Movie Review: Their Finest

Friday, July 21st, 2017 08:00 am
[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Carrie S

Their Finest is a British movie that had limited release in the USA. If, like me, you missed it in theaters, you can see it now on iTunes. This movie is slow and matter-of-fact but it snuck up on me and had me bawling my eyes out by the end. It’s billed as a romantic comedy, but due to a plot development near the end and a significant amount of tragedy it’s better described as a drama. I’m going to try to avoid spoilers, but here’s one I know none of you will mind:

There are two dogs in the movie, and they both end up fine. One of them ends up adopted by a strict but fond Helen McCory. We should all be so lucky.

Their Finest is a movie about a woman who makes a movie. Catrin, played by Gemma Arterton, gets a job helping to write a propaganda film (The Nancy Starling) in London during the Blitz. She’s supposed to provide the women’s touch on a film that, by order of the government, is to broadcast a sense of “authenticity and optimism.” Her co-worker, Buckley, is cynical and sexist but also very good at making a coherent story out of almost anything.

Buckley is played by Sam Claflin. Sam is one of the prettiest men ever to live, and as an actor he has perfected the art of wordlessly broadcasting intense and unrequited longing. It’s a relief that he spends the movie under an unfortunate, though period appropriate, mustache, as otherwise I would have spent the entire movie staring at him in a trance. He’s sardonic and bitter and funny and horrible and has fantastic chemistry with Gemma Atherton.

Catrin and Buckley typing side by side
Smart is Sexy!

Gemma plays Catrin, our heroine, and she is simply perfect. Whether she’s standing perfectly still or walking and talking very quickly across a set, she simultaneously broadcasts vulnerability and steeliness. In keeping with all opposites-attract type romances, Catrin and Buckley constantly look like they can’t decide whether to strangle one another or just start ripping off each other’s clothes in the middle of the office.

Back to the plot: Catrin meets middle-aged twin sisters, Rose and Lily, who took part in the evacuation of British forces from Dunkirk. They stole their drunken father’s boat, but never made it to Dunkirk because the engine gave out. They got a tow home from a bigger ship and took some of the soldiers from that (overcrowded) ship. One had a dog in his kit bag, and another, who was French, tried to kiss Lily.

Catrin brings this story, minus a few details, to the movie people, who are thrilled. “It has authenticity, optimism, AND A DOG!” one of them crows. Soon she and Buckley are writing non-stop as the Rose and Lily of The Nancy Starling become pretty young women, their abusive drunk father becomes a funny drunk uncle, a fictional love triangle forms around the fictional Rose, and the dog has a stirring action scene.

There’s just so much to unpack in this movie, which is quiet and slow (at about two hours, it felt like more) and restrained in the most British way but which tackles sexism, the war, grief, friendship between women, the creative process, the art and business of making movies, and some very nice hats. Helen McCrory does what she always does, namely takes a small role and simply walks away with the movie entirely. Bill Nighy promises Catrin that “Between you and I, we’ll have them weeping in the aisles” and then delivers on that promise. The whole cast has a chemistry which manages to progress from mass antagonism to a sense of comfortable familiarity. The actors who play actors combine certain narcissism with real warmth. When Bill Nighy sings a song with the line, “Will ye go lassie, go/and we’ll all go together,” to the cast, they feel like a real family, truly at ease with one another, and truly comforted during dangerous times by each other’s company.

Throughout is presence of war. Although this film is very funny in a deadpan way, I was surprised to see how many people have described it as a romantic comedy. It doesn’t have a romantic comedy ending, and anything funny transpires against a terrifying background. At one point Catrin has to literally step over corpses to get to her flat. “I’ll be alright after a cup of tea,” she tells her husband, only to be informed that the water main is out, a development that even the stoic Catrin cannot tolerate with equanimity. The making of The Nancy Starling is serious business that might affect the course of the war, and the war takes such a toll that at one point they fear that they’ve run out of enough people to finish it.

