Category: Edwardian Era


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Quoting Dalton Trumbo

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

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Quoting Sir Laurence Olivier

Laurence Olivier Quote

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Pure British Sophistication!!! Chic & Classy, the Poshest of the Posh, Kate Winslet joins me, by turning 40 today. So, Happy Birthday, to one of my favourite Brits, of the 21st century!!!!!

English Rose: Kate Winslet turn 40!

English Rose: Kate Winslet turn 40!

With her charming smile, her naturalistic simple appearance, and eloquently well spoken British English, that would have pleased Professor Higgins; Kate Winslet today, is one of the most talented British actresses to have graced the Big Screen, both, in her own homeland, as well as Hollywood. Her elegantly well spoken, vocal diction, is the most articulate, since Julie Andrews, ran singing up the Austrian hills in a habit, 50 years ago. Winslet’s acting skills are second to none other than that of, the marvellous 66 year old, Meryl Streep. With her great cinematic choices; grace, elegance, poise, and such a kindly face; she is my favourite actress of this century.

Back in the mid-90’s, I read a small snippet on the movie, Jude (1996), most probably before it’s release, on some magazine, which accompanied a picture of Kate Winslet and Christopher Eccleston. To my memory, this was the very first I heard, and/or saw a picture, of Kate Winslet. I don’t recall coming across anything about her, prior to that. I was really keen of watching Jude at the time, as it was based on the novel, Jude The Obscure, by Thomas Hardy. Soon I forgot the cast, but remembered that there was a movie called Jude, that I wish to see. Then in early 1998, in my second year, at Delhi University, Titanic (1997) was being shown at a relatively newer Cineplex in the city. Multiplexes were quite new back in the 90’s, in New Delhi, thus a craze among young Delhiites, and we had heard about the curved wide screens at this particular cinema, with multiple halls, called Satyam Cineplex. So one wintry night, close to spring, along with some fellow students (friends & acquaintances), we went all the way to Satyam, which was quite a distance, from the north campus, to watch the late night show of Titanic. Getting the tickets wasn’t easy, even at that late hour, and we ended up in the front row seats. Generally not a fan of sitting right in front, but Titanic was totally worth it. As the lead  character played by Michael Pitt, in my favourite film on film buffs, The Dreamers (2003), states, about sitting right up front in the cinema, “it was because we wanted to receive the images first. When they were still new, still fresh. Before they cleared the hurdles of the rows behind us. Before they’d been relayed back from row to row, spectator to spectator; until worn out, second-hand, the size of a postage stamp, it returned to the projectionist’s cabin.” Over five years later, when I watched Michael Pitt’s character, Matthew, narrate those words, I could relate to it, especially since I watched at least two movies in that manner, in my DU years, and one of them was Titanic. I loved the movie; even though somewhat censored, when it came to the innocent, non-sexual, nudity showcased in the film; and everything about it, including Kate Winslet. Post that, I’ve seen Titanic quite a few times.

Kate Winslet in Jude (1996)

Kate Winslet in Jude (1996)

Being a great fan of Sandra Bullock, back in the 90’s, Winslet didn’t become my favourite actress, over-night. Literally!!! Titanic ended past midnight, thus next morning, and it was freezing cold by then. Later that year, I saw Jude, and fell in love with it, and thought Kate Winslet was brilliant. A couple of years later, I got to re-watch it. Consequently, over the next few years, I watched quite a lot of films of hers, some good, some not so, including, Heavenly Creatures (1994), Sense and Sensibility (1995), Hamlet (1996), Hideous Kinky (1998), Holy Smoke (1999), Quills (2000), Enigma (2001) and Iris (2001). Jude happens to be my favourite of Kate Winslet movie from the 1990’s.

Then in 2004, whilst living in Portsmouth, UK, I watched two interesting movies of hers. One was the really good thriller, with a very clever twist, The Life of David Gale (2003). The other, was the brilliant, surreal, masterpiece, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004); for which Winslet was nominated for a fourth time, and which was her second ‘Best Actress’ nomination, the following year. So, Year 2004, was the year, Kate Winslet, became my favourite actress. And since then, she is till date, my favourite female star of the 21st century. Back in 2000, I fell in love with Jude Law, practically replacing Matt Damon, as my favourite actor, when I watched The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), my favourite film from the 90’s decade, for which Law received his very first Oscar nomination. But it was four years later, after watching some more of his movies, that Law really became my favourite male star of the 21st century. So Year 2004, was a crucial year, for both Jude Law (who had quite a few releases that year) and Kate Winslet (mainly in regard to me). Year 2004, was when Law & Winslet, became my two favourite films stars, of the new century; and 11 years later, they still are (though unfortunately, Law hasn’t appeared in anything that impressive lately). It’s an interesting coincidence, to note, that both, Law & Winslet, happen to be Brits. Back then, they hadn’t actually worked together. But post 2004, Law & Winslet, have worked in a trio of films, out of which, I’ve unfortunately watched only, The Holiday (2006). A beautiful Christmassy romance flick, and if I remember correctly, I watched it on Boxing Day 2006, the day after Christmas; in Sydney, Australia. Later, I re-watched The Holiday, with my flatmates on DVD, the following year.

Law & Winslet: Movies in which both, Jude Law and Kate Winslet, appeared in.

Law & Winslet: Movies in which both, Jude Law and Kate Winslet, appeared in.

Then in early 2007, one Summer evening, at the height of the dry Australian heat, I saw Little Children (2006), on the Big Screen. Another excellent, Art House, film, and another superb Kate Winslet performance, for which she received her third ‘Best Actress’ Oscar nomination. By 2005, she was already, the youngest celebrity to be nominated four times, by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars). She was still 29, when she was nominated for a fourth time, for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Then came her magnum opus, The Reader (2008), for which she finally won the ‘Best Actress Oscar’. ’twas about time. I watched The Reader, twice within 2009 itself, the latter was on the Big Screen, in Paris, France. Today The Reader is my favourite of Kate Winslet movies. She’s definitely come a long way since her Titanic days. By now, I’ve seen quite a load of Winslet films of this century, including, Finding Neverland (2004), Romance & Cigarettes (2005), Revolutionary Road (2008), Carnage (2011) and Labor Day (2013). Added to which, I’ve also seen the excellent TV-miniseries, Mildred Pierce (2011), for which Kate Winslet won a Golden Globe award, an Emmy, among other wins, as well, for her performance as the titular character of the show. From her movies, that I haven’t seen yet, am really keen on watching, War Game (2002) & Pride (2004); for which she had lent her voice; All the King’s Men (2006), Contagion (2011), A Little Chaos (2014), Steve Jobs (2015) and The Dressmaker (2015), to name some.

