Archive for October, 2013


Six Degrees of Separation : Ellen Page to ….
Ellen Page 6°
… Tippi Hedren
Page played an underage teenage girl, who seduces a paedophile, to castrate him for his crimes, in Hard Candy (2005), where actor Patrick Wilson (1) played the paedophile, and Wilson starred alongside Kate Winslet (2) in Little Children (2006); an interesting art house film, set in the American suburbs, where many a plots interact with each other; and Winslet played ‘Ophelia’, in Hamlet (1996), a four hour long modern adaptation; set in the 19th Century, instead of the 16th; of William Shakespeare’s (3) famed tragic play, and Shakespeare’s Hamlet was also made into a movie in 1948, starring Laurence Olivier (4), who also starred in Rebecca (1940), which was based on a novel by Daphne du Maurier (5), and du Maurier’s short story, The Birds, was loosely adapted into a visually shocking B-movie, in 1963, starring Tippi Hedren (6).

… Jacques Demy  
Page appeared in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), in which Cameron Bright (1) had a small, but significant to the plot, role, and Bright starred in Birth (2004), which also starred Lauren Bacall (2), who came in Blood Alley (1955) alongside John Wayne (3); a film about how a marine captain, saves a whole Chinese village, by secretly transporting them from Communist China to Hong Kong; and Wayne appeared in the western The Searchers (1956), in which Natalie Wood (4) did a cameo, and Wood starred in the musical West Side Story (1961), which also starred George Chakiris (5), who came in the French musical Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (1967), a film directed by Jacques Demy (6).

… Eric McCormack   
Page played a pregnant teenager with a nonchalant attitude in Juno (2007), a film directed by Jason Reitman (1), who also directed George Clooney (2), in Up in the Air (2009), and Clooney starred in Alexander Payne’s (3) The Descendants (2011), and Payne also directed Thomas Haden Church (4) in Sideways (2004), and Haden Church appeared in the television sit-com Ned and Stacey (1995-1997), alongside Debra Messing (5), and Messing starred in Will & Grace (1998-2006) alongside Eric McCormack (6).

… Katharine Hepburn   
Page starred in Smart People (2008), where Dennis Quaid (1) played her father, and Quaid was married to Meg Ryan (2), who appeared in the best romantic comedy of the 80’s, When Harry met Sally … (1989), the screenplay of which was written by Nora Ephron (3), as was the screenplay of Silkwood (1983); which was based on a true story about a female anti-nuclear activist of the 70’s, who blew the whistle on wrong doings of a Oklahoma nuclear-plant, and was killed for trying to expose it; and this movie was directed by Mike Nichols (4), who made his directorial debut, with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), which was based on a play by Edward Albee (5), as was A Delicate Balance (1973), starring Katharine Hepburn (6).

… Mark Harmon    
Page appeared in Peacock (2010), where Cillian Murphy (1), played a character suffering from a dual personality, and Murphy played a transvestite in Breakfast on Pluto (2005) which was directed by Neil Jordan (2), who also directed Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994), which was based on a novel by Anne Rice (3), and another story of hers was the basis for the television movie Rag and Bone (2002), which also starred Carroll Baker (4), who appeared in The Carpetbaggers (1964), which was based on a novel by Harold Robbins (5), as was the television movie The Dream Merchants (1980), starring Mark Harmon (6).

… Mira Nair
Page appeared Woody Allen’s (1) To Rome with Love (2012), and Allen starred and directed, the art-house style romantic comedy, Annie hall (1977), which also starred Diane Keaton (2) who appeared in The Godfather (1972), which was directed by Francis Ford Coppola (3), as was The Rainmaker (1997), which was based on a novel by John Grisham (4), as was The Pelican Brief (1993), starring Denzel Washington (5), who appeared in the interracial drama Mississippi Masala (1991), which was directed by Mira Nair (6).

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense ()

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Six Degrees of Separation: From novelist Patricia Highsmith to

Patricia Highsmith 6°

… Marilyn Monroe
Highsmith’s novel The Talented Mr. Ripley, was the basis for the movie, The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), directed by Anthony Minghella (1), who also made Cold Mountain (2003), for which Renée Zellweger (2) bagged the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, her only Oscar win till date, and Zellweger worked with Tom Cruise (3) in Jerry Maguire (1996), and Cruise appeared in Rain Man (1988), alongside Dustin Hoffman (4), who gained famed when he played a young man being seduced by an older lady, whilst dating her daughter, in The Graduate (1967), and the older lady in question was played by Anne Bancroft (5), who earlier starred in the thriller, Don’t Bother to knock (1952), where Marilyn Monroe (6) played a psychotic babysitter, one of those rare movies where Monroe was given a chance to prove herself as an actress, and not just used as a sex symbol.

… Charlotte Rampling
Highsmith’s novel The Talented Mr. Ripley, was adapted into the French Film, Plein Soleil (1959/60), by René Clément (1), who also directed Is Paris Burning? (1966) starring Kirk Douglas (2), whose son Michael Douglas (3) appeared in Coma (1978), alongside Geneviève Bujold (4), and Bujold played Anne Boleyn (5) in the bio-pic, Anne of The Thousand Days (1969), as did Charlotte Rampling (6) in Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972).

… Joan Collins
Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, was adapted into a noir thriller, by Alfred Hitchcock (1); which was released in 1951; and Hitchcock directed Gregory Peck (2) in the psychological thriller, Spellbound (1945), and Peck played the lead in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), which was based on a novel by Harper Lee (3), who was portrayed by Sandra Bullock (4) in Infamous (2006), and Bullock, early on in her career, starred in the television mini-series Lucky Chances (1990), which was based on the first two books; on the ‘Santangelo’ saga, a series of nine novels; by Jackie Collins (5), who happens to be the younger sister of actress Joan Collins (6).

