Category: Edwardian Era


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.

A Page From History –  Rewind to 1965
A look back at The 37th Annual Academy Awards, held in April 1965.
Oscars 1965 aThe 87th Annual Academy Awards, is fast approaching. I doubt I’ll get to watch it though, but am definitely looking forward to finding out who wins what. From the movies I’ve seen so far, am really keen on Boyhood (2014) grabbing the Oscars for ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’, ‘Best Supporting Actress’ and ‘Best Original Screenplay’ (see my post In-flight Entertainment from November 2014). Boyhood has already won awards, including for ‘Best Picture’ and ‘Best Director’, at the Golden Globes and BAFTA ceremonies, earlier this year. Eddie Redmayne should take home the golden naked baldy, for ‘Best Actor’, for his brilliant performance, in The Theory of Everything (2014), depicting the bold life of famed, theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, who’s been suffering from motor neuron disease, since his early 20’s (see my post Redmayne ‘is’ Hawking, in the new bio-pic on Stephen Hawking from earlier this month). Again Redmayne bagged the ‘Best Actor’ award at the Golden Globes and BAFTA ceremonies, this year. The Theory of Everything also won the BAFTA for ‘Outstanding British Film’. For ‘Best Actress’, Felicity Jones was superb, but was her performance Oscar win worthy. It’s hard for me to judge. The Theory of Everything should hopefully also take home the ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’ Oscar. When it comes to ‘Original Musical Score’, ‘Production Design’, ‘Sound Effects’ and ‘Visual Effects’, Interstellar (2014), should definitely bag the awards for all five technical categories, that it’s been nominated for. The haunting background score, by Hans Zimmer, no doubt deserves to win for ‘Best Original Musical Score’ (also see my post The Big Screen – Films Down Under from November 2014).

Oscar Season 2015 Special
Thus, for this post, I decided, to go back in time, 50 years ago, to see what the Oscars were like, in the ‘Year 1965’.

My all time favourite musical, My Fair Lady (1964), took home 8 Golden statuettes.
‘Best Picture’
‘Best Director’ to George Cukor
‘Best Actor’ to Rex Harrison
‘Best Cinematography (Colour)’ to Harry Stradling
‘Best Art Direction/Set Décor (Colour)’ to Cecil Beaton, Gene Allen & George James Hopkins
‘Best Costume Design’ to Cecil Beaton
‘Best Adaptation/Treatment Musical Score’ to André Previn
‘Best Sound’ to George R. Groves (Warner Brothers Studio)
Actress Audrey Hepburn, unfortunately, wasn’t even nominated, for her dazzling performance as Eliza Doolittle, a woman who’s transformed from a mere, cockney accented, flower girl into an, eloquently speaking, Hungarian Princess, by, linguistics expert, the snobbish phonetics professor, Professor Henry Higgins (played brilliantly by Rex Harrison). One of the reasons sighted was, that Audrey Hepburn didn’t sing in the movie, and that her singing voice was dubbed by Marni Nixon. Which wasn’t exactly Hepburn’s fault. A pity, out of the 12 nominated categories, My Fair Lady, took home 8 Oscars, and the main actress, of this, much loved, musical, wasn’t even nominated. Must be amongst the worst Oscar snubs, in the history of the Academy Awards.

