Movies

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The Forsyte Saga (2002-2003)

This period drama has everything a miniseries-loving anglophile could want: strong acting and great costumes plus a rich cast of characters suffering from a variety of character flaws including arrogance, silliness, cluelessness, greed and snobbery.  Very high class soap opera!

Drive (2011)

What do get when you combine the pace of Eraserhead with violence that would make Quentin Tarantino cover his eyes:  Drive.  Ryan Gosling transmits his performance with as few words as possible.  When asked what he does, he says, "I drive". He's a mechanic who does a little stunt driving for the movies and a little getaway driving for criminals on the side.  His life gets much more complicated when a comely neighbor moves into his apartment building and his effort to help her goes violently astray.

Sense and Sensibility (2008)

This is the best film adaptation of Jane Austen's 1811 novel, in my opinion.  Because it is 170+ minutes long, the three-part series has plenty of time to tell the story of sisters Elinor (the one with sense) and Marianne (the one with sensibility) and their romantic trials and tribulations.

George Gently (2007-2011)

Another entertaining British crime series, this one set in Northumberland in 1964.  George Gently is the detective inspector, lately from a bigger-time city career, and John Bacchus is his arrogant, ambitious and inexperienced sergeant. The series takes place during a period of changing social attitudes and values, and the story lines incorporate themes like racism, women's liberation, homophobia and child sexual abuse. Based on the Inspector Gently novels by Alan Hunter (he published nearly one per year from 1955 to 1998!).

Treme (Season 1, 2010)

Watch a motley collection of New Orleans residents try to pick up the pieces of their post-Katrina lives in this HBO drama that begins three months after disaster hit.  It's worth watching for the music alone (check out the soundtrack on CD), but you will also be drawn into the stories of the people and the unique culture of the city.

Sword of Honour (2006)

This two-part WWII drama based on a trilogy by Evelyn Waugh is sort of like a British "Catch-22" in the way it satirizes military culture during wartime.   Englishman Guy Crouchback joins up out of idealism and a sense of honor, both largely shattered by the end of his war, which takes him to France, Scotland, Crete, Egypt, Croatia and Italy. Stay with the story through part two, when it becomes especially engaging and moving.

Trollhunter (2011)

Filmed in a style similar to The Blair Witch Project, this movie claims to be the found footage of several student filmmakers who had set out to make a movie about bear hunters and ended up making a movie about a secret their country has been keeping from the public. Troll hunter Hans is bitter about the lack of recognition he gets for putting himself in such danger and allows the students to follow him.

Holiday Inn (1942)

Two song and dance men: one (Fred Astaire) loves being in the business, the other (Bing Crosby) is ready to chuck it all in.  Bing decides to buy a picturesque farm in Connecticut.  He soon finds out he's not the farming type.  Instead, he'll open an inn and offer singing, dancing and dining, only on the holidays.  Bing finds the perfect partner in Marjorie Reynolds.  Everything is working out beautifully until Fred decides to set his sights on Bing's girl and make her his new dancing partner.  Great holiday film for the whole family with amazing music by Irving B

The IT Crowd (Season 1, 2006)

This hilarious series will make you laugh uncontrollably.  Two computer geeks who work in the basement IT department of a giant British corporation are assigned a new boss who knows nothing about computers.  The computer guys are the slovenly, lazy Roy, and the super nerdy, socially inept Moss.  Their new boss Jen sees her job as a relationship manager who will get the IT department noticed and appreciated by the rest of the building.  It takes an episode or two for the show to get its rhythm but after that  it's impossible to stop laughing.  And the best part is

South Riding (2011)

It's 1934 and the wounds of the Great War are still fresh when 30-something Sarah Burton returns to her small Yorkshire hometown to run the local girls' school, encountering poverty, local politics, hypocrisy--and a handsome local landowner with a tragic past.  Is there romance in store for Sarah?  Yes, but the story doesn't go the way you think it will. Based on the novel by Winifred Holtby.

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