Category: Edwardian Era


Little Barrymore & Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror 

Born on the 22nd of February, 1975, to the famed Barrymore lineage, Drew Blythe Barrymore, started acting at the age of 11months, when she auditioned for a canine food commercial. Not yet a year old, she got the job on the spot, when she laughed instead of crying when her furry co-star nipped her. By the age of 5 she was acting in Hollywood Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror films (with a few exceptions), one after another, throughout the 80’s decade; from Altered States (1980), to E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), to Firestarter (1984), to Cat’s Eye (1985), to Babes in Toyland (1986). She’s among the most well known child artistes of the 1980’s. Her most notable Sci-fi flick, as a child star, was none other than E.T. (mentioned earlier); directed by the man responsible for bringing out the “Blockbuster” phenomena (a ridiculous craze for predominantly tasteless cinema, today), way back in 1975, with Jaws (1975); Steven Spielberg.

Among the fantasy genre of movies, she worked in, two films involved the penmanship of, the crowning glory of modern supernatural fiction, Stephen King.

Drew Barrymore, with author, Stephen King, at the world premier of Firestarter (1984)

Little Barrymore’s King Connection!!!!!

As mentioned, as a child star, Drew Barrymore, appeared in two movies written by Stephen King. The first was Firestarter, which was based on a novel by King; and the next was Cat’s Eye, an anthology of three stories as witnessed by a cat. The first two tales, in Cat’s Eye, are based on the short stories, Quitters, Inc. and The Ledge; the third tale was specifically written by King, for the movie (where both, the cat and little Drew Barrymore, have significant roles). Beware of certain spoilers, below.

Firestarter (1984)

In Firestarter, two college students take part in an experiment orchestrated by a secret government agency known as The Shop (the Department of Scientific Intelligence). Later they get married and have a child together (a daughter). A girl with supernatural abilities, of clairvoyance and pyrokinesis. This child, Charlene McGee, a.k.a. Charlie, is played by an adorable little Drew Barrymore.

The film starts off, with the father and daughter on the run (the mother has been murdered) from members of The Shop. This secret government agency wants to use the little girl’s pyrokinetic abilities to harness a weapon of mass destruction. We see what happened prior to them being on the run, through various flashbacks. Soon the father and daughter are captured, separated, and kept against their will, in The Shop.

David Keith, Drew Barrymore and Heather Locklear, in a scene from Firestarter (1984)

Director Mark L. Lester’s adaptation of this King novel, is a flop show, and the overall experience is pretty bad. Especially thanks to the non-stop vengeful calamities by the little ‘Firestarter’, to destroy The Shop, towards the end. And each time she says, ‘to you “Daddy”, I love you’, you wonder, has she forgotten her “Mommy”, who was murdered, too, not so long ago? Especially when she says it at the end, in front of The New York Times office, it feels silly. The only saving grace of the film is the interaction between George C. Scott (who plays a cold blooded, inhumane, sociopathic, member of The Shop, with no regard for human life whatsoever; John Rainbird) and Little Barrymore. It is interesting to see how Rainbird (in the guise of an orderly) psychologically manipulates Charlie, and earns her trust. Those scenes are so innocently beautiful; and Barrymore shines most, within those moments. The experiment scenes, with a cute angry little Drew Barrymore, are actually quite good as well.

Though Firestarter, is a pretty badly made movie, it has a sort of cult following today. The movie does boast some good acting talent (including Oscar winners), yet not in their best element here. Besides George C. Scott and Drew Barrymore, we see David Keith (playing Andy McGee, the father) and Martin Sheen (as the head of The Shop, Captain James Hollister); along with, in comparatively smaller roles, Art Carney, Louise Fletcher, Moses Gunn, Freddie Jones, John Sanderford, and a young Heather Locklear as Vicky (Barrymore’s mother) in her first Big Screen appearance (prior to Firestarter, Locklear had only worked in television). Though, far from good, this 80’s B-movie is worth a look, due to innocent little Drew Barrymore, and it’s cult status today.