Stanley Holloway and Gladys Cooper, from My Fair Lady, were nominated for their respective supporting roles, but lost out to; British actor, of Russian (and other European) roots, plus Ethiopian Royal ancestry; Peter Ustinov and; Russian-born French actress; Lila Kedrova; for their performances in; Topkapi (1964) and Zorba the Greek (1964); respectively. Neither of which, I’ve watched yet. Alan Jay Lerner, lost out the Oscar for ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’, to Edward Anhalt, for Becket (1964), an excellent historical drama, I watched twice as a child, during my British School days, in the mid-80’s. Watched at home, as well as, was shown at school, as we were studying about Thomas Becket, King Henry – II, the division/conflict between the King of England and the church in the 1160’s, et al. I hardly remember, I must have been around 10 or 11 years old, at the time. William Ziegler, lost out the Oscar for ‘Best Film Editing’, to Cotton Warburton, for Mary Poppins (1964). Another musical, I really enjoyed, when I watched it as a child, in the 80’s, but not so much (not to the same effect at least), as an adult, when I re-watched it, in the early noughties. But Mary Poppins is no doubt a remarkable children’s movie.
Oscars 1965 bJulie Andrews bagged the ‘Best Actress’ trophy for her performance of the flying nanny, in the Disney children’s classic, Mary Poppins (1964). There was a lot of debate, over Andrews taking home an Oscar, while Hepburn was not even nominated; and the ‘Doolittle’ role. I’ve spoken about it at length in my post Audrey Hepburn & The Musical from May 2014, which I did, for Audrey Hepburn’s 85th Birth Anniversary. Mary Poppins, altogether, won five Awards, including for ‘Best Original Musical Score’ and ‘Best Special Visual Effects’.

The Night of the Iguana (1964), another of my favourite films ever, bagged the award for ‘Best Costume Design (in a Black & White movie)’, which went to Dorothy Jeakins. The Americanization of Emily (1964), another really good, Julie Andrews film, was nominated for ‘Best Black & White Cinematography’ and ‘Best Art Direction’, but won neither. The excellent Kubrick satire, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), was nominated in four categories, but won none (also see my post The Essential 60’s Blogathon : Dr Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) from September 2014). The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) was nominated for one Oscar, which went to Mary Poppins. The French musical, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), see my post Being mesmerised by ‘The Umbrellas of Cherbourg from a couple of years ago, and the Japanese film, adapted from a novel be Kôbô Abe, Woman in the Dunes (1964), lost out the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ Oscar, to an Italian movie starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni.

None of the four Oscar awards, in the acting categories, in 1965, went to American actors. The Year 1965, also marked, the only time in Oscar history, where three films got 12 or more nominations. Becket and My Fair Lady, both had 12 nominations, and Mary Poppins, 13.
Oscars 1965 cThe 37th Annual Academy Awards, was hosted by Bob Hope in Santa Monica, California, USA. I haven’t seen this show (obviously as I didn’t exist back then), but would love to check it out, some day. Yet I have seen a few sequences; where Audrey Hepburn, delightedly, announces the ‘Best Actor’ winner; Rex Harrison thanks both ‘Fair Ladies’; Sydney Poitier announces the ‘Best Actress’ award; Julie Andrews jokingly hints, that it’s ‘Ridiculous’, she won the award; Gregory Peck presents the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar; et al, online, on Youtube.

MY FAIR LADY (1964) – Best Picture. Winner of 8 Oscars.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Man going Homicidal – The Shining

The Shining

The Shining

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In Love with an Edwardian Lady – Somewhere in Time

Somewhere in Time (1980)

Somewhere in Time (1980)

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

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

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

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The Flight to Heaven – Always

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

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

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

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

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

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The Rise of a Singing Sensation – King Creole  

Elvis Presley and Michael Curtiz on the sets of King Creole

Elvis Presley and Michael Curtiz on the sets of King Creole

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

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

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

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Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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

Canberra & the Surroundings

Mum & I, at a look out point into the city of Canberra.

Mum & I, at a look out point into the city of Canberra.

Continuing the Holiday Post.
So on the 12th of November, 2014, Mum & I, did a day trip with Carlo (my father’s first cousin), into the Australian Capital Territory, more specifically Canberra, the capital of the Kangaroo Country. Long before, I ever went to Sydney, I had always wanted to see Canberra. Not just Canberra, in general when I go to a country, I have to visit the capital. It just a must for me. So it’s unfortunate, that when I was residing in Sydney, for two years, between 2006 and 2008, I never got a chance to do so, besides having travelled so much around the Eastern Coast of Australia. There was so much more to see and do, back then, that I had to omit the Capital of this country. Now, six and almost a half years later, since I left Oz, I finally got a chance to see the Australian capital.

