Cranford: Return to Cranford

Cranford: Return to Cranford

Welcome to Cranford, where all changes and all remains the same. Miss Matty’s house is full of life and bustle. Her dream of having a child in the house has been realised in the birth of Tilly, daughter of her maid Martha and carpenter Jem. The shadow of the railway still looms but, to the relief of Matty and the Amazons, the line has been halted five miles outside of Cranford because of Lady Ludlow’s refusal to sell her land. Elsewhere Miss Matty’s friend Mr Buxton returns to town with his son, William, and his niece, Erminia. Miss Matty decides to introduce them to Peggy Bell, a young woman who lives in an isolated cottage with her mother and domineering brother, Edward, in the hope of building friendships. But, when tragedy strikes, she comes to believe that she has opened Pandora’s box and fears Cranford will never recover.The two-part saga Return to Cranford opens to a struggling Cranford, a traditional English village that in autumn 1844 is airing the conflicts that accompany p

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Eyes Wide Shut [Blu-ray]

Stanley Kubrick’s daring last film is a bracing psychosexual journey, a riveting suspense tale and a career milestone for stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Cruise plays a doctor who plunges into an erotic foray that threatens his marriage – and may ensnare him in a murder mystery – after his wife’s (Kidman) admission of sexual longings. As the story sweeps from doubt and fear to self-discovery and reconciliation, Kubrick orchestrates it with masterful flourishes. Graceful tracking shots, rich colors, startling images: bravura traits that make Kubrick a filmmaker for the ages are here to keep everyone’s eyes wide open.It was inevitable that Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut would be the most misunderstood film of 1999. Kubrick died four months prior to its release, and there was no end to speculation how much he would have tinkered with the picture, changed it, “fixed” it. We’ll never know. But even without the haunting enigma of the director’s death–and its eerie echo/antic

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Price: $ 10.43

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6 thoughts on “Cranford: Return to Cranford

  1. Review by Raymond Benson for Eyes Wide Shut [Blu-ray]
    The Special Edition is a welcome release simply because it’s the unrated, European, uncensored version of the film. I won’t begin to review the film itself except to say that it’s probably Kubrick’s least appreciated and most underrated film–undeservedly so– I personally think it’s just as brilliant as his other works. See it more than once before you decide.

    That said, the new Warner release has some flaws. The disk is supposed to contain BOTH versions of the film (unrated and rated), but it ONLY contains the unrated version (better that than just the rated one!). But the packaging says it contains both, so there’s a big boo-boo. Also, it was originally advertised that the film would contain commentary by Sydney Pollack and someone else– but there is no commentary on the film (and it doesn’t say as such on the packaging… so it must have been decided not to include it for some reason). Nevertheless, it was originally touted in press releases that it would have commentary that I was looking forward to hearing.

    After that, the extras a excellent and the movie looks great. But someone at Warner Home Video needs to have a reprimanding! 🙂

  2. Review by N. Graves for Cranford: Return to Cranford
    Firstly I was thrown off that Mary Smith had not stayed with Miss Matty and that she had a disappointment? Was it the Dr.that made her glasses from the first series? It was not explained and it was irritating. Then she turns around and leaves again!

    I didn’t like the way Martha was killed off and I think they only did it to send Jem and Tilly away so they could come back in a so called “magical ending.” Miss Matty’s brother Peter was portrayed by a different actor and he seemed flat to me and what happened to that twinkle in his eye he had for Miss Pole?

    Also, where were the doctors in this story? I found it unlikely that Dr. Harrison would leave after marrying a local(Sophie Hutton).So Cranford is left without a doctor which seemed so inconsistent to me. Not to mention the fact that the Reverend her father played a more substantial role here and he never mentioned the newlyweds nor was he ever seen with the two younger siblings. I find it hard to believe Sophie would leave them.

    By contrast, the butcher’s children are seen and mentioned by Caroline Tompkins’ sister, but where was she and her new husband? There was only a vague hint as to why they were in her sister’s care so much.

    I was also looking forward to the development between Harry Gregson, Lady Ludlow and her son Lord Septimus. Mr. Carter’s will was a masterpiece. Septimus finally comes back only she is dead and in a rather ridiculous way at that. I looked for a deeper connection to Harry Gregson as he is heir to a fortune and is to become educated and a gentlemen. Instead she is brought back as a frail old lady and promptly killed off. I also thought it faintly silly that Harry’s family is displaced by the railway, leaves to join the father and doesn’t contact him. Miss Galindo knows where they went since she spoke with his mother before she left, but Harry is seemingly left homeless? Although not in full possession of his fortune, I couldn’t help but think he would have been able find them, bring them back and provide for them and once he again he could have that home away from school. It was a mountain made out of a molehill.

