Tag Archive: Canada


Mai May Movies 2019!

Like I did, back in Year 2015 & 2016, I decided do a Blog Post on all the films I saw within this Month of May, 2019!!!!!

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The

Feature Films

The Front Page (1931)

Watched on Sunday Afternoon, 12th May 2019! Downloaded Film!

A Downloaded Movie, downloaded way back in July 2017! Have a load of Downloaded films, from July 2017, am yet to see!

The Front Page (1931) is an interesting satire centered around the Press. Earl Williams (George E. Stone), a Caucasian/white American man and supposed Communist revolutionary, claiming innocence, is convicted of killing an Afro-American cop, and is to be hanged. The court press room, situated right next to the gallows, is waiting to cash in on the latest, and cover the hanging of Earl Williams. Sometimes we see how desensitized reporters can be; for them it’s just the next story. But when the convict escapes, and is found by reporter, Hildy Johnson (Pat O’Brien); who’s about resign, get married and leave for New York, from Chicago; yet keeps getting roped in by his conniving editor, Walter Burns (Adolphe Menjou); and when Hildy Johnson realizes that Earl Williams is innocent; Hildy is hell bent on proving Earl Williams’ innocence. Of course, for Hildy, it still is the latest scoop, but he wants to save an innocent man’s life as well. A hilarious comical take on the world of news-reporters, based on the play, The Front Page, by two ex-Chicago reporters, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, which was 1st staged on Broadway in 1928!

This 1931 pre-Code comedy, is a premake of Howard Hawks’ His Girl Friday (194O), minus the ‘Girl Friday’, as intended in the original Broadway play (a play I haven’t read yet). But His Girl Friday is far more an enjoyable romp than The Front Page. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell had great chemistry in the 194O classic, as a formally married couple having to work together, and the wife, Hildy (Russell); in lieu of the male Hildy (gender swap) from the original story; constantly getting pulled in by her editor/ex-husband (Grant) and the candlestick phones that keep ringing off the hook, even though she wants to get away and get married to someone else. His Girl Friday is among the greatest comedies ever made. Reporting is in their blood, the love for the job, for both (female) Hildy in His Girl Friday and (male) Hildy in The Front Page. The Front Page‘s Hildy is actually named Hildebrand Johnson, and ‘Hildy’ is short for Hildebrand, an affectionate nickname.

Though The Front Page, directed by Lewis Milestone, is not pure excellence (not just compared to His Girl Friday, but in general); it still comes really close! A Near-Excellent, brisk, fast paced, romp with witty dialogues; that is a must watch; especially for fans of film and literature!!!!! This movie was nominated for a trio of Oscars (‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’ & ‘Best Actor’ – for Adolphe Menjou) at the 4th Academy Awards! Lewis Milestone had already won two ‘Best Director’ Oscars. One for Two Arabian Knights (1927), in the ‘Comedy’ category, and the other for one of my favourites films on World War I, a pre-Code anti-war film, All Quiet on the Western Front (1930).

The Front Page is a near-Excellent comedy!!!!

My Rating: 9/10!

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La Chienne (1931)

Watched on Sunday Night, 12th May 2019! On TV5MONDE!

Directed by Jean Renoir, La Chienne (1931) is about a depressed married man who falls for a streetwalker (the title, the English translation of which reads as ‘The Bitch’, is a reference to her character; a character that is both conniving and foolish) and has a clandestine affair with her. Lulu (the streetwalker played by Janie Marèse) however uses the man that loves her, Maurice Legrand (Michel Simon), for the man she is in love with, her pimp, Dédé (Georges Flamant); who in turn uses her using Legrand, for his own personal gain. Legrand’s artworks are sold by Dédé making Dédé rich; and leaving Legrand a penniless vagrant.

A really good socially critical look at human relationships, showcasing how selfishly people use one another for their own benefits! La Chienne might not be an excellent French film by Renoir, yet it’s a very good thought provoking movie, with a brilliant concept. The finalé is both tragic and comic, at the same time. The satirical state of fate of mankind.

Actress, Janie Marèse, who played Lulu, was tragically killed in a car accident, soon after the filming wrapped up. Marèse’s real life lover, and her co-star, Georges Flamant (who debuted as Dédé, in La Chienne) was recklessly driving the car. He survived the accident, but his career was seriously damaged by the press.

La Chienne, released few months after Marèse’s death, was director Jean Renoir 2nd Sound film (as in with synchronized sound)!

My Rating: 8/10!

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Drums Along the Mohawk (1939)

Watched on Monday, 6th May 2019! Downloaded Film!

John Ford’s very 1st movie made in Technicolor, Drums Along the Mohawk (1939) was the 1st movie I watched this month (another Downloaded Movie, from almost two years ago).

Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck, this Historical story, is about a newly married couple who make a new home close proximity to White settlers at Mohawk Valley on the New York frontier and find themselves at the heart of the American Revolution of 1765 – 1783.

The Year is 1776, the newly married couple get roped in by Mohawk Valley’s settlers who’ve formed a local militia in anticipation of an imminent war against them, by Tories (British loyalists) and Tories’ American Indian allies. Soon war ensues, with women and children lending a helping hand. A crucial point of the plot is the Battle of Oriskany, a pivotal engagement of the Saratoga campaign, which was one of the bloodiest battles of the American Revolution. A small group of Brits, travelling south from Canada, invaded the Mohawk Valley as a diversion. Fort Stanwix, that was besieged, is depicted as Fort Schuyler in the film. Fort Stanwix was renamed Fort Schuyler in 1776, only after the battle. Plus, Britishers hand in the war, has been toned down, it’s practically non-existent. Apparently there are lot of minor inaccuracies. Especially, due to the brewing war in Europe at the time, Ford didn’t want to show the British as villains, as the Brits were fighting against German Nazis, the modern day villains, in a modern day war.

Though lacking in historical accuracy, the movie does manage to capture the essence of the American Revolution, through retelling of a small deviation branch of the war. Thus, it’s still a really good movie, led by Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert. The colourful cinematography is breathtakingly beautiful, and the movie was nominated for two Oscars, including for ‘Best Cinematography’ (in Colour), to Ray Rennahan and Bert Glennon, at the 12th Academy Awards, held in 1940. Ray Rennahan was also nominated, the same year, for ‘Best Cinematography’ (in Colour), alongwith Ernest Haller; for (1939), for which Rennahan and Haller, won!! With the exceptional Gone with the Wind, in competition, it’s obvious that Drums Along the Mohawk didn’t have much scope. None the less, it’s still a really good movie.

