Downton Abbey: A New Era review

The Downton Abbey franchise continues with Downton Abbey: A New Era. The family we love is back, the music of John Lunn returns, starting with a breathtaking introduction, and there is a new world of excitement. 

In Downton Abbey: A New Era, the characters we love return, including: Robert Crawley, played by Hugh Bonneville; Lady Mary, played by Michelle Dockery; Violet Crawley, played by Maggie Smith; Lucy Smith, played by Tuppence Middleton; Jack Barber, played by Hugh Dancy; Cora Crawley, played by Elizabeth McGovern; Imelda Staunton, played by Maud Bigshaw; and many more wonderful characters.

The year is 1929, when films are transitioning from silent movies to the “talkies”. For obvious reasons, this was a seismic innovation in film technology. And since I am a movie fanatic on many level, the focus on this era is one of the big reasons I loved this film so much.

The plot of Downton Abbey: A New Erainvolves the Crawley family journeying to the South of France to investigate the dowager’s countess’s newly inherited villa. The film has many revelations, new adventures, and new feelings for many of the characters we love. Lady Mary, whose husband is always away, feels she is falling in love with the director of a film being shot there. Maggie Smith delivers a lovely and fashionable performance as she did in the first film and the series.

Although much of Downton Abbey: A New Era will feel familiar, the Crawley family does, again, face new challenges and they cross new boundaries, bringing some unexpected excitement. So fans should be ready for some changes. But on balance it is a film of joyous adventures and heartfelt moments, and it is wonderfully moving. I loved its pace and how it enlightened a crucial era in cinema development, and I just loved the film overall. Three and a half stars for Downton Abbey: A New Era.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Review

The number one post-pandemic movie, released in December of 2021, was Spiderman: No Way Home. The sixth highest grossing movie ever made, it brought in $1.89 billion. Less than six months later we have Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. It will be interesting to see just how much this next installment in the franchise can yield, but from a reviewer’s standpoint, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a good, but not amazing film.

With Benedict Cumberbatch reprising his role as Dr. Stephen Strange, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness continues the catastrophic events surrounding the Marvel cinematic universe, basically picking up where Spiderman: No Way Home left off. But this time the multiverse has hit uncharted territory, with superheroes coming to earth from many universes to serve a purpose—that is, to serve the Multiverse of Madness.

As the film begins, Dr. Stephen Strange is back with his magic and powers. His buddy Wang, played by Benedict Wong, is also back and he still has his sorcery skills and funny moments. But for Strange, the world around him is about to crumble because the errors of the multiverse cannot be reversed. A forbidden spell has been cast by him, and the door to the multiverse takes him to a place of many evils, where there is an alternative version of himself. Also on the dark side with her powers is Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen. But with the help of a stranger from the multiverse, America Chavez, played by Xochitl Gomez, there may yet be hope for the multiverse. Having Karl Mordo, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, in the mix complicates things, though.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnessis a lighthearted continuation of the Marvel franchise with many surprises and hidden gems. Where the film starts to fall apart is in the setup between the protagonist, Strange, and the antagonist, Wanda. The setup is fragmented, scattered throughout the film. I found myself thinking, “Okay, we know this, move on.” But Olsen does deliver a killer evil witch character.

I will end this review with a positive aspect of the film. The illusions of powers through the minds of Strange and Wanda are deep and cinematically enthralling. As the teleporting of many universes occurs, fans will know there are more disasters waiting to happen—more disasters and more fun along the way. Though it didn’t quite meet my expectations, the film is a good setup looking forward to future Marvel projects. Three stars for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Inland Empire Review: the 4k Experience

David Lynch is a director known for blending surreal moments throughout his films. Inland Empire has always felt bothrealistic and haunting, but the 4K restoration of this film is even more daring. Inland Empire spans the many desires for auteur directing from the mind of Lynch. When I revisited Inland Empire after a five-year hiatus from watching it the first time, I was even more mesmerized by its many fascinating twists. Lynch’s directing creates the amazingly vivid role played by Laura Dern featuring many mind-bending realizations. Inland Empire’s 4K Restoration kept me wondering how much more could Lynch do to make this film an even more psychopathic ride.

To recap the plot, Lynch takes his audience into the vast lands of California. Dern plays Nikki Grace. Nikki is an actress that has just landed a part in a movie that she is ecstatic to be a part of. In spite of Nikki’s excitement, the film takes a ride into many dark corners. With Lynch’s creative mind, the dark corners are unexpected and sometimes confusing to understand. Nikki’s world begins to evolve with a strange persona. The persona isthe character she is going to play in her next film which lead tonightmares for Nikki as various areas begin to go awry. Her husband Devon Berk (played by Justin Theroux) is jealous and ends up as the co-star of her next film. Tensions begin to pile on as this happens. The director Kingsley Stewart (played by Jeremy Irons) blindsides Nikki and it is not what she expects. As more stressors build for Nikki, the rapid evils that Lynch createsreach a climax in the cinematic sense.

Lynch combines the treacherous nightmares of Nikki in Inland Empire. He does so as the film interweaves patterns between the past, present and future. These patterns are quite unsettling, but also invigorating. Dern gives the most audacious performance in Inland Empire. She stays in tune with her anxiety as she did in Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986). Only this time, she is the one who is in grave danger if she cannot find a way to escape her nightmares.

Inland Empire is nearly a three-hour film in which Lynch dares his audience to follow his directing to new levels of anxiety and fear. Lynch’s way of filmmaking always leaves his audience with unanswered questions. I still have many with Inland Empire and continue to ask myself what Lynch is trying to tell his viewers. Perhaps, he is not trying to tell his audience anything, but instead just displaying his love for film in the most artistic way possible.

Dern’s incredible performance is the artistic centerpiece of Inland Empire. The consciousness of Nikki is pure Lynch filmmaking. As the many strange fragments of Nikki’s life evolve into uncharted territory, the world in Inland Empireexhibits intriguing parallels. The many heightened anxieties in this complex movie may not be fully understood, however, it is one that is hard not to watch. Relive the world of Nikki with Inland Empire in 4K Restoration Three and a half stars.

Treating cinema in many forms of art!

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