At a shopping complex in Canberra

At a shopping complex in Canberra (X-Mas decorations)

As, on the 11th, my Camera fell while walking around the streets of Sydney (see my post Holidaying in Australia (NSW)); and though it did not break, the left side of the photographs, taken since, happen to blur-up; the first thing I had to do when we reached Canberra the next day, was to get a new Camera. Anyway, a new digital camera was due, as my old one is five years old, and kept getting stuck. The fact that it fell, was a sign, about time I got a new one. Unlike the earlier analogue cameras of the past, which required a film roll, and lasted a decade or so, the lifetime of more modern day digital camera’s aren’t that long. My first digital camera, Casio Exilim EX-S100 (the tiniest camera I ever owned), lasted from 2005 to 2009, till it contracted some sort of a lens disease; and the next, Sony Cyber-shot 1080, from 2009 till now. But since a rechargeable new camera has to be charged for at least 24 hours before use, I had to buy a digital Nikon Coolpix L29 Camera, that required the ordinary AA Batteries.

Mum, Carlo & I lunching @ the National Arboretum Canberra (Outskirts of the City)

Mum, Carlo & I lunching @ the National Arboretum Canberra (Outskirts of the City)

Due to the heavy traffic, we reached Canberra way past 12 noon. Thus, with new camera in hand, the first thing we needed to do, was to have some lunch. We went to the outskirts of the city, a hilly area, to the ‘National Arboretum Canberra’, a beautiful lookout point, into the capital city, and with a great dinning space with a view of the newly planted flora, minus the fauna, in the deserted hills. I had Kangaroo for lunch, the third time I tasted it.

After lunch, the first place we visited was, The Parliament House, where no parliament was in session.

Mum & I, at the main entrance to the new Parliament House.

Mum & I, at the main entrance to the new Parliament House.

It’s interesting how Canberra came to be the Capital city of Australia. The two large Ozzie cities, Sydney and Melbourne, both competed to make their city the capital of the country. Ultimately as a comprise, neither got it, and instead, the smaller city of Canberra, became the capital of nation in 1908. Canberra is a well planned city, inspired by the famed ‘Garden City Movement’ of the United Kingdom from 1898. ‘Garden City Movement’ was a method of Victorian era British urban planning that was intended to be self-contained communities, surrounded by greenbelts, with parks, farms and other vacant land with greenery, along with areas of residences and industrial locations. Due to this, Canberra, is also known as the ‘Bush Capital’.

The modern Parliament House (pictured above and below), was opened in May 1988. The unique contemporary architectural design was influenced by the Boomerang (a weapon authentic to ancient Aboriginal culture). The visit to the Parliament was really interesting. First you come into the Great Hall, in the ground floor, from which one can see the Old Parliament building as well as the Australian War Memorial right opposite, afar. In the Great Hall, there is also a beautiful tapestry, one of the largest tapestries in the world, which was based on a painting by Australian Impressionist Artist, Arthur Merric Bloomfield Boyd.

The Senate chamber, New Parliament House

The Senate chamber, New Parliament House

On the floor above, there are two corridors with huge portraits of famous personalities, including the Queen of England and the past Australian Prime Ministers. Then come the two meeting rooms; one House of Representatives, represented in a muted greenish tone, inspired by the colour of the eucalyptus leaves; and the next, The Senate chamber, with pinkish hue, representing the colours of the Australian outback, earthly tones. Then we went up to the Parliament’s neatly mowed green roof top.

Roof Top, New Parliament House

Roof Top, New Parliament House (The old Parliament is the white building in the background)

Post the new Parliament House, we drove past the old Parliament, and went straight to the Australian War Memorial. Neither could we do much, nor visit the military museum, as it was near closing time. But highlight of the Canberra tour for me was being able to witness the closing ceremony at the war memorial. It was peaceful simple affair, and hardly took that much time, and it was totally worth it.

'Australian War Memorial', all set for the closing ceremony PIX: Nuwan Sen

‘Australian War Memorial’, all set for the closing ceremony PIX: Nuwan Sen

Australian War Memorial, closing ceremony PIX: Nuwan Sen

‘Australian War Memorial’, closing ceremony PIX: Nuwan Sen

Sculpture of John Simpson Kirkpatrick, and his donkey

Sculpture of John Simpson Kirkpatrick, and his donkey

Pictured above is a sculpture of John Simpson Kirkpatrick, and his donkey, located outside the Australian War Memorial. During the Battle of Gallipoli, in Turkey (during World War – I), John Simpson, a combat medic, carried wounded British soldiers on this donkey from the front line to the beach, and to safety.

