Archive for December, 2014


2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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On the 26th of November, 2014, watched all five episodes of the TV-miniseries, Mildred Pierce (2011). One of the DVD’s I brought from Australia.
Mildred Pierce - The PosterBack in 2012, whilst visiting Delhi, I got to watch the classic noir flick, Mildred Pierce (1945), based on a 1941 novel by James M. Cain, on TCM. I instantly fell in love with this excellent adaptation, and felt it was one of the best movies ever made. Directed by Michael Curtiz, and starring Joan Crawford, as the titular character, the 1945 adaptation had deviated from the original plot, and the turned the story into a crime drama, yet keeping intact the mother/daughter relationship explored in the book. I haven’t read the novel yet, but since watching the 2011 mini-series, assumingly being more of an accurate adaptation, that’s what I gathered. Last month I located the 2011 mini-series DVD in Sydney, among the many I ended up buying there (see my post related to my  ). And this modern adaptation directed by Todd Haynes, and starring, my favourite actress of the 21st century, so far, Kate Winslet, in the lead role, was totally worth it. Another excellent adaptation, and one of the rare great re-makes of a classic. Love both the classic, and the modern. Both Crawford and Winslet, are perfect in their roles of the ever suffering mother, trying her best to please her ungrateful daughter.

Left: Kate Winslet (2011) Right: Joan Crawford (1945)

Left: Kate Winslet (2011)                       Right: Joan Crawford (1945)

The 1945 Classic Cinematic Venture
In the classic noir flick, the movie starts off with a crime, with the death of Monte Beragon (Zachary Scott), second husband of Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford). The police then question Mildred Pierce, assuming her first husband, Bert Pierce (Bruce Bennett), shot Beragon out of jealousy. Mildred Pierce then takes the blame, and recounts her life story in flashback.

The 2011 Television Adaptation
In the newer adaptation, no noirish crime takes place. Nobody gets killed. No flashbacks. Straight forward drama set in the depression era of 1930’s America.

Analysis
Besides the major plot shift, in the classic and the modern, one of the common factors, in both the Mildred Pierce’s, is the psychological character study of Mildred Pierce and her daughter Veda.

The mother, though a woman with her flaws (which is what makes her human), is the perfect mother. Kind, caring, sacrificing her own happiness for the sake of her children, and putting them first. The elder daughter, Veda, is an ungrateful, nasty character, though the degree of their cruelty towards the mother varies between Veda (Ann Blyth) of the 1945 version, and Veda (Morgan Turner & Evan Rachel Wood) of the 2011 version. In the classic version, we don’t see issues such as incest and infidelity, through the daughter and her playboy step-father, Monte/Monty Beragon (Zachary Scott in 1945 and Guy Pearce in 2011), mainly due to the censorship laws that existed in the hey days of Hollywood. While Veda from the classic noir piece kills off her step-father, and lets her mother take the blame; in the newer version, Veda, not only sleeps with her step-father, making that an alliance of incest, as well as infidelity, she antagonises her mother, flaunting her sexual relationship with Beragon. As Veda (Evan Rachel Wood) slithers naked, like a venomous snake, from the lust stained bed, towards the mirror, taunting her horrified mother (Winslet), one feels nothing but disgust towards this animalistic character (not the actress). So the amount of hatred you feel for the ‘Veda’ character in the two versions vary. The new ‘Veda’ makes the 1945 ‘Veda’, look like a saint. But yet that doesn’t mean you can like the ‘Veda’ of the classic film. You’d still dislike her, but feel more disgusted towards the ‘Veda’ of 2011.

Left: Morgan Turner as the younger Veda in the 2011 mini-series.  Top-Right: Evan Rachel Wood as the older Veda in the 2011 mini-series. Bottom-Right: Ann Blyth as Veda in the 1945 film-noir.

Left: Morgan Turner as the younger Veda in the 2011 mini-series.
Top-Right: Evan Rachel Wood as the older Veda in the 2011 mini-series.
Bottom-Right: Ann Blyth as Veda in the 1945 film-noir.

The two ‘Mildred Pierce’ characters too differ, though not in their niceties. They are both kind hearted mothers of near perfection. Both are single mothers bringing up their children on their own, after getting rid of their cheating husbands, Bert Pierce’s (Bruce Bennett in 1945 and Brían F. O’Byrne in 2011). Both are independent strong willed women. Yet both fall for the wrong man, Beragon, adding towards the, already problematic, mother/daughter relationship. But Crawford’s ‘Mildred Pierce’ is a business tycoon and owns a chain of glamorous restaurants, while Winslet’s ‘Mildred Pierce’ is, though a business woman, not a tycoon, with only a few restaurants, most probably as stated in James M. Cain’s novel. And Crawford’s character never harms her daughter, physically or otherwise, while Winslet’s (due to the sequence prior to it), grasps her inconsiderate daughter by the neck, through provocation. As the singer Veda (Evan Rachel Wood) tries to sing, with her damaged vocal chords, besides how much disgust we feel towards her, one can’t help but feel sorry for her character. Only for a moment though. She’s a character that could never change, and finally Winslet’s ‘Mildred Pierce’ gives up on Veda. While Crawford’s still tries to protect her till the end. Mildred Pierce is a really complex feminist character, who stands on her own two feet, in a man’s world, yet finds herself trapped, by falling for the wrong man, and by being psychologically distressed by her own spoilt daughter.