Towards the end of the movie, something happens that could make the viewer feel cheated. I felt shocked and sad, but not cheated, and here’s why:

  • The movie takes the time to follow through the ramifications of the event.
  • An arc has, for all intents and purposes, been resolved.
  • The movie has been hinting all along that all kinds of unforeseen events can and do happen, whether they be the result of bombs, guns, or, in one character’s case, being hit by a tram while on leave. Death is sudden and arbitrary. This is a theme all throughout the movie so when it causes a sudden tonal and plot twist, it feel both shocking and inevitable.

This movie was marketed as a romantic comedy, and up to a point it has the structure of one – very attractive people, the unappreciative husband, the witty banter, the chemistry, opposites attracting, etc. However, one of the running themes of the movie is that the movie within the movie keeps having different agendas and themes tacked on to it. The Nancy Starling is an action movie and a war movie, it’s a love story, it has comedy and tragedy, it’s meant to inspire America to join the war, and it’s meant to motivate the British to keep fighting. That’s not even a complete list of all the jobs that the poor Nancy Starling is expected to do. Through the writing of this film, Catrin is insistent that the film is, at its core, the story of Lily and Rose.

The Rose and Lily of the movie within the movie, piloting the boat
The fictional version of Rose and Lily

Similarly, Their Finest is marketed as a romantic comedy, but at its core it’s not the story of one couple or another. It’s consistently Catrin’s story. This means that while many characters undergo significant arcs, Catrin’s arc is the only one that matters and…

THIS IS A MAJOR SPOILER BEWARE
it requires her being alone for a while. Buckley dies so that from a character arc perspective we can see Catrin face being alone and independent instead of bouncing from one relationship to a volatile man to another. Basically he’s fridged for feminism.

The movie is also an ode to the women who kept Britain running during the war. They are paid less than men, they are resented and feared by men, and yet they are expected to manage the impossible. When Catrin finally goes to a screening of The Nancy Starling, she sits by an older woman who weeps copiously through the movie and explains that she’s seen it five times. “It’s our picture isn’t it?” she says, patting Catrin on the hand, “They’re our girls.”

I cried like a baby.

Their Finest is available for streaming/purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google:Play, & iTunes.

(no subject)

Friday, July 21st, 2017 09:12 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] kerkevik_2014 and [personal profile] coughingbear!
[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by SB Sarah

I almost titled this episode, “Same Library, Different Tastes.” While having dinner the other night, I was talking to Adam, my excellent spouse, about a series he was reading, and I realized we hardly ever talk about what he’s reading. I’ll go on for hours about what I’m reading (and I have!) but unless I’m asking him if he’d enjoy a book I just found, he doesn’t talk much about what he reads, and he reads a lot. So he made cocktails and I handed him a microphone, and we talked about it.

We don’t like any of the same things, but we both love reading. So I asked questions about his favorite series, books he’s enjoyed that I’ve successfully recommended (YES!), and what makes a narrative world appealing.  Adam likes to read fantasy, and he loves never-ending world building and deep nerdy dives into back story, so he’s a very avid and engaged reader. But he keeps most of it in his head. So I ask him nosy questions about that. We also discuss series and trilogies he loves, including Game of Thrones, Libriomancer, The Inheritance Trilogy, and a lot more – expect a big list of books.

Listen to the podcast →
Read the transcript →

Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:

We also mentioned Elyse’s Bachelor and Bachelorette recaps.

And if you’d like to try it, here’s a recipe for Bee’s Knees, my new favorite cocktail.

And! The RWA Signing! July 29, 2017, from 3:00 – 5:00pm! 

Hundreds of romance authors in one place, and all proceeds of book sales go to literacy organizations. Some of your favorite authors are likely to be there, like Alyssa Cole, Tessa Dare, Courtney Milan, Julie James, Cecilia Tan, Beverly Jenkins, and Jill Shalvis. And, for the first time, I’ll be signing, too – yay!