My Rating: 8/10

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The

Short Films

Dream House (1953)

Watched on Friday, 10th May 2019! Online on YouTube!

Dream House (1953) is a short Indian English-Language Film, starring Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari. An advertorial film from Dunlopillo, UK (a popular brand for pillows and mattresses in India at the time; which Kumar happens to have in his stylishly decorated home). I came across this beautifully filmed short flick by fluke, that Friday night! Shot inside Ashok Kumar’s house, with cool contemporary Indian interior design (love the décor), as Meena Kumari visits (for they’ve been rehearsing for director Bimal Roy’s Parineeta (1953) a.k.a. The Fiancee; based on a book by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay (sometimes credited as Sarat Chandra Chatterji), a beautiful novel; of which the English translation I read quite recently, maybe ’twas a year or so ago); this quick, less than 3 minutes, short film, is really worth checking out; especially for lovers of Indian cinema; specifically lovers of Bollywood classics from it’s golden age. It was lovely to see a barely 20 year old, Meena Kumari, in a colour film; back in the early 50’s. Seen her colour movies from later on (60’s & early 70’s); but never seen her in colour, when she was so young. Though she’s a good actress and was known as the tragedy queen, back in her hey days, am not a great fan of hers; unlike her contemporaries; like, Nutan, Nargis, Vyjayanthimala, Waheeda Rehman and Madhubala (to name a few Hindi Film actresses of the 1950’s & 60’s, that I adore). But I do admire Kumari in the movies she’s worked in. So it’s not like I dislike her, just not a starry-eyed favourite of mine. Young, Meena Kumari, looks elegantly beautiful in this advertorial short, in a red saree, with a fashionable high-collared blouse!

My Rating: 8/10!

Stars of the Foxy 50’s: Madhubala (1933-1969) and Meena Kumari (1933-1972)
LEFT: Candid shot of Madhubala (51′)
RIGHT: Meena Kumari in a scene from a movie (57′)

Feature Films

Mr. & Mrs. ’55 (1955)

Watched on Tuesday, 28th May 2019! Online on YouTube!

Guru Dutt’s Mr. & Mrs. ’55 (1955) is a hilarious farce, that works well to a certain point, but soon goes downhill.

The movie starts off with Pre-60’s Independent-minded Feminist, Seeta Devi (Lalita Pawar), holding a meeting on petitioning the courts to pass the Divorce Bill. Her secretary informs her, showing her the latest newspaper headline, that the Divorce Bill shall be passed. It’s a woman’s right, if she needs to separate from a bad husband/marriage! Meanwhile her niece, not yet 21, Anita Verma (Madhubala) has secretly gone to see a Tennis match. She has a major crush on Tennis player, Ramesh (a Guest Appearance by Al-Nasir), who does not reciprocate. As Anita tries to escape her aunt’s secretary, who has come to find her at the Tennis match, Anita bumps into a lazy wayward man, Preetam Kumar (Guru Dutt), who at once is smitten by her. Soon, we see Anita turn 21, and is to inherit her late father’s fortune; but according to his will she has to get married within a month of turning 21. The independent-minded aunt isn’t happy, the young girl with a crush on a tennis player, is. But when Ramesh turns down her proposal for marriage, she is crushed. Yet, the fact he plays Tennis is what she truly loves, not necessarily the player. If he didn’t play her favourite sport, she wouldn’t be so crazy about him. The aunt decides to buy a groom, who’ll agree to a divorce, once Anita inherits everything. Who does the aunt rope in, but none other than the jobless cartoonist, Anita accidentally bumped into early on in the movie; beloved, Preetam Kumar. The name ‘Preetam’ in Hindi means beloved.

The movie is laugh out loud hilarious, and the characters have been placed perfectly. Less than a year into Independence, the modern Indian progressive minded city’s educated and elite are beautifully showcased. The movie has some memorable songs, some not so; mostly picturized around Guru Dutt and/or Madhubala. But my favourite number is the comical song, “Jaane kahan mera, jigar gaya ji”, themed around the supporting characters played by Johnny Walker and Yasmin (a.k.a. Vinita Bhatt); during a lunch break at a clerical office. Hilarious, melodic and fun. Mr. & Mrs. ’55 starts to waver when Preetam kidnaps his wife and takes her to his village (today, that would be considered harassment, in itself). In the village she meets Preetam’s sister-in-law (played by Kumkum), who shows how a woman’s place is in her husband’s home, doing all the chores, having kids and taking care of them. An acceptance of domestic violence against wife as being the norm, is mentioned. So basically women have no rights. Cringe worthy. Let’s say it’s village mentality; but soon Anita, who falls for husband during this excursion (lets say a Stockholm syndrome of sorts) starts to feel the same way, and Seeta Devi, with a brain of her own, is shown as the villain of piece. Seriously?? Guru Dutt!?!?! This is when the movie starts to falter. Of course, this pre-second wave feminism, feminist, Seeta Devi, is shown to be a bit of an extremist; hating all men; but instead of providing a moderation, director Guru Dutt has brought out a narrow minded concept that the Indian woman’s place is at her husband’s feet. The other archaic extreme, with a false sense of patriotism. That’s when it disappoints. Mr. & Mrs. ’55 was considered a movie of societal relevance, back then. But it gives such a false message. So, out of the over 21⁄2 hours film, the 1st hour or so is brilliantly excellent, and continues being enjoyably fun for the most part for the next half hour, but falls short towards the last hour.

The 50’s housewife concept existed in the west too (the famed American Dream); but it’s not something artists/open-minded intellectuals condoned. Hollywood never glamorized portraying women to stoop so low. It’s as if, if anyone’s seen Mona Lisa Smile (2003), Julia Roberts’ free-thinking Art Professor were Seeta Devi, and she was shown as the villain of the piece. Mr. & Mrs. ’55 also reminded me of another Bollywood movie, that we watched a kazillion times as kids, Chhoti si Mulaqat (1967). It didn’t fare well with 60’s audiences either. But even though it did seem to some extent pro-wife’s place is at her husband’s home; it wasn’t this extreme, and was actually a very good plot and a near-Excellent movie. It dealt with child marriage, the mental dilemma of the bride as a grown up when she’s reminded of it, as she is about to wed the man she loves, and the modern Indian woman of the 60’s. Her mother is a very progressive woman; against whose knowledge the daughter was wed as child. But in a sense, to some extent, the movie does portray the mother as the villain of the piece. Yet, the plus side is, when the daughter (mostly out of curiosity) defies her mum, and decides that she should be with her husband (a husband she never knew); the husband turns out to be the man she falls in love with as an adult. Luckily! So all’s well, saved by a thread. At least, in the case of Chhoti si Mulaqat, her husband didn’t remain a village idiot, he grew up, studied, became a modern open-minded individual and came up to her standard; and earned his place, in her heart and her social circle. In Mr. & Mrs. ’55, Guru Dutt’s character is still pretty narrow-minded, even though he is a good guy and truly loves her. She definitely deserves better. It ends with the feeling, she’ll be his ideal Indian wife (like his sister-in-law), though it’s doubtful she’ll have to endure physical abuse by Mister ‘Beloved’. But the movie overall isn’t bad, just not great; ruined by that foolishness of where a woman’s place lies; and to some extent a hint against divorce and the Divorce Bill, itself.

