Friday, June 14, 2019

Film Friday: Born Yesterday

Poster via IMDb
Born Yesterday (Link to TCM; it will be shown next month)

"A newspaper reporter takes on the task of educating a crooked businessman's girlfriend."

Columbia Pictures
1950/102 minutes/B&W
Starring Broderick Crawford, Judy Holliday, and William Holden

In May, I was at my sister's house one Saturday, and we were in the mood for a classic film. When she heard I hadn't seen Born Yesterday yet, she put it on (she has cable; I don't). Many years ago, we'd seen several George Cukor films at the Stanford Theatre when they'd done a Cukor Festival, but Born Yesterday wasn't one of the movies we saw. As usual with Cukor, the film didn't disappoint.

Born Yesterday opens at a busy, upscale Washington DC hotel, where we follow Broderick Crawford as junk man turned millionaire Harry Brock, and his silent fiance, played by Judy Holliday. Brock soon turns from merely somewhat rude to downright bullying, and we find he's there having bribed a congressman to ensure a bill goes Brock's way. Holden as Paul Verrell comes in, a reporter doing a story on Brock, who isn't exactly keen on the idea. But when Brock's lawyer says he and his fiance, Billie Dawn (Holliday), need to fit in better (I have to mention her clothes--I love Billie's outfits! Kudos to Jean Louis.), Brock hires Paul to give Billie some polish--being Brock, he thinks she's the only one who needs to change. I had a hard time laughing at Brock, given there are still so many such people around today (the film is surprisingly timely), but Crawford's performance is amazing, as he does bring some humanity and humor to the role of this unmitigated bully.

I love it when Billie looks up words in the dictionary! I do that too, though she has better one-liners. :)

It's Judy Holliday who shines in the film, though. She shows with subtlety Billie's transformation, though from the beginning we see her intelligence, humor, and humanity. The chemistry between Billie and Paul is also clear, though the only disappointment in the film is, as my sister said, "not enough William Holden." But the montage scenes of Paul and Billie taking in the sights of the city, sharing their stories and insights, is both satisfying and charming. So is the ending of Born Yesterday, which, though I felt perhaps Brock deserves a stronger comeuppance, shows Billie's compassion, smarts, and new strength. I've only seen Holliday in two other movies, Adam's Rib and The Marrying Kind (in which she gives very strong performances), but I'd guess her performance in Born Yesterday is her finest. It's a film worth watching. I'll leave you with William Holden. :)

Holden as Paul, in glasses/photos via IMDb

Friday, June 7, 2019

Friday Films: Suspicion

Photo via IMDb

"A shy young heiress marries a charming gentleman, and soon begins to suspect he is planning to murder her."

RKO Pictures
Starring Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
1941/1 hour 39 minutes/black and white

The week after I saw Casablanca at the Alameda Theatre, we went to see Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion. It begins in classic Hitchcock style, on a train, with two strangers meeting. We soon learn more about heiress Lina, played with quivering naivete by Joan Fontaine, and Johnnie, a bounding, handsome cad, played with charm and creepy finesse by Cary Grant. Hitchcock, as usual, is a master of suspense, and the slow build of suspicion lives up to the movie's title. However, from the beginning, I found Johnnie's brand of charm so off-putting that I wanted to yell at Lina to run, yet her consistent defense of him, even as her suspicions about his motives grow, is equally unsympathetic. His name-calling ("monkey face") and many lies are just some of the reasons I sided with Lina's parents about her relationship with Johnnie. However, if I get back to the movie as a whole, it's certainly entertaining and suspenseful, and pulled me in to the storyline. It is, however, one that ultimately failed for me. I won't spoil it, in case you haven't seen it, but some claim that the ending was changed--and very disappointing my friend and I found it. Otherwise, it's a film worth watching.

Bruce and Grant in Suspicion/Photo via IMDb

One of the reasons it's a good film is the great, if underused, supporting cast: Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Dame May Whitty, and Nigel Bruce, among others. It's Bruce's comedic turn as Johnnie's friend that shone for me and made Grant's performance that much better, when the two played off each other. Both Grant and Bruce have wonderful comic timing that enhanced their solid performances. We don't see much of Hardwicke and Whitty, unfortunately. Be sure to check out Whitty in a (better) Hitchcock film, The Lady Vanishes; a favorite Hardwicke performance is his turn as the evil Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It felt as if the underuse of these performers and their characters lent the movie an air of the unfinished--one too many loose threads that, tangled with the unsatisfying ending, left me with a mixed feeling about the film. It's a Hitchcock film worthy of viewing, but not a favorite.