It’s interesting to note, that Kate Winslet has appeared in some of my favourite pieces of literature, including adaptations of, Shakespeare’s Hamlet (an excellent modern adaptation), Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader, and Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road. Love those Books, Love their movie adaptations just as much.

Wishing Kate Winslet, all the best, on her 40th Birthday (Actors, Parminder Nagra and Scott Weinger, also turn 40 today. Best Wishes to them as well).

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Kate Winslet in Titanic (1997)

Kate Winslet in Titanic (1997)

Related posts/lists

Six Degrees of Separation: Kate Winslet
Mildred Pierce: TV miniseries
K Winslet
Oscar Winners … and then some 2012.
Labor Day: An Enjoyable Piece of Labour

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Quoting Jean Cocteau

The extreme limit of wisdom,
that’s what the public calls madness.
     – Jean Cocteau
    (1889 – 1963)

BOOKISH NUWAN ()

Nuwan Sen (Quoting Quotes)

My QUOTE of the DAY

The greater philosopher a man is,
the more difficult it is for him to answer,
 the foolish questions of common people.
                            -Henryk Sienkiewicz
                                (1846-1916)

Henryk Sienkiewicz was a noble prize winning Polish novelist, of the Victorian & Edwardian eras. Although I haven’t read any of his famed masterpieces, I saw this quote in a newspaper, some years ago. Then and there, I cut it and pasted it on the wall. One of my favourite quotes. Henryk Sienkiewicz is most famous for having authored some brilliant historical works of fiction. Am most keen on reading, the English translation of, Sienkiewicz’s epic, Quo Vadis (published in 1895), set in Rome around 64 AD, under the rule of Emperor Nero. In fact, this brilliant quote is from Quo Vadis itself.

THE RULES: See my post 3Days!!! 3Quotes!!! Challenge (Day 1), from a couple of days ago.

My Trio of Nominations for the Final Day

Literary Vittles (Alina), An American living in New Zealand, a Book Worm (who loves Children’s Literature & Illustrations), and writes about everything from travel to books to artworks to films. Alina is also one of my oldest Blog-pals.
Writer Loves Movies (Natalie Stendall), as her Blog-title sugests, a blogger/writer who loves to write about movies.
Vinnieh, a fellow film Blogger, one of the earliest bloggers to follow me, and vice versa. A true Blog-pal.

A Big Thank you, once again, to Akhiz Munawar, for roping me into this enjoyable challenge. Munawar himself is a literary genius, and a superb poet. Check out his blog, Akhiz Munawar, as well.

Also see my , from yesterday, 3Days!!! 3Quotes!!! Challenge (Day 2).

Nuwan Sen (Quoting Quotes of the brilliantly famous)

My QUOTE of the DAY

Depth of friendship,
 does not depend on,
 length of acquaintance.
                            -Ravindranath Tagore
                                (1861-1941)

Ravindranath Tagore (a.k.a. Rabindranath Tagore) was a Bengali literary mastermind of Contextual Modernisation, from Calcutta, in the Bengal Presidency (now in the state of West Bengal), in India (under the British Raj). The famed poet/writer/artist reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art nationwide, in the late 19th & early 20th centuries. Tagore became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.

THE RULES: See my previous post 3Days!!! 3Quotes!!! Challenge (Day 1)

My Trio of Nominations for Day 2

Callum McLaughlin, a published novelist and poet, an interesting blog of poetry and prose, that I recently stumbled upon.

William Jepma, one of the oldest blogs I’ve been following, and vice versa, for a few years now, a fellow film blogger.

Speakeasy (Kristina), the Queen of Classic Film Blogathons, her Blog is full of them, she organisers one after another, and she’s superb at it.

Nuwan Sen
(Quoting Quotes)

Sometimes I end up watching such great movies, but I never get to blog about them. A good example is the three excellent films I watched in March 2015; Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013), Haider (2014) and Her (2013). I never got a chance to write even a mini-critique on them. Thus this month I though, I should do a post, of all the films I watched in May, including the best, the bad and the not so bad.

My May Movies 2015

So here is a round up of the all the films (feature length, short film, television movie & television mini-series) I watched this month, May 2015.
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Le Vice et La Vertu (1963)

Le Vice et La Vertu (1963)Director Roger Vadim’s Le Vice et La Vertu, is mostly a chic sexploitation of his then life partner, Catherine Deneuve. Roger Vadim was a very aesthetically stylish director of his time, yet somewhat lacking in great story telling; who was notorious for the way he directed his two bewitchingly beautiful wives, Brigitte Bardot (in the 50’s) and Jane Fonda (mid-60’s to early 70’s), as well as his equally beautiful life partner, Catherine Deneuve (the early 60’s). All superb acting talent, but Vadim, preferred to turn them into sex-symbols of the 50’s & 60’s. Not that he was necessarily pervert, but he admired their beauty, femininity, elegance and grace; and he liked to flaunt their sexuality on screen. Yet, post-Vadim, all three femmes, went on to become some of the greatest acting talent, that existed/is still existing, in the international platform of cinematic geniuses. Especially when it comes to Deneuve and Fonda.

Le Vice et La Vertu, is a modern adaptation, inspired by, the notorious, Marquis de Sade’s, sadistic, 18th century text, Justine, ou Les Malheurs de La Vertu (Justine, or the Misfortunes of Virtue). Set during the second World War, the movie is about a group of elitist Nazi officers, residing in a remote Austrian chalet, who abduct pretty young French goddesses, and use and abuse them (sexually & otherwise) for their sexist/perverted/machismo pleasure.

Le Vice et La Vertu is beautifully filmed in black and white, yet unfortunately it’s not the best of movie viewing. This was Catherine Deneuve’s first notable role, and she plays the character of, the virtues, Justine, whose life is ruined by these monstrous Nazi officers.

