Tag Archive: Bertolucci


The 8th Annual SAARC Film Festival, celebrating films of South Asia, came and went; and I got to see some films, ranging from excellent masterpieces to pathetic waste of time flicks. Below are my take on the movies that I got the chance to see, my experience of the festival, as well as my ratings for each.

JANAAN (2016)

Janaan (2016) is a Pakistani commercial film, aping the the styles of the Bollywood masala rom-com, with done to death love triangles, heroes and villains, the battle of good versus evil, tragedy and triumph. Though beautifully filmed, capturing the spectacular landscape of Pakistan’s breathtaking Swat valley; with equally beautiful people with flawless skin (not just the younger generation, but all three generation encompasses flawless beauties, male and female, with sharp features, and perfect healthy figures), speaking the very refined and poetic languages of Urdu (national language of Pakistan) and Pashto/Pushto (language specific to that region of Pakistan), with glamorous costumes; due to the cheesy story line and mediocre acting talent, the film disappoints.

The story is pretty simple. A bewitchingly beautiful girl, who’s been living in Canada for 11 years, revisits her ancestral home; and encounters love and sadness, happiness and tears, romance and tragedy, the good, the bad and the ugly; all the melodrama of a commercial movie scene. The Pakistan film industry’s commercial cinema needs to up their game. These directors don’t need to go out of their comfort zones to make Art Films, if they don’t want to (though Pakistan has a few good artsy films; one that comes to mind is Ramchand Pakistani,2008, starring Indian actress Nandita Das); but with a perfect screenplay, superb actors, and catchy tunes; even a mediocre story could turn out to be an enjoyable movie. Look at Bollywood movies; why are they successful, despite most movies coming out of the Indian commercial Film Industry made in Hindi (India’s national language) being crap; because the few good commercial movies they make are brilliant. Though am a bit of an Art House snob; I do love a good commercial movie; which includes Bollywood movies. The likes of Awaara (1951), Mughal-E-Azam (1960), Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963), Teen Devian (1965), Guide (1965), Amrapali (1966), Anand (1971), Haré Rama Haré Krishna (1971) a guilty pleasure, Abhimaan (1973), Chupke Chupke (1975), Arth (1982) which happens to be my favourite Bollywood commercial movie, Nikaah (1982), Rang Birangi (1983), Sadma (1983), Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994), 1947: Earth (1998), Yes Boss (1997) another guilty pleasure, Guru (2007), Aamir (2008), 7 Khoon Maaf (2011), Barfi! (2012), Kahaani (2012), Haider (2014), Mary Kom (2014), Neerja (2016), etc etc Dot Dot Dot …. What’s brilliant about these movies, are not just the unique story lines (in some cases), the catchy music, the costumes, the cinematography et al; BUT good film direction (which I noticed Jannan actually has) and great performances (the main flaw of Jannan, besides the story). Thus a good director and great acting skills are the two key elements for making a good movie. The rest are secondary. Of course, though Bollywood is mostly popular for their commercial ventures, India does have some really good Art Films in Hindi as well, like Ankur: The Seedling (1974) my favourite Hindi language Art Movie, Junoon (1979), Kalyug (1981), Utsav (1984), Saaransh (1984), Mirch Masala (1987), Salaam Bombay! (1988) which was nominated for an Oscar, Raincoat (2004), The Blue Umbrella (2005), Stanley Ka Dabba (2011), The Lunchbox (2013), Masaan (2015), Aligarh (2015) to name some. Of course, India is not just Bollywood; there are lot a regional film, from various Indian states, in regional (and foreign) languages, from English and Urdu, to Indian languages ranging from Punjabi, Bhojpuri, Assamese, Malayalam, Telugu, to Tamil and many more. India is a massive country, with an equally massive population; with a vast array of racial, religious, cultural differences from state to state. Bengali Art Films coming out from India’s State of West Bengal, be it in Bengali or English (or bilinguals) are the best. Other Indian-English language films tend to be superb too. Last year’s The Hungry (2017) was a brilliant modern re-telling of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus.

I’ve heard about a new Pakistani movie, called Cake (2018). Really looking forward to checking it out. Sorry Azfar Jafri, your Janaan, was pretty bad; despite having made a whopping at the Box Office. Though I commend you for the excellence in direction, cinematography, editing and the beautiful costumes.

MATA NAM AHUNA (2015)

This Sri Lankan short film from Nadya Perera, was a waste of time. A total drag. Not to mention politically incorrect and tad racist. Nadya Perera had worked as crew member for the Sri Lankan/Italian film, Machan (2008), an averagely good movie, directed by Italian director, Uberto Pasolini, and much loved by Lankan audiences. Mata Nam Ahuna (2015), English Title – While You Slept (2015), is Perera’s second short film. The movie deals with a brothel catering to male Chinese construction workers here. The prostitutes are local girls who cater to these Chinese men’s needs. Once an actual young Chinese girl is brought into serve the men, a girl fears for her job. Slowly her inferiority complex and insecurity takes over and she tries to become Chinese, inside out. A good concept, but what a bore. The movie was only 24 minutes, but I felt I sat through that flick for an hour, at least.

Plus, they’ve got the facts wrong. True there is an influx of Chinese workers coming into the country post war; but Chinese labour is nothing new. And brothels are nothing new in the country. This movie gives the impression that such places are a necessity today, because only Chinese men have such sexual cravings. There have been brothels in Lanka from time immemorial, including the bringing in of prostitutes from abroad. Although the premise of the movie was good, bringing in foreign workers, means less work for locals. Yet, it’s not just post-end of war; it’s been happening since way before.

This was the second worst movie, I saw at the festival.

Jaya Ahsan & Abir Chatterjee, in a scene Bisorjon (2017)

BISORJON (2017)

This Indian Bengali movie was THE best movie I saw at the Film Festival this year, but sadly it was shown “out of competition”. Beats me, why????

With brilliant character sketches, a heart-rending story, and superb performances, Bisorjon (2017), English title – Immersion, is a must watch, for all film lovers. The story is about a Muslim man from West-Bengal, India, who washes into Bangladesh; where a Hindu Bangladeshi widow, saves him, protects him, and takes care of him. The irony of the circumstances is even more intriguing, as India’s state of West-Bengal is a predominantly Hindu region (though Islam is a fast growing religion in that state), and Bangladesh is a Muslim country, with a tiny percentage of Hindus, and other religions. Thus the biggest irony is, the fact that an injured Indian Muslim man, has to pretend to be Hindu, in an Islamic country, as he is living under the roof of a Hindu widow, and her ailing father-in-law. Plus, though they speak the same language (i.e. Bengali); the dialectics differ. So as not to get caught by the Bangladeshi forces, as he is an Indian residing in Bangladesh illegally, she teaches him to speak in her dialect (i.e. the Bangladeshi version of Bengali; or Bangla, as they call it). This beautiful slow-paced love-story without any romance is made with perfection, by director, Kaushik Ganguly. Slow does not have to be a bore, and this is anything but. The suspense of the story keeps you glued, and the exchange of dialogues are unmissable and amusing. It’s the dialogues, the expressions, and beautiful performances, that keeps the story going. The cast is just as brilliant, as the films direction; and the director too plays a significant supporting role in the film. The best work in this Indian movie, was by Bangladeshi actress, Jaya Ahsan (pronounced Joya Ahsan).

Jaya Ahsan plays Padma, the selfless widow; who gives and gives, and sacrifices, without really expecting anything in return. Seeing what a saintly human being she is, one can feel content, that there is still scope for humanity. Her character is uniquely complex. She loved her husband, who died due to alcohol abuse. She spends her time taking care of her, weakened with age, father-in-law. The discovery of a near dead man, re-ignites her dormant passion for a male companion, in her heart and soul. She doesn’t necessarily fall in love with this handsome stranger; but seeing him in her husband’s old clothes, she falls in love with the essence of her husband, that brings back memories, through this stranger. She had submerged all human feelings of desire till now. But this strange Muslim man, from another country, re-kindles her desires for a male lover. Yet, their friendship is purely platonic, and the stranger, Nasir (played by actor, Abir Chatterjee) doesn’t reciprocate. He has a girl, waiting for him back home. Even though he admires and cares, for this Hindu widow, he doesn’t feel any lustful desire for her. But neither does she feel any lust for him, but more for the memories of her husband, brought back to life, through Nasir’s clothing and smoking the cigarette brand that Padma’s husband use to smoke. As she inhales the cigarette smoke puffed out by Nasir, her heart pounds for her dead husband, in this new human avatar. She resides with contentment and misery through this unrequited love. She doesn’t want things to change, and rebuffs the affection of the village headman, Ganesh (played by film director, Kaushik Ganguly). The ambiguity of the character of Ganesh, makes the film more intriguing; as sometimes he feels like the sly villain of the piece, horny headed, helping the widow, with an alternate agenda; and yet, on the other end, his affections for her seem genuine, and he is very protective of her. His sidekick Lau (Lama), provides the comic relief, in the movie.

Then comes the movie’s climax, the day Nasir has to escape (by now we know Nasir is a thief, who trying to escape the cops, jumped into the river, on the day of immersion of the idol of Durga, and got wounded). Padma’s father-in-law is dead, she has no where to go, except maybe back to her parents. Yet, it won’t be easy for Nasir to leave, undetected, with the border patrol. Thus, Padma’s biggest sacrifice. She agrees to marry Ganesh, if he helps Nasir get back through the river, on the day immersion. She comes home, shedding her white attire of a Hindu widow, dressed like the Durga herself. We see the agony she is going through, she drinks, she smokes; and Nasir breaks down on learning of her ultimate sacrifice.

The scene so tragically beautiful is done with exceptional brilliance. Jaya Ashen is superb, your heart goes out to her. For all her affection towards Nasir, she does get one thing in return, his seedling. Initially, with all the border problems, I assumed the movie was set during the Bangladesh war of liberation, in 1971. But then I saw mobile phones, so realized it’s set in the modern day (village attire doesn’t give away the time period, as those traditional styles hardly change). Yet, the mobiles were somewhat older, in style and technology. Which made sense later, as we see Padma married to Ganesh, with a six year old kid. A kid with Nasir’s birthmark on his back.

