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Last Friday (on 18th of November, Year 2016), watched the DVD of The Devil is a Woman (1935). A story of a man’s obsession for a woman he could never own; and a woman who refuses to be any man’s possession.
the-devil-is-a-woman-marlene-dietrich-1Set in the early 1900’s, during the Spanish carnival season; a hedonistic period of merry making; the entire story revolves around, a woman who seeks pleasure for the self, with no care for others feelings. At the same time, the men who lust for her are no saints themselves; and they deserve what they get (or rather not get), in return. The Devil is a Woman, is based on a French novel, La Femme et le Pantin by Pierre Louÿs; the English title of which reads as, The Woman and the Puppet.
the-devil-is-a-woman-marlene-dietrich-2The Synopsys
The movie begins with the carnival, in the beginning of the last century, in southern Spain, where a wanted man, Antonio Galvan (Cesar Romero), for his revolutionary ideals, walking through the merriment, sees a beautiful veiled woman. He’s instantly infatuated. The woman, he finds out, is called Concha Pérez (Marlene Dietrich). Soon he meets an old friend at the pub, an ex-military officer, Captain Don Pasqual ‘Pasqualito’ Costelar (Lionel Atwill), and tells him of his interest for a woman named Concha. Pasqualito then cautions Antonio against her, telling him to be careful of that woman, and soon Pasqualito tells him of his own past experience, when he fell for Concha, five years before. Told in flashback we see Captain Pasqualito’s obsession for Concha Pérez (back in the late 1800’s, and how she constantly tricks him, and runs off with his money. As the movie proceeds, we realise what a fool Pasqualito is, and at the same time, how violent and nasty he can be.

Marlene Dietrich and Lionel Atwill in a scene from the film.

Marlene Dietrich and Lionel Atwill in a scene from the film.

The Character roles
Marlene Dietrich is hilariously superb as a morally questionable character. Yet she hardly lets the two lead men, enjoy her lips, let alone her body. She definitely cons them, and especially uses, the Captain, Pasqualito, for his money. At the same time we don’t feel sorry for Pasqualito either, for he can be brutal. True, she not much of a lady, at the same time she is honest on issues of her untrustworthiness, but what right has he to hit her black and blue. It makes him less of a man, and not enough to even pity the fool. She, at the same time, is a bold woman, who doesn’t let men overpower her, mentally. After she’s beaten by Pasqualito, she comes off unscathed, with not a care in the world. I’ve seen very few movies of Dietrich, and her portrayals are generally that of very serious characters (with a touch of humour, perhaps); but never seen her do something so farcically fun. Thus, this was something really different for her. A comical Dietrich is practically unheard of. And I loved her mischievous performance. Lionel Atwill is superb as a fool in lust, than love. It’s amazing how much Atwill resembled Josef von Sternberg (the director of the movie). Was there reel life, imitating the real? Was von Sternberg obsessed with Dietrich, and thus portrayed her as a devilish woman (though not necessarily as heartless and vindictive, as the men in movie see her as) in this film? She’s definitely not evil, as the title suggests, though men who can’t have her, might accuse her of being so, out of spite. None the less, after collaborating in seven movies together, this was the last film Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg worked on. He was a superb director, and she was his discovery. A pity, they went on to make movies for another couple of decades (Dietrich even longer, further down the years), but they never ever worked together again. YET, the collaboration of one director, with one actress, creating cinematic magic, in seven films, is till date, unmatched in the history of cinema.

Marlene Dietrich and Cesar Romero in a scene from the film.

Marlene Dietrich and Cesar Romero in a scene from the film.

Besides, Dietrich and Atwill, Cesar Romero is hilarious, as an exiled rebel, secretly in back in Spain, whose character of Antonio Galvan, despite listening to the former Captain’s advise, and agreeing on having nothing to do with Concha; gets a bout of amnesia (not literally), and goes running straight into the arms of Concha. Of course, Pasqualito’s advise, wasn’t out of any good intention, but more due to his own desire to own Concha, for himself; to get Antonio Galvan, out of the picture. The rest of the supporting cast are just as enjoyable in their respective roles; Concha’s mother, a con woman herself; the one-eyed woman who practically makes fun of Pasqualito’s desperate state, straight to his face; the governor, Don Paquito (Edward Everett Horton), who himself has his brain in his crotch, when it comes to the affairs of the seductive Concha; etc etc etc… The actors, and the superb direction by Josef von Sternberg, make the movie, with hardly much of a plot to speak of, an enjoyable affair.

Marlene Dietrich, on the sets of the film, (inset - right) Costume Designer, Travis Banton

Marlene Dietrich, on the sets of the film, (inset – right) Costume Designer, Travis Banton

One of the elegant Edwardian costumes designed, in White Chiffon and Lace, by Travis Banton, for Marlene Dietrich.  The photograph above, this sketch, shows Dietrich in this particular outfit, on the sets of The Devil is a Woman (1935)

One of the elegant Edwardian costumes designed, in White Chiffon and Lace, by Travis Banton, for Marlene Dietrich.
The photograph above, this sketch, shows Dietrich in this particular outfit, on the sets of The Devil is a Woman (1935)

The Production Design & Costumes
With the beautiful scale of art design and marvellous costumes, this movie would have looked spectacular, if it were made in colour. In fact, the film won the award for ‘Best Cinematography’ at the Venice Film Festival.