… M. Night Shyamalan
Highsmith’s novel Strangers on a Train, was referenced in an episode of the television crime drama Castle (2009-till date); where two ‘strangers on a boat’ meet and swap murders in the style of Highsmith’s acclaimed novel; and the titular character, of Castle, is played by Nathan Fillion (1), who’s constantly mistaken; both on the show, and in real life; to be Jason Bateman (2), who starred in Juno (2007), for which Diablo Cody (3) won an Oscar for the Best Original Screenplay, and Cody recently directed the movie, Paradise (2013), which stars Octavia Spencer (4), who won the Best Supporting actress Oscar, last year, for The Help (2011), which co-starred Bryce Dallas Howard (5), who appeared in The Village (2004), which was directed by M. Night Shyamalan (6).

… Joachim Lafosse  
Highsmith’s novel Ripley‘s Game, was adapted into the German film, Der Amerikanische Freund (1977), by director Wim Wenders (1), who directed Nastassja Kinski (2) in the American film Paris, Texas (1984), and Kinski starred in the cult-Horror flick, Cat People (1982), where British actor, Malcolm McDowell (3), played her brother, and McDowell had a cameo in; the best French silent venture (with sound, but no voice) of the 21st Century; The Artist (2011), where the female lead was played by French actress, Bérénice Bejo (4), who appeared in Le Passé (2013), alongside, French actor of Algerian descent, Tahar Rahim (5), who starred in the Belgian flick, À Perdre la Raison (2012); a movie based on a real life tragedy, where a woman feeling suffocated in her marriage, kills her children and tries to commit suicide; and this film was directed by Belgian director Joachim Lafosse (6).

… Jessica Tandy
Highsmith’s novel Ripley‘s Game, was the basis for the movie, Ripley‘s Game (2002), starring John Malkovich (1), who starred in Dangerous Liaisons (1988), which was directed by Stephen Frears (2), as was Dirty Pretty Things (2002); a movie about illegal immigrants living and working in a West London hotel; which starred Chiwetel Ejiofor (3), and Ejiofor appeared in the Woody Allen (4) comedy, Melinda and Melinda (2004), and Allen also directed Manhattan (1979), where Meryl Streep (5) played his lesbian ex-wife, and Streep came in the murder mystery movie, Still of the Night (1982), which co-starred Jessica Tandy (6).

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense ()
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Six Degrees of Separation: Kate Winslet to ….

Kate Winslet Silver 6°

…Franco Zeffirelli
Winslet starred in Little Children (2006) along with Patrick Wilson (1), who previously appeared in the TV mini series, Angels of America (2003), which co-starred Al Pacino (2), who played the lead in Serpico (1973), which was based on a true story and directed by Sidney Lumet (3), who also directed Equus (1977), which was based on a play by Peter Shaffer (4), whose play The Royal Hunt of the sun was adapted into a movie, released in 1969, which also starred Leonard Whiting (5), whose most famous performance, is that of, ‘Romeo’ in Romeo and Juliet (1968), the finest cinematic version of this famed tragic love story, which was directed by, Tuscan born, Franco Zeffirelli (6).

…Louis Garrel
Winslet gained international fame when she played the fictional character of ‘Rose’ in Titanic (1997), which was based on a real incident, where Kathy Bates (1), played a real life survivor of the Titanic disaster, Molly Brown (2), and Brown was portrayed by Debbie Reynolds (3) in The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964); a biographical film on Brown, which includes her Titanic voyage and survival; and Reynolds starred in the musical, Singin’ in the Rain (1952), alongside Gene Kelly (4), who appeared in the French musical Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (1967), which also starred Catherine Deneuve (5), who recently came in another French musical, Les Bien-Aimés (2011), which co-starred actor Louis Garrel (6).

…Jennifer O’Neill  
Winslet bagged the ‘Best Actress Oscar’, for her role of ‘Hanna Schmitz’, in The Reader (2008), which was based on German novel by Bernhard Schlink (1), another novel of whose was the basis for the movie, Der Tod Kam als Freund (1991), which also starred Sebastian Koch (2), who played the lead in the Dutch film, Zwartboek (2006), which was directed by Paul Verhoeven (3), who also directed Starship Troopers (1997), which starred Casper Van Dien (4), who appeared in the forgettable Sanctimony (2000), which also had Catherine Oxenberg (5), who appeared in the pilot episode of the television series, Cover-Up (1984-1985), of which the lead star was Jennifer O’Neill (6).

… Bárbara Mori
Winslet starred alongside Leonardo DiCaprio (1) in Revolutionary Road (2008), and DiCaprio starred in The Great Gatsby (2013), in which Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan (2) had a small role, and Bachchan (a.k.a. Big B) was paired alongside Hema Malini (3) in a lot of films in the 70’s and 80’s, and Malini; who had held the no.1 position for two decades, a rarity in a male oriented film fraternity; was one actress that the Big B was never paired with, off screen, by gossip columnist; and Malini’s daughter, Esha Deol (4), appeared in Na Tum Jaano Na Hum (2002), which co-starred current superstar, Hrithik Roshan (5); known not just for his good looks and vanity driven muscular physique, but also for his outstanding dancing and acting abilities; and Roshan starred alongside Mexican actress Bárbara Mori (6) in Kites (2010).

… Henry Fonda
Winslet appeared in The Holiday (2006), a Christmas romance, where fellow British actor Jude Law (1) played her elder brother, and Law gained popularity worldwide; when he was nominated for an Oscar in 2000, for his role of ‘Dickie’; in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), which was based on an acclaimed novel, of the same name, by Patricia Highsmith (2), and this very novel was the basis for the French classic, Plein Soleil (1959/60), starring Alain Delon (3), who appeared in the Italian film, Il Gattopardo (1963), a film directed by Italy’s famed, Luchino Visconti (4), who also directed the German language film, The Damned (1969), with Helmut Berger (5), who starred in Hollywood’s, Ash Wednesday (1973); a controversial film at the time for showcasing actual plastic surgery (facelift) in progress; in which Henry Fonda (6) had a cameo.