Kate Winslet & Guy Pearce in scene from MILDRED PIERCE (2011)

Kate Winslet & Guy Pearce in scene from MILDRED PIERCE (2011) NSFS

Both Zachary Scott and Guy Pearce, are superb, as the playboy Monte/Monty Beragon, who seduces Mildred Pierce and further ruins her relationship with her daughter, in the film and mini-series, respectively. The way it happens differs in the two versions. Yet, along with the playboy characteristics of Beragon, the fact he uses Mildred Pierce, mainly for her money, and encourages Veda’s hatred for her mother, doesn’t.

Bert Pierce, Mildred Pierce’s first husband, though flawed, is a sympathetic character, that always stands by his ex-wife. Especially against the injustices of their narcissistic, hard hearted, daughter, towards the mother. His character truly shines bright in the final sequence.

The movie was an excellent work of cinematic art. But amazingly, so was the television remake. Love both the movie and the TV miniseries. Both Joan Crawford and Kate Winslet, garnered various accolades, at various award ceremonies, for their portrayal of ‘Mildred Pierce’, including Oscars, Globes and Emmy’s.
Mildred Pierce (1945). Excellent !!!!! 10/10!!!!!
Mildred Pierce (2011). Excellent !!!!! 10/10!!!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen’s Television (DVD) Sense

Watched the enjoyable British thriller, set in South Africa, at the height of the Apartheid, starring Sidney Poitier and Michael Caine, as two very different characters, who are brought together, as two wanted men by the secret police, forced to make their great escape together, across the border, in The Wilby Conspiracy (1975). One of the DVD’s I bought down under.
Wilby Conspiracy posterSet in the 1970’s itself, Sidney Poitier plays Shack Twala, an anti-apartheid activist. The day he is released from prison, after serving ten years for his nationalistic conduct, he, along with his Afrikaner defence attorney, Rina Van Niekirk (Prunella Gee in her introductory cinematic role), and her English boyfriend, visiting British engineer, Jim Keogh (Michael Caine), are on the way to Rina’s home to celebrate; but on the way, South African police trouble Shack Twala for not having an identity pass with him. Rina and Jim Keogh, intervene, and all three find themselves on the run. But Shack Twala, has to retrieve some diamonds stolen ten years ago, to fund their revolutionary movement, known as the, Black Congress (most probably a pseudonym for the African National Congress), which he gave an Indian friend, Dr. Anil Mukarjee (Saeed Jaffrey), a dentist, for safe keeping. Dr. Mukarjee, for his own safely, had thrown the diamonds into a deep pit. Now, with the secret police, led by Major Horn (Nicol Williamson), hot on their heels, Shack Twala, his lawyer, Rina Van Niekirk, her lover, Jim Keogh, and two Indian dentists, Dr. Mukarjee and Dr. Persis Ray (former Beauty Queen, Miss India for Miss Universe 1965, Persis Khambatta, in her first British film), hatch a plan, to get the diamonds, and fly across the border to Botswana, and safety, with the help of Rina’s reluctant, estranged, husband, Blane van Niekerk (Dutch actor Rutger Hauer, in his first British film).

Interestingly the police, have many a chances, to catch the fugitives, but why don’t they?? They seem to have a whole other agenda following the men on the run. And what’s ‘The Wilby Conspiracy’??? It’s only at the end we find out, who, and what, ‘Wilby’ might signify.
Wilby ConspiracyIt’s an engaging political thriller, made and set, when it was still hard to be a free black man, in racially conflicted, South Africa. The best thing about the movie are the two leads, played by Sidney Poitier and Michael Caine. They are both superb actors, and the movie explores their unexpected friendship. Saeed Jaffrey, was really good, as the weak willed dentist, who secretly supports the Black Congress. Persis Khambatta was not bad, as a dentist having her own secret agenda for helping the two fugitives. She served more as a love/lust interest for Poitier. Prunella Gee’s not much of an actress, at least not in her first feature film here. Rutger Hauer was pretty good. And Nicol Williamson was brilliant as the villain of the piece. This movie was a first for many of the stars, including Prunella Gee, Persis Khambatta and Rutger Hauer.
Wilby Conspiracy sceneThe Wilby Conspiracy is a pretty fast paced movie, that moves quickly from one crisis to another, to an unexpected surprise ending. It also gives an insight  into racial friction between the whites and blacks, as well as the blacks and browns, yet at the same time we see secretive alliances between all these races, who act together against injustices of the country. It’s also a great chase film, a road movie, at the same time an intriguing enough political thriller.

 Prunella Gee

Prunella Gee

Spoiler Alert: The entrance of the leader of the Black Congress, most probably representing Nelson Mandela in exile, was an interesting twist at the end.

Though not a great film, a pretty good venture, worth checking out.
Rating: 7/10 !!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense.

Continuing the DVD films, brought from Down Under, that I watched last month. I would have worked on this sooner, but since the arrival of little darling  in our lives, all my blogging got a tad delayed.
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The Long Tensed Wait – High Noon

On Monday night, the 24th of November, 2014, watched the Gary Cooper/Grace Kelly classic directed by Fred Zinnemann, High Noon (1952).
High NoonHigh Noon, made approximately in real time, deals with a Marshal, Will Kane (Cooper), who is forced to face his arch enemy alone; a man he sent to prison, Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald), who has been pardoned and released, and vows to take his revenge; on Kane’s wedding day. Grace Kelly plays the nervous, newly wedded, bride, from out of town, a Quaker, who has no knowledge of the historic enmity between her husband and Frank Miller.