It’s still a watchable movie, average fare. So do give it try for Vadim and Deneuve’s sake. It’s worth checking out, at least once. I watched Le Vice et La Vertu, on TV5MONDE. The first film, I watched this month.

My Rating: 6/10!!!
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American Hustle (2013)
Set in the 70’s, American Hustle, is based on real life events. As the movie starts it states that, “Some of this actually happened”.

The story is about the FBI (ABSCAM) operation, that took place in the 1970’s and early 80’s. An FBI agent (Bradley Cooper), ropes in two con-artists (Amy Adams & Christian Bale), to help him with a massive sting operation on catching corrupt American politicians red-handed.

Amy Adams

Love the movie, Love the 70’s setting, Love the cast. The acting talent involved is impeccable with Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Louis CK, Jack Huston, Alessandro Nivola and Elisabeth Röhm. David O. Russell’s American Hustle, was nominated for 10 Oscars, but didn’t win any.

I watched this near perfect, Hollywood, vintage, crime drama, American Hustle, on HBO Hits.

My Rating: Near Excellence!!!! 9/10!!!!!
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Warm Bodies (2013)
A Zombie Rom-Com!!! Warm Bodies was surprisingly pretty good.

Nicholas Hoult plays a zombie, residing among other living dead, within the confines of an airport. Those first few minutes of the film, was hilariously excellent. It was like a short film, within the feature film. Then came the humans. And the zombie finds a pulse, and a heart beat.

This is where the film, directed by Jonathan Levine, starts to descend, and I felt it would end up being one of those tasteless, blood and gore, flicks, with a romantic input. But luckily it wasn’t that kind of a movie, and the romance didn’t really ruin the movie experience for me. I know the story sounds pretty silly, and certain parts of it are, but I actually enjoyed it, and ‘twas way better than what I expected it to be. In fact, it was altogether a fun ride.

Warm Bodies is told from the zombie’s perspective, which itself makes it pretty unique. I’d Love to read the novel by Isaac Marion, this comical take on this zombie apocalypse, is based on.

Watched Warm Bodies on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: 7/10!!!!
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Summer in February (2013)

Summer in february WeddingSummer in February is one of the most disappointing Heritage Films, I’ve seen till date. Based on a true story, this British film revolves around four famous Impressionist Artists (the Lamorna group), from the Edwardian era; especially the real life tragic love triangle involving two artists (Alfred Munnings, and his unhappy wife, Florence Carter-Wood) and a young military officer, Major Gilbert Evans.

Beautifully set, in the countryside, on the Cornwall seascape; with great potential, and capability, of being a really great film, Summer in February stars Dominic Cooper, Dan Stevens, Emily Browning, Shaun Dingwall, Hattie Morahan, Tom Ward-Thomas and Max Deacon. Directed by Christopher Menaul, the film is so poorly made, that it’s not really worth watching. Sadly a pretty bad movie, and a total waste of time.

Watched Summer in February on HBO On Demand

My Rating: 4/10!!
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Transcendence (2014)
I was pleasantly surprised. It’s actually a very good movie. Not one of those films, where special effects take over, and rule and ruin a movie. I already did a post, two weeks ago, soon after I watched it. Check it out – Transcendence of an already Superior Brain.

I saw, this really good, directorial debut by, Cinematographer, Wally Pfister, i.e. Transcendence, on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: 8/10!!!!
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This Property is Condemned (1966)
One of DVD’s I bought during my Aussie trip in November 2014. Money well spent, for Sydney Pollack’s This Property is Condemned; starring Natalie Wood and Robert Redford, which happens to be a brilliant piece of cinema; is definitely a keeper. Am glad it’s part of my movie collection. Sultry Wood is just breathtaking, in her flirty, yet naïve, role, in this cinematic wonder, set in the sizzling heat of the 30’s American deep south. I already did a post on this one-of-a-kind tragic love story, an elongated version of a one-act play by Tennessee Williams, soon after I watched it. The script was co-written by Francis Ford Coppola. To read my review on This Property is Condemned, see my post Condemnation of a woman during the Depression era of the American south, from less than two weeks ago.

This Property is Condemned Wood and Redford

This Property is Condemned is just the second DVD, I watched this year. Haider, I mentioned atop, was the first (and that was back in March 2015). I still have some of films I brought from Australia, late last year. And added to which, I got down a few Hindi films, from New Delhi, India, back in February 2015. Haider happens to be one of them. This Property is Condemned, is the best, and my favourite, movie, from among all these movies, I watched this month.

My Rating: Excellent!!!!! 10/10 !!!!!
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Good People (2014)
Starring James Franco (one of my favourite actors today), Kate Hudson, Tom Wilkinson, Omar Sy and Anna Friel; Danish director, Henrik Ruben Genz’s, Good People, shows how even a little greed can make the nicest people take a wrong turn in life.

Once a couple accidentally come across some stolen money, they decide to keep it for themselves, than turn it over to police. Soon the couple find themselves in trouble with, the deadly culprits responsible for the stolen cash, their adversary, and the cops. Quite generic, extremely uninventive, and very  predictable. Yet pretty good viewing. James Franco is brilliant, as is the rest of the cast. It’s thanks to these really good actors, that the movie is this good.

I watched Good People on HBO Hits

My Rating: 7/10!!!!
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Les Apaches (2013)
A totally senseless movie, dealing with teenagers, theft, and a senseless killing. It’s not even worth writing about. Really Bad! A waste of time.

I watched Les Apaches on TV5MONDE.

My Rating: 3/10!!
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Bessie (2015)
This television movie, is a really good Bio-Pic, on the life of legendary African-American blues singer, famously known as The Empress of the Blues, Bessie Smith.

Queen Latifah, as Bessie, does a superb job, paying tribute to an American icon. Directed by Dee Rees, the film also stars, Mo’nique, Charles S. Dutton, Mike Epps, Khandi Alexander, Oliver Platt, Bryan Greenberg and Michael Kenneth Williams.

Bessie, is the only television movie I watched this month, not counting the mini-series Olive Kitteridge, which I watched later.

Watched Bessie on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: 8/10!!!!
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Amour (2012)
A promise to love one another, till death do them apart. Sad, tragic and beautiful.

