Call the Midwife: Season 1
Manufacturer: BBC Home Entertainment Brand: Warner Manufacturing
Call the Midwife: Season One (BBC/DVD)A moving, intimate, funny and, above all, true-to-life look at the colorful stories of midwifery and families in East London in the Fifties, based on the best-selling memoirs of the late Jennifer Worth. When Jenny Lee first arrives in Poplar, she knows nothing about hardship, poverty or indeed, life itself. Attached to an order of nursing nuns at Nonnatus House, Jenny is part of a team of midwives who visit expectant mothers, providing the poorest women with the best possible care. Here, the streets teem with children and with just one eight-bed maternity ward to serve the whole district; most deliveries take place at home. Following Jenny as she travels through the streets to meet her patients - like Conchita, who is on her 25th pregnancy and Mary, a prostitute and pregnant at just 15 - Call the Midwife offers a fascinating insight into a community on the brink of huge social change.]]> In drawing from the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, the BBC's Call the Midwife instantly distinguished itself from most other medical dramas, largely because it's a more character-driven piece. Jessica Raine, who evokes the openhearted Judy Garland of The Wizard of Oz, plays Jenny Lee, a middle-class 22-year-old who takes a job at an Anglican convent in 1957, where the young nurses work alongside experienced nuns: calm Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter), stern Sister Evangelina (Pam Ferris), and spacey, cake-addicted Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt, who costarred with Ferris in Little Doritt). Jenny is hardy judgmental, but the depth of poverty permeating London's East End provides a wake-up call (suffice to say, gynecological care has come a long way since the 1950s). To be effective, though, she must learn to put her preconceptions aside about teenage prostitutes, unwed mothers, squalid living conditions, and inappropriate relationships. Her upper-class colleague, Camilla "Chummy" Cholomondley-Browne (Miranda Hart, quite affecting), seems like she'd be even deeper out of her depth, but looks can be deceiving--even if Chummy finds it harder to handle the bikes the nurses use to cycle between appointments. Written by Cranford's Heidi Thomas and narrated by Vanessa Redgrave, the show has proven to be as much of a favorite among PBS viewers as ITV's Downton Abbey, to which it's garnered a few comparisons, possibly due to the period setting, even if there's a greater emphasis on women's issues. If anything, the postwar milieu brings the films of Terence Davies and Mike Leigh to mind, particularly Leigh's Vera Drake, in which Imelda Staunton provided off-the-books care to desperate mothers. Though Worth was involved with the spectacularly successful first season, she passed away two weeks before filming began. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Watchmen Collector's Edition: Ultimate Cut + Graphic Novel [Blu-ray]
Manufacturer: Warner Home Video Brand: Warner Manufacturing Color: color
Watchmen: Ultimate Cut + Graphic Novel (Blu-Ray)Someone's killing our super heroes. The year is 1985 and super heroes have banded together to respond to the murder of one of their own. They soon uncover a sinister plot that puts all of humanity in grave danger. The super heroes fight to stop the impending doom only to find themselves a target for annihilation. But, if our super heroes are gone, who will save us?]]> Everybody's favorite graphic novel comes to the screen (after years of rumors and false starts), less a roaring work of adaptation than a respectful and faithful take on a radical original. Watchmen is set in the mid-1980s, a time of increased nuclear tension between the United States and the Soviet Union, as Richard Nixon is enjoying his fifth term as president and the world's superheroes have been forcibly retired. (As you can probably tell, the mix of authentic history and alternate reality is heady.) Things begin with a bang: the mysterious high-rise murder of the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a masked hero with a checkered past, puts the rest of the retired superhero community on alert. The credits sequence, a series of tableaux that wittily catches us up on crime-fighting backstory, actually turns out to be the high point of the movie. Thereafter we meet the other caped and hooded avengers: the furious Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), the inexplicably naked Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup, amidst much blue-skinned, genital-swinging digital work), Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman), Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson), and Ozymandias (Matthew Goode). The corkscrewing storytelling, which worked well in the comic book, gives the movie the strange sense of never quite getting in gear, even as some of the episodes are arresting. Director Zack Snyder (300) doesn't try to approximate the electric impact of the original (written by Alan Moore--who declined to be credited on the movie--and illustrated by Dave Gibbons) but retains careful fidelity to his source material. That doesn't feel right, even with the generally enjoyable roll-out of anecdotes. Even less forgivable is the blah acting, excepting Jeffrey Dean Morgan (lusty) and Patrick Wilson (mellow). Watchmen certainly fills the eyes, although less so the ears: the song choices are regrettable, especially during an embarrassing mid-air coupling between Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II as they unite their--ah--Roman numerals. In the end it feels as though a huge work of transcription has been successfully completed, which isn't the same as making a full-blooded movie experience. --Robert Horton
Join Our Community!
Like what you see? Get a FREE account and start posting, sharing, and discovering more!
Have Questions? Contact Us!
Find out the answers to your questions by contacting us. We look forward to hearing from you!