The movie is a mixture of Noir and Western. Majority of the film deals with the long, nerve wrecking, tensed, wait. The drama between the two men is to erupt at 12 noon, thus we sit through 85 minutes of suspense, constantly watching the clock on the screen. It’s so beautifully filmed, that we become part of plot, as we watch the tension in all the lead characters of this little town, nervous about the noon fight, as Frank Miller is suppose to arrive by the noon train. High Noon has less to do with dialogues or physical action, but more to do with psychological tension and emotions. Especially for the Marshal. We see him try and gain his townsfolk to help him fight off Miller and his gang of three (which include Miller’s brother and two others, who wait patiently, for Miller’s arrival, at the train station), to no avail. We see Kane’s desperation and fear, hidden under his hard exterior. Even Will Kane’s closest friends, people at the towns bar, the church, everyone refuses to help. They might support Kane, but they fear Miller more.

The film won four Academy Awards and four Golden Globes, including for ‘Best Actor’ (Oscar & Golden Globe for Cooper), ‘Best Supporting Actress’ (Golden Globe for Mexican actress Katy Jurado, for her performance as Helen Ramírez, Kane’s and Miller’s ex lover, making Jurado the first Mexican actress to receive the award), and Best Cinematography – B/W (Golden Globe for Floyd Crosby). And High Noon was nominated in many other categories, in various Award Ceremonies, including Oscar nominations for ‘Best Director’, ‘Best Picture’, and ‘Best Screenplay’. In the late 80’s High Noon was selected by the United States National Film Registry (NFR), as being “culturally, historically & aesthetically significant”, entering the registry during the NFR’s first year of existence.

Among the finest Westerns ever, and definitely the best blend of Western & Film Noir. A Commercial, yet Art House, movie, long before Art House Films came into existence. I have known about this movie since the mid-80’s, the long wait was worth it. Excellent 10/10!!!!!

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A Man going Homicidal – The Shining

The Shining

The Shining

On Tuesday, 25th, watched the weirdly excellent Horror flick by Stanley Kubrick, with Jack Nicholson as the homicidal maniac, The Shining (1980).

The ‘Overlook Hotel’ is closing for the winter, and a caretaker Jack (Jack Nicholson), an aspiring writer, along with his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and six year old son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), head to take care of the Hotel for a frozen holiday. Whilst residing there, apparently due to a supernatural event, or a purely psychological one, Jack starts to go insane and tries to kill his wife and child.

An amazingly horrific feature film, set in the fictional, isolated, ‘Overlook Hotel’, in a scenic, yet foreboding, location. The whole mise-en-scène; with spacious interiors, which ironically adds a sense of claustrophobia and entrapment, the contrast of the classic building with the modern furnishing, the way the steadicam follows little Danny’s tricycle within the long endless corridors; is brilliant. The atmosphere created at the hotel and it’s surroundings, with It’s breathtaking scenery, has something very eerie about it. The movie is so deeply engaging, that the audience, would want to both leave, yet be stuck to chair, hoping to get the on-screen mother and child to safety.

Jack Nicholson is brilliant as always, naturally looking evil, with raised eyebrows. Shelley Duvall, seems realistically frightened, through the claustrophobic entrapment she feels, both by her husband and the snowbound, yet spacious, location. The little kid, is superb, especially in his ‘shining’ moments. Specifically the ‘Redrum’ scene (an anagram for ‘Murder’), which gets the sickly looking mother agitated even more, and tries to save her child, if not herself. While shooting the film, little Danny Lloyd, wasn’t aware that it was supposed to be a horror film. Yet Lloyd is pure perfection, when it comes to frightening scenes. The maze scene, interchanging the feel of loss and hope, through illumination, and gloom, towards the end, between the father and son, is splendidly depicted, representing a scope for triumph of good over evil.

Jack Nicholson’s evil male persona is also subject to, racial hatred, sexism and an egoistical, narrow minded, sense of masculinity. The movie has a bizarrely frozen ending, with the 1920’s photograph, making us question the representation of the ‘Jack’ character, as an animalistic human, or unsettling spirit, or a reincarnation. Jack is the embodiment of male chauvinism and pure evil, to come out at the height of feminism of the 70’s. He can’t stand his wife, which only surfaces after being trapped in the ‘Overlook Hotel’, through his own imagination or actual past ghosts.

This DVD, also contained the short documentary, Making ‘The Shining’ (1980), directed by Vivian Kubrick, Stanley Kubrick’s daughter. A very enjoyable, behind the scene, insight into the making of a classic.

No doubt, The Shining, is the best horror movie, after Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (1968). Simplistic, and almost static, in movement, with a horrifying atmosphere, the movie is a masterpiece of psychological horror, thanks to the genius that Kubrick was. Excellent 10/10!!!!! 

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In Love with an Edwardian Lady – Somewhere in Time

Somewhere in Time (1980)

Somewhere in Time (1980)

Friday, the 28th, watched the period piece, Somewhere in Time (1980). A science-fiction romance, where a man travels through time, by transporting his body and soul, psychologically, through hypnosis, to be with the love of his life.

