Archive for March, 2013


Beatle News  #1

The Beatles 1962

 

  • 1962 – The Beatles record their 1st BBC radio show. Since then The Beatles went on to record a number of songs, performing Live for the  BBC radio programmes, only 52 times altogether, within the first few years, out of  the groups decade old lifespan.

The Beatles Live at the BBC

 

Nuwan Sen’s Music Sense. Nuwan Sen & The Beatles ().

Statue of David

Statue of David

 Michelangelo, one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance period, was born in Italy (current Tuscany area) on 6 March 1475.

With Michelangelo's Rebellious Slave &  Dying Slave at the Louvre

With Michelangelo’s Rebellious Slave & Dying Slave at the Louvre, in Paris (August 2008)

Growing up as a kid, my knowledge of artists of modern arts was pretty limited, with the exception of Dali, Picasso, M F Hussain and a few others. But when it came to the Italian Renaissance artists, I was a bit of a pro. Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael etc etc…, were among my favourites (second only to Dali) ever since I realised I had a passion for, and was gifted with talent for, the arts. Most beautiful works by the Renaissance artists was their study of the human figure, which added to their scientific knowledge, whereas Da Vinci went to the extent of designing machines (sketches on paper only) applicable to the human form. Yes, the study of the human anatomy gave rise to everything architecturally surrounding us, since way before. Everything, from the chairs we sit on, the houses we live in, high-rise buildings, are an extension of the human form, made specially for humans. Michelangelo’s Statue of David, is one of the most popular sculptures, although am yet see the original, despite having visited Florence in the Spring of 2005, I didn’t get a chance to do so. Again in the Spring 2005, besides visiting Rome (and the Vatican), I missed out on Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. The thing was, in April 2005, I travelled around Europe for a month with a Eurail pass, valid on the European rail network for a month, covering as much as possible, occasionally sleeping in trains (few places I had a place to stay in, and once at a Bed & Breakfast in Vienna, Austria; but generally I took the night train from country to country as to use the daytime as much for travel within a country), putting my bag in a locker at a station and covering a town, hopping on the next train etc etc.. So whatever I could catch that Spring was pretty limited.

But I have seen a some other works by Michelangelo, the highlight was when I got to see some of his works at the Louvre (picture above), which I visited four times, July 2008, August 2008, April 2009 & May 2009. I passed his two famous sculptures many times, but it’s only in my second visit that I took a picture alongside the sculptures (pictured above). Most of my photographs of paintings and sculptures, are the ones I took. So from my second visit onwards I’ve tried to take pics with me in them as much as possible.

Back again in April 2005, even though I never got to see the Sistine Chapel, I did visit the Vatican, and the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica was designed by Michelangelo (pictured below), although he died (on 18 February 1564) before he could compete it.  

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Nuwan Sen’s Art Sense

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Today happens to be the birth anniversaries of three distinguished artists from three different fields of the world of arts. One was a prominent British actor, Rex Harrison; another a controversial Italian film director, Pier Paolo Pasolini; and last but not least a teenage music sensation of the 70’s, Andy Gibb.

The Actor & The Film Director

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Rex Harrison (1908-1990)

I’ve known Rex Harrison, ever since I was a little kid, especially thanks to his roles of Professor Henry Higgins from My Fair Lady (1964), and Julius Caesar in Cleopatra (1963). I have a vague memory of having watched Doctor Doolittle (1967) as a kid as well, but I don’t remember it at all, except for a talking parrot, and lots of animals in a dried up deserted location. I’m not that familiar with Harrison’s works from the 1930’s & 40’s, but have loved most his work from the 50’s & 60’s.

My favourite Harrison character happens to be from My fair Lady.

Professor Higgins

Professor Higgins happens to be a very uniquely brash yet likable, highly sophisticated yet ill mannered, dignified yet indecent, eccentric yet admirable, Edwardian gentleman, who doesn’t know how to treat a lady. A Professor of phonetics, who’s appalled with the modern day butchering of the English Language, which he upholds with the highest regard.

Love the bugger !!! Whoops!! (my apologies to Professor Higgins) Mainly for his penchant for the highly polished use of the English Language. I wonder what he’d say, if he’s existed today. Worst if he were to meet an Australian. Higgins would die of a heart attack. “Poooor Professor Higgins” (sing along).

What’s most interesting is the fact, when Eliza Doolittle (played by my all time favourite star, the adorable Audrey Hepburn) has an argument with him, throws his bedroom slippers at him and leaves, for being treated as doormat, he genuinely has no clue as to why she was so mad at him. You actually feel sorry for “Poooor Professor Higgins”. And I love the way he screams for his “Mother!!!”. Well, they really don’t make such uniquely crafted, timeless, unforgettable characters anymore.

My Fair Lady, was based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (the title of the play’s refers to a tale from Greek Mythology).