The finalé is beautifully done, with the camera zooming into the, now dilapidated, house; where Padma and Nasir consummated their desires, resulting in the conception of a child. A child, Ganesh calls his own. Symbolic of the void left behind, by the man that brought back human desires into her heart. A man, that is dead to her, metaphorically (but lives through the son they created, that one night); unlike her husband’s death, literally, which left her with nothing.

The best Indian movies tend to come out of the state of West Bengal (as I mentioned earlier), and Bengali Cinema has brought out some of the best directors ever, including Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Aparna Sen and Rituparno Ghosh, to name some. In fact, Aparna Sen’s The Japanese Wife (2010), based on a beautiful short story, by Kunal Basu, happens to be my all time favourite Indian movie (see my post, Photograph no.5, from six months ago). Having seen Kaushik Ganguly’s, brilliant tribute to the veteran Satyajit Ray, that was, Apur Panchali (2013), and now Bisorjon, Ganguly can be added to these Bengali greats. Last month, director, Kaushik Ganguly, announced that he is making a sequel to Bisorjon.

Indian Film Director, Kaushik Ganguly, announces that he is making a sequel to Bisorjon (2017), as Bangladesh Actress, Jaya Ahsan, looks on; at an event (April 2018)

POORNA (2017)

Based on a true story, Poorna (2017), is Rahul Bose’s second foray into film direction.

Malavath Purna (a.k.a. Poorna Malavath) is an Adivāsi girl from Telangana North, a state in Southern India, who became the youngest girl to scale the highest peak of Mount Everest, at the age of 13 years and 11 months. She, till date, is the youngest girl to have done so. She reached the peak on the 25th of May, 2014. Adivāsis are a tribal community (which differs from regions to regions), that make up a small population of South Asia. Majority of them, are scattered around India. Though Adivāsis are a lower caste, considered primitive, they are not considered impure, by higher Indian castes of India’s Hindu population. Thus, not to be confused with the caste of Dalits, who sadly are also known as “Untouchables”. Unfortunately these caste systems still prevail, in modern India.

Bose’s Poorna, is a bio-pic on this famed young mountain climber. AND a brilliant movie at that. Young Aditi Inamdar, does a marvelous job, as the protagonist of the movie, in her debut performance. The movie demonstrates the trials and troubles faced by this young girl, coming from a lower social background, where child marriage of younger girls to older men, is still the norm; and how she defies social stigmas, overcomes problems after problems, from family issues, training, to the actual ascend onto the Himalayas.

These impressive inspiring tales are nothing new, and there are plenty of films made on sportsmen/women and adventurers. But this is still a wonderfully made movie, that too on real life person. Added to which, this story is about a tribal girl who beats all odds, and triumphs against adversity. If it were any other Indian or other well to do girl, the triumph would have been hers alone; but the fact an Adivāsi girl reached the peak, at such a young age; is an inspiration to the entire Adivāsi tribe. It’s a push forward for the entire community. Thanks to her, young Adivāsis have scope for getting away from monotonous lifestyles, and making something of their lives. Of course, Poorna, has the luck, and help comes in the way of Dr. Praveen Kumar (Rahul Bose), who see her potential and never stops encouraging her, and other children like her. Added to which Poorna’s mentor, her elder cousin sister, supports Poorna, and pushes her forward, despite having no hope for herself. In the end, it’s the memory of her cousin that helps Poorna achieve what she sought out to do.

More recently, in July 2017, Malavath Purna, scaled Mt. Elbrus, the highest peak in Russia, and the European continent.

With Bangladesh Film Director, Tauquir Ahmed, at the 8th SAARC Film Festival 2018 (26th May 2018); post the screening of Poorna (2017), and just hours before the screening of Ahmed’s film, Haldaa (2017)

Tauquir Ahmed gives a small speech, before the screening of his movie, Haldaa (2017)

HALDAA (2017)

Shot around the scenic river Halda, in Chattogram, in southeastern Bangladesh, depicting the lives of fishermen and their families; Haldaa (2017) is a movie with breathtaking cinematography and a lovely story. The story deals with repression, both of fisherman, due to industrial pollution and at the hands of pirates, and women, living under a patriarchal society.

Nusrat Imroz Tisha plays Hasu, a daughter of a troubled fisherman, who is forced into a marriage with a rich older man, against her will. She is the second wife, of this wealthy villain; whose first wife hasn’t borne any children, and is still married to him. One interesting point shown in the movie, is the symbolic representation of killing of the “Mother Fish”, or pregnant fish. It’s not only shown as a superstition, considered wrong to kill a pregnant fish, but also shown with a realistic aspect too, that of the breeding of the fish. If you kill a pregnant fish, the number of fish in river would reduce, which happens to be the main livelihood of those living along these banks. The Halda River, of Chattogram, is the only pure fish breeding center in Asia. When Hasu’s father kills a “Mother Fish”, it upsets both the father and daughter, later when a “Mother Fish” from the Halda River, is sent by Hasu’s husband, she refuses to cook it, and when guests arrive she throws the cooked fish to the groud, in demonstration. She is badly beaten by her husband. Unlike the first wife, Hasu, is a bold woman, and not afraid of her man. Since post marriage, she shows no signs of getting pregnant, people talk about her being sterile like the first wife. Killing of a “Mother Fish” was a sign. But she eventually does get pregnant, but it might not be her husband’s.

This shows a bold village feminist, who refuses to lose her identity; as her mother-in-law, Surat Banu (Dilara Zaman) asks Hasu, while Banu lies bedridden, after a fall, to call her by her name (instead of calling her mother). A tear-jerking scene, as Banu points out, how women lose their identity, as a daughter, daughter-in-law, wife, mother, mother-in-law; and their names vanish along with their identity. Surat doesn’t call her younger independent minded daughter-in-law Bahu (daughter-in-law), as is the custom; but by her name, Hasu. Surat admires Hasu for her braveness, and gives her the household keys, instead of the elder Bahu. This makes the, nameless and conniving, elder Bahu, not so happy.

Nusrat Imroz Tisha is superb as Hasu. With director Tauquir Ahmed’s (a.k.a. Toukir Ahmed) beautifuly filmed movie, and few awesome performances, and a touching script, it’s no doubt a great film from Bangladesh. Yet, the overall experience of the movie was average fare (among international standards). Though I didn’t think it was among the greatest films ever made, there were lot elements of the movie, I loved. The last scene, when just Hasu and her husband are left in the house, with the unexpected twist in the end, was gracefully executed. ’twas just sublime. Tauquir Ahmed, at the post screening , mentioned that he made two versions of the movie. One a commercial venture, for Bangladesh audiences, and the other, an art movie, for the international distribution (the one we saw); which he called the “director’s cut”. It would be interesting to see both, and do a compare and contrast, though no doubt, the version we saw, was the better one.

The next day, this film was awarded four trophies, including ‘Best Film’ at the SAARC Film Festival award ceremony. Though I didn’t think Tauquir Ahmed’s Haldaa, was the best film, am glad it was given the recognition, instead of some undeserved movie. It definitely deserved the win for ‘Best Cinematography’, no doubt about that. A big congratulations to director, Tauquir Ahmed. And all the best with your next project.

These three feature films have beautiful titles with beautiful meanings. Bisorjon/Bishorjan (pronunciation differs according to Bengali dialects) means immersion, as the English title suggests, and is based on the custom of immersing the idol of Durga into water (the ocean or a river), during the famed Durga puja festivities in, certain parts of India, and Bangladesh (this festival plays a vital role in the movie’s plot). Poorna or Purna, meaning fulfilled, is the name of the protagonist, and is based on the life of Malavath Purna, a young Indian mountaineer. AND Haldaa, is the river Halda, in south-eastern Bangladesh, on the banks on which the entire premise of the story is set in. Though not as great as Bisorjon and Poorna, Haldaa is the best film from Bangladesh I’ve seen; and there is scope for Bangladeshi Bangla films to catch up to International standards, akin to great European and other Asian Art House Films.

Nusrat Imroz Tisha, dressed in bridal finery, as Hasu, in Haldaa (2017)

THE WATERFALL (2017)

Seated right at the front, like Bertolucci’s “Dreamers” (i.e. like the trio of lead characters from Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers, 2003), I was one of the first to absorb this short film, before it reached the rest.

Like wasps attracted to a hornets’ nest, people thronged into the cinema, including Colombo’s so called elite. It was as if these uncontrollable crowds were from a remote village with a high level of illiteracy, or people from slums. Such a rowdy crowd for a short film. No, they were there, for the next film, a Sinhala feature film; but these losers came in early afraid to lose a seat for the next movie, Bahuchithawadiya (2018). Not that most of these people care for films at a festival; but a free viewing, that too of a Sri Lankan film, brought in the worst crowds possible.

Anyway, Lipika Singh Darai’s The Waterfall (2017), is an Indian-English language short film. Having worked on documentaries, this was first venture into a fictional movie. It’s a beautiful movie about a city boy from Mumbai, who visits his ancestral home in a scenic hill station, in the state Odisha (formerly known as Orissa). He spends his time enjoying the natural wonders of the village, missing in the city, with his cousin. In particular, there is this one waterfall, that he has great admiration for. Soon he learns that the waterfall is drying up; and urbanization is ruining the surrounding nature. It affects him, and villagers, profoundly; but it doesn’t seem to bother his cousin (who resides there), and other well to do people of the village.

Beautiful little story, about the effects of climate change and construction projects. Averagely good.

BAHUCHITHAWADIYA (2018)

This crude caper is a crapper. And yes, I was still seated right at the front.

What a pathetic waste of time. Ridiculous acting, the actors are thinking of their dialogues then saying it. With long pauses between dialogues, how artificial and unrealistic it looked. What a bore!! These “tele-drama” style acting ought to be obsolete by now (Sri Lankan soaps have been known as tele-dramas, since the invent of these distasteful Sinhala television series’, back in the 1980’s. Lankan’s till date stay glued to the idiot box watching such nonsensical shows, thus their brains are just as slow and narrow).

