.  I need to preface this review with a comment: I am not a horror or slasher film watcher.  Mostly, I find them repetitive, boring, or offensive. I stopped watching them about 1977 or so.  I very occasionally will touch base with one if it becomes a “societal” touchstone, but even then, it’s rare.  I have never seen a Jason, 13th, Halloween, Hellraiser, Saw or any of those series.  I have seen and do like some of the classics: “Wolfman“, “Psycho“, “Jaws“, etc and I also enjoy “monster / SciFi” films: “Predator“, “Alien“, “The Birds“.  I’m not sure why I like some and not others. I guess it’s just me.
Anyway, this is actually a rom-slash / martial arts / action film.  It is a “take-off” on P&P, so I thought I’d give it a chance.
Lily James plays Elizabeth Bennet, Sam Riley plays Mr. Darcy, Lena Headey plays Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Matt Smith plays Mr. Collins, Jack Huston plays Mr. Wickham and Charles Dance plays Mr. Bennet.  I like Lily James and love Lena Heady.  James makes a surprisingly good martial artist actor.  I don’t know how much is actually James doing the fighting, but “her” portions looked great.  Headey plays her typically serious role, even when it’s in a ridiculous role, like this one.  (I love the eye-patch.)  Dr. Who, I mean Matt Smith is outstanding as the incompetent and obsequious Collins.  Riley is handsome and gallant enough as Darcy, but seems (to me) a bit too young (and movie handsome, not really ruggedly handsome).  He looks like he should be in a boy band instead of on a parapet killing zombies.  And, finally, I liked Dance as Mr. Bennet.  I haven’t cared for him as much in other roles (GOT and “The Imitation Game“), but I thought he fit in this role.
Between the two threads, P&P and the zombies, this movie is 90% predictable.  The 10% which was unpredictable was whether James, Headly and the other ladies could pull off the martial arts scenes.  They do and quite well, too!
As a P&P fan, my final recommendation is moderate to strong.  I liked the sets, the costumes and the martial art set pieces.  I enjoyed this movie as a different “parody / take” on P&P even though I didn’t care for any of the zombie portions of the film.  They were merely action figures inserted to give the main characters moving targets to slice and dice.  I watched this on my “On Demand” TV service.  I’m not sure if I enjoyed it enough to actually buy a copy if ever comes in to my price point (yeah, still $5).  Despite James and Headey, I’m not sure I’d pay for this P&P theme movie.  And the movie ends as a setup to a sequel (which I will probably miss).
Austenland (2013)
This movie is supposed to be a “rom-com” about a late-20’s young lady who visits a theme park dedicated to re-enacting Jane Austen period life, social settings and romance.  The problem is while there is romance, there is almost no comedy.
So, who’s in this movie? It stars Keri Russell as Jane Hayes (the Austen fanatic), J.J. Feild as Henry Nobley (kind of a Mr. Darcy who looks vaguely like Tom Hiddleston), Bret McKenzie as Martin (the love interest for Russell’s character in the park), Jennifer Coolidge as Miss Elizabeth Charming (I thinks she was meant to be the comedic character, but she is an offensive “rich, unread, ugly American” instead – but with a kind heart), Georgia King as Lady Amelia Heartwright (another offensive rich guest – also American), and Jane Seymour as Mrs. Wattlesbrook (the proprietor of the resort).  There are also a number of other characters who aren’t really worth bothering to mention.
Russell is a “girl-next-door” version of Michelle Pfeiffer.  To be honest, I thought Russell might be Pfeiffer’s daughter or much younger sister.  She is the second best thing in this movie.  Feild is the first.  He makes both an interesting Nobly (Mr. Darcy) and a likeable history teacher.  The only other “interesting” actor was Seymour playing a manipulative park director.  The camera (or director or makeup crew) was not kind to her in this film.  She looks old in her closeups – much more than the early 60’s she would have been when this was filmed / released.  And not, evil / craggy / old – just old.  Like I said, “interesting”.
Final recommendation: moderate (at best). I did like Russell and Feild and thought there was pretty good chemistry between them.  So, “rom” is the limit of this rom-com.  As a P&P fan, at least I can say I gave it a shot and watched it.
Thanks to any of you who made it all the way through this post / these reviews…
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On This Day In:
2018 Dead Red
You Ain’t Done Yet
2017 Just Because
2016 As Close As They Can Get
2015 And So I Blog
2014 Take Flight
2013 Contributing Joy
2012 More Than A Race
2011 Institutionalized Leadership
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Colossal”  (2017)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the “comedy / romantic” movie “Colossal” (2017).  I “air quote” the comedy / romantic, because although advertised as a rom-com, this movie is a SciFi drama and has no comedy or romance in it.  (Okay, maybe some silliness, but no real comedy.)
The movie stars Anne Hathaway as Gloria (the main character and reptile like monster / “Kaiju”); Jason Sudeikis as Oscar (the second main character and robot like monster), who is the adult version of Gloria’s childhood “friend”; Dan Stevens as Tim, Gloria’s ex-boyfriend; Austin Stowell as Joel, adult Oscar’s handsome friend; and Tim Blake Nelson as Garth, adult Oscar’s other friend.
Basically, Gloria is a drunken millennial who is out of work and living off her boyfriend (Stevens / “Tim”).  She comes home after staying out all night and he breaks up with her and kicks her out of his place.  Gloria returns “home” to some small town where she lived for some time as a child and which is inexplicably empty, but still owned by her parents – so she can move back in, rent free.
Gloria meets an childhood friend (Sudeikis / “Oscar”) who owns a bar and he offers her a job as a waitress and then proceeds to bring her furniture so she can settle in to town.  Oscar also introduces Gloria to his two “best” friends (Joel and Garth), and Gloria eventually gets around to sleeping with Joel (which upsets Oscar).