Julius Caesar

Hail Caesar!! Another great role, where he is seduced by the bewitchingly beautiful Cleopatra (played by an equally bewitching beauty, Elizabeth Taylor). It’s not just Caesar and Marc Anthony (and the actor playing Anthony, i.e. Richard Burton), but we, the people who have watched this movie, too were seduced by both Cleopatra and Elizabeth Taylor. Taylor was Cleopatra incarnate, can’t think of any one better to play this milk bathen beauty. But Caesar wasn’t just seduced by her beauty, he saw her as an equal, an intellectual, powerful and fit to rule a country. He was seduced by her knowledge of the world, geographical locations, and her modernist views to have equality beyond borders so the world would be a peaceful place to live without any more wars. Yet, ironically, she ended up being the woman responsible for burning of a thousand ships. Very powerful roles from all three cast members. As a teenager I read Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra, and for my Bachelors I studied Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Love both these plays, and Cleopatra, the movie that’s not based on these plays, but historical accounts. 

Rex Harrison also appeared in a pretty good (not great) Bollywood gem heist of a movie in the late 70’s, Shalimar (1978), with an international cast from various different countries. 

Rex Harrison Films

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Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975)

Unlike Rex Harrison, film director Pier Paolo Pasolini, is not somebody I knew as a child. Makes sense as majority of his flicks happen to be not really eligible for innocent little minds. It’s somewhere in in the early mid-90’s as a teenager, that I first heard of Pasolini, but it was much later that I finally actually got a chance to watch his masterpieces, i.e. within last decade.     

Pasolini, and fellow Italian director Fellini, happen to be two of the most controversial characters of modern cinema, cinema of the 50’s, 60’s and the 70’s. They were a rare two, who dared to challenge censorship laws, and their works contained very graphic content, in reference to sex, nudity, violence and very mature unorthodox concepts itself. The two directors were also famous, having worked together a few times before,  for a spat during the making of a project called ‘Satyricon’ in the late 60’s, to the extent that Fellini renamed this surrealist movie and released it as Fellini – Satyricon (1969).  I’ve actually watched more works of Fellini than Pasolini. Like Salvador Dalí was to art world, both Fellini and Pasolini were supremacist surrealist in the world of cinema.

Two of the best films of Pasolini’s I’ve watched, happen to be, Teorema (1968) and Il Decameron (1971)

Teorema

Teorema, was unusual story of a stranger (Terence Stamp) who comes to live with a bourgeois Italian family in their beautiful luxurious villa, and manages to seduce everyone sexually. The father, the mother, the two teenage children and the family maid.

Il Decameron

Il Decameron is anthology film based on nine stories from Decameron, by the 14th Century poet Giovanni Boccaccio. Pasolini, himself was a poet and writer. Pasolini’s lover, actor Ninetto Davoli, appeared in small roles in many of Pasolini’s films, including a small role in Teorema, and a more significant role in Il Decameron. 

Am yet to watch his most controversial, and last, movie,  Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma (1975), based on the famed Libertine novel by Marquis de Sade (18th Century French aristocrat, philosopher and writer). But I have watched a movie based the Marquis’ life in prison, called Quills (2000) starring Geoffrey Rush and Kate Winslet. 

Pier Paolo Pasolini was murdered in 1975 under mysterious circumstances, post the release of Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma.

Pasolini directed films

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Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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Andy Gibb (1958-1988)

Andy Gibb

Andy Gibb was a teenage pop music sensation of the 70’s & early 80’s. The youngest (4th) of the Gibb brothers, the elder trio formed the band Bee Gees. Andy Gibb’s success was always overshadowed by the fame of his older brothers, and never got a chance to join the famed group. Especially as he was a whole decade younger that his three elder brothers (who were all born post WWII, mid to late 1940’s). Andy Gibb never got the recognition the Bee Gees enjoyed. Soon drugs and depression took over, and was root cause for his decline, and ultimate demise. Although towards the end of his life he did clean up, and drugs were out of his life, his depression remained, and just after celebrating his 30th Birthday on the 5th of March 1988, he was admitted to hospital for chest pains. Five days after his 30th Birthday Andy Gibb passed away.   

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Nuwan Sen’s Musical Sense

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Nouveau Bond Birthday

The latest Bond, Daniel Craig, turns 45 today.

Born on the 2nd of March

Birthdays

of (from collage above) :-

Film Personalities

Jennifer Jones (1919-2009) star of The Song of Bernadette (1943), Desi Arnaz (1917-1986) of I Love Lucy (1951-1957) fame, Daniel Craig, Bryce Dallas Howard (Daughter of director Ron Howard, whose B’day was yesterday) of The Help (2011) and Ethan Peck (Grandson of actor Gregory Peck) from In Time (2011).

Author

John Irving (novelist/screenplay writer) of The Cider House Rules (1999).

Musicians

Chris Martin (of the band Coldplay) and rocker Jon Bon Jovi.