Even though the premise of virtual acquaintances and promiscuous youth was (though not unique), an interesting area to turn into a cinematic experience; the pathetic execution of the plot, and specifically the fake acting talent roped in, made the viewing unbearable. This was the last movie of the festival. Heavy Sri Lankan egos might not like my take on the film (as they feel they have to love films made in their own country); but me having no false pride, or fake sense of patriotism, nor any brainwashed attitudes of loving everything, just because it’s Sri Lankan, have to say it; Sri Lankan movies are not up to the standard. Gone are the days of Lester James Peries (Rekava,1956, Gamperaliya,1963), Sumitra Peries (Ganga Addara,1980) and Tissa Abeysekera (Viragaya,1987); yet these greatest Sri Lankan films mentioned here, still were average fare (internationally speaking). In more recent times, only director, Prasanna Vithanage (Anantha Rathriya,1996, Pura Handa Kaluwara,1997, Silence in the Courts,2015) comes to mind as local films worth checking out; yet even his movies are only averagely good (but brilliant in Sri Lankan terms). One main reason is, though these were/are good directors; the acting skills even of the best actors here, do not match up. And in Bahuchithawadiya, the acting talent is amongst the worst ever. Added to which, Bahuchithawadiya, is among the worse films ever made, anywhere; and THE worst movie I saw at this year’s festival. Even though, this was given an award for ‘Best Sound Design’; I feel there were better films that deserved the said award.

THE SAARC FILM FEST EXPERIENCE

The poorly organized SAARC Film Festival, with it’s totally mucked up schedule, started on the 22nd of May, 2018. Practically any event in this country, tends to be badly done; yet, this years SAARC Film Fest, was definitely comparatively better than the previous year’s (which was held only six months ago, in November 2017). I couldn’t go the first two days, especially due to the bad weather, and various other reasons. On the third day, 24th of May, I went. I really had a keen interest in seeing this 13 minute short film from Bangladesh, Daag (2017). The story is set during the Bangladesh war of liberation, in 1971; where a woman marries her rapist. I thought the premise was interesting. Already stressed out, as I was leaving for the fest, due to inhumane cruel people of this country; not to mention being stuck in a terrible traffic for close to 2 hours, I missed the short film. So I sat down to watch the next movie, Janaan (I’ve spoken of above). After the disappointment of sitting through the cheesy romance, and going through the stress of the day; I felt too tired to watch the rest of the films. Otherwise I would have seen the next two at least, the local Sinhala film, 28 (2014), and the Indian Marathi movie, Kshitij: A Horizon (2016). Kshitij: A Horizon, is the movie I really wanted to watch, for I could watch the Sri Lankan film, rented on cable TV, or if shown on a local channel. So, on my ‘Day 1’, Janaan, is the only movie I watched. Next day, I went early enough, and caught the short film Mata Nam Ahuna & the feature length film, Bisorjon (spoken about them above). The schedule being changed there was a Maldivian horror movie next, 4426 (2016). Initially I thought of checking it out, even though it didn’t really interest me, but still going through the weariness of the day before, I decided I needed to go home and rest. The next day, the last day of screening, on Saturday, 26th May; I went in the morning, to catch most of the movies. Still, when I reached there the short film, Kalo Meghar Vela (2018) a.k.a. The Cloud Boat, from Bangladesh had already started. So waited outside, and went in to catch the next movie, but happen to see the last bit of Kalo Meghar Vela, as it ran longer than scheduled. The next was Poorna (spoken of above). Post that, I did not see the next film, another commercial venture from Pakistan, which I heard skipped. Technical problem!!! Technical problems are nothing new at film festivals here, it always happens, and that too specially at the NFC (National Film Corporation); where these festivals mainly tend to take place. Added to that the seating is really bad, so congested, there is not enough leg space, for even a person of average height (and am 6ft, 2½”). Anyway, next I went in for Haldaa (spoken of above), which too had a technical difficulty (the sound wasn’t clear), so we ended up watching it on Blu-ray, projected onto the big wide screen. Post that, saw the next two/last two films, The Waterfall & Bahuchithawadiya, seated right in front, as mentioned.

I didn’t go for the award ceremony next day, on Sunday, but am glad the main awards were given to more deserved movies, unlike last year. Hope the organizers of this film festival do a better job, next time around. Even though badly done, am glad these rare festivals occur; as such films don’t really come to cinemas, in this aesthetically depressive country. There is no real understanding, nor an interest for, the arts, in general, in Sri Lanka. But it’s good, they have film festivals here now. After all, there were only two Colombo Film Festivals (back in 2014 & 2015) a festival, funded by the Japanese, and that died pretty young; and this was just the “8thSAARC Film Festival (which I hope shall continue, thanks to the help of other South Asian countries). None the less, looking forward to the next film festival, and preferably a more well organized one.

MY RATINGS (Set of Seven):-

  • Bisorjon (2017) – The Best – 10/10!!!!!
  • Poorna (2017) – The Next – 10/10!!!!!
  • Haldaa (2017) – (higher) Average Fare – 6/10!!!
  • The Waterfall (2017) – (lower) Average Fare – 5/10!!!
  • Janaan (2016) – Pretty Bad – 4/10!!
  • Mata Nam Ahuna (2015) – One of the worse short films ever – 1/10!
  • Bahuchithawadiya (2018) – The worst film at the festival – 1/10!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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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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Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
#‎NuwanSensFilmSense
Mai May Movies 2016

The Swinging Sixties
1966 Blow-UpThe 1960’s was a very unique decade, of the 20th century, when the world changed for the better. An era, thanks to which, we live in (or rather should live in) a more open minded world, with a freer lifestyle, with lesser (or rather should, with no) prejudice. An era, which brought about Equal Rights, Feminism (Women’s Lib),  The Hippies, the second (and more worldwide) phase of The Sexual Revolution (as opposed to The Sexual Revolution of the Roaring 20’s, which was limited to certain regions in the western world), Black Pride movement, Gay Pride movement, Youth Rebellions of 68’, Woodstock of 69’, Stonewall Riots of 69’, Motown Records, Rock Music, Experimentation with Psychedelic Drugs, Birth Control Pill, Popular Music, The Beatles, The British Invasion of Pop & Rock, Ravi Shankar, Elvis Presley, Andy Warhol, Pop-Art, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Martin Luther King, Jr., Socialists, Radical political influences, 32 African countries gaining Independence, The Indian ‘Hungryalist Quartet’, China’s ‘Great Leap Forward’, The Vietnam War, The American Counterculture, The Kennedy’s, The Space Age (the world put a man on the moon), Supercomputers, Sketchpads, Spacewar (first video game), Japanese Cars, Summer of Love, Flower Power, Peace, Love and anti-war sentiments.

The beginning of the 60’s decade, and the latter part of the 60’s, were so different, as if they belonged to two terrifically different era’s. This was a period that globalisation actually took place. Added to which fashion, art and music, travelled beyond borders. The Beatles were influenced by Indian music, especially the sounds of the Sitar. Short Indian Kurta’s, Hindu beads, African Batik styles, South American Poncho’s, were loved by the Hippies. Similarly western geometric styles, and bright designs, were adapted to Asian clothing. The era was famed for, mini-skirts, of swinging London, and skin tight Salwar-Kameezes, in India (inspired by the western tight skirts). A very glamorous decade, with it’s massive bouffant hairstyles, tight clothes and short skirts. And as the decade proceeded, the hairdo’s went higher, as did the hemlines.

Bollywood superstar, Sharmila Tagore, became the first Indian actress to don a Bikini on the cover of a glossy magazine, in 1966. This was an Independence Special issue.

Bollywood superstar, Sharmila Tagore (though not the first Indian to wear a Bikini), became the first Indian actress to don a Bikini on the cover of a glossy magazine. In the Year: 1966. This was an Independence Special, issue of Filmfare (August 1966).

The modern Bikini, though invented in 1946 (prior to which slightly bigger, two piece swimsuits, baring the midriff, existed), gained popularity internationally only in the 1960’s. Prior to which, general women preferred traditional, one piece, swimwear, though a lot of glamour girls were seen in tiny Bikini’s in magazines, films, et al. Yet young men, were quite comfortable, in tiny swimming trunks. Today it’s the exact opposite.

And in Cinema: 1960’s

The invent of the Merchant Ivory Productions took place, making Indian English Language films, avec a highly international standard (started by a trio of well (western) educated friends, Ismail Merchant, James Ivory & Ruth Prawer Jhabvala). They brought something new to Indian Cinema, in the 60’s & 70’s (unlike the Western Orientalist craze for Bollywood today, and the assumption that all Indian Cinema falls under the category of Bollywood, whilst Bollywood only makes Hindi Language films (out of the 122 major languages, and many more sub-dialects, spoken in India), and is mostly associated with commercial cinema, mainly with song & dance), and a special, new-found, global admiration for mystic & spiritual India. The Hippie culture had a major influence in India and Nepal.

In the west, the 60’s, revolutionised Cinema. In Europe, Art Cinema, especially The French New Wave (La Nouvelle Vague), brought out a modernist (non-commercial, yet loved by modern intellectual youths) form of film, as never before; with François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard at the helm. Elsewhere, Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman, Chilean film director Alexandro Jodorowsky, Polish film directors Roman Polanski & Wojciech Jerzy, Italian film directors Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini & Pier Paolo Pasolini, Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa, and Indian film directors Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen & Ritwik Ghatak (all in the Bengali language) brought about their own masterpieces of Art Cinema, with an International standard, in their respective countries.

Sandy Dennis, George Segal & Elizabeth Taylor, in a scene from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Sandy Dennis, George Segal & Elizabeth Taylor, in a scene from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Hollywood wasn’t far back, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), was America’s answer to the European Art House. Directed by Mike Nichols (this was his directorial debut feature), starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal & Sandy Dennis, and based on a play by Edward Albee, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, is today, considered a culturally relevant, a historically noteworthy, and an aesthetically significant, masterpiece of the American Art Film.

