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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mariel Hemingway in The Mean Season (1985)

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

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

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

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

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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

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

Nuwan Sen

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The 71st Cannes Film Festival finally came to an end, last night. The Palme d’Or for Year 2018, was awarded to 万引き家族 Manbiki Kazoku (2018) a.k.a. Shoplifters, to film director, Hirokazu Kore-eda, by Jury President Cate Blanchett. Like the previous two lazed posts, for this year, let the pictures do the talking.

Palme d’Or Winner for 2018: Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda (seen here with Cate Blanchett)

Caméra d’Or Winner: Lukas Dhont

Grand Prix: Spike Lee (Benicio del Toro looks on, as Lee gives his speech)

Lebanese director Nadine Labaki speaks after winning the Cannes Jury Award for Capernaum (2018); as her husband, Khaled Mouzanar, and actor Gary Oldman, look on

Special Palme d’Or was awarded to the legendary Jean-Luc Godard, for Le Livre d’Image (2018) a.k.a. The Image Book
Actress Cate Blanchett seen here holding the Golden Palm

Congratulations to all the winners (including the ones not mentioned here) of the Cannes Film Festival for 2018!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Today happens to be, actress n’ beauty queen, Michelle Pfeiffer’s, 60th Birthday!!! A very Happy Birthday to the Pfabulous Ms. Pfeiffer !!!!! ❤

Michelle Pfeiffer has worked with an array of interesting co-stars, from much older men to way younger men, women, teenagers and children, in her Pfabulous Pforty year career. And she’s shared a great onscreen chemistry, with practically anybody, she’s worked with. In this post, I shall be briefly discussing some of the best chemistry, she’s had with certain male co-stars, on the Big Screen.

I’ve titled this post, Catwoman Chemistry, not just ’cause she played the comic book character of ‘catwoman’, onscreen; but also as a poetic allegory to her graceful catlike gait. 👠

Mrs. Scarface & Johnny Montana

Scarface (1983), no doubt happens to be one of the best movies she’s appeared in. And what a superb performance, early on in her career. Plus, to star opposite the brilliant Pacino; in a creation written by Oliver Stone, and directed Brian De Palma; that itself would have been a great honour. They later appeared together in the romantic 90’s love story, Frankie & Johnny (1991).

Scarface, no doubt happens to be one of most violent films ever made; a brilliant masterwork, to come out in a decade, Hollywood was on a notorious decline, with cheesy B-movies (B-grade Blockbusters; which are a craze today, among tasteless youth of the 21st century; and other immature adults). Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer, are superb together, and they compliment one another to perfection.

Michelle Pfeiffer & Al Pacino in scenes from Scarface (1983)

Michelle Pfeiffer plays a cocaine addict, and had to starve herself for the role. Recently, at the 35th anniversary showing of Scarface, Pfeiffer was asked how much she weighed. Initially horrified, but soon realizing why she was asked the question, she answered that she was starving by the end of the shoot. A virtual unknown at the time, yet already a professional to give so much for her role. She plays a wife of a drug dealer (Robert Loggia), who, when she’s widowed, ends up marrying the man responsible for the death of her much older husband, Tony Montana (Al Pacino). With perfect chemistry Pacino & Pfeiffer, showcase a couple in love, lust and abuse.

Of course, I watched this excellent mobster film, a re-make of a 1932 classic (that am yet to see); the setting of which was brought forward into the 1980’s; around 15 years ago. I’d love to re-watch it, truly a masterpiece of film making.

From the glamorously sexy portrayals of Pacino & Pfeiffer, in Scarface; almost a decade later, they re-unite; this time playing lower income, yet similarly emotionally scarred, individuals, working in a diner. Too intense to be called a rom-com, this is more serious; somewhat realistic piece of a cinema; which ends up being a really good (though not excellent) Love Story. Again, Pacino & Pfeiffer, are a pure perfection together. This movie, inspired by a song composed in 1899; of which various movies were made prior to this 1991 classic, from the 30’s to the 60’s, including a (i.e. 66′) version, starring Elvis Presley; is a touchingly bleak depiction, of love and loneliness, lost in the vast cascades of the crowded hustle and bustle of the city of New York.

Pfeiffer Trivia: Michelle Pfeiffer has received 3 Academy Award nominations to date, ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for Dangerous Liaisons (1988), ‘Best Actress’ for The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989), & ‘Best Actress’ for Love Field (1992). She is yet to win an Oscar!!!

Catwoman & Batman

Now to one of her most seductive roles, the catty Catwoman. This near excellent comic book adaptation, by Tim Burton, paired Pfeiffer opposite Michael Keaton. She, as Catwoman, vows vengeance against the man who tried to kill her; yet her revengeful nature affects her towards such a negative point, she ends up wanting to get rid of the heroic vigilante, of the dark, Gotham City, Batman, himself.

Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Keaton, in a scene from Batman Returns (1992)

Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer have superb chemistry, as Frenemies. Lovers, in their civilian personas; as Bruce Wayne & Selina Kyle; and foes under leather/latex (Batman & Catwoman). Pfeiffer endured 12 to 14 work hours at a time; dressed in that skintight outfit. Getting in and out of the costume had been thoroughly laborious, as it was designed to fit around her body. Her hard work paid off, as there has never been a better Catwoman, to date; despite many other credible actresses donning a similar catsuit, to play this iconic character.

That Romantic Comedy Co-star

One Fine Day (1996), is an enjoyable romantic-comedy depicted within (as the title suggests) “one fine day”. Though it has the notorious, “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” type, battle of the sexes, similar to the American sex-comedies of yore; sex-comedies, like The Seven Year Itch (1955), Pillow Talk (1959), Some Like It Hot (1959), Irma la Douce (1963) and Sex and the Single Girl (1964), to name some; One Fine Day, is no doubt, a rom-com. 1990’s was definitely the last decade to bring out romantic-comedies; today most rom-coms, tend to be just silly chick flicks; meant for giggly headed teenage girls. They don’t make rom-coms, like It Happened One Night (1934), Ball of Fire (1941), Sabrina (1954), Ariane – Love in the Afternoon (1957), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Annie Hall (1977), When Harry Met Sally… (1989) Notting Hill (1999), et al, anymore. The only excellent rom-com, from this century, I can think of, is Prime (2005); which too I liked more because of Meryl Streep’s brilliantly hilarious performance, as a psychoanalyst of her son’s much older girlfriend.