Have you seen Suspicion? Do you have a favorite Hitchcock movie?

Friday, May 31, 2019

Friday Films: Casablanca

"A cynical American expatriate struggles to decide whether or not he should help his former lover and her fugitive husband escape French Morocco."

Warner Bros.
1942/1 hour 42 minutes/black and white
Starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid
Directed by Michael Curtiz

Casablanca is a wartime picture that is so much more: drama, comedy, suspense, romance, bromance... :) It has become so much a part of Americana that it is cliche. "Here's looking at you, kid," and "Play it again, Sam," and other quotes and misquotes are used and misused, spoofed and homaged in everything from a Bugs Bunny cartoon to movies to books and songs. Having only seen Casablanca a few times over the years, I was excited to finally see it on the big screen when it was shown recently at the Alameda Theatre. It was better than I'd recalled and I laughed at the fantastic banter, and felt a whole range of emotions from anger to sadness to joy as the characters interacted and struggled with personal and societal conflicts. The story and characters are enthralling, the cinematography adept, so that not only did I appreciate getting involved in the experience, but I could also see how well-crafted it is. The film deservedly is an Academy Award winner for best picture, director, and screenplay, and is on many best-of Hollywood film lists.

Claude Rains as Captain Renault/via IMDb
The actors are sublime, from Claude Rains as devil-may-care Captain Louis Renault (who is, cringe, also a bit predatory), Dooley Wilson as loyal and wise piano player Sam, to Sidney Greenstreet as a fellow racketeer and club owner in wartime refugee stop Casablanca. Humphrey Bogart is iconic as Rick, the jaded but ultimately noble club owner; Ingrid Bergman is subdued and strong as Ilsa; and Paul Henreid solidly portrays resistance leader Victor Lazlo. I've read that some consider Henreid stiff in the role, but I enjoyed his performance and found it moving in its subtle passion and commitment. Really, the entire cast shines and the dialogue sparks with wit and emotion. Even though I typically don't enjoy "unhappy" endings, the ending of Casablanca is completely satisfying. I left the film with a smile and a new appreciation for this nearly perfect screen gem.

Have you enjoyed Casablanca? Or do you think it's overly praised? Tell me in the comments!

Come back next Friday for a review of Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion. Or, to get it by email, enter your email in the second box on the right. Thanks!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Monday Musings: Classic Movies

Picture via IMDb

I've loved classic movies since I was a little girl. Probably the first I saw were Mary Poppins and The Wizard of Oz. Growing up in the 1970s and 80s in suburban northern California, those two were shown occasionally on TV, and my aunt and uncle had a very early VHS player as well. By high school, I was watching American Movie Classics (AMC)--when they actually played pre-1960s movies. The first time I asked to stay up past my bedtime was so I could watch Singin' In the Rain for the first time. I devoured classic films, and they were friends and comfort throughout the turbulent teen years, and beyond. Young Sean Connery in Darby O'Gill and the Little People made me swoon as much as seeing Astaire and Rogers dance and Flynn and de Havilland banter. I laughed with Loy and Powell in The Thin Man series, and cried with Maureen O'Hara in How Green Was My Valley.

de Havilland and Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood Photo via IMDb

I also enjoyed going to the movies, but there was something about classic movies that appealed to me--maybe a kind of innocence. And the actors--how I loved Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Olivia de Havilland, Maureen O'Hara, Dana Andrews, Jeanne Crain, Gene Tierney, Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Cary Grant, Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, Myrna Loy, William Powell, Frederic March, James Stewart, and Sydney Poitier, to name just some of those who I delighted in watching. I even thought about becoming a film critic, but changed my mind on realizing I'd have to watch all movies, and I can't stomach most horror and thrillers. But give me a good musical or even a Hitchcock, and I'm happy. These days, I watch mostly on DVD (from the library or my small collection), and sometimes am lucky enough to go to the Stanford Theatre, or Alameda Theatre's classic movie nights, to see old movies the way they were meant to be seen--on the big screen! The next two Fridays, I'll post about two movies I had the good fortune to see there: Casablanca and Suspicion. Sometime this summer, I'll review my favorite George Cukor films as well. Hope you'll join in!

