Parade’s End: Misery Loves Company

We open in a fancy room strewn with white flowers and assorted pretty girly things. A maid’s fussing about with a suitcase while her mistress goes to answer a ringing telephone in the bedroom. The mistress answers the phone and, in French, tells the person on the other end to tell the gentleman he’s too late. With that, she hangs up. She’s played by Rebecca Hall, and I have to admit, I’ve never been a big fan of hers. I think that’s more because of the roles she tends to play than her acting ability, though. I spent all of Vicky Christina Barcelona wanting desperately to punch her in the face.

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Top Ten Onscreen Royal Romances

It’s Valentine’s Day, and whether you have plans or expect to stay in, it’s a great opportunity to kick back, pop open some bubbly and a box of chocolates, and indulge in a few good old-fashioned romances. Everyone loves a good love story, and if it comes with tiaras, so much the better, so it’s no wonder royal romances have shown up onscreen in dozens … Continue reading Top Ten Onscreen Royal Romances

John Adams: Unnecessary War

Previously on John Adams: John discovered that the role of vice president is pointless and thankless, but luckily he’s rescued from it by being elected president.

John’s strolling down the streets of Philadelphia with Jefferson, telling his VP that the French have started capturing American ships, and even tortured the captain of one. Jefferson essentially tells him that this is all John’s fault, because of that treaty with England. John doesn’t even address that. He’s worried about being drawn into a war with their former ally or with England, when America’s still establishing itself. He wants to send Jefferson to France to see what he can do. Jefferson mildly says there are some who’ll say he’s just trying to remove his chief rival to the presidency. And by “some” I think he means “me.” Jefferson refuses to go to France. Clearly, politicians were putting their own careers ahead of the best interests of the country from its very founding. How sad.

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John Adams: Unite or Die

Previously on John Adams: John and Abigail reunited and spent a few years in Europe, then returned home to find their oldest son in a relationship they don’t approve of and their second son well on his way to having a drinking problem. And then John got elected Vice President.

John is with the congress, trying to decide how Washington will be addressed. He thinks just calling him ‘president’ isn’t impressive enough. The congress is impatient but John won’t yield the floor. He proposes several methods of addressing Washington, almost all of them royalty related, aside from the last, “his excellency, the supreme commander in chief.” One of the congressmen (actually, I guess they’re senators and John’s acting in his capacity as president of the senate) reminds John that their constitution explicitly forbids the granting of titles of nobility. John says this is no such thing, it’s just a title that goes along with an elected position. They call for a vote, and only one guy is in favor of the president being referred to as “his highness.” Motion failed. One of the senators rudely pokes fun at John as they get up to leave and he just looks frustrated and defeated. Vice president is such a thankless job, isn’t it?

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Pillars of the Earth: A New Beginning, The Work of Angels

So, we’ve come to it. And by “it,” I mean the two hour finale. Judging from how long the previous recaps have taken to write up, I don’t anticipate getting to bed before 4 a.m. Thanks, Starz!

Previously on Pillars of the Earth: Well, a lot happened. You might be better off just reading the recaps, but essentially, Kingsbridge wanted to build a cathedral, Bishop Waleran and the Hamleighs caused a lot of trouble, and Aliena and Jack fell in love. Oh, and there was a civil war.

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Dangerous Beauty

Venice is a city built on the spice trade; its fantastical buildings pay homage to the eastern lands that provided the goods that made Venice rich and powerful. As such, it’s always had a certain exotic feeling to it. The buildings are very different from the ones you tend to find elsewhere in Italy, and the feel of the city is different from, say, Florence or Rome. There’s an aura of mystery to Venice, as well as excitement, and romance. When you think of Venice, you think of water, singing gondoliers, and a bacchanalian Carnivale. It’s a place you go to to have fun, or to woo someone.

But for all its association with pleasure, there’s a dark edge to Venice. The city itself is something of an illusion—it’s impermanent, built on wood pilings, and it’s sinking (or not, depending on whom you ask). It’s almost as if it wasn’t really meant to last. The brackish water encroaches on the city, sometimes submerging it entirely, and brings in a dank, moldering smell. The waterways and narrow sidewalks twist and turn bewilderingly. It’s very easy to lose your way. This is an important thing to remember when watching this particular movie.

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Pillars of the Earth: Witchcraft

Previously on Pillars of the Earth: Jack and Alfred ogled Aliena before beating the crap out of each other, which led to Tom firing Jack for not being a blood relative. William takes obsessive assholishness to a new level by burning Kingsbridge’s Fleece fair, killing Tom, and sending Aliena’s entire year’s profit up in flames.

Kingsbridge’s cemetery has several new occupants, and it’s about to get another one: Tom Builder. His shrouded body is accompanied by all the monks, Ellen, Aliena, Alfred, a sobbing Martha, and a number of townspeople. Philip says prayers over the body before paying a moving tribute to Tom, his friend, and the reason the cathedral exists. As he finishes, Richard rides into the still smoldering ruins, looking bewildered.

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