Cat’s Eye (1985)

A stray cat is chased down some suburban street, by a mangy looking dog. It escapes through a delivery truck and ends up in New York City. At a shop window a mannequin of little girl comes to life (only for the tomcat’s eyes) and asks him help her. And so begins the cat’s quest, through a maze of eccentric characters, to locate the real-life little girl, whose image, he saw via a mannequin, and to save her from whatever is threatening her.

A Mannequin comes to life in the form of Little Drew Barrymore, in Cat’s Eye (1985)

Little Drew Barrymore is amazing in a triple role, and she was nominated for the Young Artist Award for Best Starring Performance by a Young Actress in a Motion Picture, in 1986, at an event know as Fantasporto (i.e. an International Fantasy Film Award ceremony) held annually in Porto, Portugal. As mentioned, first we see her as an apparition, of a living person. The cat is picked up from front of the shop window, and thrown into an electric cage and tormented, in front of an addicted smoker. So this is the first segment, of the anthology of tall tales. The cat is tormented as a warning, for the smoker, to kick his habit. This takes place at Quitters, Inc., where smokers seek help to quit smoking. The king of this torturous method is a brainchild of, the Chief counselor of the clinic, Dr. Donatti’s (Alan King), ancestor, who died of lung cancer. The man being warned is smoker, Dick Morrison (James Woods); whose wife (Mary D’Arcy), and then his daughter with down syndrome (played by Drew Barrymore), will be subjected to the same horrors that the cat faced, if he doesn’t comply and stopped smoking. Drew Barrymore appears briefly in this segment, as Alicia Morrison, and we see the close loving bond between father and daughter. When Dick Morrison visits Alicia, who seems to be hosteled in a special needs school, we see Dr. Donatti following Dick, keeping an eye, and reminding him of the consequences of ever smoking another cigarette. As crazy as this satirical tale is, it’s really well made.

The cat soon manages to escape, while Dick’s wife is being tortured, and soon we see the cat leave New York, in the Staten Island Ferry, with a beautiful view of the New York skyline, which includes the now lost, then landmark, Twin Towers (World Trade Center). The skyline with the Twin Towers, was shown earlier as well, during credits. The cat ends up in the resort city, of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Here, at another shop window, he sees a bunch of televisions playing an advertisement with a little girl (again played by Drew Barrymore), as the cat curiously watches, the girl in the advertisement turns into an apparition like earlier, and again pleads the cat to save her. Here the next segment begins, led by Kenneth McMillan and Robert Hays. But Barrymore does not appear in this segment at all, so shall skip it completely. The gist, the cat gets caught by another weirdo, helps save another innocent life, and escapes. Then he jumps into a freight train and travels to Wilmington, North Carolina. And it is here, we finally meet the little girl in trouble, the little girl’s apparition the cat saw twice, Amanda. And the third segment begins.

This third segment, where both the cat, and Drew Barrymore, have a very significant role, is the one Stephen King wrote, specifically for the film. Barrymore is superb, and no doubt was one of the best child stars of the 80’s. But the third segment, is my least favourite of the three tales, especially thanks to the actress playing Amanda’s mother (Candy Clark). The woman can’t act for peanuts. At least not in this movie.

Amanda adopts the cat, against her mother’s wishes, and names him General. A troll secretly has taken residence in Amanda’s bedroom, and tries to steal her breath. A troll, her parents don’t believe exists, and the mother blames everything that goes wrong on the cat. When the troll kills Amanda’s pet parakeet, the mother blames the cat. Ultimately the cat manages to save Amanda from the troll, and when his disembodied parts are found in the box fan; the parent’s finally believe their daughter.

As I mentioned before, this last segment is my least favourite. Yet, it’s a really good children’s horror story. If only Candy Clark did a more believable job here, this movie could have been so much better. James Naughton plays Amanda’s more understanding father.

While watching this Dino De Laurentiis production, directed by Lewis Teague, it felt so familiar, I wondered if I’ve seen it before. I’ve most probably watched Cat’s Eye, long ago, maybe in my teens, back in the 90’s . Am not sure. The entire film was only averagely good, but the first two segments, themselves, were actually really good. Especially the first story, based on King’s short story, Quitters, Inc..