The costumes itself, besides being marvellous, are symbolic as well. We see Dietrich character wear a lot of lace, and hide her face in veils and masks. It pertains to her personality, as well, besides her love for fine things. Her hiding her face behind a literal mask, could mean she’s also hiding behind a metaphorical one, as well. Is she just a vulnerable young woman, afraid of being owned, afraid of commitment, just pretending to be a femme fatal?? Does she just pretend to have a block of “Ice” where she should have a heart?? Does she really not care, for anyone?? The duel sequence tells us otherwise. We get to see what’s actually beneath her nonchalant attitude. As does her visit to the hospital to see Pasqualito. When she lets go of Antonio Galvan, we see she’s trying to save him from being arrested. Of course (spoiler alert), last minute, at the border crossing, she refuses to run off to Paris with Galvan. She won’t leave her beloved Spain, but at the same time it doesn’t specifically show her going back to Pasqualito, either. She’s an independent woman, even at the end, and belongs to no one.

RIGHT: Audrey Hepburn in How to Steal a Million (1966) LEFT: Marlene Dietrich in The Devil is a Woman (1935)

RIGHT: Audrey Hepburn in How to Steal a Million (1966)
LEFT: Marlene Dietrich in The Devil is a Woman (1935)

The Audrey Hepburn Connection
Getting back to the beautiful costumes (literally speaking), they are the zenith and nadir of fashion. We see her in poverty, conning Pasqualito in gaudy costumes, in the flashbacks (towards the end of the 19th century), and as a very fashionable lady, in glamorous attire in the, movie settings, present (early 20th century). Some of these gorgeous costumes (of the 1900’s), by Travis Banton, reminded me of the stylish costumes of Audrey Hepburn, from My Fair Lady (1964). Of course, both the movies are set during the Edwardian era, one in Spain, the other in UK. But these two movies comprise some of the most stylish costumes from that period, before the Great War; over a hundred years ago. Of course, My Fair Lady is set in the 1910’s, whilst The Devil is a Woman, is set in the late Victorian, to the beginning of the Edwardian era. At the same time the British era’s don’t necessarily apply to Spain. Dietrich’s costumes in the flashbacks are more like that of a gypsy woman (I haven’t posted any of the pictures with gaudy costumes above, but just the more fashionably elite attire, worn by the glamorous Dietrich, thus, below I’ve posted a couple of hideous costumes, worn by her, seen in flashback sequences). Again here, her cheap glittery attire, seen in flashback, to the more elegant Edwardian outfits, in the, films, present day, could again by symbolic of her character. It seems to showcase her improvement in taste, her sophistication, and her growth, as a individual, and not just as a fashionista. In the more elite settings, we see Dietrich’s character have a heart, though see refuses to openly show her kinder, and more vulnerable, side. As I mentioned earlier, she’s seen hiding behind masks, a plenty, both literally and figuratively.

Despite the stylish costumes, worn mainly, in the latter part of the movie, the lace eyewear, worn by Marlene Dietrich, at her initial entrance into the movie’s carnival (she’s seen in lace eyewear more than once), reminded me of the black lace eyewear, worn by Audrey Hepburn, in How to steal a Million (1966), released in the year know as Sexty-Sex!! Of course, How to steal a Million, was set in the mid-60’s itself.

Couple of gaudy costumes, worn by Marlene Dietrich, in the movie, in the flashback sequences, set in the Victorian era.

Couple of gaudy costumes, worn by Marlene Dietrich, in the movie, in the flashback sequences, set in the late-Victorian era.

One thing missing here, is Dietrich’s trade-mark, sharp, clean-cut, masculine trouser suits. Her androgynous sexual ambiguity, and her bold masculine femininity, is something missing in this movie. We don’t see her, even in drag, at least once. Another rare differentiation from her usual roles. Pretty much out of her comfort zone, yet ironically this is supposedly one of Marlene Dietrich’s favourite roles ever. It’s definitely a very non-Dietrich role, in very non-Dietrich attire. Especially in those ridiculous gypsy style clothing, she’s practically unrecognizable.

The Controversy
The movie met heavy censorship, back in the day. Spain was outraged with the depiction of Spanish people in the movie. And once the Spanish government threatened to boycott all Hollywood films, Paramount Studio’s got hold of all prints in circulation, and burned them all. But Marlene Dietrich saved a copy, for herself, thus the movie still survives, in the 21st century. None the less a very bold movie, to come out of the 30’s, and most probably unacceptable back then (due to the crazed Hays Code of Law), that a woman should find herself in charge of herself, and not running behind a man.