Meanwhile, back in Seoul, South Korea a giant lizard like monster appears and crushes a lot of people.  Blah, blah, blah a second monster (a giant robot) appears and blah, blah, blah – big fight.

Blah, blah, blah, blah.  Another fight.  Blah, blah, blah, blah.  Childhood memories.  Oscar not really my friend – “just” a jealous brat (psychoanalysis part of movie).  Blah, blah, Gloria travels to Seoul.  Reptile monster (Kaiju) visits hometown (in America) and kills “real” Oscar, as “real” Gloria defeats the giant robot (in Seoul).   …Happily ever after.  Mostly.  The end.
Okay.  Two questions: does it work (make sense) and is it entertaining.  Two answers (with a preface): once you get over the fact this is NOT a rom-com (which is why I picked the movie to view) and adjust to it being a SciFi / drama, yeah, mostly it does work and yes, I found it pretty entertaining.  Surprisingly so!
First off, I like Hathaway and Stevens.  I like her a lot and have from her “Princess” roles, through her Batman / Catwoman roles.  I didn’t find her at all believable as a drunk in this role.  But all in all, at the end, I liked the movie and her performance (as a “good person / hero”) in it.  It wasn’t well explained (even with the psychoanalysis) why she was a hero, but it ended up making sense (mostly) by the end.
I liked Stevens in “Downton Abbey” and “The Guest” and his limited bit in “Beauty and the Beast“.  I didn’t “really” like him in this role, though.  Something about his character just didn’t ring true.  I don’t know if it was the writing or his portrayal.   While I still like him, this performance was disappointing and I’m not sure why.
Anyway, final recommendation: moderate to strong.  I was expecting a rom-com.  It took me a while to realize this wasn’t that at all.  After I adjusted my brain to drama-mode, I got into the story (and the acting) and found it surprisingly interesting.  The movie isn’t really “almost believable” SciFi, but it is entertainingly interesting.
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On This Day In:
2018 Keep Moving
2017 Fighting Good
2016 Size Matters
2015 Maybe The Best Thing
2014 Ready To Be Fried?
2013 A Real Lover
2012 Winning Wars
2011 A Different Lesson