Ever heard of a science-fiction movie, specifically dealing with time-travel, that had no use of special effects, to showcase thus. Well now you have. In this heritage, sci-fi, classic, Somewhere in Time, a playwright, Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve), uses the method of self-hypnosis, by disengaging himself with anything related to the 1970’s, to travel through time, into the Year 1912, after seeing a framed photograph of a famed stage actress of the Edwardian era, Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour). This takes place, eight years after he met an old lady (Susan French), in 1972, who hands him a pocket watch and asks him to, “Come back”, to her. Eight years later, after being infatuated with late Elise McKenna’s picture from 1912, he discovers, the old lady he met in 1972, was the one and the same the person. Since then he’s is obsessed with meeting her again, who’s dead and gone by now.

The plot sounds pretty juvenile, yet it’s filmed so romantically, believably transforming us into another era, with some great costumes, along with Collier, that one can’t not enjoy the love affair between the two era’s. This Heritage Film also stars George Voskovec, Bill Erwin, Teresa Wright and Christopher Plummer. ‘Superman’ Christopher Reeve, is well built, tall and handsome. ‘Bond’ girl, Jane Seymour is bewitchingly beautiful. Especially in the scene where she loosens her Edwardian bouffant, and gives herself to man she loves and might lose. Very moving. Very Romantic. Very Good 8/10!!!!

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The Flight to Heaven – Always

Audrey Hepburn in Steven Spielberg's 'Always' (1989)

Audrey Hepburn in Steven Spielberg’s ‘Always’ (1989)

Legendary Audrey Hepburn performs, as an angel, Hap, in a special appearance; in her last cinematic role, before retiring from cinema altogether, and lending her services completely to philanthropic work; in Always (1989). Watched it on Saturday afternoon, 29th November, 2014.

Directed by Steven Spielberg, Always, tells story of a daredevil aerial forest-fire fighter, Pete (Richard Dreyfuss), who gets himself killed, and meets the angel, Hap (Hepburn), who guides his soul to help another young pilot, Ted (Brad Johnson), as well as help Pete’s devastated old girlfriend, Dorinda (Holly Hunter), get over him, and start afresh with Ted.

It’s not a great Spielberg movie, but not a bad flick either. It has some very interesting sequences. An OK venture. 6/10!!!

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The Rise of a Singing Sensation – King Creole  

Elvis Presley and Michael Curtiz on the sets of King Creole

Elvis Presley and Michael Curtiz on the sets of King Creole

Watched this Elvis Presley classic, directed by Michael Curtiz, and based on a novel by Harold Robbins, King Creole (1958), on Sunday afternoon, the 30th of November, 2014.

This musical showcases one of the rare better performances by, the legendary King of Rock n’ roll, Elvis Presley, as an actor. The story is about a young club singer (Presley), who out of desperation, falls into bad company, and finds it difficult to get out of it. The deeper he gets, the messier and complicated things get for him, in turn risking the lives of family and friends.

Excellently filmed by Michael Curtiz, director of great classics like, Casablanca (1942) and Mildred Pierce (1945), yet as a Curtiz movie, it’s not good enough, for he was an exceptional film director. The camera mostly moves around capturing the most bewitchingly beautiful creature in the movie, with a great voice, from every angle possible. Of course I’m talking about Elvis Presley. Presley, who’s not much of an actor, does a reasonably good job here, as Danny Fisher. Walter Matthau, is pretty good, as the villain of the piece. Danny Fisher’s two love interests are quite pretty. The music is superb, the songs are pure heavenly.
Elvis Presley in King CreoleSupposedly, this was Elvis Presley’s favourite, among the films he worked in. Thanks to the music, this makes for an enjoyable viewing. Overall, a Very Good movie. 8/10!!!!     

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Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

P.S. Also see my post DVD Films From Last Month PART-I.

I have watched very few movies released in 2014. Here are the Golden Globe nominees, from the 2014 films, that I’ve watched so far, and TV shows, that I’ve seen, previous seasons of, but not the latest.
Golden Globe Nominees for 2015From the five feature films nominated for ‘Best Motion Picture’- in the DRAMA category, I’ve only watched Boyhood (2014). Am glad, and as it’s known as the Best movie of 2014, I wish it wins. To read more about this movie, that took 12 years to make, check out my post In-flight Entertainment. I’ven’t seen any of the Best film nominees, nominated under, the MUSICAL or COMEDY category. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, have been nominated for their supporting roles in Boyhood, as is Richard Linklater for ‘Best Director’ and ‘Best Screenplay’. Boyhood definitely deserves all the accolades it’s gained, for this prestigious Award ceremony, to be held.

Interstellar (2014), another excellent movie, however has only been nominated for one Golden Globe, that too for ‘Best Original Score’, to Hans Zimmer. Am a bit disappointed here, as it’s one of the rare best science fiction films, set in space, to have come out in ages (see my post The Big Screen – Films Down Under). Anyway Hans Zimmer deserves his nomination, and hopefully a win. Zimmer won an Oscar for ‘Best Original Score’, in 1995, for The Lion King (1994). And won two Globes in the same category, in 1995, again for The Lion King, and in 2001 for Gladiator (2000). Zimmer has been nominated many a times at both the Oscars and the Globes.

The brilliant television movie, the bio-pic, The Normal Heart (2014), which recounts the early days of the AIDS epidemic, is nominated in the ‘Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television’ category. It already won an Emmy for ‘Outstanding Television Movie’, earlier this year. Mark Ruffalo and Matt Bomer are nominated for ‘Best Actor’ and ‘Best Supporting Actor’, respectively, for their incredible performance. The Normal Heart definitely deserves a win in all three categories, at the Globes, next year. Also see my post DVD Films From Last Month PART-I.