Movies also began to break taboos of sex, nudity and violence, with controversial directors like Pier Paolo Pasolini, Federico Fellini & Bernardo Bertolucci (in Italian Films), Roger Vadim (French Films), Roger Corman (American Films) and Raj Kapoor (Bollywood – Hindi Commercial Films), to name a few. The 60’s are also remembered in conjunction with the Spaghetti Westerns, a short lived trend, begun by Italian film director, Sergio Leon.

The Year: 1966

Tunisian-born Italian actress of Sicilian parentage, Claudia Cardinale, on the cover of (the July 1966 issue of) LIFE magazine

Tunisian-born, Italian actress, of Sicilian parentage, Claudia Cardinale, on the cover of (the July 1966 issue of) LIFE magazine

1966 saw, the Acid Test (a series of parties, in the mid-late 60’s, centred around the use of the psychedelic drug LSD, a.k.a. Acid) take place, at the historic music venue in San Francisco, California, The Fillmore. These acid trips lasted throughout the rest of the decade. The spy-plane, SR-71 Blackbird (which had it’s first flight in 1964), started operation. Cabinet Member, Robert C. Weaver, became the first African American to hold a cabinet position in the United States. Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, was elected Prime Minister of India, making her the first, and only, woman Prime Minister, in India, to hold office till date. She was also the second longest serving Prime Minister of India. Luna 9, an unmanned spacecraft landed on the Moon, making it the first controlled rocket-assisted landing. Later same year, Luna 10, was also launched, by the Russians. The Lunar Orbiter 1, the first U.S. spacecraft to orbit the moon, was also launched, much later, that year. A head to head space race. The Australian Dollar was introduced. John Lennon made the controversial remark, that ‘The Beatles were more popular than Jesus’; which, though there were no problems when it was first published in the United Kingdom, got him into trouble with Christian communities in the United States, when it was republished in the States. The Crown Princess of the Netherlands married a German, which sparked protests against the Groom. Meanwhile demonstrations were held, across the United States, against the Vietnam War. The opening of the Parliament of the United Kingdom was televised for the very first time. Ian Brady and Myra Hindley were finally convicted, for the murder of three children, in UK. In New York, thirteen square blocks of low rise buildings were cleared for construction of the World Trade Center (Twin Towers), and groundbreaking for the construction began.

Superstar Sophia Loren on the cover of LIFE (September 1966 issue) YEAR: NINETEEN SEXTY SEX

Superstar Sophia Loren on the cover of LIFE (September 1966 issue)
YEAR: NINETEEN SEXTY SEX

Star Trek (1966-1969), a sci-fi series, made it’s television debut, in America. The Black Panther Party was founded in USA. Japan introduced the Toyota Corolla. Chinese students were chased out of the Soviet Union. The Mothman was introduced, when a couple reported that they saw a strange moth like creature, in the States. Author Truman Capote, hosted a lavish, Black & White, masquerade ball, which was credited as being the Party of the century. Jack L. Warner sold Warner Bros. to Seven Arts Productions; And Hollywood actor, Ronald Reagan, was elected, as the Governor of California.

Sadly, 1966 also saw the demise of greats, such as; famed Swiss Sculptor Alberto Giacometti, notorious American gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, iconic Silent Film-star Buster Keaton, neo-classical Italian Artist Gino Severini, American Artist & Illustrator Maxfield Parrish, British Author Evelyn Waugh, German Expressionist Film producer Erich Pommer, Hollywood method-actor Montgomery Clift, American Poet & Art Critic Frank O’Hara, French Writer & Poet André Breton, Canadian Beautician & Entrepreneur Elizabeth Arden, and Cartoonist Walt Disney (the most prominent figure of the animation industry worldwide); to name some.

Now let’s have a look at some of the films that were released in:-
1966: The Year dubbed as Nineteen Sexty Sex!!!

Hays Code was almost nearing it’s death (the dreaded censorship laws that could have, but thankfully didn’t, kill off, the cinematic arts; with it’s silly rules and regulations), and Hays (the man who implemented these rules) himself had already been dead for just over a decade. The world was going through a new found sexual revolution, as was the film industry, especially Hollywood. And the out-dated production code by William Hays, was getting impossible to enforce (which was finally, completely, abandoned in 1968).

Boeing, Boeing (1965), was a quite hilarious comedy, with Tony Curtis &  Jerry Lewis in the lead. Though released in 1965, it's film posters, hinted what the following year should be known as.

Boeing, Boeing (1965), was quite a hilarious comedy, with Tony Curtis & Jerry Lewis, in the lead. Though released in 1965, it’s film posters, hinted at, what the following year, should be known as.

In April 1966, at the 38th  Annual Academy Awards, the family entertainer, Sound of Music (1965), grabbed the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar, winning five out of it’s ten nominations. Fred Zinnemann’s, A Man for all Seasons (1966), a historical biographical movie, based on an excellent play by Robert Bolt, ended up bagging six Oscars, the following year, including for ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’ and ‘Best Actor’, at the 39th Annual Academy Awards. Thus making it the best film of 1966. Love the movie, love the play. But let’s have a look at some of the movies, that defined the 60’s, and more specifically, Year: Nineteen Sexty Sex.

Blow-Up (1966), a near excellent British Film, by Italian director, Michelangelo Antonioni, is no doubt the perfect insight into the latter half of 60’s decade. Fashion, fashion photography, and sexy sizzling costumes of Swinging London, it encompasses the late 60’s to perfection. A very 60’s, Sexty Sex, film, set in the world of modern fashion, with a modern, youthful and open-minded, insight into the changing world.

Blow-Up (1966) - a movie that defined the 60's!!!!! TOP LEFT: Sarah Miles TOP RIGHT: Veruschka von Lehndorff & David Hemmings BOTTOM RIGHT: David Hemmings & Veruschka von Lehndorff  BOTTOM RIGHT: Topless/Shirtless Vanessa Redgrave & David Hemmings

Blow-Up (1966) – a movie that defined the late 60’s!!!!!
TOP LEFT: Sarah Miles
TOP RIGHT: Veruschka von Lehndorff & David Hemmings
BOTTOM LEFT: David Hemmings & Veruschka von Lehndorff
BOTTOM RIGHT: Topless/Shirtless – Vanessa Redgrave & David Hemmings

The plot deals with a fashion photographer, who one day accidentally takes shots of something, he shouldn’t have, in a park. Then a mysteriously beautiful woman walks into his life, under very suspicious circumstances. David Hemmings played the photographer, and Vanessa Redgrave, the mysterious beauty. The film also features a line of breathtakingly talented beauties, including Sarah Miles, Jane Birkin and German born fashion model, Veruschka von Lehndorff (daughter of a Prussian Count who was involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler, and thus killed for it), to name some. In addition to that, the film has some notable cameo’s by several well known personalities from 1966. Especially, worth watching out for a performance, by English Rock-Band, The Yardbirds. Hemmings’ character was inspired by the real life, Swinging London, photographer, David Bailey.

Blow-Up dared to be quite sexually provocative, especially for that era, and when it was released in the United States, it was in direct defiance with the ridiculous Hays Code. In fact, Blow-Up’s subsequent critical, and box-office, success, was a crucial cinematic-historical moment, leading to the ultimate elimination of the out-dated production code, in 1968.

Next let’s have a look at Sexty Sex’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which I mentioned earlier. One of my favourite films ever, which also happens to be among my own TOP-10 all time favourite movies (See my list Why I love …. from November/December 2012 on IMDB). Love the movie. Love the Book (Play).

My favourite film of Year: Nineteen Sexty Sex

My favourite film of Year: Nineteen Sexty Sex

The film is about, a miserable middle-aged couple, who regret their life together, having not achieved all they had hoped and desired for, when young. Set within one night, the older couple invite a younger couple for drinks, and play out their disappointments, with one another, at the younger couples’ expense.

Elizabeth Taylor, who was still in her early 30’s, at the time, is successfully turned into a bitter old frumpy woman in her 50’s. Yet, this violet eyed beauty, oozes with sex appeal, and easily seduces the younger married man. Taylor’s character, Martha, not only seduces the younger man, but the audience as well, openly, in front of her weak willed husband (played by real life husband, Richard Burton). Especially, watch out for her re-entry, after she changes her clothes; as the old woman, walks into the living room, in a low-cut, deep cleavage bearing outfit; she is still a far superior sexual being, than the mousy little wife of the younger man, Nick (played by George Segal), Honey (Sandy Dennis). Showcased with a shadowy outline, suggesting a sexual act in progress, seen through a bedroom window, this is another 60’s movie, which not only revolves around sexual human relationships; the older husband & wife, the younger husband & wife (a marriage based on a “hysterical pregnancy”), and the adulterous one night stand; but their vulgar tongued bitterness, is blatantly thrown at audiences, quite unapologetically. It’s an excellent movie, meant for mature audiences. Not just mature in age, but maturity of the mind, is a necessity, to watch an intellectual movie like this. Beautifully filmed in Black & White, the film is a complete psychoanalysis of the young and the old. The 60’s dared to release a movie like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which surpasses time, and can be relevant in any human relationship, in any era.

Sex on the Dance Floor: Liz Taylor & George Segal

Sex on the Dance Floor: Liz Taylor & George Segal

Then there is a really seductively intimate dance number, between Taylor and Segal, which is pure sex on the dance floor. My favourite movie from Nineteen Sexty Sex, Mike Nichols’ directorial debut, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, is a must watch, for any film buff, students of Cinema Literature, and students of Literature in the print form.

Natalie Wood was seen in two sexy releases, that year. One was the near excellent comedy, Penelope (1966), in which she plays a bored rich kleptomaniac, who robs her own husband’s bank (thus, the film/character namesake – is tagged as being, “the world’s most beautiful Bank-Robber”); and the other, a more serious, sizzling with heat, and female sexuality, movie, set in the depression era, in the Deep American South; This Property Is Condemned (1966). Another excellent masterwork of adult cinema. The latter film flaunts it’s female lead’s sexuality, thus feels more at-your-face sexual, than the comedy mentioned here. Also see my post Condemnation of a woman during the Depression era of the American south and Mai May Movies 2015 from May 2015.