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Leap Year”  (2010)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the 2010 rom / com, “Leap Year“, starring Amy Adams and Matthew Goode.  Adams plays a real estate stager (someone who “cons” buyers by making property look nicer than it is) and Goode plays a bitter / sarcastic pub owner / innkeeper.  The third main role is played by Adam Scott.  He plays Adams’ cardiologist boyfriend, Jeremy.
Anna (Adams) goes to Ireland to propose to her boyfriend (Jeremy / Scott) on February 29th (duh, “Leap Year”), on the way, she meets Declan (Goode).  A series of comedic incidents ensue.  Blah, blah, blah.  They fall in love, but try to deny it to themselves.  Blah, blah, blah.  Anna returns to Boston with her boyfriend – now fiance, Jeremy.  Blah, blah, blah.  Anna returns to Ireland and her true love.  Happy ending, kissing at sunset.
Is this any good? Does it work as a rom / com?  Yes, and yes.  There are only two issues: 1) getting soaked in the rain (repeatedly) and pelted by hail, is miserable, not romantic; and, 2) people seem to walk incredible distances extremely quickly.  Aside from these two minor breaks with reality, I enjoyed the movie thoroughly.  I particularly enjoyed the old men’s banter in Declan’s pub. A perfect stereotype of an Irish pub.
A couple of other points: I’m not sure if I’ve type-casted Scott or not, but he was completely unbelievable as Adam’s boyfriend.  I didn’t think I was an Adams’ fan, but I’ve seen her in multiple roles (“Doubt“, “Man of Steel“, “Julie & Julia“, and “Arrival“), and, okay, I’m sold.  She’s pretty good.  In those other movies, I don’t think the camera “loves” her.  In this role, it does.  And, then there’s Goode…  Watching the movie, I thought: “This guy is great!  I wonder what else he’s done?”  So, of course, I looked him up and he was in “Watchman“, “The Imitation Game” and “Downton Abbey“.  All of which surprised me because (suddenly) I said: “Wow!  He was good in all of those, too!”
Final recommendation: strong to highly recommended.  As a fairy-tale rom / com this is a better than average movie.  I thoroughly enjoyed the two leads and the various predicaments they got into and out of.  It’s not a believable story / movie (see above), but it’s got beautiful Irish scenery and I found myself wanting them to have the happy ending.  That, in itself, is a pretty high recommendation for any rom / com.
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On This Day In:
2017 Explaining My Equally Meager Results
2016 Every Tool And Every Chance
2015 Something That You Love
2014 Not Really At All
2013 Listening And Deserving
2012 I’m Still Not Certain
2011 True, False And Useful

