Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

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

Friday, June 29, 2012

Kristin Scott Thomas- Actor of the Week

Kristin Scott Thomas- English or French?

I think Kristin Scott Thomas is a wonderful actress and I find the fact that she has lived in France since she was 19 fascinating. Employed as an au pair when she was a teen and fluent in French, she never left. She married a French obstetrician (now divorced) and raised three children there. She stars in both English and French language films and appears to be aging gracefully. What's not to love?

Kristin with Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral

Of course her all time great role in my estimation is that of Fiona in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Who else could have given that role it's depth, both in comedy and tragedy? A legendary performance! Poor Fifi.

Fiona: There's a sort of greatness to your lateness.
Charles: Thanks, it's not achieved without real suffering.

Kristin with Ralph Fiennes in The English Patient

After all of these years, I am still not sure whether I liked The English Patient or not. I think I did...perhaps I should watch it again and decide.

Almásy: What do you love?
Katharine Clifton: What do I love?
Almásy: Say everything.
Katharine Clifton: Hm, let's see... Water. Fish in it. And hedgehogs; I love hedgehogs.
Almásy: And what else?
Katharine Clifton: Marmite - I'm addicted. And baths. But not with other people. Islands. Your handwriting. I could go on all day.
Almásy: Go on all day.
Katharine Clifton: My husband.
Almásy: What do you hate most?
Katharine Clifton: A lie. What do you hate most?
Almásy: Ownership. Being owned. When you leave, you should forget me.

Kristin as Lady Elizabeth Boleyn in The Other Boleyn Girl

I have to confess that I have not seen Kristin Scott Thomas in as Anne Boleyn's mother in The Other Boleyn Girl. Please someone tell me if this is something I should seek out. I love how Kristin looks in Elizabethan costume!

Actually, besides KST, Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson, it also stars Benedict Cumberbatch, David Morrisey and Eddie Redmayne so I think I have just answered my own question. I'll watch it soon.

Lady Elizabeth: Now go to France. The queen of France is sophisticated. Be useful to her, amuse her. She'll admire your spirit. Learn from her. Observe the ladies of the court. See how they achieve what they want from their men, not by stamping their little feet but by allowing the men to believe that they, indeed, are in charge. That is the art of being a woman.

Kristin as Press Secretary to the Prime Minister Patricia Maxwell in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

I really adored Kristin's character in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. As the Prime Minister's Press Secretary, she is efficiency itself and she plays the part to hilarious comedic perfection. I need to see this film again but it isn't on DVD until July 17th!

Patricia Maxwell: We need a good news story from the Middle East. A big one!

Kristin Scott Thomas as Lady Sylvia in Gosford Park

I think her performance in Gosford Park was truly inspired. She had the snobby, horsey aristocrat down to a tee. Imagine winning your husband in a game of cards! Ugh!

Constance, Countess of Trentham: He's still got that vile little dog, I see.
Lady Sylvia McCordle: Yes, the ones we hate last forever.


And then there is Keeping Mum, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Easy Virtue...I could go on all day. Any films I missed or would you like to agree or disagree with any of my choices?


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom is charming!

Moonrise Kingdom by Wes Anderson

I was able to see Moonrise Kingdom this past weekend and it was charming! What a perfect summer movie. No matter what your age, as long as you are over the age of 12, this will take you back to that awkward age where you feel on the cusp of adulthood but no one takes you seriously.

Penpals and outsiders Suzy and Sam
Suzy and Sam are both going through their own version of pre-teen angst. Sam is an orphan, growing up in a foster home for boys and Suzy has a couple of dysfunctional lawyer parents who are unable to help her through those difficult years. They become pen-pals and run away together to live off the land. A cute pretext but it is what Wes Anderson does with it which makes it special.

Edward Norton as Khaki Scout Master Ward
The cinematography gives it a vintage feel (I swear they added scratch lines across the frames to make it look like an old reel). And the set decoration and costumes are magical. Vintage 1965!

