Thursday, February 2, 2012

More reviews

I don't know what it's like to be a minority and to grow up seeing people like me portrayed as buffoons, savages, noble stoic stewards of the earth, or drunks. Most all the people I saw in films and TV shows were the same color as me, so the things they talk about in this film didn't happen to me but I see where they're coming from.

Hollywood has willfully and woefully pigeonholed Native Americans into a few kinds of roles and it's only been since 1990 that things began to change. I grew up thinking all Indians lived in the southwestern USA and that they were either drunk or ready to start a war to take their land back. Then as I grew I saw that in the entertainment industry as a whole they got the same kind of treatment we had given them since the day we, European settlers, got here. This fine documentary tracks the evolution of how Indians are portrayed in Hollywood productions starting with silent film and going up through today. It's a fine film and it tells a much needed side to a heretofore lopsided story. I was glad to see that some of my favorite films featuring Native Americans (Little Big Man, Black Robe, Smoke Signals) were talked about in this documentary.

I highly recommend this one.

Thank gawd for Netflix. Without Netflix instant streaming I never ever would have seen this superb miniseries. It's not one I would have bought on DVD but holy shit am I glad I saw it on Netflix.

This miniseries is a satire on Victorian greed and societal mores. It's centered around a couple of families, the wealthy Melmottes and the struggling Carburys. The Melmottes are led by financial genius Augustus who seeks to win his place in British society by helping others get rich and the Carburys are led by matriarch Lady Carbury who seeks to get her children into marriages with rich partners so she can live the high society life. The problem with Augustus is he's a fraud and the problem with Lady Carbury is she can't see that her son is a feckless cad who's a drunk and a gambling addict. Other characters come in and out of the story and in the end Melmotte is unmasked for the fraud he is and Lady Carbury's kids get what they have coming to them.

This lavish production is rich in fine performances. David Suchet as Augustus Melmotte is chillingly good. Shirley Henderson is balls out great as his spurned in love daughter who ends up winning financially as her father is ruined. Matthew Macfadyen is funny and repulsive as the young cad Felix Carbury. Cheryl Campbell exudes sexiness as the matriarch of the down at their heels Carbury family, her cleavage is among the most magnificent I have ever seen, I'm pretty sure her boobs have their own gravitational pull. Cillian Murphy and Rob Brydon are great as the only honest men in London. Anne-Marie Duff shines as the girl who desperately wants to marry and who almost weds a Jewish banker but in the end is undone by her mercenary greed and religious bigotry. Paloma Baeza is sexy and winsome as the young daughter of the super sexy Lady Carbury. And Helen Schlesinger is funny and sad as the second wife of Augustus Melmotte, most of her performance is done without words so it's all pure reaction and her reactions are priceless.

This mini series is as true today as it was when it was first written. Greed is greed and it ultimately ruins those who worship it. Suchet's Melmotte could just as easily be Mitt Romney, in fact much of his dialogue sounds as if it was written by today's wealth apologists. The people in this mini series get wealthy off moving money around and just like in real life, when they do, they end up screwing working men and woman. For that reason alone I love this mini series, but I also love it because most of the honest characters who see what's going on behind the smokescreen the wealthy 'job creators' throw up are female. It's women who see the damage rich men do and by joining up with a couple of honest men, they bring down the greedy and those that need it, get punished, some get hit with the ultimate punishment.

The only thing I didn't like about this production was Miranda Otto's accent. It grates on my nerves to hear bad southern accents, especially when they come out of the mouths of actors who I usually like. But other than that, I was blown away by this timely topical and very funny satirical send up of Victorian era greed.

Super highly recommended.

1 comment:

Nan said...

Thanks for the recommendations. We watched Episode 1 of The Way We Live Now last night and loved it.