Tag Archives: Imelda Staunton

REVIEW: “DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA (2022) Focus Features

“Why would anyone want the actors to talk I would have thought silence would be a blessing.” Dowager Countess of Grantham

There is one thing you can always count on when visiting Downton Abbey – it’s a busy place. People hustling and bustling around, from the Crawley family themselves, to all the downstairs employees who are a family unto their own.

But as all things do – time goes on and things change. Hence we find ourselves with “DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA” and boy what an era this turns out to be for all at Downtown. So much is changing in the world and this new Downtown Era transfers beautifully to the film screen, mostly because it has a new vision and a new director in Michael Engler. The original cast whom we’ve all come to know and love is mostly back with Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith), as always leading the way and as is tradition, she gets most of the best lines. The Granthams’ Robert (Hugh Bonneville), and Cora (Elizabeth McGovern), as well as daughters Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), and sister Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael), are back as well with their families, though notably missing is Henry Talbot whose is away racing cars. This doesn’t bode well with Mary as she feels this takes precedence in his life and this might lead to a ‘wandering eye’ here or there. Though front and center is Tom (Allan Leech), who opens the film with his marriage being celebrated by all to Lucy (Tuppence Middleton).

The family and titles might be a bit hard to keep up with, but fans of the series have no problems remembering them all, For new fans, this film really has done a superb job in opening up the plot and the setting in this film in a truly new era.

The are two revolving plot lines in a New Era, one brings us the future, but the other brings us to the past. More specifically, the Dowager Countess’ past. But as half the household vacates Downton leaving Lady Mary behind to manage things at home. The rest of the family including Mr. Carson (Jim Carter), vacate to a beautiful seaside villa in the South of France that Lady Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham has mysteriously inherited from a Count that she met many many years ago. The Villa and the scenery surrounding the mystery is of course beautiful, but it also opens up the story to some very emotional family disclosures, and I will leave it there as the Countess herself notes: “I will say goodnight… and leave you to discuss my mysterious past.” And to tell you more would spoil it all.

On our other story set within the film, we watch as Downton Abbey moves to 1929 and with it, brings in not just the jazz age, but the movies itself within its doors. Movie lovers will remember that 1929, also heralded the end of the Silent movie era and talkies were taking over and the movie industry itself was being revolutionized with this. They manage to fit a lot in here with this theme as Jack Barber (Hugh Dancy), comes to town as a director wanting to make a movie using Downton as his location, also something that is changing – shooting from the backlots of studios to actual location shoots. Since Downton has fallen into some disrepair, the large location fee is most welcome – as is some of the movies cast, bringing in two famous silent films stars Guy Dexter (Dominic West) and Myrna Dalgleish (Laura Haddock), much to the enthrallment of Daisy (Sophie McShera) and Anna (Joanna Froggat).

The music score in this movie by John Lunn with the Downton theme that is so familiar to it’s audience, is effective in this movie and perfectly suits the family dynamics emotional side. As well, the wonderful soundtrack additions of the Jazz Age and songs of the era to round it all out. This film manages to have strong female characters and not only that but it’s also the perfect example on how to include gay characters without it feeling forced. Add in a certain amount of hi-jinx all around, and you’ve got yourself the follow-up movie we all needed.

The two stories are quite beautifully woven together and with so much of the original cast present, along with some wonderful new additions- this one works well in updating the story if this family we never seem to tire of.

Grade: B

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Review Screening: Friday, May 13, 2022 ~ Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

“DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA” FROM FOCUS FEATURES IS NOW IN THEATERS

REVIEW: “PADDINGTON 2” (2018) Warner Bros.

Growing up, we didn’t have the adorable Paddington Bear as he was mostly a British ‘bear’. It was only later that I was made aware of his wonderful adventures. So I was hugely surprised at just how good the first film was and was tentatively cautious when this sequel was green-lighted that perhaps it might cheapen Michael Bond’s beloved family friendly creation.

However, fear not, for this sequel is absolutely terrific on all levels. Firstly it is as funny and witty and as brilliantly animated as the first film. The excellent cast from the first film is also enhanced by a superb turn from Hugh Grant as Phoenix Buchanan. Grant, who hasn’t been as good as he is here in a long time, is even nominated for a BAFTA for his role here as the villian, and rightfully so I say. In fact it is quite clear to the viewer that Grant is thoroughly enjoying himself by playing against type and sending himself up as a faded egotistical actor and total cad who sets Paddington up to be the fall guy (or should that be Bear? 🙂 ) for a dastardly deed. There is a touch of the pantomime villain to his performance, but it works splendidly and it fits his character perfectly.

All the wit and heart of the first film is still evident here and in some ways, built upon. Brendan Gleeson is superb as the ‘nasty’ Knuckles, an old lag and prison cook who loses his angry nature when he succumbs to Paddington’s charms and talents in the kitchen who warms up to Paddington quickly..maybe too quickly. The whole film shows and plays scenes as a child might imagine things to be – for example how the prison works and especially the lovely idea that the warden reads the inmates a bedtime story to help them all get to sleep. There are also loads of great jokes too, some pitched at younger children and some deliberately aimed at the more adult viewer. I took a 4 1/2 yr old and she definitely laughed at different parts than the adults at the screening did and there was a good 10-15 lag time where I was glad they had so nicely given us an adorable Paddington Bear backpack with our own Paddington Beach & storytime book as she started to look through that. It is a bit lengthy of a film for children at 1 hour 45min run time.

All in all this is a worthy sequel and a great memorial to Paddingtons creator, Michael Bond, who sadly passed while this sequel was still being filmed. It is full of laughs, thrills, action sequences, great characters, some wonderful animation and you would have to have a hard heart indeed to not burst into a smile at the end. Also, don’t leave the film before the credits start to roll and you will surely miss Hugh Grant gloriously send himself up with a musical song and dance act as the end credits roll.

Thoroughly recommended to anybody who wants to see film of family friendly fun that isn’t either sickly sweet or too dark for youngsters and still thoroughly watchable to adults too. Great fun and a worthy sequel to the first Paddington.

Grade: B
@pegsatthemovies

Media Review Screening: Wednesday, January 10, 2017 ~ Courtesy of Warner Bros.
PADDINGTON 2 IS NOW PLAYING IN THEATRES WORLDWIDE