Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

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

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Downton Abbey Season 4 Episode 4

SPOILER ALERT! This post is intended for those who have already seen Season 4 Episode 4

Well, it looks like Bates's eavesdropping and manipulation of poor Mrs. Hughes finally removed all doubt about what happened to Anna. And although he was sweet and supportive to her, he is getting kind of scary, so perhaps Anna is right after all in worrying that he may do something violent to the perpetrator.

Wouldn't it be awesome if she went all Gosford Park and killed the rapist/valet before Bates does? It's not illegal to stab a corpse you know. I'm just saying...

Oh dear. Edith is visiting the doctor. I hope it is for a sore throat although I think it may be for birth control reasons. I just hope it isn't too late for birth control. And no sign of her Michael Palin/Gregson chappie for a while. Dooooom!!!! I am sensing a Nazi plot, are you?

But on a lighter note, Lady Edith is at least looking lovely in her 1920s fashions. I love the collar on that coat she is wearing in the photo above.

And so Alfred was turned down after going to London to try for the job cooking at The Ritz! Maybe it's for the best. I think they would have had to build him a taller counter to work at or he would have back issues before he turns 30!

But seriously, nice to see that he has ambition. And congrats on those bouchees de fromage. Ohh, la la!

I am happy to see the new ladies' maid Baxter with her outrageous orange juice and her electric sewing machine. Radical I say! I hope Thomas or Barrow or whatever we are supposed to call him doesn't torture her too much. She seems really nice. I wonder will Mrs. Patmore survive with an electric refrigerator in the kitchen? Horrors!

And is the Dowager Countess experiencing a bit of dementia, losing her letter opener from the King of Sweden? Or was a thief just what Julian Fellowes thought the plot was needin? Hidee-hidee-hidee-ho! Apologies to Cab Calloway and Minnie the Moocher, but I couldn't resist.

Best lines of the week:

Violet: "I wonder your halo doesn't grow heavy. It must be like wearing a tiara round the clock."

Lady Mary: "Do you think she is having a good childhood?" (with regards to baby Sybbie)

Alfred: "Is there anything I ought to know about London?"

Thomas: "Mrs. Bates is incorruptible. So we have nothing in common."

Violet: "Yes, but your gratitude never seems to last. I've no sooner said yes then you come back with another request!"

Violet: "The one thing we don't want is a poet in the family....The only poet/peer I am familiar with is Lord Byron and I presume we all know how that ended!"

See you again next week!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Philomena is phantastic!

I finally had the chance to see Philomena (as a treat for my birthday getaway weekend) and what a treat it was! This is my kind of film.

I will try not to give too much away, but it is based on the true story of Philomena Lee, an Irish woman who was "convinced" shall we say to give away her out of wedlock child to adoption by an American couple in the 1950s. A half century later, on what would be the child's 50th birthday, Philomena (played expertly by Judi Dench) admits the existence of her son for the first time to her adult daughter (Anna Maxwell Martin, whom I adore).

At times heart wrenching and then, in a moment, hilariously quirky (in the way that British films seem to do so well), it takes you on a roller coaster ride as she enlists the help of a jaded journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) to help find her lost child. It then ends on a happy note, so what more could I ask?

The girl who plays Philomena as a teenager is absolutely astoundingly talented, and Steve Coogan has much more depth than I realized. Judi Dench and Anna Maxwell Martin are always wonderful, and how they got those toddlers to act is beyond me! Kudos! Stephen Frears is a director who has given us many great films such as The Queen and Dangerous Liaisons. I also really liked the rather quirky Tamara Drewe myself.

I am glad to see that the film is getting some good word of mouth and I hope my dear readers will all see it and love it as much as I did. It may be difficult for some Catholics to watch (and some Republicans if you can believe the American press) however the real Philomena Lee is quite pleased with the film and remains a staunch Catholic to this day. Her capacity for forgiveness and optimism is truly admirable.

If you want to read the book written by Martin Sixsmith, the journalist involved, it is called The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, retitled Philomena for the North American market.

Cheers and enjoy!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Downton Abbey Season 4 Episode 3

SPOILER ALERT! This post is intended for those who have already seen Season 4 Episode 3

While we are all still shaking a bit from last week's episode, it was nice to get back into regular Downton territory this week. Thomas is evil again, Mary is "back in the saddle" again, Rose is being...well...Rose, aaaaaannnnd there is bed hopping again! Edith was caught doing the walk of shame by her Aunt Rosa-Moneypenny's maid.