In India, before 1955, divorce was not recognized by the Hindus, as according to the Hindu religion marriage is sacrament and not a contract. But with the codification of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, both men and women (of Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain, faith) are equally eligible to seek divorce. In Muslim societies, anywhere in general, the husband could divorce his wife for no reason, without a hitch, while for a wife it wasn’t an easy task to get a divorce, in some cases, not at all. The Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act of 1939 made amendments for Muslim women in India to obtain divorce, comparatively easier. Christian marriages were (and still are) governed by Victorian era implemented, The Divorce Act of 1869, Parsis by the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act of 1936, and Inter-racial/religious marriages The Special Marriage Act of 1954! The Hindu Marriage Act in 1955, was implemented on 18th May 1955. Mr. & Mrs. ’55, released the same year, was an acknowledgement of Modern India’s Hindu Marriage Act in 1955, from which the title of the movie was derived. But unfortunately, the hints on the fact that women should succumb to their man’s needs; even though the man in the movie is not a bad man, is still a bit too of an archaic mentality, even for that time. To show that women should succumb to blindly follow traditional values, is a major step backwards. A pity, such a fun flick, with such witty dialogues.

Guru Dutt’s character is a cartoonist, and the cartoons shown in the film were by R. K. Laxman; a style of drawing I recognized instantly, as I watched the film. In one scene, we see a hand drawing a caricature of Lalita Pawar, Guru Dutt and Madhubala. That’s obviously R. K. Laxman’s unaccredited hand. R. K. Laxsman’s creations were another plus for me.

Thus, Mr. & Mrs. ’55, was only averagely good, that too mainly thanks to the hilarious performance by bewitching beauty, Madhubala; and the brilliant, Lalita Pawar. Worth checking out. Even though the latter part, with it’s backward concept, along with the ending, sucked. Mr. & Mrs. ’55 was one of earliest Hindi movies to show an airport reunion, which was done to death, in much later Bollywood films.

Last movie I watched this month (May 2019).

My Rating: 6/10!

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Postscript:

All three stars mentioned here, Guru Dutt, Madhubala and Meena Kumari, died way before their time. Nicknamed, Tragedy Queen, Meena Kumari; who fought off depression and alcohol abuse, finally succumbed cirrhosis of the liver. She fell into a coma and soon left this world, on 31st March 1972, aged 38. The egoistic Guru Dutt; a truly great filmmaker (he has a better filmography than Mr. & Mrs. ’55) unhappily married to Geeta Dutt, and suffering from an Othello syndrome, finally committed suicide on 10th October 1964, after a couple of failed prior attempts. He was only 39 years old.

Born on Valentine’s Day, 1933, Madhubala, at a young age found out she had a hole in her heart (Ventricular septal defect), and won’t live that long. She completed many of her films by 1959, before her illness aggravated. She continued working while suffering through her illness, but by 1966 she was too weak, and could not finish her project, Chalak, co-starring Raj Kapoor. Chalak never saw the light of day. Mostly bedridden from weakening bones and spewing blood, she tried her hand at film direction. However her directorial debut with, Farz aur Ishq, was not meant to be. Ultimately succumbing to her illness, she died on 23rd February 1969, shortly after her 36th birthday; during the pre-production of Farz aur Ishq. Madhubala was admired in both senses, as a sex symbol of 50’s Bollywood (she was called Marilyn Monroe of Hindi Cinema), as well as one of the finest actresses of her time (she too has a way better résumé than Mr. & Mrs. ’55). Madhubala, also almost made it to Hollywood. Both, Life magazine’s James Burke, and American Film Director, Frank Capra, were impressed by her looks and work. James Burke clicked her pictures in 1951, and captioned them, “The Biggest Star in the World – and she’s not in Beverly Hills”. Frank Capra offered Madhubala a break into Hollywood and true international fame, but her father, worried about his sickly daughter travelling so far, politely declined the rich offer of her earning American dollars. Her Hollywood dream ended, then and there. Sad, none of them lived to be 40! Tragic!

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The 70’s

Feature Films

The Last Detail (1973)

Watched on Thursday, 23rd May 2019! Downloaded Film!

The Last Detail (1973) is a sad road trip where two Navy Chasers escort a kleptomaniac to prison. The young man is sentenced for 8 years, for the petty crime of stealing just $40! Good concept, sad story, but such a dull paced movie, it truly was a bore. The only saving grace were the acting talent roped in, including a virtually unknown Randy Quaid, at the time. Jack Nicholson is really good, as always, but did he really deserve to win a ‘Best Actor’ award at the Cannes Film Festival??????

Very Bad! Feel like dozing off, just writing about it.

My Rating: 3/10!

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The White Buffalo (1977)

Watched on Thursday, 9th May 2019! Downloaded Film!

A Western-cum-Adventure film produced by Dino De Laurentiis, The White Buffalo (1977) is another boring waste of time, made in the 70’s decade, that I saw this month. I’d say stay away from this film as well, though it’s not among the worst films ever made. This silly flick is actually beautifully shot in Colorado with it’s snow capped Mountains! What brilliant Cinematography!

Kim Novak has a small role it it! In a sense she’s the only interesting character, besides that ‘White Buffalo’ itself.

My Rating: 4/10!

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This Decade (2010’s)

Documentaries

Roger Vadim with 3rd wife, actress, Jane Fonda; seen here along with her brother, actor, Peter Fonda, in a water taxi in the Venice lagoon, in 1967

Room 237 (2012)

Watched on Saturday, 11th May 2019! Downloaded Film!

