Young Catherine is an American/British/Canadian mini-series which portrays the early years of Russia’s Catherine the Great.
In 1744 Sophia Fredericke, a princess of a small German principality, is invited to the court of St. Petersburg as the potential bride for the next Russian heir. Sophia’s upbringing has been sheltered. She has a close relationship with her father, with whom she shares a devotion to their Lutheran faith. Her relationship with her mother is less warm. But it is with her mother that she travels to Russia. Her mother is well prepared for the political and social intrigues of the Russian court, but Sophia is less so.
She arrives as a naive innocent, eager to believe in a love match between herself and Peter, the Grand Duke and future emperor. Thanks to some advice from the handsome Grigory Orlov, Sophia is smart enough to ingratiate herself with the Empress Elizabeth, Russia’s ruling sovereign. Sophia soon begins to experience the shattering of her illusions. It slowly becomes clear to her that her marriage and her role within the Russian monarchy is not made of fairy tales. Sophia must learn how to maneuver in an environment where she is viewed as at best, a pawn and at worst, a threat to others’ ambitions. She must decide if she is willing and how much she will sacrifice for the sake of a crown.
Meryl Streep is not just one of the most celebrated actresses of our time but also in the history of film. In my opinion, Stanley Tucci is one of the best actors of our generation. He is reminiscent of the character actors of the great golden age of classic cinema.
Though Streep is a leading lady and Tucci usually fills supporting roles, they both have the talent of utterly inhabiting the characters they play onscreen. Whether silly or serious, they don’t just act, but they become, creating a reality for the viewers which is rare in entertainment.
So, it is surprising that these two legends of the screen have only been paired together twice so far in their long careers. It is even more surprising when you watch them together in their two films, because their onscreen rapport is so natural and genuine. Great talent is necessary to make the characters and the story come alive for an audience. But even the best of talent cannot fake the natural chemistry that must exist between actors to make the onscreen relationship between them credible. Either it is there or it is not. So let us take a look at the films of this power house duo. Continue reading “Duo Double Feature Blogathon -Meryl Streep & Stanley Tucci”
Well, I’m ashamed to say my current TBR list for both physical and digital books now numbers in the hundreds (hanging my head in shame). But never let it be said that I am a timid soul. No! I shall not be intimidated into limiting my TBR list. How can I be when there are so many great titles recently released and soon to release? These are the books I desperately hope to read this fall. Click on titles for links to each book’s Amazon page.
Celia, Jane and Margo have been each other’s only family since their mother’s death and their father’s desertion. Together they run a successful tea shop in the heart of San Francisco. When their landlord dies and their new owner gives them an eviction notice, the sisters are left scrambling to find a new space for both their business and their residence.
Then Celia announces that she and her long term boyfriend Teddy have broken up. She talks Jane and Margo into packing up their life and moving to Austin where they have been offered free temporary housing by a distant relative.
But Austin is a bigger adjustment than anticipated and it creates conflict between Jane and Celia. Jane’s frustrations are somewhat alleviated when she falls for the charming Sean. Then there is Callum Beckett, a former soldier who is dealing with the death of his father and loss of his leg. Callum tries to hide his growing interest in Jane who seems oblivious to his kind and generous nature. Will these sisters and their lives be reconciled? Continue reading “Book Review -Jane of Austin”
Come What May takes place during the early years of World War II. In 1939 a German father and son escape to a little village in Northern France. The father warns his young boy to speak only in French and never in their native tongue as they hide openly in the small village of Pas-de-Calais. Unfortunately, Hans is soon arrested and his son Max is left in the care of the town’s school teacher Suzanne.
Months pass and Paul, the village mayor, receives distressing news about the German army’s advance into France. Gathering up the people of Pas-de-Calais, he convinces them to follow the French government’s earlier recommendation of voluntary evacuation to southern France. Young Max is devastated to leave the last place his father and he were together. Remembering his father’s promise to come back for him, Max leaves a message for his father on the school house chalkboard, telling him where he plans to go.
Meanwhile, the Germans attack the nearby city where Hans has been imprisoned. The jailers release all of the incarcerated and evacuate the city. During his escape, Hans meets Percy, a Scottish army captain who has recently seen his entire company slaughtered. The two men decide to travel together while they seek out Hans’ son.
