Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

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

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Richard Armitage- Actor of the Week

Richard Armitage as Mr. John Thornton from North & South
Richard Armitage. Two words which can set the entire period drama community swooning. OK, yours truly is swooning...anyone else here with me? This man's voice is like melted butter. Yum!

Richard Armitage and Mr. Thornton are to the new millennium what Colin Firth and Mr. Darcy were to the 1990s. Be still my beating heart! If for some reason you haven't seen the amazing adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's classic Victorian novel North and South from 2004 you are in for a real treat. If you love it already, maybe you are due to watch it again (or at least watch the brilliant final scene on YouTube!). By the way, this is not the American Civil War saga from the 1980s. The reference is to the industrial North and the agricultural South of England.

Richard Armitage as Harry Kennedy from The Vicar of Dibley
When Dawn French as the Vicar of Dibley had to find herself a love interest for the Christmas/New Years special of 2006/2007 she knew who to ask for. And he is such a good sport that he jumped at it.  Wouldn't you love this adorable accountant to move in down the street? If you have never seen The Vicar of Dibley, make sure you watch some older episodes before you watch the one above.

Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood
If you like your men a little darker and scruffier than the smiling accountant above, perhaps Guy of Gisborne from the recent BBC Robin Hood series is more your style...

Richard Armitage as Lucas North from Spooks
If dark and dangerous is more your style, then the cool spy Lucas North from the wonderful television series Spooks (known as MI5 in North America) may fit the bill. Armitage had to lose weight and learn Russian for this role. His tattooed bod is quite something, but of course it is the acting we are interested in, right? And the acting is brilliant.

Richard Armitage as baddie Heinz Kruger from Captain America
Hollywood thinks of him as a baddie apparently as seen here in Captain America where he plays the thoroughly evil Heinz Kruger.

Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit
And as Dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield (he is a 6'2" Dwarf by the way) he is not exactly looking his usual hunky self. But if it raises his profile in Hollywood, then maybe we get to see more of him!

"You don't need Henry to explain..."
I leave you with a loving glance from John Thornton minus cravat for a change. Mmmmmmm.....Is my bias showing? (Favourite actor!!!)

P.S. Any other roles you particularly liked him in?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Downton Abbey Doll House on YouTube

This Downton parody set in a dollhouse (and created by two 16 year old girls) was featured in the British newspaper The Guardian last week for those who couldn't wait for the new series to start. It starts slow but hang in there and you'll be in stitches by the end of Part 1. I particularly like the Mrs. Patmore & Daisy scene and the Pamuk & Mary scene.

It may help to have this character guide as reference:

Lord Grantham-Bunny in red jacket
Lady Cora-Bunny with hat
Mary-Bunny in red dress
Edith-Bunny in pink dress
Sybil-Bunny in yellow dress then yellow dungarees
Matthew-Chubby cat in blue coat
Violet (Dowager)-Duck with hat
Isobel (Matthew's mother)-Cat with purple hood
Mrs. Patmore (cook)-large badger type thing with ruffled hat
Daisy(scullery maid)-Hedgehog in dress
O'Brien (Lady's maid) -Otter in blue dress
Mrs. Hughes- (Housekeeper)- Grey mouse in flowered dress
Mr. Bates (Valet)-Dog in pram
Mr. Carson (Butler)-Large mouse with yellow waistcoat
Thomas (Footman 1)-Penguin with red coat
William (Footman 2)-Penguin with green coat
Branson (Chauffeur)-Otter with bad Irish accent
Maid Anna-Grey cat in red dress
Maid Gwen-Grey puppy with pencil and note book
Pamuk (Turk)-naked Hedgehog

And here is Episode 2 (still cute but not quite as funny):

Apparently the little animal characters are called Sylvanian Families. By the way, I am feeling envious of that doll house. I think there is a 12 year old girl still inside me!

