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Happy Birthday Ashaji

Asha Bhosle, one of two most prolific singers of Bollywood (the other being her elder sister, Lata Mangeshkar) turns 85 today.

Born as Asha Mangeshkar, on 8 September 1933, in Sangli State, in the Bombay Presidency of British India, she started her singing career at the age of 9, in 1943; especially to earn for her family (her father died a year earlier, in 1942, Lata Mangeshkar was 13). Though Lata started acting in stage plays at the age of 5, both sister’s, Lata and Asha took up singing professionally, after their father’s demise. At 16, Asha eloped with 31 year old Ganpatrao Bhosle. Her husband and in-laws mistreated her. One day, the ever suspecting Ganpatrao Bhosle, threw a very pregnant Asha Bhosle (pregnant with their third child) out their house, along with their two kids. The Bhosle’s divorced in 1960. Somewhere in the 1960’s, she met music composer, Rahul Dev Burman, six years her junior, with whom Asha Bhosle collaborated on a number of songs. The two first worked together on Teesri Manzil (1966). A decade and half later, Asha Bhosle married Mr. Burman, in 1980. They later amicably separated due to financial difficulties. Yet they worked together until his death in 1994. In the mid-90’s, Asha Bhosle joined the the latest trend at the time, of remixing songs. She experimented with remixing old tunes of the 60’s & 70’s, that she had worked on with her second husband, the love of her life, R. D. Burman (whom she adoringly called “Panchamda”). Her two albums, dedicated to Burman, titled, Rahul and I (Volume 1 & 2), were hugely popular in the 90’s; despite criticism by many, against Bhosle, for tampering with good old melodies. Well into her 60’s by then, she joined the indipop scene of the 90’s, and went along with the India’s MTV and Channel V craze of the times. On 8th October 2012, a month after Bhosle celebrated her 79th Birthday, tragedy struck. Her unhappily divorced daughter, Varsha Bhosle, a singer and journalist, committed suicide.

Today, the very versatile Bhosle; who has over 12,000 songs to her credit (including 20 odd songs in, non-Hindi, Indian languages and various other foreign languages), recipient of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award and the Padma Vibhushanand, and who has been named the most recorded artist in music history, by the Guinness Book of World Records (in 2011), still leads a very active life in Mumbai, India. AND she is showing no signs of backing down, and is in no hurry to retire. In 2016, she released her most recent album, titled 82 (named after her age at the time).

I’ve grown up watching Bollywood movies, and from her 75 year career, here are my Top-25 favourite Asha Bhosle songs, she sang for Hindi Feature Films, only (she has sung, as a playback singer, for non-Hindi language films, as well as, for non-film songs in various languages, including in English).

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TOP 25

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1. “Dum Maro Dum” from Haré Rama Haré Krishna (1971)

This drug infused number, from one of my favourite Bollywood movies, became a Hippie Anthem in the 70’s. Miss Asia Pacific winner, from 1970, Zeenat Aman (a new comer in the world of the cinematic arts at the time, and not really known for her acting chops), was close to brilliant as a Hippie woman (whom Bhosle, lends her vocals to for this song), in this movie. Aman won a a Filmfare Award for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ and a BFJA Award for ‘Best Actress’. Soon she would be the ‘it’ girl, the Bollywood sex-symbol, of 1970’s decade. Unfortunately her sex-symbol avatar would overshadow her talent, and she was used by directors more as a bikini bombshell, than an actress. But she does have some good character roles to her credit, yet isn’t really known for her acting prowess. Director and co-star, Dev Anand (who plays Aman’s estranged brother, estranged due to their parents divorce, in the film), didn’t use the song in it’s entirety, in the movie; as he felt the hip number would overshadow his movie.

None the less, Asha Bhosle’s future husband, composer R. D. Burman’s, “Dum Maro Dum”, was a big hit, and a Hippie favourite. Bhosle went onto win a Filmfare Award for ‘Best Female Playback Singer’; and the song reached a cult status in India and abroad.

This film happens to have one of the best depictions of a Hippie Commune, on celluloid. Haré Rama Haré Krishna (1971) itself, revolves around a group of Hippies, set within few days, in Kathmandu, Nepal. Although Hippiedom was a counterculture youth movement born in the 1960’s, in USA, it spread around the world (the late 60’s was a time when globalization truly took place). With Hippie’s interest in Hinduism and Buddhism, many made their way into India (especially North India) and Nepal. Soon many modern youth from cities like New Delhi and Bombay, embraced Hippiedom with their open-minded, all inclusive, attitudes, and rebelled against tradition Indian notions. The Hippie sub-culture, was very prominent throughout the 70’s decade (and to some extent in the early 80’s), in Northern India and Nepal. Which in turn influenced Bollywood films of the time. Another reason American influenced Hippie lifestyles gained popularity as a subculture, amongst the literary elitist Indian youth (up north), was thanks to the British band, The Beatles, going and living in India, at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in Rishikesh, in 1968. Other western celebrities followed suit, and young, well educated, Indians from prominent families, were not far behind. Of course, most Hippies were too drugged to remember how cool they were. But, none the less, Hippie influence played a major role in modernizing India, back in those decades.

2. “Chura Liya” from Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973)

A pair of glasses clink, then she strums a few chords in a guitar. And some of the most melodious lyrics come to life.

From playing a Hippie girl, in the previous movie, we see her transform into a sophisticated young lady, for this movie.

Picturized yet again on Zeenat Aman, this is a mesmerizing melodic tune. Romantic, dreamy, with the guitar strumming a lovely tune and words to die for, this song pulls at your heart strings. Although, it’s not a completely original composition. The opening lines of “Chura Liya” were copied from the 60’s song, “If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium”, sung by Dutch singer, Bojoura. None the less, this Hindi song is pure seduction, hypnotically transporting us into dreamy romanticism. Composer, R. D. Burman, used actual cups and saucers to create the tinkling sound of the song.

Zeenat Aman, looks amazingly chic and elite, in that fashionably simple white culottes, adorned with a choker neck, broach and earrings. This elegant white outfit is my favourite from any Bollywood movie ever. Simple and sophisticated, it compliments and contrasts beautifully, with her light cappuccino skin tone. Naturalistic sense of style, a look that is very 70’s!!!!!

3. “In Ankhon Ki Masti Ke” from Umrao Jaan (1981)

Bejeweled from head to toe, a courtesan, from mid-19th century Lukhnow, sings “In Ankhon Ki Masti Ke”. The movie was Umrao Jaan (1981), based on the 1905 Urdu novel, Umrao Jaan Ada by Mirza Hadi Ruswa. Based on a true story, the real life courtesan, Umrao Jaan, had shared details of her life story, with the author, Mirza Hadi Ruswa.This historical bio-pic is made with such perfection, from the set designs to the costumes, and make-up (down to the Mehendi on her hands and feet), made to resemble the period it was set in. The mid-19th century was a very chaotic time in Indian history, under the British Raj, which gave rise to the Indian Rebellion of 1857.

The classical poetic rendition by Asha Bhosle, is a melancholic ghazal, performed by actress, Rekha! Rekha (later nicknamed as Madame Ré), happens to be one of my favourite Bollywood actresses ever. A very versatile actress, she made her mark in both, commercial Bollywood films, as well as Indian Art House Cinema (Parallel Cinema) made in Hindi and English (i.e. Indian English Language movies). Rekha won the National Film Award for Best Actress, for Umrao Jaan. She was honoured with the Padma Shri by the Government of India, in 2010.

4. “Do Lafzon Ki Hai, Dil Ki Kahaani” from The Great Gambler (1979)

With the breathtaking backdrop of Venice, this song sung in a gondola, is one of the most beautifully lyrical love songs ever. Picturized around, Bollywood’s Badshah, the Big B himself, Amitabh Bachchan (my favourite Bollywood actor, since childhood); accompanied by Zeenat Aman (lip syncing to Bhosle). It’s basically Aman’s character translating the gondolier’s love song, into Hindi, telling a story of love and woe, to her lover (played by the Big B).

Amitabh Bachchan, voted the “Star of the Millennium”, happens to be the most influential actor in the history of Indian cinema, nationally and globally. Bachchan, was appointed as an International UNICEF Ambassador in 2005, and was awarded the Padma Shri (1984), the Padma Bhushan (2001) and the Padma Vibhushan (2015) for his contributions to the arts. The Government of France honoured him with its highest civilian honour, Knight of the Legion of Honour, in 2007. He made his Hollywood debut, at the age of 70, in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby (2013).

5. “Yeh Ladka Hai Allah” from Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977)

Kajal Kiran, looking trés chic, in a fuchsia pink short kurta and bell-bottoms (a very 70’s, casual chic, fad), runs around singing, how difficult it to make any sense to this uptight man. Hilarious and clever, the entire song is a dialogue, that neither interprets, what the other is trying to say. Especially towards the end, the girl has no actual idea, what he’s talking about, through his lyrics.

6. “Duniya Mein, Logon Ko” from Apna Desh (1972)

Sung alongside her husband, composer, R. D. Burman (who lends his voice to Rajesh Khanna), this was a hit, mainly thanks to unusual gruffy gurgling vocal sounds made by Burman. That distinct sound and rhythm, became a R. D. Burman trademark. Bhosle wasn’t far behind (singing for Mumtaz), matching vocals perfectly in step, to Burman. Again worth to note the stylish attire. Rajesh Khanna looking slick as ever, in those gold-rimmed octagon shades with green lenses (somewhat resembling John Lennon’s rose tinted round sunglasses, and Khanna looks like a ‘Beatle’ himself, to some extent, here), and that red velvet n’ white designer suit. Mesmerizing Mumtaz, with her natural peaches n’ cream skin, and a blonde wig, looks like a Scandinavian beauty. The eclectic music and dancing is well in sync, and the flawless beauty, Mumtaz, with her deep plunging neckline, double slit, maxi dress, glides barefoot on the smooth terrazzo floor with such ease. In the movie, the duo are in the guise of foreign (Caucasian) investors, to expose corruption at the hands of a conniving trio.

R. D. Burman revolutionized Indian music forever, with this song.

7. “Raat Ke Hamsafar” from An Evening in Paris (1967)

Shammi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore roam around the streets of Paris, to this romantic tune, colour coordinated in navy blue. From the 70’s, now we go back to the 60’s. The era of bouffant hairdo’s, mini-skirts and shift dresses. Here we see Tagore in a tightly draped saree, with a small, tie-knot on the back, blouse. Sharmila Tagore was the first Bollywood actress to appear in a bikini, on a magazine cover, in 1966 (see my Blog-post Classic Movie History Project Blogathon – 1966: The Year dubbed as Nineteen Sexty Sex from June 2015). She wasn’t the first to dare to wear a bikini, but no Indian actress had appeared in the skimpy two-piece on a cover of glossy publication before. Tagore was another versatile actress, who transcended genres, appearing in Bollywood commercial films, as well as Art Films, made in Bengali, Hindi and English (again, Indian English Language movies). She led the Indian Censor Board, between 2004 and 2011, became the National UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for in India in 2005, and she was one of the “International Competition’s” Jury Members at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.

8. “Sapna Mera Toot Gaya” from Khel Khel Mein (1975)

Aruna Irani laments in chains, on the loss of her lover. In flashback sequences we see, her lover was Rakesh Roshan. Beautiful, heart rending, stage performance on the tragedy of falling in love and surviving after tragically losing one’s lover.

9. “Kya Dekhte Ho” from Qurbani (1980)

70’s sex symbol, Zeenat Aman, shows her assets, in a heavily cleavaged top, in this song, alongside director and co-star, Feroz Khan. Interestingly in the song, she asks, what he is looking at and what he wants? Of course he replies he is looking at her face and desires her affection, as she flaunts her gorgeous feminine body and unabashedly her soft female sexuality. This ever-green song bagged Qurbani (1980) a special award. Qurbani, was a Bollywood remake of the, English Language, Italian film, Un Uomo da Rispettare (1972), a.k.a. The Master Touch, directed by Michele Lupo.

10. Namak Halaal (1982)

This movie stars three out of five of my favourite Bollywood superstars of the 70’s & 80’s (See my list Bollywood FIVE from July 2018 on IMDB); Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor and Parveen Babi. Parveen Babi sizzels in a one-piece gold attire, with gold stilettos. Glittering away, she looks sexy and sophisticated, without looking cheap and gaudy. Parveen Babi, is known for her trade-mark hair-do, straight long hair, with the famous parted Parveen Babi bangs. But here, she sports a loose perm, and the style looks very early 80’s, and very up to date. Yet, she makes that look her own as well. Her simple n’ stylish dance steps, in high heels (except for one long shot, panning around the room, Babi does barefoot), works well with Bhosle’s vocals. The glamorously expensive set design gels well with this night club number.

The late Shashi Kapoor, hailing from the Kapoor clan (Bollywood’s Royal family) was India’s International star. Not only did he act in, direct and produce, movies in Bollywood and non-Bollywood (including Art Films and Indian English Language films), Kapoor also appeared in British Films of great repute. He is also known as Merchant Ivory Productions’ very first hero. He was honoured with the Padma Bhushan (2011) and Dadasaheb Phalke Award (2014). Sadly, both Shashi Kapoor (the most beautiful man of Hindi Cinema, inside out, both looks and personality wise) and Parveen Babi, are no more. Both suffered from depression, in their lives. Kapoor, due to the loss of the love of his life, actress, Jennifer Kendal, to cancer in 1984 (he never fully recovered from it); and Babi, due to sad life experiences, failed relationships, loneliness and paranoid schizophrenia. She became a recluse later in life, and distrusted everyone. She died all alone, due to organ failure and diabetes, and nobody was aware of her death, till her body was discovered, three days later.

Both Shashi Kapoor and Parveen Babi, were well literate, and two highly intellectual minds, of the Indian film industry. Babi was a graduate of English Literature. Earlier this year, Hollywood paid tribute to actor Shashi Kapoor (along with actress Sridevi), when they honoured Kapoor and Sridevi, in the “In Memoriam” segment, at the 90th Annual Academy Awards 👠 held in March 2018.

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11. “O Saathi Chal” from Seeta Aur Geeta (1972)

Bollywood’s Dream Girl, Hema Malini (another of my favourite Bollywood actresses, growing up), skirts through obstacles as she sings skating with Sanjeev Kumar. In real life, Sanjeev Kumar was madly in love with Hema Malini, but she didn’t reciprocate. She was in love with Dharmendra (who also acts in this movie), whom she later married.

Hema Malini, along with Parveen Babi, held the Number.1 Bollywood position, in two decades, the 70’s & 80’s, a rarity for an actress in Bollywood. Hema Malini can be see in the picture atop, in a pink saree, walking behind Asha Bhosle. This song again, is a good insight into the casual fashion, of the times. Well tailored trouser suits, and Hema Malini, matches hers with a lilac blouse with long cuffs, stylish purple (tie-down) waistcoat and a purple scarf tied like a hairband, and earrings, while Kumar dons a (buttoned-up) jacket with a khadi collar/Nehru collar.

12. Medley of Several Songs from Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977)

This dance n’ song competition from Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977) is super enjoyable. We grew up watching this movie, a kazillion times. Bhosle lends her vocals towards the end, to the song “Mil Gaye, Hum Ko Saathi, Mil Gaye” lip synced by actress, Kajal Kiran, in red bell-bottoms, a red poncho over a halter-neck top, with red platform shoes. Seriously!!! The stylish fashions of the 70’s! WOW!!!! The tailored trouser suits, wide belts, bandanas, floppy long hair, naturalistic minimalist make-up!! One of the main reasons I love the styles of the 70’s, most probably is because I grew up, in 80’s & early 90’s, watching Bollywood films from the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s. The late 60’s & the 1970’s decade, were truly eras of cool. And their disco numbers were fun, stylish, avec a very modern outlook. And these songs are truly Timeless!!!!!

Added to which, the stylish set design, with the dual circular stage, just amazing. This compilation short-songs, is a really good insight into the sights, sounds and styles of a truly unique decade. Again, very 70’s!!!!!

13. “Yeh Mera Dil” from Don (1978)

As the sultry “Mata Hari” type character, played by Helen (of Anglo Indian & Burmese roots, in real life) seduces and Underworld Don, played by Amitabh Bachchan, to get him arrested by the cops, she sings and dances to this seductive club number. Don is responsible for the death of her fiancé. Of course, her plan backfires and is killed by the Don, instead.

14. “O Haseena Zulfanwaali” from Teesri Manzil (1966)

From watching Helen play a spy seductress, we go back a decade, and see Helen do a sexy cabaret, from the 60’s thriller, Teesri Manzil (1966). Helen happens to be the most popular Bollywood dancer, till date. She was known as Bollywood’s own “Nautch” girl, of the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s & early 80’s. Yes, she reined the on-screen cabarets, for four decades. She looks great in the Spanish flamenco dress (she is seen in three different attires, including a reddish-pink flamenco dress). The late Shammi Kapoor, too, looks dashing in that platinum toned blazer with salmon pink lapels.

Teesri Manzil was the first collaboration of Bhosle and Burman.

15. “Zuby Zuby Jalembu” from An Evening in Paris (1967)

From one 60’s Bollywood cabaret to another 60’s Bollywood cabaret. This time picturized with Sharmila Tagore. Donning what looks like a blend of a playboy bunny suit and a burlesque attire, a la Moulin Rouge, Tagore foxily prances around to this rhythmic number. She does justice to the slutty character she essays, in this song.

16. “O Mere Sona Re Sona Re” from Teesri Manzil (1966)

A blend of the old and the new (at the time), a style that should be out-dated, has surprisingly stood the test time, and aged pretty well. Must have something to do with the fact, the remixed release by Bhosle, herself, in the 1990’s, brought about a new found appreciation for this number. Also check out the very 60’s, shift skirt style, skin-tight slawar-kameez, worn by Asha Parekh. In the 60’s, the slawar-kameez, became really tight, and instead of having two side slits, the tops had one slit in the back, to ape the tight skirts of west. Very 60’s, very Indian!!!!!