And Edna Braithwaite was given the full Mrs. Hughes treatment. Snap! Apparently Edna had been studying up on how to trap a former chauffeur into marriage, including how much whiskey it would take to stupefy him and I guess she was using the illicit copy of Marie Stopes's Married Love for birth control advice? (I think that was what Lord Fellowes was getting at here). She should have shared with Lady Edith, from the looks of the foreshadowing by Aunt Rosamund.

Mary is duly juggling suitors and horrid dialogue ("Yesterday you said I filled your brain. Well Matthew fills mine"). Ugh! Please bring back the Mary/Edith fights! They were awesome. Or at least let Carson and Evil Thomas have it out (either verbally or please, please, physically) below stairs. We can dream can't we?

And surely Bates has figured out what happened to Anna by now. Did he learn nothing but forgery while in prison? Even Carson seems to have put two and two together. And I hope someone does something soon, because Joanne Froggatt's superior acting skill is ripping my heart out.

On a lighter note, can they finally quit using the melodramatic music for whenever we see Anna? Should we call it Anna's Theme? Sorry if it is stuck in your head now. Naaa, na naaa, na naaaaaaaaaaa...

Well, back to sort of normal at Downton. Will Anna ever be the same? Are Edith and Edna both pregnant? Why did the negro singer run down to "rescue" Rose? And why did Lord Fellowes chicken out and use the term black, which, although politically correct now, would have sounded very odd in the 1920s? And will Rose be the latest Downton resident to require a book on contraception?

Stay tuned for the answers to these pressing questions. As The Abbey Turns!

Best lines:

Dowager Countess Violet: "Why are you in your rompers?...So another brick is pulled from the wall." (in reference to Lord G not being dressed properly for dinner)

Mary: "Edith? She's as mysterious as a bucket!"

Carson: "I always think there's something rather foreign about high spirits at breakfast."

Carson: "The business of life is the acquisition of memories."

Edna: "Do you ever wonder why people dislike you so much? It's because you are sly and oily and smug and I'm really pleased I got the chance to tell you before I go."
Thomas: "Well, if we're playing the truth game, then you're a manipulative little witch and if your schemes have come to nothing, I'm delighted."

TTFN! See you next week!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Downton Abbey Season 4 Episode 2

SPOILER ALERT! This post is intended for those who have already seen Season 4 Episode 2

Oh. My. Stars. Has Anna not suffered enough? If we were ever in any doubt about whether Joanne Froggatt can act, tonight should dispel that. I don't know about you but I found the end of this otherwise light episode really hard to watch. I kept hoping Anna's screams would be heard above Nellie Melba's arias but alas, this was the only time in the history of the house that there was no one in the servant's area of Downton Abbey to hear her!

Well, it is a subject that is just as relevant today so I suppose we should thank Lord Fellowes for a plot line which might help someone, although it made a lot of us really uncomfortable. Very possibly the point.

On a lighter note, Edith's chappie (who looks so much like Michael Palin he actually played him once!) is now not only learning German but cheating at poker to get in good with Lord Grantham. Good work!

Rose is getting everyone dancing to jazz (very awkwardly I might add) and Molesley has his third menial job in 2 episodes. Oh, the indignity of having to wear gloves!

Alfred is cooking again and Lady Mary actually laughed! Poor Tom is being set upon (yet again) by Edna, the I'm-too-good-to-be-a-housemaid. Oh, dear.

I wish we had been able to hear more of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa as Nellie Melba. What I heard was lovely despite half of the cast sneaking out or whispering through it. Or worse.

Ah well, off to best lines:

Lord Grantham: What does one say to a singer?

Mrs. Patmore: How are the squabs doing? What about the syllabubs? Oh my god, the vegetables!

Dowager Countess Violet: If I were to search for logic, I would not look for it in the English upper class.

Molesley: You want me to be a footman? I'm having my career backwards!

Lady Mary: It's been so long since I've been in the saddle. I'll be stiff as a board the next morning. (tee hee!)

Countess Violet: I am afraid Tom's small talk is very small indeed.
Lord Grantham: Not everyone can be Oscar Wilde.
Countess Violet: Well, that's a relief!