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Last weekend I wrote my review (Nerd Heard – And Good-Bye) of the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”.  I mentioned at the end of the blog that I’d gone out and purchased a blender and was now (then) off to buy some fruits and vegetables.
Well, today I’m finishing day seven of my juicing fast/diet.
Observations and comments:
To start off with I’m definitely thinner.  I’ve been having 64oz of fruit juice, 64oz of vegetables juice and at least 48oz of water each day.  The fruit juice is mostly apples (red and green), a lemon, carrots, grapes, strawberries and cherries.  I tried using bananas, but I used two giant bananas and got about four drops of juice.  The rest just ended up as cast off in the pulp.  (More on this later.)  The juice isn’t what I would normally call “sweet”, but it is “fruity” tasting.
The vegetable juice is just that – greens, greens and more greens (at least it looks that way).  Basically, various kinds of kale, spinach, red lettuce, beetroot, mushrooms, ginger, onions (red and white), radishes, a couple of apples (red) and some whole lemons.  This is surprising filling, but does not seem to provide an energy boost (as I expected). Instead, I’m feeling a sense of heat flush on my skin – mostly my arms – after drinking some.
For both types I’m tending to drink about four or five swallows and then a little water as a chaser to clean the palate a bit.
Yesterday, after work Hil and I went to a new grocery in the area which has a tremendous turnover of fruits and veg and we stocked up.  Probably too much as I made three jars – one juice and two veg – and I’m on my second jar now.  I also made a change to the straight forward juicing by making a smoothie with the fruit.  I bought a large hand of bananas and switched to the blender instead of the juicer for the fruit jar.
Weight-loss wise I’m doing fine.  Not outrageous, just fine.  I estimate I’ve dropped between 8 and 12 pounds.  I’m not entirely accurate because I started with a clothes off weight of 339lbs the Friday before the fast and now I’m a clothes on weight of 334lbs.  I had a “big” drop of three pounds during the week when I developed the runs on Tuesday.  My understanding is that is a normal experience of combining fruit and vegetable fasting.  I don’t recall the experience in my other earlier fasts, but that’s probably because they were so long ago.
This is my fourth fast.  I did it three other times for 30 days each when I was in my mid 20’s and 30’s, so it’s been over 25 years since my last time.  Back then I did fruit smoothies and vegetable broth.  This current version is much more fiber free on the fruit and uncooked on the vegs.  As I said, each time was for 30 days and each time I lost at least 30 pounds.  This fast is only partly about losing weight.  Mostly, it’s about cleansing out my system and any weight loss is an added benefit.
My ultimate goal is to get to a “flesh” meal not more than twice a week.  Other than that, I’ll be trying to stick to as much raw fruits and vegs as possible.
I haven’t been doing any working out for the past week.  My gall stones have been pretty bad and I’ve had to start work early so I’ve not been going to the gym (at work).  I’ve got three doctors appointments this coming week, so I will probably get only two days in at the gym.  I’m mostly a high-energy morning person and between that and the juicing, I don’t feel like I have much energy to even go for walks at the end of the day.  I will say my gall stone pain is a lot better this week than is was last week, so hopefully the juicing has been helping that as well.
One final comment: I’m struck by the large volume of waste at the end of the juicing process.  Even though it feels mostly dry, it seems as if it’s immoral to discard that much roughage.  I think when I ultimately come off of the juicing mode, I’ll feel a lot better (“hippy conscious” wise) about eating (and enjoying) the whole fruit/plant.
Movie Review Time:
This week started off with “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” made in 1961.  Not much to say, really.  It’s a classic, old-Hollywood style, romantic comedy (lite-comedy, not HA HA comedy).  The movie stars Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard.  The movie is a feast for those with an eye to 60’s style – particularly the narrow black ties, which would now be a fashion statement.  One thing I found amusing is how much the young Peppard resembles Dan Stevens – the Matthew Crawley character in the British series “Downton Abbey“.  They’re doppelgängers!!  Truly one of those few movies you can say (at the end): “Wow! That was a classic!!”
The second movie I watched this weekend was the DVD of “Deliverance” from 1972.  This is another “classic” movie.  This one stars Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty as four “city folk” who decide to go on a river canoeing adventure over a weekend.  The adventure quickly devolves into a survival movie and morality play.  The movie is still (after 40 years) too intense for children due to its “famous” male rape scene and its fairly graphic death scenes – so it’s also not for the squeamish.  To my mind, the closest comparison to any film I’ve seen recently and remember as a classic is “The Deer Hunter” which was made in 1978.  I’m not sure why “Deliverance” reminded me of “The Deer Hunter“, but it did.  Yes, they both had a “hunting of deer” scene in each, but it was more than that. I think it was that each tried (with varying degrees of success) to capture a moment in American history.  As a movie, I enjoyed “Deliverance” much more than “The Deer Hunter“, but neither were particularly believable.
The third movie was “Shoot ‘Em Up” with Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti and Monica Bellucci.  I like Owen.  I’ve never liked Giamatti.  And, I’ve never heard of Monica Bellucci.  This is really a terrible movie!  The title is the plot.  I think I was hoping for something a little like one of the “Die Hard” series, but nope, just a bad action movie.  Completely unbelievable characters.  The ONLY redeeming factor was the occasional one liner from Owen.  But, they are not enough to save this movie.  Now that I own it, I’d probably watch it again to see if there’s anything of value I didn’t notice in the first viewing, but I would not watch it if it was on TV and I had to sit through commercials too.
Finally, there’s “Righteous Kill” starring Robert DeNiro and Al Pachino.  This is kind of a geezer-buddy-cop movie.  It’s two NYC cops trying to catch a serial killer.  Anything more pretty much gives away the movie.  A lot of (mostly) unnecessary “effing and blinding” (as we say used to say in England), but all in all, a pretty good movie.  I wouldn’t say it was in either of the lead actors great roles lists, but it was interesting seeing them together.
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This week was kind of a potpourri of mostly great entertainment:  I started off the week with an episode of Downton Abbey – exceptional British drama on PBS.  It’s the second season and the future heir is off to the trenches of France.  If you haven’t seen season one (and now, season two), you don’t know what you’re missing…
 

