Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I took a virtual museum visit to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, to see the fighter planes that fought in the London Blitz. Tina hosted a virtual food and movie gathering that featured amazing desserts inspired by Harry Potter.
In Red Joan, an elderly woman is accused of being a World War II spy decades after the end of the war. This film wasn’t popular among the critics, but we liked it — which is a bit surprising because we’ve had a hard time recently finding movies to watch together. It probably helped that we both have a fascination for technology in World War II. The bulk of the movie is told in flashback, so we get to see young Joan as a physics major at Cambridge and as a lab assistant in a Cambridge-based nuclear labs. The critics’ main objection seems to be that Judi Dench is underutilized in her role as the older Joan. That’s fair, so the fact that we liked the film might be because we’d literally watch Judi Dench read the phone book.
Speaking of Judi Dench, she has an interesting role as a commander of fairies in Artemis Fowl. The film is based on the book by Eoin Colfer about the encounters that 12-year-old Artemis has with the creatures of Irish mythology after his father goes missing. I have to agree with the critics consensus on this one, from Rotten Tomatoes: “A would-be franchise-starter that will anger fans of the source material and leave newcomers befuddled, Artemis Fowl is frustratingly flightless.” I haven’t read the book and there were several moments that felt like they needed a lot more explanation to make the plot work. I did enjoy Judi Dench, however, and the visual spectacle of the world with fairies, dwarves, leprechauns, and other fanciful characters.
One reason that Rick and I aren’t enjoying films together is that I seem to be stuck on films for kids. It’s probably a push to consider the live-action Cinderella a British film. It’s Disney, after all. But many of the actors were British and so was the director, Kenneth Branagh.The film was shot at Pinewood Studios, outside of London, and at several other shooting locations in England. Judi Dench wasn’t in this, but here are some of the other actors:
- Lily James (from Downton Abbey and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society plays Cinderella.
- Richard Madden (from Game of Thrones) is the prince who dances.
- Helena Bonham Carter (from Room with a View, Harry Potter, The King’s Speech and many more) gives a new spin on the Fairy Godmother.
- Nonso Anozie (who I’d just seen in Artemis Fowl) is a Captain and friend to the Prince.
- Sophie McShera (from Downton Abbey) is one of the step-sisters.
- Derek Jacobi (From Cadfael and Last Tango in Halifax) plays the King.
The critics liked Cinderella, and so did I. I watched it on my own, though, rather than try to talk Rick into making Cinderella a date-night movie.
Do you have any recommendations for date-night movies, British or otherwise?