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Lovely, heartwarming episode on the importance of one life
I thought this particular episode was outstanding. In fact it had me crying through half of the show. Yes it is true that this episode did not add to the regular plot theme of the 2009 season but it was in my opinion one of the most highly memorable episodes of the entire show. It was just so touching. It follows the life of one particular man who is not a regular on the series, and how he has touched the lives of most of the women who are regulars on the show. I thought Beau Bridges did an excellent job with the part and also, while all the women gave great performances I particularly liked that of "Susan." The scene where she is crying on her home staircase after going through yet another failed marriage is just heart-rending and the dialogue between her and the handy-man is something that will stay with you long after the show ends. Both turned in excellent performances not just in delivering the dialogue but to watch the change come over "Susan" when she hears how the handy-man views her and to watch the subtle change come over her face when she is pulled into a different realization. The episode is meant more as a story to reflect upon. It deals with the importance of each person's life but also how each person can have such a great impact on touching the lives of others.
Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)
Very enjoyable viewing
Contrary to some of the other comments on this site, I just saw the movie yesterday evening and I found it to be very enjoyable viewing with an excellent cast. Cate Blanchett was wonderful in this movie as were the other cast members. The actress who plays Mary Queen of Scots haunted me as I knew I had seen her somewhere before but couldn't place her. It was only just now when I checked with IMDb that I learned she was Agatha in Minority Report! Just couldn't shake where I had seen here before. I would like to comment on some of the other reader postings as well as touch on some of the points I found enjoyable about the film.
1) That the movie depicts the Spanish as black-wearing religious zealots. Well...yes...and your point is? If you look at any period painting of the Spanish court and courtiers they are always dressed in black. The only exceptions usually being very young members of the royal family. As for being religious zealots you only need to open any history book to see the countless religious wars that the Spanish waged at the time. The persecution at home with the Spanish Inquisition. The later destruction of the Americas by Spaniards that destroyed anything they viewed as pagan and un-Christian. Religion was an obsession with the King of Spain who ruled under the idea that "I will not, nor shall I ever be, King of a realm of heretics." 2) That this movie depicted a woman prone to flights of fancy and girlishness. Well again, in every in-depth history book on the Queen you will find that she was exactly that. A woman who had a terrible, traumatic childhood where her death loomed every day. Who was suddenly thrust into rule, as a female ruler surrounded by males. Someone who was vain, girlish, tempestuous. All of these characteristics are well known to have been held by Queen Elizabeth I who later in life banished all mirrors from every palace and insisted on having her official portraits painted by just a few painters always depicting a younger personage. Someone who never felt the honest love of another person who didn't want anything from her. Who like everyone felt her youth fading with every year. I thought this was captured magnificently by Cate Blanchett in this film. Especially at that one beautiful scene with she and Raleigh in front of the fire where she secretly begs him for just one kiss. You can feel the insecurity and lovelessness in her every move and calculated word. I thought that was one of the best scenes in the movie.
That the movie did not do justice to the Queen who "invented modern drama." Hardly. Queen Elizabeth's reign is given far too much credit in this department. If you look at the dates of many of the great Renaissance English dramas such as those produced by Shakespeare, you will find that the majority were written after her death in 1603. It was her successor King James that really patronized the arts, not so much Elizabeth. Elizabeth was actually more famous for never being able to make a decision. Upon her death, James inherited a whole host of problems. She deferred the execution of Mary for a very long time until finally every adviser told her that it had to be done as Mary had committed treason and for years was going around referring to herself as the Queen of England. That's eccentric if you are some beggar on the street, not when you are second in line to the throne. Finally she got her much overdue whack and roll.
I also thought the sea battle was done very well. I did not view it as a "rock em sock em robots" filming. I thought the scene toward the end that showed the fleet in flames was very well done. If anything I thought this part of the movie could have been more gruesome and violent.
As for Walter Raleigh's personality. I really don't know as I was not there. He is known to be a gentleman but also a pirate/privateer. He couldn't have been too courtly as he frequently attacked ships at sea, Spanish cities, and was thrown into the Tower on I believe at least two occasions. He is shown as gallant in the scene in the movie where he throws down his cape for the Queen to step across a puddle.
All in all I thought this was a very enjoyable, rich movie. Fantastic settings, great costumes and interiors, a good sense of the period, the majesty, religious fervor, secret practices with plenty of the day-to-day courtly practices that the rulers of the time experienced. I would recommend it highly.