George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer are perfectly in sync, in One Fine Day. Their witty banter, their mutual dislike for one another (which obviously meant they’d fall head over heels by the end of the movie), and their similar situations. A film the whole family can enjoy.

Beaus from Period Pieces

Besides starring in modern day settings, Pfeiffer has some brilliant roles in period films to her credit. In Dangerous Liaisons (1988); set in 18th century Paris (before the start of the French Revolution, of 1789, an era of decadence); Michelle Pfeiffer plays Madame de Tourvel, a chaste, devoutly religious wife of a member of Parliament. Soon she’ll be seduced, by the corrupt, Vicomte de Valmont (played with brilliance, by John Malkovich). She is doomed, yet Valmont falls for her too. A truly excellent tragic drama. John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer were perfectly cast, although it’s hard to imagine them together in a more modern setting.

If she was a victim in, Stephen Frears’, Dangerous Liaisons, she plays the predator in The Age of Innocence (1993) and Chéri (2009).

Period Pfeiffers
Left: Pfeiffer with John Malkovich in Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
Right: Pfeiffer with Daniel Day-Lewis in The Age of Innocence (1993)
Inset: Pfeiffer with Rupert Friend in Chéri (2009)

In Martin Scorsese’s, The Age of Innocence, we see her character seduce a young lawyer, played by Daniel Day-Lewis (though not in a conniving way, as Valmont did in Dangerous Liaisons); and similarly her much older character in Chéri, seduces a much younger man (Rupert Friend), a son of a courtesan. Pfeiffer again has perfect chemistry with both her co-stars. With Day-Lewis, her peer, it’s obvious why they are well suited; but what’s surprising is how well Friend and Pfeiffer, fare, together. The Age of Innocence, set in the 19th century, is yet another great adaptation of a classic novel. But, unlike Stephen Frears’ earlier venture (i.e. Dangerous Liaisons), his Chéri, falls short. None the less, Chéri, set in early 1900’s, late Belle Époque period, in Paris, is still a pretty good movie.

Real Life on Reel Life

The Beauty Queen
Left: Michelle Pfeiffer won the Miss Orange County beauty pageant in 1978, and participated in the Miss California contest the same year. Seen here winning the 6th place.
Right: In Hairspray (2007), she plays an ageing Beauty Queen.

In the really good cinematic remake, that was Hairspray (2007), she has fun and looks great, in a catty performance. We see Pfeiffer, quite unsuccessfully, trying to seduce a hilarious Christopher Walken character. They have a fun musical number together, and Michelle Pfeiffer proves she’s still a knockout, in the 50th year of her life. She was 49 years old, when the new Hairspray was released (I haven’t seen the original 1988 version). In the movie, we see that Pfeiffer’s character was beauty queen, in her youth, which she was in reality too (pictured above).

Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds (1995)

Besides the 7 male co-stars, of hers, I’ve spoken of; Michelle Pfeiffer has appeared in so many notable roles; whether the films themselves were great or not. Some other movies of her to watch out for, include, Dangerous Minds (1995), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999), The Story of Us (1999), What Lies Beneath (2000), White Oleander (2002), The Family (2013). As I said, some of these might not be great; a couple of them, far from it; but still it’s worth checking out, for Pfeiffer’s sake; especially if you are a die hard fan.

Of course, I watched these movies ages ago. So, this post, entirely relied on my memory. It’s been a while since I last saw a Michelle Pfeiffer movie. In fact, the last film of hers I saw was The Family, co-starring Robert De Niro; and that would have been a year, or so, or more, ago. I don’t remember, it wasn’t a good movie, ’twas alright though; Average Fare. There are still, quite a few movies of hers, am yet to see; and would love to.

This Blog Post, CATWOMAN CHEMISTRY, is my contribution to the, THE MICHELLE PFEIFFER BLOGATHON, hosted by Paul S of Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies (in celebration of Michelle Pfeiffer’s 60th Birthday)!!!!!!

Thank you Paul, for letting me take part in this Pfabulous Pfeiffer Blogathon.

Nuwan Sen

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
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……………………… – – these lines were spoken by, the character of, Ann Shankland (played by Rita Hayworth); in a scene from the brilliant movie, Separate Tables (1958). Late last night, I watched this amazing downloaded movie; which has been magnificently transported from the stage to the screen. Separate Tables, directed by Delbert Mannis, is based on a collective of two one-act plays by Terence Rattigan (namely Table by the Window and Table Number Seven).

This entire very bold Hollywood movie, is rigged with Sexual Tension, Sexual Repression and Sexual Harassment! AND 2018, with Hollywood’s #MeToo movement, feels like the perfect time to watch this movie. With a spectacular cast confined into the lonely Beauregard Hotel in Bournemouth, in the southern coast of England, UK; the film deals with love, lust, loneliness, bitterness, desire and depression. The star that stole the show (for me) was Gladys Cooper, as the harsh, unpleasant and domineering, Mrs. Railton-Bell; although it’s Wendy Hiller (as Miss. Pat Cooper), that took home the Oscar, for ‘Best Actress in a Supporting Role’. Nominated for 7 Oscars, this movie grabbed two. The other went to, actor David Niven (for ‘Best Actor in a Leading Role’); for his marvelous performance as the kindly n’ somewhat comical, yet pretentious, retired army officer; Major Angus Pollock. Another sidekick worth checking out is May Hallatt, as the stoic, yet enjoyable, Miss Meacham (who appeared in the same role on the original, West End and Broadway, stage production)

Several story lines intersect one another; but there are two major tales, that surface to prominence. One deals with Major Angus Pollock’s close platonic friendship with a repressed spinster, Sibyl Railton-Bell (Deborah Kerr); and Sibyl’s mother’s (Mrs. Railton-Bell) various schemes to ruin it. When it’s reported in the newspaper, that Major Pollack has pleaded guilty of sexual harassment of six women, at a local cinema; this gives Mrs. Railton-Bell a perfect reason, not to just get the Major, away from her fragile daughter’s life (who on learning this has a sort of nervous breakdown), but to be thrown out of residence from the Beauregard Hotel; and sent as far away as possible, in disgrace, from Bournemouth. Apparently, the original draft of this 1954 British play, however, saw the Major, not pleading to a misdemeanour of sexual harassment of women, but homosexual importuning, and suffering from his sexual repression in a homophobic world. In the movie, he does hint at it; saying he can’t help the way he is, and speaking of how he was picked on, at school, for being less masculine. It’s a pity, due to code of ethics of that era; the play and film were repressed from showing, what it initially intended. By the changing of the sexual repression of a gay Major, into that of a straight man sexually harassing women; ironically makes it an actual perversion; that needs to be forgiven. A sympathetic light is thrown the way of the Major; but for something, that in reality is far worse than just being a gay man struggling to keep his sexuality a secret, at the same time secretly acting on his desires; ironically in a public place. The world has definitely come a long way since then; or has it?