Post the war memorial, we drove around Canberra’s diplomatic enclave, with all the foreign Embassies/High Commissions/Consulates, and left by evening.

Leaving Canberra by six in the evening.  PIX: Nuwan Sen

Leaving Canberra by six in the evening. PIX: Nuwan Sen

On the way back to Sydney, we went to the city of Goulburn, where we had a Chinese dinner, and then drove into the night. Reached Castle Cove (Sydney’s Northshore suburb, where Mum & I were staying), quite late.

Nuwan Sen n’ Travel

From the setting of the 1300’s Verona, performed at the Curtain Theatre in Shoreditch, and the Globe theatre, London, to the setting of the 1950’s New York, on the Broadway stage, NY, and West End, London, and onto Hollywood’s celluloid. Romeo and Juliet to West Side Story.

West Side Story Main

Rachel’s Theatre Reviews and The Rosebud Cinema are co-hosting ‘The Stage to Screen Blogathon’; for which I chose to write about the musical, West Side Story (1961).

From the Stage to the Big Screen
In 1957 Broadway staged a musical, West Side Story. A modern, mid-1950’s, adaptation of the much loved tragic play about pre-teen innocent love by Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was conceived between 1591 and 1595, and set in Verona, Italy, in the 14th century). Then in the beginning of the 60’s decade, the movie version, set in the mid-50’s itself, was released, West Side Story (1961). Of course I haven’t seen the stage version, only the movie. The original Broadway and West End runs were before I came into existence, from 1957 to 1960, but I haven’t seen any latter versions either. But would love to if I get a chance. Not many Hollywood versions of stage shows tend to be that great, but West Side Story (1961) is an excellent Hollywood adaptation.

Starting off it’s so beautifully filmed. After the colourful overture, with a screen littered with vertical black lines, of varied sizes, that almost looks like musical notes, which transforms into the skyscrapers of Manhattan, the film zooms from an aerial shot of the city into the darken alleys in the day time, where the Jets are watching boys playing with a ball. Soon we see the rivalry between the two clans of the ‘Jets’ (Caucasians/Americans) and the ‘Sharks’ (Dusky/Latin-Americans/Puerto Rican immigrants), a bunch of out-of-work/school teenage/young adult rowdy boys, who have nothing better to do other than fight each other, for no specific reason, other than racial hatred. Then, as most people know the plot of Romeo and Juliet, Boy-Tony Wyzek (Richard Beymer), of the Jets, meets Girl-Maria Nuñez (Natalie Wood), of the Sharks, by chance at a dance, fall instantly in love, which worsens the rivalry between the two groups, who fight, in which, Tony’s best friend, Riff Lorton (Russ Tamblyn) accidentally gets knifed by Maria’s brother, Bernardo Nuñez (George Chakiris), and in turn, the angered Tony kills Bernardo, in the spur of the moment, and has to hide as the Sharks wow to avenge the death of their leader, Bernardo. More misunderstandings occur when Bernardo’s girlfriend, Anita del Carmen (Rita Moreno) visits the Jets. At the end, the tragedy differs, from the Shakespearean tale, as only one of the lovers’ dies, by getting shot, leaving the other to a lonely life of misery. With this innocent death, the two sides resolve their differences, and start to get along, but at what cost.

West Side Story Pix

It’s a great modern adaptation, with excelled direction and choreography by the famed classical and contemporary ballet dancer, Jerome Robbins (co-directed by Robert Wise), with the rhythmic background music composed by Leonard Bernstein. Love the songs, the dances, the music, the cast, the great sets, the art décor, the cinematography. It all blends in beautifully bringing out a masterpiece of Cinematic history. So far as exceptional dancing sessions are concerned, the two people to watch out for are the two supporting characters, George Chakiris and Rita Moreno. Love the dance off at the neighbourhood dance function. The matching and fitting purple/black outfits worn by Chakiris and Moreno add to the seductive movements. Love the song and dance, ‘America’ on the roof, the same night. The movie has some other great songs like the romantic ‘Maria’, the very comical ‘Gee, Officer Krupke’ and the deep and rowdily calming ‘Cool’, to name a few.