Do you like classic movies? Tell me your favorites!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Friday Films: Jeanne Crain Blogathon!

Jeanne Crain Blogathon

Thanks to Christine of Overture Books and Film for this Jeanne Crain Blogathon, and for allowing me to participate! I know I’ll enjoy reading all the different blog posts about Crain and her films. Crain is a favorite (and fellow California girl!), but I hadn’t seen The Model and the Marriage Broker, and if you haven’t seen any other movies starring Crain, I wouldn’t start with this. She gets top billing, but actually doesn’t get all that much screen time (or maybe it just felt that way?). Still, Crain is luminous and likeable, and Thelma Ritter is such fun to watch that I recommend viewing. (Top information is from the DVD case. Most links are to IMDb; photos via IMDb.)

Jeanne Crain in The Model and the Marriage Broker

“Things just can’t go right when a model/client turns the tables on her cynical, meddling marriage broker.”

Starring Jeanne Crain, Scott Brady, and Thelma Ritter
Directed by George Cukor 
1951/ 1 hour, 43 minutes/ black and white

The Model and the Marriage Broker opens with upbeat music and a sweeping cityscape, bringing us to the office of Mae Swasey “Contacts and Contracts/Notary Public.” We soon discover Mrs. Mae Swasey is a straight-talking but compassionate woman—the marriage broker of the title. She says in a sardonic tone to a client, “I can hear the wedding bells already.” Mae is going about a usual sort of day, talking to clients, and visiting them, arranging meetings at her home, or otherwise. One such visit leads to an accidental handbag switch with model Kitty Bennett, played by the ever lovely Jeanne Crain. We don’t meet Kitty until about ten minutes (or more) into the movie, and even then, we only get a partial glimpse in a fabulous hat and dress (costumes in this movie are by Renie, who had a long career--I love Kitty's dresses in this movie). Also in the mix is Matt Hornbeck, radiologist, who becomes unwittingly involved in Mae’s business when some wealthy clients stiff Mae on her fee. Soon, hard-luck Mae is (kindly) meddling in Kitty’s and Matt’s lives, and complications ensue. There are some funny bits, as well as touching ones, and Crain’s presence and moments of thoughtful sadness are a good foil for Ritter’s almost cynical warmth, and candidness. The film lives up to its title, and really is about these two strong women and their relationship. The film ends with Mae, as well, and it’s a bit surprising, in a way, because though Crain gets top billing, The Model and the Marriage Broker is really Ritter’s star turn.

The film, directed by George Cukor (one of my favorite directors), is a solid slice of life comedic drama, but it doesn’t have the sublime pacing and excellent scripting of his other films, like The Women, Pat and Mike, and Adam’s Rib. There are some laugh-out-loud moments with some of Mae’s clients, played most notably by Zero Mostel and Nancy Culp. However, I didn’t connect to Scott Brady’s Matt Hornbeck; I wished that Cukor had discovered Aldo Ray a year early, because this could have been Ray’s breakout role. I feel he would’ve brought more likeability and gleam to the role than Brady, and perhaps had better chemistry with Crain as well, though we really don’t see a lot of the Bennett-Hornbeck romance on-screen. Maybe I was expecting more romance (a la Pat and Mike), when really it’s the tale of these two women, played perfectly by Ritter and Crain. I recommend the film, though perhaps not as a first viewing of the fantastic Jeanne Crain.

Have you seen The Model and the Marriage Broker? What are your thoughts? What’s your favorite Jeanne Crain film?

Come back every Friday for Film Friday! You can follow the blog via email in the (second) box on the right side. Thanks!