The other story line deals with a divorced couple, who meet after several years, at the Beauregard Hotel. We discover that the sophisticated wife, Ann Shankland (Hayworth) had sent her ex-husband, John Malcolm (Burt Lancaster), to prison for assaulting her. The washed out, drunk, John Malcolm; is another lowly character, Mrs. Railton-Bell has no regard for. After divorcing John, Ann had later re-married and re-divorced; it appears to have happened more than once; but she’s never lost her love for John. John, though he has a secret girlfriend, Miss. Pat Cooper (whom he says, he wants to get married to), is still in love with Ann. John & Ann, suffer when they are together, and suffer when they are apart. It’s a love-hate relationship; that cannot survive, without one another. Despite the sexual assault and the tensed, stressful, coexistence; they need each other; in a savagely animalistic sense, of love and lust.

Separate Tables has some superb character sketches. An excellent study into human psychology in the modern era. Everything about the movie blends in beautifully; the characters, the set of the hotel, the dinning tables. Along with the two leading plots, the other story lines that intersect, include; a modern young couple secretly in love (Rod Taylor & Audrey Dalton); the compassionate and understanding, elderly, Lady Matheson (Cathleen Nesbitt); the “self sufficient” hotel owner/manager and secret lover of John Malcolm, Miss. Pat Cooper; the elderly gentleman, Mr. Fowler (Felix Aylmer); and the strong built and bravely blunt, Miss Meacham, who too like the Major, seems to be afraid of people, as she states comically “..they are so complicated, …that’s why I prefer horses”. She’s a tough broad, with a touch of masculinity; which could imply her own sexual repression, that of a lesbian woman, but that’s unclear. Of course, though a dull spinster herself, Miss Meacham, is very different to the other young spinster, whom we see openly suffer from sexual repression; i.e. Deborah Kerr’s Sybil (spoken of above). It is obvious that the homely, plain-Jane, Sybil (a complete contrast to her stylish mother), has feelings for the major; but she’s unable to do anything about it. The Major doesn’t reciprocate to her subtle advances, but happens to be sympathetic towards her. Again, which makes sense, as in the original draft, the Major was meant to be gay.

Another thing to look out for, are the glamorous costumes designed by Mary Grant, and the Oscar favourite, Edith Head. Overall a wonderful movie; despite the significant change of the homosexual subject matter, into sexual harassment towards women (even though one’s sexuality oughtn’t have been a crime, even back then; while sexual harassment, always should be).

Separate Tables (1958)
My Rating: 10/10 !!!!!!!!!!

Bookish Nuwan
Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

P.S. Also see my Special Blog Post, I did yesterday, as a PAGE; That Book, That Movie (of 2017)!!

 

Remembering the late Shashi Kapoor (1938-2017); on his 80th Birth Anniversary!!

Shashi Kapoor was no doubt the most versatile and International celebrity to come out of India. An actor, director and Producer; who not only worked in Bollywood films (both Art & Commercial); but worked in regional Indian films; Indian English-Language Film (in fact he was the first star of the renowned Merchant/Ivory Productions; before they went onto make British gems), as well as British movies!! And he was a renowned stage artiste as well; who formed the famed Prithivi Theatre; fulfilling his father’s, Prithviraj Kapoor’s, dream. Added to which, he had a good reputation; as being one of the nicest people ever. A charming, kind-hearted, friendly personality; and morally superior to most people, in general. Shashi Kapoor died on 4th of December, 2017. He was 79 years old!

I’ve posted this quote, from one of his Bollywood films; Silsila (1981)

Hum gayab hone waalo mein se nahi hai … jahan jahan se guzharte hai jalwe dikhate hai … dost toh kya, dushman bhi yaad rakhte hai

….which in English roughly translates to ….

We are not ones to easily vanish; …. wherever we go, we show them our charm; ….. that not only friends, even foes shall remember us

…. and that quote truly sums up, what this charismatic celebrity is to his loved ones and fans alike. True to any great personality, they’ll never be forgotten; and shall live on forever, through people who admire them. RIP Shashi Kapoor, Stephen Hawking, Sridevi, and other greats people we lost in recent times.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

The Feature-Length Movies released in 2017, that I have seen so far. From the Best to the Worst!!!!!

TOP Films of 2017 (10 Star Rating Each)

  • Call me by your Name (2017)
  • Loving Vincent (2017)
  • Dunkirk (2017)
  • T2 Trainspotting (2017)
  • Die Göttliche Ordnung (2017) – English Title: The Divine Order
  • The Hungry (2017)
  • Battle of the Sexes (2017)
  • Darkest Hour (2017)

The Rest of the films of 2017, from the Close to Excellence to Average to bad to the most Pathetic!

  • Veeram (2017) – Alternate Title: Veeram Macbeth! My Rating: 9/10
  • Downsizing (2017) My Rating: 7/10
  • All Nighter (2017) My Rating: 7/10
  • Space Between Us (2017) My Rating: 5/10
  • Vishka (2017) My Rating: 4/10
  • Life (2017) My Rating: 3/10
  • Begum Jaan (2017) My Rating: 1/10
  • Judwaa 2 (2017) My Rating: 1/10
  • Fifty Shades Darker (2017) My Rating: 1/10
  • The Institute (2017) My Rating: 1/10

I’ve only mentioned of films meant for Cinematic release (even though I watched most of them on the small screen, or smaller yet on my Laptop); and that too, if they were first released last year, only (doesn’t matter which country they made their debut in; and doesn’t matter if I saw them last year itself, or more recently, within the last two months of 2018). Plus, I have only listed Feature films, no Short films, like In a Heartbeat (2017), No-One (2017) and The Colour of his Hair (2017); to name a few. Neither have I added any Television Anthology series (where a one season is considered a “Limited Series”; thus like a loooong movie) like, ‘Season1’ of Feud (2017 onwards) or ‘Season3’ of Fargo (2014 onwards) for instance (which were both excellent shows, by the way), or any other TV series released in 2017, like 13 Reasons Why (2017 onwards), for example! Nor have I mentioned any mini-series/TV movies of documentaries, from last year. So far, from this year’s releases, I’ve only watched Padmaavat (2018), and that was a way way way over top, disappointment.

