Weekend Roundup: Thoughts on STARZ series ‘The White Queen’ (2013)

It’s been quite a weekend, it’s so sad to hear what happened on Saturday night in Orlando, FL. My thoughts and prayers are with those affected in this horrific act.

The cast of Broadway darling Hamilton, led by Lin-Manuel Miranda paid tribute to the victims in a powerful gesture:


On a positive note, it’s wonderful to see many performers of color win Tonys this year, with Hamilton and The Color Purple with its diverse cast swept the awards.

Wish I had been able to see Hamilton whilst I was in NYC before Miranda left. Ah well, I’d love to see it one day!


As for my weekend, I spent most of my time outside as my good friend is in town. So I didn’t see a single movie but on Sunday night, I did watch three episodes of a 2013 series I’ve been wanting to see for some time.

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I’m such a sucker for period dramas as you already know, and British royal families are ripe for an engrossing drama filled with royal lust, love, seduction, deception betrayal and murder. I love that the series is female-centered. Told through the perspective of  three different, yet equally relentless women – Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville.
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Hale, Ferguson & Marsay

Rebecca Ferguson plays the beautiful Lancastrian commoner Elizabeth, and Janet McTeer played her strong-willed mother Jacquetta. Apparently Tom Cruise chose Ferguson to be his co-star in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation after he saw her in this mini-series. She certainly is versatile, as she seems as fitting in 15th Century England as she does in a modern spy thriller. I’m not too fond of Amanda Hale‘s acting style as Margaret, but Faye Marsay as Anne is quite intriguing. So far though, my faves are Ferguson and McTeer. Those two actresses are the main draw for me to see this series and they certainly outshine the boys.

In the first episode, Elizabeth won the heart of the House of York ‘s young King, Edward IV (Max Irons, yep Jeremy’s hunky son). There’s a bit of a Romeo & Juliet factor here the fact that The House of York and The House of Lancaster are bitter enemies. Edward owed his throne to his cousin, master manipulator Lord Warwick (James Frain) who resented Edward’s choice as it spoiled his own plan for power. It’s a wonderfully-tragic tale of England’s earliest civil war.

The quality of this Starz production is top notch. Beautifully-shot and wonderfully-acted, it’s not as violent as the European series BORGIA, but still pretty gritty. Based on British historical novelist Philippa Gregory‘s novel, it’s definitely a must-see for fans of period dramas!


Out of all the men, Frain is the only one who made an impression to me as the scheming ‘Kingmaker.’ He’s a terrific character actor who’s been in so many different films/tv work. Irons is pretty good but he doesn’t quite have the same screen presence as his dad, but perhaps that’s unfair to expect that. David Oakes and Aneurin Barnard played Edward’s brothers George and Richard, respectively, both are easy on the eyes as well, and Barnard resembles my crush Sam Riley so much it’s uncanny!

I’ve only seen three episodes and boy am I hooked! Thankfully there’s only one season so far which I can’t wait to finish it. The sequel, The White Princess, has been green-lit by Starz and is currently in production (per Deadline).


So that’s my weekend recap folks. How about you? Seen anything good?

Question of the Week: What new (or new to you) TV series are you really into right now?

Hi everyone! Just to switch things up from all the awards chatter (which is so tiresome already), let’s talk about TV shows.

BroadchurchBBCIn the start of the new year, I thought I should catch up on some great shows that people have been recommending. So last week I finally caught up on Season 1 of BROADCHURCH starring Olivia Colman and David Tennant. Thanks to my friend Dave W. who gave me this top 10 reasons of why you should absolutely check out this amazing British drama if you haven’t already. It’s every bit as gripping and emotionally-engaging as I had expected. It took me about four days to finish all 10 episodes as it’s really quite addictive that I couldn’t stop watching!

Now, just yesterday I finally got around to seeing another British series I’ve been meaning to check out: The Honourable Woman.

TheHonourableWomanI erroneously thought that this 8-part series will leave Netflix at the end of the month but it’s actually not up for renewal so it will REMAIN on its streaming service, yay! In any case, I can’t tell you enough how good this series is and Maggie Gyllenhaal absolutely deserves her Golden Globe win as the show’s protagonist. Here’s the premise:

Nessa Stein, a woman who inherits her father’s arms business and finds herself in a international maelstrom when as she continues to promote the reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.