Scenes from This Property is Condemned (1966)

Scenes from This Property is Condemned (1966)

Whilst the west, was coming to terms with exploring sexual topics in cinema, in the east, Indian cinema, specifically Bollywood’s commercial cinema, was starting open up topics of sex themselves. In Aakhri Khat (1966), we see a ditched beggar woman, die on the streets Bombay. Originally from Kulu district, of the state of Himachal Pradesh, she comes to Bombay, bearing child, to find the reason for her sufferings, Govind (Rajesh Khanna), a sculptor. Once the woman dies, the toddler is left on the buzy streets to fend for himself.

Directed by Chetan Anand, majority of the movie, is filmed with a hand-held camera, following a 15 month old infant, let loose in the city, taking in all the city sounds, under the cinematic direction of cinematographer, Jal Mistry. It’s an excellent movie. Am not going to go deep into the film. The implication of pre-marital sex wasn’t necessarily something new. But there is one beautiful scene, I’d like to mention. As the lost hungry child roams around the city, unaware of the death of his mother, he comes across a semi-nude statue of his mothers’, made by his father, Govind. The child at once recognises his mum, but doesn’t realise, it’s just a sculpture. The hungry crying child, is now delighted he found his mum, he feels safe, and slowly climbs it and tries to drink milk from her breast. That scene is so sad, so touching, your heart lets out. In one way there is a sense of eroticism, seeing a child trying to drink milk from a statue, but it’s also a heartrending moment in the movie. Aakhri Khat is an excellent movie, and this was superstar, Rajesh Khanna’s, very first role.

Vyjayanthimala in and as Amrapali (1966), based on the true life tragic story of a courtesan in 500 BC.

Vyjayanthimala in and as Amrapali (1966), in this historical epic, based on the true life, tragic story, of a courtesan, in 500 BC.

Bollywood actress, of southern Indian ancestry, Vyjayanthimala, appeared in two sexy roles, in 1966. One was, where she played a Princess, in Suraj (1966). An enjoyable enough movie, with beautiful songs, and an average story line. An OK venture, showcasing Vyjayanthimala’s sexy gait and bewitching beauty. But it was the historical epic, biographical movie, about a real life courtesan, Amrapali (1966), which was one of the best films she’s ever done, and encompasses her sexuality to the utmost. The concubine, mistress, of a tyrannical King, her dances, the beautiful body, is pure eroticism, and pure art. Set in 500 BC, under the rein of King Ajatashatru of Magadha empire, this is one of my favourite Bollywood films, and one of my favourite historical/Biographical epics. Amrapali was directed by Lekh Tandon.

Both these excellent Bollywood movies (Aakhri Khat & Amrapali), were selected as India’s official entry for the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category at the Academy Awards, but neither were selected as Oscar nominees.

Besides these Bollywood commercial films, 1966, also so the release of the Indian Art House Film, from the state of Bengal (in Bengali); Satyajit Ray’s Nayak (1966). A feminist writer, played by Sharmila Tagore, and a Bengali film star, played by Uttam Kumar, meet by chance in a train, travelling from Calcutta to New Delhi. Reluctant at first, for the feminist writer is full of contempt towards film stars, she ultimately decides to interview him. The whole movie, is a train journey, mainly set the restaurant car, where she interviews him. But the film is also a journey of understanding one another. The actor, slowly opens up, without hiding behind a façade, whilst the feminist softens her outlook towards the world of showbiz. By the end of the journey, as they part their ways, both have improved, through this journey of self-discovery, and an understanding of a non-judgemental outlook towards fellow human beings. One of my favourite Bengali movies, by one of the greatest Indian directors ever.

Cul-de-Sac 66'

Heading back to the United Kingdom, Polish director, Roman Polanski’s, Cul-de-Sac (1966), is another interesting, sexual and psychological thriller. A very weird movie dealing with sexual frustration, alienation and of-course the input of horror. A very good movie, which has all the Polanski trade-marks, seen in most of his films. Also see my post Roman Polanski & His Films from a couple of years ago.

Getting back to Hollywood, my favourite director, Alfred Hitchcock’s, Torn Curtain (1966), a movie that deals with an American physicist defecting (in pretence) onto the Iron Curtain, more specifically East Germany. Set and made, during the Cold War, and starring Julie Andrews and Paul Newman, this is not considered among the best of Hitchcockian films. Yet it’s still an excellent movie. Hitchcock was intrigued by the defection of British diplomats Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean to the Soviet Union in 1951, and thus the idea behind Torn Curtain was born.

Julie Andrews and Paul Newman in Torn Curtain (1966)

Julie Andrews and Paul Newman in Torn Curtain (1966)

The film has a very mild sex scene, with Andrews and Newman, in the beginning of the film. Yet, straight out of family entertainers like Mary Poppins (1964) and The Sound of Music, seeing Julie Andrews do a sex scene, was shocking for American audiences back then. But by the early 70’s, there were so much more, graphic, sex sequences, in movies like, A Clockwork Orange (1971), Last Tango in Paris (1972) and Don’t Look Now (1973), to name a few, that even the idea of being shocked at the sex scene in Torn Curtain was laughable. Paul Newman, also appears nude in a shower scene, but seen through a glass, the nudity isn’t that clearly visible.

Ebony Magazine covers from 1966, depicting celebs with their families.

Ebony Magazine covers from 1966, depicting celebs with their families.

1966, wasn’t all about sex, there were some beautiful non-sexual family films like, Born Free (1966), Mera Saaya (1966), How to Steal a Million (1966), Anupama (1966), Dil Diya Dard Liya (1966), A Man for all Seasons (mentioned above), for example. Yet the Audrey Hepburn movie, How to Steal a Million, can also be categorized as a  stylishly, sleek n’ sexy, movie of 1966. Other sexy films of 66’, include, Fantastic Voyage (1966), Teesri Manzil (1966), Frankie and Johnny (1966), 7 Women (1966), Love in Tokyo (1966), Teesri Kasam (1966), etc etc …

Scene from Masculin Féminin (1966)

Scene from Masculin Féminin (1966)

Then there are Sexty-Sex films I haven’t seen, but would love to, like, Un Homme et une Femme (1966), Masculin Féminin (1966), The Battle of Algiers (1966), Voyna i Mir Part-I & II (1966), Alfie (1966), Shiroi Kyotō (1966), Persona (1966), Is Paris Burning? (1966), The Face of Another (1966), Fahrenheit 451 (1966), The Sand Pebbles (1966), The Appaloosa (1966), The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming (1966), The Chase (1966), Madame X (1966), Funeral in Berlin (1966), Any Wednesday (1966), Triple Cross (1966 ), Made in U.S.A (1966), Hawaii (1966), La Curée (1966), The Blue Max (1966), Sex Quartet (1966), Gambit (1966), Kenka Erejî (1966), The Trouble with Angels (1966), The Professionals (1966), Sedmikrásky (1966), Daimajin (1966), Trunk to Cairo (1966), Au Hasard Balthazar (1966), Incompreso (1966), The Deadly Affair (1966), Pearls of the Deep (1966), Harper (1966), Our Man in Marrakesh (1966), Grand Prix (1966), Khartoum (1966), O Slavnosti a Hostech (1966), Andrei Rublev (1966), Nevada Smith (1966), The Fortune Cookie (1966), Arabesque (1966), The Wild Angels (1966), Tokyo Drifter (1966), Maya (1966), Uccellacci e Uccellini (1966), Seconds (1966), The War Is Over (1966), Faraon (1966), Kaleidoscope (1966), Ah Güzel Istanbul (1966), The Poppy is also a Flower (1966), Ostre Sledované Vlaky (1966), La noire de… (1966), Mamta (1966), The Pornographers (1966), Le Deuxième Souffle (1966), Krylya (1966), The Sandwich Man (1966), Chappaqua (1966), Syskonbädd 1782 (1966), Yeh Raat phir na Aaygi (1966), A Man Called Adam (1966), Es (1966), Signore & Signori (1966), Onna no Mizûmi (1966), Apa (1966), Les Créatures (1966), Zatôichi umi o Wataru (1966), Footsteps in the Snow (1966), La Vida de Pedro Infante (1966), Kiba Ôkaminosuke (1966), The Embryo Hunts in Secret (1966), Seasons of Our Love (1966), Una Vergine per il Principe (1966), After the Fox (1966), etc etc …. and so many more.

The cover of Film Review from December 1966

The cover of Film Review from December 1966

And then there are films that I haven’t watched, that am not that crazy about, but which are sexualised films (especially using actresses, with beautiful bodies, rather than acting talent – mostly B-movies, B-Horror/B-Sci-fi films), some of which were quite famous back in 1966, and some that sound so silly they were hardly worth mentioning, and audiences back then weren’t that crazy about checking out. The likes of, One Million Years B.C. (1966), Women of the Prehistoric Planet (1966), Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), Once Before I Die (1966), Blood Bath (1966), Queen of Blood (1966), The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966), Kill Baby, Kill (1966), Take Me Naked (1966) and Single Room Furnished (1966), to name some.

The 1960’s: One Great Decade!!!!!
The Year 1966: One Unique Year, especially for Cinema!!!!!

Veruschka and David Hemmings in Blow-Up  YEAR:1966

Veruschka and David Hemmings in Blow-Up
YEAR:1966

This post is about Sex in Film & the Sixties, and more specifically in 66’ (a.k.a. Sexty Sex); (Ironic, considering the fact, that my previous post, dealt with virginity, in Year 2015).