17. “Hum Ko To Yaara Teri Yaari” from Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977)

This use to be my favourite song from this movie, as a kid, but growing up, as I matured, and understood the lyrics and tunes, “Yeh Ladka Hai Allah”, with its deeper meaning (See no.5, atop) became, my favourite from Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977). None the less, this is a fun filled song, and again, the stylish bell-bottom trouser suits of the 70’s. So cool!! Especially the camel coloured leather suit worn by Rishi Kapoor. Kajal Kiran’s white bell-bottom attire with the red shawl, and white purse/handbag, too looks really hip.

This fashionable generation most probably didn’t expect to grow old. It’s truly hard to believe, such stylish modern Indians of the 70’s, are in their 70’s today (some would still be in their 60’s). These were stylish attire our parents, in their prime, wore, and for younger generations, grandparents. They were so much more cooler than people today. In fact, our dress sense seems pretty bland, in comparison.

18. “Raat Baaki Baat Baaki” from Namak Halaal (1982)

As Bhosle croons “Raat Baaki Baat Baaki”, picturized around Parveen Babi (alongside Shashi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan), we see Babi’s tensed character in a dilemma. She is hosting a party in a ship, and her mission is to help kill Kapoor’s character, or her mother shall meet her end. Might seem pretty clichéd, but women in history have found themselves being put in uncomfortable situations. Here we see Babi, in her trademark hairstyle, with the famous Babi bangs, and minimalist make-up, she was famous for, back in the 1970’s. She sure had think, luscious, long tresses. AND, she looks gorgeous in that figure hugging black dress, with a long slit at the back, adorned with simple long earrings and high heels. Very Classy!! There is a thing about wearing black badly, not everyone can carry it with grace and elegance. Babi sure could, and she looks bewitchingly beautiful in it.

19. “Aaja, Aaja, Main Hoon Pyaar Tera” from Teesri Manzil (1966)

Back to the “Third Floor”, i.e. Teesri Manzil (1966), this time with a night club scene of the 60’s. And yes, the twist was a craze in 60’s India as well. Asha Parekh (playback singer Bhosle, of course) looking mod, in tight black pants and a pink top, twists around with Shammi Kapoor, to this crazy beat.

20. “Sare Shahar Mein” from Alibaba Aur 40 Chor (1980)

Based on the, 18th century, Arabian Nights tale, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, this Indian-Soviet Russian co-production, has some memorable songs. More interesting for children than adults, it’s set designs and Arabian costumes are amazing, as well. This particular Arabian style song, is more memorable, for it’s a duet, Bhosle sings with her elder sister, Lata Mangeshkar. This song is picturized with Hema Malini (for whom Mangeshkar sings) and Zeenat Aman (sung by Bhosle), who are stuck among two groups of gangs. Hema Malini’s real-life husband, Dharmendra, playing reel-life husband, Ali Baba, makes an appearance at the end of the song, wondering what’s wrong with these two women.

21. “Reshmi Ujala Hai” from Sharmeelee (1971)

Picturized on, Marathi actress and dancer, Jayshree T. (who also worked in some Bollywood movies), we see her do a striptease at an elite club. We also see, the lead actress of the movie, Rakhee, in a dual role; one watches the show from above, as the other enters the club later, with her husband (played by Shashi Kapoor). Lyrically seductive, Jayshree T. dances (and strips) holding a pair of, aesthetically placed, still rings. She’s also joined in by a muscular male stripper, later.

22. “Parde Mein Rahne Do” from Shikar (1968)

Another Arabian dance, and another Dharmendra – who walks in the middle of song, still looking quite confused (see no.20, above); or rather surprised in this case. This time though, the film has a contemporary setting, and the Arabian style number, is actually a stage show. The lead actress of this murder mystery, Asha Parekh, performes as an Arabian princess, who pleads people not to lift her Pardah (or Purdah), and expose her identity. Another beautiful song, by Asha Bhosle, sung in an Arabian style. Shikar, literally means The Hunt!!!!!

23. “Hum Jab Honge Saath Saal Ke” from Kal Aaj Aur Kal (1971)

Past, Present and future clash!!!!! In this song, the couple ask one another; when they grow old, and their youthful looks have faded, all wrinkled up, and unable to do much for each other; whether the other will still be there for them. What’s truly fascinating is that, Randhir Kapoor and Babita (the couple the song is picturized around), married in real life, after the release of this movie, in 1971, itself. They later separated, in 1988, due to their elder daughter’s desire in pursing an acting career (conflict of interest). Babita, left with her two daughters. Several years later, Randhir Kapoor finally came around, accepting his two daughters’ film careers, and showing his support. AND thus, almost two decades after the couple split up, Randhir Kapoor and Babita reconciled in 2007. So now they are actually together again, in their old age. Both are 71 years old now.

This movie, Kal Aaj Aur Kal (1971), literally translating to Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, has three generations of Kapoor’s starring as three generations in conflict. The Grandfather (played by Prithviraj Kapoor) and the grandson (Randhir Kapoor) are constantly at loggerheads. Caught in the middle, is Raj Kapoor (son of one, father to the other). He understands his son’s progressive thoughts, who rebels against foolish backward traditional notions, such as the cast system, and a woman’s place is in the home by her husbands side, and all that archaic rubbish. But at the same time, Raj Kapoor’s character, is afraid to speak up against his ageing father, who is stuck in his old ways of habit, foolish and ignorant, who still believes in cast system, blinded by religious faith, and finds it difficult to accept the changing times (of the late 60’s & 70’s), including influences of American Hippie lifestyles on Indian society. Prithviraj Kapoor’s character, can’t stand women’s lib, feminism, women daring to wear skirts instead of Indian clothes, women driving, women daring to divorce their husbands, hippies, unmarried couples, premarital sex and promiscuous lifestyles of modern youth. So there are good and bad points, brought out from both sides. But mainly, the open-minded grandson brings out the good points. There is this one hilarious moment, when the grandfather is repulsed at seeing a write-up in a newspaper about a woman divorcing her husband. He speaks of how great Sita (from Valmiki’s Ramayana) was, where she has to undergo an Agnipariksha (trial by fire) to prove her chastity to her husband (after being saved, post her kidnapping by the ten headed Ravana, king of Lanka); and how now women have no qualms about leaving their men. Randhir Kapoor wittily retorts, that there was no such as divorce in ancient times, otherwise Sita would have divorced Ram as well. It’s a rib-tickling moment, and seeing the annoyed horrified look on the Grandfather, is priceless.

This movie came out during the height of globalization of human attitudes and it reflects the changing times in India, at that period. Ever progressive, especially amongst the city folk and the well educated, specially in Northern India, it’s a country that has always moved forward. Of course, it’s a slow n’ steady progress. Transgender acceptance as a ‘third gender’, and India’s Supreme Court ruling from day before yesterday (6.9.2018), legalizing gay sex, thus decriminalizing it as a sexual offense, overturning Section 377 (a colonial rule, introduced in 1861, during the British Raj), is proof of it’s slow and steady rise. India being a third world country, and that too a (hard to maintain) massive one, with an equally massive population of over a billion people, with a high illiteracy rate – mainly due to poverty (something impossible eradicate in such a vast nation), it’s surprising how far they have come, despite their pitfalls. With progressive Indian cities (economically and psychologically), press freedom, freedom to voice one’s opinion, Indian intellectuals and artistic society’s constant leap forward; one can just imagine – if India were a tiny nation, with a small population, less poverty (which practically equals to no illiteracy) – India would be a first world country floating in the Indian ocean, today.

24. “Piya Tu, Ab To Aaja” from Caravan (1971)

Another strip-tease, this time, yet another cabaret performance, by Bollywood’s famed “Nautch” girl, Helen. The stage show, in the movie, is an entire story being told by an unhappy woman, waiting for her man, at a club. The clock strikes midnight, and slowly customers start to leave. Ultimately it’s just her, drinking her misery away. Soon, her lover comes. She’s ecstatic!! She daces, strips, twirls on a pole, and ends up with him in a birdcage. The song, the performance and the props are very symbolic, to the runaway girl (played by Asha Parekh), seated watching the stage show. Caravan (1971) was inspired by the low-budget, 1950’s American Independent film, Girl on the Run (1953).

25. “I love You – Haré Rama Haré Krishna” from from Haré Rama Haré Krishna (1971)

Back to the Hippie Haven (see no.1, right at the top), with another Hippie melody, from Haré Rama Haré Krishna. Composer R. D. Burman’s later trademark style is visible here, before he himself lent his voice to “Duniya Mein, Logon Ko” (see no.6, above), from Apna Desh (1972).

With lyrics like “Black or white, we are all inclusive, nobody here is an alien” in Hindi, it’s no wonder many modern Indian youth openly embraced Hippie’s bohemian life styles, and rebelled against ignorant traditionalist, back then. Bhosle sing for Zeenat Aman, and Usha Iyer (now known Usha Uthup); who use to be a famous (literally underground) nightclub singer of the 60’s, in Madras, South India (before she made it up north, in Bollywood); sings the English verses. Noticed by actor Shashi Kapoor, the first two songs she sung as a playback singer, were for, the Indian English movie (Merchant/Ivory Production), Bombay Talkie (1970) starring Shashi Kapoor along with his wife, British actress, Jennifer Kendal (where Usha Iyer did an English number), and of course, the English verses in this song, “I love You – Haré Rama Haré Krishna” from Haré Rama Haré Krishna.

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English Couplets

Besides my Top-25, Asha Bhosle numbers, I thought I’d add a couple of, non-film, English numbers she appears in.

As Asha Bhosle was experimenting with re-mixing her old tunes, and Cable TV’s MTV and Channel V phenomena, of the 90’s, Bhosle sang this English number (in English) with the 90’s British Boy Band, Code Red, for the Indian version, of their song “We Can Make It”, from their album, Scarlet, released in 1997. Code Red, was a group, that only lasted five years.

Australian cricketer, Brett Lee, wrote and recorded the song, “You are the One for Me”, with Asha Bhosle, when he was in India, for the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy. Not such a great song, and the tune feels like a cheesy copy of the country song, “Juke Box Blues” by June Carter (later known as June Carter Cash).

Bhosle’s Ode to a famed British Band

The song, “Dekho, Ab To, Kisi Ko Nahi Hai Khabar” from Janwar (1965), is not just an out and out direct copy of The Beatles “I Want to Hold Your Hand“, but an ode to them. The famed British Invasion of the American music industry, had invaded India too. This was the second British Invasion to hit India, but this musical invasion was one that India embraced and welcomed openly. “Dekho, Ab To, Kisi Ko Nahi Hai Khabar” features a boy band aping The Beatles, giving the background vocals, while Shammi Kapoor, looking like a ‘Beatle’ himself, prances around singing and dancing. Actress, Rajshree (whom Bhosle lends her voice to), in that blonde wig and tight dress, looks a bit like, Bulgarian-French singer, Sylvie Vartan. Rajshree most probably was modeled on her (also see my first two posts regarding in January 1964, from January 2014).

The setting of the song is that of a Wedding Reception. Towards the end, the Bride and Groom, join in the twist. Yes, as I said before, the twist was a craze in India, in the 60’s. Some Bollywood movies of the noughties, still had musical numbers which showcased the twist, in all it’s splendor. Towards the end of this song, we also see, the late Shammi Kapoor’s father, the late Prithviraj Kapoor.

The Brits tribute to Asha Bhosle

In 1997, the British alternative-rock group, Cornershop, paid tribute to Asha Bhosle, with their song, “Brimful of Asha”. It was an instant hit, in the UK, and India.

A Tête-à-Tête between an Indian Legend from the previous Century & a 21st Century British Singer (of Indian roots)

To round up the number of videos added here, to ’30’, I thought I’d add this conversation piece, between the legendary Asha Bhosle (who was presented with the ‘The Lifetime Achievement Award’), and British singer, Jay Sean, at the 2nd Asian Awards, held in the United Kingdom. The two sing a few lyrics, from my 2nd favourite Asha Bhosle song, “Chura Liya”.

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Saaz (1997)

Saaz (1997) is a brilliant movie, which was loosely based on the lives of the two sisters, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle. The movie shows a sibling rivalry, which both sisters deny. The siblings were actually very close as kids, but when Asha ran away and got married (mentioned above), Lata felt her sister had been irresponsible and abandoned her, and Lata was left to earn for the family alone. The two were not in speaking terms for a long time. But it had nothing to do with their singing talent, or that Asha Bhosle playing second fiddle to her elder sister, as the movie suggests. Lata openly disapproved of the alliance. Later, the two made-up. Asha Bhosle called Saaz, a three hour exaggerated waste-of-time. Why couldn’t the filmmakers simple ask the two sisters, for their real-life story and make a proper bio-pic.

None the less, Saaz is a beautiful movie, and Shabana Azmi does a brilliant job, essaying the role loosely based on Bhosle.

Mai (2013)

Asha Bhosle stands next to the film poster, of her movie, Mai (2013)

Though Asha Bhosle, has appeared in cameos as a singer in a film or two, and a couple of short films, she made her acting debut, at the age 79, in Mai (2013). A very good movie, and Bhosle was superb in it, as a 65 year old lady, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and neglected by her children and grandchildren (except for one daughter who cares for, played by Padmini Kolhapure). Critic’s praised her amazing performance. So far, she hasn’t appeared in any movie, post Mai.

Wishing the very versatile, Asha Bhosle, a very Happy 85th Birthday. Keep on Singing!!!!!!

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Nuwan Sen n’ Style

Nuwan Sen n’ Music

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Nuwan Sen’s Fashion Sense

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There was a time when women use to raise a hem to get a him. Well not anymore (there is not much left to raise in most modern dresses, anyway). AND definitely not the dignified British Royals. But ever wonder, how their soft graceful chiffon dresses never truly fly up, a la Marilyn Monroe style, even in the windiest weather. Royal fashion tricks reveled below.

Marilyn Monroe, when her dress blew up, and ended her marriage

Back in windy Autumn of 1954, during the shoot of The Seven Year Itch (1955), actress Marilyn Monroe was filmed with her dress billowing (a very famous scene from this classic comedy, with the iconic Monroe, halter-neck, light shaded, ivory cocktail dress) at Lexington Avenue, in Manhattan, New York City (USA). This shoot lasted several hours, surrounded by around two thousand spectators, and photographers. The scene was re-shot later in a studio, and both, edited together, ended up in the movie. The jealous Joe DiMaggio, Marylin Monroe’s baseball player husband, was far from impressed. And their marriage ended. What did he expect?? He was married to a much loved actress, and that too a sultry sex-symbol of the 50’s decade. If her sex-siren image, hurt his male chauvinistic pride so much, why did he marry her in the first place?? This popular image has been recreated by many, post Monroe’s death, one of the most notable, that comes to mind is, Kelly LeBrock’s famous red satin dress, from The Woman in Red (1984).

Duke & Duchess of Cambridge: Prince William & Kate Middleton

Today I came across an unusual article, on Yahoo UK, about how the royals have managed to keep their dresses from flying high. So apparently when it comes to the younger royals, a la Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, they use static underwear to keep their dresses in place. Yup, undergarments that help keep your dress in place. But how did royals manage to do so, in the past?????

It seems the Queen of England, Queen of United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms, Queen Elizabeth II, wore dresses with lead curtain weights sewn into her hemlines. Of course, it depends on the fabric. If the Queen wore chiffon dresses, which she did, quite often, in summer months, a pea size lead, or a tiny lead chain, is sewn into the hems. It’s hard to say, whether the late Queen Mother (Elizabeth II’s mother), and her favourite grand-daughter-in-law, the late Princess Diana, did the same. But they sure were just as dignified, in their lifetime.

So below are some, not so Marilyn Monroe style, billowing moments, of the Royal Ladies.

Queen Elizabeth II, during a trip Down Under

Princess Diana battles through windy weather, in Italy

Prince Charles watches, as Camilla Parker Bowles pays tribute to the late Marilyn Monroe

The Queen in Trousers

Queen Elizabeth II in Trousers

Of course, the more sensible thing to wear, especially in windy weather, is a pair of trousers. It’s decent, it’s elegant, it’s fashionable, it’s comfortable, as well as practical. Of course, the queen is rarely seen in trousers, even though she wears them, a plenty.  That’s because the Queen wears trousers, casually, mostly during her private time, with family, at home, for leisure activities, sports and holidays. She is rarely seen in more formal trouser suits/pant suits, during formal functions or visits. In fact, when it comes to her formal engagements, she loves romantic vintage dresses, and loves bright colours with matching hats and coats. Nothing beats Princess Diana’s chic fashion sense, when it comes to the British royals, but the queen has her own signature style, and she is a fashionista in her own right. Apparently Kate Middleton follows suit (pun intended), and loves to wear fashionable dresses for formal engagements, than trouser suits; though casually she might be seen in all-American jeans.

Thus, the secrets to how the Royals remain fashionably dignified in bad weather, reveled.

Nuwan Sen n’ STYLE
Nuwan Sen’s Fashion Sense
Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense

 

The Mean Season (1985) is a pretty impressive thriller, which showcases the talent of actor Kurt Russell in an equally impressive measure. Directed by the quintessential 80’s film director from Canada (born in Australia), Phillip Borsos; who died too young (he was only 41, when he left this world); this Hollywood modern classic, encompasses some of the best traits of the 80’s decade. From technology, to style, the realistic feel; I felt the decade of my childhood run through my veins, with nostalgia. It’s not necessarily a masterpiece, but still an enjoyable piece of post-noir crime caper.

