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By Elyse Sommer
Updated March 7, 2016
The final episodes are now posted and depending on how much of its melodramatic plots and sub plots you've seen, you can binge on three full seasons. However, true to the genre each episode ends in a cliff hanger-- and Season 3's finale is likely to leave you frustrated. But then bad as things look for Nurse Sarah, bear in mind that another season is coming so she WILL survive! But you'ra going to have to wait well past next Monday to find out how and what's next.
December 30th Update: Several new episodes continue the saga of the Blighs and Nurse Sarah. The talented writers who've taken over for the show's creator Bevan Lee continue to add plot lines with the same appreciation of the rewards of the melodramatic genre. As Lee explained in an interview "I want to fight the rise of melodrama being viewed as a somehow lesser form. To me a good melodrama is a big plum pudding of a show, full of fruit, flavour and the odd surprise threepence." While Elizabeth Bligh is no longer the nominal villainess and Nurse Sarah becomes almost saintly in dealing with continued bad luck, A Place to Call Home hardly lacks that vital ingredient in any solid melodrama. In fact George's anti-Semitic asister-in-law Regina proves to be not just as a schemer but an Über-villain.
The new episodes and some of the plot complications unfoldingt: Too Old to Dream in which Sarah decides not to go through with the abortion but meets a desperate young woman and her mother at the clinic. After a debate about art, Sir Richard challenges Carolyn to write a critique for one of his newspapers and Olivia dreams about her encounter with Lloyd.. . Living in the Shadow in which René emains cold to Sarah following the revelation that she's carrying George's baby. After one of Regina's threats goes too far, she retreats to the farmhouse but still proves dangerous. Anna confides in Olivia about her unhappiness, accidentally disclosing the contents of Andrew's letter. And in case you're wondering about Ash Park, the Bligh's manor house. . . it's an actual estate called Camelot, a heritage-listed property located at Kirkham on the outskirts of Camden. It was built in 1888 and has also been used as a setting for the 2008 Baz Luhrmann film Australia.
PREVIOUS POSTING ABOUT THE SERIES: Season 3 of the addictively entertaining series from Australia is a semi-binge
With public television still devoting Sundays to past Downton Abbey episodes before launching the final season, Acorn TV Media has begun streaming season 3 of Australia's answer to family dramas on imposing estates. While you can still binge watch seasons 1 and 2 in their entirety, season 3 is being streamed 3 episodes at a time, always on Mondays with the DVD scheduled to be released in April of 2006.
Since the popularity of the show has reprieved A Place to Call Home from being a 2-series hit, you need to go back to the final, and now rewritten, episode of Series 2. George is shot, and how it happens and how he survives establishes that there'll be no shortage of melodramatic complications in the life of Nurse Sarah Adams and her seriously shell-shocked husband René Nordman (Benjamin Winspear) and the Bligh family.
While the problems for the various characters, especially Nurse Sarah, pile up to the point of overload the key characters are still wonderfully nuanced. And the actors playing them continue to be eminently watchable.
The terrific Noni Hazelhurst who plays Elizabeth Bligh, the villain of the initial series, has now let the always present touch of humanity come to the fore. Could her taking off her fur collared coat to help out in an attractive older gentleman's soup kitchen bring a late in life romance? But, more importantly, what's a meolodrama without a villain, so there's Jenni Baird as Regina, the scheming, anti-Semitic sister-in-law of George Bligh (Brett Climo).
With George newly focused on a political career that may help him better cope with his loss of Sarah, Regina's past experience as a diplomat's wife may well help her win the prize she's after: Succeeding her dead sister as Mrs. George Bligh. While George has the right stuff to be the sort of public servant we'd all like to see in office, being supported by the nasty Regina and a reactionary power broker indicates trouble ahead. Elections having a way of exposing things best kept strictly in the family, also threatens to cause problems for the homosexual James Bligh (David Berry), his wife Olivia (Arianwen Parkes-Lockwood). And if that weren't enough the sexually frustrated Olivia becomes smitten with a sexy portrait painter.
Even the blissfully in love young couple —, Anna Bligh (Abby Earl) and Gino Poletti (Aldo Mignone)— who overcame the cultural clashes of Italian farmers and landed Aussie gentry, are on board with potential problems. While Gino's plans to grow grapes promise a poor boy-turned-wine baron twist, Gino's rigid Catholicism is a fly in the happy ever after story. Even if James's treatment to "cure" his sexual nature turned out to be successful (which it obviously can't be!), Gino can't deal with his revulsion.
Episode 1, The Things We Do for Love, deals mostly with the aftermath of George's injury.
Episode 2, L'chaim, to Life, has a tender scene that holds out hope for Anna and René but there's an unanticipated pregnancy to get in the way.
Episode 3, Somewhere Beyond the Sea, segues back and forth between Sarah in Sydney trying to deal with her "problem" and Ash Park, with an interlude in that afore mentioned soup kitchen.
I'm hooked! How about you? Oh, and I did tell you, didn't I, that there's also a Season 4 to feed our addiction.