… Roberto Rossellini
Winslet starred in Titanic (1997), a film directed by James Cameron (1), who also directed the cheesy, sci-fi flick, The Terminator (1984), which starred Michael Biehn (2), who played a stalker in The Fan (1981), where Lauren Bacall (3); played, the stage and screen siren, who’s been stalked; and Bacall was married to actor Humphrey Bogart (4), who is most famous for appearing in the much loved classic love story, Casablanca (1942) alongside, Swedish born, Ingrid Bergman (5), who was married to Italian director, Roberto Rossellini (6).

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense ()

Beatle News  # 23: At the Queens Court

 

 

  • 1965- The Beatles are at the Buckingham Palace receiving their MBE’s (Member of Order of the British Empire) from HRH Queen Elizabeth – II.

 

This Day,
Nuwan Sen & The Beatles ()

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Yesterday I spoke about the five films that didn’t work properly. Life of Pi (2012) was one of them. In fact, Life of Pi was the first movie, out of the faulty five, I tried watching towards the end of last month. Finally I did, in one go, this Wednesday.

Life of Pi finally

If Mud (2012) was about a friendship that develops between a young boy and a convict, whilst helping the convict build a boat, in a remote isle on the banks of the Mississippi river; Life of Pi deals with a friendship between a young man and carnivorous Bengal Tiger, stuck on a boat, in the middle of the Pacific ocean.

Yet another much awaited brilliant surreal movie, with a CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) created tiger, for which director Ang Lee deservedly took home the Best Director Oscar earlier this year. Life of Pi also won Oscars for Cinematography and Visual Effects, and was nominated (and won) in various categories for various award ceremonies including the Golden Globes and the BAFTA’s.

The Pi Story
Life with Family
The movie starts off with now all grown up, middle-aged, Pi (Irrfan Khan), residing in Canada, narrating his life story to a down on his luck writer, played by Rafe Spall. From here we are taken back in time to French occupied state of Pondicherry, located in the southern region of India, in the 1950’s. In 1954 the French leave Pondicherry handing it to the recently Independent India. Pi is born into the newer Indian Pondicherry within the same decade, the second child, of a family, that own a zoo. From here onwards we learn how Pi was named after the French word for ‘swimming pool’, Piscine, more accurately the ‘Piscine Auteuil Molitor’ of Paris (now abandoned famed swimming pool of the past). Soon in school his name is changed to ‘Pissing’ by his schoolmates, and from there he soon manages to get people calling him ‘Pi’ (π),the 16th letter of the Greek alphabet, (which was not an easy task for young Pi).
Soon the boy’s curiosity grows to question various religions and religious beliefs. The 12 Year old Pi (played by Ayush Tandon) tests various faiths, beginning from Hinduism, then Christianity, and ultimately Islam.
One of my favourite scenes of the film is this philosophical discussion held sitting round a dinning table, comprising of Pi’s parents, the Patel’s (played by Adil Hussain & Tabu), elder brother, Ravi (Mohamed Abbas Khaleeli) and of course young Pi himself. The father being a practical man, and due various reasons, doesn’t believe in religion, while the mother, who was brought up with modernist views, finds peace and contentment in her religion as her parents cut her off for marrying beneath her. So here we have an interesting discussion of conflicting views, from the two parents towards young Pi. At the same time both have a good argument on their side. Born into the Hindu religion, the father admonishes Pi, not to blindly follow many a religions and stick to one, at the same time he states how science has taught us way more than religion ever has. The mother agrees, but she adds that science teaches us what’s out there, while religion teaches us what’s within us (heart and soul). Interesting argument both managing to make a point, and in the end, to the fathers dilemma, Pi states he wants ‘‘to be baptised’’. It’s hilarious, the mother finds pleasure, more because little Pi dared to oppose the father at the same time seeming to take his advise on not to follow all faiths blindly.
As Pi grows older, it’s interesting to see his relationship with his parents, brother, and Anandi (Shravanthi Sainath); the dancing girl; a teenage crush of his.

Life with Richard Parker
The majority of the plot deals with, how Pi survives a shipwreck, and the close bond formed between man and beast, each needing the other to survive, through this Odysseus journey back to civilization.
A beautifully told story, with a CGI created Bengal Tiger, and a very surreal oceanic backdrop.
Pi’s whole family dies in a shipwreck, and he survives along with some animals. Soon most of the animals die and it’s only him and a tiger, named Richard Parker due to a clerical error, that are stuck in a boat, and have to learn to get along with each other.
In the real world, between 1797 and 1884, there have been three known individuals named Richard Parker, who’ve been involved in three shipwrecks, within those two centuries. But am not sure whether the writer who created this story, intentionally used Parker’s name as an allegory.
In it’s almost entirety, the majority of the film, from the start, is made via the use computer graphics, and one can’t help but get a sense of artificiality whilst watching it. But the story is not necessarily meant to mirror reality. And the computer graphics don’t overpower the story and ruin it, instead it actually blends into the fabrication of this surreal fantastical piece of artistic cinema, and helps it move forward.

Nu Life (ν)  
We see the older, middle-aged, Pi, who has started life afresh in Canada, with his newer family. The older Pi, that’s been narrating his, hard to believe, survival story to a writer.