Austrian film director, Michael Haneke’s, Amour, is about a retired old couple, both music teachers, residing in Paris, enjoying life. They are seen leading a highly cultured, posh, tasteful, happy and relaxed life, going out to concerts, reading intellectual books and spending their free time well. And they are always together. Yet, one day the wife has stroke, and she’s bedridden. Her husband stays by her side, taking care of her, till her time is up.

Great acting, great direction, and a brilliant art-house film. A nouveau, new-wave, if you may. This French Film stars veterans, Emmanuelle Riva, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Isabelle Huppert.

Amour was nominated for 5 Oscars, including for ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’, and a ‘Best Actress’ nomination for Emmanuelle Riva. Making her the oldest actress to be nominated for an Oscar that year. The 85th Academy Awards, was being held, on her 86th Birthday, itself. Pity she lost out to Jennifer Lawrence, for Silver Linings Playbook (2012). It’s also interesting to note, while Riva was the oldest nominee, the youngest ‘Best Actress’ nominee, was 9 year old, Quvenzhané Wallis, for Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012), that year.

Winner of the Palme d’Or, at the Cannes Film Festival, in 2012; and Oscar winner for ‘Best Foreign Language Film’, at the 85th Academy Awards, the following year; Amour is the best French Film, I watched, on TV5MONDE, this month. Plus, it’s the last Palme d’Or winner I watched (See my list Palme d’Or Winners – from the past, that I’ve watched so far, on IMDB, seen only 18 winners so far).

My Rating: Excellent!!!!! 10/10 !!!!!   
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Noah (2014)

Noah - Douglas BoothOne the least impressive Biblical adaptations on screen.

Logan Lerman (a young favourite of mine) as Ham, is nothing but a juicy piece of tasty looking ham, a total disappointment. Lerman, generally a really good actor, just hams it up, in this movie. Pun(s) intended.

With an impressive cast; including Anthony Hopkins, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Douglas Booth and Emma Watson; Darren Aronofsky’s Noah is one of the most boring, and time consuming, films, I watched this month. Pretty Bad!

Watched Noah on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: 4/10!!
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Eight Below (2006)
Very good movie, set in Antarctica, and inspired by true events.

A story about how an abandoned group of dogs, survive the harshest of winters in the south pole. A very sad movie, beautifully made by Frank Marshall, and starring Paul Walker, Jason Biggs and Bruce Greenwood.

Eight Below

My puppy, Gingerella, sat through the whole movie with me, watching it from here and there, and being confused as to what those dogs were doing inside a flat wide screen.

Saw Eight Below on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: 8/10!!!!
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Bombay Velvet (2015)
Beautiful costumes. Era of the late 40’s, 50’s & 60’s captured well. Stylish. Nice music. Story pretty good. Acting pretty good (especially Karan Johar, who is spot on, in his cool, effeminate, villainous persona). Ranbir Kapoor’s hair do, and body language remind one of classic Bollywood hero’s like Kishore Kumar and Joy Mukherjee. Anushka Sharma captures the vintage styles to perfection. Yet, Anurag Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet, is a very poorly executed movie. It’s not a bad movie as such, it’s just not a good film either. And definitely not worth sitting through on the Big Screen. And I watched it on the Big Screen. The travel, the time, the traffic, the heat, the sweat, and icily freezing film hall (which made you feel you were watching the film up in the Alps, open air), were not worth the trouble I had to go through to watch this movie. Bombay Velvet is just the third film I watched on the Big Screen this year. The first two being; P.K. (2014) & The Theory of Everything (2014), in January and February 2015, respectively.

Average fare! Nothing to miss! OK venture!

My Rating: 5/10!!!
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Les Invasions Barbares (2003)
A hilariously excellent comedy, with a touch of sadness. Les Invasions Barbares, a.k.a. (English title) The Barbarian Invasions, is about a dying man, spending his last days, in the company of his old friends, flames, his ex-wife and his estranged son. It’s witty, crazy, sad, and a lot of fun. Simply Hilarious!!!!!

Directed by Denys Arcand, the movie comprises of actors, Rémy Girard, Stéphane Rousseau, Dorothée Berryman, Marie-Josée Croze, Louise Portal, Toni Cecchinato, Marina Hands and Yves Jacques.

One of the Best Canadian films I’ve seen. Watched, this Oscar winning, Les Invasions Barbares on TV5MONDE.

My Rating: Excellent!!!!! 10/10 !!!!!  
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Papa Oom Mow Mow (2014)
The only short film I watched this month.

This short film is about a young punk, a rebel, who doesn’t find happiness in his way of life. Set in Rouen, France, Papa Oom Mow Mow, does a superb depiction of the 1980’s. Especially with the punk hairdo’s and very 80’s fashionable attire. But, it is just an average film, not a great movie to sit through.

Watched Papa Oom Mow Mow on TV5MONDE, just after Les Invasions Barbares.

My Rating: 5/10!!!
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Olive Kitteridge (2014)
True this is not a movie, but a mini-series. Yet a mini-series, is almost like a four hour long television movie. Thus, Olive Kitteridge, the only mini-series I watched this month, has every right to be on this list.

Olive Kitteridge

The show revolves, around a depressed, miserable woman, Mrs. Olive Kitteridge, living in a fictional, sleepy, New England town, in Maine, USA. It specifically explores Mrs. Kitteridge’s relationship; with her husband, Henry Kitteridge; son, Christopher Kitteridge; family acquaintances; and other townsfolk. Olive is very good at keeping her emotions to herself, not letting anyone in. Beneath her harsh exterior, lies a soft heart, and thus she suffers for it, all on her own. Whilst others dismiss her as an unfeeling, crude and sarcastic, woman, with no feelings what so ever. Yet, Olive Kitteridge, too is woman, who’s very adamant, highly negative, stuck in her old ways, and never willing to change. At the same time, we see her open minded attitude, as well, especially when she tells off a narrow minded man, for rejecting his daughter, because of her sexual orientation. Olive Kitteridge, is a good housewife, but not a great wife. Her maternal instincts pop up, in concern for a miserable son of depressive woman, but Olive Kitteridge, herself , is far from being a perfect mother, to her own son. She is a complex character, who’s living, ’cause she is alive, leading an unhappy existence. Her routine life goes on and on, and she has no desire to continue living; yet she saves unhappy people from giving up on life, and who plot to end their own lives. At the same time, her complicated son resents her, for ruining his life, and making him feel like a failure, besides the fact he’s a well to do podiatrist.

Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins are superb in the lead, as are the supporting cast, including John Gallagher Jr., Zoe Kazan, Brady Corbet, Cory Michael Smith, John T. Mullen, Peter Mullan, Jesse Plemons and Bill Murray

This excellent mini-series, is set, within a span of 25 years; from around 1980 (when the Kitteridge’s are in their middle-ages, with a teenage son), till about the mid-noughties (when the widowed Olive Kitteridge leads a lonely life into her old age). Beautifully filmed, with a bleak outlook throughout the show, the second episode has some really interesting sequences of magical realism. Yet, this is shown through the eyes of a depressed young medical student, thus not meant to seem realistic. It’s only in his mind. Yet it’s a surreal experience. The show, through various episodes deals with crime, drama, romance, desire, psychology, loneliness and tragedy. A must see!!!!!

Watched, this four part, mini-series, Olive Kitteridge, on HBO On Demand, within two days (two episodes each day).

My Rating: Excellent!!!!! 10/10 !!!!!   
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Michael Kohlhaas (2013)
The French Film, Michael Kohlhaas, is based on a novel, which is loosely based on the life of the merchant, Hans Kohlhase (1500-1540), a 16th century historical figure, from Germany.

The movie, is about an ordinary man, who seeks justice, for the insensitive treatment of his horses, his man servant, and later the murder of his wife. When turned down, he ends up plotting revenge against the whole elitist system.

Quite dull, but due to a pretty good storyline, the movie was watchable. Definitely not a great historical drama. Yet a must see for any history buff.

The movie; directed by Arnaud des Pallières; stars Mads Mikkelsen, in the lead (as Michael Kohlhaas), alongside Denis Lavant, Sergi López, David Kross, Swann Arlaud, Bruno Ganz, Amira Casar, Roxane Duran (in a cameo, as the Princess) and little Mélusine Mayance (as Michael Kohlhaas’ daughter).

Watched Michael Kohlhaas on TV5MONDE

My Rating: 6/10!!!
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Dolly ki Doli (2015)

Sonam kapoor as DollyHeaded by Sonam Kapoor in the lead, this is a comedy about a little group of swindlers, who rob the rich and vulgar, through Dolly (Kapoor), their star con-woman. She marries into these, Mama’s and Papa’s, boy’s, who haven’t much of backbone, and robs them blind on her wedding night. Meanwhile a cop, who seems to have a personal vendetta, against Dolly, is on the lookout for her.

Bollywood film, Dolly ki Doli, has the capability of being a really good, authentic, comedy, but it fails to deliver. A bit of drag, unmemorable songs, and the predictable love angle, kind of ruin it. But I do like the fact, the movie didn’t dive back into her past romance, of being ditched, and reason for her being a con woman. That’s all showcased within one flashback song sequence. And I did love the way the movie ended. The special appearances by, Saif Ali Khan, real life royalty playing a fictional Prince, and the breathtaking, Malaika Arora Khan, in a seductive musical number, were an added bonus.

Dolly’s character, was very well handled by fashionista Sonam Kapoor. Among her ditched line of grooms, we see, actors Rajkummar Rao and Varun Sharma, who don’t easily give up on her, nor the loot. The cop was played by Pulkit Samrat. This was the directorial debut of Abhishek Dogra.

Watched, the Hindi film, Dolly ki Doli, today (Sunday) afternoon, on Star Plus.

My Rating: 5/10!!
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May Mai yo Banner Below

Kolkata Traffic Police use a Poster depicting The Beatles famed Abbey Road Picture, to get pedestrians to stop jaywalking, in India.

Kolkata Traffic Police use a Poster depicting The Beatles famed Abbey Road Picture, to get pedestrians to stop jaywalking, in India.

The fab four known as  were the most influential British band of the last century. Though they lasted just one decade (as a group), from 1962 to 1970, their iconic status, shall never diminish. Here’s a look at various Beatle loving artists’ creations, using techniques derived from various art movements, that existed pre, during & post, . (Also see my  #01 to #33 from March 2013 to February 2014). For this Blog-Post, I’ve incorporated my aesthetic knowledge with my love for this iconic 60’s Boy Band!!!!

RENAISSANCE ART
(Beginning in Italy, renaissance artistic styles date back to the 1200’s, a style that lasted till about mid-17th century)
Beatles RenaissanceFamous artists of this movement include, Paolo Uccello, Piero Della Francesca, Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Artemisia Gentileschi (the first woman to dare to become an artist, in that era, and thus condemned for it), Giovanni Bellini, Jan Van Eyck, Joos van Cleve, and many many others.

REALISM (a.k.a. NATURALISM)
(famous in the 1850’s, lasted a very short period of time)

The Beatles by Eduard Kazaryan - Kok Tobe Mountain in Almaty, Kazakhstan

The Beatles by Eduard Kazaryan – Kok Tobe Mountain in Almaty, Kazakhstan

Though Realism was a trend that was famous, during the 1850’s, the seeds of Realism, are present way back in the late 1700’s. If you see works like Francisco Goya’s Retrato de Martín Zapater from the 1790’s & The Family of Charles IV, from Year 1800, or Eugène Delacroix’s Portrait of Dr. François-Marie Desmaisons, from 1832-33, those are very realistic and somewhat dull, portraiture works of art.

Tom Murphy's The Beatles in The Liverpool Art Cafe

Tom Murphy’s The Beatles in The Liverpool Art Cafe

Some famous artists that existed during this period, included, Gustave Courbet, Théodore Géricault, Honoré Daumier, Karl Bryullov, Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin and Rosa Bonheur, to name a few. Being a successful artist of the 19th century, Rosa Bonheur represented the New Woman (a feminist ideal that emerged in the 19th century, which in turn influenced feminism of the 20th Century).

MODERN ART (a.k.a. MODERNISM)
(Late 19th & early 20th Century)
Modern Art styles that existed within the last two centuries, happen to be my favourite, after the Renaissance period. Although, I do love the Romantics and the Realist, of the 18th Century too, yet not to the same extent as the Renaissance or the Modern. There’ve been various art movements within Modern Art, from Impressionists to Surrealist. Surrealism happens to be my favourite art movement, and Salvador Dalí, my all time favourite artist, ever since I discovered him (and his work), as a teenager in the 1990’s.