The Dietrich DVD’s
Back in mid-September 2016, my father went to the States, for a an official visit. I asked my sister, who lives in USA, to get me some books and DVD’s, and sent her a massive list. She sent me most of the books, and six DVD’s. One of the DVD’s was a collection of Marlene Dietrich films, titled, “Marlene Dietrich: The Glamour Collection”, comprising of five of her films. I watched Morocco (1930) and Blonde Venus (1932), last month (October 2016) itself. Am yet to watch the rest from her collection.
the-devil-is-a-woman-marlene-dietrich-through-the-gateThe Dietrich Films
The first I heard of Marlene Dietrich, was as a teenager, in 1992, the year Dietrich died, aged 90. I saw a magazine full of her glamorous pictures. The first film of hers, that I know of, that I watched, was in 2002. When I was doing my MA in International Cinema (2002-2003), at the University of Luton, Luton, UK; in my first semester, for the module, ‘Post-colonial and third Cinema’, we mostly studied Asian and African movies (third world Cinema). BUT we also watched a Hollywood classic set in Africa, studying the orientalist attitude towards the third world. The film was, The Garden of Allah (1936), starring Dietrich alongside Charles Boyer. Post that I saw her in more mature, yet secondary, roles, like in the noir-classic, Touch of Evil (1958), and, the Audrey Hepburn, rom-com, Paris – When It Sizzles (1964).

And then last month, I saw her; first, in, the near excellent, Blonde Venus (as I mentioned earlier), alongside Herbert Marshall and Cary Grant; and then, in the very good, Morocco, with Gary Cooper, with whom she had a brief love affair in real life. What’s interesting in these movies, is the fact, though an independent woman, in both films, her love for a man, ultimately dictates her life. Morocco was tragic, the way she ultimately runs like a slave after her man. Both movies were sad in their own way. Whilst Blonde Venus had a happy ending, with the family reunited, Morocco was depressing, to what she became in the end. This is where The Devil is a Woman, differs. She seems better off alone, in the end. Marlene Dietrich’s character can also be considered, that of an existentialist, a free spirited individual, who shapes her own destiny.

Though not an excellent piece of cinema, it comes pretty close. Especially worth checking out for; Josef von Sternberg superb direction and cinematography, the fabulous costumes by Travis Banton, and last but not the least, for the, uniquely fun filled, performance by Marlene Dietrich.

The Devil is a Woman (1935)
My Rating: Near Excellent 9/10!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
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Last year, in October 2015, fellow blogger, Akhiz Munawar, nominated me for The Sunshine Blogger Award. I somehow never got to accept the said nomination, and do a post for it. Procrastinating, so far as my Blog is concerned, in general, due to various reasons (added to which haven’t really been feeling full of sunshine lately, in a country clouded with negativity). None the less, since this Blog award, wasn’t “Year” specific, I decided, it’s never too late. Thus, here is my post, accepting, and thanking, my Blog-pal, to FB-pal, and hopefully future real life pals, Akhiz Munawar, for nominating, me, rather “No Nonsense with Nuwan Sen”, for, The Sunshine Award!!

sunshine-awardThis is my second The Sunshine Award (with a different Logo though). In fact, back in December 2013, this was the very First Award nomination my Blog received.

So Here are The Rules :-

– Thank the person who nominated you. Done!!
– Answer the questions from the person who has nominated you.
– Nominate some other bloggers for this award.
– Write the same amount of questions for the bloggers you have nominated.
– Notify the bloggers you have nominated.

The Questions :-

Q1. Who is your favourite historical personality, your favourite saying by them?
A1. There are so many, hard to choose just one!! From great philosophers like Confucius and Socrates, from the ancient era, to great humanitarians like John Lennon and Princess Diana, from towards the end of the last century; there are many. But if I have to select one, I think I’ll go for Mother Teresa.
Quote of Mother Teresa!! Well, this is something I actually heard, when I was still in school, back in 1980’s. Apparently she had been speaking to, the then American President, Ronald Regan, at The White House, and I remember verbatim, the words she was supposed to have uttered to him, when he had asked about poverty in India; “India might have a lot of poverty, but America has spiritual poverty”!!!

Q2. Hope, Faith or Love? If you are given a choice to choose only one that will stay with you for the rest of your life which will you choose?
A2. LOVE!!! … as in a Lover; ‘cause that is something missing in my LIFE!!

Q3. What’s the biggest problem of your country and what’s the sure shot and effective/fastest way to solve it?
A3. Extremist, narrow-minded, Hitler mentality.
Literally cut open their heads and pour some sense into them (I highly doubt that would have much of an impact either, but that’s last remaining option😦 )

Q4. Your all-time Favourite Movie and Song?
A4. Roman Holiday (1953).
Imagine by John Lennon

Q5. When you are angry how do you express it?
A5. Silent treatment!!! Unless I’ve lost patience, then it’s BOOM (vocally that is😀 ).

