Tuesday, January 10

On second thought...

It's no secret that I am a sucker for a good period piece.  I own pretty much every version of every Jane Austen film as well as some Bronte (some day I'll have to do a comparison of my beloved Rochesters).  They are my go to sources of comfort during difficult times.  It therefore came as a surprise when I didn't immediately fall for Downton Abbey as so many others in this country, and overseas, did.  What was my problem?  Well, I was genuinely upset by the pickle a certain Mr. Bates found himself in episode one.  It really bothered me so I just didn't continue watching.  Eventually the unavoidable attention Season Two brought with it got to me.  I finally succumbed and watched the first season a few weeks ago and... loved it.  I still worry about Mr. Bates and hate those two scheming servants and I'm still not so sure I like that Mary but I sure do love that crazy household.  Season two is shaping up to be just as much fun.

Over Christmas vacation I watched the Forsyte Saga.  This is one that my Mom watches pretty much every time it's on.  I had seen parts of it and decided to finally watch the whole thing.  My verdict?  It's another excellent period piece full of fraught, longing and a dreadful villain.  The only downside is that it made me hate Damien Lewis who I fell in love with as  Dick Winters in Band of Brothers.  Don't even get me started on my love of that mini-series! 

Yesterday I came down with an awful stomach bug.  Between sleeping and, eh hem, "breaks", I decided to give another overlooked Masterpiece Classic a second chance.  A year or two ago I tried watching Any Human Heart.  Like Downton it originally didn't grab me.  Again. that was an unfortunate mistake on my part.  I started watching it yesterday and it too turned out to be remarkably good.  I happen to love the main character, Logan Mountstuart, and his fascinating life and loves.  He rubs elbows with the likes of Hemingway and the Duke of Windsor (and that nasty Mrs. Simpson).   I really love the overriding theme that, when it comes down to it, life is luck and nothing more.   The story is told as an older Logan looks back on his life and the many people he has been during his lifetime.  I like and agree with the idea that a person changes several times during a lifetime and becomes many different people during that time.  Any Human Heart stars Matthew Macfadyen (Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice.  You'd think that alone would have kept my attention.)  and James Broadbent and is well worth a watch.  Again, I don't know what I was thinking when I skipped over this one.  It's one of the best Masterpiece Classics to air in a long time. 

So, now that I am reminded of my love of period dramas, what do I have to look forward to in the coming year?  Well, there is the second season of the Upstairs, Downstairs remake airing on PBS later this year.  I became obsessed with the original series a few years back.  I didn't watch it in it's entirety but found it downright shocking for it's time.  I know my parents and many of their friends watched it back in the day a loved every minute of it.  The first season of three episodes aired last year but I somehow missed them.  Given my trend of going back to watch great Masterpiece Classics it looks like I'll have to go back and give those a go as well. 

In other happy news, Joe Wright, Director of Pride & Prejudice, is currently filming Anna Karenina.  I was all set to hate Macfadyen as Darcy in P&P but the casting, set design, and ultimately Macfadyen walking through the moors at dawn won me over.  Needless to say, I have high hopes for Wright's spin on Anna Karenina.   God knows I HATED the book but I do like the story.  Have you read it?  God damned Tolstoy really knows how to trip over his own feet and ruin a good story.  He spends hundreds of pages on mundane farming life then drops in a few words about Anna being knocked up then goes back to farming again.  He goes on lengthy political tangents and... BO-RING!  The book is fraught with infuriatingly bad pacing.  I don't know how anyone can stand to suffer through it.  I trust Mr. Wright will manage to correct the tremendous pacing problems of the book.  Oh!  Best of all, Jude Law is finally a cuckold, if only on film, so that's bound to be a good time.

There is also a new Les Miserables starring Hugh Jackman (wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!) to look forward to.  Meanwhile, Leo DeCaprio and Carey Mulligan will star in a new Great Gatsby. I look forward to both.

I'm sure there will be other nice surprises in the coming year that I'm just not aware of just yet.  I keep an eye on all of my favorite period piece heroes to see what they are up to.  You know how those British actors tend to always come back to period pieces.  It's just one more reason to love them all.  Michael Fassbender as Rochester anyone?  Yes, please!