    Altogether it seemed as if improbable events were set in place just to get the story where the writer wanted it to go. I did enjoy seeing the cow again in her clothes although they killed her off too and in the most gruesome way! As always I enjoyed Judi Dench as Miss Matty and Imelda Staunton as Miss Pole was much needed comic relief.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the first 2 part installment of Cranford and was utterly enchanted with it. I was so excited at the return, but it fell a bit flat for me.

  3. Review by freshbakedmama for Cranford: Return to Cranford
    How do you follow an act like Cranford? With another drama, brilliant in it’s own right. Not by trying to re-visit past triumphs, much as we long to do so. The proper successor to Cranford has yet to come along, in my opinion, and it probably won’t be about Cranford, but “Return to Cranford” was great fun, nonetheless.

    Return to Cranford stumbles perhaps against the block of the–what happens after the story ends?–mentality that plagues most sequels. We do get to see what happens to most of our beloved characters, with the notable exception of young Dr. Harrison. He’s only mentioned in passing as having a wife and not being there anymore, which is odd, since so much of the drama revolved around him in Cranford. In the sequel, most of the drama revolves around the railroad construction, halted by Lady Ludlow’s refusal to sell her land. Through a series of circumstances, the construction goes through an “on-again, off-again” cycle that feels contrived, and then culminates in an action-packed railroad event that also, in retrospect, feels contrived. Perhaps the writers hadn’t come up with a solid character-driven story before they were up against a deadline. As a result we get this circumstance-driven drama that depends upon our pre-existing knowledge of and affection for the characters to get our attention. Had this story been about unknown characters, I doubt it would have much real interest at all.

    There is also a strange sense that Cranford is a set, rather than a town, in this sequel. It feels less populated, somehow, and the costumes and rooms less detailed. Perhaps because of the way it was filmed? They must have reused the same costumes and sets as the original film, but this production does look subtly different. More like t.v. and less like cinema.

    Mattie’s brother, Peter, is played by a different actor, which is distracting. There was something so remarkable, sort of ethereal, about the first Peter’s physical appearance that it’s dissapointing to see him played by this different actor. The character adds very little to the story here, other than comic antics, so it’s puzzling why Peter was included, if the original actor was apparently unavailable, especially since others are so pointedly missing. In fact, I wondered if the producers did a roll-call of who would be available for filming before the writers got to work on the screenplay, some of the omissions are so arbitrary.

    Lady Ludlow’s son, the contemptible Septimus, appears onscreen finally and his story begins to develop, only to trail off. We never find out how his shenanigans turn out, despite the fact that they have a crucial bearing on the outcomes of several other characters.

    None of this means that I consider “Return to Cranford” a dismal failure. Not at all. For one thing, look at what it must be compared to. What sequel wouldn’t suffer by comparison? I expected some notching-down of the quality when I ordered it, and intended to enjoy visiting with these characters again, anyway. And I did enjoy it. Although I have to say that, hokey a plot twist as it was, if Harry Gregson hadn’t fogged up that mirror, I was prepared to be VERY dissapointed in the writers at that point! Enough bumping off of great characters, already!

    The actors, as always, were their superb selves. The performances are as satisfying as they could be with that screenplay. Good enough, in fact, to distract from the lackluster story.

    If you’re expecting to relive “Cranford” in all it’s glory, don’t. If you’re prepared to enjoy some very fine t.v.-grade writing and production values, and revel in spending time with the beloved “Cranford” dames, then by all means, get yourself a copy of “Return to Cranford”. I’m keeping mine.

  4. Review by Rainy Day Reader for Cranford: Return to Cranford
    This is my new favorite movie, displacing Wives and Daughters as number one. I really enjoyed every character and the wonderful way challenges of life were handled. When this ended it felt a little like my new dear friends had moved to another country, and I would miss them. I do love that I can always re-visit them. This is such a heartwarming story, and if you are sentimental and love victorian era sagas, you will love this.

  5. Review by pjf for Cranford: Return to Cranford
    The original Cranford series was not devoid of painful moments, but there was a balance of joy and grief. The sequel seems to overbalance on the grief side, with two major losses. One seemed to sacrifice the storyline for excessive dramatic purpose, a loss from which I think the series could not easily recover.