My Ratings!!!!!

  • Firestarter (1984) My Rating: 4/10
  • Cat’s Eye (1985) My Rating: 6/10

For this Blogathon, I actually wanted to watch and work on Rasputin and the Empress (1932), which all three Barrymore siblings (Lionel, Ethel and John) starred in (and the only film the trio appeared in together), but unfortunately I couldn’t find this classic gem, anywhere, online. So, I downloaded the two cinematic adaptations of Stephen King stories, that Drew Barrymore, acted in as a child, back in the 1980’s. Normally for Blogathons, I’ve written on movies I’ve already watched; but this was just the second time, I watched a couple of films, specifically for a Blogathon. The previous Blogaton, I took part in, i.e. THE KURT RUSSELL BLOGATHON: Conversations with a Serial Killer from May 2018, was the 1st time, I downloaded and watched a movie, especially to take part in a Blogathon. It’s definitely easier than writing from memory alone (unless I had an old video cassette or DVD of a movie, or had downloaded a film, that I could re-watch, I had to be completely dependent on my memory, in the past). Of course, there were few Blogathons, where I didn’t work on movies; in that case I had to be dependent on my own personal knowledge and research (books and online information, provided by reputed sources).

Drew Barrymore’s Great Aunt, Ethel Barrymore

This Blogpost is my contribution to The Fourth Annual Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon hosted by Crystal of In The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood, in conjunction with Drew Barrymore’s Great Aunt, Ethel Barrymore’s, 139th Birth Anniversary, which falls today !!!!

Thank you Crystal, for getting me involved in this enjoyable Blogathon.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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There’ve been quite a few fantastical tales, on celluloid reels, of humans falling in love with the unreal, and vice versa. Lets take a look at some great, and some far from great, renditions of this unusual phenomena, explored mainly on the Big Screen. Fairy tales for more mature audiences (teenagers and/or adults), if you may.
What brought about this sudden urge to write about unrealistic romances, portrayed in a realistic style on celluloid? I watched, Her (2013), back in March 2015 (on 22nd), and never got to write about it (of course films today aren’t made on celluloid, but am speaking in a general term, to reference cinema of the past). Plus it brought about memories of some really great films (as well as certain terrible movies), I’ve watched in the previous decades, going way back to my childhood.

In Her, a writer, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) falls for an electronic voice, without a body (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). In Lars and the Real Girl (2007) a lonely, simple headed, man, Lars (Ryan Gosling) falls for a sex toy, a female without a voice.

In Ruby Sparks (2012) a writer, Calvin (Paul Dano) creates a fictional character Ruby Sparks (played by Zoe Kazan) that comes to life. He fall in love with her, but treats her like his possession, in contrast to the sex toy, to whom, Lars, tends to show so much respect and affection towards. Ironically Lars doesn’t treat the sex toy as play thing, but Calvin treats Ruby, as a toy, making her do what he wants. An egoistical male’s god complex, of being in control of his woman. While Lars of Lars and the real Girl and Theodore from Her, are the exact opposite. Of course, when Theodore finds out the voice of Her is ‘in love’ with thousands of other human beings, he starts to feel jealous, knowing he wasn’t special. While we sympathise with Theodore and Lars, we can’t help but feel Calvin is a bloody prick.
Stranger than Fiction (2006), has a similar unreal premise, but am yet to watch it, so I shan’t comment on it further.

In the animated movie, Corpse Bride (2005), a man, Victor Van Dort (voiced by Johnny Depp), accidentally marries a corpse (voiced by Helena Bonham Carter). Of course in this case, it’s the corpse, who falls for the human. Yet, the corpse, itself, was a human being once, who was tricked and murdered by her paramour, on her wedding day. Similarly in the comedy, Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992), an Invisible man (Chevy Chase) and a woman (Daryl Hannah), fall for each other, yet the invisible man, being an actual human being, it makes it comparatively realistic. As in the case of Mr. India (Anil Kapoor) in Mr. India (1987), a vigilante who can become invisible with help of a devise created by his late father, happens to be the romantic object of many a women. He is still a human being. Yet, we see, the reporter, Seema (Sridevi), fall for the invisible vigilante, than his human self. In fact, she initially despises ‘Mr. India’ in his human form as Arun Verma, unaware that he is in fact her invisible hero. In Hollow Man (2000) and Invisible Strangler (1978), once the protagonists of these movies, find they can get away anything, in their invisible form, nothing stops them from acting on their lustful desires, committing rape/murder, on beautiful women.