Saturday, March 2, 2019


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Cozy, Sweet, Romantic Reads

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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Pride and Prejudice (1995), Episode 3: Return of the Proposal

In the aftermath of the Collins Strike...Charlotte is eminently practical
Lizzy is a bit stuck in her own assumptions (prejudice much, Miss Lizzy B?)
Jane is all goodness
Is Lizzy really that taken in by Wickham?
Image result for lydia bennet julia sawalha gif
Lyds, you little flirt, and she takes after her mum.
Ah Mrs B sees Lizzy's sly smile and is displeased.
Poor Jane, ditched:
I have nothing to reproach him with...echoes of Sense & Sensibility.
Lizzy you schemer...getting Jane to London...shades of Mrs B.
Lizzy seems more understanding of Wickham trying to marry for comfort than Char.
Mr B will miss Lizzy.
Lady C...all the sisters out!
Image result for lady catherine de bourgh theme
Col Fitzwilliam has easy manners. Catch on, Lizzy.
Darcy ignores Collins.
She's got him all flustered. Ha!
Image result for mr darcy gif
Tease on, Lizzy!
Darcy all like, quit haunting me woman;
Nah girl I'm so in luv.
Ha! I am not afraid of you.
He's thinking of Wickham.
Trying to find common ground.
Was he waiting for the Collins's to leave so he could get Lizzy alone?
Darcy like, oops, I said too much
The men are kind of gossips.
Darcy all: Hope you're feeling better cause I'm not; you've bewitched me, so I can't stay still.
No preamble: boom, a proposal
Image result for darcy proposal to elizabeth gif
I can't help it, girl, I luvs you.
Are you begging, Darcy?
Lizzy: Set. Him. Down.
Was he really expecting a yes?
Jealous much, Darcy? Supercilious too.
Image result for darcy proposal to elizabeth gif
Burn! Go get you some burn cream, Darcy. Halfway through, and so much has happened!
Lizzy has so much to hide.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Pride and Prejudice (1995), Episode 2: The Collins Strikes

I noticed so much more on this viewing of P & P. Does that happen to you?
I've seen this miniseries at least ten times, yet it's fresh and fun.
As with my ramblings on Episode One, there are spoilers here, just in case.
So, episode two. First, David Bamber's portrayal of Mr. Collins--

Image result for air kiss gif

deserves sweet air kisses from Tom Hiddleston. :)
And here we are back at Longbourn.

Image result for mr collins gif

Mr Collins (doing his duty to find a wife!) scoping out his cousins,
with Mrs B directing him away from Jane.
And there's Wickham. Lizzy, don't be taken in by his charm!

Image result for wickham gif

Lizzy's smiles, Darcy's scowls. They are both going to get schooled. By love. ;)
Lyds on a tear--poor Mr. Collins. So scandalized.
This Mary seems to be eyeing Collins. Poor Mary. In for a disappointment.
At Aunt Phillips'

Image result for lydia bennet julia sawalha gif

The ball...
Darcy stalking, observant.

Image result for mr darcy dancing gif

He seems to take malicious glee in watching Collins bumbling around Lizzy.
They dance!
Bingley looking at Jane is adorbs.

Image result for mr bingley

Cringy family!
Snobbery and set downs

Image result for mr collins gif

Collins' proposal..a practiced spiel.
Oh lord, the tantrum of Mrs. B.
And there's Charlotte

Image result for charlotte lucas gif

Oops the histrionics failed Mrs B. "An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth..." Ha!
Lydia and Kitty, off to find fun.
Hum, that pause of Charlotte's...did she have a plan?
Oh, Mr. Collins! Poor Mrs. suitor down. Will she recover?
I think so, but we don't see much of it, as Lizzy goes off to visit Charlotte in
Episode Three for Return of the Proposal.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Pride and Prejudice (1995): Episode 1--New Hopes

This is my rambling take on Pride and Prejudice (1995), Episode 1. New Hopes for Mrs. Bennet, wherein plans are made and schemes are played. Spoiler Alert! If you haven't seen it (or read the book--if so, who are you and how did you get here? :) ...maybe go watch it first? It's available on many streaming sites and on DVD.

Cue the music! Release the hounds! Darcy, a question for you: Why is the society more savage at Meryton than Lambton? Hum. Snobbery alert! There's our intrepid heroine running about. She looks circumspect about going into the house. Oh, classic eye rolls!

Yes, Mrs. B, they will tear your nerves to shreds, but you'll mend. Ha! Lydia's snort-laugh. Poor Hill, you've got a job of work. And there's Jane placating. I swear Mrs. B looks like she's flirting when she's complaining to Mr. B.