Right from the get go, the show created by Hugo Blick is immensely riveting and suspenseful. Plot twists abound as you have no clue who’s good or bad, there’s no clear heroes or villains which makes it all the more intriguing. The writing, acting and cinematography are top notch, and not only does it have a strong female protagonist, it’s nice to see women playing prominent characters in this series. As a fan of British dramas, the show is filled fantastic mostly-British cast: Stephen Rea, Janet McTeer, Andrew Buchan (who’s also in Broadchurch), and Tobias Menzies. Maggie is a native New Yorker but her British accent is flawless (well it sounds that way to me anyway) but it’s her acting and elegant way she moves that is truly fun to watch.

Check out the trailer:


So that’s what I’ve been obsessing lately. Which *new* shows did you just discover that you can’t get enough of?

Five for the Fifth: AUGUST 2014 Edition

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Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. As customary with Five for the Fifth, I’d like to highlight a filmmaker/actor who’s having a birthday today. Well, it so happens that two talented-yet-underrated British actors have a birthday today: Mark Strong and Janet McTeer. They turn 50 and 52 respectively.

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You might not know these two actors by name but surely you have seen them in a film or TV show. I can’t remember where I first saw Mark Strong but he’s been in so many films and he’s always memorable even in small supporting roles. My favorite of his roles would be Rocknrolla, Robin Hood, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Zero Dark Thirty. He’s quite a versatile actor and he has a rather chameleon face where you can’t tell what ethnicity he belongs to. I mean he could play a Jordanian prince as effortlessly as an English lord.

As for Janet McTeer, I really should see more of her work. I’ve only seen the two-time Oscar nominees in the BBC Sense & Sensibility as Mrs. Dashwood. I know my pal Ashley loves her as she’s her favorite actress. The statuesque actress (she’s 6’1″) is a graduate of RADA and can effortlessly juggle TV and film work. She’s starring in The Honourable Woman BBC miniseries with Maggie Gyllenhaal and a Victorian-era thriller Angelica with Jena Malone and Ed Stoppard.

So what’s your favorite from both of these fine actors?
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2. My hubby and I were watching a bunch of new trailers on iTunes on Friday and we came across Into The Woods. For some reason I hadn’t heard of this movie before, either that or I just forgot about it.

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Into the Woods is a modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales in a musical format that follows the classic tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel — all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch who has put a curse on them.



As someone who grew up watching Disney fairy tale movies, this immediately intrigues me. The cast is awesome too, boy is there anything Meryl Streep can’t do? Never mind, clearly there is none. I like the Emily Blunt and James Corden pairing, and Anna Kendrick is inspired choice as Cinderella. Though I’m usually not enamored by Chris Pine, I must say he looks mighty dashing as Cinderella’s Prince, yowza!! Ask my hubby, I actually rewound the trailer and paused it a few times when he appeared 😉 Can’t wait to hear Chris’ singing voice, as he’s displayed on Jimmy Kimmel a while back, he actually has a great set of pipes!

I had no idea there’s actually a musical on Broadway featuring music by Stephen Sondheim. Now, Rob Marshall directing is a bit worrisome however, considering what a mess NINE was despite the stellar cast, but hey hopefully this will be good. It’s set to open on Christmas day, competing with Unbroken and Exodus. But considering the subject matter, this should be a hit with the kiddies at least.

Does this one interest you, folks?

3.Ok so this weekend I finally saw the director’s cut of Kingdom of Heaven, thanks to my pal Ted who kindly lends me a bunch of Blu-rays. It’s been ages since I saw this film, I honestly can’t remember a lot of it, so I can’t really say what’s different from the theatrical version.

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Boy I forgot how amazing the cast was, well everyone except for the lead Orlando Bloom. To be fair, I think he’s not as horrible as I thought he was but still the movie would’ve been a heck of a lot better with a stronger lead actor IMO. I mean he looks good here but he barely his face is so expressionless and he barely has any gravitas required for the role. The supporting cast is spectacular though: Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson, Eva Green, Brendan Gleeson, David Thewlis, and Edward Norton whose face is hidden behind a mask the entire time. Oh I’m quite impressed by Alexander Siddiq who really should be in more films! Did you know his real-life uncle is Malcolm McDowell? Sorry I digress. Watching this makes me think of other Director’s Cut versions out there and how many of them are superior to the theatrical version.

So my question to you is, do you watch Director’s Cuts of a movie if they’re available? If so, which one(s) are your favorite?

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4. Director Colin Trevorrow sure knows how to get fans’ attention and capitalize on the success of The Guardians of the Galaxy. Last week he tweeted a photo of Chris Pratt looking hunky and very Indiana-Jones-y in Jurassic World.

