Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Benedict Cumberbatch- Actor of the Week

Benedict Cumberbatch
Well, my choice of Benedict Cumberbatch for my actor of the week was easy after the enthusiastic response to my Sherlock post earlier in the week. Apparently he has quite a following and no wonder. Talented and very handsome (in a striking kind of way) he has also done a fair number of period dramas. He sounds like he has a good sense of humour, as is evidenced by his comment on his name and **ahem** other topics.

"Cumberbatch - it sounds like a fart in a bath, doesn't it? What a fluffy old name. I can never say it on a Monday morning. When I became an actor, Mum wasn't keen on me keeping it."

 "I always seem to be cast as slightly wan, ethereal, troubled intellectuals or physically ambivalent bad lovers. But I’m here to tell you I’m quite the opposite in real life. In fact I’m a f***ing fantastic lover."

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in Sherlock

On Martin Freeman (Dr. John Watson) in Sherlock at the 2011 Bafta awards- "It is a double act, and he’s my wingman and he’s just phenomenal, and he’s a joy to work with. In no small way, he keeps me afloat and happy during the day as well. And he’s just a brilliant presence to be around. He’s just a scream. And we adore each other. In a very *platonic*, non… you know, way."

Benedict Cumberbatch in War Horse with Patrick Kennedy and Tom Hiddleston
Recalling his audition for the part of Major Jamie Stewart in War Horse, based on a novel by Michael Morpurgo, Benedict says: "Steven (Spielberg) wanted me to go and read a script. I went along, had a little chat about the part and off I went. A week and a half later I got another call from my agent who said, ‘Ben, he wants you to do it’. I was so excited. It was the most grown up moment of my life. I was told I couldn’t tell anyone. I was walking around with this huge grin on my face and couldn’t speak with excitement.”

He had to learn how to ride a horse for the role. Apparently although he attended the tony Harrow School with the horsy set of the English aristocracy, he had only minimal experience on a horse.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Paul Marshall in Atonement
As Paul Marshall in Atonement, Cumberbatch plays a creepy rapist who lets poor Robbie (James McAvoy) go to jail for his crime. Not my favourite role of his, but effective. Perhaps too effective!

Benedict Cumberbatch as Peter Guillam in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
He has a meaty role in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy however, why did they have to change the character of Guillam into a homosexual for the film? Not appreciated by the ladies!

Benedict Cumberbatch as Bernard in Small Island
Apparently, he won a best supporting actor BAFTA for his role as "dull and sexless" Bernard in Small Island. This looks very intriguing even if his character is dull and sexless!!! Anyone seen it?

Benedict Cumberbatch as Pitt the Younger in Amazing Grace
Phwoar! Methinks I like him in a powdered wig! As William Pitt the Younger in Amazing Grace, he makes one nice looking Prime Minister. Nothing against David Cameron but really...

Benedict Cumberbatch in To the Ends of the Earth
As Edmund Talbot, an English gentleman sailing to Australia to take up a government post, he makes the miniseries To the Ends of the Earth really look like it's worth watching. Especially if I tell you there is a lovely scene with his naked posterior (click here for a view of the elusive cumberbutt) running around the ship! Again, anyone seen this one?

He has done a few more period dramas including Creation, The Other Boleyn Girl, Tipping the Velvet, Dunkirk and  Van Gogh: Painted with Words. He also alternated roles in Frankenstein with Jonny Lee Miller for National Theatre Live. They each got to play the role of Dr. Frankenstein and The Creature on different performances.