Claire Danes is superb in Homeland (2011 till now), and although I haven’t seen the latest series, she no doubt deserves the nomination for ‘Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series’, in the DRAMA category. Same with Jessica Lange, who is exceptional in American Horror Story (2011 till now), and though I haven’t watched the latest season, she should, most probably might, win for her latest performance, in the ‘Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television’ category. The reason she’s nominated here, instead of under ‘Television Series (DRAMA)’ category, is ‘cause, each season of American Horror Story, is a different story altogether, thus each season is recognised, as an independent ‘mini-series’. So far I’ve watched the 2nd and 3rd season, ‘Asylum’ and ‘Coven’, respectively. Her 4th (current) season is called ‘Freakshow’, the season that’s been nominated. Kathy Bates too has been nominated for American Horror Story, under ‘Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television’ category. And though she was superb, in ‘Coven’, and I bet she’s great in ‘Freakshow’ as well, she’s got tough competition, with Allison Janney from Mom (2013 till date), who is hilarious in that sit-com, though I’ven’t seen the latest of Mom either.

Can’t wait to see which of my favourites win at the Golden Globes, to be held on 11 January 2015.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen’s TV Sense

On Sunday, the 7th of December, I adopted a female puppy, rescued from the streets, and taken care by a foster parent till it’s adoption. I named her ‘Gingerella’. She’s a handful, but an adorable one, and totally worth it.

Gingy in my room @ my desk, today morning (11th December 2014)

Gingy in my room @ my desk, today morning (11th December 2014)

The puppy was supposedly around 5 to 6 weeks old, the foster parent wasn’t sure exactly, when I adopted her. I had no plan of adopting a puppy that particular day (although I wanted to for sometime now), but I happen to visit this foster home (for a second time) with a friend, on Sunday, who went to pick a cat to be delivered closer to his place, and I thought of checking out maybe about adopting a kitten, instead, from all the pups and kittens, this one had an instant connection with me at once. I actually was looking at a white pup with brown patches on it’s back, who was apparently taken, and then I saw this ginger coloured little one with a black line that starts just below it’s neck and goes all the way up to the tip of it’s tail, getting darker as the line moves towards the tail. She wagged her tail at me, as I was holding her, looked up backwards, blinked her eyes, and I was smitten.

She’s already had a couple of vaccinations done, just the day before I met her, according to her medical booklet. Now I have to get everything else organised. I don’t know one thing about bringing up a puppy, it’s like taking care of a new born baby. Sleepless nights, constant need of attention, you name it. Have been checking out some Cesar Millan uploads on Youtube. She already has her canine teeth, and loves to bite me. We bought her few toys to chew, but it prefers us and slippers/shoes we are wearing at the time.

Gingerella - First Evening at our place, biting my shoe (7th December 2014)

Gingerella – First Evening at our place, biting my shoe (7th December 2014)

I had visited the foster home once before, around August, back then planning to adopt a puppy, but there were so many, I couldn’t just choose one. It felt unfair. But this time, this cute little creature and I bonded at once, and I knew she was the one. Besides having come across so many stray cats and dogs on the streets, that I have adored from afar, Gingerella, was the one I felt like a parent to. She’s my baby. Films and books have taken back seat now.

The first evening I brought her, it peed (and pooped) on our little portico, in our back yard. Since then she has improved a bit. At least it does number.2 outside, urinating she’s still a bit confused.

How did I name her?? I was sitting there, on our back porch, on Sunday evening itself, while it bit my shoe, it’s own leg et al, and I was thinking – Ginger, Gingernut, Brownie, Black Tail, back to Gingernut, Gin, and then Gingerella!!! And Voilà!!! Found her a name. Of course she responds to Ginger, Gingy and Gin Gin more than Gingerella, thanks to my mum. Now Gingerella assumes my mother is the supreme leader of the pack, and ignores us somewhat. It only comes running to me, if mum’s not anywhere in sight, scent or sound. Initially though shocked, Mum adores Gingerella, has been spoiling her, stitching up a cushion just for it, and buying ‘Pedigree’ dog food and treats, with a whole box just for Gingy. And mum is very defensive and protective of her. In fact Gingerella slept in Mum’s room the first couple of nights, waking her up at 3am and then again at 4am. No alarm clock needed. Now she sleeps in the back portico, on her soft cushion and doesn’t wake up till about 5am. She sleeps most of the day, eats, plays and sleeps.

I am not on Facebook, but plan to open up an account for Gingerella.
Below are pictures of her first week at our home, even though the week isn’t over yet. I couldn’t wait that long to share these.

Nuwan Sen n’ Gingerella

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Gingerella - First Evening at 56,Siripura (7th December 2014), on our back yard portico.

Gingerella – First Evening at 56,Siripura (7th December 2014), on our back yard portico.

Gingerella (7th December 2014), quick nap before dinner.

Gingerella (7th December 2014), quick nap before dinner. It never slept in that box post that, not even that night, for it couldn’t get in and out of it.

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Gingy, exploring our house, the Next Afternoon, (8th Dec 2014) In the Lobby.

Gingy, exploring our house, the Next Afternoon, (8th Dec 2014) In the Lobby.

Gingy (8th Dec 2014) The Next Afternoon, exploring our house. In the Lobby.