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Now I have completely forgotten about this movie, which apparently is not a reboot [thank goodness] but set about 20 years after the events in the original Jurassic Park. Pratt’s sure to be a bonafide star after this weekend, so I think the movie surely would benefit from having him in the lead. I’m mostly curious as I LOVE the original Steven Spielberg film, but the cast they’ve assembled is pretty good so far. In addition to Pratt, we’ve got Bryce Dallas Howard, Judy Greer, Nick Robinson (whom I liked in The Kings of Summer), Irrfan Khan, and Vincent D’Onofrio. The film is set to open next Summer, June 12, 2015 to be exact. I hope it’ll live up to the original, but I suppose we’ll have a better idea about it once we see a trailer.

Have you been anticipating Jurassic World?.

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is my pal Fernando from Committed to Celluloid Blog. So here it is in his own words:

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One of my favorite things in the last few months has been following Netflix’s House of Cards and watching Frank and Claire Underwood (Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright) being absolutely ruthless and expertly manipulative, so my question is:

What’s your favorite villainous couple (they don’t have to be married to each other) in TV or film?


Well, that’s it for the AUGUST 2014 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀

Rental Pick: Albert Nobbs (2011)

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I actually stumbled upon Albert Nobbs as I was trying to find an interview with Janet McTeer about The White Queen on YouTube. I didn’t recall seeing any promotion for this film, but I listened to Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs) and Janet McTeer (Hubert Page) talk about transforming themselves into men for their roles. A woman pretending to be a man isn’t something new in cinema. For example, Gwyneth Paltrow pretended to be a man for a role in “Romeo and Juliet” in Shakespeare in Love; although, her transformation can hardly be considered life-altering. However, something about their interview struck a chord with me.

In essence, the casting was superb. Close has fairly androgynous features already, but the makeup and costuming efforts were incredible. Just looking at the cover makes my skin crawl! Throughout the entire film, Albert is statuesque, methodical and reclusive, but I think that’s the point. One could argue this is merely to protect her true identity, but I think it’s more than that. Albert Nobbs subtly implies women, during this era (19th century Ireland), are a means to an end and constantly stunted by the whims and fantasies of men.

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Albert is a hard-working waiter at the Morrison’s Hotel, saving every coin, with the dreams of opening her own shop. However, she is so far removed from herself and her own person that she assumes the role of being invisible. It isn’t until Albert is introduced to Mr. Page do we see a spark a spark of life and emotion. Panic sets in once Albert realizes Mr. Page will be sharing her bed for the night, but we soon discover Mr. Page has a secret as well. Not only is Mr. Page* actually a woman, but also has a wife!

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*To avoid confusion, I will always refer to Albert Nobbs and Mr. Page as “she.”*

Albert’s interactions with other people are so awkward and painful to watch, but the sympathetic Mr. Page slowly reveals secrets about her life and encourages Albert to live a full and happy life. Albert, determined to succeed, sets her sights on the charming, friendly and beautiful Helen (Mia Wasikowska). However, Helen has set her sights on the new handy-man, Joe (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Joe schemes with Helen to milk Albert for enough money to buy the two of them passage to America.

It’s particularly heartbreaking to watch Albert, once again, be taken advantage of by men, but it also brings her such joy at the prospect of a life she chooses to live. As you can see from the image, below, Helen isn’t thrilled by the notion of “stepping out” with Albert. We soon discover, Helen is expecting, and the noble, self-sacrificing, Albert offers to marry Helen regardless. Disgusted at the notion, Helen refuses and chooses to believe the fantasy that Joe will provide for her and the baby.

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Just when you think the film can’t get any more depressing, a typhoid epidemic breaks out in Dublin. We learn Mr. Page’s wife (Cathleen) dies from the epidemic, but it brings about one of the more touching scenes from the film. In an act of remembrance, Albert and Mr. Page put on Cathleen’s dresses and solemnly, and somewhat bitterly, think of what their life might be like had they remained women.

I don’t want to give away the ending, but it’s definitely filled with mixed emotions. Researching the film revealed it received mixed reviews from critics in 2011, but, undeniably, Glenn Close and Janet McTeer’s performances were brilliant. Both actresses received Academy Award nominations in addition to Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for their roles. I, too, will admit I didn’t love the film. In places it seemed to drag on, but it was interesting nonetheless. It’s definitely a one-of-a-kind film and I encourage you to rent at your leisure.

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PostByAshley


Thoughts on Albert Nobbs? Would love to hear what you think!