TTFN! See you next week!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Downton Abbey Season 4 Episode 1

SPOILER ALERT! This post is intended for those who have already seen Season 4 Episode 1

So O'Brien has now scarpered off to India with Lady Susan, and left her nephew Alfred and Lady Susan's daughter Rose to deal with all of the questions. I suppose that is a promising start to the new season. But who will conspire with Thomas now that Susan (?!) O'Brien is gone and by the way, where has Thomas's creepy black glove gone?

Mary is still depressed over Matthew's death which is fair enough, but we want the flinty bitch back don't we? Well, I do anyway. Although her lugubrious float down the gorgeous stairway was something to behold, it will be great to see her messing with other women's men again. I hope she leaves poor Edith alone however. It was hopeful to see Mary moving from full black to purple (only half-mourning!) at the tenant's lunch and asking about sheep farming. Look out Robert!

Speaking of Edith, she seems to have become a 1920s fashion plate does she not? The half-mourning purples and greys at the beginning of the episode were gorgeous and then she got pretty risque with the full frontal flapper gear by the end. Go Edith! But please spare us the face sucking with your Mr. Rochester/Michael Palin look alike. Not in public anyway. What would the Dowager Duchess say?

I am not sure what the plans are for the Rose character, but I did enjoy seeing her try to impersonate a Yorkshire housemaid, accent and all. Although the brawl at the thé dansant was a bit much, I would have loved to see Rose and Anna in the paddy wagon!

The love triangle (quadrangle?) below stairs is getting a bit tedious. Daisy is the Edith of the kitchen, just wanting someone to love her. Molesley is as pathetic as usual, and how did he get himself that much into debt if he was living at Downton the entire time? And the unconnected Mr. Grigg storyline was a bit odd, but the resolution in 30 seconds on the railway platform was wonderful. Great to see Mrs. Hughes sticking her nose into everyone else's business. But must we have Edna Braithwaite back again? Ugh!

The two best reappearances were the yellow labrador Isis and the stuffed doggy/rabitty thing which made it's way back to Mary. Hurrah! I hope we see lots of both of these important characters in the future.

Best lines:

Dowager Countess Violet: I sometimes wonder if (Mr. Lloyd George) isn't really German, just pretending to be Welsh?

Dowager Countess Violet: It's the job of grandmothers to interfere!

Mrs. Patmore: Nothing's as changeable as a young man's heart. Take hope and a warning from that.

Nanny West: You wicked little cross-breed!

Dowager Countess Violet: Just because you're an old widow, I see no necessity to eat off a tray.

Ta-ta for now. See you all next week!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Saving Mr. Banks

Saving Mr. Banks is a lovely film. A jolly holiday, you might say. If you haven't heard the buzz on this film, it concerns the back story of how Walt Disney took years (well, decades actually) to convince P.L. Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins books to let Disney have the rights to make the Mary Poppins film.

Tom Hanks looks like he is having a wonderful time portraying the larger than life Walt Disney. Emma Thompson seems to be channeling every old crusty aunt she ever encountered as a child to bring the difficult and very odd authoress to the screen. Again, she appears to be having a ball.

Colin Farrell plays the lovable but unreliable father of Mrs. Travers in the flashback scenes of her childhood in Australia. Apparently after her father died, young Helen Lyndon Goff reinvented herself as Pamela Lyndon Travers and traveled to England to write after a failed stage career in Australia. The Disney version of the story is quite whitewashed, although you might not think so while watching the film. Travers was apparently a bisexual single mother who adopted only one of a set of twins after consulting with an astrologer about which boy to choose.

And if you think Emma Thompson is portraying Travers in a harsh light, stay behind in the theatre for the end of the credits, where they play some of the audio tapes of the meetings between the author and the film makers. She was a real piece of work!

Thankfully, the Mary Poppins film that we know and love so well was made by Walt Disney as it is perfection in my estimation. Well, perhaps it is a tad too long, which is also the case with Saving Mr. Banks but they are equally wonderful. You will enjoy this film, especially if like me, you have a soft spot for Mary Poppins and the Banks family.

Cheers and Happy New Year!

P.S. I adore the way the title of the film is gradually revealed as the story unfolds. She certainly isn't there to save the children!



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