Q6. Is John Snow Dead?
A6. Who??? Ha!! Don’t know, don’t care!! I haven’t watched Game of Thrones, but am aware of this fictional character from the show!!
Done!!

The Nominees are :-
Now here I shall bend the rules a little (Rules are meant to be broken after all)!! I know how many Bloggers dislike being nominated, as it feels a hassle to continue this chain of Blog Awards. Thus, I nominate all my fellow bloggers. If you, like or comment, on this post, consider you’ve accepted the nomination. Plus, the questions, are the same as above, except for Question number 6!! This is my Q6, for you all!! What’s you favourite Television series, from within the last five years? And Why?    
Done!!

Thanks again, Akhiz!!! ONE Year Late, but – Better Late Than Never!!
Cheers
Nuwan Sen

In 1956, the very 1st video tape recorder was invented. And by 1963 videocassette recorders were invented. But since, initially, it was intended only for the professional sector, it was way too expensive for the general public to afford for home use. The first consumer video cassette was introduced by SONY in 1971. The VHS (Video Home System) was released in Japan in late 1976 and in the USA in early 1977. So after being in use for 60 years, and surviving for almost 40 years in homes around the globe, the production of, the Video Cassette player, has finally come to an end. In July 2016, FUNAI Electric, in Osaka, Japan, the last remaining manufacturer of VHS recorders; which had been producing VHS-playing VCR’s for 33 years; announced, it would cease production of videocassette players by the end of the month !!!!!!

nuwans-collection-of-films-dvdvhs-008

Ironically it was 33 years ago, in late 1983, that we got our very 1st videocassette player. I was 8 years old. By the age of 9/10, I was a pro when it came to VCR’s and VHS cassette’s. I use to love recording stuff off the tube (televisions, that existed in another era). By the 1980’s, thanks to the videocassette player, cinema’s saw a major decline in numbers. People preferred to watch movies, in the comfort of their home. In fact, as a kid, it’s only once or twice, we went to the cinema, in the 80’s. But we use to go out on other outing a lot back then. By the mid-90’s thanks to the multiplexes, cinemagoers multiplied. Back in New Delhi, India, during my Delhi University (DU) years, we students went to the Cineplex’s, just to witness the new trend of having many a screens in one theatre. Plus it was a classy experience, unlike the best (one screen) cinema’s in Colombo, Sri Lanka, at the time. Soon Laser Disc’s (LD’s) & Video Compact Disc’s (VCD’s), started entering the market. I remember, how back in the late 90’s, I was talking with my fellow batch mates in DU, and I recall verbatim, that I said “Call me old fashioned, if you like, but I prefer the old videocassette, to these Laser Disc’s and VCD’s”; and they nodded in agreement. In fact I wasn’t a fan of sticky VCD’s at all (but loved the concept of audio CD’s, since I first saw/listened to them in the late 80’s, even though, I was still buying audio cassettes, in the late 90’s, as well).

My Audrey Hepburn collection of Videocassettes (from September 2003)

My Audrey Hepburn collection of Videocassettes (from September 2003)

By the early 2000’s, I was still buying video cassettes, mainly in regard to my Master’s course, in England. In Luton, UK, in September 2003, just after I handed in my final dissertation, titled “Marriage in Hitchcock Films: From Rebecca to Marnie for my MA in International Cinema, I treated myself to a collection of Audrey Hepburn movies, by buying a box set containing, five videocassettes (four out of the five were movies I had already seen). AND it was thoroughly worth it, being a big Audrey Hepburn fan!!!!!

The Dual System (VHS-deck & DVD player, combo system) I bought in Oslo in December 2003; we still use!!

The Dual System (VHS-deck & DVD player, combo system) I bought in Oslo, in December 2003; we still use!!

Videocassettes on one side

Videocassettes on one side …

... DVD's on the other.

… DVD’s on the other.

In Oslo, in December 2003, I bought a Dual System (VHS-deck & DVD player, combo system); and still kept recording films/TV-miniseries from television onto video cassettes, until about 2005!!! I saw a Christmas offer, in a catalogue, back then, and I knew it would be perfect for us (our family), for we had so many videocassettes from the 80’s onwards, and a few VCD’s, in our house in SL. Not to forget the few home movies (we had on old video tapes), of what we had filmed, in our childhood to teenage years. Of course, all those (older) cassettes are rotting away in a store cupboard. Hope I can salvage the home movies, at least. It’s only within the last decade, that I haven’t done any kind of video recording at all. Of course, since 2004 onwards, I’ve bought quite a few DVD’s, around the globe, adding to my ever growing private home library of books and movies (also see my post Holidaying in Australia, comes to an end, from November 2014).