Top: Scene from the movie. Below: Creating the Tiger

Top: Scene from the movie.
Below: Creating the Tiger

The Director: Ang Lee
Ang Lee has definitely done a superb job, as almost always. Both visually appealing and constantly engaging, with not one dull minute. It’s another among Lee’s masterpieces.
Loved it!! 10/10 rating!!!

The Ice Storm
The Ice Storm (1997), was my introduction to Ang Lee, when I watched it about a decade ago, in Oslo. A film I almost did not watch. Even though I had watched Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility (1995) in England at the time, a superb period drama, I didn’t know who the director was at the time. I fell in love with this excellent film, The Ice Storm, starring all the famed child/teenage artists of the 90’s, including Elijah Wood, Cristina Ricci and Tobey Maguire. What really impressed me was how authentically 70’s it felt. If I didn’t know the cast, especially the younger cast, I would have actually believed the movie was, not just set in, but made in the 70’s. Of course Kevin Kline and Joan Allen existed in the 70’s, and were pretty young at the time, but they could have been made to look older through a really good make-up artist. As was the case in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf ? (1966), where Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were made to look, very believably, more mature, way beyond their years. So it’s thanks to Wood, Ricci and Maguire that I was certain that this was not a 70’s flick.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
After finding out Ang Lee had directed the marvel that was The Ice Storm, I had to check out Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), a movie prior to which I was reluctant to watch. And it was worth it. It wasn’t some silly, waste of time type, Martial Arts film, but an ode to the great oriental ancient art of self disciplined combat technique.

Brokeback Mountain
In the beginning of 2006, before the Oscars, I managed to watch Brokeback Mountain (2005). Another excellent venture created by Ang lee. A gay themed movie about two cowboys in the 60’s & 70’s, that was nominated in many a categories at the Oscars, but unfortunately won only for film direction, adapted screenplay and original musical score. It’s a brilliant film, and I refuse to call it a ‘gay movie’. For the term ‘gay movie’ could imply some sleazy cheap film meant for only a certain type of gay audience. No, this is an intellectual, thought provoking film meant for a broader audience. Ironically, that broader audience narrows down to a group of more open minded, intelligent, educated people, including true to heart film buffs.
I re-watched it in January 2008, in Sydney, when it was shown on the big screen at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, coincidently the day after Heath Ledger, the lead actor of Brokeback Mountain, died of a drug overdose. The place was packed, and no, Ledger’s death wasn’t the reason for the film being shown.

Lust, Caution
Lust, Caution (2007), original Chinese title Se,jie; was the last good Ang Lee film I watched in Sydney itself, before leaving, early-mid 2008. It might not be as great as the other Lee films I’ve spoken of here, but it’s a near excellent movie, set during the WWII-era Shanghai, under Japanese occupation in China. A long film with a few pretty graphic (but not pornographic) sex sequences, where watching those sex scenes were actually quite exhausting. But that’s what Lee was trying to show, for the lead character, played by Wei Tang, was playing a Chinese ‘Mata Hari’, seducing a Japanese official to spy for their cause against Japanese oppression. A tiring, yet a near excellent movie.

Taking Woodstock
Taking Woodstock (2009), was the last good Ang Lee film I watched, till Life of Pi. It was being released on the big screen in Paris, the day I was to leave Paris, September 2009. And it took me more than a year to finally locate it. It was in New Delhi, India, when I went there in November/December 2010, I found the movie. But it was an original Indian Copyright DVD, thus a censored version. All nudity clipped off. But I was glad that I finally found a copy, of a film based on the Woodstock of 69’, something I had been reading up various articles on, most of 2009. Both about the actual event and Ang Lee’s cinematic version. And at last being able to watch it was worth it. Another near excellent movie by Lee.

Some months ago I watched, Hulk (2003), when it was shown on Star Movies. I liked the credits in the beginning of the film, then slowly, slowly, the movie started to disintegrate into oblivion. Among the worst I seen. But the only bad film of Ang Lee’s I’ve seen till date.

All in all, Ang Lee is a great, very diverse, film director. No two films of his are alike, at least among his masterpieces.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Ang Lee Films (NS)

Ang Lee Films (NS)

Mud Finally

Mud (2012), is a beautiful coming of age film, with excellent character sketches, brilliant cinematography and a movie that moves in a very relaxed pace that takes it’s time to build up the story. Slow does not necessarily have to mean boring, and Mud is anything but boring. A perfect 10, to the director, the cast and everything else in relation to Mud.

Mud (2012) pic
I’ve been waiting for months, to watch this movie. Then a couple of months ago I managed to get hold of five films released last year that I really wanted to watch, including Mud. Towards the end of last month tried watching them. None worked properly, and one, The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012) DVD; which is based on a book by Mohsin Hamid, a book I really enjoyed reading three years ago, a book that found me, rather than me finding it, and a book that happens to be among my all time favourites; did not even load (and still doesn’t). But this week I finally managed to watch two of the those five films, in one go; no pausing, no stopping, no fast forward, no rewind; in the fear of them getting stuck again and not being able to watch the rest. Mud on Monday night, and Life of Pi (2012) yesterday afternoon.

Mud is about a 14 year old boy, Ellis, played by Tye Sheridan, who along with his best friend, Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), comes across an abandoned boat wedged up on a tree in a remote isle on the banks of the Mississippi river. Soon they discover the boat is actually occupied by a convict, Mud (Matthew McConaughey) and the two young boys are seduced into helping him fix the boat and runaway with his childhood sweetheart, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon).