So, like most of you, my fellow film fanatics; am really looking forward to watching the 90th Annual Academy Awards, LIVE; on 5th March 2018, early morning (on this side of the Globe)!!!!!

May the Best Picture win!!!!!

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Call Me By Your Name (2017): The Perfect Picture

A very pure form of storytelling, brought out by Luca Guadagnino, Call me by your Name; is one of the greatest English Language movies to come out of this century. The innocence, the romance, the sensuality; Guadagnino seduces his audiences into a heart-rending love affair; with the 17 year old Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), his desire for the much older archaeology scholar, Oliver (Armie Hammer); and the Italian landscape. In the past, I’ve spoken about Why I love, films like Roman Holiday (1953), Jules et Jim (1962), Annie Hall (1977); et al; on IMDB!! The purity of the realistic, natural feel of these tear jerker romances, and sad, yet beautifully told love stories, with a mature understanding of human emotions; immerses you into these movies, empathizing with the characters; and being deeply involved with their intellectual conversations; understanding, and accepting their bonds, along with their eventual separations or tragic rides to death of their romantic flings (either metaphorically or literally). The style also reminded me of the Art Films of Éric Rohmer; especially Pauline à la Plage (1983); English Title – Pauline at the Beach (which was, also a coming of age story, released in the year Call me by your Name is set in); and Rohmer’s famed “Tales of the Four Seasons” series of films.

Everything about this movie is uniquely brilliant. The story/narrative (based on the novel by André Aciman); the script/screenplay by the renowned James Ivory (collaborated with Luca Guadagnino and Walter Fasano); the music/soundtrack by Sufjan Stevens; the cinematography by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom; film edit by Walter Fasano, the film direction by Luca Guadagnino; – They all come together to bring out something pure and touchingly sublime.

From the artistic title credits, at the beginning; which look like chalk on board (most probably a shout out to the 80’s, when chalk was still used on Blackboards; by the 90’s schools slowly transitioned to Whiteboards with gel markers) with pictures of Hellenistic sculptures showcasing the beauty of the male form; to the finalé, with the burning fire in the cold winter reflecting on Elio’s crying face (like an allegory of his burning desire; being submerged with an unbearable depression of lost love); as the end credits roll; with Sufjan Stevens lending his vocals to the melonchonic Visions of Gideon; this movie completely encapsulates the audience emotions. Though the movie might have ended, the deep impact it leaves us with, stays on for days and days. It feels so real.

Regardless of it being a love story between man and a boy; the emotional turmoil, of experiencing first love, is something every human being can relate to; immaterial of his/her sexual orientation and racial/religious background. It’s a great coming age story, of two gay men; shown in such a naturalistic and non-judgemental manner; it makes one believe in love and romance. The best line of the movie is delivered by Perlman Sr. (i.e. Elio’s father), played by Michael Stuhlbarg; towards the end of the movie. Such an understanding parent, who doesn’t condemn his son’s act of love, with a much older man. Both Elio’s father and mother, Annella Perlman (played elegantly by British born actress, Amira Casar); are very accepting, modern, open-minded individuals; who trust their teenage son’s maturity; yet cuddle and shower him with love kids desire from their parents. Age has nothing to do with maturity. There are so many fully grown immature adults in the world; incapable of intellect, deep though and understanding. Here we see a teenager, along with his caring parents; who are highly mature and sophisticated, in dealing with emotional problems with dignity.

Speaking of elegance and dignity; the Perlman’s definitely are a very privileged family; yet they aren’t obsessed with materialism; even though their superior taste in the world of arts is well acknowledged. They are well in tune with nature and their natural surroundings around the beautiful Villa, in the region of Lombardy, in Northern Italy; that they reside in. We see Elio and Oliver (an American Jewish visitor for the summer, working as an assistant to Elio’s father) exploring the natural countryside, cycling, swimming and dancing. Added to which, we see Elio as a book worm and a lover of classical music.

From the music, to the cinematography, the atmosphere created within; the entire movie seduces us, without necessary showcasing graphic sex. The much talked about peach scene, has a naïvety entwined with it’s sensuality; as erotic as it is, it’s also a touching moment. Elio’s desire to penetrate Oliver is obvious (as it’s led to believe Elio is on the receiving end), the touching of the soft skin on the peach, exploring the hole atop, it’s aesthetically sensual without being cheap and vulgar; yet Elio feels humiliated when Oliver teases him for it. Innocence, eroticism and misery, all rolled in one; making one feel sorry for Elio.

Nature and the aesthetic male nude, play a crucial role in the movie. There is a scene where the archeology professor (i.e. Elio’s father, mentioned above) takes Elio and Oliver to see the ancient Kouros statues that have washed up close to shore, at Lake Garda. Elio and Oliver admire the statue of the male form in all it’s beauty; later the Professor tells Oliver of his admiration for the bronze kouroi, the aesthetic male nude of the bygone era; an understanding of artists’ affections for the youthful male body (which practically was like an understanding, and acceptance, in part of the professor, of Oliver’s love for the Professor’s fully developed young son). And then there is a scene where we see Oliver’s naked physique standing in the dark, from behind, standing at a windowsill; and his beautiful body looks like a Hellenistic works of art, discovered at the Lake Garda, itself. Armie Hammer was 30 years old, and in marvellous shape, when he did this role. The then, 21 year old, Timothée Chalamet, is very believable as a 17 year old Elio, who looks 15. Yup, Chalamet; is capable of portraying an even younger teenager, if he had to. What is more impressive is the fact, that both these actors are actually heterosexual; yet they play their on-screen homosexual romance with such ease, it makes the movie entirely more believably brilliant. And the atmosphere created with the landscape and background score; helps us cherish their beautiful May/December romance, admiringly.