My Film Library: My Private DVD collection

My Film Library: My Private DVD collection

My Film Library: My Private collection of Movies (Videocassette's & DVD's)

My Film Library: My Private collection of Movies (Videocassettes & DVDs)

My Film Library: My Private collection of Movies (Videocassette's & DVD's)

My Film Library: My Private collection of Movies (Videocassettes & DVDs)

So the video cassette survived, well into the early part of the 21st century. Even VCD’s couldn’t kill the tape. But now, DVD’s, downloading, online viewing, watching movies on your iphone/smart phones, et al, people hardly would look at their old video tape’s, let alone watch them. And finally now the last remaining manufacturer of VHS has ceased production. It’s the end on an era!!! But since some of my old cassettes, from the early noughties, are still in working condition, I’ll still be watching them, once in a while.

Other Movies in our house

Other Movies in our house

Other Videocassettes in our house (most still in working order)

Other Videocassettes in our house (most still in working order)

Other Videocassettes in our home (most still in working order)

Other Videocassettes in our home (most still in working order)

The 80’s  & 90’s: Old Videocassettes, from our childhood/teenage years, in a store cupboard (doubt they work at all)!!!!!

The 80’s & 90’s: Old Videocassettes, from our childhood/teenage years, in a store cupboard (doubt they work at all)!!!!! The few VCDs, are fine though!!

My Film Library: (Last, but not the least) SIX new DVDs, a recent acquisition of mine (from just last month)!!

My Film Library: (Last, but not the least) SIX new DVDs, a recent acquisition of mine (from just last month)!!

To the good old videocassette, that’s been part of my life, since childhood!! We’ll always have fond memories. Thanks to videocassettes, my love for good cinema, survived forever; through an aesthetically depressive society, such as SL, that has no respect or an understanding for the fine arts, especially the fine beauty of cinematic arts.❤ Love Film!!!!!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
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Quoting Édith Piaf

edith-piaf-2016

“Death is the beginning of something ”
– Édith Piaf
     (1915 – 1963)

Today happens to be the 53rd death anniversary of the famed French singer, Édith Piaf. She died from cancer, at the age of 47, on the 10th of October 1963. Also see my post Édith Piaf: 50th Death Anniversary, from October 2013.

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Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense

Quoting Dalton Trumbo

“One of the disadvantages of being a patrician is that occasionally you’re obliged to act like one ”
– Dalton Trumbo
     (1905 – 1976)

BOOKISH NUWAN ()

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
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trumbo-the-reel-trumbo-family

Exactly 15 years after the tragedy, that shook America; with the destruction of the New York Twin Towers (World Trade Centre), along with various other attacks, and a horrendous number of casualties; I watched this movie, set during, another tragic period in American history. The notorious blacklist (of a community with apparent communist sensibilities, back in the late 1940’s & 50’s, which included the Hollywood 10)!!! Great Hollywood personalities were not allowed to work in the United States, and imprisoned due to false accusations made against them. The movie was Trumbo (2015), a bio-pic on the famed screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo; which, as I stated above, I watched on September 11th, Year 2016 (on HBO Signature)!!!!!

The real life Trumbo family

The real life Trumbo family

Post-war 1940’s, was a very dark period in American history. Thousands of men and women were blacklisted, lost their jobs, and weren’t allowed to work, and many succumbed to suicide. Among those blacklisted were famous Hollywood personalities, including 10 screenwriters (who were subpoenaed to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, regarding alleged Communist propaganda in Hollywood films), known as the Hollywood 10. This was all due to, their, rebellious, yet non-violent, non-revolutionary, communist beliefs. Communism, is, no doubt, a false sense consciousness; but, none the less, these American communist at the time, were apparently harmless, and imprisoned, just due to their extremist beliefs. There was no secret Soviet Russian agenda, to overthrow the American government, by those that were blacklisted. No “Cambridge Spies”, among them. Amongst the falsely accused, Hollywood 10, was Dalton Trumbo, the famed screenwriter, who secretly wrote award winning screenplays, for movies like, Roman Holiday (1953) and The Brave One (1956), without taking credit for them, during the blacklist investigations. He also wrote ridiculous ‘B-movie’ scripts, under pseudonyms, especially for ‘King Brothers Productions’, for money, as he wasn’t legally allowed to work at the time, and had a family of five to support (as a father of three children).

Diane Lane & Bryan Cranston as Cleo & Dalton Trumbo, in a scene from Trumbo (2015)

Diane Lane & Bryan Cranston as Cleo & Dalton Trumbo, in a scene from Trumbo (2015)

