The Tudors: The Horse is Symbolic! Get it?

Previously on The Tudors: Henry married and got rid of a lot of women, had three kids, changed England’s religion (kind of), and got old. Bishop Gardiner tried to nail Queen Katherine for heresy, and Henry had Surrey tried and found guilty of treason.

Hey, Natalie Dormer, Maria Doyle Kennedy, and Annabelle Wallis are back in the opening credits! Welcome back, dead wives! I guess we’re pretending Katherine Howard didn’t exist.

Continue reading “The Tudors: The Horse is Symbolic! Get it?”

Gosford Park: Murder, Mayhem, and Manors

It’s a new year, which means that Masterpiece Classic is kicking off a new season of costume porn. This year, they’re getting the ball rolling with Downton Abbey. A recap of the first part of DA will be up later this week, but until that goes live, you can fill the void with Gosford Park, a movie that has quite a lot in common with DA, including a) a screenwriter (Julian Fellowes), b) similar house-themed titles, c) upstairs/downstairs-style storylines, and d) a star (Maggie Smith, who appears to basically play the same character in both GP and DA). From the sound of it, DA even has a murder mystery subplot, which I’m guessing will end up being somewhat superfluous to the actual story, just as it was in GP, but I may be wrong about that.

Normally, I’d be annoyed by two stories that are so similar, but in this case I’m fine with it because I have a particular soft spot for GP. There’s something incredibly addictive about this movie, for me. Maybe it’s the fact that I notice something new every time I watch it, because there’s so much going on in the ensemble cast, so I never get tired of watching this. And speaking of that cast, it’s fun to watch GP because it’s a veritable parade of familiar faces and “hey, look who it is!” moments. Margaret Schroeder’s Professor McGonagall’s lady’s maid! And McGonagall’s Harry Potter’s mom’s aunt! Queen Elizabeth (I and II!) is the housekeeper! And this whole thing was written by the Duke of Richmond! It kind of proves my mother’s theory that there are only about 30 British actors out there who regularly get work, so you see them all the time. Because of this movie, Love Actually, and the Harry Potter films, you can connect pretty much every single one of those actors to any other in a crazy British version of “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon”. And you’d probably only need two or three degrees to do it.

Continue reading “Gosford Park: Murder, Mayhem, and Manors”

The Tudors: All or Nothing

Previously on The Tudors: Anne found herself pregnant again and offered Henry her own cousin as a girlfriend. More was thrown in jail for refusing to acknowledge Henry as head of the church.

Henry’s reading and wearing what appears to be pirate fashion by Errol Flynn when Cromwell enters and announces Cranmer. Cranmer comes in and informs Henry that they’ve had a lot of success in convincing people to accept Anne as queen and Henry as head of the church, probably because they were threatened with death and dismemberment if they didn’t agree. He doesn’t say that last part, but you know it’s true. Fisher and More are still holdouts, but Cranmer and Cromwell think they can get them to at least agree to some of it. Henry won’t hear it—the guys need to accept all or nothing. Cranmer bows and withdraws, and Cromwell takes the opportunity to try to hand over a letter from Dame Alice, More’s wife, who begs for leniency in view of her husband’s many years of service. Henry doesn’t care, of course, and rants that More, after promising to live a quiet life, continued to write about the king’s divorce and even visited Katherine. The horror!

Continue reading “The Tudors: All or Nothing”

The Tudors: Mr. Softie

Previously on the Tudors: Henry ditched Catholicism, had his marriage to Katherine annulled, and married Anne and crowned her queen just before she gave birth to little baby Elizabeth.

Speaking of little Lizzy, she’s being christened by Cranmer, with Mary Boleyn standing by, smiling proudly at her little niece. She takes the wailing baby, who’s probably pissed because she’s completely naked and those churches were cold. The baby’s wrapped up again and paraded past Anne’s ladies and the gathered courtiers before being carried back to her mother’s room, where Anne’s sitting up in bed, ready to take her. The courtiers bow to her and her royal offspring and Anne tenderly kisses the baby’s forehead.

Continue reading “The Tudors: Mr. Softie”

The Tudors: First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage…

Previously on The Tudors: The clergy acknowledged Henry as head of the church; More resigned as chancellor as a result. The world’s most inept assassin kept trying and failing to kill Anne Boleyn, at the behest of the pope and the emperor. Anne and Henry travel to France and have sex, presumably getting Anne pregnant.

Things start off rough in a courtyard where chickens, assorted livestock, and rude minor nobility mill about. Two men in black velvet, named as the Savilles, start talking shit to a man they call Pennington, who’s quick to correct that that’s Sir William Pennington, to them. Pennington asks after their master, Boleyn, and that’s Lord Rochford to you, Pennington. The Saville who speaks asks after Pennington’s master, Brandon. Saville asks if Brandon continues to spread vicious rumors about Anne at court, and if he does, he must be completely suicidal. Just how long does Charles expect Henry’s patience to last? He’s already banished him from court once for that. Pennington stupidly says that Brandon doesn’t want anything to do with the elevation of “the king’s whore” and the two Savilles draw their swords at the insult. Pennington draws his own sword and they all start tussling. Man, the Savilles suck. It’s two against one in their favor and Pennington still manages to kick their asses and escape, but not before trashing what looks like a random marketplace set u pin the courtyard. As he flees into the palace, some random guy hilariously yells after him that he’d better pay up for the damage.

