Foreign Film Review -For a Woman (2013)

SUMMARY

For a Woman is a recent French film which explores the dynamics of marriage, family and even politics. It begins as two sisters, Tania and Anne, go through their mother’s effects after her passing. This leads Anne into a further search into her parent’s history. The film then moves into the past and the main story line surrounding their parents Michel and Léna.

Michel and Léna are Russian Jews. They have managed to survive WWII and escape from the horrors of the concentration camp. Michel falls in love with Léna at first sight. But their decision to marry is more one of gratitude and necessity for her. They migrate to the French city of Lyon where they apply for citizenship, start a family and open a men’s clothing shop.

Their life is a contented one with Léna absorbed in raising their daughter and Michel joining a small group of Communists. Everything changes with the arrival of Jean, the man who claims to be Michel’s younger brother. Because Jean is Michel’s only remaining family, he is welcomed into their home. Though Jean and Michel reminisce about their childhood, Jean is less forthcoming with his role in the war and his current secretive activities.

As Jean’s stay with them drags on tensions mount and rise to the surface. Michel begins to question his brother’s political beliefs and purpose in France. Léna wrestles with her growing attraction to her brother-in-law and her increasing discontent with her life. When Jean’s undercover life finally catches up with him, it puts the whole family in danger.

For the full review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

Film Review -The Phantom of the Opera (2004)

I vividly remember my first exposure to The Phantom of the Opera. My family was in New York and my father took us all to see the show on Broadway. We also watched the equally famous Les Miserable that same trip. But as much as I loved the message, it was not Les Miserable which stuck with me. For weeks, I was haunted by the story of the Phantom. The music replayed continuously in my mind and I couldn’t let go of all the questions that the stage production left open ended. Most importantly, what happened to the Phantom?!

Based on the French novel by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera has been adapted many times. But it is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage and film musical which is arguably the most familiar to audiences.

The Phantom of the Opera Summary

In Webber’s version, the orphaned Christine Daae has been raised in a Parisian opera house where she also works as a dancer. But she has secretly been taking voice lessons from a tutor she only knows as the Angel of Music. When an accident occurs during rehearsal Carlotta, the resident soprano, refuses to sing for opening night. This serves as Christine’s big break. She is a big success. This also brings her to the attention of the new patron of the opera house and her former childhood sweetheart, Raoul the Vicomte de Chagny.

Her public success and meeting with the Vicomte motivate her mysterious tutor to finally reveal himself to her as the Phantom of the Opera. He is not the ghost that the company thinks he is, but a highly disfigured man (both physically and emotionally) who lives beneath the opera house. But in spite of his kindness to Christine the Phantom is a man to be feared. He will stop at nothing both to dictate the management of the opera house itself and to possess the lovely and innocent Christine.

For my full summary and review, please head over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

Classic Film Review -The Philadelphia Story (1940)

I am delighted to be able to introduce you to one of my very favorite films, The Philadelphia Story.

The Philadelphia Story Summary

Tracy Samantha Lord (Katharine Hepburn) is a Philadelphia socialite who is preparing to wed for the second time. Unfortunately for her, the editor of a popular tabloid magazine has bribed his reporter and photographer as well as Tracy’s ex-husband into providing coverage of the wedding. His bargaining chip is incriminating evidence he holds against Tracy’s philandering father. So, in spite of her wish for a quiet, private wedding she agrees to this invasion of her special event.

Her path to matrimony is unexpectedly complicated by her attraction to the male reporter Macauley “Mike” Connor (James Stewart). The arrival of her ex doesn’t make things any easier. She and CK Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) had fallen deeply in love years ago, but were driven apart by her excessively high standards and his affinity for alcohol. But now Dexter has returned to a warm welcome from Tracy’s family.  He uses his relationship to her family to constantly remind her how unsuitable her new fiancé is for her.

To add to the confusion, Liz, the female photographer is in love with Mike. It’s a love quadrangle folks! Or is it a love pentagon, it’s hard to keep track of who wants who in the few crazy days leading up to the wedding.

To read my full summary and review, please head over to The Silver Petticoat Review.   

And please check out my character spotlight of Tracy Lord.

Foreign Film Friday -Ekaterina (2014-)

History is rich with people whose lives contain enough drama and significant events to still fascinate today. In recent years,  TV & Film focused particularly on female rulers who acted as heads of state in times where women were considered inferior and subservient to men. These women proved the lie of such notions by being crafty, intelligent and strong leaders. Catherine the Great of Russia is one such woman who stands out in history. Several films and television series featured her rise to power and her subsequent reign during a period when Russia was a powerful player in international affairs. However, Ekaterina is one of the few if not only onscreen productions which is not only filmed in Russia but produced exclusively by Russians for Russian television.

SUMMARY

Catherine is a German-born princess whose parents have little financial means but important connections. She is chosen as a potential bride for the Grand Duke of Russia as a pawn in a game of international intrigue. She is naïve enough to believe that she and Peter can develop a marriage based on love and respect. But Peter, whose life has been controlled by his aunt, the Empress Elizabeth, refuses her overtures as a means of rebellion against the arranged marriage.

From her arrival at the Russian court of St. Petersburg, Catherine’s life is manipulated and controlled by those with greater power and influence. She learns to keep her mouth shut and her ears open as she maneuvers through the treacherous waters of the royal court. Over the course of fifteen years, and through her many losses, Ekaterina has her innocence and illusion shattered while she learns the art of diplomacy and the cost of being the wife to the heir apparent of the Russian throne.