Gingy (8th Dec 2014) The Next Afternoon, exploring our house. In the Lobby.

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Gingerella with my Mum (9th December 2014) In our back yard.

Gingerella with my Mum (9th December 2014) Afternoon fun in our back yard.

Gin Gin finishing her lunch (9th December 2014)

Gin Gin finishing her lunch (9th December 2014)

Gin Gin getting her Vitamins (9th December 2014)

Gin Gin getting her Vitamins (9th December 2014)

Gin Gin taking her Vitamins (9th December 2014)

Gin Gin taking her Vitamins (9th December 2014)

Gin Gin gets ready for a nap (9th December 2014)

Gin Gin gets ready for a nap (9th December 2014)

Gin Gin chooses a weird spot to nap in, under the French Window, to the back yard portico  (9th December 2014)

Gin Gin chooses a weird spot to nap in, under the French Window, to the back yard portico (9th December 2014)

Gin Gin (9th December 2014) Taking her Afternoon Nap

Gin Gin (9th December 2014) Taking her Afternoon Nap

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Gingy in my bedroom, today morning (11th December 2014)

Gingy in my bedroom, today morning (11th December 2014)

Gingerella & I, in my room, today morning.

Gingerella & I, in my room, today morning.

Gingerella with my mum, today afternoon (11th December 2014), in the dinning-cum-pantry.

Gingerella with my mum, today afternoon (11th December 2014), in the dinning-cum-pantry.

Gin Gin with mum, in our back yard (11th December 2014) Today Afternoon.

Gin Gin with mum, in our back yard (11th December 2014) Today Afternoon.

Gingerella, enjoying her post lunch treat, in her bed, today afternoon (11th December 2014), in our back yard portico.

Gingerella, enjoying her post lunch treat, in her bed, today afternoon (11th December 2014), in our back yard portico.

Gingerella gets comfy in her bed, today afternoon.

Gingerella gets comfy in her bed, today afternoon.

Gingerella relaxing outside her bed, in our back porch, today afternoon.

Gingerella relaxing/biting her own leg, outside her bed, in our back porch, today afternoon.

Gingerella poses for the camera, in our back yard porch, today afternoon (11th December 2014).

Gingerella poses for the camera, in our back yard porch, today afternoon (11th December 2014).

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DVD Films From Last Month PART-I

Under The Skin poster

As I mentioned in my post Holidaying in Australia, comes to an end, I ended up buying 26 films from Australia. I reached SL on the 15th of November, 2014, and started watching the DVD’s on the 16th, the very next day, itself.

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Art House Horror – Under The Skin

On Sunday afternoon, the 16th of November, 2014, I watched Under The Skin (2013). The film is about an Alien is human clothing, who drives around Scotland, UK, seducing horny men and devouring them. But when she suddenly sympathises with an inexperienced man suffering from facial neurofibromatosis (Adam Pearson, a man actually suffering from this rare disease was taken for the part), she lets him go. She tries to enter the human world, and be one of them, rather than use them to her benefit. Yet the more human she becomes, the more vulnerable she becomes to animalistic humans.

One of best Science-fiction/Art House/Horror films I’ve come across. It’s an unrealistic film, yet filmed so excellently realistic in style, like a documentary documenting this Aliens hungry escapades, involving the male flesh. To the extent of reality, the scenes filmed with Scarlett Johansson (who plays the Alien seductress) picking up men, were actual conversations with non-actors, men on the streets, filmed with many a hidden cameras in her van. That’s why those scenes were so naturalistic, because they weren’t acting, nor did they recognize Scarlett Johansson. Again the scene where she is walking on the street and suddenly falls down, walking into a shopping mall, et al, were all filmed with passers by unaware. Of course the men she’s seen with, where they are submerged into an abyss of liquid, leaving their skin behind, were obviously unknown actors.

Under The Skin (2013)

Under The Skin (2013)

The movie’s got beautiful cinematography, brilliantly filmed, capturing the Scottish Highlands, as well as in a surrealistic sense of the story, where the naked young men are dissolved inside the black space of the extraterrestrial world. There’ve been so many films about Aliens visiting/falling to/residing on earth, including Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Superman (1978), E.T. (1982), Starman (1984), Independence Day (1996), Men in Black (1997), The Faculty (1998), War of the Worlds (2005), I am Number 4 (2011) and The Darkest Hour (2011) to name some (and most of the films, especially the latter lot, mentioned, are pretty crap; in fact E.T. is the only excellent film mentioned above, Superman was very good, Men in Black was pretty good, and the rest range from OK to pretty bad to some of the worse films ever made). But the movie which, Under The Skin, is closest to, and reminds me of, is, The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), with one of the legends of the pop music scene, David Bowie. The artistic, realistic, style, with an extraterrestrial walking through Earth, all are similarly in sync with the Bowie classic. Especially the slow, convincingly simulated realism, with an alien’s perspective of the human world, that takes it’s time to tell a story. Slow doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be boring, and Under The Skin, is far from boring, and much better than the pretty good B-movie classic, The Man Who Fell to Earth.

The scene where the alien starts to peel off her human skin, and reveals her inner Alien self, is a touching sequence. One can’t help but feel sorry for her more humanistic alien character in this inhumanly human world. The beauty sheds her skin to reveal the beast inside, which ends up being a more beautiful character than many indifferent beautiful people on Earth. One sympathises with her, despite what her alien personality lead her to do in the beginning of the film, before she saved one of her victims, letting out the naked man, suffering facial neurofibromatosis, run free.