The signing is at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort in Pacific Hall. Saturday, July 29th from 3-5pm. And if you come and find me (I’m in the Ws near the cashiers) and mention the podcast, I have a special sticker for you – if you’d like one.

Get all the details at:  https://www.rwa.org/literacy.

 

If you like the podcast, you can subscribe to our feed, or find us at iTunes. You can also find us at PodcastPickle and on Stitcher, too. We also have a cool page for the podcast on iTunes.

Thanks to our sponsors:

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What did you think of today's episode? Got ideas? Suggestions? You can talk to us on the blog entries for the podcast or talk to us on Facebook if that's where you hang out online. You can email us at sbjpodcast@gmail.com or you can call and leave us a message at our Google voice number: 201-371-3272. Please don't forget to give us a name and where you're calling from so we can work your message into an upcoming podcast.

Thanks for listening!

This Episode's Music

Our music is provided each week by Sassy Outwater, whom you can find on Twitter @SassyOutwater.

This is from Caravan Palace, and the track is called “La Caravane.”

You can find their two album set with Caravan Palace and Panic on Amazon and iTunes. And you can learn more about Caravan Palace on Facebook, and on their website.


Podcast Sponsor

This episode is brought to you by Too Scot to Handle by Grace Burrowes. This New York Times bestselling series with its “heartfelt emotions, humor and realistic, honest characters [is] a fan favorite,” raves RT Book Reviews.

In this second book of the Windham Brides series, Burrowes delights Regency romance readers once again with an irresistible rough-around-the-edges Scot who takes on saving an orphanage to win over the fiery, intelligent woman who captures his heart.

As a captain in the army, Colin MacHugh led men, fixed what was broken, and fought hard. Now that he’s a titled gentleman, he’s still fighting-this time to keep his bachelorhood safe from all the marriage-minded debutantes. Then he meets the intriguing Miss Anwen Windham, whose demure nature masks a bonfire waiting to roar to life. When she asks for his help to raise money for the local orphanage, he’s happy to oblige.

Anwen is amazed at how quickly Lord Colin takes in hand a pack of rambunctious orphan boys. Amazed at how he actually listens to her ideas. Amazed at the thrill she gets from the rumble of his Scottish burr and the heat of his touch. But not everyone enjoys the success of an upstart. And Colin has enemies who will stop at nothing to ruin him and anybody he holds dear.

As Tessa Dare puts it, “Grace Burrowes is a romance treasure.” Don’t miss Too Scot to Handle, on sale wherever books are sold this Tuesday, July 25th.

Transcript Sponsor

When It’s Real

Our podcast transcript is being brought to you by When It’s Real by #1 New York Times bestselling author Erin Watt.

A pop star. A regular girl. The world’s watching…

Wealth, fame and a real-life romance she never expected—seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett lands it all when she agrees to become a pop star’s fake girlfriend in this smart, utterly addictive novel.

School Library Journal calls it “a fast-paced, ‘he said, she said’ page-turner.” Kirkus Reviews writes: When It’s Real is “undeniable fun” and “a quintessential beach read.” You’ll fall head-over-heels in love with this electrifying and addictive new romance.

Under ordinary circumstances, Oakley Ford and Vaughn Bennett would never even cross paths.

There’s nothing ordinary about Oakley. This bad-boy pop star’s got Grammy awards, millions of fangirls and a reputation as a restless, too-charming troublemaker. But with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley needs to show the world he’s settling down—and who better to help him than Vaughn, a part-time waitress trying to help her family get by? The very definition of ordinary.

Posing as his girlfriend, Vaughn will overhaul Oakley’s image from troublemaker to serious artist. In return for enough money to put her brothers through college, she can endure outlandish Hollywood parties and carefully orchestrated Twitter exchanges. She’ll fool the paparazzi and the groupies. She might even start fooling herself a little.