Speaking of music, Call me by your Name also has a great soundtrack; especially with Elio being a musical prodigy of sorts. We get to hear Elio’s own renditions of maestros of classical music, the likes of Bach; and the way Liszt might have played Bach. Added to which there are some beautiful modern day songs, like Sufjan Stevens Mystery of Love and the very 80’s Love my Way by The Psychedelic Furs (from their 1982 album, Forever Now). Speaking of the 80’s; as I mentioned earlier, this movie is set in the Summer of 1983. Yet, Luca Guadagnino manages to make the 80’s feel very today. In other words; instead of making the 80’s, vintage; without making the setting a blast from the past; Guadagnino transports us, the audience back; making us feel as if we are currently living in the 1980’s. It feels like the present. The movie unravels in front of our eyes, as if it were happening, at this moment. Not in a nostalgic sense.

Teenage angst, sexual awakening, first crush; these are coming of age themes; all humans can relate to (whether it’s a love for an older person; where the adult reciprocates; or whether it’s a painful experience of unrequited love). Elio, in one sense, is a very lucky teenager; he not only falls in love; but his love with an adult is consummated (without marriage, of course). Added to which, he has very understanding parents, who give him the freedom teenagers desire, without suffocating him; at the same time, they are there for him, when he needs them the most. When Elio, heartbroken, calls his mum to come and get him; his mother rushes to his aid. The father, consoles the heartbroken child, advising him, not to stop feeling human emotions; because of the pain of losing his first love. Yet, we do sympathize, with Elio. The moment, he whispers “Elio, Elio, Elio” (reminiscence of a romantic moment they shared, where they called each other with their own names; “Call me by your name, and I’ll call you by mine”); to his ex-lover over the phone”, pulls at your heart strings. And Elio sitting and staring at the fire, the emotionally devastated state he is in, when he finds out, Oliver is getting married to a woman; is heartbreaking. Similar, yet so different, to the silent; not speaking a word, yet facial expressions betraying their emotions; type ending from Roman Holiday. That Peck & Hepburn love story is till date, my all time favourite movie; and Call me by your Name, no doubt is my favourite gay themed love story; and amongst my favourites from this century.

This artistically told delicate romance, made with a small budget; has been nominated for 4 Oscars. From ‘Best Motion Picture of the Year’, to ‘Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role’, to ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’, to ‘Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)’ for Mystery of Love; all the nominations are deservedly so; yet it is sad, that Luca Guadagnino, has not been nominated for his superb film direction. Call me by your Name, should at least bag the top prize, for ‘Best Picture’; if not for all four. Yet, I highly doubt, Timothée Chalamet, would win the ‘Best Actor’ trophy; as the academy tends to look at the Body of Work as well (which is absurd, as there is something called a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ for that); but anyway, I felt Gary Oldman did a slightly more brilliant role (of playing past British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill), in Darkest Hour (2017). Besides Call me by your Name and Darkest Hour; the only other ‘Best Picture’ nominee I’ve seen is, Dunkirk (2017). All three films are superb in their own right; but Call me by your Name, definitely deserves the coveted Oscar statuette, THE most. No matter, how great, the rest of the films nominated are; I highly doubt, that any of them come close to the unique masterpiece that is Call me by your Name!!!!!

Call Me By Your Name (2017)
My Rating: 10/10 !!!!!!!!!!

I first watched Call me by your Name, last month, on 11th January 2018, streamed online, on a useless website, with a pathetic copy of the film (the quality was soooo bad); BUT the movie was totally worth it. The fact I fell in love with this movie, despite watching it in such bad quality; says a lot about what a great movie it is. So I wanted to re-watch it, on a better quality. Earlier this month, I downloaded a copy of the film, from another site. It took 7 hours or so; felt like the whole day. To see, it was a 30 second clip, stating, to watch the full movie, go to some website!! I was infuriated, and utterly disappointed. Then, on 22nd February 2018, I downloaded it from the site I started downloading films, for the first time, last year (see my post Mardi-Gras, Movies-Gay from March 2017). Initially Call me by your Name was not available on the said site. It took only a couple of hours, and I watched it for a second time, then and there. The quality of the downloaded version was crisp and clear (sadly just the English subtitles for the French and Italian segments were not available; but I can make out some phrases in French, anyway ’twas not much of an issue). The film was worth re-watching, in better quality. It’s sad these great movies are rarely shown in Cinemas here; even then they don’t last for more than a week (watched Darkest Hour, at the Cinema; which lasted only one week). I’d love to re-experience this movie, away from the Laptop; and on the big wide screen someday. Until then ….

Later!!!!!
Nuwan Sen
(Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense)

🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑

Photograph-V

On Facebook, I was challenged; on the 1st of November, Year 2017, to post a Black&White picture per day, without posting any people, and no explanations, yet it had to do with my life. This was a 7 day challenge, that ended today. Whilst, the rest of the photographs are pretty self explanatory (to some extent at least), this is a picture, which is very personal, and has to do with my childhood on wards, till date. It does not simply depict my love for Books & Films!!!

So here is an explanation for this picture, I posted on FB, for Day V (i.e. 5th November 2017) :-

So past 4th midnight, I thought of posting something uniquely personal for Day V, of the B/W photography challenge. I started taking out the close near dear reads and views, from my shelves, and set them on my bed. It was already next day, with 9/10ths of a moonlit sky shining above the wet clouds outside. At 00:55 am, 5th morning, I took the snapshot. Yet, ’twas a pity, I won’t be able to explain it. But today morning, after posting the last picture of the challenge, I went back to this. And decided, I can’t explain it on FB, but I have a Blog, where I can.