Room 237 (2012) is an analysis, with varied speculative theories, behind Stanley Kubrick’s Horror classic, The Shining (1980). Some interesting views through use of symbolism in the movie, but most are crazily extreme. The story of the cinematic version of The Shining (as the original story was a novel written by Stephen King, which apparently differs a lot from it’s cinematic adaptation; and in fact one theorist points out how Kubrick purposely kills off King’s vision, and hints on it in The Shining) metaphorically representing the Holocaust, and the Genocide of American Indians, makes sense, to some extent. BUT, the Apollo 11 Moon landing footage was fake, and directed by Stanley Kubrick (a ridiculous theory I’ve heard of from way before this movie was made), is going way too extreme. Of course, this crazed theorist, who compares the Kubrick’s Horror flick, to a 3D chess set, with various levels, states that he isn’t saying that the Moon Landing didn’t happen, just that the footage was fake. Quite ridiculous, with no factual proof to back his theories, and there won’t be (I sure hope not!). Capricorn One (1977) was a movie about a similar concept of a hoax. A film about NASA faking a Mars mission. In Minions (2015), there is a funny scene, where a Minion stumbles upon the set, where Stanley Kubrick is filming the Apollo 11 Moon landing; an obvious nod to this crazy documentary. The Apollo 11 Moon landing happened on 20th of July, 1969 (see my post The Greatest feat of the Space age: The day humans conquered the moon from July 2013). This year marks it’s 50th anniversary!!!!

So basically, Room 237, is a bunch of Kubrick crazed film fanatics, with unnecessarily extreme analysis, reading way too much into the classic psychological horror movie. Don’t expect an intelligent insight into The Shining, these are just mere observations. None the less, Room 237, is not a bad documentary. It’s average fare at the best. Check it out if you like, it’s watchable after all; especially if you are fan of . YET, watch Room 237, with a beach full of salt, a pinch won’t be enough!!!

My Rating: 6/10!

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Vadim, Mister Cool (2016)

Watched on Sunday Late Night, 26th May 2019! On TV5MONDE!

Vadim, Mister Cool (2016), chronicles the life of Roger Vadim, step by step, perfectly spending just enough time on each stage of his life! From him as a Film Producer/Director/Screenwriter, to a husband, a family man, his success and his downfall. Roger Vadim was notoriously known for sexploitation of his beautiful wives/life partners; but much as he himself feels, in a sense he liberated them from the confines of anti-sexual notions. This was before the sexual-revolution of the 60’s. And each wife/partner left him, once they made it as a sex siren, but becoming something far greater in the end. Yet he did give them that necessary push. 1st wife-Brigitte Bardot (a.k.a. B.B.), partner – Catherine Denueve and 3rd wife – Jane Fonda; all started off as sex symbols of the 50’s & 60’s, under him, and went onto do great work, as actresses, as well as in other fields. B.B. later became an Animal Rights Activist, Deneuve, one the greatest actresses of French Cinema, and Jane Fonda a political activist against the Vietnam War, Nixon administration as well as a fitness guru and actress of very influential American films. At the start of this year (on 4th of January, 2019), I saw Jane Fonda in Five Acts (2018), on HBO On Demand; a brilliant documentary with Jane Fonda herself speaking about her life and life choices. And of course, she speaks of her sex-siren days as Vadim’s wife, as well.

Both Roger Vadim’s success and downfall are credited to French New Wave Director, François Truffaut, who use to be a film critic for the Cahiers du Cinéma. Truffaut, though initially a fan, was mainly critical Vadim’s sexploitation of the fairer sex. But say what you may; whether Roger Vadim help liberate his women from societal pressures of the past, or was a notorious exploiter of women’s sexuality; he was a doting father. He not only adored his kids, but was a hands on father who took care of them. A stay at home dad, role reversal, while his wives went away for work. He was a feminist, in every sense of it. And his women admired him, and some are truly grateful for helping make their career, or at least give them a start. A push in the right direction. Roger Vadim was truly a fascinating personality.

Vadim, Mister Cool, is a Brilliant Television documentary, and great insight into a man’s life, both professional and personal. Loved it! This documentary was shown soon after Carré 35 (2017) ended, on the same cable television channel; TV5MONDE!

Excellent TV Documentary, one of the Best!!!!!!!
My Rating: 10/10!

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Carré 35 (2017)

Watched on Sunday Night, 26th May 2019! On TV5MONDE!

A very personal documentary, by actor, Éric Caravaca. This is the first documentary Caravaca directed. In Carré 35 (2017) Éric Caravaca speaks of a sister, he never knew existed. A sister that died before he was born. Researching his roots, his background, Éric Caravaca discovers his parents life in Algeria and Morocco, of a birth of sister, with autism and a congenital heart defect (back then known as Blue Baby Syndrome), and her ultimate death that his parents hid from him and his brother. This was before Caravaca’s parents came to Europe, and erased the life they had before, including burning all photos and film footage they had of his elder sister, Christine. The parents never spoke about her. Christine was buried in ‘Carré 35’, the French part of the cemetery in Casablanca, Morocco. Caravaca’s mother had never visited the grave. Having suffered a lot, she didn’t want to reminisce on her past. Towards the end of the documentary we see her finally visiting her baby girl’s grave.

A really tragic story where he interviews and (as his mother feels) interrogates his parents, and other relatives, trying to get the truth behind the secret history of his family’s hidden past. Heart-rending! Rather than doing an analysis of a film that in itself is an analysis of Éric Caravaca background, I’ll simply say, its must watch. Carré 35 was part of a series of Special Programs shown on TV5MONDE, in connection with Festival de Cannes 2019 (I couldn’t follow this year’s festival properly). Éric Caravaca was nominated for L’Œil d’Or (Golden Eye) Award, for Carré 35, English Title- Plot 35, at the 70th International Cannes Film Festival,held in May 2017.

My Rating: 8/10!

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Short Films

Uuquchiing (2018)

Watched on Tuesday Night, 14th May 2019! On TV5MONDE!

This short film was telecast soon after Chouf (2016) ended, on TV5MONDE itself.

Uuquchiing (2018), the title means ‘Blue Fox’ in the Inuit language of the Alaskan/Canadian/Greenland Eskimo. The movie is akin to The Butterfly Effect (2004) where a young Evan Treborn (Logan Lerman as the 7year old Evan & John Patrick Amedori as the 13 year old Evan) suffers blackouts and no memory of what happened during his blackout. Similarly here,in Uuquchiing, we see Camille (Johan Libéreau) having no recollection of how he got from one place to another, with no memory of what happened in between. But sadly this short film has such an abrupt sexual ending and no explanation of what happened and why?, it just left a bad taste in the end. You wonder what it was all about!?!?!