Unfortunately the DVD I have (another movie brought down from the States), isn’t in the original widescreen format, the film was released in, but a television edit with the two sides cut off. I don’t see why they should have cinemascope films (film released since 1953) in academy ratio anymore. After all most people who own a television set, and a DVD player, would have a widescreen television in their homes. Of course most people with a lot of money and no common sense have widescreen televisions and no idea how to use them. Thus they distort an academy ratio picture to fit the widescreen with disastrous results. And worse they wonder why vehicles looks unnaturally elongated and people disproportionately fat, stretched and short. I prefer to watch a widescreen movie as a widescreen movie, but if the picture format shown is a television edit (in Academy Ratio), I wouldn’t stretch it to fit the screen, nor zoom it, cutting off the top and bottom of the picture. After all, the cut off sides aren’t going to magically appear. So as I said, I had to watch West Side Story, in academy ratio, a television edit. I would love to watch the widescreen version someday.

Original vs. Modern Adaptation
The best modern adaptation of a Shakespearean play, for me, happens to be Kenneth Branagh’s very stylish flick, Hamlet (1996), which was brought forward from 16th/early 17th century Denmark to 19th century Denmark. A glamorous upscale adaptation, spoken in the original text, of Shakespearean English, yet believably transformed 200 odd years into the future. The greatest modern adaptation I’ve seen till date. Kenneth Branagh is a superb director, more so when it comes to modern adaptations of Shakespeare. For example, films like Much Ado About Nothing (1993) and As You Like It (2006). I also enjoyed Michael Hoffman’s modern adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999). When in comes to the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet, no doubt West Side Story happens to be best modern adaptation I’ve seen so far, and there have been quite a few. Like Romeo + Juliet (1996), set in the 1990’s in Shakespearean English, it’s the worst adaptation I’ve seen so far, but not among the worst movies ever. Yet it was pretty bad film. It didn’t work for me at all. Then there was the Bollywood adaptation, Josh (2000), for which the basis was more West Side Story, and less the original Romeo and Juliet. Josh was a moderately OK take on the Shakespearean classic. More recently there was Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela (2013) (see my post Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela: A Pleasant Surprise) a near excellence venture set in a fictional Indian village. Which I watched earlier this year and blogged about it, as well, back then (Press on the link above). And there might be so many more versions of this tragic romance. Of course this is when it comes to modern adaptations about the doomed lovers. When it comes to an original adaptation, i.e. set in the 14th Century Verona, out the ka-zillion big screen ventures that exist, the best, and my favourite, happens to be, Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet (1968), starring Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey.

West Side Story Pix - on the sets

Awards
West Side Story won 10 Academy Awards, out of the 11 nominated. It won Oscars for ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’ to Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise, ‘Best Supporting Actor’ to George Chakiris, ‘Best Supporting Actress’ to Rita Moreno, ‘Best Cinematography’, ‘Best Art Direction’, ‘Best Costume Design’, ‘Best Film Editing’, ‘Best Original Score’ and ‘Best Sound’. West Side Story was also nominated for ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’, but lost out to Judgment at Nuremberg (1961). Added to this, Jerome Robbins received a special award for ‘Brilliant Achievements in the Art of Choreography on Film’.

West Side Story (1961) is one of the best musicals ever made. It’s aged well and among the greatest classics ever made. Excellent!!! 10/10.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

stage to screen blog

Thank you Rachael, of Rachel’s Theatre Reviews, and Rosie, of The Rosebud Cinema, for starting this Blogathon and letting me work on West Side Story (1961). I really enjoyed being part of the Stage to Screen Blogathon.

Cheers
Nuwan Sen

Hundred years ago today, on the 18th of July, 1914, was born a heroic personality, who’d end up, not just being a champion road cyclist, but also a war hero, who’ll save the lives of, as many as, 800 to 900 Jews, during the second World War, Gino Bartali.