    There seemed to be many holes in this series compared to the former one. No explanation was given for why Cranford went from two doctors to none. And so much of what went on seemed to make little sense, or the characters indulged in excessive acts for no good reason except to furnish dramatic content — Lady Ludlow’s final stand, Jem Hearn’s decision, and Harry’s inexplicable comings and goings. Even the town, which should have been booming (even if the railroad was going to be a few miles rather than right at their doorstep) was supposedly in an economic tailspin. After all, Jem was run off his feet by his business even before the railroad came.

    For those of us that paid attention and really took in the details of the first series, it’s not so easy for us to swallow whole a hasty, ill conceived and ill justified second series.

    OTOH, there’s enough of Cranford in it to make it passable to good, if not the excellent rating the first series got. Imelda Stanton and her feathers alone is worth the watch.

    I can only hope we get more Cranford in future, though I wish they would do the first series and its devoted viewers justice and take a little more care to make a more sensible storyline.

  6. Review by z hayes for Cranford: Return to Cranford
    I was able to watch this follow-up to Cranford thanks to a particular website and I promptly pre-ordered the DVD as I loved “Cranford” and its host of interesting and eccentric characters (and yes, I am a period drama fan, especially of BBC productions). This is actually a 2-part special that is not only inspired by the original Cranford, but also two other stories by author Elizabeth Gaskell, i.e. “The Moorland Cottage”, and also “The Cage at Cranford”, see Three Tales of Cranford: Cranford, The Cage at Cranford, and The Moorland Cottage. Besides the familiar and beloved cast of the original Cranford such as Miss Matty (Dame Judi Dench), Miss Pole (Imelda Staunton), Mrs Forrester (Julia McKenzie), Miss Tomkinson (Deborah Findlay), etc. several new characters are introduced, such as Lady Glenmire (played by Celia Imrie), and the conjuror Signor Brunoni(Tim Curry).

    The first part is set in summer 1844 – it has been two years since dear Miss Matty (Dame Judi Dench in another luminous portrayal) lost her beloved sister Deborah, and a year since Sophy Hutton married Dr Harrison (these two characters are no longer in this show). Miss Matty seems content with the presence of her brother Peter (Nicholas Le Prevost) who is home from India, and helps look after Tilly, the baby of her maid Martha and carpenter Jem Hearne. The continuity from the original Cranford is seen in the railway project which still looms menacingly over the town. Things are also made more exciting with the arrival of Mr. Buxton, a wealthy widower who lives with his ward Erminia (Michelle Dockery) and his son William (Tom Hiddleston who is quite the eye candy). Life in Cranford is always full of surprises and when Lady Ludlow’s long absent son Septimus (Rory Kinnear) arrives, things take unexpected turns, precipitated by a tragedy in the family. The old tensions are there – especially between those that are against the railroad project and those ,like Captain Brown and young William who feel that modernization is essential to Cranford’s long-term survival. Miss Matty, in her usual subtle fashion, gets involved in some of these village proceedings, with some rather startling results.

    The second part is set later in the year 1844, October up till Christmas – Miss Matty and her friends are predictably excited at the visit of Lady Glenmire (Celia Imrie) but when Mrs Jamieson (Barbara Flynn) feels no one amongst her peers is of suitably high rank to meet her, she and Lady Glenmire get snubbed by Matty and company and it is left to Lady Glenmire to set things right in a most memorable way. Matty also faces some challenges that involves a falling out amongst her circle of friends,a serious romance between William and a young woman deemed unsuitable by his father (which has Matty pondering the wisdom of her ‘involvement’ in bringing the pair together), and more tragedy on the horizon, affecting the citizens of Cranford.The magic of the original is still evident and this follow-up (of sorts – it’s not strictly a sequel though some story arcs from the first Cranford get developed here) is still charming and engrossing. A fair note of warning, this particular installment in the Cranford franchise is much more subdued than the original and there’s quite a fair bit of tragedy – there’s death (involving a couple of familiar characters who were also in the original), grief, tension, family drama, imperiled friendships, the age-old battle between those opposed to change and those who embrace the challenges of modernization,etc., but there’s also romance, lighthearted moments and even a bit of magic!The comic and the tragic are seamlessly blended into the story, resulting in an immensely satisfying viewing experience. I loved it though I can understand how this particular follow-up might disappoint purists who loved the original and how well it adhered to Gaskell’s novel. As for the production qualities – they are excellent. The cinematography is gorgeous, capturing the beauty of the village surroundings as well as the period details, and the score complements the story perfectly. I wish I could be so lucky as to live in a place like Cranford!

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