We look forward to the next season of Sherlock, as well as his voicing of Smaug in The Hobbit and an as yet unnamed bad guy in the new Star Trek film. Rock on Benedict!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Period Drama at the Oscars 2012

The Artist
The Artist has 10 Oscar nominations:
  • Best Picture- WINNER!!!
  • Best Actor- Jean Dujardin- WINNER!!!
  • Best Supporting Actress- Bérénice Bejo
  • Best Directing- Michel Hazanavicius- WINNER!!!
  • Best Original Screenplay
  • Best Original Score- WINNER!!!
  • Best Film Editing
  • Best Costume Design-WINNER!!!
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Art Direction

The Help
The Help has 4 Oscar nominations:

  • Best Picture
  • Best Actress-Viola Davis
  • Best Supporting Actress- Octavia Spencer- WINNER!!!
  • Best Supporting Actress- Jessica Chastain

Hugo is nominated for 11 Oscars:

  • Best Picture
  • Best Directing- Martin Scorsese
  • Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Best Visual Effects- WINNER!!!
  • Best Sound Mixing- WINNER!!!
  • Best Sound Editing- WINNER!!!
  • Best Musical Score
  • Best Film Editing
  • Best Costume Design
  • Best Cinematography-WINNER!!!
  • Best Art Direction- WINNER!!!

Midnight in Paris
Midnight in Paris is nominated for 4 Oscars:

  • Best Picture
  • Best Direction- Woody Allen- WINNER!!!
  • Best Original Screenplay
  • Best Art Direction

Tree of Life
Tree of Life is nominated for 3 Oscars:

  • Best Picture
  • Best Direction- Terrence Malick
  • Best Cinematography

War Horse
War Horse is nominated for 6 Oscars:

  • Best Picture
  • Best Original Score
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Art Direction
  • Best Sound Editing
  • Best Sound Mixing

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is nominated for 3 Oscars:

  • Best Actor- Gary Oldman
  • Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Best Original Score

Albert Nobbs
Albert Nobbs is nominated for 3 Oscars:

  • Best Actress- Glenn Close
  • Best Supporting Actress- Janet McTeer
  • Best Makeup

The Iron Lady
The Iron Lady is nominated for 2 Oscars:

  • Best Actress- Meryl Streep- WINNER!!!
  • Best Makeup- WINNER!!!

My Week with Marilyn
My Week with Marilyn is nominated for 2 Oscars:

  • Best Actress- Michelle Williams
  • Best Supporting Actor- Kenneth Branagh


Anonymous is nominated for one Oscar:

  • Best Costumes

Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre is nominated for one Oscar:

  • Best Costumes

W. E.
W. E. is nominated for one Oscar:

  • Best Costumes

That's 13 period drama films nominated for Oscars! Amazing!! I have seen 8 of them and enjoyed each and every one.  I do wish I had read Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy before I saw the film however as it was a bit hard to follow. I haven't seen The Artist, My Week With Marilyn, Albert Nobbs, Tree of Life or W.E.. I plan to see all of those, with the possible exception of Tree of Life, unless one of my readers tells me it's definitely worth seeing. It just looks a bit weird to me. But even W.E. (which has been panned by critics) looks like it would be at least a good rental.

Great year for flicks! Enjoy the Oscars tonight everyone.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch

I am in the middle of watching series 1 of Sherlock, a 21st century take on Sherlock Holmes by the BBC and it is AWESOME! Sorry about the caps. But it really is. I wanted to recommend this to you now, because if you missed the replay of series 1 on PBS in January, you may want to catch up before PBS airs series 2 starting Sunday May 6th 2012. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement, War Horse, Amazing Grace) and Martin Freeman (Love Actually, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Hobbit).

Holmes and Watson
I was skeptical at first, but I had this series recommended to me from a few people I trust so I thought I'd give it a whirl. The Squire (my husband) protested at first that it was set in the present and not in Victorian times like the latest theatrical releases with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. In fact he sat through the first episode with his arms crossed. Harrumph! He couldn't wait however for episode 2 the next night, and we plan to watch episode 3 tonight! You can still catch series 1 online at

221B Baker St. London
The stories translate especially well to the present day as in the original books, Dr. Watson was just back from medical service in Afghanistan which seems eerie. Does nothing ever really change? So the opening scenes of the first episode A Study in Pink show Watson having a nightmare about the war. And then he meets Sherlock!