Because when ordinary rules no longer apply, there’s no telling what your heart will do…

You can find When It’s Real wherever books are sold.

Remember to subscribe to our podcast feed, find us on iTunes, via PodcastPickle, or on Stitcher.

Comic for July 21, 2017

Friday, July 21st, 2017 11:59 pm
[syndicated profile] dilbert_feed
Dilbert readers - Please visit Dilbert.com to read this feature. Due to changes with our feeds, we are now making this RSS feed a link to Dilbert.com.

Advantages of a two-house household

Friday, July 21st, 2017 12:36 am
fairestcat: Dreadful the cat (Default)
[personal profile] fairestcat
For those who don't know, we live in an up/down duplex. Marna, Ian and I live upstairs and Lorayne has the downstairs, with two spare rooms for any guests of upstairs or downstairs.

Lorayne also has two window AC units. One of which is in her big spare bedroom. We do not have any AC upstairs, just a lot of fans.

It's been hot and humid as fuck in Ottawa for the last week. It's finally starting to cool down, but the heat is really lingering upstairs. Last night I couldn't fall asleep because of it.

So, I said fuck it and am sleeping downstairs tonight.

Dreadful followed me downstairs and was staring forlornly out the screen door, so we invited him in. So, Dreadful's sleeping downstairs too tonight.

Rayne's cats, Kina and Chakra, are less than impressed.

They've met Dreadful before, and even lived with him for a week when we stripped the wainscotting in the kitchen several years ago, so we're not worried it'll come to blows overnight or anything. They'll cope. And I think Dreadful is enjoying the change of scenery.

Also, the lack of dog.

Oh yeah, we got a dog. We've had him for about a month. Our intent was to foster him, but Marna fell in love, so now he's ours.

His name is Bogart, we think he's some sort of pointer cross, but he was rescued from the Everglades, so we can't be sure. He's about 18 months old and weighs about 40 pounds. He's a sweetheart, but he has some behavioral issues we're working on.

And Dreadful has NOT reconciled himself to this new family member yet. He's never lived with a dog before, and he's not sure he wants to now. They're cohabiting relatively peacefully, but Dreadful is still keeping his distance.

ETA: and then Kina and Dreadful got in a fight in the hallway. So much for not coming to blows. So, now they're locked on opposite sides of the dog gate for the night.

*sigh*

Tiger Swallowtail

Thursday, July 20th, 2017 11:35 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
 I got a picture of a tiger swallowtail today.

Courtesy of Facebook's On This Day

Friday, July 21st, 2017 12:30 am
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
I just got to a series of posts from 2014 Wiscon harassment meltdown. Ah, memory lane.

Georgist Conference in Orlando, Part Thirty-One

Friday, July 21st, 2017 12:07 am
[personal profile] ndrosen
To continue with the afternoon of Thursday, August 18, we next had a panel discussion, the Tactical Focus Panel, with Lindy Davies. Joshua Vincent, and Professor Frank Peddle. There was a handout from Josh, on the Unconference, with some advice: Find allies! Maybe a newspaper, Google Alerts, find Georgist solutions to local problems. Hartford and Philadelphia. Get Altoona to keep its land tax. Affect good assessments, as Ted Gwartney did in Greenwich, Connecticut, and elsewhere. Philadelphia has a new mayor and staff, and they're interested in fixing assessments.

As a postscript on that, Altoona went back to taxing both land and buildings, after taxing only land for a few years.

At the national level, grazing fees and other charges for the use of land. Testimony in tax committees. Regulatory agencies can be nudged to support land value taxation, HUD, for example.

Then Frank Peddle talked about the Panama Papers, showing international tax dodging. Governments try to tax mobile factors, not land. It's hard to untangle things and get money from tax havens, although politicians want to try. LVT makes it all so much easier.

Lindy Davies said that he didn't have much to add. He mentioned a carbon dioxide tax accompanied by a citizens' dividend. We're a radical movement seeking fundamental reform. Our efforts should inform each other.