So the picture; let us start with Audrey Hepburn. So, as many of my fellow bloggers and close friends are aware, that Hepburn happens to be my all time favourite actress. I’ve been a fan of hers since I watched My Fair Lady (1964), as a little kid, back in the mid-1980’s. I wanted to grow up and marry her, and remember asking my mum, how old Hepburn was (of course I realized Audrey Hepburn was somewhat older than me, but what I didn’t realize at the time was that this musical, set during the Edwardian era, was made long before I came into existence). Anyway, Audrey Hepburn starred alongside the suave gentleman, Gregory Peck, in ROMAN HOLIDAY (1953), which happens to be my all time favourite movie. I watched this in the summer of 1994, just before my 19th Birthday, whilst living in New Delhi, India. Plus, 1994 was the best year of my teenage life (coming of age in Shit Lanka was a nightmare, so it was a refreshing change to go back to India in 94′, after a hellish six year stay in monstrous Lanka. And now am back, going through a lot of stress due to being stuck in a narrow minded extremist country like Shit Lanka. Been here for just over eight years now. Getting anything done in SL is a hassle, including trying to work on this simple blog-post without unnecessary disturbances and distractions). Anyway, even though a fan of Hepburn since childhood, it was once I watched ROMAN HOLIDAY, I truly fell in love with Hepburn. AND soon both her debut movie; about a Princess walking around the scenic architectural delights of ancient Rome, in modern day Italy, as a commoner, having an accidental fling, a tragic love story set in 24 hours, this B/W tearjerker romance that pulls at your heartstrings; along with Hepburn herself, became my all time favorite movie, and actress, respectively. I was simply smitten by her charmingly naturalistic acting. In 2003, after handing in my final dissertation titled “Marriage on Hitchcock Films: From Rebecca to Marnie”, for my MA in International Cinema, at the University of Luton, Luton, UK; I treated myself to an Audrey Hepburn Box-Set of Video Cassettes, which included my all time favourite, ROMAN HOLIDAY. The cassette cover that can be seen on the picture above.

Having mentioned Hitchcock, many of you know Alfred Hitchcock is my all time favourite director; and that REBECCA (1940) happens to be my favourite Hitchcockian classic. Thus, when I was studying his movies, doing an out and out psychoanalysis of varied character sketches, from his best period of Hollywood movies (his first 25 years in Hollywood) for my final dissertation of 25,000 to 30,000 words; I bought some of his movies, and rented others, in Oslo, Norway (as that’s where I resided, during my final semester, as I had no classes; thus working full time 5½ days a week, and concentrating on my dissertation on Saturday evenings and Sunday the whole day; I was exhausted). The video tape of REBECCA which can be seen above was one of movies I bought. But there is more of a history I share with Hitchcock’s REBECCA. I fell in love with this hauntingly magnificent tale of woman living under the shadow of her husband’s dead first wife; when I first saw it as a kid, in the mid-80’s. So this most probably was my all time favourite, till I watched ROMAN HOLIDAY, almost a decade later. Around that time, at school, The British School, in New Delhi, India, we had to write a film review. REBECCA being fresh in my mind, I remember writing my very first film review, on this noirish perfection by Alfred Hitchcock, aged 11; whilst I was in Senior-I. Later, aged 12½/13, I read Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (on which the Hitchcockian masterpiece was based on). And this so called women’s book, my very first piece of Adult Fiction, instantly became my all time favourite novel, and it remained no.1 till aged 20, I read the English translation of CITY OF JOY, a French novel by Dominique Lapierre. I bought the book of CITY OF JOY (pictured above) in 1994, though I read it later. And from the age of 20, till now (I’m 42 now), it has remained my favourite novel. BUT, am currently reading Arundhati Roy’s latest novel, THE MINISTRY OF UTMOST HAPPINESS (pictured above as well), since I located it at the end of August 2017 (yup, am a very slow reader; and it’s not like I get to read my book every single day); and THE MINISTRY OF UTMOST HAPPINESS seems to be fast becoming my all time favourite. That I’ll know for sure, once I finish reading it.

From Novels, to non-fiction; FREEDOM’S DAUGHTER: LETTERS BETWEEN INDIRA GANDHI AND JAWAHARLAL NEHRU 1922-1939 (also pictured above), edited by Sonia Gandhi; happens to be my favourite text of non-fiction; which I read in my mid-20’s. When it comes to print media, there seems to be a major Indian connection. It’s just a mere coincidence. But still, even though with unfortunate Sri Lankan roots, that constantly try to pull me down into the mud with them, I was born and brought up in New Delhi, India. And I had a pretty good childhood (maybe not necessarily a great one, as I was badly bullied in school, it was still better, than when we ventured south into an inhumane and war torn island). Thus having such a strong Indian connection (altogether spent 17 years of my life in New Delhi, 12½ years in row); and a soft corner for my Birth city; plus being a movie maniac; I cannot, not add, my favourites in films, to do with India. My favourite Indian movie, is a Bengali/English bilingual Art House Movie, from the state of West Bengal, directed by Aparna Sen. I bought the DVD of THE JAPANESE WIFE (2010), which can be seen above, along with Kunal Basu’s book of Short Stories (one of which happens to be the basis of this movie), when I visited New Delhi in November/December 2010, on holiday. This was a holiday I took to India, after a break of 9½  years. Aged 35, I thoroughly enjoyed the short story, of The Japanese Wife, as well as the movie. Having watched Indian films throughout my life (especially Bollywood movies, though I happen to be a bit of an Art House snob), it’s amazing how Aparna Sen’s cinematic adaptation of THE JAPANESE WIFE, ended up becoming my favourite Indian movie ever. But having been brought up on Bollywood commercial cinema, I cannot not point out my favourite commercial Hindi Film, from Bombay (now Mumbai) from the state of Maharashtra, India. Mahesh Bhatt‘s ARTH (1982), the DVD of which can be seen above as well. ARTH; which I actually first saw as a kid, and few times later; is a reel life adaptation based on Mahesh Bhatt‘s real life extramarital affair with actress Parveen Babi, who suffered from schizophrenia. A tragic beautiful mind, that soon left the film industry once her illness was out in the open, thanks to this excellently made movie. died under mysterious circumstances, in 2005 (see my post related to her Death Anniversary from January 2013).

Speaking of extramarital affairs and coming back to short stories, I read Anton Chekhov’s THE LADY WITH THE DOG (pictured above), an adulterous love story, when I was 15. This Russian romantic short, happens to be my all time favourite short story, till date (du Maurier’s The Apple Tree, comes a close second). My favourite novella (a text too small to be a novel, yet way too long to be considered a short story), happens to be Truman Capote’s BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S (pictured above as well); which I bought, and read, in 2009, whilst living in the most beautiful city in the world, Paris, France. Fell in love with this beautifully written piece of prose, a quick read (Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, happens to be next favourite novella, and I love Kubrick’s surreal adaptation, from 1971, of the book, as well). The movie version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), which also happens to be among my favourite films, directed by Blake Edwards, also stars my all time favourite actress, Audrey Hepburn.