Trumbo, is a superb film, and Bryan Cranston was brilliant as the titular character. A very touching portrayal of the Trumbo family, in times of crisis. The movie depicts how the blacklist affected the whole family, and how they all supported him, at times hating him, for his anger and indifference towards their lives, and the way he took them for granted; but at the same time understood the stress he was going through, working in secret. Diane Lane plays Cleo Trumbo, the wife that supported him throughout his life. This bio-pic is a must watch. And Cranston definitely deserved the Oscar nod, with a ‘Best Actor’ nomination, at the 88th Academy Awards, held earlier this year, but it’s a pity he didn’t win (though am not sure, whether he was the best male performance, as I haven’t seen three of the performances out of the five that were nominated; yet he no doubt deserved the trophy more than Leonardo DiCaprio). I love Leonardo DiCaprio, who’s a superb actor, but as I stated in my posts, Oscar White and Femme Fashion @ Oscars 2016; The Revenant (2015) is not the movie, I wanted him to win an Oscar for (as he’s done even better work, previously); but yet when he won, I was genuinely happy for him, for, no matter what, he was still superb in The Revenant, and felt he most probably was the best from last years lead male performances. But after seeing, Trumbo, I feel Bryan Cranston was so much more better, that Cranston definitely deserved the coveted Oscar statuette more, comparatively. Generally, am not a huge fan of Cranston (not that I disliked him, just wasn’t crazy about him either), but after watching him in this touching bio-pic, I have a new found respect for him as an actor.

Helen Mirren as Hedda Hopper

Helen Mirren as Hedda Hopper

The real Hedda Hopper

The real Hedda Hopper

Speaking of great acting talent, this movie had an interesting cast, playing various famous personalities, such as Louis B. Mayer, Sam Wood, Edward G Robinson, John Wayne (though David James Elliott felt nothing like Wayne), Kirk Douglas (neither did Dean O’Gorman feel anything like Douglas, except for the cleft in his chin), J. Parnell Thomas, Otto Preminger, et al, from the golden age of cinema. BUT, the most notable role was that of Helen Mirren as Hedda Hopper. I’ve known Hedda Hopper to have been a notorious gossip columnist the film industry dreaded at the time; but little did I know what a nasty woman she was. She definitely had a personal vendetta against many celebrities during  the ‘McCarthy’ era, including Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and  Dalton Trumbo, among others. Helen Mirren is simply marvellous as the nasty old witch, that Hopper, seems to come off as, in Trumbo. Also worth mentioning is the role by John Goodman, as Frank King, the ‘B-movie’ producer, of ‘King Brothers Productions’ notoriety. Goodman, is hilarious as King, who is aware that he makes bad movies, and knows the idiotic audience, that flocks to see his movies. Thus King is reluctant to take in a prestigious writer like Trumbo, not wanting Trumbo to waste his talent, on the crap the King Brothers make. Yet, what a kind heart King has, for he understands Trumbo needs the money. So basically Trumbo has to degrade his writing skills to write silly scripts for brain dead audiences, luckily he’s not credited for these movies either. Watch out for King’s eccentric reaction, when he is asked to fire Trumbo, by Hopper’s allies. It backfires badly for Hopper, a hilarious sequence, in a movie about a very serious issue.

Father & Daughter at work; Elle Fanning & Bryan Cranston, as Nikola & Dalton Trumbo; in a scene from Trumbo (2015)

Father & Daughter at work: Elle Fanning & Bryan Cranston, as Nikola & Dalton Trumbo; in a scene from Trumbo (2015)

Another notable role, was that of young Elle Fanning, who played the older Nikola Trumbo, the eldest child of Dalton Trumbo. Her character is the only one, who dares to speak up to her father, against his unfairness towards his family, yet always helps him out. There are a few, very touching moments between father and daughter, in the movie. A smart young child, who’s advise the father ultimately takes, in a very crucial moment in his life, towards the end of the film. The family’s support towards Dalton Trumbo, is beautifully showcased, and their close bond, perfectly examined. A bond that almost died, due to Dalton Trumbo’s stress, of working in secret, affecting his relationship with his children. The Bathtub played a very important role in Trumbo’s life, as well. That was his refuge, his workplace, and felt angered when disturbed. Many men use the loo to read, Trumbo used the tub to write.

A sculpture of Dalton Trumbo in his bathtub; based on a photograph from 1967; in Grand Junction, Colorado, USA.  The Bronze artwork was unveiled in October 2007.

A sculpture of Dalton Trumbo in his Bathtub; based on a photograph from 1967; in Grand Junction, Colorado, USA.
The Bronze artwork was unveiled in October 2007.

Though Trumbo is brilliant flick, it has been criticised, for certain misrepresentations of certain people and events. Actors, Louis C.K. and Roger Bart, play two fictional characters based on, not two individuals, but various famous personalities; like Lester Cole, Samuel Ornitz, Dore Schary and Walter Wanger, to name some. But more specifically, classic actor, Edward G. Robinson (played by Michael Stuhlbarg), is portrayed as betraying his friend, Dalton Trumbo, and others, by naming them as communists before the HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee). G. Robinson never named anyone, friend or foe, as a communist. Trumbo was also criticised for showcasing Dalton Trumbo, as a martyr, whilst in reality, this famed screenwriter was supposedly a brutal supporter of Soviet-style communism, advocating the nightmare regimes of; the then leader of the Soviet Union; Joseph Stalin, and; North Korean dictator; Kim Il-sung. Added to which, the real life Trumbo showed support to suppress the freedom of Speech in the United States. The film was also condemned for it’s positive outlook towards Communism, as if it were just another political party, without representing it’s truly tyrannical and hostile nature.