Gino Bartali in 1936

Gino Bartali in 1936

The Cyclist
Gino Bartali was born to a small farming family in Ponte a Ema, Florence, Italy. He grew up in a deeply religious family (of the Catholic faith) in Tuscany. By 13 Gino was working in a bicycle shop and started racing around the same time. He started racing professionally in 1935 when he was 21. By 1936, he was an Italian champion. When he got married; on 14 November 1940, the wedding being blessed by Pope Pius XII (who held office from 1939 to 1958); Bartali donated his bicycle to the Pope. Gino won the ‘Giro d’Italia’ three times, in 1936, 1937 and 1946, and the ‘Tour de France’ twice, with a gap of ten years, in 1938 and 1948. Gino stopped racing when he was 40, after being injured in a road accident.

The War Hero
During the Second World War, Gino Bartali, helped a lot of Jews by carrying false (non-Jewish) identifications for the Jews that were being persecuted under Nazi oppressed Italy, during the Italian Social Republic, which had become a puppet state of Nazi Germany during that period. He carried these falsified identifications, messages and other documents, to the Italian Resistance, by rolling up and hiding the papers, in the saddle seat post and head tube under the handle. Bartali cycled from Florence, through Tuscany, to Umbria, Marche, and sometimes travelling as far away as Rome, all the while wearing the racing jersey emblazoned with his name.

Through Pope Pius XII (and the Archbishop of Genoa and the Franciscan Friars), Gino Bartali, helped Giorgio Nissim, a Jewish accountant from Pisa, help save 800 Italian Jews escape during the war, by carrying out forged documents and needed photographs. Gino used to leave Florence in the morning, pretending to train, rode to a convent in which the Jews were hiding, collected their photographs and rode back to Nissim. Gino Bartali used his position to learn about raids on safe-houses as well.

Gino Bartali, on suspicion, was taken ‘Villa Triste’ in Florence. The Sicherheitsdienst, intelligence agent of the SS, and the Italian RSS office, and questioned Gino, threatening his life. Luck was on his side, when one of the soldiers turned out to be a fan of the cyclist, who intervened and saved Gino’s life, just as he was about to be tortured.

Gino, a devout catholic, continued to secretly help the Jews. In 1943, he led Jewish refugees towards the Swiss Alps himself. He cycled pulling a wagon with a secret compartment, telling patrols it was just part of his training. Gino also hid a Jewish family in his cellar, by doing so saved their lives.

In year 2000, Gino Bartali had a bypass surgery yet died of a heart attack on the 5th of May, Year 2000.

Last Year, having gained great respect, for his efforts to aid Jews during World War II, Gino Bartali was given recognition, with the title of Righteous Among the Nations. There is also Piazza Gino Bartali, in Florence, in his honour.

Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense
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Today, the 14th of July, 2014, happens to be the 96th Birth Anniversary of the most famous Swedish Film director ever, Ernst Ingmar Bergman. He is recognised as the most accomplished and influential auteur, to come out of, one of the most scenic and breathtakingly beautiful Scandinavian countries in the world, Sweden.

Ingmar Bergman with the two Ingrid Bergman's. Left - The Hollywood Actress Middle - The Director  Right - The Director's Wife

Ingmar Bergman with the two Ingrid Bergman’s.
Left – The Hollywood Actress
Middle – The Director
Right – The Director’s Wife