In various superhero tales, you find a similar dilemma, as in Mr. India, faced by the love interest of the story. In Superman (1978), reporter Louis Lane (Margot Kidder) falls in love with Superman (Christopher Reeve), who actually is an alien from a distant planet. But she refuses to acknowledge, the affectionate advances from her co-worker Clark Kent, who happens to be her superhero in his human avatar. There have been quite a few ‘Superman’ films since.

Of course Superman is from another planet. But if you take other superhero’s; American conceptions like Batman (played on the Big Screen by many stars from 1966 till date), Spider-man (Nicholas Hammond, in the 70’s, Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield & Tom Holland, this century), or Bollywood creations like Shahenshah (Amitabh Bachchan) from Shahenshah (1988) and Krrish (Hrithik Roshan) from Krrish (2006) and Krrish 3 (2013), sequels to Koi…. Mil Gaya (2003); in all these stories, the superhero happens to be human, with superpowers, but their leading ladies don’t necessarily, easily, fall for the man, but have more of a desire for the vigilante, unaware the two are one and the same. In love with not just the unreal, but impending danger as well. Dangerous, risk taking, hero’s, seem sexually more appealing to the fairer sex, than a realistic human companion. These kind of films actually also put pressure on growing young men. As kids, most guys like the idea, of imagining themselves as superhero’s, for fun. But when in their teens, it’s more to do with appeasing the opposite sex, through false perceptions of masculinity, showcased in such movies. Sometimes foolishly young men might try and take unnecessary risks, just to get the attention of their female peers, with disastrous consequences.
If you take classic fairytales, we read as little children, like Beauty and Beast and Princess and Frog, this phenomena of man and beast is nothing new. Yet at the same time, both the ‘Beast’ and the ‘Frog’, are actually human beings, making it somewhat acceptable for children. If you take Greek mythology, there is the famous tale of Minotaur, where the Minotaur is the result of the Queen of Crete mating with a white bull. Added to which there are plenty of tales of Gods and human love stories, as well, in Greek Mythology. Then there is Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream. There have been plenty of movie versions of these classic tales and great old literature. In I, Frankenstein (2014); as I stated on twitter ‘another 21st century ruination of a 19th century classic’; this dull horror movie ends with the hint, that Frankenstein’s monster, a man made being, has found a human companion, after searching for over 200 years. On a lighter vein, in not so great films (yet no where as near as terrible as I, Frankenstein), like the comedy, Hercules in New York (1970), Arnold Schwarzenegger falls from the skies (and not to forget Schwarzenegger’s ridiculous Terminator franchise, from 1984 onwards, with the craziest and cheesiest storylines, ever). Like in Corpse Bride, a man accidentally awakens a goddess, in the near pathetic, Goddess of Love (1988), while in Love-Struck (1997) we see a woman who doesn’t believe in love (Cynthia Gibb) fall for Cupid (Costas Mandylor) and vice versa; and Cupid has to decide if he wants to leave his immortal form, and become human. Similarly in City of Angels (1998), an angel (Nicolas Cage) gives up his human form, for his love for a human being (Meg Ryan). Date with an Angel (1987) is about another union between a man and beautiful angel.

In the 80’s and 90’s, there were quite a few teen comedies, based on this concept of unrealistic love, helping a young man find the perfect looking partner, especially if the lead character is a geek or considered a loser, who cannot attain the affections of the opposite sex.

Weird Science (1985) and Virtual Sexuality (1999), are two films I haven’t watched, but the concept of the two teen movies, are the same. In Weird Science, two geeks create a ‘perfect’ woman (Kelly LeBrock), while in Virtual Sexuality, a girl creates herself a ‘perfect’ man (Rupert Penry-Jones).

