Our Mutual Friend (BBC, 1998)

I saw this miniseries (based on Dickens’ final novel) a while ago, and was VERY impressed by it!  There is glam, grit, unconventional romances, and many quirky characters.  There are several plots intertwined.

The stand-in for the viewer (or perhaps the author) is level-headed gentleman, Mortimer Lightwood (Dominic Mafham, pictured right).  Though the entire cast is strong, the standout actor is Paul McGann (pictured left w/ mustache).  This is b/c his interpretation of aimless gent Eugene Wrayburn, who falls deeply (and unexpectedly), in love is SO natural.  The voice, snobbery, and swagger show that he has BECOME the character.  Eugene and Mortimer are both barristers and best pals, though Eugene is not interested in furthering his career.  He’s dissatisfied w/ life- searching for some purpose.

Lizzie Hexam (gorgeous Keeley Hawes) is a shy beauty who works w/ her father on the Thames River.  They search the water for dead bodies- YIKES!  She saves up to send her younger brother Charley to a decent school, realizing that the slum is no place for a bright boy like him.  Hawes can convey LOT w/o speaking, as this role demands.

While Eugene starts out carefree, quiet and serious John Harmon (Stephen Mackintosh) has a definite plan when he comes to London from the West Indies.  His dead father left him a fortune; he also had plans for his personal life- an (arranged) marriage.  John says his last name is Rokesmith, takes a job as a humble secretary to Mr. Boffin, who made his fortune from dust heaps.  (Yup, that’s historically true!)  John finds a room to rent from the humble Wilfer family.

Though Bella Wilfer (petite/fiesty Anna Friel) was born poor, she yearns for more.  She doesn’t like the idea of the arranged marriage to a stranger, BUT likes the idea of being rich.  Like Eugene, Bella (a “Daddy’s girl” w/ a sense of entitlement) changes her character over the course of the story.  Friel fits her role VERY well, showing different shades of a young woman in (and out of) high society.

Fans of tall/handsome David Morrissey (recently seen on South Riding) may be surprised to see him cast as a VERY jealous/repressed baddie here.  He plays Bradley Headstone, a teacher at a boys’ boarding school who develops a dangerous obsession.

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Because gals LOVE bags…

This is the bag (Coach SoHo Signature Satchel) that I bought  for my mom for Mother’s Day.  I had some funds from selling a few of my old DVDs (on eBay), so it was a V good deal!  Mom doesn’t worry re: designer brands (usually Nine West stuff suits her), BUT this is a nice everyday bag w/ several pockets and compartments for ALL her stuff, plus a book (b/c she reads a LOT these days). 

Aren’t these colors GREAT!?  I saw a woman on the Metro w/ a similar bag (same cool colors) about 2 months ago and wanted something like it.  I got this purse (used) from a college grad who’s downsizing.  The Coach Blueberry Poppy Spotlight Handbag is patent leather.  The inside is bright yellow w/ pockets for cell phone, iPod, etc.  I esp. like the little pockets in front of this bag.  I hear this is a RARE design, so I’m glad to have found it on eBay.

 Coach Madison Op Art Dot Sophia Bag & Mini Skinny Wallet for is good for nicer occasions.  But the bag looks V elegant and can be used everyday- will go with many outfits.  The interior is a GORGEOUS deep blue!

Two quick reviews

Island in the Sun (1957)

Though this film’s take on interracial romances and politics is dated to modern folks, Island in the Sun was a groundbreaking piece in its day.  It wasn’t shown in the Southern movie houses, of course.  The film (which was a special project of Zanuck’s) is beautiful to look at; it was filmed in Barbados and has an attractive/talented cast (including James Mason, Joan Fonatine, Harry Belafonte, Dorothy Dandridge, Joan Collins, Stephen Boyd).  However, I sense that a LOT of material was left out (or perhaps edited out) to please the censors.  

Mason is a wealthy French planter who wants to run for governor of the British-ruled island; his opponent is Belafonte’s labor organizer (who’s popular w/ the people).  Mason’s family has been on the island for 3 generations, owns a LOT of land, and hires many to work it.  Also, Mason has a jealous streak in him, fearing that his cool/elegant wife may be cheating. 

At a party at the governor’s house, the sophisticated Fontaine is intrigued by the idealistic/well-spoken young Belafonte, who she knew as a humble waiter in her girlhood.  Dandridge, a smoking-hot local who works at a pharmacy (drug store), comes as his date.  (They are old pals, not a couple.)  She catches the eye of a new official on the island, played by John Justin.  Unfortunately, Justin fails to create chemistry w/ Dandridge- a BIG waste!   

Another newbie, played by Ben Hur‘s Stephen Boyd, begins a romance w/ Collins, who plays Mason’s flirty/bored little sis.  She wants to travel, see England, and meet people (as company is limited on the island).  Boyd and Collins are capable in their roles, BUT most of their romantic scenes are TOO timid- another waste!   

There is more going on than what I’ve mentioned, so you MAY want to check it out for yourself.  (It’s a piece of important American film history.)

 

The Ghost Writer (2010)

I HIGHLY recommend this film; it’s like modern-day Hitchcock, directed by Polanski.  After the mysterious death (perhaps suicide) of another writer, a second ghost writer (played by Ewan McGregor) is suddenly chosen to help write the memoirs former British PM, Steven Lang (Pierce Brosnan).  At the urging of his agent, publisher, and company lawyer, he reluctantly travels from London to Nantucket (off season).  He reaches the Lang’s current home, an ultra-modern/super secure compound, after a LONG journey.  

First, he meets Amelia Bly (Kim Cattrall, playing a Brit), Lang’s gorgeous assistant.  She says that the manuscript (which is locked up) can’t leave the compound, much to his suprise. Ruth (Olivia Williams), the brilliant wife of the PM, comes in while he’s reading the draft copy.  He admits to her that the book needs work, but it’s not all bad.  Steven, who prefers to run and play tennis, is anxious about something and distant from his wife.          

This film creates a certain (forboding) mood that is reminiscent of old Hollywood suspense films.  There are NOT many characters of many things going on at once, BUT it’s VERY engaging!  Williams is just a rare gem- a beautiful actress w/ a LOT of  guts, strength, and screen presence.  Brosnan does a FINE job, and McGregor is perfect as the somewhat skeptical/nervous/Everyman character.  It was fun to see Tom Wilkinson playing a snobby American academic.  Eli Wallach makes a brief cameo appearance- at the age of 94!  The main issues in this film are VERY current and controversial, too.