Director Jeff Nichols with actor Matthew McConaughey on the sets of 'Mud'
Within the first 30 minutes of the movie, I couldn’t help but feel a hint of nostalgia, reminding me of the kind of books I loved reading between the ages of eight and fourteen. The initial encounter of the kids with the convict, and him asking them to provide him with food, reminded me of the character of ‘Pip’ from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations; and the two kids adventurous streak reminded me of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and other adventure books I enjoyed as a kid. But that’s where the comparisons stop. For this movie is out an out a very unique and original story. There are many a movies which tend to have something common with books/films of the past; just that it’s slightly more noticeable here, but in feel good manner, without feeling hackneyed and/or repetitive. ‘Pip’ in Great Expectations is just a small child of five or six, and his encounter with a convict was not a pleasant one, and Pip providing the convict with food was more out of fear, than a genuine desire to help, unlike here. Of course ‘Huckleberry Finn’ is closer in age to that of Ellis’.

Mud has some very well etched out character sketches. Mud, himself is a very complex character, it’s hard to believe from the words coming of his mouth, what is true and what is false. Though at the same we feel he is genuine, not a bad man, but just blindly in love with Juniper. But it’s Ellis, the child protagonist of the film, who happens to be a very interesting and curious character, whose very diverse acquaintances affect him in a number of ways. His relationship with his grumbling, highly negative, father and his unhappy mother, and their impending divorce, see’s him annoyed, confused and angry. While his close friendship with a fugitive, gives him purpose, hope and optimism; and Ellis sees Mud more as a father figure and a confidant, than his own father. His confused puppy love for a slightly older teenager, May Pearl (Bonnie Sturdivant), finds him distressed and he finds it difficult to comprehend why she isn’t his girlfriend. He’s even more confused when he confronts Juniper, who seems to love Mud back, but isn’t ready to run away with him. He’s annoyed and frustrated, his whole world seems to be crumbling apart in front of him, and helping Mud, seems to be the only thing that’s keeping him sane. Even the beautifully shot landscape, the lonely isle, the river, the deserted backdrops; all seem to resonate with various unsatisfied lonesome characters in the movie.

We see majority of the movie through Ellis’ eyes. Though Mud is not a first person account, nor is it narrated by anyone, Ellis is the central character and the whole movie revolves around how Ellis perceives Mud. We never get a direct link into Mud’s frame of mind. Everything is as Ellis see’s it, with a few exceptions. The confrontation scene with Mud and his father figure, Tom Blankenship (Sam Shepard), we see and hear what they are arguing about, but Ellis is far out of hearing range, yet he can see the two talking. And the Mafia style (Godfather angle, that I wasn’t that crazy about at first), Carver family’s vengeance prayer with their contractors, is something we, the audience sees, but Ellis doesn’t witness.

Director Jeff Nichols with the cast of MUD
It was hard for me place the timeline of Mud though. Set in the southern region of the United States, bordering the deep south (Arkansas), initially I wondered whether it was set in the 80’s, or maybe the early 90’s. ‘Cause there were no mobile phones, laptops, or any other notable electronics in sight, except for a Walkie-Talkie. Of course these people weren’t that greatly well to do, but weren’t exactly that badly ‘poverty stricken’ either, and today practically anyone has a mobile phone (cellular phone), and not a single person seemed to be carrying anything of that sort. Not even the bunch of students. Not even an ipod. And casual clothing today isn’t that much different from the 80’s (or even the 50’s for that matter), just where the waist-line begins differs. But towards the end of the movie we do see a state trooper using a mobile phone.
One of the main reason it felt more like the 80’s or 90’s, most probably was because director Jeff Nichols conceived the project back in the 90’s. Nichols had wanted Matthew McConaughey to play the fugitive from the beginning.

None the less, this was an excellent film, from a relatively new director (he’s only three films old, and working on a fourth). This was my first Nichols film.
Mud competed for the ‘Palme d’Or’ at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. I’m a bit surprised why this wasn’t nominated for an Oscar, in at least one category, at 85th Academy Awards, earlier this year.
Loved it!! 10/10 rating.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Today, Hollywood’s fourth oldest female living legend, Joan Fontaine, turns 96 years young.
(The third oldest female living legend happens to be Fontaine’s own older sister, Olivia de Havilland, who turned 97, three months ago. The oldest living legend, who’s outlived all the legendary stars of her age group, happens to be Luise Rainer, who celebrated her 103rd Birthday, in January this year.)
Wishing Joan Fontaine a life of content, peace and happiness, for the rest of her journey through her physical existence on this planet.

Happy 96th Birthday JF
I was introduced to Joan Fontaine, as a kid, somewhere in the mid-1980’s, when I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940), an adaptations of Daphne du Maurier’s most notable adult piece of literature. Rebecca (1940) was my first film review as a kid, in school, aged about 10 or 11. Rebecca, du Maurier’s novel, was my very first mature novel, aged 12½/13. Then as a journalist, just over a decade go, I wrote a feature length article on Hitchcock, for his 22nd Death anniversary, for a local newspaper. And when I did my M.A. in International Cinema, my final dissertation was on Marriage in Hitchcock Films: from Rebecca to Marnie. And for my second masters, M.A. in Painting, I started off my first semester by paying a tribute to Hitchcock and his films.
Since Joan Fontaine has appeared in more than one Hitchcock film, she (along with the two very varied characters she’s played in Hitchcockian cinema) has played quite a significant role when it comes to my own academic performance. Besides that I’ve seen a few non-Hitchcockian Fontaine flicks where her artistic accomplishments have been just as superb.

Joan fontaine aged 90

Joan fontaine aged 90

Born on the 22nd of October, 1917; in Tokyo, Japan; to British parents; Fontaine spent her early childhood in Japan, but due to various illness that she, and her elder sister, were prone to, and once her parents divorced, the two girls moved along with their mother to California, USA. Fontaine recovered pretty soon, and by 16, Fontaine was back in Japan, studying at The American School there.