Similar to Corpse Bride and Goddess of Love, in Mannequin (1987), an artist (Andrew McCarthy) falls for a Mannequin (Kim Cattrall). Big (1988) and Date with an Angel; the two movies combined resulted in the crappy Bollywood take, that was Chandra Mukhi (1993). The film was so bad, that it was credited as being a Salman Khan idea (the lead actor of the movie). Getting back to Tom Hanks, star of Big, back in the 80’s he did a lot of run on the mill comedies; that weren’t great, but were enjoyable enough, thanks to Hanks. In Splash (1984), we see Hanks falling for a mermaid. This adult fairy tale, is similar to the classic children’s fairy tale, The Little Mermaid.
Funny though, how all these Hollywood romances, dealing with unreal love, where the perfect looking lover, be it a mannequin, a fairy, a goddess or mermaid, were all hot white women. What happened to the browns, blacks and yellows? Where are the gays and lesbians? Are they considered less than perfect???? Added to which why is it most of time a man finding the perfect mate? And that too preferably a Blonde one? Even better if the blonde’s in a red hot attire? Like the sequence in The Matrix (1999), where Neo (played by Keanu Reeves), suddenly turns to take a good look at a blonde in a red dress. Why did she have to be blonde? What if he saw an African-American? or an Indian beauty? What if he turned to look at a man? Even in Virtual Sexuality, though it’s creation is a male, the man is a white male, Blond, with a perfect physique. Of course when it came to the Bollywood films, the perfect hero/heroine are both Indian’s, obviously. But United States of America, is a diverse country with all colours and creeds, where the indigenous people of the country are actually Red skinned, not white. Yet the 80’s (and 90’s to a certain extent) target audience, were the straight white American youth. Even though these reached beyond borders. And in a way, 80’s was one of the worst periods for Hollywood, with a load crappy B-movies, being made. Not all, but most, including these fantasy flicks.

Getting back on the topic of films based on unrealistic romances, there are some interesting films of ghosts and people falling for one another. Like in Corpse Bride (discussed above), these dead spirits were humans at one time, and are scavenging earth ’cause of some unfinished business. In the classic Bollywood film, Ek Paheli (1971), a modern man, Sudhir (played by Feroz Khan) falls in love with a mysterious woman (Tanuja), whom we discover later, to be a spirit of a dead pianist, who had committed suicide, during the Post-war era. The only way for the two to be together is, if Sudhir leaves his bodily form, releasing his spirit. Similarly in Somewhere in Time (1980), a modern day Chicago playwright, Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) falls for a photograph of an Edwardian beauty, a stage actress, Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour). He manages to travel back in time through self hypnosis (see my post DVD Films From Last Month PART-II from December 2014). Yet, they can’t be together, as he’s thrown back into the late 70’s, due to a small mistake, he made, where she doesn’t exist anymore. The only way for them to be together, is for him to die of a broken heart, and letting their spirits unite in heavenly paradise forever.

In Paheli (2005) the exact opposite happens, a woman falls for a ghost, who’s taken her husband’s human form, and trapped her real husband’s spirit.

In Ghost (1990), when a banker, Sam Wheat ( Patrick Swayze) is killed by his best friend, he tries desperately to communicate with his fiancée, an artist, Molly Jensen (Demi Moore), with the help of psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg). While in Love Can Be Murder (1992) a ghost of a former private detective brings chaos into the life of a living private detective, (Jaclyn Smith).

Then, there are on-screen figures/cartoon characters, where the real world intervenes with the celluloid/animated characters. In Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), an animated character; based on classic Hollywood stars, Rita Hayworth, Veronica Lake and Lauren Bacall; seduces more than one human in the movie, and spectators alike. Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), has a movie character, walk off the screen and seduce his most ardent fan.

