And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

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Review: Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey is a movie for the legions of loyal fans of the “Downton Abbey” television series, and I am quite confident they will be most pleased with this highly-anticipated opportunity to revisit the estate and all its inhabitants, from the aristocratic Crawley family upstairs, to the devoted servants down below.

What? You’ve never seen the show and don’t know a Crawley from a crawfish? Oh dahling, I’m afraid you must move on. Or binge watch the six seasons that ran on PBS from 2010 to 2015. Or, at the very least, watch this 10-minute recap on YouTube, followed by the extended series finale, available on Amazon Prime. That’s what I did. Sure, it’s a bit like sneaking into a marathon a mile or two from the finish line. But without that baseline of knowledge about the characters and their backstories, I would have felt completely lost. I’m sure I still missed plenty of subtext, but at least I was able to appreciate the fine acting, witty dialogue, gorgeous costumes, early 20th Century set design, and the bucolic scenery.

Review: Viceroy’s House

It’s been 70 years since the British left India and split it in two while they were at it. Viceroy’s House is a very BBC telling of those last weeks, as Lord Mountbatten (Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey) and his wife Edwina (Gillian Anderson, X-Files) arrive in New Delhi to oversee the handover. Religious violence is rocking the country and the Muslim minority is pushing for their own country. It’s no surprise how that turns out, but the personal story of a Muslim woman Aalia (Huma Qureshi) and her Hindu suitor Jeet (Manish Dayal, The Hundred-Foot Journey) gives the film some context around the problems inherent in that split. It’s a very political world vs real people story.