After graduating, by 1935, Fontaine was once again in California, where she started her acting career, both on stage and the screen. Fontaine’s mother too was a stage artiste, Lillian Fontaine, but she gave it up when she got married; and would return years later, in the 1940’s, only after both her daughters had achieved fame. Joan Fontaine made her big screen debut with No More Ladies (1935), alongside veterans Joan Crawford and Robert Montgomery. Throughout the 1930’s she tried to make a name for herself, but failed to make a strong impression with her audiences. But soon her luck was to change.

Joan Fontaine with co-stars from various films from her career

Joan Fontaine with co-stars from various films from her career

One night at a dinner function, Fontaine found herself sitting next to film producer, David O. Selznick. The two began discussing Daphne du Maurier’s acclaimed novel Rebecca, which O. Selznick was planning to make into a  movie, and O. Selznick casually asked her to audition for the nameless heroine of the book. After enduring six gruelling months of screen tests after screen tests, along with hundreds of other actresses, Fontaine finally saw the light of day. In 1939, just before her 22nd Birthday, she bagged the role that would catapult her towards stardom and a great repute as an actress.
Joan Fontaine garnered her first Academy Award nomination, for Best Actress, in 1941, for Alfred Hitchcock’s very first Hollywood venture; and the first and only Hitchcock film to ever win a Best Picture Oscar;  Rebecca (1940). Though she did not win that year, the following year she won the Best Actress Oscar, for yet another Hitchcock film, Suspicion (1941). Suspicion was also director Alfred Hitchcock’s first film as a producer as well.

Cary Grant & Joan Fontaine with director Alfred Hitchcock - on the sets of SUSPICION (41')

Cary Grant & Joan Fontaine with director Alfred Hitchcock – on the sets of SUSPICION (41′)

Post that Joan Fontaine earned great repute in movies like The Constant Nymph (1943); which earned Fontaine her third Oscar nomination; Jane Eyre (1943), Frenchman’s Creek (1944), From This Day Forward (1946), Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), The Emperor Waltz (1948), Othello (1952), Ivanhoe (1952), and Tender is the Night (1962), to name a few. Besides film, she had a successful stage career as well. She retired from acting altogether in 1994, after appearing in the television movie Good King Wenceslas (1994).

Scene from 'Rebecca' with Joan Fontaine &  Florence Bates

Scene from ‘Rebecca’ with Joan Fontaine & Florence Bates

Today she lives a relaxed life with her dogs, at her home, Villa Fontana, in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, USA. Fontaine used to correspond with her fans on a regular basis, writing to them personally, until her 90th birthday. She even has her own official ‘Facebook’ page where fans can still write to her today.

(Do chk out my various lists/critiques related to Joan Fontaine on IMDB: Why I love …. ,No NameThese are a Few of my Favourites ,Joan Fontaine (1940 & the 40’s) ‘TOP FIVE’,50-50’s ,etc..etc…)
Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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6° with Lauren Bacall

Six Degrees of Separation: from Lauren Bacall to
(Lauren Bacall celebrated her 89th Birthday last month, on the 16th of September, 2013)
Lauren Bacall 6°
… Rupert Penry-Jones
Bacall starred alongside husband, Humphrey Bogart (1), in many a movies until his sudden death; and Bogart starred alongside Ingrid Bergman (2) in one most loved love stories till date, Casablanca (1942), and Bergman later appeared in the impressively splendid comedy, Cactus Flower (1969), which marked the debut performance of comedienne Goldie Hawn (3); the only movie for which she has won Oscar till date (for Best Supporting actress), out the two films she has been nominated, in two different categories, for; the other being (a nomination for Best Actress) in Private Benjamin (1980), which was directed Howard Zieff (4), as was Unfaithfully Yours (1984), which starred Nastassja Kinski (5), who later appeared in the television movie, The Ring (1996); a story about a German family that gets separated whilst secretly helping Jewish families during the Nazi occupation; where Rupert Penry-Jones (6), played brother to Kinski.

Franco Citti
Bacall gained fame; for the sequence, where she teaches future real life husband, to whistle on reel life, in her debut performance; in To Have and Have Not (1944), which was based on Ernest Hemingway’s (1) forgettable novel of the same name, and Hemingway was portrayed by Clive Owen (2) in the television movie, Hemingway and Gellhorn (2012), directed by Philip Kaufman (3), who directed Quills (2000), which was based on the real life 18th century (and early 19th century) French aristocrat, Marquis de Sade (4); who was a great philosopher, politician and a revolutionary poet and playwright, and was incarcerated in various insane asylums and prisons for majority of his young adult life (from his 20’s to middle age), where he kept on writing, including his magnum opus, Les 120 Journées de Sodome ou l’école du libertinage; and this controversial work of his was the basis of the Italian art film, Salò o le 120 Giornate di Sodoma (1975), a contemporary adaptation, directed by famed intellectual, philosopher, poet, novelist, film director, Pier Paolo Pasolini (5), who also directed Il Decameron (1971), which starred Italian actor Franco Citti (6).

… Ioan Gruffudd
Bacall starred alongside Gregory Peck (1), as a fashion designer wife of a sports writer, in the comedy, Designing Woman (1957), and Peck appeared in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), which was based on a novel by Harper Lee (2), who was portrayed by Sandra Bullock (3) in Infamous (2006),which was directed by Douglas McGrath (4), who also directed Nicholas Nickleby (2002), which starred Romola Garai (5), who starred opposite Ioan Gruffudd (6) in Amazing Grace (2006).

Bacall 6° connections

… Harold Abrahams
Bacall played mother to Barbra Streisand (1), in The Mirror has Two Faces (1996), which also starred 90’s Bond, Pierce Brosnan (2) who appeared in The Deceivers (1988) with Shashi Kapoor (3), who produced 36 Chowringhee Lane (1981), starring his real life wife, Jennifer Kendal (4), who appeared in the television mini-series The Far Pavilions (1984), in which the lead was played by Ben Cross (5), who, in Chariots of Fire (1981) played famed British athlete, Olympian champion of 1924, Harold Abrahams (6).