And in my opinion, the Lord Grantham bunny in the red waistcoat looks amazingly like Hugh Bonneville!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Downton Abbey- Silly old photos of the actors

Downton Abbey Season II
Well, word is that the new series of Downton Abbey is brilliant. Hmmmmmm....I wouldn't know as I am being good and waiting until the darkest days of January for this wonderful show to reappear on PBS.

So in the meantime, I am amusing myself by posting silly old photos of the stars. Here is the one which started me off:

Mr. Bates?

OK, Brendan Coyle (Mr. Bates) with floppy Hugh Grant hair from the 1990s. I don't know whether to laugh or whether to ...mmmmm....not bad actually ....kinda sexy...and the guy in the back looks mighty jealous of that hair!

Then I tried to find an old photo of Julian Fellowes, illustrious writer of Downton Abbey. I Googled "old photos of Julian Fellowes" and even "Julian Fellowes with hair" and all the photos looked like they were taken last week. Apparently this guy has always been bald, chubby and middle aged. So I settled on this one:

Julian Fellowes as Monarch of the Glen
Not sure if it is the hat (tam?) or if it is the pompous look on his face, but it gave me a little giggle! After all,  this is the man who used the word grandiloquent in his Emmy speech!

Then I ran into the same problem with Hugh Bonneville (aka the Earl of Grantham). Even way back to Notting Hill in 1999 where he played the adorable Bernie he looked basically the same as he does now. So I had to settle on this photo:

Hugh Bonneville as Mr. Rushworth in Mansfield Park
OK, whoever thought up the bouffant hairdo to make Hugh Bonneville look totally ridiculous as the air-headed Mr. Rushworth was brilliant. I would have run off with Henry Crawford too if I were Maria!

Jim Carter? Really?
And I wouldn't have recognized the baritone voiced Jim Carter (Mr. Carson) from this photo in a million years! The mustachio is magnifique!

Now, "Where are the ladies?" I hear you crying. Well here is the baby faced Elizabeth McGovern (Cora, the Countess of Grantham), who apparently has always had a penchant for period drama:

Elizabeth McGovern in Ragtime
As you see, I had to choose a cropped version of this photo from Ragtime. There are many photos online with full frontal nudity (Elizabeth!) but I'll try to keep it PG13 here at the Jane Austen Film Club.

Maggie Smith in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Now as Maggie Smith (Violet, the Dowager Countess) has been gorgeous throughout her entire career (including now) I had to settle for one with sixties hair that reminded me of my mother when she was young. Yes, this was the Jennifer Aniston hairdo of the day back then. Everyone had one!

Penelope Wilton
Penelope Wilton (Isobel Crawley) is another lady who looks good in almost any photo. So here is her false eyelash look from the 1960s I think. What a glamour shot!

And as for all the younger ones, well...they just look normal in all of their photos because they haven't aged yet and the styles haven't changed enough for a giggle. But just you wait...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Jennifer Ehle- Actor of the Week

Jennifer Ehle
Jennifer Ehle's career has really taken off in the last year or so. Most of us know Jennifer as the definitive Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice 1995 (OK, you younger ones think it is Keira Knightley but your elders know better!).

Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice
Total geeks like me also know that she wanted this part so badly that she dyed her naturally blond eyebrows dark before her audition so that when they put the dark Lizzy wig on her, she looked like a brunette. And that she had a little fling with Colin Firth during the filming of Pride and Prejudice. Well, who could blame her...I mean he was Mr. Darcy!

Jennifer Ehle and Jeremy Northam in Possession
And how many of us would give our right arm (first born?) to be snuggling and holding hands with Jeremy Northam as Jennifer is in this photo from Possession? Hmm...haven't seen that in a while. Pretty sure I bought the DVD...

Jennifer Ehle as Myrtle Logue in The King's Speech with Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth
And if you are a true Pride and Prejudice geek like I am, you got a real thrill watching The King's Speech and seeing Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle on screen together again. Even if it was just for a minute. That was one adorable scene!