Favourite quotes from Sherlock:

  • Anderson, don't talk out loud. You lower the IQ of the entire street  
  • Sherlock Holmes: Shut up.
    DI Lestrade: I didn't say anything.
    Sherlock Holmes: You were thinking. It's annoying. 
  • I'm not a psychopath, Anderson, I'm a high-functioning sociopath, do your research. 
  • Look at you lot, you're all so vacant. Is it nice not being me? It must be so relaxing. 
  • Oh what now? I'm in shock! Look, I've got a blanket. 
  • We've got a serial killer on our hands. Love those, there's always something to look forward to. 
  • What it must be like in your funny little brains, it must be so boring!

Anyone already a fan?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Michael Gambon- Actor of the Week

Sir Michael Gambon
Sir Michael Gambon is a Dublin born treasure of the British stage and screen has done so many wonderful period dramas, I will never be able to list them all. He also seems to be quite a character. He flies planes and drives a Ferrari and has "Gambon Corner" on BBC's Top Gear named after the location of his his near roll of a Suzuki Liana in their "Star in a reasonably priced car" segment.

Although he keeps his private life quiet, he became a father for the third time in 2009 at the age of 68 with the then 43-year-old set designer Philippa Hart, with whom he already had a two year-old. He has been married to his wife, retired mathematician and staunch Catholic Lady Anne Gambon for 50 years. He and Lady Anne still share a house in the countryside of Kent, but he visits his other family regularly. OK, enough with the titillating gossip and on to his wonderful work.

Michael Gambon as Mr. Woodhouse with Romola Garai as Emma
I am showing my bias here again with one of my favourite adaptations ever, Emma 2009. Sir Michael Gambon does a wonderful job of the worrywart father Mr. Woodhouse who clings to Emma, ever fearful of being left alone.

Michael Gambon as Squire Hamley in Wives and Daughters
With the wonderfully meaty role of Squire Hamley in Wives and Daughters, Gambon really gets to flex his acting chops. Poor Squire Hamley goes through a contrariety of emotions, from the love he has for his cultured wife to the rage he vents at his eldest son (and huge disappointment) Osborne and then through sorrow, confusion and on to pride and happiness in his remaining family by the end of the series.

Michael Gambon as Lord Marchmain in Brideshead Revisited with Ben Whishaw and Hayley Atwell
As the aloof Lord Marchmain in Brideshead Revisited 2008, he has a small role, but quite dramatic at the end when he returns to his beloved Brideshead and to his family.

Michael Gambon as Sir William McCordle in Gosford Park
In Gosford Park, Sir Michael plays the head of the house Sir William McCordle. He turns out to be rather a key character in this wonderful ensemble piece. Well, at least Elsie the maid and his dog loved him! The 3 Dames in this film (Helen Mirren, Eileen Atkins and Maggie Smith) thought he was a rotter!

Michael Gambon as Judi Dench's love interest in Cranford
In our beloved Cranford, Sir Michael Gambon plays Mr. Thomas Holbrook, the long lost love interest of Miss Matty Jenkins (Judi Dench) and a tender story it is. I love the way he eats his peas!

Michael Gambon as King George V in The King's Speech
Lending a note of authority to the role of King George V, grandfather to the present Queen Elizabeth in The King's Speech, he shows why the relationships between English rulers and their fathers have usually been fractious.

Michael Gambon as Dumbledore in Harry Potter
And of course, we all know Sir Michael as Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series. He had big shoes to fill after the death of Richard Harris in 2002 after filming the first two Harry Potter films.

Michael Gambon in Longitude 2000
I had forgotten about Michael Gambon starring as John Harrison in Longitude. Sounds like a good birthday gift for The Squire. Good thing he rarely reads my blog. My secret is safe!