Continue reading “The Tudors: First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage…”

The Tudors: Paris, Je T’Aime

Previously on The Tudors: Henry was named Head of the Church of England and kicked Katherine out of the palace. The pope essentially put out a hit on Anne which looks like it might actually be going forward. More and Bishop Fisher were nearly poisoned to death, at Boleyn’s order.

The camera pushes in on a man playing cards. We don’t see his face. He sets out a queen marked with an A and slashes it in half. Subtle, faceless guy.

In parliament, Fisher is urging his fellow clergymen not to give in and answer to any earthly power, because their power has been ordained by God. He adds that the clergy should be free from the threat of assassination as they uphold the sanctity of the church. Boleyn, George, and Cromwell all look uncomfortable, in their places out in the audience. Boleyn mutters to his son that Henry can’t continue to allow this sort of seditious talk.

Continue reading “The Tudors: Paris, Je T’Aime”

The Tudors: Boiling Point

Previously on The Tudors: All of season one. Henry partied, made and broke treaties all over Europe, and freaked out about not having a son to succeed him. So, he told his right-hand man Wolsey to magically bring about a divorce between Henry and his wife Katherine, so Henry could marry Anne Boleyn. Wolsey failed, was arrested, and committed suicide in one of the most affecting scenes of the entire season. Henry took the news hard, but nonetheless pushed forward with his plan to make himself pope in England, essentially, by forcing through some major religious reforms. This is not going to sit well at all with his heretic-burning chancellor and mentor, Thomas More.

Looks like we’ve got some new shots in the credits (mostly of Anne Boleyn being crowned) and a couple of new cast members, including Peter O’Toole and the rather unpleasant Hans Matheson. This should be fun.

Season two starts in 1532, in the cavernous royal chapel, which is dark, despite the many candles lit. Henry and Anne are kneeling at the altar, receiving communion. Alone in their private chapels, Katherine and More pray.

Continue reading “The Tudors: Boiling Point”

The Tudors: Baby, Light My Fire

Previously on The Tudors: Henry failed to get his divorce and blamed it on Wolsey, who found himself kicked out of office and arrested. More took his old job, reluctantly. Anne started to convert Henry.

Well, we might as well just get right to it. We open on Henry masturbating, while leaning on a servant and fantasizing about Anne sewing. That is so utterly not something I needed to see. And also, I hope the guy playing that poor servant fired his agent, because that is the worst few seconds of screentime ever.

Calmer now (and fully dressed), Henry enters his council chamber to meet with the council. He rails about Wolsey’s doings, without actually naming him, and names Norfolk President of the Council, along with Brandon, who smirks a little at the announcement. Norfolk takes that with surprising grace. Henry tells everyone they’ll reconvene soon to discuss the divorce.

Continue reading “The Tudors: Baby, Light My Fire”

The Tudors: Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall

Previously on the Tudors: The long, hard fall of Cardinal Wolsey began in earnest.

We open at Blackfriars Church, where Wolsey is continuing the trial without Katherine, trying to determine whether or not she and Prince Arthur ever consummated the marriage. He calls up his first witness, Sir Anthony Willoughby, who was part of the prince’s entourage on his wedding night. Apparently, the morning after, Arthur asked Willoughby to bring him some ale and mentioned that the night before, he was in the midst of Spain. The audience finds this hilarious; Henry, less so. Willoughby also mentions that Arthur told his friends that it was a good pastime to have a wife. Wolsey says he’s pretty sure they have the bloodstained sheets to corroborate Willoughby’s story. Excuse me? First of all, who would keep those? For decades? Second, if they did exist, wouldn’t they have caused some problems with the original dispensation, since they’d indicate the marriage had been consummated? And finally, who could prove they weren’t just a random set of sheets with blood on them? It’s not like they had DNA testing back then.

Continue reading “The Tudors: Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall”

The Tudors: The Beginning of the End

Previously on The Tudors: The Sweating Sickness kicked England’s ass. Wolsey and Anne survived; Compton and others weren’t quite so lucky.

An artist is looking through a magnifying glass at Henry and Katherine, who appear to be sitting for a miniature. Henry, what did I say about the mixed messages?

Meanwhile, Wolsey’s in his study when a servant enters and announces Cardinal Campeggio, the pope’s representative in the divorce case. Campeggio enters slowly, using a cane and leaning on an assistant. Wolsey greets him with a hug and calls him Lorenzo, so clearly they’ve been friends for a while. Campeggio apologizes for his immobility—he has gout, apparently. The two cardinals sit down near the fire and Wolsey tells Campeggio that Henry wants the court to be set up to try the case as soon as possible. Campeggio understands, but he reminds Wolsey that his decision will be final, there’ll be no appeals here. He reveals that the pope wants to keep Henry happy, but it’ll be best to persuade Henry to give up this case. Wolsey rather impatiently tells Campeggio that if Henry doesn’t get his way, the church will lose England altogether.

Continue reading “The Tudors: The Beginning of the End”