My Rating: 3/10!

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Feature Films

12 Years a Slave (2013)

Watched on Monday, 27th May 2019! Downloaded Film!

One of the finest films ever made. Steve McQueen has proven he’s one of the greatest filmmakers of our generation, with this Oscar winning epic masterpiece, 12 Year a Slave (2013). Finally got to see this movie. Had wanted to see it since it came out in 2013, and was even more interested when in won the Oscar for ‘Best Picture’ at the 86th Annual Academy Awards. Managed to download it almost two years ago, and finally, saw it this Monday. I still have so many films, downloaded close to two year ago, from back in July 2017.

The movie follows the true story of Solomon Northup (on whose book this movie is based on), a free Afro-American man from New York State; who conned into travelling to Washington,D.C., and then drugged by two white con-men, and sold into slavery, from where he was sent to work in the plantations of Louisiana, in the deep south. This was in 1841! For 12 years, Solomon Northup (played with excellence, by British actor of Igbo Nigerian decent, Chiwetel Ejiofor) suffers and struggles to keep himself alive through all the atrocities perpetrated on him by a sadistic slave owner (played by Michael Fassbender, another performer of excellent talent). Northup finally gets a chance to tell his story to a good Samaritan, a Canadian laborer and abolitionist, named Samuel Bass (Brad Pitt) when Northup accidentally, by luck, mentions he’s been to Canada. Such a tragic story.

Lupita Nyong’o, has a small, but crucial role in 12 Years a Slave; for which she won the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ Oscar. Been a fan of Nyong’o since she won the prestigious Golden statuette, even though I hadn’t seen any of her films, including 12 Years a Slave. I liked her personality that shone through, whenever and wherever, she was either interviewed or photographed. But, I wondered whilst watching this, as good as she was in this movie (and she definitely deserved the nomination); was she the best that year?? I actually liked Jennifer Lawrence’s performance in American Hustle (2013) much more, who was nominated in the same category as well.

None the less,12 Years a Slave, is among the greatest Hollywood films ever made. It was so long, the film ended way past midnight; it was like 00:40 am, when it finished, and around 1:00 a.m. on 28th May 2019, when I finally went to bed! ‘Twas totally worth it!!

Pure Excellence!!!!! The Best Movie, I saw this month!! May 2019!
My Rating: 10/10!

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Postscript:

Speaking of the following year’s Academy Awards, am surprised Abdellatif Kechiche’s La Vie d’Adèle (2013), English Title: Blue Is the Warmest Color, was not even nominated in the ‘Best Foreign Language’ category at the 2014 Oscars!!!! In fact both lead actresses, Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos, deserved to be nominated in the ‘Best Actress’ category as well (as neither was a supporting character), if not share a win. Blue Is the Warmest Color, won Palme d’Or at the 66th Cannes Film Festival, held in May 2013. For the very 1st time in the competition, both the lead actresses were awarded the Palme d’Or, along with the film’s director, Abdellatif Kechiche. 12 Years a Slave is definitely a brilliant bio-pic, and I loved it, but I feel this French film, was slightly better.

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Chouf (2016)

Watched on Tuesday Evening, 14th May 2019! On TV5MONDE!

Chouf (2016) literally meaning to “look” in Arabic, is a French film set within the drug cartels of Marseilles. In a Godfatherique style (à la The Godfather, 1972) the lead character, Sofian (played bu namesake, Sofian Khammes), a young man with a genius brain, an intelligent student, comes home for the holidays; and when a loved one gets shot, his whole world changes. In this case, unlike the The Godfather, Sofian joins the drug network to avenge his brother’s death; leaving behind his family and the progressive life, with a good education, he had hoped to be part of. His brother was a local gangster, a drug dealer, and is killed by another member of their secret network. We see Sofian getting dragged deeper and deeper into a life of crime, with no scope of an exit, as he tries to find out who was responsible for his brother’s death.

A really good movie, by Karim Dridi, who does not shy away from realistically showing us life in the French ghettos of Marseilles. Plus, the film, to some extent predictably, shows us how difficult it is too get away and lead a normal life, once someone gets deeply immersed into drug gangs in the brutally dangerous slum areas of Marseilles. Dridi’s Chouf, was released under the Special Screenings at the 69th International Cannes Film Festival held in May 2016.

Chouf too, like Carré 35, was shown as part of a series of Special Programs telecast on TV5MONDE, this month, in connection with Festival de Cannes 2019!!!!

My Rating: 8/10!

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Rutabaga (2018)

Watched on Monday, 13th May 2019! Online on iflix!

Director, Julien Botzanowsk’s horror flick, Rutabaga (2018) seemed to work till a certain point; but then it got ridiculously silly! The end was so stupid. Yet, I did like Botzanowsk’s naturalistic film direction as well as the acting talent roped in, including Julien Botzanowski, himself. But the movie itself was a waste of time, for me.

Interesting to note, 11 days after I saw and tweeted about it (as I tweet about every single movie; the Great, the Bad, the Hideous); I got a message, as a comment here on my Blog, by the director/lead actor of the movie (see my About page), thanking me. After all I did mention, on my tweet as well, that I liked his technique and talent, though not a fan of the cinematic outcome. This is not the 1st time, I got comments from the films directors; twice before two young french directors (Rocco Labbé and Sylvain Bressollette) wrote to me, once I blogged about their short films (see my Blog Posts, Portraits de Maîtresses: Rocco Labbé’s take on Charles Baudelaire, Le Ballon de Rouge (2012/2014) and Young Directors on my BLOG from December 2013, June 2014 & October 2014 respectively). Amazingly all three film directors happen to be French! What lovely, down to earth, good people to write to an odinary blogger/twitterian, like me. None the less, Rutabaga, was not a good movie; but again, Julien Botzanowsk is one to watch out for. Wishing him the best!

My Rating: 1/10

La Révolte des Innocents ()

Watched on Tuesday, 21st May 2019! On TV5MONDE!

Really good movie, based on a real incident!