To be continued.

For your viewing pleasure

Friday, July 21st, 2017 12:15 am
wcg: (Default)
[personal profile] wcg
I see it's been three weeks since I posted anything here. July has been a slow month for astronomy, due to persistent clouds over the Canary Islands and Chile, but I do have a few gems to share with y'all.

Behind the velvet curtain... )

beige bodice again

Thursday, July 20th, 2017 11:38 pm
mandie_rw: (naturalform1)
[personal profile] mandie_rw
Mostly successfully futzed with the beige bodice today to get it to fit - it's not really 100%, but it's vastly better than before. (And when all's said and done...it's not the most attractive print in the world anyway. So.) I will have to put a wedge in the sleeves to get them to fit, but I didn't have to piece in the front of the armscye, so that's good.
beige bodice front
I didn't get around to actually taking the basting stitches out, cutting lining pieces, and sewing the awkward fixer-pieces in properly...but I'm off tomorrow so I can do it then. (It's definitely going to be too hot to wear this bodice if we do go on Sunday, but I'd like to finish it anyway! Just putting it on and taking it off got me all hot and grumpy. I think I need to acknowledge to myself that just 'cause it's cotton, doesn't make it a Philadelphia-summer-appropriate dress...)
beige bodice side
There are some stupid side wrinkles that I don't think will come out even when the side's reboned, but oh well. I'll just consider myself lucky I could get the damn thing to fit at all and call it a day! Not all home sewers in 1880 had perfectly-fitting bodices, right? ;)

[syndicated profile] maddowblog_feed

Posted by MPX

Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian, talks with Rachel Maddow about the unprecedented nature of Donald Trump's queries about pardon power and...

So my mother had a small stroke.

Thursday, July 20th, 2017 11:34 pm
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
She's talking just fine (which is great, she's a real chatterbox) and even though she has some weakness on one side, it's already improving.

And while we were gone dealing with this, the cops broke into our house to search for our escaped neighbor. Which is ridiculous - they didn't have a warrant, and they certainly didn't have probable cause, and they definitely did not have our consent to a search.

I must say, they're really pulling out all the stops here. The cops, the state troopers, a joint NY/NJ task force, a helicopter... all this for some dude who ran out of his house, handcuffed, in his undies. It's either overkill, or they're hiding something big.

Fullmetal Alchemist: A Thoughtful Husband

Thursday, July 20th, 2017 11:03 pm
jordannamorgan: Edward Elric, "Fullmetal Alchemist". (FMA Baseball)
[personal profile] jordannamorgan posting in [community profile] prose_alchemist
Title: A Thoughtful Husband
Author: [personal profile] jordannamorgan
Archive Rights: Please request the author’s consent.
Rating/Warnings: G.
Characters: Hohenheim, Trisha, preschool/toddler Ed and Al.
Setting: Pre-canon.
Summary: Trisha loves it when Hohenheim brings home his second-best gifts.
Disclaimer: They belong to Hiromu Arakawa. I’m just playing with them.
Notes: Written for the prompt word “Loud” at [community profile] fan_flashworks.

Good afternoon, sir! It’s been a while since you passed through. )

Done!

Thursday, July 20th, 2017 07:42 pm
koshka_the_cat: (Default)
[personal profile] koshka_the_cat
I tried on the suffragette evening dress and decided against basting the skirt and bodice together. It seemed like it would work unbasted, but I pinned it anyway. Then the pins came out a little wonky, and I decided it would be fine.

I needed another tuck in the petticoat. After doing the first five nicely, I did the world's sloppiest tuck above the ruffle. I'm sure it's not the first petticoat to have a giant sloppy tuck.

Then I tried the suffragette day skirt on over the petticoat to see if it would work, and figured I may as well mark the new closures, so those are done. I moved the snap, but just added extra bars instead of moving them.

So, I think everything that has to be done is done. I still want a new hat, but...

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