Impressionism/Post-Impressionism (two avant-garde art movement)  
(Prominent during 1870’s & 1880’s)

The Beatles (Abbey Road) watercolor by Fabrizio Cassetta

The Beatles (Abbey Road) watercolour by Fabrizio Cassetta

LeRoy Neiman The Beatles Painting

LeRoy Neiman The Beatles Painting

The Beatles watercolor by Fabrizio Cassetta

The Beatles watercolour by Fabrizio Cassetta

The Beatles by Paul Meijering

The Beatles by Paul Meijering

My favourite Impressionist artists include Paul Cézanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, Camille Pissarro, Gustav Klimt, Édouard Manet, Amrita Sher-Gil, Cristóbal Rojas, Dragan Mihailovic, Alfred Munnings, Harold & Laura Knight, Florence Carter Wood, Isaak Brodsky, Eugène Delacroix, Albert Tucker, Arthur Boyd, Paul Cadmus, etc etc…. When it comes to Impressionist/Post-Impressionist artists, majority of my favourite artists, as a collective, exist from this particular period.

The Beatles watercolour (Artist Unknown)

The Beatles watercolour (Artist Unknown)

The Beatles watercolour (Artist Unknown)

The Beatles watercolour (Artist Unknown)

Art Nouveau (an avant-garde art movement)  
(1890’s to 1910’s)

John Lennon of The Beatles (Artist Unknown)

John Lennon of The Beatles (Artist Unknown)

Alphonse Mucha, Antoni Gaudí, Gustav Klimt, Jules Chéret and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, to name a few, were a part of the Art Nouveau movement.

The Beatles - Art Nouveau (Artist Unknown)

The Beatles – Art Nouveau (Artist Unknown)

Expressionism (an avant-garde art movement)  
(Early 20th Century)

Curt McDowell's nude Beatles

Curt McDowell’s nude Beatles

Gustave Moreau, Egon Schiele, Lucian Freud, Antoni Gaudí and Edvard Munch, were some of the famous Expressionist artists.

Ken White's nude Beatles

Ken White’s nude Beatles

Cubism (an avant-garde art movement)   
(Starting from the early 20th century, from 1910’s onwards)

Beatles Cubist (Artist Unknown)

Beatles Cubist (Artist Unknown)

Beatles Cubist (Artist Unknown)

Beatles Cubist (Artist Unknown)

The Beatles (Unknown Artist)

The Beatles (Unknown Artist)

David Adickes The Beatles

David Adickes’ The Beatles

The Beatles Monument (aprx 7000 pounds & 36 ft) in Houston, USA

The Beatles Monument (aprx 7000 pounds & 36 ft) in Houston, USA

The Beatles Monument (aprx 7000 pounds & 36 ft) LargeThe great Cubists include, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Jean Metzinger, Marcel Duchamp, Juan Gris and Albert Gleizes, to name some. Henri Matisse, Henry Moore, Jackson Pollack, Amedeo Modigliani, Piet Mondrian, Sidney Nolan and M.F. Hussain, happen to be some other famous artists known for artworks involving distortion & abstract.

The Beatles (Artist Unknown)

The Beatles (Artist Unknown)

Tom Whalen's The Beatles

Tom Whalen’s The Beatles

The Four Musicians (Beatles) - This is a direct copy of The Three Musicians by Pablo Picasso

The Four Musicians (Beatles) – This is a direct copy of The Three Musicians by Pablo Picasso

Surrealism (an avant-garde art movement)   
(From the 1920’s onwards)

The Beatles (Artist Unknown)

The Beatles (Artist Unknown)

Insects Beatles - beetles artwork (Artist Unknown)

Insects (Beatles) – beetles artwork (Artist Unknown)

Beatles Surreal (Artist Unknown)

Beatles Surreal (Artist Unknown)

The Beatles painting by Daniel Janda

The Beatles painting by Daniel Janda

The Yellow Submarine by Belius

The Yellow Submarine by Belius

Surrealism – with Dreamy, Psychological, Freudian (Sigmund Freud, not Lucian Freud) & Fantastical elements – happens to be my favourite art movement ever, especially from the modernist era. Not just in art, but also in literature & cinema. As is Magical realism. Salvador Dalí, happens to be my all time favourite artist ever. Georgia O’Keeffe, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, René Magritte, Terry Gilliam and Giorgio de Chirico are some other influential surrealists.

The Beatles & Elvis Presley (Artist Unknown)

The Beatles & Elvis Presley (Artist Unknown)

The Beatles by A.Pedicelli

The Beatles by A.Pedicelli

Sam Van Olffen's Beatles

Sam Van Olffen’s Beatles

The Beatles by David Ballinger

The Beatles by David Ballinger

POST-MODERNISM
(The 1950’s, 60’,70’s & early 80’s)
The most popular art form during Post-modernist era, no doubt was Pop Art styles of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Martin Sharp, Richard Avedon, George Segal, Tom Wesselmann, Wayne Thiebaud et al. Other post modernists artists include Harold Stevenson, Duane Hanson, David Salle, Claes Oldenburg, Susan Rothenberg, Robert Moskowitz, Wes Wilson, Pablo Amaringo, Yoko Ono, David Vaughan, Robert Mapplethorpe, Jörn Pfab and Brett Whiteley, to name some greats.

The Beatles sculpture by Jörn Pfab (1970) in Hamburg, Germany

The Beatles sculpture by Jörn Pfab (1970) in Hamburg, Germany

David Wynne in 1964 with his sculpture of The Beatles

David Wynne in 1964 with his sculpture of The Beatles

Terry McGunigle and Joe Forrest  created the 8x16ft  Mount Fab Four

Terry McGunigle and Joe Forrest created the 8x16ft Mount Fab Four

Spirit of The Beatles by Kris Atkinson

Spirit of The Beatles by Kris Atkinson

The Beatles (Artist Unknown)

The Beatles (Artist Unknown)

The Beatles by Hector Monroy

The Beatles by Hector Monroy

Pop Art (an avant-garde art movement)  
(from the mid-1950’s to the early 80’s)

Richard Avedon's The Beatles

Richard Avedon’s The Beatles
from 1967

Los Beatles (Artist Unknown)

Los Beatles (Artist Unknown)

With it’s psychedelic hues and acid painting techniques, Pop Art happens to be my favourite Post-Modernist medium.