Our take on A Place to Call Home Seasons 1 and 2
This is a chance for Downton Abbey fans to binge on a family drama full of family secrets, relationships complicated by money, class and religious differences. The Bligh family is Australian so they have no official titles, but their Ash Park estate is mighty grand. It's set in early 1950s rural Australia with post world war II traumas and rapidly changing social customs rife with high drama. And yes, there are lots of eye popping costumes.
The saga of the Blighs and those who become entangled with them begins with a shipboard encounter between the Blighs on their way home from a wedding and a beautiful nurse, Sarah Adams (the terrific Marta Dusseldorp) that sets things up for the soon to unfold central events. There's an autocratic Bligh matriarch who is pretty mucch the villain of the series except that she's so fully dimensioned by the show's creator, Bevan Lee, that there's room for the superb Noni Hazlehurst to make her a decidedly human villain. George (the attractive Brett Climo) the widowed head of the Bligh sheep farm's business is obviously smitten with Sarah who, like the various Blighs has her own past to contend with.
While most of the gradually revealed surprises are fairly predictable, you're hooked and likely to watch them non-stop. The series is pungently atmospheric in its depiction of 1950s still caught in the painful war years: George Bligh's wife was killed by a Japanese bomb, the town doctor is still haunted by his years as a Japanese POW, and Sarah's past includes a stint as a Resistance worker and concentration camp inmate. Anti-semitism and treatment, or rather mistreatment, of homosexuals adds strong thematic underpinnings. Despite the dark subtext, A Place to Call Home is essentially a romantic, consistently absorbing drama given strong support by a uniformly top drawer cast. <
Series one and two are available at Acorn on line: Click here for Series 1 & click here for Series 2.
Justin Kurzel's Macbeth comes to US Screens
The Australian director and screenwriter Justin Kurzel premiered his Macbeth at Cannes in May and now brings it to the U. S. in time for the holidays. Following in the vein of Roman Polanski's 1971 film of the same name, it is a gritty retelling of Shakespeare's Scottish Play. And with two big name actors on board — Oscar nominated actor Michael Fassbender as the Thane and Oscar award-winning actress Marion Cotillard as the Queen — this new film is bound to create buzz around the eggnog bowl this season.
The cinematography is stunning! It was shot on location in Scotland and England, and captures the fair and foul weather that sweeps over those rugged landscapes. You can practically smell the Scottish highlands and English countryside in some sequences, and feel the gusty winds and rain pelting down in various outdoor scenes. And to add even more atmosphere and mystery, there's a wash of reddish light in pivotal frames that serves as a visual metaphor for the bloody tragedy in progress under the tyrant Macbeth.
This is Kurzel's first go at Shakespeare. But it's no accident that he's chosen Macbeth out of the canon. After all, his first film Snowtown (based on the true life story of the Snowtown murders), was a grisly but fascinating study of a serial murderer in Australia. It brought him much critical acclaim, and marked him as a rising star in the film world. Kurzel has an uncanny talent for creating menacing portraits of murderers on the big screen. And his new Macbeth is sure to cement his reputation. What's more, Kurzel has a modern-day spin—and diagnosis—for the Bard's deranged protagonist: post-traumatic stress disorder. No, the term hadn't been coined yet in 11th - century Scotland. But Macbeth certainly manifests many of the symptoms of this mental condition that is now widely accepted by the medical world, seriously researched, and treated.
Although Kurzel is faithful to Shakespeare's text, he takes creative license, now and then, to drive home his own vision. In fact, the film opens, not with the Weird Sisters gathering on the heath, but Macbeth and Lady Macbeth at a burial rite for a stillborn child. Whether it is their child remains unclear. But it clearly brings to the fore that the Macbeths are grieving over a child and later resonates with the witches' prediction that Macbeth will wear a barren crown. Kurzel threads the plot with more innovations: Duncan's brutal murder happens on screen and the Porter scene gets jettisoned, along with its wit and levity. In short, Kurzel gives you a relentlessly dark look at the ancient myth and forces you to confront its discomfiting elements through a new prism.
German actor Fassbender and French actress Cotillard have the right chemistry to bring Shakespeare's most famous power couple alive on screen. Fassbender is commanding as Macbeth, and Cotillard (Natalie Portman was originally slated for the role but bowed out when funding for a film she was directing came through) is well-matched as his ambitious wife. No, they don't come to this project with a background in Shakespearean acting and don't affect Scottish burrs to define their characters. And though their delivery of the verse (flavored with in their native accents) might not measure up to the polished thespians at the Royal Shakespeare Company, they surely pass muster with their cinematic chops here. The rest of the cast hold their own but it is definitely Fassbender and Cotillard who are the most mesmerizing on screen.
There's no question that Kurzel has scored with his new Shakespearean film. You might nitpick over some of his directorial choices at times, but his retooled Scottish Play gives a fresh pioneer spirit and badlands flavor to the classic.
Macbeth opens in selected theaters across the U.S. on December 4, 2015. Running time is 1 hour; 53 minutes. Reviewed by Deirdre Donovan based on preview filming on 11/23/15 Back to Index of Topics
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