The Lost Prince 2003
The Lost Prince is on my to be watched list. I think I saw it when it first came out, but I may not have seen the whole thing. Michael Gambon plays King Edward VII in this one, grandfather to the "Lost Prince" John. There seem to be a lot of folks who love this one about the epileptic uncle of our present Queen who died of a seizure at the age of 13. Any fans out there?

Listing of period films starring Michael Gambon (thanks to Cheryl at Enchanted Serenity of Period Films):

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2008)
Brideshead Revisited (2008)
Cranford (2007)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Amazing Grace (2006)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Being Julia (2004)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Sylvia (2003)
The Lost Prince (2003)
Path to War (2002)
Charlotte Gray (2001)
Gosford Park (2001)
Wives and Daughters (1999)
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
The Last September (1999)
Dancing at Lughnasa (1998)
The Wings of the Dove (1997)
Mary Reilly (1996)
The Browning Version (1994)
Blood Royal: William the Conqueror (1990)
Much Ado About Nothing (1967)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Downton Abbey Season 2: Christmas Season Finale

Downton Christmas Episode 2011- Electric mini lights on the tree???
I adore Downton Abbey. Yes, at times this season the storyline was corny, cheesy and covered in cloying syrup, but I have loved every minute. With the Christmas episode however, Julian Fellowes has exceeded every one of my expectations. What a wonderful Christmas gift, even if it was lost in the post for a few months for those of us on this side of the pond!

Matthew and Mary were a large part of the holiday action thankfully, with Matthew's adorable face popping up whenever things between Mary and Sir Richard got heated. The fight scene between the two men was brilliant, reminiscent of Mark Darcy and Daniel Cleaver duking it out over Bridget Jones! (It was made even funnier at our house by The Squire shouting out "Be careful Matthew...your injured back!")

Matthew: “Sorry about the vase”
Countess Violet: “Oh don’t be, don't be. It was a wedding present from a frightful aunt. I have hated it for half a century”.

The Christmas Day shoot-where is Isis?

Julian Fellowes got in his requisite hunt scene this season. Neither Matthew nor Sir Richard looked as comfortable as Mary at the pheasant shoot. But there was sure a lot of drama and humour as well as action on Christmas day.

Anthony Strallan: “Does (Branson) shoot?”
Edith: “I’m sure he does”
Countess Violet: “But I don’t think pheasants.”

Bates on trial for the murder of his wife Vera
Things don't look good for poor Bates. How is Lord Grantham going to get him out of jail? It is a life sentence after all! Perhaps Anna will come up with something. She's pretty good at sniffing things out as Lady Rosamund and Lord Hepworth will testify.

Lady Mary: “We are all under the shadow of Bate’s trial”

Countess Violet: “Lawyers are always confident before the verdict. It’s only afterwards they share their doubts.”

Anna with her "bucking up brigade" from Downton

Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt) gets best actress award for this episode. My eyes welled up every time she broke down. And she broke down a lot!

Mr. Bates: “No man can regret loving as I have loved you.”

Carson and Cora open the Servant's Ball
The Servant's Ball gave us some of the best scenes (and facial expressions of the episode).

Lord Grantham: Perhaps it would be nice if you would partner with O'Brien.
Matthew: Crikey!

Isis the bouncy Labrador puppy is now a star

Thomas was plotting/puffing cigarettes/being evil for much of the episode culminating in the Isis crisis! Glad Thomas is back at Downton as he is one of the better actors and his evil plotting is just soooo fun!

O’Brien: “Make him grateful. Do him a good turn. Hide something he loves and find it and give it back”

Lady Mary looking at her future...

Lord Grantham: “I look at Mary and all I can see is a tired woman with a tiresome husband. Not a bride on the brink of heaven. I wish I could understand why she goes on with it. Do you think there might be some element I’ve overlooked?”

Lord Grantham:“I don’t want my daughter to be married to a man who threatens her with ruin. I want a good man for you. A brave man. Find a cowboy in the middle west and bring him back to shake us up a bit.”