Michael Stuhlbarg as actor Edward G. Robinson in Trumbo (2015)

Michael Stuhlbarg as actor Edward G. Robinson in Trumbo (2015)

Politically and historically speaking, the film has it’s flaws, no doubt about it. Yet, despite all the criticism Trumbo garnered, as a movie, it’s still a very brilliant piece of the cinema arts. Fine acting, superbly scripted and brilliantly directed, a cinematic masterpiece; and one of the best films to come out of last year, Year 2015!!!!

A scene from Trumbo (2015)

A scene from Trumbo (2015)

One of the most touching scenes in the film, is when Dalton and Cleo Trumbo, see Dalton Trumbo’s name being credited for writing the screenplay, for Spartacus (1960), on the big wide screen; as they watch the movie. With the crediting of Dalton Trumbo, as the writer for both, Exodus (1960) and Spartacus, in 1960, marked the end of the Hollywood Blacklist. Dalton Trumbo died on September 10, 1976, aged 70. Posthumously, in 1993, a new Oscar was made, for his win for ‘Best Screenplay’ for Roman Holiday, and awarded to his wife, Cleo Trumbo. She passed away, at the age of 93, in 2009. Later, their son, Christopher Trumbo, dying with cancer, requested that his father receive full credit for his work on Roman Holiday. Christopher Trumbo died in January 2011, aged 70; the same age as his father, when he passed away. In December 2011, Christopher Trumbo’s wish was granted; the ‘Writers Guild’ finally credited Dalton Trumbo with the screenplay, for the tearjerker romance/love story, from 1953, Roman Holiday. Finally, almost 60 years, after it’s release. Roman Holiday happens to be my all time favourite movie. Watched Roman Holiday just before turning 19, in June 1994, for the very first time. And have seen it a zillion times more, within this century. I still have the video cassette (VHS) of this classic love story, in working condition, in my private collection. And Trumbo, is yet another great film, about the man behind my all time favourite movie.

Trumbo (2015)
My Rating: 10/10!!!
Pure Excellence!!!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
#‎NuwanSensFilmSense

 

Quoting Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy Brilliant Quote

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Nuwan Sen (Quoting Quotes)

Quoting Sir Laurence Olivier

Laurence Olivier Quote

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Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
#‎NuwanSensFilmSense
Nuwan Sen (Quoting Quotes)

Août 16' 001

Aparna Sen’s Parama (1984), a.k.a. Paroma, is a brilliant piece of Indian Art House Cinema. A story of a woman, who’s lived the first 40 years of her life, belonging to others; and at the age of 40, finally finds herself. At 40, she finds her own true identity; as Parama. Not the daughter-in-law, Parama!! Not the wife, Parama!! Not the mother, Parama!! Not the housewife, Parama!! BUT, the individual, Parama!! Through a passionate extramarital affair, with a young man, she learns to live, for herself, and not others.

Bollywood superstar, of the 70’s & 80’s, actress Rakhee, plays the lead titular character, in this Art Film from the state of West Bengal; of which I watched the Hindi language version. I’m not sure, as to whether the movie was made in Bengali, and Hindi, simultaneously; or whether it was made in Bengali, and dubbed into Hindi. But if it were dubbed into Hindi; it’s a damn good dubbing; for the lip movements are well in sync with the Hindi dialogues. Of course, this is not a Bollywood film. Bollywood films, represent the Bombay (now know as, Mumbai) Film Industry; based in the capital city, of the state of Maharashtra. Plus, Bollywood films, are mostly of the commercial genre, made mostly in the Hindi language. There are rare few Art Films in Bollywood, and even rarer films made in English as well. Parama is a movie from the Indian state of West Bengal. Films made in Bengal generally tend to be Art House Films, and Parama is an art film, made by one of the most prolific Indian directors ever; Aparna Sen. She, has made films (and acted) in, the English language, the national language of India (i.e. Hindi), as well as in her mother tongue (from her state), Bengali. Director, Aparna Sen plays a supporting role as Parama’s closest ally and confidant; her best friend and an intellectual, in Parama.

Rakhee looks bewitchingly beautiful, with her Parveen Babi bangs, and long luscious hair hanging loose.

Rakhee looks bewitchingly beautiful, with her Parveen Babi bangs, and long luscious hair, hanging loose.