Meant for More Mature Audiences!!!!!
(Immature Adults – Stay Clear)

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense

This post, is my contribution for the Classic Movie History Project Blogathon, organised by fellow Bloggers of, Silver Screenings (Ruth), Movies Silently (Fritzi) & Once Upon a Screen (Aurora); and sponsored by Flicker Alley.
History Project  (JUNE 2015) LOGOThank you Ruth, Aurora and Fritzi for letting me be part of this interesting Blogathon. It’s five minutes to Midnight !!!!! Good Night!!!!! 🙂

Regards
Nuwan Sen

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Today, French Actor, Louis Garrel; one of my favourite celebrities, especially of the highly artistic, and intellectual, European Cinema, fame; begins his 33rd year in life on earth. I’ve been a fan of Louis Garrel, ever since I saw him in, Bernardo Bertolucci’s, The Dreamers (2003), almost 12 years ago.
Louis Garrel (June B'day)Born with a silver spoon; on the 14th of June, 1983, to film director, Philippe Garrel (son of actor Maurice Garrel), and actress Brigitte Sy; Louis Garrel was destined to be an integral part of cinema. But he has also proven his worth, being one of the finest actors in film industry today.

Louis Garrel began his film career at the age of 6, when he appeared in Philippe Garrel’s Les Baisers de Secours (1989), alongside his parents, who played the lead. But his next role came in Ceci est Mon Corps (2001), 12 years later. He wasn’t seen in any movie in between. Soon he gained international fame, when he played twin brother to Eva Green, in The Dreamers, co-starring Michael Pitt, and directed by the greatness of controversy, Bernardo Bertolucci (Also see my post Bernardo Bertolucci & His Films from March 2014).

The Trio of Dreamers  - Louis Garrel with Eva Green & Micheal Pitt

 The Trio of Dreamers: Louis Garrel with Eva Green & Micheal Pitt

I watched The Dreamers, when it premiered in Oslo, Norway, at a Film Festival, late 2003. Till date it’s my favourite film – on film buffs, of Bernardo Bertolucci, and of all three lead cast members, including Louis Garrel.

Since then I’ve seen him do some great work in films like, Ma Mère (2004), Dans Paris (2006), Les Chansons d’Amour (2007), La belle Personne (2008), and the short film Diarchia (2010). Being a fan Garrel, I need to catch up a bit more.
La JalousieMore recent movies of his, am really keen on checking out, include; Le Mariage à Trois (2010), Les Amours Imaginaires (2010), Les Bien-Aimés (2011), Un Château en Italie (2013), La Jalousie (2013), Saint Laurent (2014), L’Astragale (2015), Mon Roi (2015) and Les Deux Amis (2015); to name some.

Louis Garrel and Gaspard Ulliel in Saint Laurent (2014)

Louis Garrel and Gaspard Ulliel in Saint Laurent (2014)

Wishing Louis Garrel all the success in the world, cinematic and otherwise.
Happy 32nd Birthday.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Continuing reviewing the DVD films, brought from Down Under. This time some of the films I watched in December 2014.
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The Dangerous Llives of Altar Boys (poster)
A Teenage Prank gone Wrong – The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys

On December 3rd, 2014, watched this noughties flick set in the 70’s, directed by Peter Care, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002).

The film is about a group of rebellious teenage boys, from a strict catholic school, who are constantly getting into trouble. Prank after prank, their mischief gets out of hand, and one day, they try to steal a cougar to place it inside their school. This final prank, results in a grave tragedy, that could bring an end, to their happy go lucky, teenage lives, for good.

The brilliant actress, Jodie Foster, plays Sister Assumpta, a strict disciplinarian, who’s seen as a monster by her pupils. Yet, she’s not as bad, as the teenage students seem to see her as. Foster, though a great actress, hasn’t much of a role to explore in this movie. She’s good, but there is nothing great about her role. Any good enough actress, needn’t be a brilliant one, could have pulled it off. I personally feel Foster, who’s capable of so much more, was wasted in this film about teenage life. A very young, Emile Hirsch, is superb, as Francis Doyle, the protagonist of the film. The makings of a future great actor, are visible, in Hirsch’s portrayal of young rebel, here. As an adult, he’s done such amazing work in excellent films like, Into the Wild (2007), Milk (2008), and the near excellent, Taking Woodstock (2009) (See my post From The Wild to Woodstock: Happy Birthday Mr. E. Hirsch from couple of years ago). Kieran Culkin, though hasn’t done anything that great in recent years, has had the potential of being a superb actor, as one can tell, watching young Culkin in The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys. Plus he had proven his worth, as a child star, in bit roles; holding his own, along side his brother, Macaulay Culkin, in the two Home Alone (90’ & 92’) movies, and; in films like, Nowhere to Run (1993), She’s All That (1999), Music of the Heart (1999), The Cider House Rules (1999), and his excellent performance, in Igby Goes Down (2002).

Kieran Culkin and Emile Hirsch in a scene from The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002)

Kieran Culkin and Emile Hirsch in a scene from The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002)

The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, is a very creative coming of age film. It’s a teenage movie, for teenagers, about teenagers (though rated for a mature audience), yet, at the same time, it’s also very dark and tragic. Like My Girl (1991), which was a children’s film, about children, for children, yet dark and tragic at the same time. Of course My Girl, wasn’t exactly suitable for very little children. The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, is interestingly made, injecting the teenagers imaginary world, through animation, going parallel to the actual events in the movie. Plus it explores the contrast between a strict brainwashed religious upbringing, against teenagers growing up with a mind of their own, a brain that’s capable of thinking of themselves. At the same time, the extremities of the two worlds, are explored. Trying to brainwash growing up 14 year olds, only ends up pushing them further to the edge of rebellion, with disastrous results.

A very good movie, and I highly recommend it, especially for teenagers. 8/10!!!!

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An Ozzie Classic from The 80’s – The Man from Snowy River

Watched this Australian movie, The Man from Snowy River (1982), on the same night, 3rd of December, 2014.
The Man from Snowy RiverThere are very few Australian movies that I happen to like (and even fewer that I love), for example, Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) Excellent !!, Don’s Party (1976) Very Good !!, Gallipoli (1981) Excellent !!, The Year of Living Dangerously (1982) Excellent !!, A Cry in the Dark (1988) Very Good !!, Dead Calm (1989) Pretty Good !!, Proof (1991) Excellent !!, Muriel’s Wedding (1994) Near Excellence !!, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) Very Good !!, Lantana (2001) Pretty Good !!, Australian Rules (2002) Very Good !!, The Rage in Placid Lake (2003) Near Excellence !!, Go Big (2004) Pretty Good !!, The Proposition (2005) Near Excellence !! Little Fish (2005) Pretty Good !!, Ten Canoes (2006) Excellent !!, Book of Revelation (2006) Very Good !!, Australia (2008) Very Good!!, and Balibo (2009) Near Excellence!! to name a few. I had heard about this famous classic called, The Man from Snowy River, being Australia’s answer to Hollywood’s Gone with the Wind (1939), as the 1977 novel Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough was supposed to be the Australian Gone with the Wind (the 1936 novel) by Margaret Mitchell. Thorn Birds was an excellent novel, that I read back in the 90’s, but The Man from Snowy River, isn’t anywhere as epic as (the movie) Gone with the Wind, was. Yet, this famed classic from down under, is still an excellent movie, and among the greatest films ever made, worldwide.

Based on a poem, from 1890, by Australian Bush Poet, Banjo Paterson, The Man from Snowy River, tells the tale of a young man, who single-handed, recaptures a colt of a prize-winning racehorse, that had escaped and been residing amongst wild horses. Of course the movie version is injected with, young love, misunderstandings and melodrama. But the blend of all these ingredients, along with some superb cinematography, and thrilling horse riding sequences, result in an excellence of movie making. A marvellous classic. 10/10!!!!!

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A Conniving Man’s Success Story – The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Watched this bio-pic, based on the life of Jordan Ross Belfort; a notorious American stockbroker, who pleaded guilty to fraud and crimes in connection with stock market manipulation, and other related crimes; called The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), on 4th December, 2014.

Wow!! Shockingly Great!!! What great performances!!! Director Martin Scorsese, has managed to get his actors to push their limits, to bring out the best of the sleazy world of cheats, money, fraudulence, sex, drugs, prostitution and alcohol. The most disgusting characters in the world, performed to perfection, by some of the best actors we have today. Leonardo DiCaprio, is seen here in one of his best performances ever. He definitely deserved the Oscar nod, last year (see my post Leonardo DiCaprio: Always the Oscar Bait, Never the Winner from March 2014 for my ). Raw, exposed and hardcore, the movie doesn’t shy away from extremist debauchery, sleaze and graphic sexual content. It’s surprising to see DiCaprio pull this off, with such ease, especially, as a decade ago, he supposedly turned down the role of ‘Matthew’, in Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers (2003), because of it’s explicit nature. He’s grown up since then, as a person and an actor, who dares to experiment. Like the Scorsese/Robert De Niro combination in the past, Scorsese & DiCaprio together, happen to be a superb Director-Actor duo, who have brought out some great films in the recent past. Yet this is the finest work, they’ve made together, so far. May they keep getting better. Director Martin Scorsese is the best thing to have happened to  Leonardo DiCaprio’s career.

On the sets of The Wolf of Wall Street.  Martin Scorsese directing Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie.

On the sets of The Wolf of Wall Street.
Martin Scorsese directing Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie.

The surprise package of the movie, happens to be, Jonah Hill. Who unexpectedly brings out a marvellous performance as Donnie Azoff, Belfort’s business partner. Australian actress, Margot Robbie, plays Belfort’s second wife, Naomi Lapaglia. Her portrayal too is superb as a trophy wife. Some may consider her portrayal sexist, and demeaning to women. Not just her, but the way women are showcased in The Wolf of Wall Street in general. But the movie is about a sexist egoistic man’s world, more accurately the sordid corrupt world of Jordan Ross Belfort. Yet Belfort is loved by his colleagues and people who work under him, for he has made them rich, through conning the rich and the poor alike, respectable or not.

This movie also has some pretty filthy language, as never seen before. The level of profanity, exceeds to unimaginable peaks. The word ‘fuck’ (along with its numerous conjugations) is used 569 times, making this the film with the most use of the ‘F’ word, in a main-stream feature film, ever, till date. Added to which, the film offers other derogatory terms and countless obscenities.