The British director of, the near excellent gangster movie, Sexy Beast (2000) and, the pretty good film analysing re-birth, Birth (2004), Jonathan Glazer, has brought out a near excellent artistic venture with Under The Skin. Among the next best in science fiction and horror films. 9/10!!!!

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Lost in Space – Gravity

On 19th November, 2014, watched the excellent science fiction flick set in space, Gravity (2013).

An Exceptional movie of one woman’s lone struggle, whilst lost in space, of resilience and survival. Being all alone floating in the darkness of outer space, without any human contact, nor any visible plant or animal life, could be a formidable experience. Speaking of suffering from loss and loneliness on planet Earth, it’s hard to even conceive what it must be like for Dr. Ryan Stone (the character played by Sandra Bullock), out there in the inhabitable eternal blackness, circumnavigating afloat, with our habitable planet afar, in sight. Gravity is both a psychological and visual treat, by Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón. The only other movie of his I’ve seen till date is, the near excellent Mexican film, Y Tu Mamá También (2001), starring, my favourite Mexican actor, Gael García Bernal, along with his real life best buddy, Diego Luna. I watched Y Tu Mamá También a decade ago, whilst residing in Portsmouth, UK, in mid 2004.

On the sets of GRAVITY, Alfonso Cuarón directing Sandra Bullock & George Clooney

On the sets of GRAVITY, Alfonso Cuarón directing Sandra Bullock & George Clooney

Gravity is among the best movies set in space, coming fourth in line, after 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), which no doubt is the best Space-age film ever, Interstellar (2014), the next best, another visually stunning intellectual experience, and of course the animated movie, WALL·E (2008), comes a close third. Says a lot about how great WALL·E is, considering the fact, am not that crazy about animated movies.

One of the best sequences in the film happens to be Dr. Ryan Stone trying to contact the human world, and ends us speaking to Aningaaq, an Eskimo residing in a Fjord in Greenland. Of course Aningaaq isn’t showcased in this movie, but I also watched, the 7 minute short film, Aningaaq (2013), which was on the DVD as well, directed by Jonás Cuarón, son of Alfonso Cuarón. An excellent prequel/sequel to Gravity. Aningaaq, shows us the Eskimo’s side of the communication, during radio contact with Dr. Ryan Stone. They speak two different languages, thus don’t understand one another. The DVD also contained the insightful documentary of how man’s been polluting the space around Earth, narrated by Ed Harris, Collision Point: The Race to Clean up Space (2014).

Another sequence is, soon after the radio contact, sole survivor, Dr. Ryan Stone’s hallucination, of fellow astronaut, Matt Kowalski (George Clooney). It’s this hallucination that helps her not give up so easily. The ghost of Matt Kowalski guides her, giving her the necessary push, to somehow make it back home, to Mother Earth.

Alfonso Cuarón, deservedly won the Best director Oscar for Gravity, making him the first Hispanic and Mexican to win an Academy Award for ‘Best Director’. Gravity, won 7 Oscars, out of the 10 nominations, including for ‘Best Visual Effects’ and ‘Best Cinematography’. 10/10!!!!!   

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Romance & Revenge – Indiscreet

Watched the classic Rom-Com starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, Indiscreet (1958), on 20th November 2014.

Ingrid Bergman with Cary Grant in INDISCREET (1958)

Ingrid Bergman with Cary Grant in INDISCREET (1958)

Based on a play by Norman Krasna, Indiscreet, is about an actress of the British stage, who’s just entered her middle ages, and falls for a man who is unable to get a divorce from his wife, thus can never marry the woman he loves. Once she finds out he’s been lying to her all this time to avoid the subject of marriage, a bold a woman as she is, she concocts an excellent plan to take revenge, which ends up blowing up on her face, and his.

This is the second pairing of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, since their outstanding performance in the Hitchcock masterpiece of film noir, Notorious (1946). Contrasting to the nerve wrecking, psychologically disturbingly excellent noir piece, the Hitchcock classic was, here we see the two stars in a lighter vein, in a hilarious comedy. Might not be the greatest romantic comedy ever, but it’s really worth checking out, especially for fans of Bergman & Grant. They are superbly and eccentrically funny. 8/10!!!! 

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Gay Cancer of the 80’s – The Normal Heart

Based on real events, watched the television movie The Normal Heart (2014), on 21st November 2014.

One of the best gay-themed films to come out in recent times. Based on the life of gay activist, and playwright, Larry Kramer (based on his autobiographical play), The Normal Heart, is a superb insight into the early days of the HIV/AIDS virus. Back in the early 80’s, it was dubbed as a ‘Gay Cancer’, as the AIDS epidemic only seemed to be attacking homosexual men. The American government did nothing about it, as it didn’t seem to affect anyone who wasn’t engaged in sexual intercourse with the opposite sex. A very depressingly educational film, yet made beautifully, and worth really checking out.