Théo Frilet plays The Brave Judge, the English title of, La Révolte des Innocents (2018) though not the literal meaning. Set in France, in 1911, in an institute that’s gets a stipend from the government to educate poor children. The kids are not given an education, instead they are made to work, abused and exploited, by the keepers! The story is based on Louise Soliveau and Alexandre Landrin, who’ve been renamed, Joséphine Poliveau (played by Julie Ferrier) and Armand Sandrin (played by Bruno Debrandt) in this television movie. When a 10 year old child dies, under their care; the rest of the kids revolt. When the revolt is reported, this incident slowly starts to shed light on what has been happening at Les Vermiraux, the institute. A young judge, Emile Guidon () takes action and against all obstacles, facing lot of objections, keeps on going till the perpetrators, whose ill treatment and negligence led to the death of a child, are brought to justice.

This is a really good insight into a real life Dickensian Boarding house run by ruthless money hungry bigwigs that abused innocent children!  La Révolte des Innocents, ended past midnight; but just some minutes onto 22nd May 2019!

My Rating: 8/10!

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Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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For the very first time in this country, there was a special Film Festival, celebrating women & womanhood, to coincide with , this year! This was in the first week of this month! The opening movie was on 28th February 2019, which I didn’t go for, plus I wasn’t able to attend the movies on 1st & 2nd of March 2019! So the 3rd of March, 2019, was my very 1st attendance at the very 1st Colombo International Women’s Film Festival!! The Festival took place at the National Film Corporation (NFC), in Colombo.

Julia Jentsch & Emilia Pieske in 24 Wochen (2016)

My Day 1 (3rd March 2019)

Afternoon 3:30pm (1530hrs)

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Tradition (2016) – Short Film, directed by Lanka Bandaranayake

An elderly woman decorates a young depressed looking bride, in traditional Kandyan jewellery, as the bride reflects on her past sexual liaisons. Good premise and the decorating of the woman in bridal attire is beautifully done, but the flashbacks look fake. Sometimes nudity is added just for the sake of it, and it doesn’t work, like in this case. For example, there is stark naked man seated in toilet, then he just gets up showing us his clean buttocks and flushes the toilet (he neither wiped nor washed his ass before doing so, yet the bugger was spotlessly clean), another half naked man walks really carefully, in nothing but a shirt, and turns slowly so that his perfectly placed shirt manages to cover his penis (who talks and walks like that, is he training to be a monk?) As I mentioned the nudity is put in just for the sake of sensationalizing nudity. What I am trying to say is not that shit ought to shown on his ass or there need to be a show of a guys genitals, but my point is how unrealistic and artificial those flashback scenes felt. What I liked was veteran, Irangani Serasinghe, who was admiringly marvellous as she explained the significance of each piece of jewelry. Especially when she puts the chained rings, and mentions that the new bride will be chained to her husband and children for life (in other words, there is no escape). The ugly and unhappy bride was well portrayed as well, and from her memories we are shown she’s no virgin bride as Sri Lankan brides are presumed to be!

Good Concept, but the flashback sequences could’ve been handled better.

Average Fare: 5/10

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Deepa Mehta’s Anatomy of Violence (2016) was based on the real life gang rape that shook the Indian capital, in December 2012, yet depicting a fictional backstory for each of the perpetrators.

Anatomy of Violence is made in the style of a mockumentary, a fake realism of sorts, with adult actors playing children as well, including their own younger selves. The movie was actually bit of a drag, and a lot of time is wasted on each person’s backstory. The perpetrators are humanized a level bit too much. Showed them in a very sympathetic light and time wasted to show how ‘ordinary’ these men are. No matter what they might have gone through when they were young (for it’s mere speculation) that’s no excuse for what they did, as adult men, with a mature enough brain that’s quite aware of what they were doing. And we do get to see that they have no conscience, no regret. As much as you can empathize with what they might have gone through growing up, you can’t feel any kind sympathy towards their selfish inhumane act. These six men, gang raped a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, Jyoti Singh Pandey, in a moving bus, beat her and tortured her. She succumbed to her injuries and died in within two weeks after the assault.

The film is divided into segments, and the Aftermath segment, with the details of actual newsreels inter cut with documentary drama style, was the best segment. This film could have worked way better as a documentary of an Actors Workshop, rather than using the improvisational exercises as a representation of reality.

None the less, Anatomy of Violence was an averagely good effort, from the acting talent, as well as from the famed film director.

Average Fare: 6/10

Panel discussion on Violence Against Women.

This discussion was quite good. Wish there more people in attendance, only about ten people were left in the audience (for the movie there were only a few more, who left as the interesting discussion started). I shared my own thoughts on Deepa’s Mehta’s perspective transferred onto the Big Screen (including some of the stuff I mentioned above), when the audience was given a chance to question and comment. I enjoyed this post-film Q&A, more than the actual feature. Wish Deepa Mehta herself was present. It would’ve been interesting to speak to an acclaimed director like her directly, a director I use to have such great admiration for back in the 90’s & noughties (especially thanks to her directorial ventures like; the brilliant first two installments in her Elements trilogy, Fire,1996 &1947:Earth,1998, and a really good third installment made amidst a lot of controversy, Water, 2005, as well as her, far from great, but still pretty good flicks, like, Camilla, 1994, Heaven on Earth, 2008 & Midnight’s Children, 2012).

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Evening 6:15pm (1815hrs)

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Bless this home (2019) – Short Film by Randi Pavithra Kaluarachchi, was just crap.

The silly “Dishum Dishum” sequence was ridiculous (a play on fantasy versus reality). Can’t really compare it to Mehta’s film, where adult actors play child characters. What Pavithra Kaluarachchi wanted to showcase was domestic violence, in a manner of child’s play. So we see the parents in cowboy hats (the father in full cowboy gear) pointing their figures at each other going “Dishum Dishum”. Ultimately we see the woman dead, in reality. It just didn’t work, for me at least, and it came out looking quite silly. As I mentioned it to the director herself, when I met her briefly later that night.

It might have worked better if she made it in a more surreal setting, having a cowboy chasing a cowgirl, both on horseback, making it looking like an actual western, and then the cowboy lassoing the cowgirl off her horse, cutting to reality to show the dead woman and two little kids starring at her. That would have made for a better movie than two fully grown humans doing a silly “Dishum Dishum” to each other inside a house!!!!

Thus it’s mainly thanks to the two adult leads, that the movie was ruined. A good concept none the less, what Randi Pavithra Kaluarachchi tried to indirectly show, but unfortunately, really poor in the execution.

Pathetic: 1/10

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24 Wochen (2016), English Title: 24 Weeks

Directed by Anne Zohra Berrached, this German movie, discusses the issue of late-term abortion. This was the best film, I saw, at the Festival.