Mary walking out with Matthew at the shoot
Lady Mary: “I never know which is worse. The sorrow when you hit the bird. Or the shame when you miss it."

Lady Edith giving Anthony Strallen another go!
Ohhhh, Edith! What are we going to do with you? You have thrown yourself at everything in trousers (including a married farmer and Matthew if I remember correctly) and now it's Anthony Strallen again? Well, he does seem nice even if he is old enough to be your father. And his house is truly gorgeous. OK, you go for it girl!
Lady Edith: “If you think I’m going to give up on someone who calls me lovely…”

My new favourite character- The Ouija Board
The Ouija board is now my new favourite character at Downton. It does seem to have a life of it's own doesn't it? First the hilarious scene where Mrs. Patmore sits down at the board and gives it a little "help".

""  Good one Mrs. Patmore!

Then Lavinia's spirit talks through the board. "May they be happy. With my love."- frightening poor Anna and Daisy, who were using the Ouija board at the time. 

Daisy crying her eyes out at work!
I think the best part of the Christmas episode (other than the ending with M&M) was the part with Daisy. From taking bad advice from Rosamund's maid, to discussing things with the Dowager Countess to finally connecting with William's father (is he great or what?). Two lost souls, bound together by the memory of the sweetest footman in Yorkshire. Awwwwww......

Countess Violet: “But you can’t have been false to him. You were his wife for only half an hour.”

Daisy: “I’ve never been special to anyone. I were only ever special to William.”

Wuv...Twoo Wuv
Matthew and Mary gave us the best ending ever! I won't give it away if you haven't yet seen it (see it! see it!).

Lady Mary: “You know yourself we carry more luggage than the porters at Kings Cross.”

Lady Mary: “I’m Tess of the D’Urbervilles to your Angel Clare. I have fallen. I am impure.”

Matthew: “I never could despise you.”


And Mary showed she was a classy lady by how she said goodbye to Sir Richard.

Sir Richard: “I loved you you know, more than you knew. And much much more than you loved me.”
Mary: “Then I hope the next woman deserves you more than I did”


Best quotes from Dowager Countess Violet:

Countess Violet: “Sir Richard, life is a game in which the player must appear ridiculous”
Sir Richard: “Not my life”
Countess Violet: “How soon your maxim will be tested

Countess Violet: “Hepworth is lonely? I find that hard to believe. Hepworth men don’t go in for loneliness much. I knew his father in the late 60s. Mais ou sont les neiges d’antan?” (Where are the snows of yesteryear?)

Countess Violet: “Perhaps he’s had enough banging for one life”

Countess Violet: “1920. Is it to be believed? I feel as old as Methuselah. When I think what the last ten years has brought. God knows what we’re in for now.”

Countess Violet: “No fortune?! He’s lucky not to be playing the violin in Leicester Square.”

Sir Richard: “I’m leaving in the morning Lady Grantham. I doubt we’ll meet again.”
Countess Violet: “Do you promise?”

Are you ready for Season Three with Shirley MacLaine as Cora's American mother? I sure am! And one more time for my sister...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Downton Abbey Christmas Special Promo with "A Very Carson Christmas"

The Ladies of Downton Abbey (Lady Mary, Lady Edith and Lady Sybil) on The Jonathan Ross Show. This English chat show's host speaks very quickly and has a "wisp" so he's a little hard to understand at first. His nickname is Wossy, which is very apropos!

There is a really funny bit at the end with Jim Carter doing "A Very Carson Christmas Album". You have to see it to believe it! What a good sport.

I can't wait until Sunday but I also don't want Downton to be over for another year. This has really whet my appetite for the 2 hour Christmas Special on Sunday! Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Film Suggestions

The Princess Bride 1987
The Princess Bride is, according to my 17 year old son, the best film ever! And very romantic.

