Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Anne with an E on Netflix

The miniseries Anne on the CBC has now finished the first season and is headed to Netflix (as Anne with an E). Our beloved Anne Shirley from Lucy Maude Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables book series has been re-imagined for the new millennium and it is not your mother's (or grandmother's) Anne! For those who don't know the LM Montgomery books, Anne Shirley is an orphan sent to be adopted by unmarried siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert who were expecting a boy to help out on the farm in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island. Anne is picked up by Matthew at the train station and the mix-up doesn't get explained to Anne until she arrives at the idyllic Green Gables farm in Avonlea. Many of us grew up reading about Anne, Diana and Gilbert and this is the latest adaptation for television.

Amybeth McNulty and RH Thomson as Anne and Matthew in Anne with an E

I'll try to sum it up by saying that you'll either love it or you'll hate it, and possibly both simultaneously. Having written about period dramas for 7 years now, I've come to the realization that viewers have very strong opinions about new adaptations of old favourites. Some viewers want a verbatim version of the book, which is not only impossible, but would be boring. Some have already seen their definitive and beloved adaptation (in this case the 1980s version with Megan Follows) and anything else is heresy to them.

Megan Follows as Anne and Jonathan Crombie as Gilbert from 1985 Anne of Green Gables

I am fairly sure the latest generation of kindred spirits will truly enjoy Anne with an E, and hopefully their mothers and grandmothers will see that the timing was perfect for a brand new Anne. As much as I adore the Megan Follows version, the cinematography and scenery in Anne with an E will blow you away and make you want to pack your bags for P.E.I.

Dalila Bela and Amybeth McNulty as Diana and Anne

Anne with an E is an almost entirely female driven production which is a refreshing change for period drama which, although mostly consumed by females, is usually written, produced and directed by men. This is not the case here however. Moira Walley-Beckett of Breaking Bad fame is the Canadian screenwriter and was a producer. All of the producers are female and most of the directors are female. Interestingly, each episode was directed by a different person, although this is not apparent in the continuity of the series.

Geraldine James as Marilla Cuthbert

The acting is superb with English actress Geraldine James (who I remember as the uptight W.I. leader in Calendar Girls) as Marilla Cuthbert and Canadian stage and screen actor RH Thomson as her brother Matthew. Irish actress Amybeth McNulty is a truly wonderful Anne whose occasional misstep into hysteria can be forgiven because for the most part she is delightful. The supporting cast is also top notch including Lucas Jade Zumann from 20th Century Women as Gilbert Blythe.

Lucas Jade Zumann as Gilbert Blythe

Although he is a great actor, I am as yet unconvinced on Lucas Jade Zumann as Gilbert Blythe. Jonathan Crombie is still my Gilbert...sort of like my Mr. Darcy will always be Colin Firth. But he may grow on me as it seems we are going to get at least one more season of Anne.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

I'm Still Here! 2016 Round-up

Jenna Coleman and Rufus Sewell in Victoria on PBS/ITV

Sorry I haven't been posting lately but my day job has been demanding too much time. So I have a bit of catching up to do. And thanks to Rabia, a concerned reader who wanted to make sure I was ok as my blog had gone quiet. So sweet and thoughtful of you Rabia. This post is for you!

I hope you all have been enjoying Victoria either on PBS or when it came out last year on ITV in the UK. I know they spiced up the Victoria/Lord Melbourne relationship a bit but when Rufus Sewell is playing Lord M...I am all for it! Jenna Coleman (Dr. Who, Death Comes to Pemberley) is adorable as the young Victoria. We'll never know what Victoria was really like but it seems there was enough material from her copious diaries for writer Daisy Goodwin to fill in the juicy bits.

Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes in Victoria on PBS/ITV
And the appearance of Tom Hughes as a rather hunky Prince Albert is not bad at all either. Yes, we know they were none of them this attractive, but at least they don't all have blow-dried hair like in The Tudors! :)

The Crown on Netflix

At least as splendiferous is The Crown on Netflix. When Victoria is over, I am going to go back and watch this again. My husband (known as The Squire on this blog) started binge watching this while I was away for the weekend and I had to catch up 3 episodes when I got back. So it has some universal appeal especially for a history buff. It is fascinating to take a peek behind the curtain of the lives of royals who are either still living (Clair Foy as QEII and Matt Smith as Prince Philip) or are in recent memory (Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret and Victoria Hamilton as The Queen Mum). John Lithgow is pretty amazing as Winston Churchill...I love the bath spilling episode!

Now, a quick catch up on other films I have enjoyed since last posting! Hidden Figures...just wonderful. Again, this is one my hubby really enjoyed as well. The audience was cheering and jeering at the screen. Awesome! 3 ladies with fabulous scientific minds that we should know about and an entertaining film to boot. I want to read the book as well. Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race.  How is that for a book title?

I know, 1986 does not really qualify for a historical period film but LION is great. I was sobbing at the a really great way. The little guy who plays Saroo as a boy (Sunny Pawar) is heart-breakingly adorable. The story of a lost child in India, adopted to Tasmania, Australia by a loving couple who subsequently finds his way back as an adult via Google Earth. Dev Patel as adult Saroo was fab as was Nicole Kidman as his Australian mum. I am not a big Nicole Kidman fan but she really did a great job with this one. And this one also is adapted from a book, again a true story, A Long Way Home.

Again, Sci-Fi is not my usual genre, and yet Arrival is one that I believe my readers would truly enjoy. It is about communication with aliens and will have you on the edge of your seat. No explosions and car chases, but lots of really different drama. Good different!

Sing Street is a real gem about a teenager in 1980s Ireland who starts a band to impress a girl. We caught this one on Netflix and both of my twenty-something sons sat down and watched it with us. "Where did you find out about this film Mom?"... Enough said.

Ron Howard's The Beatles: Eight Days a Week is a fabulous film. Only if you are a Beatles fan, but if you are this one is great!

Florence Foster Jenkins! I absolutely loved this one! Meryl Streep disappears into this over the top character and gives a really fun and yet tender portrayal of a fascinating lady. Hugh Grant shows some real acting chops and Simon Helberg (from Big Bang Theory) steals the show as her bewildered accompanist.

A few others worth mentioning were The Man Who Knew Infinity with Dev Patel as an Indian Mathematician in 1914 who makes his way to Cambridge England. You don't have to be an academic to appreciate this one but it is a well told and interesting story. On Netflix.

Shetland is a classic British murder mystery television series set in the Shetland Islands of Scotland. Not for everyone as it can be gruesome, but this one gripped me. Also on Netflix.

The Detectorists is a much lighter, quirky British show about metal detectorists in England. You have to like quirky for this one so of course I loved it!

On PBS, The Durrells in Corfu and Grantchester are both really good, and I have to catch up on Poldark as I haven't seen all of those. I still enjoy Call the Midwife, and there is a new season of Homefires coming to PBS along with To Walk Invisible about the Bronte Sisters.

There are many more that I want to see (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Jackie, Fences, Queen of Katwe).

Anyway, I better post this or it will be another month before I get back to the blog! Thanks again to Rabia for checking up on me! :)



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