A happily married woman with a little daughter, is about 6 months pregnant with her second child, when she learns that the unborn child would have down syndrome. Along with her husband, they slowly come to terms with bringing up a child with down syndrome, including taking their little girl to special schools for kids with down syndrome, so that the daughter can adapt to her brother’s disability, once he’s born. Just as they’ve made peace with the fact of raising a child like that, they get worse news. The unborn baby also has a heart defect.

The movie deals with the moral dilemma the parents have to face, when it comes to having a late-term abortion, trying to make the decision as to have the baby, or abort the growing child. And since it’s a late-term abortion, she’d have to go through an induced labour and the probability of the child being born alive are high. Thus, the new born baby will have to be given a lethal injection. Sad, tragic, painfully heart rending!!! We feel for the parents, having to go through what they are going through, without judging them for their final decision.

Beautiful and tragic!

Very Good: 8/10!

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My Day 2 (5th March 2019)

Evening 6:15pm (1815hrs)

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Love vs. Love (2019) – Short Film by Pavithra Damunugahkumbura. What in the world was that? It was so pathetic, there is nothing to salvage!

Pathetic: 1/10

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Mary Shelley (2017)

Saudi Arabia’s 1st female filmmaker, Haifaa Al-Mansour, directed the bio-pic of the famed female author responsible for giving birth to Frankenstein, in the early 19th century. The book was published in 1818.

The movie is beautifully made, but falters towards the end, but it’s still a pretty decent period piece (see my tweets below). Al-Mansour’s previous feature film (a Saudi Arabian movie, made in the Arabic language), Wadjda (2012) was a superb movie. I highly recommend that. Way way better than this bio-pic, which too was quite good though.

Pretty Good: 7/10

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My Day 3: Closing Ceremony (7th March 2019)

Evening 6:30pm (1830hrs)

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Sri Lanka’s veteran female director, Sumitra Peries, was felicitated with the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’, at this 1st Colombo International Women’s Film Festival! Deservedly so, SL’s top director, Lester James Peries’ wife, is a filmmaker in her own right. This event took longer than necessary, mainly thanks to long boring speeches by multiple female film personalities of this country. Sumitra Peries though, was kind enough not to take too much time, as she felt us spectators might be anxious with all talk and no screening happening.

From the speeches, Dr Sumathy Sivamohan, through her speech, though a tad long, shared something really interesting on how when Sumitra Peries’ directorial debut, Gahanu Lamai (1978), was released, they traveled all the way from Jaffna to Colombo, when they heard it was directed by Lester James Peries’ wife. Yashoda Wimaladharma gave a very genuine speech, recalling the Late Lester James Peries, with a teary eye and a wavering voice. Touching!

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Sumitra Peries’ latest venture, Vaishnavee (2017), closed the Film Festival. As much as Mrs Peries is a well revered personality here, I was really disappointed with this movie. A localized tale, akin to the ancient Greek mythological tale of Pygmalion and the Ivory Sculpture, Vaishnavee, truly bored me. A grieving puppeteer, whose bride to be has eloped with her lover, carves a female puppet from a tree inhibited by a tree goddess. The puppet comes to life and he falls in love with it, but they aren’t destined to be together. The concept of being in Love with the Unreal (see my Blog post from May 2017, as well). The acting, the characters and the plot development was far from good. Irangani Serasinghe was OK; Mahendra Perera was Mahendra Perera, like he is in practically every movie; few funny moments with Samadhi Arunachaya (a sort of comic-relief); Veena Jayakody looked like she was suffering from a constant asthma attack, and the rest of the cast members, including Yashoda Wimaladharma, truly bored me. Some laugh at them, rather than laugh with them, funny moments in the film (with the exception of Arunachaya). Enjoyable story line based on a fantasy, but poor execution. Though not the worse film ever, it was still really bad!

Very Bad: 3/10

Instead of showing her latest movie, it would have been better for the festival organizers to have shown her best work. Like Ganga Addara (1980) for example. Though that too is only Average Fare (after all Lankan movies are yet to come to an international standard, they have a long way to go, see my Blog post on The SAARC Film Festival 2018 from May 2018), Ganga Addara is definitely among the better movies made in this country.

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I wish I could have worked on a better post, analyzing the movies in depth, but struggling through so much emotional turmoil, through my stress, anxiety attacks and depression, it’s been very difficult to do a proper blog post. But am managing the best I can. Way too many disturbances and distractions, breaking my concentration and ruining my train of thought. Sometimes am just too exhausted, both physically and mentally. My head literally hurts (but my diabetic meds are pretty strong too) and I feel very sensitive to sound (and this country is very noisy in every possible way). Plus, my high blood sugar is apparently affecting my eyesight. My vision fluctuates in a very weird manner, especially when typing on my Laptop!

Anyway, glad there was this wonderful festival. This was the 1st, hope there will be more in the future. This country is very good at having a 1st, but follow ups are an extreme rarity (for e.g. there was a 1st and 2nd Colombo International Film Festival, in 2014 & 2015; but nothing else). So kudos to all the organizers for this film fest, celebrating Women, for , let’s hope it continues, annually.

Nuwan Sen’s Movie Sense

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Quoting Quotes of the Brilliantly Famous

I hate it when people say ‘come back to earth’ or ‘stop dreaming so big,’ 
it destroys all the hope someone had for something
     – Xavier Dolan
    (Born in 1989)

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense!!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mariel Hemingway in The Mean Season (1985)

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

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

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

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

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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

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

Nuwan Sen

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

Dog (狗) Earthly Symbol of the Dog (戌)

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

Click on the Image

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

French, Socialist Party member, 39 year old Emmanuel Macron, is the new President of France. Vive La France!!

Emmanuel Macron with his wife; the new First Lady, Brigitte Macron; at the Inauguration, yesterday.

Macron, who ran under the banner En Marche! (a centrist, liberal movement, founded by Macron, which encapsulates a balance between social equality and a certain degree of social hierarchy, without going into extremes) won, by a decisive margin, at the Presidential elections, defeating Marine Le Pen, on 7th May 2017. He was inaugurated into office yesterday, 14th May 2017.
This is exactly what the world needs now. Youthful, progressive, modernists, but with intellect, wisdom and maturity, of a 65 year old; to bring the world into the future. Open minded, great progressive minds, the likes of, what former Presidents, John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama were to USA, former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi was to India; and what current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau is to Canada today. Not ridiculous leaders like, America’s George W. Bush (jr.) & Donald Trump; or even worse, the pathetic Shit Lankan Presidents, with archaic, crude, extremist, mentality, that lead/have led this country for the last 28 years. J.R. Jayewardene was the only good President SL ever had, and no doubt the best Prime Minister this corrupt island has even seen. Devil’s own country, with their love for Devilled food; inhumane hot headed humans, and a heat, as hot as hell.