Bride of the Wind (2001)
Could have been so much more
I lived in Vienna for four years so I was really excited to see this movie. My attention was grabbed by the DVDs cover art which is a repackaging of The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. The late 1800s until World War II was a very unique time in the fields of art, psychology, music, architecture/design and literature that is very rarely touched upon nowadays. So I had high hopes. But I was disappointed in this movie and I felt it could have been in a much more interesting way. The actors were OK I guess. I don't think they had much in the dialogue department to work with. The points that would have made this much more interesting...the art, music and literary aspects...were just touched upon. But that said, it was billed as a story about one woman's life during this period and how she was a muse to some of the now famous men of the era. Actually I came away being much less sympathetic to this woman than I was before I saw the film. She seemed less of a muse than a woman who used famous men for her own ends. I find it unusual that out of all of Vienna, she managed only to make well-known men her lovers. Men such as Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kolkoschka, Water Gropius, Gustav Mahler and on and on. It really did no favors to this woman's reputation and I viewed her as kind of a user and a whiner. Yes she did not have a lot of freedom but it was the very early 1900s, neither did any other woman. She seemed to have the daring to jump from man to man in the days when this was simply not done in polite society. Yet she did not seem to have the courage to try to make it on her own in the field of music. If she was adventurous enough to throw caution to the wind and live such a bohemian lifestyle, I do not know why she would then have cause to complain about being stifled when she knew full well what marriage in that time entailed. How about having the courage to life your own life and pursue your own dreams in the field of music. Rather than depending on some man to fulfill your dreams then complaining when they are not. So I just found the storyline became very uninteresting very quickly and the other points such as the arts & culture of the time would have added much more interest to the film. But were just glossed over in the end.
Vampire Secrets (2006)
Interesting vampire documentary from past to present
I really enjoyed this documentary. It gives an excellent account of the historical basis for the vampire legend, actual vampire stories both past and present and then enters the eerie world of modern day "vampires" both in role playing and in actual murders. Overall I thought the stories were very intriguing, the acting well done and the historical re-enactments very interesting. It would be a good documentary to watch regardless of your level of interest in vampires. The modern-day stories were in fact much more frightening than some of the historic accounts. I also felt the story of Countess Elizabeth Bathory was well done and gave a very good, excruciatingly bloody account of her years of murder and vampirism. The actress is quite good in her portrayal as are the cohorts. The modern-day story of the disappearance of Susan Walsh and the Village Voice investigations into the NY vampire scene are really haunting. I think that was one of the scariest parts of the program.
Colonial House (2004)
Commentary on the commentaries
I have found these programs to be very interesting and this is the 3rd or 4th that I have watched that deals with modern day people returning to another time. I did enjoy watching Colonial House but many viewers seem to fault the program for its lack of rigor in forcing the colonists to stick with 17th century laws. Overall I found the program educational but it really did teach more about 21st century views toward the colonial period than it did actual 17th century life. I remember when I was in history class, one of the first points for students to remember is that all contemporary views of history are clouded by your modern day perceptions. One can never completely understand how people of a different time thought because our views will always be clouded by our knowledge of the present and our present day beliefs. The show gives a somewhat good account of what it was like to come to a new, distant land with nothing, establish a community and the hard work that went into making it grow. What was distracting was the modern-day participants tendency to whine about the drudgery of daily life in the 17th century and their refusal to participate fully in the experience. Well of course, it would be like returning to a leper colony and being surprise that there are sick people there! So I also found it very annoying when the participants refused to participate in mass, accept subservient positions, accept male-female and class differentiations. All were accepted and unbreakable foundations of 17th century British life. The rules in the 17th century were enforceable due to the ability to inflict serious punishment and death on the offending individual. This of course would not be allowed in the modern day so the colonists are allowed to basically fall into a quasi-17th century colony with plenty of 21st century lifestyle choices thrown in. More like a camping trip with farming and bad hygiene. All in all, I found the program most interesting when it showed the construction of the colony, the work required to make it grow, and the narrator's accounts of how life would have been. I also found it very annoying to hear the native Americans account of "we know what our ancestors would have thought." Well sorry...you are modern day people of a 21st century world. You would no more have known what people 400 years ago were thinking at any particular moment than I would know what a cave man was thinking. So the program sometimes tends to veer off into tedious modern day politicized rants. Back in the day, the people would have probably just settled such discrepancies with a good flogging and hanging. End of story.
The Mayflower (2006)
Interesting story about the Mayflower
I really enjoyed this made-for-TV program. Like most people from the U.S., my knowledge of the Puritans and the pilgrims in Plymouth is limited to Thanksgiving stories. I usually just think of them as religious people wearing funny hats and big white collars. I enjoyed several aspects of this show. First is that it starts well before their landing in 1620 in what is now Massachusetts giving an excellent background on what makes a person a Puritan, why they were different from the rest of the people in England, why they left, and very interestingly their couple of years in the Netherlands before departing for North America. I had known that they spent some time in the Netherlands but usually you never hear anything about the pilgrims and their life there. Unlike some of the other posters on this site, I thought the actors were quite good. I did not find them "homely" but then again, I'm sure the people in real life, having survived 16th-17th century smallpox epidemics were not quite the lookers we demand people to be today. The story covers very well the pilgrims' life in England, persecution, the Netherlands years, the crossing, why they ended up in what is now Massachusetts (I had no clue before), their very difficult first year, and the interactions with the local Indian population and how they were helped to survive. I thought it was nice to see men and women from the local Indian population portraying characters in the story. I believe one man that is used as a background historian also plays the part of the native man who makes first contact. The show is a combination of documentary with modern day historians commenting on certain aspects of the story. And a historically recreated film depicting actors in costume and using the language of the time. All in all, I came away with a much better knowledge of early 17th century England, the Massachusetts area of that time, the local native population and the importance of working together and helping each other.