Oh, Lyds, you're all about the appetites, aren't you? What doesn't test Mrs. B's nerves? They're off to a party! Mary doesn't look like she wants to dance... (Don't you wanna dance, say you wanna dance?)

Capital! Capital! "Smile, girls, smile..." Ah, some things never change. How can anyone think Jane isn't interested in Bingley? Duh, she's blushing, and her pleased smile! Darcy--he rarely dances. Oh, really?

"The very rich can afford to give offence." Ha! Laugh at him, Lizzie, that's the ticket.
Caro looks like she ate off cheese. (Anna Chancellor does haughty so well.)
Never say never, Lizzie. You're easily astonished, Mr. Darcy. "She smiles too much"--my kind of man.
Does Charles hold the pursestrings? So they're nice to Jane? Who else has Jane liked?
The redcoats have come! Poor Darcy, ha!
It's Queen Victoria and Queen Mum! (Mrs. Forster, played by Victoria Hamilton)
Jonathan Firth (Colin Firth's brother!) & Victoria Hamilton in
Victoria & Albert (2001)
Victoria Hamilton as Queen Mary/Queen Mum in The Crown

Lydia is Scarlett O'Hara. Lyds, that look.
Darcy likes poking at people... much like Mr. B...hum. Darcy's so smitten, ha!
Nice waistcoat, Mr. Bennet.

Jane is invited to Netherfield. Poor Jane--no carriage for you! Mrs B: schemer extraordinaire.
Walk, Lizzie, cause Lizzie doesn't need to do her own laundry! Charles is all about Jane's comfort...awww.
La! to have people up in your business. How did Charles end up with those sisters?
Darcy is totally throwing shade at Caro. Poor Lizzie and Charles having to manage everyone.

Caro, do NOT interrupt my reading!

A lot happened! On Monday we'll ramble through Episode 2--The Collins Strikes.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Wednesday Walks: Watch Colin Firth Walk!

Just a bit of fun today! Here's a YouTube vid by TheGlitzieGirl1 of Colin Firth walking. :) She has a lot of Firth videos for your viewing pleasure!

And here's one of Lizzie and Darcy from the 1995 Pride and Prejudice that I made several years ago.

Happy watching, and walking!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Monday Musings: Magic in the Moonlight/Main Street

Photo via IMDb

First up, Magic in the Moonlight (2014/PG-13). I wanted to like this, as I love Firth especially in period costume roles. But, I couldn't get past the first half hour of this movie, despite Firth, Emma Stone, and the always wonderful Eileen Atkins. Atkins is as natural and as wonderful as ever, but Firth seems wooden, and Stone dull. And there's the obvious trajectory of the plot--Firth, though shown happy with his partner in the beginning, will fall in love with the twenty-eight-year younger Stone. Those are two big nos for me in a movie or book. There needs to be much more compelling writing to pull those off for me. Billed as a romantic comedy, this movie struck me as neither comic nor romantic. I suppose it's past time to give Woody Allen movies a pass.

Photo via IMDb

Next up is Main Street (2010/PG), which I managed to finish. Maybe because I had no expectations coming into this movie, or maybe because it didn't have any of the above-mentioned "no"s for me, I was able to watch the whole movie. It has a great cast, including Patricia Clarkson, Amber Tamblyn, Orlando Bloom, Ellen Burstyn, and, of course, Colin Firth, but overall the directing and screenplay are disjointed. Also, I can't get behind Firth doing an American accent; it was just too weird for me. Here are my thoughts: Ellen Burstyn is marvelous--the way she captures emotions in her expressions and movements. A surprise is Tom Wopat as Mary's father--he's so natural and comfortable in his role. There are some other surprises, but mostly not in a good way, like what seem to be inconsistencies and some of the characters' actions being unrelatable and confusing, as is the director's use of close-ups too often, cutting off characters' heads (or part of them) with the way he frames shots. The ending left me unsatisfied and slightly confused--the characters don't seem to have their changes of hearts on screen, so we don't follow them through their decisions, which creates emotional distance. The whole movie felt very inconsistent, and while I wanted to like it, I couldn't, despite the talented cast.