Ernst Ingmar Bergman, was born on the 14th Of July, 1918, in Uppsala, Uppsala Län, Sweden. Bergman’s father was a Lutheran minister (later chaplain to the King of Sweden) and his mother a nurse. Though brought up in a conservative religious setting, with an older brother and sister, Ingmar Bergman lost faith when he was just eight years old. Bergman was the black sheep of the family, and was later estranged from his father for years. His love for the theatre began around the same time he lost his faith. By nine, he was making his own scenery, marionettes, and lighting effects and giving puppet productions, in which he spoke all the parts. In 1937, he entered Stockholm University College, from which he did not graduate, but was involved in their theatre group at the time. He was an out and out film buff by then. At the time he wrote many plays, an opera, and became an assistant director at a theatre. By 1941, Bergman began his film career by rewriting scripts, and soon he wrote his first screenplay, for the Alf Sjöberg film, Hets (1944) a.k.a. Torment. A couple of years later, Bergman directed his very first movie, Kris (1946) a.k.a. Crisis.
Scenes from a MarriageYear 1999, there was an ‘Ingmar Bergman film festival’ going on in South Delhi, New Delhi, India. I had completed my (Bachelors) final year at DU (University of Delhi), and was still residing in North Campus, Kingsway Camp, North Delhi. We students went all the way to South Delhi after a quick lunch at ISH (International Students Hostel), at 1p.m, and reached the gates of the Festival Hall by around 3p.m, and queued outside for the movie, Bergman’s Scener ur Ett Äktenskap (1973) a.k.a. Scenes from a Marriage, which was to start at around 6:30pm. The movie was free, first-cum-first basis. The queue was full of youngsters, both from DU and JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University). Luckily we were right in the front of the queue.

The whole time to travel, and hours waiting outside in the hot sun, finally paid off. Scenes from a Marriage was an excellent movie, and one of my all time favourites till date. Scenes from a Marriage is exactly what the title suggest. It’s literally scenes from a marriage, of a couple who separate, divorce, meet again years later, meet yet again years later, meet again in their middle age, and talk. Yes, the whole film is an analysis of marital (un)bliss, through excellent dialogue delivery and superb acting skills. For the length of the entire movie we mostly just see two people, the husband and wife, fighting, pleading, discussing, and trying to understand one another. The movie stars Erland Josephson and Liv Ullmann as the husband and wife, respectively.
Autumn SonataThe following day or so, they were showing Höstsonaten (1978) a.k.a. Autumn Sonata, starring Hollywood actress, of Swedish roots, Ingrid Bergman (no relation of Ingmar Bergman), alongside with Liv Ullmann. Unfortunately I could not make it for a movie I was really keen on, especially as am a fan of actress Ingrid Bergman. Some of my fellow Indian University students managed to catch it though. And they had fun taunting me at missing out on such a fine film, cause I was late at our rendezvous point at the Bus Stop. This was long before students could afford mobile phones. My loss, and am yet to watch this 70’s Ingmar Bergman gem.

However, some years later, I did manage to watch Khalid Mohamed’s, very well made, Bollywood tribute to Bergman’s Autumn Sonata, i.e. Tehzeeb (2003), starring Shabana Azmi, Urmila Matondkar, Arjun Rampal and Dia Mirza. The story, credited to Ingmar Bergman, is about a tense reunion of a modern day mother, Rukhsana (Shabana Azmi) and her estranged elder married daughter, Tehzeeb (Urmila Matondkar), due to a misunderstanding on the part of the daughter. Tehzeeb keeps blaming her mother for everything assuming the mother never loved her children, while the exact opposite is true. By the time the truth comes out, it’s too late. The Hindi movie is beautifully made, one that Bergman would be proud to be credited with.

Khalid Mohamed’s Bollywood tribute to Bergman

Khalid Mohamed’s Bollywood tribute to Bergman

In June 2002, while working as a journalist here, for the ‘Daily News’ newspaper, I paid tribute to Ingmar Bergman, when Bergman donated his manuscripts, notebooks, plot summaries, unpublished books, and much much more, to the Swedish Film Institute. You can see the online edition of my old article, if you Google out my birth name/full name ‘Nuwan Senadhira + Ingmar Bergman’ (Link – http://archives.dailynews.lk/2002/06/22/fea09.html). During this period, Bergman was working on a sequel to Scenes from a Marriage (1973), i.e. Saraband (2003).

Later in 2002 itself, when I was studying for my MA in International Cinema (2002-2003), at the University of Luton, Luton, UK, I watched Såsom i en Spegel (1961), a.k.a. Through a Glass Darkly, at the University Library. Another Bergman film I fell in love with instantly.
Through a Glass Darkly (NS)One of Bergman’s greatest works, Through a Glass Darkly, is an exploration of the psychological whirlpool into the world of schizophrenia. The film takes place within the span of 24 hours, in a remote island (filmed entirely in the island of Fårö, the largest island in Sweden). Karin (Harriet Andersson), has just been released from an asylum where she had been treated for schizophrenia. Karin’s family; which include her husband, Martin (Max von Sydow), her father, David (Gunnar Björnstrand), and her brother, Minus (Lars Passgård); take a vacation to this remote island. The film is a three-act ‘chamber film’, an allusion to both; the chamber plays of Swedish playwright/novelist/poet/essayist/painter, Johan August Strindberg; and to chamber music in general, in which four family members act as mirrors for each other. A chamber play, was a popular type of play, from the early 20th century, which consisted of three acts, performed with a small cast, with hardly any sets or costumes, in a small space. It was adapted to German cinema in the roaring 20’s, and later on by Ingmar Bergman to Swedish films.
Getting back to Through a Glass Darkly, it’s really interesting to see the close relationship shared by the two siblings (pictured above), in the beginning of the movie. In fact the whole movie is an excellent character study of all four family members.

Through a Glass Darkly won an Oscar for ‘Best Foreign Language Film’, and was nominated for ‘Best Original Screenplay’ at the 1962 Academy Awards Ceremony. It also won the Golden Globe Award for ‘Best Foreign Language Film’, and was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 12th Berlin International Film Festival. Famed American film critic, Roger Ebert, in 2008, added the film to his ‘Great Movies list’.

Later in 2003/2004, whilst residing in Oslo, I watched Den Goda Viljan (1992), a.k.a. The Best Intentions, an autobiographical film, about Ingmar Bergman’s parents, written by Ingmar Bergman, but not directed by him, instead directed by Danish film director Bille August. Another beautiful movie, this time, set in the early Edwardian era. The Best Intentions, won the ‘Palme d’Or’ at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival, and it’s lead actress Pernilla August, who played Ingmar Bergman’s mother, won the award for ‘Best Actress’ at the same film festival. It’s a pity, besides having lived in Norway, I have only been to the Norway/Sweden border. I never really got to travel in Sweden, besides having travelled around Northern and Western Europe extensively.
SarabandIn 2007, while doing my MA in Painting (2006-2007), at the College of Fine Arts (COFA), University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, Australia, I got to watch Saraband (2003), when it was shown on a television channel down there. Saraband takes place about thirty years or so after the couple, played by Erland Josephson and Liv Ullmann, divorce in Scenes from a Marriage (1973). This is an excellent sequel. It’s very rare that sequels are anywhere near as great as the first, but Bergman manages to be triumphant in bringing out a touching story, of the old couple’s latest meeting. Beautiful !!! what more can I say.

Despite being an avid film buff, it’s a pity I’ve only seen very few Bergman films till date. Only the ones I’ve spoken about. And I’ve only seen Scenes from a Marriage on the big screen, the rest, with exception of Saraband, were via video tapes. Thus, except for Scenes from a Marriage, everything else mentioned here were on the small screen. I’d love to watch Autumn Sonata (1978), on the big screen someday, if possible. Autumn Sonata was nominated for two awards at the Oscars, one for ‘Best Actress’ for Ingrid Bergman, and one for ’Best Original Screenplay’ for Ingmar Bergman.

Am really keen on watching some of his other great ventures as well, such as, his very first movie, Kris (1946) a.k.a. Crisis, A Ship Bound for India (1947), Sommarlek (1951), Sommaren med Monika (1953), Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), Det Sjunde Inseglet (1957) a.k.a. The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries (1957), Jungfrukällan (1960) a.k.a. The Virgin Spring, Persona (1966), Hour of the Wolf (1968), Cries & Whispers (1972), Face to Face (1976), Fanny och Alexander (1982) and many many more.

To one of greatest film directors ever, Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007). Ingmar Bergman died peacefully in his sleep, on July 30th, 2007. He was 89 years old. Yet he will live forever through his movies. Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (1957), was about cheating death, through a game of chess, with the personification of Death. In a way Bergman too has managed to cheat death by being remembered through his movies.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
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