The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018) from Blueprint Pictures
Rated TV-14. Drama, Historical, Romance, War

My thoughts: “You have to write about them… This is your story to tell, as sure as I’m sitting here. And you will not be right until you do.”

Every writer needs to be inspired. In the aftermath of World War II, Juliet, a writer in London, follows the tug of inspiration to visit a hodgepodge of book club members on the island of Guernsey.

And here we have a lovely and compelling story about the blessing of books in the midst of horror, and finding people with whom one belongs. Though it didn’t captivate me at every moment, this is one of those rare instances when I like a film better than the novel it’s based on.

Granted, for me, a story told entirely through characters’ written correspondence does not work in a novel’s favor. While it has its creative points, that type of (rather choppy) storytelling tends to make me feel removed from a story, as if I’m reading bits “about” what’s happening and never get to step into the story itself and experience it right along with the characters.

The screen brings these people to life in a different way, making them more accessible. I couldn’t be so indifferent to Juliet here as I was when I read about her. This story truly benefits from giving its audience a chance to look into The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society members’ eyes, and having the music there to enhance certain images is a notable advantage.

I enjoyed seeing the vitality of book discussions, the illustration of what literature, and the sharing of literature, does for us. Plus, being a writer myself, I’m partial to books and movies about writers. I’ll admit I cried while watching Juliet truly go to work toward the end (well, maybe I cried through most of the last fifth of the film or so), and the opening of the closing credits is just brilliant.

I also got a kick out of seeing the nice handful of actors from Downton Abbey, but that’s beside the point.

My corresponding reading: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

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The Book Thief (2013)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Book Thief (2013) from Twentieth Century Fox
Rated PG-13. 
Drama, Historical, War
My rating: ★★★1/2

Description (from the film case): Based on the beloved best-selling book comes an “extremely moving” (Leonard Maltin, Indiewire) story of a girl who transforms the lives of those around her during World War II, Germany. When her mother can no longer care for her, Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) is adopted by a German couple (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson.) Although she arrives illiterate, Liesel is encouraged to learn to read by her adoptive father. When the couple then takes in Max (Ben Schnetzer), a Jew hiding from Hitler’s army, Liesel befriends him. Ultimately, words and imagination provide the friends with an escape from the events unfolding around them…

My thoughts: A pretty good adaptation with some nice casting. Though it isn’t a happy-go-lucky tale, of course, it’s somewhat brighter and tamer than the novel, in a way, with an almost storybook feel to some of it.

I would’ve liked to hear a little more from Death in the film, but maybe from a different voice, as Death’s occasional narration is part of what feels storybookish. And some of the potential power is lost here as the story doesn’t convey both sides of the “power of words” theme as well as the novel does.

Nevertheless, I try not to base my judgment of film adaptations solely on their related novels, since, to state the obvious, films aren’t books. Can’t measure such different mediums with the same stick.

Hence, as a film, I give it a thumbs-up. Not sure yet if I’d watch it again, but watching it was worth it.

My corresponding reading: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

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One Night with the King (2006)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

One Night with the King (2006) from Gener8Xion Entertainment
Rated PG. Drama, Royalty, Faith Film, Historical/Period Film, Romance

Description (from the film case): Born into poverty, Hadassah (Tiffany DuPont) grows up to become a beauty who catches the eye of the powerful King Xerxes (Luke Goss) and ultimately becomes his bride. But despite her position, Hadassah’s life is in danger, as the state has decreed that all Jews will be put to death. Defying warnings to remain silent, however, Hadassah struggles to save her people, even as she attempts to hide her heritage…

My thoughts: The music, set design, and many of the costumes are what I like best about this film, which is based on one of my all-time favorite novels. I also appreciate the film’s take on Queen Vashti, not making her just a haughty or conniving beauty with her nose stuck up in the air but a woman with poise and conviction who does appear to have some genuine concern for the king.

Vashti is certainly more queenly than Hadassah/Esther in this movie, as there isn’t much that’s distinctly regal in the lead actress’s carriage or speech, even after her time of preparation to meet the king. It’s also unfortunate that she has to spend so much of the film, particularly the second half of it, in tears.

However, going on about more of the movie’s weaknesses (yes, I see them) would make it sound more horrible than I’ve found it to be on the whole. All things considered, I do enjoy this movie for what it is, and at the time of its release, I think it served as a come-up from previous Christian features.

My corresponding reading: Hadassah: One Night with the King and The Hadassah Covenant by Tommy Tenney and Mark Andrew Olsen.

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A Film Lover’s Confession: Downton Abbey

I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Downton Abbey (2010-2015) from Carnival Film & Television, Masterpiece Theatre
TV-PG.
Drama, Historical/Period Drama, Romance, War

1/2

No, this isn’t my usual film review so much as it is a blogger’s confession. Downton Abbey is a television series, of course, but I treated it more like a long film–or more like a miniseries, at least–in that I watched the entire series, all six seasons…in one week. I thought I’d watch the first episode or two, just to see what all the fuss was about and to find out if I might like it a little, but once I got started…

Well. So began the unexpected marathon, a lot of lost sleep, and an unscheduled pause from my book blogging, which I’ll pick up again this week.

This show just wasn’t what I expected, with more sides to the characters and with plot twists more intriguing than I would’ve guessed. And my rating of it may be unfair, as the last 1/2 star represents the fact that I had a slightly deflated reaction to the final two episodes or so, but could it merely be a reflection of my feelings about the series ending and not about the series’s ending itself?

Quite possibly.

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Trailer heralding the final season of Downton Abbey.