So, I’ve come a full circle, from Hepburn to Hepburn!!!! Almost like a of .


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Bookish Nuwan (NS)

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, happens to be one of my favourite epic novels; a condensed version of which, we studied in Grade 8 (at Stafford International School), when I was 13 years old. Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre too I read in my early teens; and later saw the extravagant play, based on Jane Eyre, by a British drama troop visiting New Delhi, India. So, having read two of the sisters works, out of the trio of published Brontë writers; Les Soeurs Brontë (1979), English title – The Brontë Sisters, supposedly the most accurately bleak biopic based on the lives of the famed Brontë’s; was definitely a must see for me, as both a lover of literature, and a diehard Film Fanatic!!!! And so I did, yesterday evening, when Les Soeurs Brontë, was telecast on TV5MONDE.

Pascal Greggory (as Branwell), Isabelle Adjani (as Emily), Isabelle Huppert (as Anne) and Marie-France Pisier (as Charlotte Brontë); in André Téchiné’s Les Soeurs Brontë (1979)

The title, Les Soeurs Brontë (1979), is a tad misleading, as there is a lot, over an hour, about the depressing life of the artist, Branwell Brontë (played by Pascal Greggory), the less famous brother, of the Brontë sisters. Thus the film ought to have been aptly titled, The Brontë Siblings, or simply The Brontë’s (or Les Brontë’s)!! The version I watched was the 115 minutes long movie, which was released at the 32nd Cannes Film Festival in May 1979; competing for the prestigious Palme d’Or. The original (unreleased) film is said to be around three hours long. I’d love to watch that version as well. Hopefully it will be released in it’s entirety on DVD, someday.

There have been very few English Language Biographical films/television mini-series, on the lives of the Brontë’s. Yet, ironically, this French epic, happens to be the most accurate re-telling of the Brontë family on the Big Screen. Set in wet and windy Yorkshire, the movie tells the story of the lives of the Brontë siblings, as adults. Thus, the two elder sisters, who died, aged 9/10 and 11, are not spoken of. We see the three famed sisters and only brother, living an averagely well enough life, though it’s still a pretty stoic existence, in the countryside. The mother is long dead, thus the rest of the household comprises of; their ageing, Anglican Minister, father; a spinster aunt (which hints, determining the fate of the Brontë children) and the housemaid. At the beginning of the movie, the brother, Branwell Brontë, paints a a portrait of the four living siblings; which is admired by the entire family. They have an artist in their midst. A painting, which later on, Branwell erases himself off of, as he nears his own death from depression.

The Three Sisters: The original Bramwell Brontë painting of the famed Brontë sisters (before they were famous)
Bramwell Brontë erased himself from the painting.

The tale of the Brontë’s is really a tragic one. And the movie is filmed beautifully, with superb cinematography, creating the atmosphere of pure misery, with a backdrop of a dull, dreary, cold, uninviting, capture of the Yorkshire moors. Despite leading an ordinary life, that won’t really amount to anything; these three Victorian women desire to make something of their lives. We see, a pre-20th century feminism, a 19th century subtle boldness, the three encompass. They aren’t very vocally vociferous about not being just household creatures serving men, but they somehow manage to enforce their desires in a very patriarchal society. Charlotte Brontë (Marie-France Pisier), the eldest sibling, is the most ambitious. She somehow convinces her aunt, to permit her to go and study French, in Brussels, Belgium; along with her younger sister, Emily Brontë (Isabelle Adjani). She wishes to come back and open a school. However, Emily ends up despising Brussels, especially as the two English Protestant sisters have to deal with residing in a Catholic country. Charlotte endures without agitation, as she wants to somehow study, at the same time we see her silently fall for her much older teacher. Meanwhile, Anne Brontë (Isabelle Huppert), finds work as a governess, with a wealthy English family. While the three sisters are away, the unsuccessful Branwell, has to deal with the death of their aunt; who dies from exhaustion from constipation. Funny, as it might sound today, it is sad, at one time such a thing existed, as medicine wasn’t advanced enough for ageing people suffering from constipation. Her death, gets all the three sisters to stop their academic/working lives and come back home; for the sake of their father and brother.

Father & Daughter: Patrick Magee & Isabelle Adjani in a scene from the film

From here we see a lot about Branwell Brontë. His affair with an older married woman. Him not achieving anything through his literary works. His depression when his lover leaves him (she leaves to be with her children, once her husband dies). To his ultimate demise. Of course the lives of the rest of the sisters are shown too; but he seems to be the protagonist for most of the film, until his death. Meanwhile, we see the father’s support of his children’s wishes; their father, Patrick Brontë (Patrick Magee). It’s as Branwell Brontë nears his death, from drugs and alcohol; we see the trio of Brontë sisters secretly publish a book each, under a male pseudonym.  Soon two of the sisters succumb to tuberculosis, and Charlotte Brontë is the only living sister, by the Operatic end of the movie. Charlotte too died young, at the age of 38.

With a great cast, the movie is well acted, perfectly directed, beautifully photographed; yet not without a few minor flaws. Branwell Brontë’s story is a bit of a bore; but overall, the entire movie is slow paced anyway. But the darkly depressing portrayal of the Brontë’s, make the icy brilliance of the movie, extremely realistic. With very naturalistic performances, we feel what they are going through. We feel the depressing tone of the film to near perfection. It’s hard not to be annoyed at Branwell Brontë though; and admire the sisters, especially Charlotte and Emily. Both Branwell and Charlotte suffer through unrequited love; but Charlotte bears it all, with a strong mind and unbroken spirit, even though with a broken heart, and ends up publishing a novel, which Branwell never gets to know about. But Branwell, when ditched by his older lover; takes refuge in alcohol and Opium; dies of tuberculosis, and passes his illness onto his two younger sisters, Emily and Anne, as well. Charlotte Brontë was, less than a year, older than Branwell.