Cecile is a teenager who lives with her father Raymond, a wealthy playboy. The live a carefree and fairly shallow existence in the clubs and ritzy society of Paris. The two of them are unusually close, attending the same parties and collecting the same friends. But even though she is decades younger than Raymond, Cecile has already lost the pleasure behind such a lifestyle.
Cecile then tells the audience in flashbacks the story behind her current malaise. The previous summer she and her father vacationed on the Riviera with Raymond’s girlfriend du jour, Elsa. Despite the fact that Elsa is Raymond’s love interest, she is also young and immature enough to serve as a friend for Cecile, who finds absolutely nothing wrong with her father’s way of life. Cecile is on the path to becoming exactly like her father, when her deceased mother’s best friend Anne arrives. Though Raymond already has one girlfriend in residence, he sees nothing wrong with an invitation to a woman he has always been interested in pursuing.
Anne arrives and at first is appalled by the insincerity and vapidness which characterize both Cecile and Raymond. But slowly, her influence begins to change both of them for the better. Cecile is at first thrilled to have a woman she can look up to until she realizes what it might cost herself and her father. Her actions soon change the course of their lives. Continue reading “Classic Film Review -Bonjour Tristesse (1958)”
Drew Farthering is fresh off the success of solving the murder of his mother and step-father. During which time he met Madeline the woman of his dreams. Now that the tragedy is behind them, he is attempting to convince his American girlfriend to settle down in England and marry him. Though she loves Drew, she asks for more time to make such an important decision.
Unfortunately circumstances intervene in the arrival of Madeline’s prickly Aunt Ruth. She is determined to drag her niece back to Chicago, away from the man she views as an insincere playboy. And then of course, there is the added interruption of the murder of Drew’s family attorney.
Thanks to Drew’s keen eye and nimble mind, the local police detective invites Drew’s help in solving this latest crime. Drew is unprepared for how involved he will actually become. More murder victims keep appearing with seemingly no apparent connection to each other other than hatpins stuck through notes left on the victim’s chests. Even more disturbing is that these crimes continue to move closer and closer in proximity to Drew’s family home and the village of Farthering St. John. Will this amateur sleuth solve this mystery before the murderer strikes again? Or was his first success just luck? Even more importantly, will Drew be able to win over Madeline’s Aunt Ruth before she talks her niece into leaving England and Drew for good?
Ji Hae-Soo is a compassionate and nurturing psychiatrist who genuinely cares for her patients. But this side of her nature is not nearly as obvious in her personal life. When she meets popular author and DJ Jang Jae-Yeol she takes an immediate dislike to the handsome tease.
When Jae-Yeol temporarily moves in with Hae-Soo and her other housemates, sparks fly between these two opposites. Jae-Yeol is more willing to accept his attraction to the combative Hae-Soo, but she fights it. As they come to know each other better Hae-Soo begins to realize that there is more to Jae-Yeol than meets the eye. Continue reading “Foreign Film Friday -It’s Okay, That’s Love (2014)”
When Mia finally runs out of patience with her cheating husband, she packs her bags and escapes to Paris to stay with her best friend Daisy. As an actress she knows the value of escaping into a good role. So she dyes her hair, changes her appearance and takes up waitressing in Daisy’s restaurant all while bemoaning her bad luck in love.
Paul is an expat American author living in Paris. His initial publication success mingled with his shyness drove him across the sea to hide out in the City of Love. His subsequent novels are only popular in South Korea, so it doesn’t interfere with his introverted lifestyle.
Thanks to an interfering friend, Paul meets Mia in a blind date arrangement neither is aware of. After much confusion, they enter into a strangely defined friendship which helps both of them cope with their lonely and sad personal lives. But although they are drawn to each other, Mia and Paul’s path to a more meaningful relationship is strewn with obstacles, not the least of which is themselves.
“Would I trade places with Tracy Lord for all her wealth and beauty? Oh boy, just ask me.” Liz Embrie
I feel ya, Liz, but appearances can be deceiving. To the outside observer (or tabloid photographer), Tracy’s life is one of ease and privilege. Tracy is fortunate to be part of Philadelphia’s Main Line society. As played by Katharine Hepburn, she is the typical example of the haughty entitled attitudes inherent to the elite. Born into wealth, she wears it with cool sophistication along with her couture wardrobe.
Despite her engagement to “man of the people” George Kitteridge, she has had little contact with the lower classes and their daily challenges. But Tracy is oblivious to her lack of true cultural experience and really believes she is without prejudice.