Moonrise Kingdom supporting cast
Just look at the supporting cast. Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton and Bruce Willis are all at their comedic best and yet touching at the same time as adults who have lost their way. Newcomers Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman as Suzy and Sam are wonderfully innocent and spit out the wacky lines in a deadpan manner which really works.

Suzy on the lighthouse

So go and see this one. It is quirky, you won't be able to predict where it is going next and it has a happy ending. That is all you need to know before you go and see it.

And please come back here and tell us all how you liked it. Cheers!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Anna Chancellor- Actor of the Week

Anna Chancellor
Forever Duckface, Anna Chancellor is probably best known as the woman Hugh Grant's character almost marries in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Anna Chancellor and Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral
Henrietta could not have been played by anyone else. Anna Chancellor is at her best in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Charles: Perhaps we should've got married.
Henrietta: No! I'd have had to marry your friends, and I'm not sure I could take Fiona.
Charles: Fiona loves you.
Henrietta: Fiona calls me Duckface.
Charles: Well, I never heard that. 

Anna Chancellor as Miss Bingley in P&P
As the catty and desperate Miss Bingley in Pride and Prejudice 1995, Anna Chancellor is just what Jane Austen would have wanted. There is some wonderful irony in the fact that Jane Austen is her eight times great-aunt. She was born to play Miss Bingley.

Miss Bingley: I believe I can guess your thoughts at this moment.
Mr. Darcy: I should imagine not.
Miss Bingley: You are thinking how insupportable it would be to spend many evenings in such tedious company.
Mr. Darcy: No, indeed, my mind was more agreeably engaged. I've been meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow.
Miss Bingley: And may one dare ask whose the eyes that inspire these reflections?
Mr. Darcy: Miss Elizabeth Bennet's.
Miss Bingley: Miss Elizabeth Bennet. I am all astonishment.

Anna Chancellor with Amanda Bynes and Kelly Preston in What a Girl Wants
As if it isn't bad enough to lose Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice, she loses him again in What a Girl Wants. One might think there was some typecasting going on here!

Glynnis Payne: I know my daddy was naughty, but what about me?

Anna Chancellor as Questular Rontok in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
As Vice President of the Galaxy Questular Rontok in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, she tries unsuccessfully to hide her  love for Zaphod Beeblebrox. Poor Anna, she can't even land a guy with two heads and three arms!

 Questular Rontok: [about Trillian] She's lying. She's skinny, and she's pretty, and she's lying!

Anna Chancellor as Juliet Shaw with Peter Firth as Harry Pearce in Spooks

As ruthless right-wing Juliet Shaw in Spooks (MI5) we get to see Anna as a real ball buster. Juliet versus Ros is something to behold.

Fortysomething with Hugh Laurie, Anna Chancellor and Benedict Cumberbatch

One of the reasons I still love writing this blog after 2 years (other than the fact that I have some of the best readers & commenters on the internet) is that together we discover some unknown gems of film or television.

Fortysomething is a 6 episode TV series from 2003 starring Anna Chancellor as the sexy wife of Hugh Laurie, a slightly befuddled medical doctor. Sort the opposite of Dr. House if you can imagine. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the eldest of 3 rather horny male offspring in this hilariously dysfunctional abode.

If you want to give it a whirl, the first episode is on YouTube here. I am afraid I will be watching this all weekend now!!!

Anna Chancellor as Lix Storm in The Hour
The Hour is a behind the scenes drama about a Cold-War era investigative news program in England. I am dying to see this one, so someone who has already watched it, please tell us all how you liked it! Anna Chancellor, Ben Whishaw, Romola Garai, Domenic Cooper, Tim Piggot-Smith, Juliet Stevenson...I am drooling at the thought!

Well, I certainly do appreciate the talent of Anna Chancellor in her many varied roles. I also liked her in the girly film Crush and in the recently released Hysteria. She is always fun to watch. Which are your faves of hers?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Jane Austen Book Club 2007

The Jane Austen Book Club
Well my recent posts on Hugh Dancy and Emily Blunt gave me a hankering for The Jane Austen Book Club. I know it is not high art. It obviously did not win any Oscars. And yet, what a great film to spend an evening with! So that is what I did this past weekend. I always feel that if my husband and my teenaged son sit down and watch a film with me, it can't be all that bad!

The film mingles tidbits of all six novels with six different main characters who read all of Jane Austen's novels again together (or for the first time in the case of the adorable Grigg) and meet once a month to discuss. The two Brits in the cast play Americans with wonderful accents. Intertwining bits of Austen's novels into the modern character's lives and personalities really works for me. And the fact that 5 women can take for granted that they have all read Jane Austen's books is awesome for a geek like me!!!

"Our world is an English village." 


Prudie Drummond: He looks at me like he's the spoon, and I'm the dish of ice cream.


Grigg Harris: Women never go for the nice guys.
Jocelyn: Please, men say that, but when you get to know some of these men who complain the most, you find out they're not as nice as they think they are.


Bernadette: All Jane Austen, all the time. It's the perfect antidote.
Prudie Drummond: To what?
Bernadette: To life.

Sylvia and Daniel

Jocelyn: Do you think he has a brain tumor?
Sylvia Avila: I think he fell in love.
Jocelyn: Well, I'm rooting for the brain tumor.


Daniel Avila: Can we at least agree that human beings need human connection. You know... companionship, conversation, sex.
Allegra: You get those things from mom, Jocelyn gets those things from her dogs.


Jocelyn: You know what I'm wondering before I go? How do you feel about older women?
Grigg Harris: Ah, great. I have three older sisters, so I like all women. 


I still say Grigg is my fave part of this film, and apparently I have mellowed to the film over the last few years. I think I could easily watch it once a year, ad infinitum.

By the way, I still haven't read The Mysteries of Udolpho. And I actually screamed out loud when Grigg's phone rang with an R2D2 ringtone. Squee!!!!

And I am totally going to check out Ursula le Guin!

"Let us never underestimate the power of a well-written letter."

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Emma Thompson- Actor of the Week

Emma Thompson

Let me just say that I adore Emma Thompson. I will never be able to do justice to her so let me just allow her to do the talking!

''I don't want your readers ever to think they have to have it all. I think that's a revolting concept. It's so false! Sometimes you'll have some things, and sometimes you'll have other things. And you do not need it all at once; it's not good for you."--on juggling motherhood and careers

Sense and Sensibility

Elinor Dashwood: Marianne, please try... I cannot... I cannot do without you. Oh, please, I have tried to bear everything else... I will try... but please, dearest, beloved Marianne, do not leave me alone. 

Love Actually

Karen : Get a grip, people hate sissies. No-one's ever going to shag you if you cry all the time!

"Liam Neeson, quite frankly, is sex on legs. Always has been".

Professor Trelawney in Harry Potter

"I have a nervous breakdown in the film and in one scene I get to stand at the top of the stairs waving an empty sherry bottle which is, of course, a typical scene from my daily life, so isn't much of a stretch." -- on her role in the Harry Potter film.

Nanny McPhee

"I've realized that in all the great stories, even if there's a happily-ever-after ending, there's something sad."

"There is that thing about not working with animals and children - I don't think that's true. Although you should never work with donkeys."

"You can't imagine what satisfaction can be gotten from throwing a pie into someone's face."

An Education
Headmistress: Nobody does anything worth doing without a degree.
Jenny: Nobody does anything worth doing WITH a degree. No woman anyway.
Headmistress: So what I do isn't worth doing? Or what Miss Stubbs does, or Mrs. Wilson, or any of us here? Because none of us would be here without a degree. You do realize that, don't you? And yes, of course studying is hard and boring...
Jenny: Boring!
Headmistress: I'm sorry?
Jenny: Studying is hard and boring. Teaching is hard and boring. So, what you're telling me is to be bored, and then bored, and finally bored again, but this time for the rest of my life? This whole stupid country is bored! There's no life in it, or color, or fun! It's probably just as well the Russians are going to drop a nuclear bomb on us any day now. So my choice is to do something hard and boring, or to marry my... Jew, and go to Paris and Rome and listen to jazz, and read, and eat good food in nice restaurants, and have fun! It's not enough to educate us anymore Ms. Walters. You've got to tell us why you're doing it.

Howard's End
Margaret Schlegel: Unlike the Greek, England has no true mythology. All we have are witches and fairies.

Remains Of The Day
Miss Kenton: What's in that book? Come on, let me see!
Stevens: This is my private time. You're invading it.
Miss Kenton: Oh, is that so?
Stevens: Yes.
Miss Kenton: I'm invading your private time, am I?
Stevens: Yes. 


Well, this post could go on for ever, but let me just add that Emma has a few new films coming out. She is Agent O in Men in Black 3, the voice of Queen Elinor in Brave, Lady Eastlake in Effie among others. So...any other fans of ET? Any Emma Thompson films you would like to add?

"I was brought up by very witty people who were dealing with quite difficult things: disease and death... I was brought up by people who tended to giggle at funerals."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sense and Sensibility- 1995 vs 2008

Sense and Sensibility 1995

Having watched both versions of Sense and Sensibility recently, I feel the time is right for a post comparing and contrasting the two versions (does that sound like an English Lit class?-sorry!).

One version I like and the other version I love. Can you already tell which is which?

Sense and Sensibility 2008

The 2008 BBC miniseries with screenplay by Andrew Davies and directed by John Alexander is an excellent treatment of Jane Austen's first published novel. I adore Andrew Davies and I did not envy him the task of following Emma Thompson's Oscar winning screenplay. When he took on the job, he decided to go back to the book and pull out plot points that ET had been forced to omit in her shorter version.

Willoughby and Marianne

The dramatization of the seduction scene, the restoration of the elder Steele sister (comic gold, I tell you) and the dueling scene really do add to the meat of this version. There is also no doubt that the scene at Allenham with Willoughby and Marianne is sizzling with sexual tension and greatly adds to Marianne's story.

OK, little Henry Dashwood was hilarious

There are lots of things about this version that I truly enjoy. The young actors are amazing and the locations gorgeous and appropriately bleak.  To paraphrase Elinor, "I do not attempt to deny that I think very highly of it -- that I greatly esteem, that I like it."

However, I think you have guessed by now that the version I truly adore is the 1995 Emma Thompson/Ang Lee masterpiece. I just popped it in my DVD player and the first strains of music go straight to my heart!

Oh, the hats of Sense and Sensibility!

There is no doubt that the genius and humour of Emma Thompson's script is at the heart of what makes this version great. She changed so much of Jane Austen's dialogue and yet because she does it so well, we not only forgive her but we begin to look for her lines in the book!

Oh, the scenery and the cinematography!

Ang Lee's direction is also heartbreakingly artistic. How a Taiwanese man was able to interpret the intentions of a 200 year old story by an English lady is a mystery, but there it is!

But the music!

The original score of Sense and Sensibility is some of the most sublime music ever composed. Was there ever a film so enhanced and elevated by it's music? Both the background music and the piano compositions played by Marianne...sigh!

And if I start waxing poetic about the superb acting in this film by some of England's finest thespians this post will go on forever.

OK, time for my readers to weigh in. What do you like or dislike about each of these two versions? Don't hold back!

P.S. I have also recently compared TV/film adaptations of Pride and Prejudice if you would like to join that discussion too!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Hugh Dancy- Actor of the Week

Hugh Dancy

Hugh Dancy is a talented young actor who has been in quite a few wonderful films, usually playing the romantic lead. Oxford educated (English Literature of course), fluent in French, a model for Burberry...holy crap is Claire Danes ever a lucky lady!

Hugh Dancy as Daniel Deronda with Romola Garai and Hugh Bonneville

As the title character in Daniel Deronda, Hugh Dancy shone as the magnificently moral and upstanding young hero.

Sir Hugo Mallinger: So you don't want to be an English gentleman to the backbone after all.
Daniel Deronda: Yes, of course I want to be an English gentleman sir, but I want to understand other points of view.


Gwendolen Harleth: He seems not like young men in general.

Hugh Dancy as Grigg in The Jane Austen Book Club

Grigg from The Jane Austen Book Club is so much one of my favourite film characters that I dedicated a blog entry to him a while back. Adorable so often comes to mind when describing Hugh Dancy but never more appropriately than when he is Grigg. Grigg is so perfect that even Jane Austen couldn't conceive of such a man. But we can dream, can't we? I must dig out my DVD of The Jane Austen Book Club for a Grigg fix!!

Grigg Harris: What about me? Am I your friend? Or am I just some widget to help you make Sylvia feel better about herself? Why did you invite me to be part of your book club? What went through your mind the first time you saw me? "There's a man who is dying to read every book Jane Austen ever wrote." Is that what you thought?
Jocelyn: No.
Grigg Harris: But I thought, "What a beautiful woman. I hope she looks over at me." I thought if I read your favorite books that you would read mine. But, no, no, no, no... You just want to be obeyed. That's why you have dogs. 

Hugh Dancy with Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons in Elizabeth I

And who could blame Helen Mirren as Elizabeth I for being a bit of a cougar when going after Hugh Dancy as the Earl of Essex. Yum yum! This is another DVD I have to dig out of my collection.

Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex: How can I read when you look at me like that?
Queen Elizabeth I: How do I look at you?
Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex: As if you are deciding whether to eat me.

Anne Hathaway and Hugh Dancy in Ella Enchanted

In Ella Enchanted, Hugh plays Prince Charmant naturally! How many girls have now grown up with Hugh Dancy in their head as the perfect Prince Charming?  Personally, I can't think of a better ideal man.

Char: You're the first maiden who hasn't swooned at the sight of me.
Ella: Then maybe I've done you some good. 

Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy in Hysteria

OK, you might be aware that Hugh has been on my mind because I watched Hysteria this past weekend, or as I affectionately call it "The Vibrator Movie".  Loved it!!!

Charlotte Dalrymple: It must be difficult pleasuring half the women in the city.
Mortimer Granville: Pleasure has nothing to do with it, I can assure you.
Charlotte Dalrymple: I suppose that depends on whether you are over the table or on it!


I have a feeling that a few of my readers are Hugh Dancy fanciers, am I right? I look forward to hearing what your fave Hugh Dancy films are!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hysteria is Hysterical!

Yes, Hysteria really is about the invention of the vibrator in Victorian England. And in my opinion it is adorable. Not everyone's cup of tea I realize. If the subject matter makes you a little uncomfortable, then give this one a pass. I can certainly see that certain conservatives would not be amused by this premise.

If however you do find it amusing that someone made a romantic comedy know what... then you will have a lovely light evening and leave the theatre laughing heartily.

A very proper dinner scene in Hysteria

The cast is wonderful. Hugh Dancy (Daniel Deronda, Grigg from The Jane Austen Book Club) plays the adorably earnest but slightly clueless Dr. Mortimer Granville, the doctor credited with the first patented electric vibrator. Jonathan Pryce (Mr. Buxton in Cranford) portrays Mortimer's employer Dr. Dalrymple, overworked from "treating" hysterical upper class English ladies. The Dalrymple daughters are Maggie Gyllenhall (Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang) and Felicity Jones (Northanger Abbey), both brilliant in their depiction of two totally different types of Victorian ladies. Also outstanding are Rupert Everett, Gemma Jones, Anna Chancellor, and quite a few other actors whom I have seen in other films but who are lesser known.

The director and the writers were American (hard to believe, I know!) but the cast is almost entirely British. Maggie Gyllenhaal's accent is awesome and sounds suspiciously like her friend Emma Thompson's accent!

Ready, set...

Molly: What do you call that little thing?
Mortimer Granville: I was calling it the feather duster.
Molly: Well I'd think of something quick, so that a girl knows what to ask for.

So I leave it up to you about whether you will enjoy this film. I loved it as did my husband. OK, he wasn't happy about me leaving him in line for the film to go to the washroom. Poor guy, all line for the vibrator movie. :)

But he said he liked it more than he liked The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. And he liked that one a lot!




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