Marie-France Pisier as Charlotte Brontë, in a scene from Les Soeurs Brontë (1979)

It’s sad, when the movie ends, we realize that none of the Brontë family members were aware of the three sisters accomplishments, other than the trio themselves, and most probably the father. The mother, the brother, the aunt, et al are dead, by the time the books are published and credited to the three sisters.

Marie-France Pisier, steals the show, as the eldest sibling, Charlotte, who survives everything, and everyone, that tries to pull her down. After Pisier, Isabelle Adjani, who plays Emily, is the next brilliant character sketch. Emily loves to trek through the moors, in men’s clothing. Not that she is a tomboy; but she dresses in trousers, as a practicality; as she tells her maid, “it makes me walk faster”. But she’s careful not to let anyone see her dressed in that manner, other than her own family. For a Victorian Lady to be dressed in trousers would have been a scandalous affair. Isabelle Huppert plays the youngest, and doesn’t have the sense of psychological strength of her elder sisters. But the dullest character is played by Pascal Greggory. Who to is actually superb, in doing a character role of a very weak human being. All the actors are superb, including stars like Patrick Magee, Hélène Surgère and Jean Sorel; to name a few, in their supporting roles. Hélène Surgère plays the aptly named Madame Robinson; the older married woman who seduces Branwell Brontë. I think the biggest flaw of the movie is that, too much of the plot is focused on Branwell Brontë; though the title suggests otherwise.  Yet, trust the French to bring out a masterful retelling of three of greatest writers of British literature. However, Patrick Magee, who is Irish; spoke his lines in English, and then dubbed into French. Though, I hate the idea of a movie dubbed in a different language, in general (I prefer reading subtitles in English of foreign language films I don’t understand); it really works well here.

The Three Actresses, who played the Brontë Sisters: (L to R) Marie-France Pisier, Isabelle Huppert and Isabelle Adjani

Overall a beautifully executed piece of cinema, a well made period drama, just slightly less than excellence for a few minor flaws.

Les Soeurs Brontë (1979)
My Rating: Near Excellent – 9/10!!!!


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Bookish Nuwan

A strict Calvinist missionary from New England, marries a young girl who’s been pining for her beloved sea captain; from whom she hasn’t heard from, for two years. Soon the missionary, with wife in tow, sets sail for a new life, in a new land, known as the islands of Hawaii. Cultures clash, religious ideals clash, between the blinded Calvinist Ministers and the equally blinded Hawaiian natives, while caught in the middle of all this, is the young new bride, who tries to be the mediator. Added to this, whilst pregnant with her first child, the sea captain she yearned for at one time, touches the shores of Hawaii, only to cause chaos and mayhem, in the once paradise islands.

Such a brilliant classic, an epic saga of civilising the tribes of the Hawaiian islands; is an underappreciated gem of a movie, that spans three decades. Based on the third chapter ‘From the Farm of Bitterness’, of an even more epic scale novel, Hawaii by James A. Michener, the story is known for it’s historical accuracy. Plus, the lead male character of Reverend Abner Hale (Max von Sydow), is loosely based on the life of missionary Hiram Bingham I; leader of the first group of American Protestant missionaries from New England, who introduced Christianity to the Hawaiian islands. Added to which the character of Queen Malama (Jocelyne LaGarde) was based on Queen Ka’ahumanu, the actual ruler of Maui when the missionaries reached these beautiful islands. Yet, though the film’s historical background is spot on, the tale is fictional, and not based on a true story, just inspired by one.

Julie Andrews and Max Von Sydow

The ever wonderful Julie Andrews plays the minister’s young bride, Jerusha Bromley Hale. The sensible, the practical and the open minded personality, who dares to argue with her husband for the sake of the lovely innocent natives, at the same time, tries to make the natives understand her husband’s point of view. She’s compassionate, and understanding, without judging anyone or taking any sides. She’s the one who tries to bring a truce. Meanwhile, a mother to three kids (as the movie goes forward), she keeps having to deal with the animosity between her adamant husband, and the equally adamant captain she had once hoped to marry. The equally adamant captain, is played by Richard Harris.

Directed by Oscar winning director, George Roy Hill, with such a superb cast, this critically acclaimed movie, was the 2nd highest-grossing film of 1966; yet it’s a wonder this movie hasn’t gained much popularity, since. Is it because it’s too long ?? The original cinematic release was 189 minutes long (thus over 3 hours long); but the version I saw, was the edited version, of a 161 minutes (thus practically ½ an hour of film footage was missing). As a true film buff, I’d really like to watch the film in it’s entirety, with the missing ½ hour.

Richard Harris, Julie Andrews and Max Von Sydow

The screenplay co-written by Dalton Trumbo (see my post Trumbo 9/11 from September 2016, as well) and Daniel Taradash; Hawaii, originally was slated to star Audrey Hepburn and Alec Guinness, in the lead; and Rock Hudson as the Captain. And director Fred Zinnemann was meant to helm the project. But as Zinnemann and Trumbo had conflict of interest, Zinnemann walked out of the Director’s chair. Soon, forces of nature took over, and due to bad weather, and various other reasons, the project was delayed, not just a few years, but by over half a decade. Actors Gene Hackman and John Cullum, were known for their appearances in film, pre-fame. Added to which the film is notable for making the (unaccredited) debut of actress, Bette Midler; as well as the only film appearances of, Jocelyne LaGarde (who gained an Oscar nomination in the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ category, making her the only performer in Academy Award history to be nominated for the only performance ever given), and Max von Sydow’s two sons, Henrik von Sydow and Clas S. von Sydow.

I can imagine Audrey Hepburn doing justice to role of Jerusha Bromley Hale; just as brilliantly as Julie Andrews, has done. Alec Guinness would have been just as spot on, as the adamant Reverend Abner Hale, as Max von Sydow was. And no doubt, Rock Hudson would have been even more dashing in Richard Harris’ shoes, as Captain Rafer Hoxworth. Pity, despite it’s success in 1966, and having been nominated for seven Oscars (the following year), the film hasn’t aged well. To some extent, it does feel like a film made in the 50’s, than the 60’s. But I still enjoyed it, and despite a few minor flaws, I can’t accuse Hawaii of being anything, less than pure excellence.

I watched Hawaii late Sunday night, on 11th June 2017, but actually downloaded this movie, beginning of last month (May 2017).

Hawaii (1966)
My Rating: 10/10!!!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense