Wednesday, September 18, 2019


Tonight I saw Maiden, starring Tracy Edwards and Jo Gooding.

In 1989, Tracy Edwards led an all-female team in the Whitbread Round the World Race, though she'd never been a skipper before. This documentary recalls the years leading up to the race featuring interviews conducted with original crew members and the journalists who covered them, in addition to archival footage.

Throughout her young life, Edwards had trouble committing to things. After an idyllic childhood cut short by her father's premature death, the young woman found herself always escaping. After being expelled from school and backpacking around Europe, she ended up on charter boats doing various jobs including cooking and acting as a deckhand.

After a chance meeting with King Hussein of Jordan during a trip to the U.S., she was helped by him to acquire a boat and organize a team to compete in the Whitbread Round the World Race. The team was all-female and struggled to find sponsorships because of those who underestimated their potential.

Finally, by 1989, the team and funding was in place and the women were able to compete alongside their male counterparts, gaining momentum with each milestone reached.

The film does a fantastic job of re-living their journey as it happened and relishing in every last victory these amazing women enjoyed.

A perfect movie for 2019.


Saturday, September 14, 2019

Downton Abbey

On Thursday night I screened Downton Abbey, starring Dame Maggie Smith and Allen Leech.

We rejoin our beloved upper-class British family in 1927 when they are set to host King George V and Queen Mary for a night at their estate. As preparations for the royal visit progress, the staff is excited for the opportunity to serve royalty and the Crawleys themselves are anxious, yet pleased.

True to fashion, things don't exactly go as planned. Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) is concerned that Barrow (Robert-James Collier) isn't up to the task of leading the team and requests that Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) come out of retirement to assure things run smoothly. Flattered, he agrees to do so. Then, the boiler breaks, and a sexy plumber (James Cartwright)—sort of a cross between Ben Affleck and Justin Hartley—arrives to save the day, making Andy (Michael C. Fox) furious with jealously, as Daisy (Sophie McShera) flirts up a storm.

Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) is awaiting the delivery of her ball gown and has a secret to share with her husband. Violet (Smith) is ready to cause trouble when a cousin comes along for the visit and doesn't plan to name Robert as the family heir. Items around Downton also mysteriously start to go missing.

As usual, there's a lot going on.

In addition, Tom (Leech) maintains a prominent place in the family, still raising his daughter at Downton and managing the property with Lady Mary. He is part of two main storylines here, but I can't mention them in any depth without spoilers, so I'll just say his presence is welcome and he's better than ever.

At heart, this felt like a very satisfying extended episode of the show we said goodbye to just a few years back. There's drama, romance, mystery and comedy. But is there anything particularly cinematic about it? Not really, but that's okay. Downton was grand as a television show with lavish costumes and sweeping landscapes, and it's even more of a pleasure to watch them on a big screen.

The show maintains its usual charm and wit, especially in Smith's delivery, then goes for an emotional sucker-punch (that I personally didn't see coming) at the end. If you're like me, you'll both laugh and cry as you acclimate to the comfort of spending time with characters who already feel like family.