The Wolf of Wall Street is one of the best movies ever made, about one of the worst people ever to have existed in the financial world of Wall Street. Taking a cue from the films, specifically Belfort’s, vocabulary, I just have to say this, about the lead actor. Leonardo DiCaprio, you are a fucking genius. So is the movie. Pure Excellence 10/10!!!!!

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Slapstick 60’s, with a Great Cast – What’s new Pussycat?

Crazy is as Crazy Goes. Watched this enjoyable comedy, starring Peter O’Toole, Peter Sellers, Romy Schneider, Capucine, Paula Prentiss, Françoise Hardy and Woody Allen (in his introductory role), on the 5th of December, 2014. What’s new Pussycat (1965) deals with a compulsive playboy, Michael James (O’Toole), whose shrink, Dr. Fritz Fassbender (Sellers), happens to be crazier than he is.

What’s New Pussycat (1965)

Woody Allen, Romy Schneider & Peter O’Toole in What’s New Pussycat (1965)

What’s new Pussycat is a hilarious, colourful, wacky, British comedy, set and shot in Paris. O’Toole’s character, Michael James, happens to be a womaniser, but not by choice. Since his young age, women just seem to be attracted by him, thus all he’s doing his pleasing them. Women just seem to fall from the sky for him, literally, Ursula Andress, in a cameo, accidentally parachutes into his ‘1936 Singer Le Mans’ car, a classic open hooded British car. Yet James loves his fiancée, Carole Werner (Schneider), and desperately tries to be faithful to her. So he decides to get help, from psychoanalyst, Dr. Fritz Fassbender. Peter Sellers is, crack up laughing, hilarious, as the crazed Dr. Fassbender, who only ends up feeling jealous at poor James’ dilemma, and wonders what his problem is. Worse, when the lady, Renée Lefebvre (Capucine), whom the very married Dr. Fassbender, happens to be stalking, too falls, head over heels, for James, adding to James’ femme nightmare. Paula Prentiss too is superb as the clingy neurotic American, who constantly, tries to unsuccessfully kill herself, making James constantly getting an emergency doctor down to save her. The nurse that comes along, too seems attracted to James. Hilarious as hilarity goes, Romy Schneider, is enjoyable as his fiancée, trying her best to trust him, but who keeps ending up finding James in suspicious circumstances, involving other women.

Things go crazier than crazy, when the whole cast end up at the Chateau Chantelle hotel, in the French countryside, unaware of each others presence.

Though not among the greatest comedies ever, this absurdist romp, of what can also be seen, as glued up sequences of hilarious skits, minus a real plot, to make up, a less than 2 hour, movie, is definitely worth a watch. Quite Good. 7/10!!! 

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Consequences of Drug Addiction – Panic in Needle Park

Al Pacino & Kitty Winn (Al Pacino - inset as well) in a scene from Panic in Needle Park (1971)

Al Pacino & Kitty Winn (Al Pacino – inset as well) in a scene from Panic in Needle Park (1971)

Starring Al Pacino; as a drug dealer and addict who helps a sickly woman (Kitty Winn) worse off than he is, yet gets deeper into drug addiction, dragging her down along with him, and is unable to save, neither her nor himself; Panic in Needle Park (1971) is a hardcore, near perfect, depiction of the consequences of being addicted to heroin. Watched it on 12th & 13th of December, 2014.

A stark portrayal of the lives of heroin addicts in the early 70’s New York. The story deals with heroin dealer and addict, Bobby (Pacino), who falls in love with a sickly unhappy girl, Helen Reeves (Winn). He decides to help her, but unaware, he gets her hooked into heroin as well. Thus begins their decent into a deepening hellish world with no scope for escape. The film is so realistically filmed, Panic in Needle Park, was among the significant phase of the ‘X’ rated movies, to come out in the early 70’s. Especially, for it’s harsh depiction of the intricate ritual of preparing and injecting the heroin into a vein, ‘shooting up’ drugs, and various graphic imagery related to heroin addiction. Heroin usage is prevalent throughout the movie.

The movie is a near excellent insight into the world of drugs and deterioration, along with innocence and entrapment. The film also marked Al Pacino’s and Kitty Winn’s, first lead roles.

Director Jerry Schatzberg, was nominated for the ‘Palme d’Or’, and Kitty Winn won the ‘Best Actress’ Award, at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival.

Pure Realism. 9/10!!!!

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Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii

Hawaiian Musical Dream – Blue Hawaii

Watched Blue Hawaii (1961), with Elvis Presley, and bevy of Beach Babes, on 18th December, 2014.

The Plus+ side – Beautiful rhythmic Songs, Beautiful scenic Beaches, Beautiful people, and one of the rare movies which showcases a male lead that is prettier that his female co-stars. Added to which, a superb actress like, Angela Lansbury, playing mother to Elvis Presley, is a major plus point.

The down side – Not much of plot, and a somewhat predictable story, so far as the love story goes. Yet the music, the comedy and the beautiful star cast, make Blue Hawaii an enjoyable experience.

The story is about Chad Gates (Presley), who returns to Hawaii, after serving his tenure in the Army. His filthy rich parents want him to join the family business, but he has other idea’s for his future.

Being the very first Elvis film to be shot in Hawaii, Blue Hawaii, was quite well received, by youngsters, at the time, and happens to be among the ‘Top-10’, top grossing, movies of 1961. An enjoyable viewing. Love the Presley songs. Love the Presley voice. Love the Presley look.
Pretty Good movie to sit through. 7/10!!!

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Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

P.S. Also see my posts DVD Films From Last Month PART-IDVD Films From Last Month PART-II from December 2014.

DIARCHIA (Diarchy)

Just watched the French short film, Diarchia (2010) on Youtube. The quality wasn’t that great, but the movie was totally worth it.
DiarchiaTwo men are driving through the woods, through a rain storm, in a Mercedes Benz, listening to Tim Buckley’s Song to the Siren. They reach’s ones parents’ mansion. Soon we learn they aren’t that familiar with each other. They discuss a unique sculpture in the house, among the beautiful collection, and analyse it. One provokes the other to a friendly homoerotic fight, with dangerous consequences. Soon the sister of one comes home, unaware her brother might be dead and that there’s a stranger in the house.

A really interesting 18 minute short film, with a bizarre unexpected ending. This is the debut film of director Ferdinando Cito Filomarino. He’s made a couple of more since then. Diarchia stars Louis Garrel, Riccardo Scamarcio and Alba Rohrwacher.

I have been a great fan of Louis Garrel, since I watched Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers (2003), on the big screen, back in 2003, in Oslo, Norway. Have seen quite a few films starring Louis Garrel since then, including Christophe Honoré’s Ma Mère (2004), Dans Paris (2006), Les Chansons d’Amour (2007) and La Belle Personne (2008). The last two I watched in Paris itself, on the small screen. Louis Garrel’s superbly a very naturalistic actor. Love his movies, his varied roles, and loved Diarchia.

Diarchia (2010)
My Rating – 10/10
Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
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B.Bertolucci

Bernardo Bertolucci & I
My introduction to Bernardo Bertolucci was as a teenager, back in the early/mid 1990’s, when I was awed by the spectacle that was The Last Emperor (1987). A movie I was reprimanded for watching, as supposedly it was not suitable for a 16/17 year old. Even at that age I was aware that I had actually just witnessed an artistic piece of cinematic excellence. What I should have realised at that age, but didn’t, is that I did not belong in this aesthetically depressive dump hole. But I knew that my taste was a bit high for these so called older and wiser idiots to ever comprehend. If they had a problem with me watching such a fine piece of cinema, ’twas because of their own perverted mentality, not mine. None the less, till date, I think The Last Emperor is the best film Bertolucci has made, and my second favourite, besides all the bad memories associated with watching it.
Next, still in my teens, was Little Buddha (1993), in 1994, when we went back to live in New Delhi, after an unpleasant hiatus of six years away from my country of birth to the country of unfortunate roots. Coming from a Buddhist background, minus the deep blinded faith of the religion, instead having a more open minded modern acceptance of the philosophical aspects of Buddhism, Little Buddha was a must watch for me. Though no where as near as excellent as The Last Emperor, I really enjoyed Little Buddha, and thought it was a very good movie.

Bertolucci (80's & 90's)

Bertolucci’s Childhood
Bertolucci was born in the region of Emilia-Romagna, in the city of Parma, in Italy, on the 16th of March 1940. His mother was a teacher, and father, Attilio Bertolucci, a reputed poet, art historian, anthologist and film critic. Bertolucci, also has a younger brother, who is a theatre director and playwright. Thanks to his family background, Bertolucci, started writing at a very young age and as a teenager, received several prestigious literary prizes.
Wishing to be a poet, like his famous father, Bertolucci, attended the ‘Faculty of Modern Literature’, at the University of Rome, from 1958 to 1961. But meanwhile, his father having helped, famed Italian film director, Pier Paolo Pasolini, to publish his first novel, Pasolini reciprocated by hiring Bernardo Bertolucci, as a first assistant in Rome for Pasolini’s film, Accattone (1961), thus Bertolucci left the University without graduating.
At 22, Bertolucci directed his first movie, La Commare Secca (1962), for which the screenplay was written by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Post that, Bertolucci decided to leave behind ‘s poetic ideals, and make it on his own. Giving birth to his second, and more acclaimed, film, Prima Della Rivoluzione (1964), a.k.a. Before the Revolution. The rest, as we know, is history.