Beatles - Beetles on Abbey-Road (Artist Unknown)

Beatles – Beetles on Abbey-Road (Artist Unknown)

ART AFTER POST-MODERNISM (a.k.a. POST-POST-MODERNISM)
(Emerging towards the end of 1980’s decade, and into the 21st century)

The latest trends of art (from the late 80’s onwards), includes the deconstructive styles of Blobism (or Bloberism), an architectural movement, inspired by the 50’s, Sci-fi, B-movie, The Blob (1958), starring Steve McQueen, in his first leading role. Architect Frank Gehry happens to one of the most well known faces behind, the amoeba shaped building designs, known as, Bloberism.

The Beatles - Poultry chicken wire by Ivan Lovatt

The Beatles – Poultry chicken wire by Ivan Lovatt

Yet, one of the latest trends in art today, is the Re-use of Refuse, using all kinds of waste material, letting nothing go to waste, including bodily fluids.

The Beatles rubber soul by Darin Shock

The Beatles rubber soul by Darin Shock

The Beatles by Jeff Zuck

The Beatles by Jeff Zuck

Artists involved with this Post-Post-Modernism movement include Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Bill Viola, Shilpa Gupta, Mathew Barney, Chris Ofili, Wang Guangyi, Yukinori Yanagi, Andres Serrano, The Chapman Brothers, Félix González-Torres, Takashi Murakami, Jeff Koons, Renée Cox, David Osagie, Alexander Kosolapov, Koya Abe, Maurice Heerdink, Ruben Ortiz-Torres, Elizabeth Peyton, David LaChapelle, Sebastian Horsley, Chris Dyer and Jenny Saville.

Nuwan Sen’s Art Sense
Nuwan Sen n’ The Beatles
Nuwan Sen’s Music Sense  

A Page From History –  Rewind to 1940
A look back at The 12th Annual Academy Awards, held in February 1940.
Oscar FunctionThe 87th Annual Academy Awards, will be held tonight. Really looking forward to catching the live show (tomorrow early morning out here), to see who wins what.

So, for today’s post, I’ve decided, to travel back in time, to celebrate this years Oscars, with an insight, into the 12th Annual Academy Awards, from the ‘Year 1940’.

BEST PICTURE

The civil war epic Gone with the Wind (1939), grabbed the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar that year. No doubt the Best movie to come out of the 30’s decade, Gone with the Wind, has aged well, and happens to be amongst the best loved Hollywood classics ever, from the 120 year history, of global cinema. Gone with the Wind received 13 nominations altogether, and took home 10 Academy Awards (8 from the competition, out of the 13 nominated, plus 2 Honorary awards). Among the winners, of this highest grossing film of 39’, included:-

  • The ‘Best Director’ Oscar to Victor Fleming. Although, initially, after the script went through many a revisions, it was Director George Cukor, who started working on this project. But Cukor was fired after three weeks of shooting, due to a disagreement, regarding the film’s pace and the script, between Producer David O. Selznick and Cukor. Actresses, Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland heard that Cukor was fired, while the ‘Atlanta bazaar scene’ was being filmed, the two actresses apparently went straight to Selznick’s office, in full costume, and requested him to reconsider, as the film had already been delayed by two years, due to various other problems. Then Victor Fleming, took over the reins, for most of the project. But Fleming briefly left the project due to exhaustion, and director Sam Wood, worked on the film for a couple of weeks. Soon Fleming came back to complete the picture. Thus, though Victor Fleming directed majority of the picture, about 15 to 20 percent of the direction, should be credited to Cukor and Wood, each (i.e. 30 to 40 percent of the whole film). Thus, Victor Fleming was responsible for directing about 60 odd percent of this classic film.
  • The ‘Best Actress’ Oscar to Vivien Leigh. The search for someone to play the lead character, of Scarlett O’Hara, led to 1,400 potential Scarlett O’Hara’s being interviewed. Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Jean Arthur, Lucille Ball, Susan Hayward, Lana Turner and Paulette Goddard, were some of actresses tested for the part. None seemed to be right to play Scarlett O’Hara. When David O. Selznick watched the British flick, A Yank at Oxford (1938); an excellent film, related to sports and sportsman, starring Robert Taylor, in the lead; O. Selznick felt the British actress Vivien Leigh, was an excellent actress, but too British to play O’Hara. Yet Leigh was given a series of screen tests to do, and Voilà!! O. Selznick found his O’Hara.
Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American ever, to be nominated and, to win an Academy Award.  She bagged the Oscar for BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS for her incredible performance as ‘Mammy’ in Gone with the Wind (1939)

Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American ever, to be nominated and, to win an Academy Award. She bagged the Oscar for BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, for her incredible performance as ‘Mammy’, in Gone with the Wind (1939) NSFS

  • The ‘Best Supporting Actress’ Oscar to Hattie McDaniel. Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American ever, to be nominated and, to win an Academy Award. Olivia de Havilland, from this same epic tear jerker, too, was nominated, in this same category.
  • The ‘Best Screenplay’ Oscar to Sidney Howard. Sidney Howard died in August 1939, thus became the first person to garner a posthumous Oscar nomination and win.
  • The ‘Best Cinematography (in Colour)’ to Ernest Haller & Ray Rennahan.
  • The ‘Best Art Direction’ to Lyle Wheeler.
  • The ‘Best Film Editing’ to Hal C. Kern & James E. Newcom.
  • An ‘Honorary Award’ to William Cameron Menzies. The production designer and art director, was acknowledged for his outstanding achievement in the use of colour, for the enhancement of dramatic moods, in the production of Gone with the Wind.
  • The ‘Technical Achievement Award’ to Don Musgrave and Selznick International Pictures. Which was yet another ‘Honorary Award’, for pioneering in the use of coordinated equipment, in the production Gone with the Wind.