Larry Kramer’s character, Ned Weeks (played by Mark Ruffalo), even goes on to accuse the American government of being involved in a conspiracy to kill off the entire homosexual community of the United States. Who could blame him for feeling that way back then. Julia Roberts plays Dr. Emma Brookner, a wheelchair bound doctor (due to polio), who happens to be the only doctor, who dares to do any research to help AIDS patients. Taylor Kitsch, in one of his rare great roles, plays Bruce Niles, a closeted activist, who’s less vocal and forward, unlike Ned Weeks. There are smaller, yet effective roles, by famous television stars, such as BD Wong, Jim Parsons, Jonathan Groff and Frank De Julio, to name a few. But the icing on the cake, is Matt Bomer’s deeply effective realistic performance, as newspaper reporter, for the New York Times, Felix Turner, the lover of Ned Weeks, who’s dying of AIDS. Bomer lost 40 pounds for his role, turning himself into a sickly looking individual, contrasting to the bewitchingly attractive character we see him as, earlier on, in the movie. The best performance of Bomer’s I’ve seen till date.
The Normal HeartOn this DVD, I also watched an insightful documentary called, How To Start A War (2014). A profound look at the true story behind The Normal Heart and the life of playwright Larry Kramer.

The Normal Heart, bagged the Emmy for ‘Outstanding Television Movie’ along with another win for ‘Outstanding (Non-Prosthetic) Makeup for a Television Miniseries or Movie’. From Mark Ruffalo to Alfred Molina to Matt Bomer, six cast members were nominated for Emmy Awards, including one for ‘Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Television Miniseries or Movie’, for Julia Roberts. Plus director Ryan Murphy and writer Larry Kramer, were nominated as well, along with a couple of nominations for cinematography and casting. Sadly none of these categories garnered a win at the Emmy’s. But the cast et al, did win some awards at various other award ceremonies.

The Normal Heart, is a really touching, emotional and educational film, that should be shown/taught in schools. 10/10 !!!!!   

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Advocated Entrapment  – The Firm

On Sunday night, the 23rd of November, 2014, watched The Firm (1993), a thriller based on a John Grisham novel.

Sydney Pollack’s slick thriller, based on the Grisham novel, is a very 1990’s flick. After a young lawyer, Mitch McDeere (Tom Cruise), foolishly falls into an entrapment through advocacy, we see him hatch up an intriguing plan so that neither the Law Firm, nor the FBI, can screw up his life. It’s a very stylish, typical Grisham style thriller, though I haven’t read this particular book of his.

The Firm (1993)

The Firm (1993)

This was an era when Tom Cruise still had taste, when it comes to selecting a venture to work in. Cruise has worked in some exceptional projects back in the late 80’s and 90’s. It’s a pity his roles today aren’t that well selected. He’d rather make a load of money than prove himself as an actor, and he is a good actor, when he comes in good, worthwhile, movies. Movies that he’ll be remembered for in the future. It’s sad. Get back onto doing more challenging roles, like in Rain Man (1988), Born on the Fourth of July (1989), A Few Good Men (1992), Interview with the Vampire (1994), Jerry Maguire (1996),  Minority Report (2002), The Last Samurai (2003), and Valkyrie (2008), to name a few. These movies showcase his ascend as an actor.

With a great cast including Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, Holly Hunter (who was nominated for the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ Oscar for her role here); Jeanne Tripplehorn, Hal Holbrook, David Strathairn, Gary Busey and Wilford Brimley; The Firm, is really worth checking out. A very good adaptation. 8/10!!!!

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Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

One Lovely Blog Award

I’ve been nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award by the blogger who goes as, A Guy without Boxers, a nudist, named Roger, with a very picturesquely risqué blog. I was nominated early last month (3rd November 2014), when I wasn’t here in SL, but travelling Down Under. So congrats Roger, and thank you for nominating me & my blog, No Nonsense with Nuwan Sen.
One Lovely Blog AwardLike any Blog Award in general, the recipient has to meet certain requirements, and here they are :-

1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post the award Logo. DONE (above).

2. Share seven facts about yourself.

(I) I am a born film buff. My first word as a baby most probably was ‘movies’, not ‘mamma’ like normal babies.
(II) I am an artist as well (Oil Paintings mainly) where too the concepts are mostly based on Cinema. I consider myself as an artiste with an ‘e’, due to my artistic nature in general.
(III) I love to read and write. Currently reading Ben Okri’s The Age of Magic, and am constantly writing.
(IV) I am still a virgin, partially by my own choice, as I’ve never had the desire to jump into bed with just anyone, to please other people, and yet never had the luck to be with the one I want to.
(V) I was born in New Delhi, India, to Sri Lankan parents, and having studied at the British School, in Delhi; Stafford International, in Colombo; University of Delhi, in Delhi; University of Luton, in Luton, UK; College of Fine Arts, at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, Australia; and having lived in six countries, in three continents, and travelled around those three continents; I consider myself ‘International’, a citizen of the world, I go beyond borders.
(VI) English is my first language, as I studied in English all my life, and my brain works in English. Though my mother tongue is Sinhala.
(VII) Paris is my favourite city in the world, from the cities I’ve lived in, and the Country of Switzerland as a whole, and watery city of Venice, are my two favourite places, from the places I’ve visited.
DONE

3. Nominate 15 bloggers for the award and inform them of their nomination.

Through my previous experiences, am aware that many of my bloggers don’t like to continue this chain. And it doesn’t really feel right to just nominate a few. So I shall be kind enough to bend the rules for you here, as I did once before for The Liebster Award. Thus I nominate all my fellow Bloggers, who visit my blog and wish to continue this chain.
DONE

So wish you all the best, and thank you Roger for specifically nominating me, and again sorry for the delay on working on this post.

Cheers
Nuwan Sen