Getting back to man and beast/alien, PK (2014), sees a humanoid alien fall for a human. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), shows a great friendship between an alien and a human child. Planet of the Apes (1968) there is a famous kiss, between a man and an ape. In The Animal (2001) a man becomes sexually attracted to a goat in heat. He talks to the goat while rubbing her back and sloppily kisses her on the head. He then slaps her butt. All the popular Hulk films have a love interest

The Sixth Sense (1999), Warm Bodies (2013), Transcendence (2014), The Fly (1958 & 1986), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), Bewitched (2005), Pleasantville (1998), Ex Machina (2014), all have similar unusual human and non-(real)human interactions.
The Stepford Wives (1975 & 2004), tells of how an intelligent woman finds it difficult, to integrate into a narrow minded society, when she moves into a new neighbourhood. Of course, all the wives (in the original 75’ film) turn out to be machines (while in the 04’ version, only one husband turns out to be a robot, while the other wives have been brainwashed). This is also symbolical, of how difficult it is, when a lone intellectual person gets trapped in an archaic society, that constantly tries to drag him or her down with them. I personally know how hard is to stay afloat, without changing for the worse, living in an extremist narrow minded country. It’s not easy not to be influenced by negativity. And just like Katharine Ross (in the original), and Nicole Kidman (in the comical remake); I have to fight to stay sane, not to be swayed by the rest.

In Moon (2009), we see a clone in love with the image of a dead human; while in The Space between us (2017), a human born in Mars feels like an Alien on Earth; and falls for a human, who decides to leave with him to Mars.
Then there are people who fall for wordsmiths, that they’ve never met. In Saajan (1991) we see a woman (Madhuri Dixit) fall deeply in love with a poet (whom, nobody knows what he looks like), when a man claiming to be the poet (Salman Khan) seduces her, she falls for him. But does she truly love him? If he turns out not to be the poet, would she still love this man? In the Bengali (Bengali/English bilingual)Art Film, The Japanese Wife (2010) and the Hindi (Hindi/English bilingual) Art Film, The Lunchbox (2013), two people have an entire love affair through letters, without ever meeting each other. In The Japanese Wife, they even get married; through ink.

Last but not the least, lets have another look at the union of onscreen humans & Aliens (besides ‘Superman’). Similar to Meet Joe Black and Paheli (as spoken of earlier) Jeff Bridges in Starman (1984), plays an alien who clones himself, into a dead man’s form; and gets the widow to help him escape. In The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), David Bowie plays a humanoid alien, sleeping around with women of earth. And not to forget the Vampires/Werewolves and human unions; in films like, Nosferatu (1922), Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), The Hunger (1983) and the recent Twilight franchise.

Some great films on this unusual conception, some terrible, and some in between. But when they bring out something exceptional, those films are really worth checking out.

An ode to unrealistic romances.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Special Note: I actually worked on this post, one day (on the 22nd of April 2015), exactly a month after I watched the movie, ‘Her’, in March 2015, I wrote most of In Love with the Unreal, and left it incomplete, hoping to work on it the next day or so. I never got back to it, and left it pending. Then, five months later, in September 2015, I re-worked on it a bit, stopped, and didn’t touch it at all through out the Sweet Year of 2016. So it was just hanging there, untouched and incomplete.…That is until today. This was my second incomplete post, from April 2015, that I left unpublished; the other being The Beatles in Art movements through the ages. But I did mange to post in … the following month, May 2015. Anyway, back in April that year, I hardly got anything much done, so far as blogging was concerned. I only posted one blog-post, i.e. The Great Villain Blogathon: Juhi Chawla as corrupt politician ‘Sumitra Devi’ in GULAAB GANG (2014), on the 15th of April, 2015. Now there are no more pending posts. All done!!

Nuwan Sen (Pending Posts from April 2015 !! All Complete!!!!!)
Also see (my), Nu Film Site of Nuwan Sen – Nu Sense on Film (nu Sense on Film), started in August 2015.

Now though, later in Year , am actually planning to close nu Sense on Film!!! I prefer to continue blogging here, on No Nonsense with Nuwan Sen.

Nuwan Sen

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)

LEFT: Audrey Hepburn in How to Steal a Million (1966)
RIGHT: 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

(NSFS

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