Added to these 10 trophies, Producer David O. Selznick, was also given the ‘Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award’ for his body of work, which includes this epical classic. Gone with the Wind was the highest-grossing film of all-time, back then, and remained so until, 1965, when The Sound of Music (1965), displaced Gone with the Wind, as the highest-grossing film of all-time. When adjusted for monetary inflation, it is still the most successful film in box-office history, till date. Added to which, Gone with the Wind, set records for the total number of Oscar wins, and nominations, at the time.

This, almost four hours long, timeless masterpiece was also nominated for; ‘Best Actor’ to Clark Gable, Gable lost out to Robert Donat, who won for Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939), a movie I haven’t watched, thus can’t judge, but Gable’s, now famed, role of Rhett Butler, is definitely Oscar worthy; ‘Best Special Effects’, but lost out to a movie called The Rains Came (1939), am bit surprised here, though I haven’t watched The Rains Came, am aware that Gone with the Wind has some exceptional visual effects for it’s time, sans modern day CGI, especially the ‘Burning of Atlanta’, the scene in which Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara escape the burning city, saving three more lives, is so realistic, that the technique used, is till date, one of the most impressive feats in film history, Gone with the Wind was actually a breakthrough in special effects, at the time, despite that, it didn’t bag the Oscar for ‘Best Special Effects’, a pity; ‘Best Original Score’, which went to Herbert Stothart for The Wizard of Oz (1939), The Wizard of Oz is a brilliantly colourful children’s movie, with marvellously rhythmic music, but again, the superb background score by Max Steiner for Gone with the Wind, is unforgettable, and one can just drift off listening to the brilliant score, thus I feel Gone with the Wind, at least deserved two more wins, for ‘Best Special Effects’ and ‘Best Original Score’; ‘Best Sound Recording’, and lost out to a love story called, When Tomorrow Comes (1939), another film I haven’t seen.

Acting Duo, Husband & Wife to be, Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh.

Acting Duo, Husband & Wife to be, Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh.

Other films nominated in the ‘Best Picture’ category, included some amazing movies, after Gone with the Wind:-

  • William Wyler’s brilliant adaptation, that was Wuthering Heights (1939), which was based on one of my favourite novels, spanning three generation, that I studied in school (Grade 8) when I was 13 years old, authored by Emily Brontë. Watched this movie, over a decade ago. Love the movie, almost as much as the book, besides the fact that a whole generation is missing in the movie. The film is still brilliant on it’s own. Nominated for 7 Oscars altogether; including for ‘Best Director’, ‘Best Actor’ to Laurence Olivier, and ‘Best Supporting Actress’ to Geraldine Fitzgerald; Wuthering Heights, won an Oscar for ‘Best Cinematography (in Black & White)’ to Gregg Toland.
  • Ninotchka (1939), a hilarious comedy, where Greta Garbo plays a very rigid Russian woman, (i.e. the Soviet Union back then, under Joseph Stalin), with a lack of sense of humour, who is sent to Paris, France, on official business and learns to laugh and what true happiness is. The tag line reads ‘Garbo Laughs’. She also falls in love with the city, the free spirited and romantic Parisian society (pre-World War -II), and of course a handsome Count (played by Melvyn Douglas). Besides for ‘Best Picture’, Ninotchka, was nominated for 4 Oscars, including a ‘Best Actress’ nomination for Greta Garbo’s hilarious performance. Ninotchka was banned in the Soviet Union, at the time. Watched this a decade ago as well.
  • The much loved children’s classic, The Wizard of Oz (1939), I watched when I was about 14. A little too late for me to enjoy, as I found it pretty childish at the time, but none the less I realised it was an excellent film for kids. Nominated for 13 awards, it won 2 Oscars, for ‘Best Original Score’ (as mentioned above) and ‘Best Original Song’ for the song ‘Over the Rainbow’. Then child actress, Judy Garland, won a special award, ‘Academy Juvenile Award’, for her exceptional performance as little Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz.
Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh at the 12th Annual Academy Awards, held on the 29th of February, 1940

Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh at the 12th Annual Academy Awards, held on the 29th of February, 1940 (They married later that year) NSFS

OTHER AWARDS & FILM NOMINATIONS

Only Angels Have Wings (1939), is a movie I got to study, back 2002, in my first semester, for the module ‘Film Analysis’ (where we analysed films of director, Howard Hawks), for my MA in International Cinema (2002-2003), University of Luton, Luton, UK. Only Angels Have Wings is a very good emotional drama, though not a great movie, starring Cray Grant, Jean Arthur and Rita Hayworth. This Hawks/Grant aviation classic, was nominated in only 2 categories, ‘Best Cinematography (in Black & White)’ and ‘Best Special Effects’, and won neither.

OSCARS 1940 The 12th Annual Academy Awards

OSCARS 1940
The 12th Annual Academy Awards (NSFS)

Thomas Mitchell won the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ Oscar for Stagecoach (1939). A famous John Ford directed western (for which Ford was nominated), with John Wayne in the lead, that am yet to watch. Stagecoach also bagged the Oscar for ‘Best Musical Score’. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), another much loved classic, am yet to see, won an Oscar for ‘Best Original Story’. James Stewart was nominated for ‘Best Actor’, as well as Frank Capra, for ‘Best Director’, for this film.
American actor/screenwriter/film director/producer, Douglas Fairbanks, who died in December 1939, was given a posthumous ‘Honorary Award’, as well, for his contribution to the international development of the motion picture industry, as the very first President of the Academy. Douglas Fairbanks had hosted the very first Oscars Ceremony in 1929.
GWTW OscarThe 12th Annual Academy Awards, was held on the 29th of February, 1940, at a banquet, in the Coconut Grove, at The Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, USA. Hosted by Bob Hope, this was the very first Academy Award function, Hope hosted. Bob Hope altogether ended up hosting the Oscars, a total of 19 times. I haven’t seen this show (obviously again as I didn’t, nor did my parents still, exist back then), but would love to check it out, some day. Yet I watched a few scenes from the show; online, on Youtube; including the celebrity guests arriving for the function, a very young Mickey Rooney presenting young Judy Garland with the special award, and Hattie McDaniel’s touching humble speech, paying credit to her ‘‘race and the motion picture industry’’, when she made history by winning the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ trophy.

GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) – Best Picture. Winner of 10 Academy Awards.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen n’ the Oscars

P.S.  Also see my previous post 50 years ago – At The Oscars.