Westley: I told you I would always come for you. Why didn't you wait for me?
Buttercup: Well... you were dead.
Westley: Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.
Buttercup: I will never doubt again.
Westley: There will never be a need.

A Knight's Tale 2001
A Knight's Tale is also a fairy tale, a sort of Cinderella tale for the guys. Anything is possible if you believe.

William: It is strange to think, I haven't seen you since a month. I have seen the new moon, but not you. I have seen sunsets and sunrises, but nothing of your beautiful face. The pieces of my broken heart are so small that they could be passed through the eye of a needle. I miss you like the sun misses the flower; like the sun misses the flower in the depths of winter. Instead of beauty to direct its light to, the heart hardens like the frozen world your absence has banished me to. I next compete in the city of Paris, I will find it empty and in the winter if you are not there. Hope guides me, that is what gets me through the day and especially the night. The hope that after you're gone from my sight, it will not be the last time that I look upon you.

Shakespeare in Love 1998
Shakespeare in Love is romance itself. Who better than The Bard of Avon to teach us about love.

Queen Elizabeth: Playwrights teach us nothing about love. They make it pretty, they make it comical, or they make it lust, but they cannot make it true.
Viola De Lesseps: Oh, but they can! 

The Importance of Being Earnest
The Importance of Being Earnest is romance with a comic twist. Oscar Wilde mixes equal amounts of love and silliness.

Cecily: You must not laugh at me, darling, but it has always been a girlish dream of mine to love a man named Ernest.

Sense and Sensibility 1995

Sense and Sensibility takes a wonderful book by Jane Austen and brings it to life on the screen so well, it will make your heart ache.

Elinor Dashwood: What do you know of my heart? What do you know of anything but your own suffering. For weeks, Marianne, I've had this pressing on me without being at liberty to speak of it to a single creature. It was forced on me by the very person whose prior claims ruined all my hope. I have endured her exultations again and again whilst knowing myself to be divided from Edward forever. Believe me, Marianne, had I not been bound to silence I could have provided proof enough of a broken heart, even for you.

Jane Eyre 2011
Jane Eyre is an incredibly romantic book. The recent film leaves a lot out, but not the romance!

Rochester: I offer you my hand, my heart. Jane, I ask you to pass through life at my side. You are my equal and my likeness. Will you marry me?
Jane Eyre: Are you mocking me?
Rochester: You doubt me.
Jane Eyre: Entirely.

Miss Potter 2006

Miss Potter is sweet and romantic. You're never too old for love! (and bunnies!)

Let me teach you how to dance
let me lead you to the floor
simply place your hand in mine
and then think of nothing more
let the music cast its spell
give the atmosphere a chance
simply follow where I lead
let me teach you how to dance

Lady Jane 1986
Lady Jane is a tragedy as well as a romance. It is not historically accurate, but it will make you believe in true love. Hey, Carey Elwes is in 2 of my picks! Fancy that.

Jane: [reading] The soul takes flight to the world that is eternal... invisible. But there arriving she is sure of bliss, and forever dwells in paradise.

An Ideal Husband 1999
An Ideal Husband is another Oscar Wilde, but this one is more of a commentary on the kind of love you find in an established marriage. Still a bit silly, but a very lovely ending.

Lord Arthur Goring: Gertrude, it is not the perfect, but rather the imperfect who have need of love.
Gertrude: You seem to know a great deal about it all of a sudden.
Lord Arthur Goring: Oh, I hope not. All I know, Gertrude, is that it takes great courage to see the world in all its tainted glory, and still to love it. And even more courage to see it in the one you love. Gertrude, you have more courage than any woman I have ever known. Do not be afraid now to use it.

Persuasion 1995
And for my final suggestion, Persuasion 1995 for the letter scene alone...

"You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago."

Sigh! Please add your romantic film suggestions in the comments. I just listed period dramas, but tell me which ones you can't live without, period or not. Happy Valentines Day!



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