I'm not sure what I'll watch for Wednesday, but coming soon is commentary on Pride and Prejudice (1995).  

Friday, February 15, 2019

Friday Finds: Firth as Darcy Merch

This is a short post, just for fun, in case you love Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice (or Matthew MacFadyen in the 2005 version). Janet T. does lovely illustrations of Mr. Darcy (and other Jane Austen heroes), and she also has a blog, More Agreeably Engaged. You can purchase many fun items--stationary, calendars, mugs, and more--decorated with her illustrations on JT Originals, like this mouse pad:

Via JT Originals

I enjoy seeing so many people inspired to be creative by Colin Firth! Who, or what, inspires your creativity?

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Wednesday Watching: The Railway Man

Photo via IMDb

The Railway Man (2013/R), based on the autobiographical book of the same name, is difficult to watch. The movie explores the story of Eric Lomax, a former British army soldier and prisoner of war, who is haunted by the events of World War II, even forty years after. The cast of The Railway Man is stellar; the art direction, costumes, and sound design are on par with The King's Speech; but, the direction and the script are sometimes disjointed, and the subject matter, while well-handled, is simply difficult to watch. The scenes of Eric Lomax's torture, and the treatment of the prisoners of war in general, encapsulates man's inhumanity to man; while it may be difficult to watch, it's also important to be aware of the pain these men went through, and how they survived.

However, leaving out the subject matter, the movie is flawed in that the cuts to flashbacks are sometimes jarring, and certain plot and character elements are left so vague that the viewer is confused. These elements could have been stronger if handled differently. But, that also has nothing to do with the outstanding and nuanced performances. Firth is able, even with the problems I felt existed in the movie, to show from the beginning Lomax's humanity and strength, his deep wounds and yearning for love and healing. Kidman gives a strong, subtle performance as Lomax's wife, Patti. But personally, I felt most riveted by Stellan Skarsgard as Finlay, Sam Reid as young Finlay, Jeremy Irvine as young Eric, and Tanroh Isida and Hiroyuki Sanada as young and old Takeshi Nagase. This is really an ensemble cast, with each actor turning in moving, quietly engaging and sympathetic performances. Because of this, and the message of reconciliation and forgiveness, I recommend it (but be aware that the images of torture and the grim turns may stay with you).

On a lighter note, Skarsgard and Firth also share the screen in both Mamma Mia! movies, and they seem to have a great rapport. And, I recently saw Sam Reid in an episode of Agatha Christie's Marple, "Greenshaw's Folly," in which he costars with Julia Sawalha, who plays Lydia in Pride and Prejudice (1995). I like finding those Jane Austen connections. :)

Monday, February 11, 2019

Monday Musings: Nanny McPhee

Photo via IMDb

I rewatched Nanny McPhee (2005/PG) last week as part of Firth February and had forgotten how delightful the movie is! There are so many familiar faces: Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Imelda Staunton, Derek Jacobi, and Angela Lansbury, to name the most memorable. It's a bit of over-the-top whimsy that felt just right this dreary month. Thompson and Firth are both enjoyable, as usual, and the character of Nanny McPhee is interesting and fun to watch, as she guides the children to learn what is most valuable--their family and their love for each other. I particularly enjoyed the rollicking and then fairy-tale ending, and seeing favorite actors together in a comical yet touching movie. I give it four Firths. ;)

Friday, February 8, 2019

Friday Finds: The King's Speech

Photo via IMDb

I was pretty blown away by how good The King's Speech (2010, R for language) is. I hadn't watched it in years, and had forgotten how wonderful a film it is; also, I have a new appreciation for it, having seen more Royal-centric fare, like The Crown, The Queen, and Victoria.
There is a lot to enjoy in the film--all the performances are excellent, as are the set and costume design, as well as the script. It feels almost intimate, like we're right there with the characters during this pivotal time in their lives. In case you aren't familiar with it, The King's Speech is, according to IMDb, "The story of King George VI, his impromptu ascension to the throne of the British Empire in 1936, and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch overcome his stammer." 
But the film is so much more complex and layered than any simple description can give. Firth deservedly won the Oscar for Best Actor for his role in the film, and it won Best Picture in 2010. The stellar cast includes Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi, Geoffrey Rush, Michael Gambon (Dumbledore!), Guy Pearce, Anthony Andrews, Timothy Spall, and, two favorites from the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice (also starring Firth), Jennifer Ehle (Lizzie) and David Bamber (Mr. Collins). When Firth and Ehle shared a brief scene, I felt a pop of joy at seeing them together again. And, it's a line delivered by Ehle's character, Mrs. Logue, that's my favorite of the film: "Perhaps he doesn't want to be great."
For more about King George VI you can click on his name to go to Wikipedia. I love media that inspires me to research--what about you?