Prima Della Rivoluzione by Bernardo Bertolucci

Before and After The Sexual Revolution
After having watched two Bertolucci films, in my teens, the next one I watched, was The Sheltering Sky (1990), in 2002 in London, eight years after watching Little Buddha. A beautiful drama set in the deserted landscape of the African continent, where an American couple travel aimlessly searching for new experiences in the late 1940’s. The Sheltering Sky stars John Malkovich, who is superb as always, Debra Winger and Campbell Scott.
And then I watched the acclaimed, Prima Della Rivoluzione, mentioned above, in 2003, in Oslo, I loved this Italian classic, the only Italian language film of Bertolucci I’ve seen till date. The story is about a May/December romance, set in the backdrop of Italy’s ideologies (much like protagonist’s) torn between their comfortable Bourgeois lifestyle and flirtation with communist theory, released just before the sexual revolution of the 60’s. A study of youth at the edge of adulthood. The lead actress, Adriana Asti, was married to Bertolucci, later divorced.
Soon, in 2003, Oslo, itself, I got a chance to watch The Dreamers (2003), on the big screen there, when it premiered for an Oslo film festival. That was my first and only Bertolucci on the big screen till date. I fell in love with this film about three innocent film buffs, with liberated views, living in a dream world, as the 1968 riots unfold outside in Paris. Thus, set during the height of the sexual revolution. The movie starts with the sacking of famed French film archivist, Cinephile and co-founder of the Cinémathèque Française, Henri Langlois, and ends during the Parisian ‘Student Occupation Protests’, of May 68’. The Dreamers, is my favourite Bernardo Bertolucci venture till date. And I’ve seen it numerous times since then. Post that I watched the controversial Last Tango in Paris (1972), in Oslo itself, and Besieged (1999), while residing in Portsmouth, UK, in 2004.
BB's The Dreamers (03')The Last Scandal of Bertolucci
Last Tango in Paris (1972), was a movie I didn’t really enjoy that much, but happens to be a very good movie, and worth checking out at least once. Made, based on Bertolucci’s sexual fantasies (apparently he once dreamed of seeing a beautiful nameless woman on the street and having sex with her without ever knowing who she was), it is the most scandalous movie Bertolucci has ever made till date, especially due to the graphic rape scene using butter. Actress Maria Schneider, was unaware of such a scene, and was told just before the take that her character was to be raped. She felt she was manipulated and forced to do a scene that was not on the script, and she later mentioned that in that scene, she was not acting but, ‘‘I was crying real tears. I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon (Brando) and by Bertolucci. After the scene, Marlon didn’t console me or apologise.’’ She also added much later that her biggest regret in life was making this movie, and that it ruined her life. She never spoke to Bertolucci after that and never forgave him, even in death, for what she considered an emotional rape. Maria Schneider died of cancer, in February 2011. In 2013, Bertolucci, expressed sadness of his treatment of Maria Schneider stating that, Maria was just, ‘‘a 19-year old who, had never acted before. Maybe, sometimes in the movie, I didn’t tell her what was going on because I knew her acting would be better. So, when we shot this scene with Marlon using butter on her, I decided not to tell her. I wanted a reaction of frustration and rage’’. Yet Bertolucci also mentioned that even though he felt guilty, he did not regret it.
Marlon Brando too felt emotionally raped, and avoided contact with Bertolucci, but reconciled 15 years later. About Marlon Brando, Bertolucci had said that he is, ‘‘an angel as a man, a monster as an actor’’.

Last Tango in Paris (1972)

Academy Awards & Recognition
Bernardo Bertolucci’s film Partner (1968), entered the 29th Venice Film Festival and the 22nd Cannes Film Festival. Amore e Rabbia (1969) entered 19th Berlin International Film Festival, where he was nominated for the Golden Berlin Bear. Il Conformista (1970), earned Bertolucci, many award wins at prestigious ceremonies, including the Golden Berlin Bear, and Bertolucci was nominated for ‘Best Screenplay’ at the Academy Awards in 1972. His very first Oscar nod. Yet it was the controversial Last Tango in Paris (1972) that gained him international recognition (and notoriety), along with two Oscar nominations, for ‘Best Actor’ (to Marlon Brando), and ‘Best Director’ for Bertolucci. Many wins and nominations followed his work then on forward, but it was Bertolucci’s bio-pic, The Last Emperor (1987), gained him an even greater, better reputed, recognition, as one of greatest film director’s ever. It was the first feature film authorized by the Chinese government to film in the Forbidden City in Beijing. The film won all the nine awards it was nominated for, at the Academy Awards, including ‘Best Picture’ and ‘Best Director’. Bertolucci’s biggest Oscar triumph yet. He also won two awards at the Golden Globes. Post that he had many other wins and nominations for various films at various ceremonies, yet nothing broke the his record wins of The Last Emperor. Definitely the best film he’s ever made, and my second favourite Bertolucci. In 2007, Bertolucci won the Golden Lion for his career at the Venice Film Festival, and in recognition of his work, he was presented with the inaugural Honorary Palme d’Or Award at the opening ceremony of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.

BB's Last Emperor

The Last Emperor (1987)

Bertolucci appeals for a fellow Film director
Director Bernardo Bertolucci, was among the people who signed an appeal to the Swiss government to release Roman Polanski, who was being held while waiting to be extradited to the United States, in September 2009.
(Also see my post Roman Polanski & His Films from September 2013)Director Bernardo Bertolucci - On the sets of ...

Bertolucci Films am yet to watch
I have so many Bertolucci, films I haven’t seen yet, including La Commare Secca (1962), Il Conformista (1970), Novecento/1900 (1976), La Luna (1979), La Tragedia di un Uomo Ridicolo (1981), Stealing Beauty (1996) and Io e Te (2012), to name a few.

Io e Te (2012)

Io e Te (2012)

Belated Birthday wishes to Bertolucci
Bertolucci celebrated his 74th Birthday on Sunday, the 16th of March, 2014. Wishing him all the best for his future endeavours. (Also see my list BB: Set Of Seven On IMDB, made on his 73rd Birthday, last year)

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Six Degrees of Separation: from Whoopi Goldberg to

Whoopi Goldberg 6°

… John Buchan
Goldberg played an unloved, lonely, young girl; leading a life under constant abusive circumstances, first by her father and then by her husband, in the early 20th century; in The Color Purple (1985), which was directed by Steven Spielberg (1), who also directed War Horse (2011), starring Jeremy Irvine (2), who acted in the most recent adaptation of Great Expectations (2012), an acclaimed novel by Charles Dickens (3), whose novel Oliver Twist has been the basis for many a movies, and one of the most famous adaptations happens to be the 1948 release, directed by David Lean (4), who also directed A Passage to India (1984), which starred Peggy Ashcroft (5), who appeared in The 39 Steps (1935), which was based on a novel by John Buchan (6).

… Gary Cooper
Goldberg  starred alongside Stephen Collins (1) in Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986), who came in the tragic love story The Promise (1979), which was later adapted into a novel by Danielle Steel (2), a rarity; as generally films are adapted into movies, but seldom are movies a basis for books; and Steel’s 1988 novel Zoya; a story about a Russian heiress who had to flee from her country,  during the 1917 Russian Revolution; was adapted into a television film, Zoya (1995), in which the titular character was played by Melissa Gilbert (3) who, as a child artiste, acted in the television series Little House on the Prairie (1974-1983), where Michael Landon (4) played her father, and Landon started his career with a bit role in These Wilder Years (1956), starring Barbara Stanwyck (5), who starred alongside Gary Cooper (6) in Ball of Fire (1941).

… Peter Ustinov  
Goldberg  recently was seen as a guest star in quite a few episodes of the musical television comedy series, Glee (2012 – till now), which starred the late Corey Monteith (1) who died three months ago, aged 31, of a drug overdose, and Monteith appeared in Monte Carlo (2011) in which French actor Pierre Boulanger (2) had a small role, and Boulanger, as a childe artiste, starred opposite the legendary Omar Sharif (3) in Monsieur Ibrahim et Les Fleurs du Coran (2003), and Sharif starred in the psychological drama, The Appointment (1969); where he played a man suspecting his wife to be a high-class prostitute; which was directed by Sidney Lumet (4), as was, Murder on the Orient Express (1974), which was based on a mystery novel by Agatha Christie (5), as was Death on the Nile (1978), where the lead sleuth was played by British Born actor; with Russian, German, French, Italian and Ethiopian, aristocratic, roots; Peter Ustinov (6).

Whoopi Goldberg Six Degree connections°
… Romain Duris
Goldberg  played a comical psychic in Ghost (1990), where the ghost was played by Patrick Swayze (1), who starred in The Outsiders (1983), directed by Francis Ford Coppola (2), whose most noteworthy directorial venture happens to be The Godfather trilogy (1972, 1974 & 1990), and in the first Godfather film, Marlon Brando (3) starred as ‘The Godfather’, and in the same year, Brando was seen in the very controversial, Last Tango in Paris (1972), directed by Bernardo Bertolucci (4), who directed French actor Louis Garrel (5) in The Dreamers (2003), and Garrel played brother to Romain Duris (6) in Dans Paris (2006).

…Daniel Radcliffe
Goldberg  played ‘God’ in A Little Bit of Heaven (2011), which starred Mexican actor, Gael García Bernal (1), who played Che Guevara (2) in The Motorcycle Diaries (2004); a movie set before Guevara became a rebel; directed by Walter Salles (3), who directed On The Road (2012); a movie on the post WWII, Beat Generation, of the 40’s & 50’s; where actor Tom Sturridge (4) played famed poet Allen Ginsberg (5), who was portrayed by Daniel Radcliffe (6), in Kill Your Darlings (2013).

… Scott Baio  
Goldberg  played the lead in Steven Spielberg’s (1) The Color Purple (1985), and Spielberg directed Schindler’s List (1993); the real life story, of how one German Businessman, managed to save 1,100 Jewish lives during, the second world war, from being gassed at the ‘Auschwitz’ concentration camp; starring Ben Kinsley (2), who previously starred in the bio-pic, Gandhi (1982); another real life account of a modern day saint, this time set during India’s Freedom struggle, towards the end of the British Raj, in the early 20th century, where an Indian lawyer revolts against British oppression through his philosophy of non-violence; which co-starred Ian Charleson (3), who also came in Chariots of Fire (1981); a film about two athletes competing in the 1924 Olympics; which also had Brad Davis (4), one of whose best work was in the film, Midnight Express (1978), directed by Alan Parker (5); which too was based on a true story; and Parker directed the bio-pic, Bugsy Malone (1976); the real life gangster story with an all child cast playing adult characters; where the titular character was played by Scott Baio (6).

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense ()

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