Da'ud Bob's Movie Review
July 2015

I'd been looking forward to this miniseries ever since I heard that it was going to be broadcast. I mean, sure, I'd see (years ago!) the movie based on the play about the life of Sir Thomas More, A Man for All Seasons. And I'd enjoyed it, I really had. But the movie didn't give you some of the seamier sides of Sir Thomas' life - his devotion to rooting out heresy (as defined by the Catholic church), spying on and investigating suspected Protestants, especially publishers, and arresting any one holding in his possession, transporting, or selling the books of the Protestant Reformation, and suppressing traveling country ministers who used Tyndale's English translation of the New Testament. He admitted to imprisoning heretics in his house, though he utterly rejected claims of torture and whipping. On the other hand, he admitted in 1533 that he applied corporal punishment to two heretics: a child who was caned in front of his family for heresy regarding the Eucharist and a "feeble-minded" man who was whipped for disrupting prayers, and during his time as Lord Chancellor six people were burned at the stake for heresy. So I was looking forward to seeing what this new mini-series might have to say about the villain of the earlier movie, and how it might portray Sir Thomas. And so it is that this month, Da'ud Bob reviews for you Wolf Hall.

Starring Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell, Damian Lewis as King Henry VIII, Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn, Joss Porter as Richard Cromwell, Bernard Hill as the Duke of Norfolk, Jessica Raine as Jane Rochford, Edward Holcroft as George Boleyn, Richard Dillane as the Duke of Suffolk, David Robb as Sir Thomas Boleyn, Kate Phillips as Jane Seymour, Will Keen as Thomas Cranmer, Ed Speleers as Edward Seymour, Anton Lesser as Sir Thomas More, Jonathan Pryce as Cardinal Wolsey, Joanne Whalley as Katherine of Aragon, Harry Lloyd as Harry Percy, And Mathieu Amalric as Eustace Chapuys, the miniseries is based on two historical novels by Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, and covers the events, historical and political, from shortly before Henry VIII looks for a way to divorce his wife, Katherine of Aragon, until the execution of Anne Boleyn.

Good points: It's the BBC, so the costumes are excellent! The sets, with actual cathedrals and castles (though often standing in for other cathedrals and castles). The tapestries. Wolsey's chair. The fireplaces. The banners. Cardinal Wolsey's real coat of arms. Reading the Bible in English. (How shocking!) Sir Thomas More's glasses. The armorial windows. The armor. The blackwork cuffs.

Bad points: The stained glass windows in Cromwell's office. Elizabeth Barton's false prophecies. I seriously doubt that Cromwell roused King Henry from his coma by hammering on his chest. The entire mini-series seems to move very slowly; indeed, the word "ponderous" came to more than solely this reviewer's mind, especially notable in such scenes as Anne Boleyn's coronation and the trial of Sir Thomas More. Apparently, though, the books are much the same, so maybe it's not the filmmaker's fault.

Zero breasts. (Though there was some talk of two.) Two gallons of blood. Six dead bodies. Dream fu. Fire fu. Diplomacy fu. Knife fu. Sword fu. Plots and counter-plots roll. Waves roll. Head rolls. Gratuitous three card monte. Gratuitous interpretation of dream. Gratuitous flashbacks. Gratuitous monkey. Gratuitous archery. Gratuitous dancing. Gratuitous heretic burning. Gratuitous threats of torture. Gratuitous dwarf. Academy Award nomination to Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell for such lines as "You're sweeter to look at than the Cardinal" and, in reference to the fingernail parings of St. Edmund, "The man must have had five hundred fingers." A 62 on the Vomit Meter. 3 stars. Da'ud Bob says, "The entire series is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray. Check it out!"

Upcoming movies and miniseries to watch for!

October 2, 2015 in the UK; no release date for the US yet. Macbeth. Yet another film of "the Scottish play," this time starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Paddy Considine, Sean Harris, and David Thewlis. "A modern interpretation of the bard's tragedy, set in the claustrophobic confines of a stretch limousine which prowls the streets of a contemporary landscape as its agoraphobic passengers struggle for existential meaning in a dog eat dog world where only the fit survive, and tragedy unfolds."


February 26, 2016 Ben Hur. A falsely accused nobleman survives years of slavery to take vengeance on his best friend who betrayed him. Jack Huston, Nazanin Bodiadi, David Walmsley. Based on the novel by Lew Wallace, a remake of the 1959 classic that starred Charlton Heston in the title role.

No official website yet.

April 8, 2016 in the U.S. Gods of Egypt. The Egyptian god of darkness, Set (Gerard Butler), has taken the throne of Egypt for himself. A young thief (Brenton Thwaites), with the aid of the god Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) seeks to defeat him. Brenton Thwaites, Gerard Butler, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Geoffrey Rush, Rufus Sewell.

No official website yet.

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