To read the rest of my review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

Television Mini-Series Review -Young Catherine (1991)

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.

To read my review of this series, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

 

Foreign Film Friday -Come What May (2015)

SUMMARY

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.

To read my review of this film, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

Film Review -The Making of a Lady (2012)

Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote stories familiar and beloved to many, including Little Lord Fauntleroy, A Little Princess and The Secret Garden. All of these have been adapted for the screen. Not nearly as many are familiar with Burnett’s novel The Making of a Marchioness and its’ sequel The Methods of Lady Walderhurst. The former was adapted as a television film by ITV under the name The Making of a Lady.

SUMMARY

The Making of a Lady stars Lydia Wilson as the impoverished but genteel Emily Fox-Seton. Orphaned at a young age, she has been forced to make her own way in the world. Gifted an education by her relatives, her options remain few. She has a difficult time maintaining steady employment to pay her rooming fare at a run-down but respectable boarding house. After being let go from her temporary job as a secretary to Lady Maria Byrne, she receives an unexpected offer from the Lady’s nephew, Lord Walderhurst.

In need of an heir, the older Marquess proposes a marriage of convenience. With very few options and despite wanting to marry for love, Emily accepts his proposal. Walderhurst soon introduces her as the mistress of his country home, where she is met by a less than hospitable staff.

Just as Emily and Walderhurst begin to grow closer, he decides to re-enlist in his old regiment and return to India. He instructs his dour but trusted butler, Mr Litton to look out for his new wife.

Shortly after his departure, Walderhurst’s cousin Alec Osborne and his Indian born wife Hester arrive with a letter from the Marquess requesting they also keep keep an eye on Emily. Despite prior inferences from both her husband and Lady Byrne about Alec’s character, Emily is thrilled to have some pleasant, young relatives around to keep her company and moves them into the house. But strange things begin occurring and Alec’s behavior becomes erratic. Is he a threat or is Emily imagining things?

To read my full review, please head over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

Film Review -Tommy’s Honour (2016)

History is a treasure trove full of inspirational stories of real life people and I love seeing these stories brought to wider attention on the screen.

SUMMARY

Tommy’ s Honour is the tale of the father and son who are considered the founders of modern golf and is based on a book by Kevin Cook. Old Tom Morris’ is a champion golfer whose glory days are passing but he’s still well respected as the greens keeper and professional at St. Andrews. He and his son Tommy Jr. act as caddies to the local gentlemen golfers of the St. Andrews club while also running their shop selling golf equipment.

As a teenager, Tommy soon begins to surpass his father’s fame with his own advanced skills earning him respect. This leads to Tommy being chosen in place of his father in challenger games. These games are set up by the titled and wealthy who put up the money to stake the game, betting their Sugarhouse Promo Code on a player against a challenger from another course. The winner receives whatever profits the organizers decide to share with him.

Of course, Tommy wins many of these matches and then begins winning professional golf tournaments. But Tommy’s modern ideas both in how to play the game and also his belief in his own equality with the upper class who sponsor him, clash with his father’s more traditional views. And when he falls in love with an older woman with a tainted past, he alienates his mother.

To read my full review of this underrated film, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

Book Review -The Bridge

SUMMARY

In The Bridge when Meredith Sullivan wins the Beckett Scholarship and is finally able to fulfill her dream of studying in Paris, she is thrilled. But she is less thrilled to discover her class nemesis Pete Russell has also won a place and will be around to torment her all year. She is also sad to leave behind her best friend and secret crush Drew Sutton.

Pete is not content with their status quo. He quickly begins to challenge Meredith’s perceptions of him as they discover Paris together. Slowly Sully (as Pete calls her) realizes she may have misjudged this guy who shares her love for the City of Light.

But just as she begins to consider something more than friendship, Drew finally confesses his feelings for her. Now she is torn between the man she has always wanted and the one who seems to understand her better than anyone else.

You’ve read the summary, now read my review over at The Silver Petticoat.

Television Series -Father Brown (2013 -)

Loosely based on the book series written by G.K. Chesterton, this newest television reincarnation updates the setting to the village of Kembleford in the Cotswolds district during the 1950’s. One of the few thing that remains true to the books is the character of Father Brown himself.

SUMMARY

The Father is a rather unassuming character with a keenly intuitive mind. Although he is dedicated to his religious calling, he can’t help but be snagged by his sharp attention to detail along with his exceptional insights into human nature. This compels him into a secondary vocation as a self-appointed investigator whenever a crime, usually a murder, is committed in Kembleford.

In some ways, he resembles his counterpart Sydney Chambers in another period mystery series, Grantchester. Both Sydney and the Father feel a loving responsibility to those in their parish, while their curious minds and sharp observations compel them to solve the deviant actions of human nature. However, unlike Sydney, Father Brown is no friend of the local police investigator(s) who find his meddling outside of the church as a nuisance and potential threat. And while Sydney tends to use deductive reasoning, Father Brown usually discovers his perpetrators through intuition.

He is possibly the least judgmental character I have seen on the small screen, while still encouraging parishioners and criminals alike to live according to religious principles. And although he is always invested in finding the perpetrator of crime, it is not so that he can bring them to justice, but so that he can urge them to make it right themselves.

For the rest of my review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.