Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Remains of the Day, Where Angels Fear to Tread, and other stuff

Remains of the Day is one of those films I thought I had seen, but I think I had only seen snippets of it on television. It's much better when you see the beginning and the end of it!

Based on the 1989 novel by Kazuo Ishiguro who is a Japanese born but English raised author, this Merchant Ivory film ends up being a fascinating look at English sensibility through the eyes of an outsider. Nuanced and yet intense it is a very riveting film, but I can't say it is one of my faves.

Fabulous performances from Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson along with some pretty gorgeous period locations certainly make this one stand out. Great supporting performances from Hugh Grant, Christopher Reeve, Tim Piggott-Smith and James Fox are absolutely worth mentioning.

The only question remains, why did it take me so long to see this film?

Where Angels Fear to Tread was one I had never heard of. I am afraid my science background didn't give me a good grounding in E.M. Forster. I certainly knew about A Room with a View, Howard's End and A Passage to India, but this, his first novel, was not on my radar.

Again, with a cast that includes Helen Mirren, Helena Bonham-Carter, Judy Davis and Rupert Graves it is certainly worth watching. And again, the setting of Italy a century ago (and the gorgeous Italian actor Giovanni Guidelli) makes it a pleasure to watch.

And yet again, this one is down in my book as well worth seeing, but not one of my faves. I think my faves all have happy endings, so perhaps this reflects more on me, than on these films.

Sweet Revenge is a silly little farce, adapted from an Alan Ayckbourn play called The Revengers' Comedies. If you like dark comedies and tongue in cheek farce then this is for you. If you don't like the idea of the two main characters plotting revenge on each others' nemeses, not stopping far short of murder (played for laughs the whole way) then give this one a pass.

Personally, this one gave me more than a few belly laughs. I was in the mood for something silly and this hit the spot. By the way, keep IMDb handy for this film as every single one of the actors save one was well known to me from other British gems. Helena Bonham Carter, Kristin Scott Thomas and Sam Neill are only the beginning of the star studded cast.

Speaking of silly comedies, Family Tree is one of the oddest and most hilarious things I have seen on TV in a while. A Christopher Guest mockumentary, it follows in the footsteps of This is Spinal Tap and Best in Show but this time he takes on genealogy, an unlikely target for comedy. Apparently the idea came from Guest himself tracing his ancestors and thinking there may be some fodder for laughs. And it works.

It is a bit twisted and bear in mind that it airs on HBO, so not appropriate for children or sensitive types. But again, if you are in the mood for some quirky British comedy starring adorable Irish actor Chris O'Dowd this is your show. I am looking forward to a new episode tonight. The sister's ventriloquist dummy monkey really cracks me up. Try to see the first show if you can, as it really explains the crazy story line. You might be lost otherwise.

Cheers and happy viewing!

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