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I came across Daniel Craig back in the 1990’s when I watched Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth (1998) and I Dreamed of Africa (2000), but I didn’t know him back then, forgot such a person existed. I first really noticed him when I watched Road to Perdition (2002) a decade ago in Oslo. Soon, the following year, I saw a number of his films when I was residing in England, such as the television movie The Ice House (1997), and other big screen wonders shown on the small screen like Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon (1998) and Enduring Love (2004). These last two movies, where in one he played Francis Bacon’s  lover & muse, and an object of an obsessive desire in the other, proved what a great actor he was. Soon I saw him in movies like Sylvia (2003), Munich (2005), Casino Royale (2006), Infamous (2006) and Defiance (2008). I think he is among the best actors today.

007   y==– – – –  –   –    –    –

Casino Royale (2006) came out when I was living in Sydney, 2006. I really wasn’t that keen on watching it, ’cause I hadn’t been a fan of the Bond series (post-90’s), which were dependant more on the special effects than the plot, and like most movies today it’s the CGI (Computer generated Imagery) that overpowers the movie, completely ruining it, worse when it’s added with a lot of pretty faces that can’t act. None of the Bond movies I’ve seen have been among the best movies ever made, so far I am concerned, but the 1990’s Pierce Brosnon ones were the worst ever. So December of 2006, during the height of a heaty summer down under, Casino Royale (2006) was released there. A flatmate of mine watched it and she loved it. Meanwhile the original Casino Royale (1967); dubbed the non-Bond Bond movie, starring David Niven (whose B’day was yesterday) and Peter Sellers (both playing Bond), Woody Allen playing the villain and a stellar cast of gorgeous fem fatale’s including Deborah Kerr, Ursula Andress and Jacqueline Bisset, to name a few; was shown on television. I wasn’t crazy about this comical version, even though some parts were genuinely hilarious, but some jokes were getting pretty stale and the movie seemed to drag on a bit. Thus it’s a Oky Doky movie, but worth checking out for a die hard Bond fan, and any movie buff. After all, it’s one of those not so great films that actually has some really good actors, thus making it watchable.

Anyway the following year I ended watching the new Casino Royale (2006), loved it, except for the first two long unnecessary chases. To me the movie started, just before Eva Green’s entrance, where M (Judi Dench) tells Bond about the poker game. And last year I read Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, the novel. Neither movies are anything like the book. But I do love the newer Casino Royale (2006).

Note: Lana Wood, child star of the 50’s, whose B’day way yesterday as well, was a Bond girl as well. She appeared Diamonds Are Forever (1971) with the original Bond, Sean Connery.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Niven Saint 103

Today happens to be (Sir) David Niven‘s 103rd Birth Anniversary.

Born today, Saint David’s Day, on the 1st of March, Year 1910, he was named after this patron Saint. It’s not clear whether David Niven ever received a Knighthood, but some reports hint that Niven was knighted by the Queen of England somewhere in the 1970’s. If so he would have earned the title ‘Sir David Niven’. None the less, being one of the greatest British exports to Hollywood, he is entitled to the ‘Sir‘ title, knighted or not.

David Niven (1910-1983)

Niven was an actor, a classy sophisticated Gentleman, and a writer.  I’ve known him through his films since I can remember. He was a class apart.

Most of the movies of his that I was familiar with were of a more mature Niven of the 60’s and 70’s. It’s only about a decade go that I watched Wuthering Heights (1939), with a much younger Niven. Having read/studied the condensed version of the novel about a hundred times as a kid, I was a tad bit disappointed when I watched the 39′ movie version, especially ’cause a whole generation was eliminated from the film. But as a film buff, I realised if I hadn’t known the story, would I have loved this as a movie. And Voila!! I realised I would have, and thus I do love the movie, ’cause Director William Wyler has done a great job, with a great cast, including Sir Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon in the lead. And I’ve heard of many latter versions with the whole story intact, that hasn’t necessarily worked so well as a screen adaptation.  Niven is one actor who has done it all, from very intellectual roles to light hearted comedy. His last movie role was his reprisal of his famed character of the ‘Pink Panther’ in Curse of the Pink Panther (1983). He died the same year the movie was released.

Niven Films

 – Niven Films –

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From the collage (clockwise from bottom left) Wuthering Heights (1939), 55 Days at Peking (1963), Casino Royale (1967), Lady L (1965), The Pink Panther (1963) and The Guns of Navarone (1961).

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Other Star B’day’s

Film Stars

Lana Wood, Javier Bardem and Jack Davenport.

Film Director

Ron Howard

TV Stars

Alan Thicke, Catherine Bach, George Eads, Mark Paul Gosselaar and Jensen Ackles.

…. to name a few other stars born on the 1st of March.

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Beatle News # ÔÔööôôÔÔ……………………………………..

From this month onwards I shall be posting significant news applicable to my favourite band, The Beatles, on what they were up to – This month That year, each month.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense