Thursday, January 20, 2011

Because it's not books all the time (although I wish it was!)

A few media type things:

FRAMED was produced by the BBC and aired on Masterpiece Contemporary recently. After reading favourable reviews (and needing something to budge me over the 25.00 free shipping limit on amazon), I went ahead and ordered it.

It was a delightful and quiet romance set in the Welsh highlands. In WWII, priceless masterpieces from the National Gallery were transported to a small village in Wales for safe keeping in a cave. When the National Gallery is flooded, the same precautious measures are taken and thousands of paintings are lorried up the hill in protective yellow cases. The custom in the war years was for one painting to be presented in London for a month at a time while all others were holed up. Apparently, the queues were quite monumental: locals trying to grasp some semblance of beauty and normalcy in their war-torn city.

I greatly enjoyed the interior shots of the National Gallery. It has been years since I was there; but I remember it clearly.

The portion of the story in Wales includes a soft and mature love story. It also paints wonderful characters of the townspeople. Quentin, the liaison from the National Gallery, who devotes his life to expressing the meaning behind countless works of art, is shocked by the perspective of art that comes from the Welsh countrymen. However, once he is able to comprehend art in the way they see it, and mostly as it pertains to their lives, his appreciation is shaken: for the better.

A poignant scene has the local schoolteacher guiding through works of art Quentin has known innately all of his life. She expresses a completely different viewpoint and his ideas of culture and beauty are stirred.

Based on the novel by Frank Cottrell Boyce (see: Millions) this was a great January escape.


I loved this film. I remember watching snippets of the 1960s series with Van Williams and Bruce Lee and this is very much a homage rather than an adaptation. At the hands of Seth Rogen, it is ridiculously funny and I am warning you now: if you don’t prefer his type of humour and are not willing to separate yourself from the more serious hero and comic book movies of late ( Dark Knight, for example), this film is not for you.

The story is pretty basic: Britt Reid, heir to a vast newspaper empire and his innovator friend Kato decide to fight crime by infiltrating the city’s underworld. They wear slick masks and juice up their amazing super-car, the Black Beauty.

What I particularly enjoyed about this Green Hornet and what is, if anything, the centrifugal force propelling the film, is the partnership ( or lack thereof) between Britt and Kato. Kato is, at first, the kid who fixes the Reid’s cars and makes the outstanding coffee. Brit soon discovers that Kato is, in fact, a human “swiss army” knife: remarkable skilled, an innovative genius with a preternatural eye for trouble and resolution.

At first, as Kato and Britt speed off to take on the city, Kato assumes chauffeur role while Britt sits in the back playing rich kid. While Britt creates the image of the Green Hornet, Kato not only develops the name but is the reason the operation runs successfully (especially when it comes to weapons and gadgets). While Britt tries increasingly to assert himself as the hero and streamline Kato into the sidekick role, Kato is very aware of his lessened state and he rails against it! I LOVED when Kato punched his fist into a wall and threatened Britt should he ever ask him to run a coffee errand again.

The tension and jealousy between Kato and Britt( mostly on Britt’s side) results in a major physical blow-out for supremacy between the two. Britt becomes increasingly stubborn and just cannot admit that Kato has always had the upper hand. I loved this dynamic and I loved the growth of their relationship. In fact, slowly, but surely, Britt learns that the only way to be successful, get out of scrapes, and save his life is to move into the front seat aside Kato. Fabulous!


(episodes 1 and 2)

I must confess that I mostly watch this show because it is set in gorgeous St. John’s, NL: a city I often have to visit for work ( and one of my favourite cities in Canada). The show, a sort of “Newfie Noir” features a father and son Private Investigator team battling crime in a colourful Atlantic Canadian community.

Jake is played by Alan Hawco ( I love his accent and his nonchalant air) and Mal is played by Sean McGinley ( a veteran of Bleak House and Braveheart). Reclaiming a vital Canadian space, Republic of Doyle flashes a Newfoundland rarely portrayed in cinema or television. It is a modern place, peppered with eccentrics and brimming with life. The music, as provided by Canadian legends Great Big Sea, as well as several guest-spots by Canadian actor greats ( Victor Garber! Gordon Pinsent!) make it the ultimate Canadian experience. Jake and Co.’s favourite pub on McMurdo’s Lane, the Duke of Duckworth, is also my favourite pub in NL!

The second season premiered this week and I caught up on Netflix.

Unfortunately, the writing this season is a mess. It seemed to drop a lot of threads sewn at the end of the first series and never really picked up speed. It is disjointed and lacks fluidity. Moreover, the scenes are clunky and awkwardly edited. The mystery at the heart of the first two episodes ( if we can indeed call it that) were lackluster. I hope they are just finding their sea legs again.

They make the most of glorious St. John’s, however, and as long as it remains at the forefront of the drama, I am apt to keep tuning in.

Glorious St. J's!:


Unknown said...

Funny you mention FRAMED, I just started re-watching it this afternoon when I got home from work. I just loved it, such a delightful surprise. I want to read the book now!

Rachel said...

Awww. I like Framed! And I LOVED that actress in Little Dorrit. It was great to see her again.

I know she is also on Torchwood; but even though I am a Doctor Who fan, Torchwood has never really resonated with me.

Verity Faith said...

Now I need to watch FRAMED. By the way, if you ever want to read a great book about art and art preservation during that time period I highly recommend The Rape of Europa by Lynn H. Nicholas.