Jennifer Ehle as the ghost of an ex-wife with Patrick Wilson in A Gifted Man

I was surprised to find out that she is co-starring in a network TV show this fall. Here is the synopsis from CBS:  When a well-known surgeon begins seeing his dead ex-wife he starts questioning the meaning of life and his place in the world. 'A Gifted Man' begins this Fall on CBS!

Early reviews are surprisingly good considering the unusual premise. Here's hoping! Friday nights at 8 o'clock if you're interested.

Jennifer Ehle as scientist Ally Hextall in Contagion with Laurence Fishburne
And the rest of the world is just now discovering the talents of this wonderful woman in the adult "horror film" Contagion. This one will have us washing our hands for months (years?) but it is so great to see two such capable actresses (Jennifer Ehle and Kate Winslet) playing scientists in a credible manner. Role models for all the young aspiring female scientists! Yay!

As an actress who can switch from an English accent to an American one at the drop of a hat she should have a good long career ahead of her on both continents. The only other actress who can do that as easily is Gillian Anderson (they were both raised on both continents).  And as a two time Tony Award winner and a BAFTA winner she doesn't have to prove that she can act.

So here's hoping we see a lot more of the lovely Jennifer Ehle.

The King's SpeechPride and Prejudice (Restored Edition)PossessionContagionSunshineWilde (Special Edition)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Period drama at TIFF

We have this amazing thing in Toronto every September called the TIFF. If you have never been to Toronto before, September is some of our best weather, and we have some of the most avid film buffs in the world living right here in Canada. And for some reason, the movie stars flock here for this festival. Woooohooooo!!

George Clooney and Ryan Gosling goofing around in Toronto
If I didn't have a pesky old job, I'd be hanging around the streets of TO right now hoping to see Ryan Gosling and George Clooney hugging each other. Instead, I view the photos like the rest of the star struck world. By the way, if you haven't seen Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid Love I can HIGHLY recommend it! (and he's Canadian, and he did a year of high school in my hometown of Burlington, Ont)

OK, back to the period drama stuff. I was just perusing the TIFF website and I couldn't believe the number of films premiering and the number that I would really love to see. Here is just a taste:

Albert Nobbs with Glenn Close

Albert Nobbs

Glenn Close co-wrote and stars in this adaptation of the play about a nineteenth-century Irishwoman who disguises herself as a man and works as a butler for twenty years. Mia Wasikowska, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Aaron Johnson co-star in this intelligent and often surprising period drama.

Anonymous with Rhys Ifans

Who really wrote Shakespeare's plays? In this vivid drama from Roland Emmerich, mystery swirls around the authorship of classic plays, as the back-stabbing theatre world intersects with political intrigue at the court of Elizabeth I.

Damsels in Distress
Damsels in Distress
Back after a thirteen-year hiatus, Whit Stillman returns with Damsels in Distress- a film that is distinctly offbeat, even manic, compared to his classic nineties comedies of manners, and yet retains his precise wit and refined dialogue. Damsels in Distress takes a unique look into the psyche of privileged American youth, focusing on a group of undergraduates at a leafy East Coast university that has only recently begun to accept female students.  (not a period piece but it looks intriguing!)

A Dangerous Method
A Dangerous Method
For his third consecutive collaboration with Viggo Mortensen, David Cronenberg adapts Christopher Hampton's 2002 stage play concerning the turbulent relationship between Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and his mentor Sigmund Freud (Mortensen) as they struggle to treat a troubled patient (Keira Knightley).

The Deep Blue Sea with Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston
 The Deep Blue Sea
Master chronicler of post-War England Terence Davies directs Rachel Weisz as a woman whose overpowering, obsessive love alienates the men around her and destroys her well-being. Based on Terence Rattigan's play, made famous by countless actresses.