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Wednesday Watching: Loving

Yes, it's still Firth February, so why am I reviewing a movie that doesn't have Colin Firth in it? Because he's one of the producers! 😊 According to Wikipedia, he was instrumental in getting this beautiful film off the ground. Apparently, Firth became interested in American history and culture while filming in North Carolina. Loving (2016, PG-13) is set in late 1950s/1960s Virginia, where, at the time, interracial marriage was illegal. It's the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, a real-life couple whose case went to the Supreme Court and changed the laws concerning interracial marriage. Though depicting a sweeping historical change, this film is intimate, quiet, and loving toward its characters, as they are toward each other. Ruth Negga (Mildred) and Joel Edgerton (Richard) inhabit their characters with quiet grace and dignity, showing their strengths and weaknesses, and their love for each other and their families. Truly, Loving is a beautiful film, its almost leisurely pacing and muted sets and costumes the perfect match to the characters and their story. There's no big action, loud histrionics, or crude language or humor here--it's a well-crafted, engaging love story of two people who, in living their lives with integrity and courage, change American history. Have you seen Loving?

Monday, February 4, 2019

Monday Musings: Mamma Mia!

Here we go again... I rewatched Mamma Mia! (2008, PG-13) this weekend, my first movie for Firth February (to read my summary of Colin Firth movies, click here). Let's get right to a stream-of-consciousness recap:

Firth looking sharp... Cue "Sharp Dressed Man"

That's a lot of screeching girls--yikes!

Thank goodness: Pierce Brosnan and Firth together.

More squeeing from the girls, and she doesn't care that her mom doesn't know who her dad is--she just wants him to walk her down the aisle and she'll magically know who he is. Okaaay.

Oh, yay, Christine Baranski! So much talent. Wait, who's that other actress? Is that Mrs. Weasley from Harry Potter? Her hair is different.

via IMDb

And of course Willoughby is tackling the bridesmaids. (I explain to my friend that the actor played rakish Willoughby in the 2008 Sense and Sensibility.)

Firth has so much verve. Is that Julie Walters? (Checks Internet Movie Database) Yes, it's her--oh, she was Mrs. Austen in Becoming Jane--how have I not seen that yet?--she was just in Mary Poppins Returns with Colin Firth! And of course she was Mrs. Weasley in Harry Potter.

More squeeing. Blah blah blah. *Fast forward through some of the young people's songs...* ABBA songs are fun, though...

Meryl Streep is so talented. She was also in Mary Poppins Returns! (My friend thinks it's funny that she's in this outrageous movie, but I say it's definitely not the first time--like when she played a stereotypical wealthy romance author who steals someone's husband in She-Devil back in 1989. I like her as a rocker more in Ricki and the Flash.)

Whew, Firth is back. He's "spontaneous"--he's also the brightest spot in this movie!

If I drank wine, this would be a lot better with a bottle of it. (My friend laughs and says it's very over the top.)

And there are the three "dads" on the ship. Girl says in her head to Firth: "Are you the man of my dreams?" Why yes, yes he is...*lol*

*snort laughing* Is Pierce Brosnan taking this singing thing seriously--he looks really serious. *snort laughing* He must have a sense of humor--he was Bond, and Remington Steele!

There is not enough Firth....zzzzzzzz

There he is! He's adorable. And there's the iconic wet white shirt...for way too short. (I explain to my friend--who hasn't seen it--the scene in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice.)

And there's the scene I used a GIF from, the other day on Twitter! Firth can sure shake it.

Wow, I rewatched it. Firth was delightful, but then, he usually is. I must rewatch Pride and Prejudice as soon as possible.

That's my recap! Have you seen Mamma Mia!? What's your take on it?