In mid-17th century France, Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu together enforce Catholic dominance across the country. In his fanaticism, Richelieu entreats the king to tear down the walls surrounding the small city of Loudun, which–while Catholic–is basically self-governing and (in his mind) a likely haven for Protestants. Charismatic priest Urbain Grandier (Oliver Reed), who is beloved by the townspeople despite his known affairs with local women, has been in charge since the governor died, and he resists any orders to destroy his city’s defensive walls. Meanwhile, Sister Jeanne (Vanessa Redgrave), Mother Superior at Loudun’s Ursuline convent, experiences explicit visions involving Grandier as a sexy Christ figure…
Born out of wedlock in the 1760s to a black slave mother and a wealthy white ship captain, young Dido (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) did not have a simple life to look forward to. When her mother died, her father (Matthew Goode) claimed her as his own and left her with her great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson), a highly influential judge in Britain, and his wife (Emily Watson). She was raised alongside their other ward, Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon), another niece around the same age. By the time they are teenagers, the cousins are as close as sisters, but each finds herself in an uncertain position- one social, one economic.
I remember reading about this film years ago, as there was something of a furor surrounding Andrea Arnold’s decision to cast a man of color in the classic role of Heathcliff, a part usually played by a white dude even though he was written as “dark-skinned” and likely Romani. I never really loved Wuthering Heights but I applauded Arnold’s casting and was intrigued to see her version of the story. Set in an isolated farm house along northern England’s moors, the film uncovers the intense, complex relationship between Catherine Earnshaw (Shannon Beer and Kaya Scodelario) and her sort-of-adoptive brother Heathcliff (Solomon Glave and James Howson).
Last month I saw a local production of Spamalot, which I saw when it premiered on Broadway but didn’t actually remember all that well, so it was fun to revisit. Like most red-blooded American teens, I watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail pretty regularly between 7th grade and 11th grade. Because it’s funny, dammit. But I realized I hadn’t watched it since at least 2006 and decided to revisit it when I was home for Thanksgiving. The first full-length feature from zany British comedy troupe Monty Python, the film is a wacky, irreverent take on the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Arthur (Graham Chapman) travels around Britain looking for men to join him in his quest for the holy grail, and along the way comes across various weirdos and militants.
For one reason or another I kept missing this the few times it played near me, so I was glad to have a night off before Thanksgiving when I could finally watch it. Written and directed by Peter Strickland and set in the 1970s, Berberian Sound Studio tells the uncanny tale of Gilderoy (Toby Jones), an uptight British sound designer who is invited to work on a low-budget horror film in Rome. His talent is obvious, and he sets out making squishy slasher noises with watermelons and lettuce, but he remains uncomfortable with the type of film he’s working on, having had more experience with nature documentaries and the like.