Tuesday, April 11, 2017

English Rose

Gemma Arterton in the Spring edition of "Town & Country" UK

I've often said that Harpers Bazzar UK is one of the most beautiful magazines around. The editor-in-chief Justine Picardie brings an artistry, intellect, and literary slant to this fashion magazine unlike anybody else in the fashion world. She is indeed a literary woman herself, a novelist and biographer who has written several books including a novel about Daphne Du Maurier and a biography of Coco Chanel. And so I find that I read the magazine not just for the fashion but also for the excellent articles on books, writers and artists as well as all kinds of cultural things happening in England, of which there is an abundance!

About a year ago I discovered another magazine edited by Justine Picardie: Town and Country  UK which is published four times a year and not that easy to find in Los Angeles. They are very patient with me at my local new stand as I ask about once a week if they have have it in stock. It is equally beautiful. This month's edition has Jenna Arterton on the cover which is a happy coincidence for me as I've just seen the film Their Finest in which she stars. I was absolutely bowled over by her performance. My husband and I left the theater wondering who she was (she looked very familiar but we couldn't quite place her) and when I picked up the Spring issue of Town and Country she was on the cover.  All I had to do was look inside to get the answer. The photo spread is gorgeous and the article contains some interesting facts about this very talented young woman.

Gemma Arterton is 31-year-old English actress who has been working in films and theater for many years. She has been in several French films, as well as a few Hollywood blockbusters, such as "Clash of the Titans." She is currently starring in the Donmar Warehouse production of the play Saint Joan. She is also working on a new film about Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf in which she plays Vita. It is written by Eileen Atkins. She says she prefers stage over screen and has set up her own production company so that she has control over she what she does. She now has the ability to develop stories she loves for herself and others. One of the things she liked most about the film "Their Finest" is that it is a romance in the vein of the old Hollywood screwball comedies in which two people love each other without knowing it. I think that is such a good description of the film.

Sam Claflin and Gemma Arterton in the new film "Their Finest"

Gemma plays an ambitious Welsh woman named Catrina Cole who lives in London during World War II and works as an advertising copywriter. She gets recruited by the government to join the film industry. Britain wants America to enter the war and decides the best way to rally the cause as well as lift the spirits of weary Britons is to make propaganda films celebrating the virtues of British soldiers. She works alongside a young, dispirited screenwriter named Tom Buckley (played by Sam Claflin) and together they start writing the film within the film.

Sparks start to fly between the two screenwriters but before they ever acknowledge their attraction to each other there are a lot of obstacles and complications along the way. Catrina is married to a penniless artist (played by Jack Huston) and they are living a life of bohemian squalor until she starts to make some money. She quickly rises to the top of her male-dominated film crew as her talent is begrudgingly recognized by the men around her and she begins to come into her own. The story unfolds against the grim backdrop of London during the Blitz, with lots of drama and suspense caused by frequent air raids and explosions. The cast is fabulous and includes Bill Nighy (who practically steals the movie with his comedic turn as an aging actor), Richard E. Grant, and Jeremy Irons. I loved this movie for its sense of time and place, romance, and compelling story of a woman's growing confidence and independence in a male chauvinistic world. I was also thrilled to see the work of this young English actress and look forward to seeing what she does next. Especially in the upcoming Vita Sackville-West film!

Have you seen her new film "The Finest"?