I finally got around to watching my DVD copy of “Green Lantern“.   I saw the movie in the theater back in June and my review (“In Brightest Day…“) was positive.  I’m a bit undecided on if the DVD translates to the smaller screen as well as some other grand-scale movies, but I think it’s pretty favorable.  I’m not sure why, but the movie seemed longer than I remembered it being in the theater – but it had also had a lot more action than I remember.  I’m not sure about Ryan Reynolds (the lead).  Some times he seemed to fit the character perfectly, and others, nope – don’t buy it at all.  The female love interest is played by Blake Lively, who seemed familiar, but I couldn’t place at all until I looked her up.  She was in the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” movie, which I have seen but don’t recall.  I just remember her being a soccer player or something.  Anyway, now she reminds me of a young Jennifer Connally – meaning the camera loves her.  Hopefully, she can get some serious roles and we’ll find out if she has real chops or not.  I’m not sure if we’ll ever say that about Reynolds.  He’s in his mid-30’s now, so if he doesn’t start playing some serious roles soon, I’m not sure he ever will.  All in all, I still give the movie a favorable review and will watch it again soon. 
 

One other comment on Reynolds.  I saw him opposite Sandra Bullock in “The Proposal“, and I thought he did very well in that role too.  Unfortunately, I’d say that role was more comedic than serious.  Not that a comic-book hero is comedic or serious, but you know what I mean…
 

On Wednesday I went for my first walk/slow jog in ages at the gym at work.  It felt so good I came home and watched “The Jericho Mile” again (see my review).  Still a great little made for TV movie.  Still inspirational.  Kudos to Michael Mann and Peter Strauss!!
 

Friday night I watched the two-hour ending of the TV series “Chuck“.  I remember watching this series when it first started five years ago.  It was the funniest (Nerd Herd), best written, sexiest (Sarah Walker), spy-spoof (Jeffster saves the General), crime-fighting series I’d seen in ages.  The finale crystalized in my mind the fallacy that nerds are socially inept loners.  In fact, nerds do herd!  And in herding, nerds gather strength.  (They also become even more nerdier…)  In the end, it took the whole team – including the Jeffster – to defeat evil and save the world as we know it (or want it to be) – a happy ending for the nerds.
 

Full disclosure time: way back in the second season, when it looked like the show was going to be cancelled, I was one of the fans who went to Subway (well, actually three Subways), bought a sandwich and asked the store manager to let the company know I liked their support of “Chuck” and hoped they’d keep the show on the air.  Two had no idea what I was talking about.  They didn’t even know Subway had product placement in the series!!  The third said he’d already had several people stop in and ask for him to support “Chuck” with a message to the head company. 
 

Power to the nerds!!!
 

Last night, I also watched a documentary on diet and health titled: “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead“.  It’s an excellent movie about how we are killing ourselves with the food we eat.  Dr. Joel Fuhrman, of “Eat To Live” fame, plays a prominent role in the movie explaining how we’re killing ourselves and how we can make a recovery.  The “interesting” thing to me is that his book says you need to eat the fruit and vegetables to get their goodness, but the movie says you can do it by simply juicing them.  My “gut-feeling” is (pun intended) that the book is correct and the movie less so, but still reasonably healthy.  To make a long story shorter, today I went out and bought a juicer.  Now the next step is …
 

Off to the store to get my fruit and veggies.

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