Hysteria with Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy
Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy star in this cheeky romantic comedy about the invention of the vibrator. Victorian London is brought to life in vivid colour as a young doctor (Dancy) struggles to establish himself while confronting the gutsy daughter of his boss (Gyllenhaal). Rupert Everett and Felicity Jones play supporting roles.  (Tee hee! I am so looking forward to this one.)

W.E. Madonna's new film
Second-time director Madonna returns with W.E., featuring Abbie Cornish as Wally Winthrop, a woman in 1998 who is infatuated with the 1930s marriage of King Edward VIII (James D'Arcy) and American divorcée Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough). Spanning six decades, W.E. gracefully weaves the past and present into two parallel love stories.

Wuthering Heights- A new interpretation
Wuthering Heights
No starched lace, no panoramic views, no sweeping score — Andrea Arnold takes Emily BrontĂ«’s classic novel and strips it to the root of youthful passion, restoring its stark power for a contemporary audience. Following her bracing portraits of female desire in Red Road and Fish Tank, Arnold pushes even further here, portraying love as a rush of heart-stopping beauty, cruelty and impulsive acts.


So there you have it. Looks pretty exciting doesn't it? And that's with only one photo of movie stars hugging each other and mugging for the cameras. So feel free to check out the full listing of the offerings at TIFF and see if there are any others that you might like, or to find out more about the ones above. We are now entering the pre-Oscar insanity that swirls around the film industry late in the year. Enjoy! 

P.S. If you want some photos of the stars in Toronto here is a Canadian news site with some good "stars on the streets of Toronto" shots.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Downton Abbey- Season 2 airs in the UK Sept 18

Downton Abbey Season 2
OK now I'm trying not to get too excited about Downton Abbey starting again on Sunday because I DON'T LIVE IN ENGLAND!!!!!!  This is not for lack of trying to find a way to spend at least part of the year in a cottage in England (my totally unrealistic dream). But alas, I have to remain in Canada because this is where my house and my job are located. Dang! (Oops, I guess my family are here too!) So there is no ITV for me at present.

Matthew Crawley looks so sad going off to war
I have purposely avoided all the hype online up until now because I thought I would just be torturing myself with agonized waiting until it arrives on PBS in January. The internet has made it much harder for those of us lacking in patience. But then I had a thought...

Perhaps there are some really nice tech savvy people who actually live in the UK. And perhaps they might upload this to YouTube for those of us stuck on this side of the pond. And perhaps I might be able to watch some or all of these before they are yanked off by either ITV or PBS.

Lady Edith, Lady Sybil and Lady Mary Crawley
What do you think? Is it possible? Or should I just wait it out with all of the other Downton fans who will be seeing it in January, just when we need a bit of diversion from the long, dark, cold winter. Hmmmmm.......

Lavinia Swire fiancee of Matthew Crawley
But there will be all of these new characters. Like Lavinia Swire (gotta love that name) who snaps up Matthew Crawley after he and Mary part ways. Matthew has a new fiancee???? Mary must be green with jealousy don't you think?

Maid Ethel
And there is a new maid Ethel who might not be the most hard working of employees. Or the most discreet.

Vera Bates appears
Vera Bates appears just in time to really muck things up for her poor husband John Bates the valet and his love Anna, the head maid. Can't wait to see this storyline.

Good old Carson and William are back
It will be interesting to see how our favourite characters deal with the pressure of war. Parts of this will be hard to watch for anyone who has lost family members in any of the many conflicts of the past century. But I trust Julian Fellowes to handle the subject with sensitivity.

So whether I try to hunt this down online or whether I dutifully wait until I can legally watch it on PBS and on DVD in January, I have high hopes that the second season of Downton Abbey will equal or surpass the first.

And honestly, if I could just hear ONE of those great zingers from Dowager Countess Violet (Maggie Smith) I think I could probably make it to January. Maybe...

P.S. Perhaps one of the books below might help too!

The World of Downton AbbeyThe Real Downton Abbey: An Unofficial Guide to the Period which Inspired the Hit TV ShowSnobsPast Imperfect



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