… Brad Davis
Bacall starred in Birth (2004); in which, Cameron Bright (1), played a child trying to convince a woman that he is the reincarnation of her dead husband; and Bright came in the satirical comedy Thank You for Smoking (2005), which was directed by Jason Reitman (2), who recently made Labor Day (2013), starring Kate Winslet (3), who came in Revolutionary Road (2008), which was based on a novel by Richard Yates (4), who co-wrote the screenplay for The Bridge at Remagen (1969), which starred Bo Hopkins (5), who appeared in Midnight Express (1978), where the lead was played by actor Brad Davis (6).

… Paul Mercurio  
Bacall appeared with Marilyn Monroe (1) in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), who was portrayed by Michelle Williams (2) in My Week with Marilyn (2011), which co-starred Dominic Cooper (3), who came in An Education (2009) with Carey Mulligan (4), who appeared in The Great Gatsby (2013), which was directed by Baz Luhrmann (5), who made his directorial debut, with the Australian film, Strictly Ballroom (1992), which was the debut movie for Australian actor Paul Mercurio (6) as well.

Nuwan Sens Film Sense ()
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Six Degrees of Separation: from Whoopi Goldberg to

Whoopi Goldberg 6°

… John Buchan
Goldberg played an unloved, lonely, young girl; leading a life under constant abusive circumstances, first by her father and then by her husband, in the early 20th century; in The Color Purple (1985), which was directed by Steven Spielberg (1), who also directed War Horse (2011), starring Jeremy Irvine (2), who acted in the most recent adaptation of Great Expectations (2012), an acclaimed novel by Charles Dickens (3), whose novel Oliver Twist has been the basis for many a movies, and one of the most famous adaptations happens to be the 1948 release, directed by David Lean (4), who also directed A Passage to India (1984), which starred Peggy Ashcroft (5), who appeared in The 39 Steps (1935), which was based on a novel by John Buchan (6).

… Gary Cooper
Goldberg  starred alongside Stephen Collins (1) in Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986), who came in the tragic love story The Promise (1979), which was later adapted into a novel by Danielle Steel (2), a rarity; as generally films are adapted into movies, but seldom are movies a basis for books; and Steel’s 1988 novel Zoya; a story about a Russian heiress who had to flee from her country,  during the 1917 Russian Revolution; was adapted into a television film, Zoya (1995), in which the titular character was played by Melissa Gilbert (3) who, as a child artiste, acted in the television series Little House on the Prairie (1974-1983), where Michael Landon (4) played her father, and Landon started his career with a bit role in These Wilder Years (1956), starring Barbara Stanwyck (5), who starred alongside Gary Cooper (6) in Ball of Fire (1941).

… Peter Ustinov  
Goldberg  recently was seen as a guest star in quite a few episodes of the musical television comedy series, Glee (2012 – till now), which starred the late Corey Monteith (1) who died three months ago, aged 31, of a drug overdose, and Monteith appeared in Monte Carlo (2011) in which French actor Pierre Boulanger (2) had a small role, and Boulanger, as a childe artiste, starred opposite the legendary Omar Sharif (3) in Monsieur Ibrahim et Les Fleurs du Coran (2003), and Sharif starred in the psychological drama, The Appointment (1969); where he played a man suspecting his wife to be a high-class prostitute; which was directed by Sidney Lumet (4), as was, Murder on the Orient Express (1974), which was based on a mystery novel by Agatha Christie (5), as was Death on the Nile (1978), where the lead sleuth was played by British Born actor; with Russian, German, French, Italian and Ethiopian, aristocratic, roots; Peter Ustinov (6).

Whoopi Goldberg Six Degree connections°
… Romain Duris
Goldberg  played a comical psychic in Ghost (1990), where the ghost was played by Patrick Swayze (1), who starred in The Outsiders (1983), directed by Francis Ford Coppola (2), whose most noteworthy directorial venture happens to be The Godfather trilogy (1972, 1974 & 1990), and in the first Godfather film, Marlon Brando (3) starred as ‘The Godfather’, and in the same year, Brando was seen in the very controversial, Last Tango in Paris (1972), directed by Bernardo Bertolucci (4), who directed French actor Louis Garrel (5) in The Dreamers (2003), and Garrel played brother to Romain Duris (6) in Dans Paris (2006).

…Daniel Radcliffe
Goldberg  played ‘God’ in A Little Bit of Heaven (2011), which starred Mexican actor, Gael García Bernal (1), who played Che Guevara (2) in The Motorcycle Diaries (2004); a movie set before Guevara became a rebel; directed by Walter Salles (3), who directed On The Road (2012); a movie on the post WWII, Beat Generation, of the 40’s & 50’s; where actor Tom Sturridge (4) played famed poet Allen Ginsberg (5), who was portrayed by Daniel Radcliffe (6), in Kill Your Darlings (2013).

… Scott Baio  
Goldberg  played the lead in Steven Spielberg’s (1) The Color Purple (1985), and Spielberg directed Schindler’s List (1993); the real life story, of how one German Businessman, managed to save 1,100 Jewish lives during, the second world war, from being gassed at the ‘Auschwitz’ concentration camp; starring Ben Kinsley (2), who previously starred in the bio-pic, Gandhi (1982); another real life account of a modern day saint, this time set during India’s Freedom struggle, towards the end of the British Raj, in the early 20th century, where an Indian lawyer revolts against British oppression through his philosophy of non-violence; which co-starred Ian Charleson (3), who also came in Chariots of Fire (1981); a film about two athletes competing in the 1924 Olympics; which also had Brad Davis (4), one of whose best work was in the film, Midnight Express (1978), directed by Alan Parker (5); which too was based on a true story; and Parker directed the bio-pic, Bugsy Malone (1976); the real life gangster story with an all child cast playing adult characters; where the titular character was played by Scott Baio (6).