Parama depicts, the life of many a married Indian women, living within an archaic patriarchal society, where the woman’s place is at home; a subject matter that is relevant even today. And of course, these women, too, are content, with their lives, taking care of household chores, and playing second fiddle to their husbands, and the husband’s family. Not all Indian women tend to underestimate themselves, definitely not the modern thinkers and feminists, especially from the 1970’s onwards. But majority of Indian society, thrives on such blind traditions; that any deviations are looked as the work of the devil. Most women, are not meant to have an individuality, and aren’t allowed to think for themselves. Thus, most women do subject themselves, to a routine life, on what they have been prepared for since birth; i.e. taking care of the needs of one’s husband, and his family. Modern, intellectual women, who move out of their comfort zones, is a rarity in India. But it does exist, especially in cities like New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. Yet, India is a massive country, with an equally massive population; where it’s not easy to educate and modernise an entire nation. And being a largely poor country, with majority of Mother India, suffering for hunger; it’s hard to eradicate poverty on it’s entirety, as well. But many a NGO’s, other charitable organisations, et al; do try their best. And the improvement, of even a small percentage of society; is proof of it. If India was a tiny island, with a considerably less of a population crisis; no doubt it would have been a rare first world nation, floating in the Indian ocean. With their progress, in aesthetics, economy, culture; if there wasn’t so much poverty, and land mass to cover; they’d be one of the most popular places on earth, as opposed to the notoriety, they’ve been associated with; especially when comes to the treatment of women, and poverty.
Août 16' 012Parama (Rakhee) is one such housewife, living in a well to do household, who is content with her routine life, obligations and limitations. We find out, from her group of intellectual modern female friends, who’ve all climbed up the ladder, that Parama, was a Sitar player, with great potential; but had to give it all up when she got married, and immersed herself into, so called marital duties. When she married, she married his entire family. In fact she hasn’t even studied further, not done a degree, a vocational course, nothing. So scope for her to have a life for the self, seems limited. Then one day, a famous young Indian photographer, Rahul (Mukul Sharma), based in New York, USA; visits Calcutta (the capital of the state of West Bengal, which today is known as, Kolkata, where this movie is set). Rahul comes to do a photo essay, for a prestigious, American magazine, on Indian housewives, focusing on one individual. He sees Parama, and is infatuated by her grace and beauty, he chooses her on the spot. She refuses; but her husband’s family pushes her to do so; along with her trio of teenaged kids. On the first day of the shoot, Rahul just asks her one question, “What do you think, Paroma?”, he wants to know what makes her click! And he clicks, with his camera, as she starts to unravel her brain, which she seems to have shut off, entirely, post marriage.

Rakhee as Parama (a.k.a. Paroma)

Rakhee as Parama (a.k.a. Paroma)

Soon Rahul and Parama, fall into each others arms, in a sexual affair, of love and lust. Her husband’s family never suspects. Them not suspecting, is less to do with their trust towards her, but more to do with them taking her for granted. They never feel she is capable of any feelings, or any human emotions, outside, her robotic household duties. Once Rahul leaves, for an assignment, the lovers secretly exchange love letters; a kind of romance she obviously never had before; and probably she was married off, through an arranged marriage, by the elders; and wasn’t her decision in the first place. It’s with Rahul, Parama first discovers true happiness.

Unfortunately, it’s found out, that she secretly posed for a sexy photo shoot, for her lover, Rahul. Meanwhile, with no news of the whereabouts of the photographer, all hell breaks loose. She is discarded by her husband’s family. Even her two elder children, refuse to accept her. Only the youngest child, still in his preteens/entering his teens, seems to still feel affection towards his mother. We wonder, what happened to Rahul?? Did he con her?? Is he dead?? Or captured?? He’s just vanished from her life, all of a sudden.

The sexy photograph, that results in Parama being disgraced by the family.

The sexy photograph, that results in Parama being disgraced by the family.

The movie is sympathetic towards the wife, even though she has an extramarital affair. And explores, the double standards, in Indian society. Men are accepted, being immoral (for we see the husband’s eyes stray towards other women as well), but a woman, if not morally superior; she is cast out, looked down on, and degraded. She might have made a mistake, but she learned from it. She ultimately opens her eyes, and we realise, she doesn’t need the support of a man, and marriage, to have a fulfilling life. Only her teenage daughter seems to understand.

This is an excellent movie, by Aparna Sen. I highly recommend it. From the narrative, to the set décor, to the brilliant cinematography; this is one of the greatest films ever made. Watch out for the close-ups on Parama, exposing her vulnerability, her simplicity, her metamorphosis from a common housewife to an individual who can think for herself. Plus, see the silent role, played by a common looking potted plant, Parama’s very unique beloved plant; the significance of which, sways through nostalgia into her being able to free herself from societal chains forced on her. Remembering the name of the plant finally, and zooming out of the window. We know she’s a new woman. A woman of today, who’s not afraid of anything, anymore.

Rakhee & the Euphorbia Cotinifolia, in a scene from Parama (1984)

Rakhee & the Euphorbia Cotinifolia, in a scene from Parama (1984)

Parama (1984), a.k.a. Paroma, is a must watch, for any film buff. I watched this movie, online, on Youtube, on Wednesday, 10th of August, 2016!!

My Rating: Pure Excellence!! 10/10!!!!!      

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Quoting Vladimir Nabokov

“A writer should have the precision of a poet and the imagination of a scientist”
– Vladimir Nabokov
     (1899-1977)

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Nuwan Sen (Quoting Quotes)