Set in Miami, Florida, USA, in July 1984, during Florida’s notorious “mean season”; the hurricane season that runs through the coasts of the US state of Florida, during the humid summer months (June to September); the movie is a about a reporting journalist, Malcolm Anderson (Russell) working for The Miami Journal (a fictional newspaper) and an (initially unnamed) sociopath (played by Richard Jordan). Exhausted with the never ending crime coverage he has to endure, Anderson is ready to quit and leave for cooler climes, to the more scenic US State of Colorado. A young teenage girl, Sarah Hooks (Tamara Jones), has been killed; and Anderson is given the assignment to cover it. He reluctantly agrees. Once he writes about it; he gets a call congratulating him, by the young girl’s killer. Soon a vocal relationship develops between the journalist; who’s in a dilemma (on one side he wants to genuinely help catch the killer, feeling for the families of the victims; and on the other, the scoop, nabbing the story of a lifetime is an opportunity no journalist wants to let go); and the serial killer, yet to commit more crimes.

Now the suspense begins. Kurt Russell, proves himself as an actor, in a decade Hollywood was infested with run-on-the mill blockbusters, B-grade actors, and cheesy catchphrases like “I’ll be back” (The Terminator, 1984), “I feel the need…, the need for speed” (Top Gun, 1986) and “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” (Dirty Dancing, 1987); to name a few. Soon an unbreakable bond begins, with each having a fascination bordering on homoeroticism for the other. Which in today’s terms, would be categorized as, a “Bromance”!! But this isn’t the typical bromance. For the journalist; he waits in anticipation, to hear from killer, the killer’s latest confession. Meanwhile, the attention loving murderer can’t wait to call the journalist, and letting him know about his latest victim/s. But when the reporting journalist starts to get more attention; not just because of his swell writing skills, but also ’cause he is the only person to be in touch with the killer; added to which the journalist appearing on television, with a hint of him venturing into Pulitzer Prize territory for his articles; is when the “Bromance” starts to turn sour. The killer isn’t happy. He wanted fame, through his newer killings (as we find out later that he had killed before, and confessed, and nobody believed him; thus he is duplicating the killings), and sought the help of Malcolm Anderson for it; but instead Anderson is making a name for himself; mainly just by association. True, Malcolm Anderson is great writer; but if the killer didn’t contact him, Anderson would’ve left Miami for good, and his byline could have gone into oblivion.

The killer finds the best way to get back at his “Bro”, by going after Anderson’s Achilles heal; going after his lover, a schoolteacher, Christine Connelly (Mariel Hemingway).

Kurt Russell and Richard Masur in a scene from The Mean Season (1985)

The Mean Season, is beautifully filmed. One of most beautiful, albeit pretty morbid, scene happens to be murder of an elderly couple. Though the murder itself isn’t shown, the murder’s description of it, along with Anderson’s imagination, shows how his use of a pillow, created an aesthetically spectacular scene, as the pillow feathers fall down like snowflakes. He mentions how he stood there watching this horrendous artistic creation of his.

What is more impressive, about this movie, is the realism aspect. Unlike the CGI blockbusters of today, where computer graphics overpower and ruin the entire premise of a film, instead of helping them (you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all); these films sans CGI, have an element of realism; with neither being overtly realistic nor disconnectedly artificial (though they might be out and out fictional). Of course, the film was based on a novel, In the Heat of the Summer, by a veteran Miami Herald crime reporter, John Katzenbach; who based his book on his own experiences as a newspaper reporter. Director, Phillip Borsos, spent time studying people at work at Miami Herald, he consulted them; and actually filmed on location, at the Miami Herald, with actual staff seen in the background. That’s one of the best things about the movie, the fact the press environment wasn’t recreated in a studio; but filmed in an actual press office. It was very generous of the Miami Herald to let them film there, despite being a very busy newspaper (what newspaper isn’t busy).

Crime & Journalism: Two scenes from The Mean Season (1985), with Kurt Russell (Russell is seen with Andy García, in the picture above). The movie was filmed on location, at the actual “Newsroom” of the Miami Herald newspaper.

Phillip Borsos, recalled later, that in April 1984, the day he, along with his crew, arrived at the Miami Herald; a man suspected of being a serial killer, killed himself, during a confrontation with the cops; “it seemed as though there were about 500 reporters in the office, and everybody was going insane” (quote mentioned in Wikipedia’s The Mean Season page).

Proof of the pudding, is in the preparation of an actor for a particular role, he or she, is to convincingly play. AND actor, Kurt Russell, followed around veteran American journalist and Mystery novelist, Edna Buchanan (who was working at the Miami Herald, at the time) along with Miami Herald‘s photographer of the time, Tim Chapman. And it paid off, as this no doubt is one of Russell’s better character roles. Similarly, Richard Masur, to prepare for his role as the editor of the fictional newspaper, The Miami Journal, spent several days at the Miami Herald‘s city desk.

One of the main flaws of the movie, for me, was that the revelation of the killer’s identity came too soon. It would have been better, if his face was revealed only after he pretends to help Christine Connelly, and we find out she’s been kidnapped. Post that, the revelation of the killer’s name, Alan Delour, came at the appropriate time. The thing is, when Delour, pretending to be a substitute teacher, pretends to help Connelly; we already know she’ll be kidnapped, as we know this is the killer. The other flaw, though a minor one, was the casting of Christine Connelly herself. Though Mariel Hemingway, had nothing great to do in the movie, anyway, she feels a bit out of place. In a way, it goes well with role, as Connelly wants to leave Miami, but only stays on for lover, Malcolm Anderson. Yet, Mariel Hemingway’s acting ability seems pretty limited, even for a side supporting role of small caliber. She’s an average actress; neither good nor bad. But surprisingly this average actress seemed perfectly cast in the brilliant Manhattan (1979), a Woody Allen (Black & White) masterpiece.

Mariel Hemingway in The Mean Season (1985)

Mariel Hemingway definitely looks good though. Richard Jordan is superb as the creepy voice over the telephone; but once his face is revealed, a tad too soon, it starts to go downhill a bit. Plus the done-to-death scene, when we feel all’s well that ends well, but made to realize it’s not over yet; is a tad too predictable. Still it didn’t ruin the movie for me, for most part, it really went well. It could’ve been greater, with certain changes. The one to watch out for, the icing on the cake, happens to be a fresh faced, young Cuban born, Andy García; as a good cop with a sly grin, Ray Martinez. He oozes with boyish charm in this movie.

Kurt Russell and Mariel Hemingway in The Mean Season (1985)

Though not a great movie; with it’s blend of the hurricane season (i.e. Florida’s notorious “mean season”), crime and journalism; The Mean Season, reminded me of some great suspenseful films set in Florida; the likes of Key Largo (1948), Absence of Malice (1981) and Manhunter (1986), to name a few. It also has classic-noir elements of films of the 40’s; an almost Hitchcockian feel; tied in with an investigative journalism style seen in movies like, His Girl Friday (1940), All the President’s Men (1976), Absence of Malice (mentioned above) and The Paper (1994), to name some. Even though this modern classic might not be a movie that has aged well, unlike the other movies mentioned above, it’s not exactly outdated. In fact, it’s quite a good insight into the workings of the press, press of the 1980’s decade. Plus, this would be a great guilty pleasure for die hard Kurt Russell fans. Pretty Enjoyable fare!!!

The Mean Season (1985)
My Rating: Pretty Good – 7/10 !!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

This Blog Post, is my contribution to the, THE KURT RUSSELL BLOGATHON, hosted by Gill of Real Weegie Midget and Paul of Return to the 80s!!!!!!

Thank you Gill & Paul, for letting me take part in this cool Blogathon.

Nuwan Sen

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Simon Emanuel, Chewbacca, Joonas Suotamo & Thandie Newton at the event of Solo – A Star Wars Story (2018), at the 71st Cannes Film Festival

Everything that has a beginning, has a an end; as does this prestigious, 71st Cannes Film Festival, of May 2018!! It ends tonight, and am really looking forward to finding out who’s won what? I couldn’t check out the Cannes updates properly this year, for various reasons, but below are some fashionable highlights from various days & nights at the Film Festival.

Enjoy

Nuwan Sen’s Fashion Sense

German Film Director, Wim Wenders

Spanish Husband & Wife: Javier Bardem & Penélope Cruz

From the Land of the Pharaohs: Austrian/Egyptian Film Director, A.B. Shawky, with Egyptian Actress, Shahira Fahmy

Mexico & India: Salma Hayek & Nandita Das, were among the 82 women that marched for Gender Equality in the Film Industry, at Cannes this year (Inset: Director Das with her lead star, of Manto (2018), Nawazuddin Siddiqui)

Brazilian Filmmaker, Joe Penna, and Danish Actor, Mads Mikkelsen

Young Russian Film Director, Kantemir Balagov

International Belles: Fan Bingbing, Marion Cotillard, Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz and Lupita Nyong’o (Cannes 2018)

The Frenchmen: Pierre Deladonchamps, Christophe Honoré and Vincent Lacoste

Solo Guys (Day & Night): Donald Glover & Alden Ehrenreich; with the cast and crew of Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Solo Wookiee: Finnish Actor and former Basketball Player, Joonas Suotamo, with his ”Star Wars” character ‘Chewbacca’

Jackson Lee (son of Spike Lee), Topher Grace, Adam Driver and Director Spike Lee, attend the screening of Blackkklansman (2018)

Former First Lady of France (and Italian Singer/Songwriter), Carla Bruni Sarkozy

From Russia with Love: Katya Mtsitouridze, in a neatly tailored White attire

Chique Chic: Marion Cotillard at the Cannes Film Festival this year

More Marion Cotillard (Cannes 2018)

Newly Married, Bollywood Fashionista, Sonam Kapoor, in a White Bridal Lehenga (Cannes 2018)

From the Silk Route: Melissa Zuo, shimmers in Silver attire

Walk for Gender Equality: Jury President, Cate Blanchett, with Feminist Film Director, Agnès Varda (of the French New Wave fame); the first woman to receive an honorary ‘Palme d’Or’, at a Cannes Film Festival

Pretty in Pale Pink: Bella Hadid at the 71st Cannes Film Festival

Chinese Actress, Bingbing Fan

Cannes 2018: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan; seen here with her daughter, who accompanied her up to the Red Carpet

Winnie Harlow goes Green @ Cannes 2018

Knife + Heart: French Film Director, Yann Gonzalez, with Kate Moran & Vanessa Paradis (Inset: Nicolas Maury & Vanessa Paradis)

American Actress, Amber Heard

80 year old, Jane Fonda, graces the Red Carpet with charm, at the 71st Annual Cannes Film Festival (Mai 2018)

Deepika Padukone in Hot Pink Ruffles (Cannes 2018)

More of Daring Deepika: Deepika Padukone in Purple Pant Suit

A Sad Affair: 72 year old Helen Mirren, in a comfortable trouser suit, walks away after she tripped and had a bad fall

John Savage @ Cannes 2018

Milla Jovovich looking like a Greek Goddess

Defying Protocol: Kristen Stewart makes a statement against the Cannes Film Festival, by walking barefoot

Lebanese Film Director, Nadine Labaki, with her young actors; Zain Al Rafeea (a Syrian refugee) & Yordanos Shifera, from Capharnaüm (2018)

Franco-Swiss Model, Nabilla Benattia poses near some Stormtroopers (Cannes 2018)

From Deep Down Under: New Zealand Female Model, Georgia Fowler (in a black sheer Saree dress), with Australian Male Model, Jordan Barrett

Goodbye Cannes Film Festival (for )

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Film Director, N. Padmakumar, standing next to a poster of his debut fictional movie, at the 21st Busan International Film Festival; in Busan, South Korea

Hari Aziz; as the name (Hindu first name & Muslim surname) itself suggests; is a mixed breed. His father is from Northern India, with Muslim roots; and his mother from South India, darker in complexion, with Hindu roots. Thus, Hari Aziz is a hybrid of a mixed race couple. Since both his intellectual parents are agnostic in nature, he has nothing to worry. They live quite a posh life, in Mumbai, India. Yet, when financial difficulties arise, we watch them getting poorer and poorer, moving into middle class housing, to even worse lower income apartments, as they descend deeper into the real India. Real, modern-day, independent India, infested with small minded archaic mentalities, extremists ideologies, thuggery and violence.

Directed by Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy, A Billion Colour Story (2016) is beautiful Indian-English language movie, shot brilliantly in Black & White, which ironically turns into colour, when the most colourful personality of this tragic tale is shot dead. I had never heard of Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy, until day before yesterday, when I watched this art movie. This is his debut feature film, he released a documentary in the summer of the same year; in the middle of the Year of the Sweets, in June 2016. A Billion Colour Story was released, later, in Autumn, that year.

With an amazing array of unknown, yet superb naturalistic acting talent, with brilliantly penned out characters, and an equally brilliant script (which too was written by Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy); this movie is a must watch. Out of all the actors, it’s the child actor, Dhruva Padmakumar; playing 11 year old, Hari Aziz, the narrator of the film; to look out for. He’s a lovely character – intelligent, very mature (in a world full of immature adults); yet shy and bashful, when a young girl, Sophia (Keya Kalyan), asks him whether he’d like to be her boyfriend. He blushes adorably. He’s a self sufficient, and trustful, kid; that his parents need not worry about. Brought up in an open-minded environment, he’s given the necessary freedom a child deserves. But of course, that doesn’t mean he is neglected. He’s showered with well endowed love and affection, and truly spoilt, to the core. No harm in spoiling him, he’s not a brat, far from it. He’s a really smart, good-hearted, kid. He knows everything there is to know about the world, thanks to his curiosity to find out about anything he hears, on his own smart phone. He doesn’t abuse the net, wasting on unnecessary hogwash, but uses his phone as it’s namesake suggests, smartly. This was Dhruva Padmakumar’s very first film appearance, and the only credited role, till date.

Vasuki, Dhruva Padmakumar and Gaurav Sharma; in a scene from A Billion Colour Story (2016)

Hari Aziz’s father, Imran Aziz (Gaurav Sharma), is lovely person. An open-minded personality, a great husband, a loving father; practically perfect. But all humans are flawed creatures, some more than others. He is a pragmatist, yet not practical. A clash of terms, let me explain. As I stated, he is a very open minded individual; not a religious person, fights against formalists – extremist attitudes, fights for justice, but is somewhat blinded by his love for his country. Despite everything going wrong, as they lose money, sink into poverty, and see inhumane attitudes, surrounded constantly with negative energy, pulling them down (it’s very hard stay afloat and positive in such a society, and I know from personal experience of having associated Sri Lankans, all over the world, and still constantly having to go through it, in this country of my own unfortunate roots, full of Lankan egos); his belief in humanity, that India is a beautiful country full of beautiful people, survives. True, India is a beautiful country; with some amazing people, but when there is so much animosity towards their inter-racial union, from both sides; he ought to have been somewhat less saintly, and a bit more intelligent. His, this, blind faith, brings about a stressful ruination of his happy life, to the extent of an imminent danger, not just to himself, but friends and family. Though am not familiar with Gaurav Sharma’s work, he seems to have starred in quite a few unheard of Hindi Films, that are critically declaimed. Yet, just because he starred in some bad movies does not necessarily mean he is a bad actor. He was superb in A Billion Colour Story; and he essayed the role of a modern man, with Muslim roots, with blind love and hope for his country, struggling to survive in a formalist, narrow-minded, society, to perfection.

Hari Aziz’s mother, Parvati Aziz (played with perfection, by a little known, South Indian actress, Vasuki); is, like her husband, yet another intelligent, modern, optimistic and very progressive individual; yet she has no blind faith in India. She loves the country, as much as her husband, but she is well aware of it’s conservative backdrop, that will never accept their interracial union, nor ever want to change for the better. She’s aware of the people’s simple minded nature, stuck in their archaic brainwashed ways, that will never learn to think for themselves. Their is no hope, and it’s not even worth trying to educate and improve such people. A total waste of time and energy. No use preaching to fools. Yet, she supports her husband unconditionally. She’s more practical than her husband. A superb wife, with a brain of her own; and the perfect mother. In this sense, the trio of family members are lucky to have each other. The perfect, free-thinking, modern family. And, they are lucky to have a great group of like minded friends. But yet, they have to deal with everyday, unnecessary stressful problems; due to self centered, inhumane people. The more they are pulled down, into living around such a cruel ignorant society; the worse life gets.

Director, Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy, seen here with his son, child actor, Dhruva Padmakumar

The family strives through heavy patience, surviving and surviving, until one day tragedy strikes. That’s when they lose all hope, and decide to leave the country (we learn earlier on that the couple met in Australia, whilst studying there). But just as they are about to leave, a ray of new hope comes there way; but at what cost. It’s too late, no matter what they do, the best thing about their life is no more; and they’d have to live with that guilt consciousness for the rest of their lives. No matter what, they’ll feel in their hearts, it was their own fault.

It’s a beautifully made, sad, heart-rending, story; told wittily through the eyes of a child. The only big flaw, was the film’s producer, Satish Kaushik’s, cameo; as a fictional film producer, named, Chopra. The scene itself, might not have been that long. YET, it drags on a bit, that it brought a “break in the continuity” of the story (a similar statement is used later in the movie); and those few minutes felt like an hour. Post that scene, the film itself felt a bit dull, for a little while (maybe due to the aftermath of that scene, making me lose interest a bit). Then it caught the pace, and moved on smoothly.

Satish Kaushik is notorious for his not so great directorial work, on Bollywood comedies and melodramas; as well as acting in them. Yet, he is a good writer, for he did co-wrote the dialogues, of one of the most notable comedies of Bollywood ever, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983); and of course he had to act in that too. And with A Billion Colour Story, he’s proved himself as a producer as well. His first (co-)production was, Mr. India (1987); a pretty good children’s film; with Anil Kapoor (an international star today), the late Sridevi (who recently died in a drowning accident), little Aftab Shivdasani (a not so well regarded Bollywood actor, as an adult star), and of course, yours truly; Satish Kaushik, as a character called “Calendar”. But he was fun in that.