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Édith Piaf (1915 – 1963)
Today happens to be the 5Oth death anniversary of the French nightingale, known as ‘little Sparrow’ (Piaf). Édith Piaf died after succumbing to cancer, aged 47, on the 10th of October 1963.

Édith Piaf (1915-1963)

Piaf, Hepburn et moi
I first heard Édith Piaf’s song ‘La Vie en Rose’, when I watched Sabrina (1954), back in 1994. I was mesmerised by the song, which was not sung by Piaf in movie, but by Audrey Hepburn. No, Sabrina, is not a musical, for those unaware.

On the sets of Sabrina (1954)
This sequence takes place when Hepburn’s titular character, Sabrina, is driving home after a date with Humphrey Bogart (a date where the two are seen dancing to the tune of ‘La Vie en Rose’, a tune which is heard in the background more than once), and telling him what it was like residing in Paris and what a romantic city Paris is. She sings a few stanza’s from Piaf’s famed musical number, sans music. And unlike the most misquoted line from Casablanca (1942), Bogie here actually does ask Sabrina to ‘sing it again’.  And she does. Not known for her singing talent, Hepburn lends her vocals to her own rendition of Piaf’s ‘La Vie en Rose’ beautifully.
However, it wasn’t until much later in the decade, i.e. the late 90’s, that I discovered who Édith Piaf was. Since then I’ve heard various renditions of Piaf’s ‘La Vie en Rose’ and various other tunes in many a movies, and most recently in flicks like WALL-E (2008), 127 Hours (2010) and X-Men: First Class (2011), to name a few.

Édith Piaf music

Piaf et Cotillard
Back in June 2007, whilst residing down under, one wet chilly night, I watched Je d’enfants (2003), English title being Love Me If You Dare, starring Guillaume Canet and Marion Cotillard, when it was shown on a local television channel there (most probably on SBS). Canet was an actor I already knew for sometime, and Cotillard, I was aware was the actress starring in latest bio-pic on Édith Piaf, La Vie En Rose (2007), though I hadn’t watched it yet. I liked Cotillard in Je d’enfants, but wasn’t exactly crazy about her. Then within a month or so, still during the damp windy Australian winter, La Vie En Rose (2007), was being shown on the Big Screen there. Watched it, loved the movie, re-fell in love with Piaf and her music, and of course the bewitching beauty and superb French actress, Marion Cotillard. She was amazing and she felt Piaf in every way possible. Her walk, her talk, her mannerism all felt very Édith Piaf. Of course majority of the songs were dubbed by Jil Aigrot (a.k.a. Parigote), who does a marvellous job with the songs, but some Édith Piaf recordings were also used.
Piaf’s performance of ‘Non, je ne regrette rien’ (No Regrets), is another one of my favourites, it comes straight from the soul, and film manages to capture the essence of Piaf’s life through this soulful piece of musical genius. It reminded me of Afro-American Jazz singer, Billie Holiday (born the same year as Piaf), who bore her soul through her tragic soulful songs, and whose songs were her biography. In school we studied excerpts from Billie Holiday’s autobiography, Lady Sings The Blues.

La Vie En Rose film and real Piaf et al
Directed by Olivier Dahan, La Vie En Rose, recounts Piaf’s life from her early days, when as a toddler she’s abandoned by her mother while her father was fighting in the battle fields during the first World War, to when her father returns and drops off the sickly child in a brothel to how he returns later and along with the child first works at a circus, then performs on the streets to how she is discovered by a nightclub owner to various tragedies in her life, to a great love affair with a boxer whose death in plane crash she finds impossible to cope with to her final battle with a fatal illness that claims her life.
I love the scene, towards the end of the movie, where we see a cancer ridden Édith Piaf (Cotillard) being interviewed while she’s knitting a sweater. The interviewer asks Piaf, who she was knitting it for. Piaf looks at her with a big smile and states, ‘for whoever that would wear it’.

Both ‘La Vie en Rose’ the song, and La Vie En Rose (2007) the movie, happen to be among my all time favourites. In 2008, Marion Cotillard deservedly won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Édith Piaf . In fact Cotillard won 7 Best Actress awards in various award ceremonies for her role of Piaf, including the César, BAFTA and the Golden Globe.

Édith Piaf, was born as Édith Giovanna Gassion, in Belleville, Paris, France in 1915. She was married twice, first to Jacques Pills from 1952 to 1957, and later to the man she claims as her last love, Théo Sarapo, in 1962, and the couple sang together in her last performances. Édith Piaf had only one child, when she was 17 years old, an illegitimate daughter Louis Dupont, who died aged two of meningitis. Piaf had an affair with a boxer, Marcel Cerdan, who died in a plane crash in 1949. Piaf herself was in three near fatal car accidents. Her future first husband, Jacques Pills, helped her recover. Piaf was happiest with her second husband, Théo Sarapo, but sadly contracting liver cancer, Piaf died 50 years to date, one year after they were married. Piaf was buried alongside her daughter, in Père Lachaise Cemetery, in Paris. When Théo Sarapo died of an automobile accident, in august of 1970, he was buried next to Piaf, in Père Lachaise Cemetery as well.

The legendary Édith Piaf lives on through her songs. Great personalities never really die altogether, they live on through their legacy they leave behind.
In 1998, Édith Piaf’s song ‘La Vie en Rose’, was honoured with the Grammy Hall of Fame Award.

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