Besides the stellar performances; not just by the lead trio, but also the supporting cast; including, Neha Chauhan, Swapnil Ralkar, Sumit Suri, Shashank Karmarkar and Rashmi Somvanshi (not familiar with any of them, but loved them in this film), to name some; the movie is shot spectacularly in Black and White (as I mentioned earlier). Nothing in life is Black and White, not even in a Black and White picture; there are always shades of grey. And this film itself is a great study of human psychology; the black, the white, and greys that blur the lines in between. The man responsible for the symbolic cinematography is none other than the film director, Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy, himself.

Dhruva Padmakumar, the child star of A Billion Colour Story, is the son of the film director, Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy (a.k.a. N. Padmakumar). No harm in a bit of nepotism, if they can get the job done; and Dhruva Padmakumar is a very talented young man, who does a wonderful job in the movie. With eloquent English, he narrates with pure poetry, and acts with a natural ease, making his realistic character, very relatable.

A Billion Colour Story (2016)
My Rating: Near Excellent – 9/10!!!!

N. Padmakumar’s next venture, supposedly, will be set in Sri Lanka; set against the religious and racial conflicts of this country; based on a short story by him. That would be interesting, and am really looking forward to checking it out.

I watched, A Billion Colour Story, on 2nd of May, 2018; rented on Peo TV (our Cable operator).

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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NSFS

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Today happens to be, the great humanitarian, ‘s, 89th Birth Anniversary !!!!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Movie Trivia!!!!

Happy Chinese New Year 2018!!! The Year of the DOG 🙂    

Dog (狗) Earthly Symbol of the Dog (戌)

Today is the Chinese New Year, and the Year of the Dog starts; and it shall end on 4th of February 2019!!!!!

Click on the Image

According to legend, the Chinese New Year started with villagers wearing the colour RED, and decorating their homes with red scrolls with red lanterns being hung around the village, and lighting crackers, to keep off a mythical beast called Nian. Apparently Nian use to appear on the night of the first New Moon of the year, destruct villages and devour children. But it was afraid of the colour RED. Thus, RED is significant with warding off evil. Today, it is the biggest Asian festival celebrated around the globe!!!!

Chinese Actresses, Gong Li (L) and Ziyi Zhang (R), with their Dogs

British/Nigerian Actor, David Oyelowo, with his three rescue Dogs

French Actor, Alain Delon, playing with his dogs (in various decades from the 1950’s to the 1980’s)

Gingerella (R) & Nudin (L) @ Play (January 30th, YEAR 2018)

The Obama’s with Bo & Sunny
Former American President, Barack Obama, includes his beloved pets, in their official Family Photograph; at the White House, in the Spring of Year 2015

Amazingly YEAR 1994, was the Year of the Dog, too!!! I had no idea back then. Year happens to be the best year of my teen life (from my teenage years). ’twas a crucial turning point in my life, when we went back to live in New Delhi, India, after six years. The next really crucial turning point in my life came 13 years later; whilst residing Down Under.

Born in June 1975, I’m a Rabbit. An interesting coincidence is, that according the Chinese zodiac, the most compatible sign with a person born in the Year of the Dog, happens to be, people born in the Year of the Rabbit. So an amazingly Perfect coincidence, would be if I get someone born in 1994 (so basically someone 18½/19 years younger than me 😀 ). Another interesting coincidence is the fact that, at the moment, I’m attracted to a 23 year old, I met late last year (thus, most probably was born in 1994; unless this person’s birthday was within these two months). We happen to accidentally meet day before yesterday, and I saw a picture of this pretty creature’s latest boyfriend, who’s in Germany, at the moment. Yeah! I ought to be used to unrequited love by now  😦 . Not that I believe in astrology (yet admire it, as a form of Art), but you know; wishful thinking !!!

With a pet Rabbit, in a suburb of Paris, France (17th August 2008)

With Gingerella & Nudin, in our Front Yard, at home (6th July 2016)

Wishing every one a Very Happy Chinese New Year/Dog year 2018 ❤

 

Greetings from
Nu Wan (Sen)
(i.e. Nuwan Sen)

Queer Movies, and the month of Mardi-Gras

10 years ago, on 3rd March 2007, I witnessed the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras (simply known as Mardi-Gras, down under). This was when I was a student, doing my MA in painting (2006-2007), at COFA (College of Fine Arts), UNSW (University of New South Wales). It was a spectacular event, with gaudily glittering floats, semi naked bodies, cute kids, and the Sydney Mayor. In full swing, in the Australian summer, it went on, from dusk till dark.

The Mardi-Gars festival, is actually a carnival before Lent, in the Christian calendar. BUT, in Sydney, it’s a Pride carnival. Mainly due to the fact, that during the Pride month (which happens to be the summer month of June); is in the heart of winter, down under; where seasons go in the exact opposite direction to the norm. Christmas down under, is in the height of the hot sweltering summer. Thus, the Pride March, down under, has been interwoven with the Mardi-Gras; and is known as the Sydney Mardi Gras!! This takes place, on the first Saturday, of March. And thus, this year, it was held on 5th March 2017!!

In 2008, it was on the 1st of March, 2008. By now, I’d completed my 2nd Masters, and I was temporarily working as an ‘International Student Advisor’, at the ISS (International Student Services), in UNSW. I did not attend it that year (in fact, March 2007, has been the only Mardi-Gras carnival I’ve seen, so far). But I did, go and see, one movie, at the Mardi Gras Film Festival, held in Sydney, in February 2008. The movie was, The Houseboy (2007); and it was pathetic. One of the worst films I’ve ever seen.
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Downloading

Towards the end of last month, I came across a fellow film buff, from Pakistan, on Twitter, with whom I ended up chatting (something I rarely do, that too on Twitter). Soon I befriended him, on FB (Facebook). And on his FB timeline, he had mentioned Mahershala Ali, an actor of Muslim faith, who won the Oscar, for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ for Moonlight (2016), at the 89th Academy Awards, held on the 26th of February 2017; and how proud he felt of being a Muslim, himself, for the very first time. I simply asked him whether he’d seen Moonlight, and that I’d love to. He told me he had watched it twice; and said he’d send me the link to download the movie. And he did.

Now, back to 10 years ago; Year 2007!! I was dead against piracy, and downloading movies on the web, et al. I remember how my Australian friends & flatmates, use to react; feeling embarrassed at doing such things themselves. But I have been living in Sri Lanka, for 7½ years now, and not being able to watch any good movies (as they practically are never shown in Cinema’s here); I’ve had to rent or buy films occasionally, that happen to pirated copies. See my posts on Life of Pi  (2012) and Mud (2012) from October 2013.

But, luck had me travelling to, places like:-
New Delhi, India, between 2010 & 2012 (where you don’t see pirated copies in street shops, unlike Sri Lanka, and have to (literally) go to an underground market, if you want cheap pirated copies); where I not only got to buy good original DVD’s (even though they were with Indian copyrights, thus they have to be approved by the Indian Censor board, and certain films, have a universal rating, with sex and nudity edited out; and though am against censorship, I prefer to buy original DVD’s, than badly pirated ones, found in good shops, in Colombo and it’s suburbs, in Sri Lanka), but also got to see some great films on the Big Screen, on the superb Cineplex’s of New Delhi (see my list on IMDB titled Oscar Winners … and then some 2012, from March 2012).
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Adelaide & Sydney (once again), Australia, in November 2014; where too, I watched a couple of the superb films, on the big screen, plus bought many a DVD’s (see my Blogpost Holidaying in Australia, comes to an end from November 2014).

Meanwhile, back in Sri Lanka, I’ve tried to download films, from certain sites; either I get an error message, or it’s not available in this country, or something or the other. So, only way, I’d watch films online, is if they were available on Youtube; and late last year, streamed a few on iflix. But, as I mentioned above, that this nice new (virtual) friendly acquaintance of mine, sent me a link. And on the night of 28th February 2017; I started to download, Moonlight. By the time, I finished downloading the film, it was next morning, i.e. 1st March 2017. Thus Moonlight, was my very first successful download. And within the next few days, I downloaded four more s; in conjunction, with the month of (or rather the last week of), Sydney’s version, of the Mardi-Gras festivities.
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5 Queer Movie, within the first 5 Days, of March 2017

So here are my mini-critiques on the 5 films, I’ve downloaded so far (downloaded for the very first time). And unlike the pathetic film I saw at the  Mardi Gras Film Festival; except for one here (which too was Averagely good), all the rest of the films were pure excellence of Cinematic magic.
Thus, here is my own little ‘Queer Film Festival’!!!!!!
Beware of some spoilers below!!!!!
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1. MOONLIGHT (2016)

An Art-House Film, that bagged the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar, this year; a rarity, and a win after a fumble at the Academy Awards, that almost felt like Moonlight, had not won.

Moonlight is a touching portrayal of a young, afro-American, gay man, Chiron, brought up in a rough neighbourhood, in Miami, Florida, USA. With a drug addicted, emotionally unstable and abusive, mother; plus being bullied and beaten up in school; Chiron grows up to be a thuggish looking drug dealer, with a heart of gold. The finalé with the admission of virginity, by a very masculine, strong built man, pulls at your heart strings. This is a brilliant, coming of age, drama, about sexuality, true love, and what it’s like to be black in America, especially in a poverty stricken neighbourhood. Directed by Barry Jenkins, who won the ‘Best Director’ Oscar; Moonlight is a powerful piece of though provoking cinema. This is also Jenkins’ directorial, feature film, debut.

Ashton Sanders & Jharrel Jerome in a scene from Moonlight (2016)

The strong built, Trevante Rhodes, brings out such a sensitive performance; through a character, that outwardly generally feels frightening, with his gold chain, and gold teeth; and tough, overtly masculine, act; that touches deep, seeping into your veins, feeling the pain he’s going through. What a beautiful human being the character of Chiron is. The movie is told in three chapters, with three actors, playing one character, Chiron, in three stages of his life. Thus, the film has a main character (Chiron the protagonist of the film), but no lead actor, as such. The trio of actors perfectly essay the role of Chiron. In fact, the whole ensemble cast is terrific.

Mahershala Ali; who won the Oscar, for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ (making him the very first Muslim to win an Oscar, in the acting category); plays a kindly drug dealer, who becomes a mentor, a father figure, for little Chiron. Overall an excellent movie, that deserved the ‘Best Picture’ award, at the 89th Academy Awards, held last month. Moonlight, was the first film with an all-black cast, and the first LGBT film, to win an Oscar, for ‘Best Picture’ ever.

Watched Moonlight, late Wednesday night (1st of March, 2017)!!

My Rating:-
Excellent!!! 10/10!!
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2. CAROL (2015)

A Christmas Carol, a beautiful Christmas romance, and a wonderful, lesbian, love story.

Cate Blanchett is superb as ever, nothing surprising about that fact. Todd Haynes, is an equally great director, again nothing new about that. But, Rooney Mara, WOW!!! What a brilliant performance. I’ve seen excellent films, starring Mara, in small roles, like in The Social Network (2010) and Her (2013); but I hardly noticed her in these movies. So she definitely was the surprise packet in Carol, for which Rooney Mara, tied in, for the ‘Best Actress’ win, at the 68th Annual Cannes Film Festival, in May 2015 (see my posts The 68th Cannes Film Festival finalé and Winners & Disappointments – at Cannes 2015, from May 2015).

Carol, is based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith, titled The Price of Salt. Though am a fan of Highsmith thrillers, I haven’t read this particular novel. This story, is very different to Highsmith books (at least that’s what I gathered from the movie). While most Highsmith literature has to do with crime, interwoven with themes of sexuality; The Price of Salt seems to be, an out and out, love story, of two beautiful women; living in a male oriented, homophobic, world. Sadly, this is the world, a great American writer like, Patricia Highsmith, a lesbian herself, had to survive in, in the 1950’s.

Carol is a beautiful heart warming Christmas romance, set in America, in the foxy 50’s, starring two fantastic foxy actresses. Rooney Mara carries ’s charm and simplicity, with grace; and bold Blanchett, is outstanding as ever. Carol, has the potential of being, a future Hollywood classic. While Moonlight, is a brilliant, low-budget, American indie-film; Carol is the quintessential, modern day, Hollywood romance.

I had the luck of seeing Cate Blanchett, in real life, down under. Heavily pregnant, she came to UNSW, to see a digital television exhibit, at our University; in early 2008. I actually didn’t recognise her at once. For one thing I wasn’t aware she was pregnant. So, when I saw a heavily pregnant lady, come out of the exhibit, in a massive pair shades, with a little boy, and stare right at me; I didn’t really pay much heed to her (I was waiting to go inside, with a couple of friends; waiting for whoever was inside to come out). But I did feel she looked familiar. Then she removed her dark glasses (for our benefit 😀 ), and started speaking to a person in a wheelchair, quite near me. It was her voice I recognised, and it’s only then I looked at her. After she left, I asked the students working the exhibit, and they confirmed it was her!! If I already knew she was pregnant, I would’ve recognised her instantly.

Watched Carol late night, on the 2nd of March, 2017!!

My Rating:-
Excellent!!! 10/10!!
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3. HOLDING THE MAN (2015)

Above: Actors Ryan Corr & Craig Stott; as Timothy Conigrave & John Caleo, respectively; in the film, Holding the Man (2015)
Below: The real-life Timothy Conigrave & John Caleo

What better day to watch an Australian Gay-themed film, than on the night of, Sydney’s Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. Of course being on this side of the Ocean, there is no way I can attend the parade, down under, in all it’s splendour. But instead, I watched an Australian Queer Film, based on a memoir; which was the basis of a stage play, with the same title, by Tommy Murphy (who is also accredited with the screenplay for this movie), that came out in 2006; whilst I was in living in Sydney. The play was a big hit in Sydney; and in 2007, I remember seeing an interview with Tommy Murphy, on a local television channel in Sydney. Unfortunately I never got to see the play.

As I mentioned, Holding the Man, is based on the true story, of Timothy Conigrave’s (stage artiste, writer & activist), 15 year love affair with John Caleo (who died of AIDS); which Conigrave penned down, in a book called, Holding the Man. Conigrave completed this book shortly before dying of an AIDS-related illness, himself, in October 1994, at the age of 34 (a month before his 35th Birthday).

Holding the Man, is a tragic story, chronicling the life of two gay men, in Melbourne, Australia, who fall in love as teenagers, in the 1970’s; and survive all odds, when the land of Oz, was still very homophobic. It’s a pity, Timothy Conigrave and John Caleo, weren’t able to see, how much the world has changed today, and how much more open, Australia is to gay culture today. In fact, Sydney is the next gay capital of the world, after San Francisco, in USA. BUT, no matter how open and free, homosexuality is down under, today; sadly many a Australians do take Gay people for a joke. Homosexuality is no laughing matter. People can still be pretty cruel, and inhumane, even in Australia, towards the LGBTIQ community.

Watched Holding the Man, late night, on the 4th of March, 2017. The movie finished past midnight!! A sad beautiful tale, filmed beautifully by director, Neil Armfield. This is among the rare greatest Australian films, I’ve seen.

My Rating:-
Excellent!!! 10/10!!
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4. REFLECTIONS OF A GOLDEN EYE (1967)

Brando & Taylor, on the sets of Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967)

Based on the novel, Reflections in a Golden Eye, by Carson McCullers; this beautifully made movie, with a uniquely stunning photographic technique, was directed by John Huston, starring Elizabeth Taylor, in the lead, with Marlon Brando, Brian Keith, Julie Harris and Robert Forster. This was Forster’s debut role, where he played a sexual desire, of Brando’s character.

The main plot of the movie, revolves around the wife of a Major, stationed in a US Army post in the American South in the late 1940’s. The said wife is played by Elizabeth Taylor. A young new Private (Forster), has a perverted obsession, who voyeurs around the violet eyed beauty (Taylor), watching her naked body reflect through the golden brown lens of his eye. It’s a beautifully filmed, movie about a peeping Tom; unaware, of the Major (Brando), the husband, of his sexual desire, himself has a repressed homosexual desire for the Private. Seeing the Private’s naked golden body, many a times in the brown woods, only adds to the Major’s already uncomfortable want for a young man, he cannot have.

Despite a great story line, and the beautiful photographic technique, the film isn’t without it’s flaws. The most visible one being, that of Taylor’s character. Though the film is set in the late 40’s, Elizabeth Taylor’s look, just doesn’t feel the post-war period. With the latest hairdo’s and fashionable dress sense, straight out of the 60’s; Taylor is magnificently more modern, than the setting of the movie. Another flaw is, the movie starts to bore in the middle, especially after the death of a mentally unstable character, played by Julie Harris. Added to which, Huston could have focused more on the Major’s repressed sexuality; i.e. the character played by Marlon Brando.

A scene from the film, Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967); featuring Robert Forster, in the original release of the picture, with the golden hue, that did not impress audiences.

Initially the movie was released, with a golden hue enveloping the movie, as a reference to a drawing of a golden peacock, in the movie; a golden peacock in whose eye, the world is a mere reflection. But audiences did not seem to get this symbolic aspect, thus the original copy was withdrawn from cinema’s, and a normal coloured version re-released. I saw the ordinary colour version, but I’d love to check out Huston’s original aesthetic creation; with the warm sepia tint, over the colour film.

None the less, it’s a very admirable effort by John Huston. I watched Reflections in a Golden Eye on Sunday afternoon, 5th March 2017!!!!

My Rating:-
Average Fare!! 6/10!
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5. SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY (1971)

Last but not the least, most probably my favourite of the lot. What a clever, unusual film. The 60’s & 70’s were definitely the period that Hollywood ruled; bringing out bold unique plots.

Starring Peter Finch, Glenda Jackson and Murray Head; and brilliantly directed by John Schlesinger; Sunday Bloody Sunday, is a very mature, open minded, intelligent story. Murray Head plays a bisexual; who has two partners. One, played by Finch, and the other by Jackson. And each is aware of the other’s existence; and have a mature understanding, and acceptance, of the other, though neither of the, young bisexual scientific artist’s, partners have met each other. What’s more interesting, is how decent these people are, and in what a civilised manner, they handle sharing the same partner. They go on living a very normal life, with their lover, who finds time to spend with both, his male lover, as well as his female lover.

This is a very modern outlook, we don’t really see in this century. Of course, there are plenty of films on threesomes, extreme sexual deviations; but most of the time it’s showcased in a sleazy manner. That’s the beauty of this film, despite having a homosexual man and heterosexual woman, sharing one lover, there is nothing sordid about it. It’s so sophisticatedly handled, and is made to feel, so normal, and that too in a movie, that came out in the 70’s decade; it’s a wonderful feat.

One of the most intellectually adult movies, I’ve ever come across. Peter Finch, is spot on, as the elderly gay man, who is not seen suffering because of his sexuality, and who happens to a well to do Jewish doctor. Glenda Jackson plays a divorcee, who suffers from a childhood trauma, during the war. And each of them lives a relatively happy life, sharing one man, without suffocating the lover. And the lover, being bisexual, enjoys openly romancing both. And yet, it’s only the two of them he romances, and he doesn’t hide the fact he’s also seeing the other. So technically he is faithful to both his lovers.

A lot does happen in the movie, but it’s more character based, where these three people live a very civilized life, in a very normal manner, with acceptance and understanding. Isn’t this the kind of normal acceptance, of people who are different, and understanding them, that could make the world a better place. In a way, a very futuristic attitude. It’s a society that doesn’t have to fight for Gay Right’s, or Women’s Lib, et al; why?? ‘cause gay men and women are seen, living a relatively liberal lifestyle, with no judgement. Their friends accept them, friends’ children play with them, they are asked to take care of the kids, they trust each other; isn’t this the kind of normality, that ought to really exist, in today’s world, but sadly does not. Schlesinger, though set the movie in the 70’s itself, has forecasted a very progressive future, which should have made it’s way, by now.

This British film, is a masterpiece of cinematic intellect. A must watch. The Best film, in this list, I watched Sunday Bloody Sunday, late Sunday night (5th March 2017); the movie ended past midnight. Totally worth it!!

My Rating:-
Excellent!!! 10/10!!
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So that’s all folks, the 5 films I watched, within the first 5 days, of this month. Four of which, were pure excellence!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

sidney-poitiers-90th-birthday

To Sidney Poitier Esq.  

Dear Sir,
            First of all, let me wish you a very Happy 90th Birthday. And a big congratulations for being in the acting profession, on both the stage and the screen, for over 70 years.
           Thank you sir, for making it in Hollywood, at a time, when non-Caucasian celebrities, were a rarity. Most of Hollywood was initially made up of, the British, various European countries, Canada, and a few Americans (though those Americans who found fame, were limited to the stars of the fairer skin). Yet, considering the fact, that many a notable Hollywood personalities, were mostly British (and from other Western European countries); it’s obvious that Hollywood is actually, made up of immigrants. Yet, a very big thank you, to you, Sir Poitier, for not only being a leading actor, from the 1960’s (a decade when the world began to change, for the better) onwards; but also, for being the first black male actor, to win an Oscar.
           Legendary, Hattie McDaniel, beat you to it, by winning in the, Best Supporting Actress, category, at the 12th Academy Awards, in 1940; for her brilliant role, as ‘Mammy’, in Gone with the Wind (1939). Thus, making her, the very first African American to win an Oscar. So in a way, she paved the way for you. But it’s only when you won, for Lilies of the Field (1963), at the 36th Academy Awards, in 1964; that darker skinned stars truly started getting a recognition. Of course, in the 70’s, there were a lot of Blaxploitation (a.k.a. Blacksploitation) films. A pity, Afro-Americans, were being reduced to cliché’s. BUT, luckily you were not part of the Blaxploitation cinema, of the 1970’s (not to my knowledge, anyway). So, thank you, for not falling into that trap, and keeping a dignified edge, for Black stars, yet to shine. Plus, thank you, for opening up an avenue for non-white acting talent, in general, in Hollywood. Today, a British born actor, with Indian roots, is nominated for an Oscar; i.e. Dev Patel, who has been nominated in the Best Supporting Actor, category, for his role, of an Indian brought-up abroad, in Lion (2016). So, you started it, by being the first non-white actor to make it in Hollywood (which was already full of white immigrants); and today there are quite a few immigrants, from Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and South America (of various skin tones), making it, in the most celebrated film industry, in the world.

Classic Bromance: Sidney Poitier & Tony Curtis in The Defiant Ones (1958)

Classic Bromance: Sidney Poitier & Tony Curtis in The Defiant Ones (1958)

          Growing up I had heard about you, but had watched very few films, of yours; like Sneakers (1992), and your directorial ventures, like, Stir Crazy (1980) and Hanky Panky (1982), for instance; but it was in my late teens/early adulthood, when I saw, Stanley Kramer’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), that you became one of my favourite stars. What a brilliant movie!! It’s my second favourite film, of yours. My first, is no doubt, the British film, To Sir, with Love (1967), directed by James Clavell. I had heard of , To Sir, with Love, since I was a kid (in the late 80’s). BUT, it was only, finally in 2005, that I got watch it. I actually saw it on the Big Screen, when it was shown at Russian Centre, here. But it’s rarely I get to see good cinema here, especially on the Big Screen. I’ve actually, only seen three classics, at the Russian Centre. First was, Gone with the Wind, in 2002. Then, To Sir, with Love, in 05’. And finally, Tess (1979), in 2012. So it’s that rare (see my Blog post on Tess from October 2012). Of course, the Ethnic Centre, in Colombo, is, comparatively better. It’s still been a while, since they last showed anything worthwhile; but this week, they are showing two of your movies; the above mentioned, Lilies of the Field, and The Defiant Ones (1958). Both are on my Watchlist. And am really keen on going and watching these two films, this week. I heard, you play a modern day saint, in Lilies of the Field. A really kind human being. Humanity, is the best religion to preach. Kindness and open-mindedness, is sadly something still missing in today’s world of greed and materialism. In, The Defiant Ones, I heard, that your co-star, Tony Curtis requested, that your name appeared alongside his, above the movie title. This was a progressive first for you, and all other (non-white) skinned actors. How kind, it was, of Tony Curtis, to request something, so unheard of, at the time. He didn’t see your skin colour, but the fact, that you were a talented actor, and a lead character, in the movie, and not a supporting one. Blackboard Jungle (1955), A Patch of Blue (1965) and In the Heat of the Night (1967), are three other movies, in my Watchlist, that am really keen on checking out.

Sidney Poitier receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, in 2009

Sidney Poitier receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, in 2009

             Besides being a talented actor, you’ve also been a great diplomat. In real life, you’ve played the role of an ambassador for the Bahamas, to Japan; for a decade, between 1997 and 2007. Concurrently you were also the Bahamas ambassador to UNESCO. This most probably was the greatest, and the most significant, role, in life, you had to play.
On top of all the film awards, you’ve received, I must congratulate you, on receiving the great honours, of the KBE (Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1974; and more specifically, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by the previous American President, Barack Obama. Again, thanks to you, paying the way for African Americans, in the United States; Barack Obama, was the very first African American president, that USA, finally had. Him winning the election, in the end of 2008, and becoming the President in January 2009; and during his tenure, the Supreme courts ruling, of same-sex marriage to be a fundamental right, in June 2015; America showed progression. Being an avid supporter of Equal Rights, you shall agree, how progressive and open minded the country was getting. BUT, a pity, with Trump’s triumph, at the elections, held in November 2016, the country seems to have taken a step backwards. None the less, there is still hope for improvement; and the 2017 Women’s March, held last month (in January 2017), not just in your part of the world; but around the globe, is enough proof!! You too were part of an equality march, back in 1963; the March on Washington, headed by Martin Luther King Jr.
              The last time you worked, on screen, was sixteen years ago. I hope, something that interests you comes up, and you wind up doing another impressive role, even today. Or a great directorial opportunity comes your way. I don’t feel, you’ve retired from the film industry, yet.
              And lastly, Thank You, once again, for your great contribution, to the world of Cinema.
                                                                     Wishing you the best of health and happiness
                                                                                                                             With Regards
                                                                                                                                    Nuwan Sen

This Blog Post, in the form of a letter, is my contribution to the, 90 Years of Sidney Poitier Blogathon, hosted by , of The Wonderful World of Cinema.

sidney-poitier-blogathon

Thank you Virginie; for letting me take part, in this wonderful Blogathon.
Please also do check out my Blog posts, To Sidney, with Love and South Africa, The Apartheid, Missing Diamonds and The Wilby Conspiracy, from 20th February 2013 & 23rd December 2014, respectively.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
#‎NuwanSensFilmSense

Go Gay: A Pride Month Special
Celebrate Pride (One Year)

One year ago, today, on the 26th of June, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States of America, legalised same-sex marriage, nationwide!!! This was not just a big win for America, but the world. Even though, Canada, was the first country, outside Europe, to legalise same-sex marriage; and besides Europe, being more tolerant, and open-minded, than anywhere in the world (Netherland was, not just the first European country, but the first country, in the world, to legally recognise, same-sex union); this win in the United States, marked a historic moment, for the entire world. One small step for America, a giant leap for the future of the world (with apologies to Neil Armstrong). Today, Asia, is the only continent, where, not a single country, allows, same-sex unions (although Israel accepts same-sex marriages performed overseas, and in India & Nepal, it’s not explicitly prohibited). In most countries, in Asia and Africa, homosexuality, is a still a criminal offence (including here, in Sri Lanka).

So, to celebrate the very 1st anniversary, of the American Supreme Court’s ruling, of the Obergefell v. Hodges trial; in favour of gay-marriage; I’ve decided to do a blog-post, on the top most (my personal favourite) gay-teamed, Feature Films of The Big Screen! Only movies, where, either the central theme, revolves around a homosexual character, or the main plot, of the movie, deals with sexuality itself, are included here. So here they are, the crème de la crème:-

COOL CLASSICS – That Dared!!!

Rope (1948)
An Alfred Hitchcock classic!! Hitchcock’s very first film made in colour; is loosely based on the notorious ‘Leopold & Loeb’ case of 1924. This is oldest movie I’ve seen, that dared to showcase, a homosexual couple. Even though in negative sense. Not that their sexuality is portrayed negatively, but the fact that the gay couple, also happen to be a couple of murders, is what makes them being a gay couple, more acceptable, during that time period. This was during a height of the dreaded Hays Code. Yet, thanks to the sophistication of Hitchcock’s direction, the movie doesn’t directly state the couple of guys, living together, are a gay couple; but it’s obvious to critical eye, what Hitchcock is implying. Besides, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, were a gay couple, on whom, the two “roommates” of the movie, are based on.

None the less, Rope, is an excellent, suspenseful, thriller, that doesn’t discuss their sexuality, but rather the murder, the couple commits. The two men in question, strangle their former classmate, just to prove their superiority of intellect, by murdering an inferior human being. To the two, psychologically disturbed lovers, this ‘Perfect Murder’, is a true work of art, of geniuses.

Starring James Stewart, Farley Granger, John Dall and Joan Chandler; this is a must see, especially, for any fan of Hitchcock’s. Rope is specifically notable for taking place in real time, plus the brilliant editing, that makes it appear as if the whole movie was shot in a single continuous shot. This was achieved by the use of really long takes. No close ‘cuts’!!! Excellent piece of Hitchcockian drama.

Am glad, my all time favourite director, dared to bring out something, that was still a taboo, without any trepidation. Yet, do it in such a way, as to get away from the censors. Hitchcock was no doubt, a clever genius!!!!!

TOP: Farley Granger, Dick Hogan and John Dall; in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (1948) BELLOW: Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn; in William Wyler’s The Children’s Hour (1961)

TOP: Farley Granger, Dick Hogan and John Dall; in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (1948)
BELOW: Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn; in William Wyler’s The Children’s Hour (1961)

The Children’s Hour (1961)
A very bold movie to come out in the early 60’s. The issue of lesbianism, dealt so sophisticatedly, at a time, before the hippies and the sexual revolution, were yet to take place, changing the mind set of society for the better. And the best part is, my all time favourite star of class, plays the lead in it. Audrey Hepburn, who else.

Directed by William Wyler, and starring Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine, as two school teachers, at a girls hostel run by them; the movie is a about a child that cries wolf; and who accuses the two teachers of being a lesbian couple. This is a shocking story, of how one child’s, nasty lie, ruins, the lives of the teachers, who are ultimately left with nothing. What’s more surprising, is towards the end, when it is revealed that one of the teachers, is actually a lesbian, who’s had to repress her feelings towards the other teacher; afraid of how she’d react. The movie ends in a tragic note. It’s a touching, and a beautifully made movie, that dared to bring out such a tender issue, when the world was still not open enough to accept homosexuality, that too on Hollywood’s celluloid.

Kudos to director, William Wyler, for bringing out such a bold gem like, The Children’s Hour, back in the beginning of the 60’s decade. Wyler directed some marvellously enjoyable fare, back in the day; the likes of, Wuthering Heights (1939), Roman Holiday (1953), Ben-Hur (1959), How to Steal a Million (1966) and Funny Girl (1968); to name some.

Ludwig (1972)
A Luchino Visconti masterpiece, on the life of King Ludwig-II of Bavaria. A brilliant Historical film, about a tragic King, who suffered due to his sexual repression (he was gay), and thus plunged into insanity. The question of his clinical insanity remains unresolved, till date.

Helmut Berger, perfectly, essayed this role, with ease, of the mad King of Bavaria. Romy Schneider, reprised her role of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, which she earlier starred as, in Austria’s, Sissi, trilogy (1955, 1956 & 1957). Also see my post Sissi : 115th Death Anniversary of Empress Elisabeth of Austria from September 2013.

Directed by, Italy’s, Luchino Visconti, Ludwig, has an interesting array of International stars, including, Trevor Howard, Silvana Mangano, Nora Ricci, Helmut Griem, John Moulder-Brown, Sonia Petrovna and Adriana Asti; to name some. A must watch, for any Film/History Buff.

Cabaret (1972)
This is a really good, beautiful n’ camp, musical. Based on segments; especially the segment on ‘Sally Bowles’; of Christopher Isherwood’s, famed Berlin diaries, that he novelised into, Goodbye to Berlin. Love the movie, love the book; enjoyed the book more, of course.

By the 70’s, homosexuality was out in the open; with quite a few campy movies being released. Thus, the trio of leads, Michael York, Liza Minnelli and Helmut Griem, playing gay/bisexual characters, would have been pretty acceptable, by then. The movie is set, in a sleazy night club, in 1930’s Berlin, Germany; as the Nazi Party rises to power around them.

Since many a true movie buffs, most probably have watched Cabaret, and loved it, it’s the novel, Goodbye to Berlin, that I’d highly recommend. It’s really worth a read. In fact, I just read it last year, around this time (June 2015); although, I actually bought it, during my trip down under, back in November 2014.

Victor/Victoria (1982)
From one campy musical, to another; this time, starring the singing and dramatic sensation, Julie Andrews. Andrews plays a woman, who in a guise of a man, performs on stage, as a woman. So basically, she plays a woman, who pretends to be man, in feminine drag. It’s a hilarious musical, again set in the underground gay clubs, this time, of 1930’s Paris, France. James Garner plays the confused millionaire; and owner of multiple clubs in Chicago, USA; who falls in love with her, even though he is straight. Confused, as to why he is in love with her; ’cause he is made to believe this is a gay man, performing dressed as a woman, on stage.

Last of the great musicals, of the last century. Since I have this on tape (old video cassette), I’ve watched it a few times. But still, the last time I saw this movie was, most probably, close to a decade ago. An exceptional musical, directed by Blake Edwards; Julie Andrews’ husband.

Another Country (1984)
This movie is based on a true story, about a Cambridge spy, that defected to the communist east; i.e. Soviet Russia (USSR). With a stellar cast, including, Rupert Everett, Colin Firth and Cary Elwes, this is a brilliant British bio-pic, on a disillusioned member of the ‘Cambridge Five’ spy ring, Guy Burgess.

The BBC mini-series Cambridge Spies (2003), too was based on the actual Cambridge Spies, of the 1930’s. Both, this movie, and the mini-series, are exceptional. A must see for any Modern History Buff!!
Maurice (1987)Maurice (1987)
A movie about repressed homosexuals, set in the Edwardian England. This masterpiece of Heritage cinema, a Merchant/Ivory production, is among the greatest British films ever made. Love this movie, based on E.M. Forster’s controversial novel. This is one rare gay-themed classic, that shows a happy ending, with hope, for a young gay couple, that too, in a very constricted era.

Starring James Wilby, Rupert Graves and Hugh Grant; this, Merchant/Ivory piece of British Brilliance, is a must watch for any film, and literature, buff.

The Last Emperor (1987)
Based on the life of Emperor, Henry Pu Yi; the last of the Emperors of China (the final ruler of the Qing dynasty), and his brief rein, within the walls, of the Forbidden City; this is an extraordinary bio-pic, by director, Bernardo Bertolucci. The film won 9 Oscars, including one for ‘Best Picture’.

Pu Yi’s two depressed wives, are shown to have a sexual affair of their own. So not out an out a lesbian film, yet it’s a classic that dared to show two women’s affection for each other, quite openly. An excellent masterpiece, of movie making.

THE NINETIES & NOUGHTIES – Still risking it!!
By the 1990’s there were quite a few, good, gay-themed, movies coming out of the celluloid closet, and onto the big screen. But the 21st century cinema, has been pretty marvellous, for the amount of, excellent, gay-themed films, that have got recognition around the globe. More than ever before.

My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Based on William Shakespeare play, Henry IV, the movie is about a pair of hustlers, played by River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves. Directed by Gus Van Sant, this movie also happens to be an interesting road movie, taking the young men on a journey of self-discovery; and a brilliant flick, focusing on, male prostitution.

Swoon (1992)
This excellent movie, made in black & White, is based on the actual gay lovers, of the roaring 20’s; Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold Jr., who kidnapped and murdered a child. Another superb flick.

Ironic, that Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (I’ve spoken about, above); which was loosely based on this very same criminal act, executed by these lovers; was made in colour; and this 90’s, more direct approach; was filmed in Black & White. I spoke about this movie, once earlier. See my post ~Famed Female Cinematographer turns 55 today from July 2014.

Fresa y Chocolate (1993)
Known as Strawberry and Chocolate, in English, this Spanish language, Cuban, film; is a very political movie about a gay communist, who falls for a young heterosexual man. A coming-of-age story, told via a close, gay/straight, friendship. Beautiful, touching, and pure excellence.

Fresa y Chocolate, stars Jorge Perugorría, Vladimir Cruz, and the film direction, happens to be a joint collaboration, by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabío.
Priest (1994)Priest (1994)
A superb British film, starring Linus Roache, as a catholic priest torn between his faith and sexuality. The film also stars, Tom Wilkinson and Robert Carlyle. A heart-rendering deeply touching, movie, by the late Antonia Bird.

Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994)
Based on Anne Rice’s acclaimed novel, Tom Cruise, plays a gay vampire, who turns his lustful desire (Brad Pitt), into a vampire as well. It’s an epic hellish tale, of the blood lusting lives of, the two male vampires, who roam for centuries, along with a child, a little vampire (Kirsten Dunst); who practically is like a child the couple adopted. A Vampire Love Story, about a  happy Vampire Family. Move away, Twilight films (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012). Of course the movie doesn’t directly state, that it’s about a gay vampire; but the homoerotism, between the two men, makes it quite obvious, as to why, Cruise’s lonely character saved, the other man, by turning him into a vampire as well. He needed his mate alright!! 😉

Fire (1996)
Two neglected housewives fall into arms of each other. Superb Art House Indian film, by Deepa Mehta; starring Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das, in the lead. This is the first of Mehta’s elemental trilogy. Watched ages ago, but just over a decade ago, I wrote a small critique online, on IMDB.

Check it out (Link:- http://www.imdb.com/user/ur7151691/?ref_=nb_usr_prof_0 Scroll Down)

Wilde (1997)
Tragic bio-pic based on the life of famed poet, playwright & author, Oscar Wilde. Starring Stephen Fry and Jude Law, as the lovers, Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas (a.k.a. Bosie), respectively; this is a touchingly sensitive portrayal of the kind hearted Wilde’s love for a selfish, prick of a, younger man. This British flick has a great star cast, including the legendary Vanessa Redgrave, Michael Sheen, Tom Wilkinson; along with gay cameo’s by Ioan Gruffudd, Orlando Bloom and Adam Garcia.

Mrs. Dalloway (1997)
The whole life of a woman unfolds in one day. Vanessa Redgrave plays the titular character, of Mrs. Dalloway, based on a novel by Virginia Woolf. Mrs. Dalloway is hosting a party, and as she prepares for the party, she reflects on her past. Her sexual repression, in a time when homosexuality was a taboo, is represented, in a way, where, she herself doesn’t consider herself a lesbian; but assumes her feelings towards a woman, is, as that of, a heterosexual male. Her sexuality is fluid. Then again, this was set during the Edwardian era, up to the 1920’s. Beautiful movie. Have had the book, for ages, but am yet to read it.

Directed by Marleen Gorris, this movie also stars, Rupert Graves, Natascha McElhone, Michael Kitchen, John Standing, Lena Headey and Alan Cox.

Bombay Boys (1998)
A hilarious Indian English-language comedy, about a trio young Indians, who’ve been living abroad, coming to India. One of those guys, comes to find himself, and he sure does.

Enjoyable satire, hinting on the underworld ties, towards the Bollywood film industry. Kaizad Gustad directorial debut, is a must watch. The film stars, Rahul Bose, Naveen Andrews, Naseeruddin Shah, Roshan Seth, Tara Deshpande and Alexander Gifford.

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
My favourite movie from the 1990’s. Love the Book! Love the Movie!! Love them both equally.

Based on Patricia Highsmith’s brilliant novel, this was directed by the late Anthony Minghella. This is the movie that made me a fan of Jude Law; shifting from Matt Damon. See my more in-depth critique on The Talented Mr. Ripley, in my list, My favourite J-Law Movies, on IMDB, from five years ago.

Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
Superb flick, for which, Hilary Swank, bagged the ‘Best Actress’ Oscar; in the millennium year; Year 2000!!!!

A girl guises herself as guy, to find herself; with disastrous consequences. Directed by Kimberly Peirce, this beautiful movie, speaks on repressed sexual desires and gender issues. The film also stars, Chloë Sevigny and Peter Sarsgaard.

Before Night Falls (2000)
An American Biographical movie, on Cuban poet and novelist, Reinaldo Arenas. Directed by Julian Schnabel, Javier Bardem, takes the lead, as the famed poet, who was imprisoned for being an openly gay writer. Superb!!

Frida (2002)
Another bio-pic, this time on, artist Frida Kahlo; who openly flaunted her bisexuality. A brilliant, English Language, film on, Mexican painter, and her husband/artiste colleague, Diego Rivera. Frida Kahlo’s art was her autobiography; as she depicted all the key moments in her life, in her artwork. This movie, aesthetically, chronicles it.

Directed by Julie Taymor; Salma Hayek plays Frida Kahlo, so effortlessly, she feels Kahlo, in every way. This no doubt, is the best role, essayed by Salma Hayek. Can’t think of anything Hayek has worked on, that ’s better. Besides she doesn’t need to, for this movie, no doubt, is her biggest triumph.

Left: British Author, Virginia Woolf  Right: Mexican Artist, Frida Kahlo

Left: British Author, Virginia Woolf
Right: Mexican Artist, Frida Kahlo

The Hours (2002)
From an artist, to a writer; The Hours, is a partial Bio-pic, on author Virginia Woolf. The issues concerning lesbianism is three different era’s, this movie, stars Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore. Each character plays a lesbian woman, that exists, in three different periods in time. Yet, they are all connected, through Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway (see the movie from 97’, mentioned above).

Woolf, writes it; another reads it; and another lives the life of it’s heroine. Nicole Kidman took home the Oscar, for ‘Best Actress’, for her brilliant performance, as, acclaimed author, Virginia Woolf. An excellent movie, by Stephen Daldry!!

Possession (2002)
Two literary sleuths unearth the amorous secret of two Victorian poets, one of whom was in a lesbian relationship.

Lesbianism/bisexuality in the Victorian era. Another excellent flick; with Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart, Jeremy Northam and  Jennifer Ehle.

The Dreamers (2003)
Another great, by Bernardo Bertolucci. This time about a trio of young dreamers, living in their own little world, away from the Paris riots of 68’.

A lot of fun and games, and plenty of homoerotism. Though it doesn’t directly show the two guys engage in any sexual interaction, there is more than a hint, that the two have done it; possibly more than once. Check out my write-up, on Bernardo Bertolucci & His Films from March 2014; to read more about Bertolucci films, including the two, I’ve spoken of here. Bertolucci’s, The Last Emperor and The Dreamers!!!!!

Carandiru (2003)
This Brazilian movie, is set in the largest prison, in São Paulo, Brazil. The inmates consist, of a lot of, gay, bisexual, transgender personalities, and a vulnerability, towards infecting themselves, with the AIDS virus.

This superb flick is based on the notorious, Carandiru massacre, of 1992. With deaths of 111 inmates, this massacre, is considered to be a major human rights violation, in the history of Brazil. Directed by Héctor Babenco, the film stars, Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos (as a doctor) and Rodrigo Santoro (as a transsexual inmate).

Bright Young Things (2003)
Based on Evelyn Waugh’s novel Vile Bodies, this movie is set in the late 1920’s, 30’s & 40’s, London. The movie is about fun loving youth, that existed in the roaring 20’s (through to the 1940’s). Michael Sheen, plays a gay man, that has to leave the country, to avoid prosecution, due to his sexuality. A thoroughly enjoyable film.

The book is more of a futuristic look at world, published in 1930. Thus it’s not that realistic; as no great depression, affects the fun loving youth. But I haven’t read the book yet, though I have it in my collection. Thus it’s hard for me to judge. But, knowing about the content helps, as the film isn’t accurate in it’s period, that it’s set in. Feels Roaring 20’s throughout, than more depressive 1930’s. None the less, it’s an excellent movie, and this was the directorial debut, of actor Stephen Fry.

Alberto Ferreiro and Gael García Bernal; in a scene from, Pedro Almodóvar’s, La Mala Educación (2004)

Alberto Ferreiro and Gael García Bernal; in a scene from, Pedro Almodóvar’s, La Mala Educación (2004)

La Mala Educación (2004)
An excellent Art House film, which also happens to be my favourite Spanish movie ever. Pedro Almodóvar is my favourite director from Spain; and he’s brought out some marvellous movies. This is my favourite film of his.

The movie stars, Mexican actor, Gael García Bernal, in the lead, who does a superb performance of a transvestite, on reel; although we later discover, he isn’t really one, just pretends to be one. García Bernal is another brilliant actor, and no doubt, my favourite Mexican star. He’s had some uniquely great roles, from the noughties, onwards. La Mala Educación, is a must see.

Kinsey (2004)
Kinsey, is based on the life of famed sexologist, Alfred Charles Kinsey. He founded the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University, today known as the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. He’s most famous for his publications, on his study of, human sexual behaviour.

As Kinsey (played by Liam Neeson) prefers to experience, everything first hand, he does so, with homosexuality, as well (along with Peter Sarsgaard’s character). This is another, excellently educational, biographical film.

A Home at the End of the World (2004)
This brilliant modern epic, chronicles the lives of two best friends, one of whom is gay, the other gay-ish, from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. A beautiful tale, starring Colin Farrell, Robin Wright and Dallas Roberts.

De-Lovely (2004)
A beautiful musical bio-pic, on composer Cole Porter. Chronicles his, hidden sexual, life and career. It’s De-Lovely!!! The movie stars, Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd; with notable cameo’s by, Sheryl Crow, Robbie Williams, Alanis Morissette and John Barrowman; in various musical appearances. A very enjoyable, dramatic, and a tear-jerker of a, musical.

Was Nützt die Liebe in Gedanken (2004)
Also known as, Love in Thoughts (in English), this is an intriguing German movie, starring Daniel Brühl and August Diehl. The movie is about a shy virgin poet, and his openly gay, aristocrat, friend. The movie showcases an all-night party, and deals with a suicide pact. A superb German film.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Most probably, the most popular gay-themed epic ever. This is one of the greatest epic tales, to come out of Hollywood; along the lines of, Gone with the Wind (1939), War and Peace (1956), Doctor Zhivago (1965), The Godfather trilogy (1972, 1974 & 1990), and in this century, Cold Mountain (2003); to name some.

Ang Lee’s magnum opus, is about a secret love affair, between two cowboys, who fall for each other, whilst working together, as young men, back in the 1960’s. They get married, to women, have kids, time flies, but their love for each other never dies. A tragically beautiful epic-Love Story!! It’s a pity, the movie was deprived of the ‘Best Picture’ trophy, at the Academy Awards, the following year. However, the film starring, Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams; did bag a trio of Oscars. ’Twas, Ang Lee’s, very first Oscar win; out of the two, he’s won so far; for ‘Best Achievement in Directing’.

Breakfast on Pluto (2005)
No doubt the best role, that Cillian Murphy, has ever done. He plays a transvestite, from Northern Ireland, back in the 1970’s. The film chronicles his/her life, through the political struggles, of Northern Ireland, to her life in London, as a prostitute; all in the pursuit of finding her biological mother. It’s a sad touching story, of a person not accepted in her own town, for being different, and her quest to find maternal love.

Based on the novel, Breakfast on Pluto, by Patrick McCabe; this is a brilliantly heart-rendering movie. A must see, British/Irish, flick, directed by Neil Jordan. Year 2005, was a great year for LGBT movies, made in the English language; especially in the commercial sphere.

Also see my list Kill Ian Murphy from November 2011 (Nuwan Sen), on IMDB.

Capote (2005)
This Bio-pic, is based on Truman Capote’s research for, his acclaimed novel, In Cold Blood. The basis for this particular novel, was inspired by an actual murder, of a Kansas family. The four members of the Herbert Clutter family, were brutally killed, by two young men; Richard (Dick) Hickock and Perry Smith. The two men were falsely informed, that the house contained a safe with $10,000. However, there no such safe, and the duo murdered the entire family. During his research, Truman Capote extensively interviewed Perry Smith, in prison. Basically, Capote, psychoanalysed, and got to understand the inner workings of the criminal mind. The movie, of , In Cold Blood (1967), is a brilliant cinematic venture, based on the novel. The movie, Capote, is based on Capote’s research, on the 1959 murder.

Year 2005, was definitely a year, when actors did daringly challenging roles; and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, won an Oscar, for his portrayal of the late Truman Capote, one of my favourite American authors. Also want to add, that Catherine Keener was superb as, author, Harper Lee.

Kevin Zegers and Felicity Huffman; in Duncan Tucker’s Transamerica (2005)

Kevin Zegers and Felicity Huffman; in Duncan Tucker’s Transamerica (2005)

Transamerica (2005)
From a epic journey of a transvestite, in the United Kingdom, in Breakfast on Pluto, to a journey on the road, with a transsexual, in the United States, in Transamerica (2005); year 2005, sure was a brilliant cinematic journey for the other sexes (as I stated earlier).

Here, actress, Felicity Huffman, plays the transsexual, who’s had (is going through) a sex change, from a man to a woman; when he/she finds out, that, she has a son (Kevin Zegers), from a one night stand, Huffman’s character had with a woman, when she was a young man. Soon the female father, and son, take a road trip. Superb road flick, by Duncan Tucker. Felicity Huffman, should have won the ‘Best Actress’ trophy, at the Academy Awards, in 2006.

Heights (2005)
Heights is a movie, set in New York, with various storylines, crisscrossing, each other. In one, James Marsden, plays a closeted homosexual, married to a woman (played by Elizabeth Banks).

Another beautiful movie, in the style of, I Heart Huckabees (2004), Crash (2004), Babel (2006), Little Children (2006) et al, which culminate into a brilliant climax. Heights, also stars Glenn Close, Isabella Rossellini and Jesse Bradford. This is the only feature length film, directed by, screenwriter, Chris Terrio. Thus he’s a ‘one film’ wonder, for now.

Infamous (2006)
While Philip Seymour Hoffman, did a brilliant job, playing Truman Capote; Toby Jones in Infamous, felt Truman Capote, in every way possible. From the short height, the rounded face, the small make of a genius, that Capote was; Toby Jones managed to get himself into character with perfection.

It’s rare, I would enjoy two movies, that were made on the same tale, but both, Capote and Infamous, are equally superb. Both based on Capote’s research for In Cold Blood. Watch out for Sandra Bullock’s excellent performance as Harper Lee. Yes, this movie, is the exact same story, with the same lead characters, as Capote.

The History Boys (2006)
The History Boys, as the title suggests, is full of Boys!! Set in a Grammar School, in 1980’s Britain; the movie is about a group of unruly teenage boys. Mainly their relationship towards a young, highly intellectual, professor. A very enjoyable movie, with an old gay lecturer, who enjoys giving the boys a lift on his bike; and the assessment of the possibility of the younger lecturer being gay himself; especially through the seduction of this said young lecturer, by one of the teenage schoolboys.

A superb comedy/drama, based on a play by Alan Bennett, and directed by Nicholas Hytner. The movie stars, Stephen Campbell Moore, Dominic Cooper, Richard Griffiths, Penelope Wilton, Georgia Taylor, and a cast full of charming young men.
Life in a Metro (2007)
Life in a Metro and Barfi! (2012), are definitely, two great Bollywood flicks, by Anurag Basu. He ought to do more movies like that. Like, the earlier mentioned, Heights, this is also a potpourri, about various people living in a metropolis. In this case, in Mumbai. Among the people, there also happens to be a closeted gay couple, who use a female colleague (who’s clueless of their sexuality), when one’s family, visits Mumbai. Hilarious at times, at times heart provoking, this is among the Best of Bollywood.

This movie has a stellar cast, including, Dharmendra, Nafisa Ali, Shilpa Shetty, Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Kay Kay Menon, Sharman Joshi, Shiney Ahuja and Ashwin Mushran, to mention some.

Les chansons d’amour (2007), a.k.a. Love Songs (in English)
An enjoyable musical, about a threesome (a guy and two girls). The trio of lovers, enjoy their youthful, carefree, life in Paris, until the death of one of the girls. This forms a rip in the relationship of the two left behind, and movie concentrates on how the death of a loved one, affects the other two.

But soon the focus shifts, as a young gay man, forms an infatuation, towards the guy (of threesome). Before soon, the two men are singing and rolling around in bed.

This is a beautifully made, romantic movie, without making the subject matter, sleazy in anyway. As if a threesome is the norm, and the world has accepted homosexuality whole heartedly. What a lovely movie, handled so sophisticatedly, by director, Christophe Honoré. Starring Louis Garrel, Clotilde Hesme, Ludivine Sagnier and Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet; this is a lovely, modern day, French, musical, to come out in recent times.
Milk (2008)Milk (2008)
A beautiful and tragic, bio-pic, on the life of California’s first openly gay elected official, and iconic American gay-activist, Harvey Milk. Set in the 1970’s, and another excellent political flick, directed by Gus Van Sant, this is among the greatest biographical films ever made. Sean Penn won an Oscar, for his touching performance, as Harvey Milk; Dustin Lance Black took home the Oscar for the ‘Best Original Screenplay’. The movie has roped in a brilliant star cast, of straight actors, playing gay roles; including James Franco, Emile Hirsch, Diego Luna and Alison Pill.

Doubt (2008)
Starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis, this is another brilliant film, about the doubt in the mind of a nun, whether she accused, a gay priest, of paedophilia, by mistake.

A very sensitive subject matter, this movie is set in a Catholic School, in the early 1960’s. This, must watch, movie, is directed by John Patrick Shanley, based on his own play. Pure Excellence, lead by Streep!!!!!

A Single Man (2009)
Love the Book, by Christopher Isherwood!! Love the Movie!! Love them both equally!!

Set in sizzling 60’s, the story is about, one day, in the life, of a gay English Professor, living in Los Angeles, California, in USA. One year, after the death of his lover, he sets out to kill himself, at the end of the day; but the events of the day, change his mind. Of course, in the book, he doesn’t try to kill himself, but the end result is the same.

This is a very stylishly made film, by Fashion Designer, Tom Ford (which also happens to be his very first directorial venture); starring Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode and Nicholas Hoult.

J’ai tué ma Mère (2009), a.k.a. I Killed My Mother (in English)
Unlike all the other films, I’ve spoken of here; majority of which I watched eons ago, within the previous two decades; I watched J’ai tué ma Mère, quite recently, in this decade. In fact, I saw this fabulous flick, just last month, this year!!

See my Blog-Post, Mai May Movies 2016 from May 2016!!!!!

David’s Birthday (2009)
Although, I watched this movie, some years ago, I did work on it, for a Blogathon I took part in, last year, this month.

See my Blog-Post, Beach Party Blogathon: Italian Film ‘Il Compleanno’, in English – ‘David’s Birthday’ (2009) from June 2015.
Natalie Portman in Black Swan (2010)Black Swan (2010)
In the last year, of the first 10 years, into the 21st century, Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan was released; for which Natalie Portman bagged the ‘Best Actress’ Oscar, the following year.

This is a brilliant movie, about a split personality, of a dancer, as she performs two roles, that of the white swan, and the black swan. The darkness of the black swan’s soul, starts take over her life. The movie also explores her sexuality, through an explicitly psychodynamic lesbian sex sequence. Nathalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, along with French actor, Vincent Cassel; are superb in their respective roles.

THE LAST FIVE YEARS – The Future is Here!

Laurence Anyways (2012)
Another brilliant Canadian movie, by young Xavier Dolan; I mentioned his first movie above, J’ai tué ma Mère. This time, a movie dealing with the issue of a transgender personality. A man who slowly transforms into a woman, ’cause he feels like a woman. But he isn’t a gay man. So basically he turns himself from a straight man, to a lesbian woman. The movie is an epic, that deals with the slow transformation, over the years, and stresses on how it affects his near and dear ones. Especially his beloved wife.

Laurence Anyways, stars, Melvil Poupaud, Suzanne Clément and Nathalie Baye. Along with this, director Xavier Dolan films, are among the best Canadian films, I’ve come across. The American television movie, Normal (2003), has pretty much the same premise.

La vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 et 2 (2013)
Known as, Blue is the Warmest Colour, in English; this is an exceptional lesbian themed film, about two young French girls, by, Tunisian-French, director Abdellatif Kechiche.

The French movie is about, the sexual awakenings, of a young girl, through a girl she met by chance. A girl with short-cropped blue hair. The two fall deep in love, and experiment an erotic romance. Beautifully made, this sensual film stars, Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Salim Kechiouche and Jérémie Laheurte. One of the best, lesbian-themed, films, ever made. Pure Indulgence!

The Imitation Game (2014)
Another great bio-pic; this time on famed Cryptanalyst/Mathematician & Theoretical Biologist, Alan Turning. The man behind the famed ‘Turing Test’. The movie is set during World War II, when he decrypted, German intelligence codes, for the British government. At the age of 39, Alan Turning, was convicted, under indecency laws, for Homosexual acts, in 1952.

Directed by, Norway’s, Morten Tyldum, and having roped in a superb cast; including, Benedict Cumberbatch (as Turing), Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, Mark Strong, Allen Leech and Matthew Beard; this a superb, English-Language, bio-pic, to come out in recent times.

Eisenstein in Guanajuato (2015)
Yet another bio-pic!! This is about one of silent cinema’s greatest film director’s, i.e. Russian born, Sergei Eisenstein. The man responsible, for bringing out, Bronenosets Patyomkin (1925), a.k.a. Battleship Potemkin (in English). Battleship Potemkin, is a propaganda film, based on the mutiny that occurred in June 1905, when the crew of the Russian battleship, Potemkin, rebelled against their officers. This Soviet Russian film, Battleship Potemkin, is today, amongst the greatest films ever made; and one of my personal favourites, of the silent era. It’s a brilliant cinematic artwork, in the field of visual aesthetics.

Eisenstein in Guanajuato, deals with Eisenstein’s trip to Guanajuato, in Mexico, and his gay sexual odyssey, in the 1930’s, after he achieved fame for Battleship Potemkin. Definitely a great Peter Greenway flick; and now Greenway is working on a sequel to Eisenstein in Guanajuato. Finnish actor, Elmer Bäck, essays the role of the famed Sergei Eisenstein, with ease. He does a brilliant job, and viewers are transfixed onto the screen, thanks to him, the superbly satirical dialogues, and the breathtaking cinematography. A must watch!!

10 Star Rating, for each of the above!! All the films I’ve spoken about are nothing less the EXCELLENT!!!

OTHER FILMS

Above: Whoopi Goldberg and Margaret Avery; in  Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple (1985)  Below: Queen Latifah and Tika Sumpter; in Dee Rees’s Bessie (2015)

Above: Whoopi Goldberg and Margaret Avery; in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple (1985)
Below: Queen Latifah and Tika Sumpter; in Dee Rees’s Bessie (2015)

There are many excellent films with gay characters or (sometimes subtle) gay themes; like in; Rebecca (1940), Les Enfants Terribles (1950), Strangers on a Train (1951), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), Ben-Hur (1959), Some Like it Hot (1959), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), In Cold Blood (1967), The Damned (1969), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Midnight Express (1978), The Color Purple (1985), Proof (1991), As Good as it Gets (1997), My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997), American History X (1998), Billy Elliot (2000), La Face Cachée de la Lune (2003), Little Miss Sunshine (2006) and Meet Bill (2007) (to name some); that I haven’t included here. Mainly because their main plot doesn’t revolve around homosexuality, or a homosexual character; but they do have gay characters, with quite prevalent, supporting roles; or sometimes even a very significant gay sub-plot, sometimes indirectly. But it’s not the main plot, nor does it have anything to do with the lead characters, thus have omitted some of these greats. Then there are gay-themes in television films like Family Album (1994), Common Ground (2000), No Night Is Too Long (2002), Normal (2003), Prayer for Bobby (2009), Christopher and His Kind (2011), The Normal Heart (2014), et al; that I haven’t spoken of here, as, for this post, I’ve concentrated on Cinematic ventures, only. Nor have I spoken of any short-films, as well; like the brilliant, Fishbelly White (1998) and Blessure (2009); or like the pretty good, Week-end à la Campagne (2007) and Homophobia (2012). Then again, haven’t seen that many Gay-shorts. Not to mention, there are some superb television series (sit-coms, mini-series, long serials et al), such as, Oz (1997-2003), Will & Grace (1998-2006), Cambridge Spies (2003), Angels in America (2003), American Horror Story (2011 onwards), The New Normal (2012-2013), Empire (2015 onwards), Bessie (2015), etc etc….; that openly explore Gay issues, and/or have gay lead characters.

Above: Mark Rendall and  Logan Lerman; in Richard Loncraine’s My One And Only (2009) Below: Kristen Stewart and  Juliette Binoche; in Olivier Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)

Above: Mark Rendall and Logan Lerman; in Richard Loncraine’s My One And Only (2009)
Below: Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche; in Olivier Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)

I also want to make a Special Mention, on some other near excellent to really good, gay-themed movies (of the Big Screen); From the Near-Excellent (with a 9 Star Rating), to the Very-Good (with an 8 Star Rating). These movies are really worth watching. The likes of; Voulez-vous Danser avec Moi (1959), Teorema (1968), Midnight Cowboy (1969), Deliverance (1972), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Caligula (1979), American Gigolo (1980), La Ley del Deseo (1987), Less Than Zero (1987), Philadelphia (1993), The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994), The Basketball Diaries (1995), Love and Death on Long Island (1997), Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997), No se lo Digas a Nadie (1998), Gouttes d’eau sur Pierres Brûlantes (2000), Presque Rien (2000), The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy (2000), Y tu Mamá También (2001), Das Experiment (2001), Yossi & Jagger (2002), Food of Love (2002), Le Temps qui Reste (2005), Crustacés & Coquillages (2005), Douches Froides (2005), Where the Truth Lies (2005), Kinky Boots (2005), Death at a Funeral (2007), Evening (2007), Little Ashes (2008), Latter Days (2008), Taking Woodstock (2009), Everybody’s Fine (2009), My One and Only (2009), Kill Your Darlings (2013), The Kids Are All Right (2010), Bombay Talkies (2013) and Clouds of Sils Maria (2014); to name some.

TOP: Edouard Collin and Théo Frilet; in  Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau’s Nés en 68 (2008) BOTTOM: Fawad Khan and Sidharth Malhotra; in Shakun Batra’s Kapoor & Sons (2016)

TOP: Edouard Collin and Théo Frilet; in Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau’s Nés en 68 (2008)
BOTTOM: Fawad Khan and Sidharth Malhotra; in Shakun Batra’s Kapoor & Sons (2016)

There are other many great movies, I’ve heard of, like, Tea and Sympathy (1956), Victim (1961), The Servant (1963), Les Amitiés Particulières (1964), Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967), Les Biches (1968), The Boys in the Band (1970), Entertaining Mr. Sloane (1970), Fortune and Men’s Eyes (1971), Morte a Venezia (1971) Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), Ai no korîda (1976), Die Consequent (1977), Una Giornata Particolare (1977), Un hombre llamado Flor de Otoño (1978), Querelle (1982), Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985), My Beautiful Laundrette (1985), The Crying Game (1992), Voor een Verloren Soldaat (1992), Xi Yan (1993), Fucking Åmål (1998), Gods and Monsters (1998), Better Than Chocolate (1999), Monster (2003), Grande École (2004), The 24th Day (2004), C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005), Huhwihaji Anha (2006), Nés en 68 (2008), Plein Sud (2009), Einayim Petukhoth (2009), Les Amours Imaginaires (2010), Habitación en Roma (2010), An Fei ta Ming (2010), 80 Egunean (2010), Howl (2010), Ludwig II (2012), The Broken Tower (2011), Sal (2011), On the Road (2012), Tom à la Ferme (2013), Margarita with a Straw (2014), Yves Saint Laurent (2014), Saint Laurent (2014), Aligarh (2015), Carol (2015), The Danish Girl (2015), Holding the Man (2015), Kapoor & Sons (2016), et al; yet I haven’t watched any of them; but have read some very positive reviews, along with good ratings, for them. These are some gay-themed films, am really keen on checking out.

So here’s to a more open-minded society; the future of equality, understanding human associations, personalities and reason. Giving everyone a fair chance, as they deserve. Here’s to a Brighter Future!!!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
#‎NuwanSensFilmSense
Films 2005

Another month of MAI MAY MOVIES, comes to an end!!
May Mai Movies for 2016Yet again, there are some beautiful movies, I watched, within this one year, that I never got to write about. Especially, the latter lot of DVD’s; that I bought Down Under, in November 2014 (majority of the films, I bought in Adelaide & Sydney; I had managed to watch back in November/December 2014 itself, and write about them, and a few last year, 2015, but here are some films I couldn’t so far); including, Lorenzo’s Oil (1992) – watched on 7th December 2015 (which coincided with the one year anniversary, of my adoption of ), In Cold Blood (1967) – watched on 16th February 2016, A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) – watched on 11th March 2016 (’twas a, 2Disc, Director’s Cut DVD; a collectors item, with a lot of special features, and documentaries), and On the Waterfront (1954) – watched on 21st March 2016 (now I just had one more film I bought in left, which I finally watched toady afternoon; see the last film on this list). There were also the trio of superb Hindi Films (DVD’s), I got down from New Delhi, India, in February 2015 (thru my old man, who flew to New Delhi, last February, on an official visit, to the Indian capital). The three films were, Haider (2014) – watched on 10th March 2015, The Lunchbox (2013) – watched on 3rd December 2015 (managed to watch, at least 2/3, last year itself), and Mary Kom (2014) on 12th January 2016! And, not to forget, the three Big Screen gems, I saw this year, at the local Cinema; the near excellent, historical epic, Bajirao Mastani (2015) – in January 2016; Leo’s Oscar winning performance (prior to the Oscars), in The Revenant (2015) – in February 2016; and, the true life story of a brave young girl, who sacrificed her life to save the lives of hundreds of passengers on board Pan Am Flight 73, which terrorists had hijacked, in 1986, in Neerja (2016) – in March 2016!!!!! Plus so many other movies; at festivals, special screenings, cable TV/channels et al.

So here is the run down, on all the films I watched, this month (May 2016) :-  

The Hero: Love Story of a Spy (2003) – An out and out Bollywood commercial film. This movie, was actually somewhat a waste of my time, but wasn’t all that bad. Quite OK actually, with an interesting enough premise. Both, Sunny Deol and Preity Zinta, were pretty good in their respective roles. BUT, the one to watch out for, was the former beauty queen, Miss World 2000, Priyanka Chopra (who’s now made her way into the United States, playing the lead in the ABC television series Quantico (2015 onwards)), in her Bollywood debut. Not only does she mesmerise you with her, cool n’ classy, disposition, but also her performance. This was the first movie, I watched this month.

Watched The Hero: Love Story of a Spy, rented on our cable television.

My Rating: Average Fare – 5/10!!!
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Black Sea (2014) – Leading with Jude Law, the film comprises of an all male star-cast, compressed into an old dilapidated submarine. This British, adventurous thriller, film, is about a gold hunt, in the depths of the Black Sea, off the coast of Georgia (the Eurasian country). It’s a good insight into human tolerance, especially when people from two different backgrounds have to work together, to achieve the same goal. This movie is really worth watching, though not among the greatest adventure films, ever made.

Watched Black Sea on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: Very Good – 8/10!!!!
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Harry, un Ami qui vous Veut du Bien (2000) – Watched this movie for a 2nd Time! I first saw this, some years ago. A movie about a man’s obsession with a married man, which proves disastrous, to the married man’s family. Very Hitchcockian, with it’s very claustrophobic atmosphere, set in a lonely house in the countryside. It’s so beautiful, and really good. My original rating stands. Though not necessarily an excellent piece of cinema, it’s really good, and was worth watching a second time.

Watched Harry, un Ami qui vous Veut du Bien on TV5MONDE.

My Rating: Very Good – 8/10!!!! (My Original Rating)
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Les Rides (2014) short film – An OK tale about a group of, fanatic four, senior citizens, who plot to run away from their Old Peoples Nursing Home. This 13 minute short film, is interesting enough, but not that great. Liked the magical realism, input.

Watched Les Rides on TV5MONDE.

My Rating: Average Fare – 6/10!!!
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Nightingale (2014) – A brilliant ‘One Man Show’, with David Oyelowo. Being the only actor, in this movie, set within the confines of his home, Oyelowo carries the entire movie on his shoulders. He plays a psychotic, lonely, war veteran, who is waiting for/expecting, a visit from an old friend. A truly tragic film, that’s worth checking out, for the performance of perfection, by British actor, of Nigerian roots, David Oyelowo, alone. The movie, on the whole, could have been better though.

Watched Nightingale on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: Pretty Good – 7/10!!!!
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Brigitte Bardot in Voulez-vous Danser avec Moi (1959)

Brigitte Bardot in Voulez-vous Danser avec Moi (1959)

Voulez-vous Danser avec Moi (1959) – A hilariously fun filled crime comedy, set in a dance school, in Paris. The movie is about a happily married man, who gets caught into blackmail, for no real fault of his, and in turn for a murder, in a dance school. He is assumed to be the culprit, and only his wife believes he is actually a victim of circumstance. Soon she ventures into the school, in the guise of a dance teacher, to solve the crime on her own, against the wishes of her husband. Henri Vidal is hilarious as the husband, as are the other supporting characters, in their respective roles; with interesting cameos by Serge Gainsbourg and Dawn Addams. But, it’s Brigitte Bardot, as the bewitchingly beautiful and innocent wife, who steals the show, with her stunning performance, her perfect comical expressions and the dancing diva’s well choreographed movements. She’s hilarious, she’s fun. And thanks to her cutesy spy work, she’s the one that ultimately solves the mystery. A sexy young Miss. Marple, or Mrs. Pollifax, if you may (with apologies to Agatha Christie and Dorothy Gilman, respectively).

This movie is a must see, especially if you love Bardot. On IMDB it seems to have an average rating, but I couldn’t help laughing. And kudos to the movie, for  daring to showcase, one hell of comical sequence that takes place in, a queer club, with drag performances, in an acceptable manner; and this was a movie that came out in the 1950’s. In fact, to portray homosexuality, cinematically in the open, as being normal, would have been groundbreaking, back in the day.

Sadly, 40 year old actor, Henri Vidal, died soon after he made this movie. This was his last screen appearance!

Watched Voulez-vous Danser avec moi on TV5MONDE.

My Rating: Near Excellent – 9/10!!!!
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Kill the Messenger (2014) – A Biographical film, on journalist Garry Webb, who committed suicide in 2004. The film is set in the mid-1990’s, when he uncovered the CIA’s major role in bringing in huge amounts of cocaine into the United States. It’s a beautiful, and sad, story about a man, who truly tries to make “America great again”, by exposing the big shots, responsible for ruing his country; thus his family might have to pay the ultimate price for it.

The movie dulls at time, and the suspense isn’t necessarily continuous. You tend to lose focus at times. Yawn a bit, here and there. But it’s still quite good, and worth seeing at least once.

Watched Kill the Messenger on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: Pretty Good – 7/10!!!!
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Squatters (2014) – Two homeless youngsters, break into a house of a wealthy family, when the family is on vacation. The son of the rich family, and one of the homeless kids, fall for each other. The movie actually went pretty well, until the love angle ruined it for me, somewhat. Still the whole experience, was not that bad. In fact, the ageing, Richard Dreyfuss, and the young, Thomas Dekker, were pretty good in their respective roles.

Watched Squatters on HBO Signature.

My Rating: Average Fare – 6/10!!!
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Jean-Claude Brialy, le Goût des Autres (2013) – An interesting insight into the life of legendary French film star, Jean-Claude Brialy. This documentary delves deep into the star’s life of hosting parties to his close friends, in his big mansion. With appearances by celebrities, Alain Delon, Nana Mouskouri, Claudia Cardinale, et al; ’twas an enjoyable show.

Watched Jean-Claude Brialy, le Goût des Autres on TV5MONDE.

My Rating: Very Good – 8/10!!!!
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Poltergeist (1982) – A much awaited venture, I finally watched it. ‘twas a very good horror film. I wouldn’t exactly call it an excellent movie, nor among the greatest of the horror genre (in fact it seemed a tad silly towards the end), but I thoroughly enjoyed this piece of supernatural drama. In fact, as the movie sees it’s ghosts through the eyes of a child, it gives it a creepy cuteness.

The film’s lead character, is the child star, Heather O’Rourke. She’s the first human, to feel the presence of the Poltergeists. And the movie revolves around, her capture, by the spirits, and a couple of television sets. But to me, the star of the film, was their golden retriever named ‘E. Buzz’ (pictured below). In fact this dog, plays a prevalent role, in the entirety of the film. A Very Good Horror Classic!!

Curse of the Poltergeist: Both kids playing the two daughters, died, in real life, within the 80’s decade. Dominique Dunne, who plays the teenage daughter, was murdered by strangulation, by her boyfriend, in 1982, itself. She was 22. And O’Rourke, suddenly fell ill, and died of a cardiac arrest, at the age of 12, in 1988.

Watched Poltergeist on HBO.

My Rating: Very Good – 8/10!!!!
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Horror Films Above: Poltergeist (1982) Below: As Above, So Below (2014)

Horror Films
Above: Poltergeist (1982)
Below: As Above, So Below (2014)

As Above, So Below (2014) – Silly Horror movie, filmed in the ‘Blair Witch Project’ style. No where near as great as The Blair Witch Project (1999). Only saving grace of this, pretty idiotic, horror flick, was that it actually showed the real catacombs of Paris (which I visited back in 2009), before venturing further deep, under the catacombs. As they ventured deeper the film got sillier still.

Though not the worst film experience ever, it’s still quite pathetic. And the movie defies gravity. The more and more, they went deeper into the underworld, I actually expected them to come out of the Pacific Ocean, on the other side of the globe! Yet, actors, Ben Feldman and François Civil (pictured above) were actually good enough in their respective roles.

Watched As Above, So Below on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: Pretty Bad – 4/10!!
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Le Lieu du Crime (1986) – I really enjoyed this film, starring Catherine Deneuve, Nicolas Giraudi, Wadeck Stanczak, and the yesteryear starlet, Danielle Darrieux. The way the movie began, it reminded me of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations (which also happens to be my favourite Dickens novel). The movie centres around, a young boy named Thomas (Giraudi), who’s mother (Deneuve), falls in love with the criminal (Stanczak); Thomas meets, early on in the movie; and has a one night stand, on a rainy night, with tragic circumstances. With a superb cast, headed by Catherine Deneuve, this movie, is really a unique tale, revolving around a ‘boy who cried wolf’. The kid is such a story maker, nobody, except his mother, believes his story, about what he witnessed. This coming of age, tale, is a must see, especially if you are a fan of Catherine Deneuve, like me. And the kid is brilliant, an added bonus.

Watched Le Lieu du Crime on TV5MONDE.

My Rating: Very Good – 8/10!!!!
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Into the Storm (2014) – Yet another, idiotically disastrous, disaster film. About a unimaginably massive tornado ravaging a small town called Silverton. The one good thing about this flick, was that it showed the, ironically calm, inside (the eye) of the tornado. Calm within the storm.

Watched Into the Storm on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: Near Worst, film experience, ever – 2/10!
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Timbuktu (2014) – A masterpiece of movie making!! The term ‘Timbuktu’ is generally a synonym, for some remote unknown place. But, it is in actuality, a name of a city, in Mali, in West Africa. I was always aware it was a place, somewhere in Africa, but this is the first time I saw something/anything about the place known as Timbuktu. The city is full of, beautifully designed, aesthetic, mud huts.

The film itself, is very sad, and a superb Art House film, about the lives of the poor inhabitants of Timbuktu, under Jihadists control. Anyone even slightly opposed to their strict laws, are punished severely. This movie is based around a cattle herder, and his nuclear family, relaxedly residing away from the city of Timbuktu, in the sand dunes of the Sahara Desert. But, sadly, he gets pulled into the city, and imprisoned/sentenced to death, for an accidental crime, he didn’t plan to commit.

Director, Abderrahmane Sissako, has brought out a brilliant piece of socially touching experience; and this film took home two prizes, at the 67th Cannes Film Festival, held in 2014. Sissako was also nominated for the Palme d’Or, that year, for Timbuktu. Plus it won the ‘Best Film’ award, at the Africa Movie Academy Awards; along with a ‘Best Director’ win for Sissako.

Watched Timbuktu on TV5MONDE.

My Rating: Excellent – 10/10!!!!!
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L.A.dy Dior (2011) – This is an advertorial Short film, starring my favourite French star of today, Marion Cotillard. Cotillard plays a crazed actress, who can’t handle the pressure of being the face of a famous brand of handbags (‘L.A.dy Dior’, obviously). A hilarious 6 minute short, where she ultimately throws a tantrum, which only helps the advertising campaign. Enjoyable enough, thanks to Marion Cotillard. Love L.A.dy Cotillard!!!!

Watched L.A.dy Dior online, on Youtube.

My Rating: Pretty Good – 7/10!!!!
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LEFT: Marion Cotillard in L.A.dy Dior (2011) RIGHT: Xavier Dolan in J’ai Tué ma Mère (2009)

LEFT: Marion Cotillard in L.A.dy Dior (2011)
RIGHT: Xavier Dolan in J’ai Tué ma Mère (2009)

J’ai Tué ma Mère (2009) – The two prominent factors, that make this film so uniquely impressive, is the fact, that Xavier Dolan’s directorial debut, was written by Dolan, at the age of 16, and he was still only 19 years old, when he directed it. The movie was released at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival (rather it premiered at the ‘Director’s Fortnight’), in 2009. Not only did Dolan, get a standing ovation, he also walked away, with three awards, at the festival, that year. I first heard about this film, and Xavier Dolan, in May 2009.

The movie, itself is so brilliantly made, and moving, I was hooked to the screen from start to finish, engulfing each and every emotional moment felt by it’s characters. The depth of human emotion, portrayed in the film, is so painfully real, my heart just leapt out. This is amongst the best movies, that I’ve ever seen, and ‘twas a long awaited venture, pour moi.

J’ai Tué ma Mère, which, when translated into English, means, ‘I Killed my Mother’, is a semi-autobiographical film, by Xavier Dolan. It’s deals with a tiresome mother/son relationship. They both love each other, and neither is a bad parent nor bad child, but they were just not meant to live together. Hubert (Dolan) believes he was born into the wrong family, rather, more specifically, the wrong mother (played by Anne Dorval). And he wishes to get away from her clutches, as soon as possible. But Hubert, is still a 16 year old, thus it’s impossible to get away at that young age. His father, who left when Hubert was a little kid, is no where in sight (who turns up only to make a brief appearance, to intervene in the son’s life, and makes things worse for poor Hubert). You sympathise with Dolan’s juvenile character, Hubert, and understand what he’s going through. But, at the same time, he’s still only 16, and has a freedom, some 16 year olds would only dream to have. Plus, his mother is not all that bad. Mothers can be really stressful sometimes, even to their adult kids. But Hubert’s mother, comparatively, hardly does anything to stress him out, even though he seems to lose his patience with her. She’s neither strict, nor harsh. He does what he wants. She doesn’t necessarily interfere with his studies, or future plans. YES, she’s not perfect, nobody really is, but she’s far from being the worst mother ever. Yet, Hubert feels suffocated, and annoyed, with her existence. When the mother finds out about her son’s sexuality, she doesn’t seem to mind that he is gay, but what disappoints her is, the fact she had to find out about it from someone else, rather than her own son. Thus, she’s also an open-minded woman. At the same time, Hubert, isn’t necessarily a closeted homosexual. He is open, but doesn’t seem to think it necessary to let her know, that he has a boyfriend (played by François Arnaud). The film doesn’t deal with Hubert’s sexuality as such, for that’s not what the story is about. The story is about his love-hate relationship with his mother. His sex life, has nothing to do with it. Instead of a girlfriend, he just happens to have a boyfriend, in a very acceptable and normal manner. That’s how the world today, should be. Of course, there is a gay-bashing scene, towards the end. Most probably, just to tell us, that’s something Dolan had to deal with too, in real life, and/or to show us, that the world is still not as broad-minded, as it ought to be.

The film isn’t all serious and depressing, it has plenty of comical interludes. In fact, the movie is sad, but not at all depressing to watch, and very entertaining. Xavier Dolan is really sweet, and adorable, even when he is angry. I love the scene where he comes home one night, all drugged (a one time thing, in the film), and wakes his mother lovingly. She is not at all angry at him. Dolan’s character is really sweet, when he tries to be extra nice to his mother. Of course, he’s not patient enough, for the niceties to last, and his mother doesn’t really help either. Yet, both of them, are actually good people.

There is plenty of screaming matches, in the film, plenty of drama, and more than enough comical moments, to make you cry and laugh (sometimes at the same time), with a few, very Dolanisque surreal moments!! One of the best films ever made. Dolan’s now, most probably, my favourite Canadian director, and definitely my youngest favourite film director. The only other, directorial venture, of his I’ve seen is, Laurence Anyways (2012); another brilliant Canadian film.

Watched J’ai Tué ma Mère on TV5MONDE.

My Rating: Excellent – 10/10!!!!!
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Tere Bin Laden: Dead or Alive (2016) – Tagged as the “million dollar fake”, this is an almost brilliant piece of satire, from Bollywood.

Released earlier this year, a sequel/prequel to Tere Bin Laden (2010); which came before, the actual Osama Bin Laden was killed; this is a hilarious movie, about what happens post the death of this, FBI’s, most wanted terrorist. Both, the Americans, and a Taliban arms dealer, try to get hold of a Bin Laden look-alike, an Indian actor (played by Pradhuman Singh). The Americans want to film, the death of the fake bin Laden, to prove to the world, that they’ve actually killed, this founder of al-Qaeda, whilst the arms dealer, wants to use the doppelganger, as proof, that Bin Laden is still alive.

The movie is a hilarious parody, on both, the Taliban regime, and America’s ‘War on Terror’. I haven’t seen the original Tere Bin Laden (poster pictured, right atop). In fact I had assumed, that’s the movie, I watched on Sunday morning, the original film, till I read the synopsis now, on IMDB, and realised actor, Manish Paul (who plays a Bollywood director, responsible for making the ‘Osama bin Laden’ doppelganger, popular; and in turn putting their lives in danger), didn’t even star in the first one. So I actually tweeted the wrong movie. Slightly disappointed about that. Now I really want to watch, the original. A lot of people, who loved the original, seem to have hated this. But I really enjoyed this farcical film. It’s definitely worth a watch. Plus, there were no cheap antics, like puking, or passing out excess gas, or any other stale jokes, or anything sickeningly grotesque, that make you feel disgusted, instead of actually enjoying a film. So, I thought it was a really clever comedy. Thus, kudos to director, Abhishek Sharma, for bringing out, such a fun movie, to sit through.

Just wanted to add, an explanation for the title. ‘Bin’ or ‘Bina’ in Hindi, means ‘Without’, and ‘Tere’ means ‘Yours’. Thus the, first three words, of the title could either translate as, ‘Without You Laden’ or ‘Yours, Bin Laden’; I think the latter sounds more like it. Either way, the pun is on the word ‘Bin’. It would have been a more hilarious pun for the word ‘Bin’, if it were in English (title/film), considering what the word ‘Bin’ stands for in the English language. Throw it in the Bin Laden!!!!!

Watched Tere Bin Laden: Dead or Alive on Star Plus.

My Rating: Near Excellent – 9/10!!!!
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Airlift (2016) – Set in Kuwait, this is based on a true story, of the airlift of Indians based in Kuwait, during the Invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, carried out from the 18th of August, 1990 to 20th October, 1990!! Air India, along with Indian Airlines, helped evacuate 170,000 people by civil airliners, whilst 500 people left by a ship, during the Gulf War. It took 63 days. This happens to be the biggest rescue mission, of human evacuation, in the world. Two Indian’s living in Kuwait; South Indian Businessmen, Mathunny Mathews, from Kerala; and North Indian, billionaire, Harbajan Singh Vedi, from Punjab, putting their ethnic differences aside, came together, and ended up playing a major role, in helping get Indians to safety.

The movie, however, is a fictional account, combining the two Indian’s heroic work, into one character called, Ranjit Katyal (played by Bollywood star, Akshay Kumar). Indian actress, Nimrat Kaur, plays his wife. A near brilliant Bollywood commercial venture, by director, Raja Krishna Menon, about a story that deserved to be told. Thanks to Bollywood movies like Neerja and Airlift, more recent, modern Indian history, won’t be forgotten.

Watched Airlift on Colors (a channel I practically never watch, glad I did on Sunday night).

My Rating: Near Excellent – 9/10!!!!
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10 Things I Hate about You (1999) – A modern, late 20th Century, adaptation of, William Shakespeare’s 16th century comedy, The Taming of the Shrew.

This comedy, could have easily veered towards being just another teenage chick flick, but it’s much more than that. I was pleasantly surprised, how much I enjoyed sitting through this flick. The movie has a brilliant young cast, including the late Heath Ledger, along with Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Andrew Keegan and Gabrielle Union. The movie also stars comedians Larry Miller and Allison Janney, in supporting roles.

Set in a High School, the film is about softening up an uptight girl, who refuses to date. All the absurdism of a perfect Shakespearean comedy, from the 1590’s, brought into the modern world of youth, of the 1990’s. I thoroughly enjoyed it. But it would have been more interesting, if I did actually get to watch it, as a teenager/young adult, than today.

I recently mentioned this movie, last month. See my Blog-post Shakespeare: Intellectual Minds and Beyond!!, from April 2016.

Watched 10 Things I Hate about You on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: Near Excellent – 9/10!!!!
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Jacques Bernard in Les Enfants Terribles (1950)

Jacques Bernard in Les Enfants Terribles (1950)

Les Enfants Terrible (1950) – Watched this, collaboration of two greatly creative talents, today afternoon!! Loved it, just as much as the book!!

3½ years ago, I read Rosamond Lehmann’s English translation, of Jean Cocteau’s famed French novella, Les Enfants Terrible!! Author, artist and film personality, Cocteau’s book, was illustrated, with his own artwork, as well. Being an artist(e) myself, I not only, loved the book, for it’s literature, but also for Cocteau’s works of modern art. And, I blogged about the book; when my Blog, was still pretty young (almost 9 months old). Later, 1½ years ago, when I visited Australia, I bought a lot of DVD’s, including the film adaptation of, Les Enfants Terrible. But it’s only now, I finally got to watch this movie. This is the last, of the movies, I bought Down Under!!

Les Enfants Terrible, the movie, is a brilliant adaptation, of an equally superb, piece of, inked, fiction. Author Jean Cocteau (a film director himself), supposedly, commissioned Jean-Pierre Melville, to make the movie, based on his beloved novel. Beautifully photographed, with dim, darkly lit, interiors; skilfully directed, with superb acting talents, the moody expressions, along with, Jean Cocteau’s, own vocals lending the narration, this is one hell of an extraordinarily exceptional piece of cinema. Now, amongst my, favourite French films, ever.

The movie, was practically word to word, as I remembered reading in the  novel. The only major difference, for me, was the fact that, I envisioned the brother and sister, Paul and Elisabeth (played by Edouard Dermithe and Nicole Stéphane, respectively, in the movie), as two pre-teens, in the start of the book, who gradually transform, into young adulthood, later on. Same with their friend, Gerard (Jacques Bernard). But in the movie, they seemed liked young adults/late teens, from the very beginning. None the less, the film was perfectly made, as perfect, as perfection goes. The crazed games, played by the siblings: their weirdly possessive, yet ambiguous, relationship; isolated, cut off, from the rest of the world; this movie is a deep psychoanalysis into the crazy human psyche, almost just as much as the book. It, like the book, reminded me of Bernardo Bertolucci’s, The Dreamers (2003). The Dreamers, was set in 1968 Paris, during the student riots.

The actress to look out for, in Les Enfants Terrible, is Renée Cosima, who plays Paul’s two androgynous sexual attractions; a young boy named Dargelos, in the first half, and later on a girl (model) named Agathe (since I had read the book, I realised that, the school bully, Dargelos, was being played by a female, in the guise of a male; though it’s really not at all noticeable, otherwise). Her transformation, from a thuggish young boy, to a beautiful young lady, is incredible. It’s hard to believe, the dirty rugged boy, and marvellous model, who shows off her elegant legs, is played by, the one and the same, young French actress Renée Cosima.

With it’s surreal dreamy moments, towards the end, Les Enfants Terrible, is almost Shakespearean, the way it’s conveyed. The inevitable tragedy, that lies ahead, is obvious. The game, they played in their ‘ROOM’, of irritating one another, when younger; continues, to a final finish, that can end, only with death. A sad film. The novel came out in the Roaring 20’s, but the film, seems to be set, in the modern day, i.e. the post-war 1940’s!!

Love the Movie!! Love the Book!! Love the Book more, actually; but as a film, this is an excellent watch. Also do check out my quick write-up, on the novel, Les Enfants Terribles (The Book), from December 2012!!!!!

Watched Les Enfants Terrible on DVD.

My Rating: Excellent – 10/10!!!!!
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Mai May Movies 2016