Kudos to France, for electing a young modernist. Let’s hope for the best!!

Wishing Emanuel Macron, all the best, in his future endeavours.

Nuwan Sen n’ Politics
Nuwan Sen n’ News ( The Front Page)

sidney-poitiers-90th-birthday

To Sidney Poitier Esq.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

sidney-poitier-blogathon

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

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
#‎NuwanSensFilmSense

french-online-film-festival-poster

Last month, on the culture segment, ENCORE, on FRANCE24; I saw Lisa Nesselson, speaking about an online French Film Festival (FFF)!! It wasn’t until, the night of, the 20th of January, 2017; that I finally got to check it out. All the short films, in the festival, were free; and apparently, in some countries, including our neighbouring country, India, ALL Films were Free!! So, I got to watch some of the short films, on 20th, last month (as I stated earlier); but I didn’t get to the watch some more until, the 11th & 13th of February 2017!! I wish I could have done a post about this earlier; as the Festival finished on the 13th of February, 2017. Pity, I hardly got to watch all the short movies, let alone, BLOG about it, sooner (I did not watch a single, full feature length, movie). BUT, I DID Tweet about the festival, initially, the very next day (after I first saw it), on the 21st of January, 2017, so that at least my followers on Twitter would be aware of it, just in case they already didn’t know about it. Even though, it’s too late to catch any of the films, from the festival site, do check out the website, “www.myfrenchfilmfestival.com”!!

So here is a look, at my quick take(s) on French Shorts, from the virtual Festival!!
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Vincent Cassel in a scene from Violence en Réunion (2015)

Vincent Cassel in a scene from Violence en Réunion (2015)

Short Films, I watched on 20th January 2017
SET OF SEVEN7

A Done Deal (2015/16) a.k.a. Une Formalité

A hilarious short film about a hit man, who is asked to take out a man to coffee, and shoot him later in an alley. But instead, the intended victim, ends up being a real pain in the arse; driving the hit man into near insanity. The most enjoyably piece of farce française, in the Festival.

This Canadian film, stars, actors, Steve Laplante and Richard Fréchette, as the hit man and his mark, respectively. Une Formalité was co-directed by Pierre-Marc Drouin and Simon Lamarre-Ledoux.

Funny, yet violent!! Excellent movie!!!!!
My Rating:- On FFF: 5/5  On IMDB: 10/10

Overpass (2015) a.k.a. Viaduc

A teenager risks his life, in the middle of the night, to do a  graffiti, on a flyover (a.k.a. overpass). The next morning, there is talk of picking up his brother from the airport. The scene at the airport, is sad, once we understand, what they meant, by picking up the brother. BUT, it is when we realise what the young teenager was writing, on the flyover; that it really pulls at your heartstrings. A poignant Canadian film, directed by Patrice Laliberté.

Young newcomer, Téo Vachon Sincennes, gives a heartrending performance!!

Touching! Another Excellent Short!!!!!
My Rating:- On FFF: 5/5  On IMDB: 10/10

Group Violence (2015) a.k.a. Violence en Réunion

Headed by a celebrated French actor, like Vincent Cassel, how can this movie go wrong. Vincent Cassel, plays an ex-street fighter, who is trying not to go back to his old violent ways. But it’s not as easy, as it seems.

Really good take on the western fear of Islam; and how a group of thugs; headed by Cassel’s character, use that, by covering up in a burka, and walking in the streets in the hours of darkness, to intimidate the cops on night patrol. An excellent short film, mostly due to Cassel conveying so much through expression, and less dialogues. Pure Perfection!!!!!
My Rating:- On FFF: 5/5  On IMDB: 10/10

4XD (1964) a.k.a. 4 Fois D

The Classic short film in the competition, is a nostalgic trip to beautiful French femmes of the 60’s decade. Near excellent documentary short, thanks to director Philippe Labro’s, directorial debut, naturalistically filming, Mireille Darc, Marie Dubois, Françoise Dorléac, and my favourite French actress, Catherine Deneuve (see my post 3.3.3.3 from July 2015, as well).

Year 2017, also marks the 50th Death Anniversary of Françoise Dorléac, the elder sister of Catherine Deneuve. Dorléac’s untimely death, at the age of 25, was due to car accident; when the car flipped and burnt. Françoise Dorléac had tried to open the door, was unable to do so, thus was incinerated. The police could only identify her remains, through the fragments of a cheque book, a diary and her driver’s licence. A tragic loss, to world of cinema.

Beautifully filmed in Black & White, 4 Fois D, is really worth checking out, if you are fan of these classic French stars!! An Ode to Beautiful Women!! Close to Excellence!!!!!
My Rating:- On FFF: 4½/5  On IMDB: 9/10

Téo Vachon Sincennes in Viaduc (2015)

Téo Vachon Sincennes in Viaduc (2015)

1992 (2016)

The year is 1992! A lonely, gay, 17 year old, only has a video camera for a friend. He films everything around him, all the time. Soon he develops a crush on a 23 year old. After a night of sexual pleasure, he films the sleeping, naked body of , his 23 year old, on night stand. What would happen when the teenager’s father see’s the tape!!

Director, Anthony Doncque, has brought out a very touching, coming of age drama; of what it was like to be a gay teenager, in the early 90’s!! It’s interesting to see how the father handles it, when he discovers his son is gay. Young Louis Duneton, and Matthieu Dessertine; play the teenager, and his older sexual desire, respectively. Alain Beigel, plays the father of the 17 year old lone youngster.

Really Good Queer Short!!!!
My Rating:- On FFF: 4/5  On IMDB: 8/10

The Plumber (2016) a.k.a. Le Plombier

Méryl Fortunat-Rossi’s, Belgian movie, Le Plombier, is a hilarious film, full of sex sound. Behind the scenes of the porn industry, a Flemish man, who generally dubs, for animated characters, in cartoons; goes into lend his voice, for a blue movie. The results are idiotically comical. Though there is no actual skin show, the movie is very adults only, thanks to the various sounds, explored by the dubbing crew of characters.

Erotically Funny!! Quite Enjoyable!!!!
My Rating:- On FFF: 3½/5  On IMDB: 7/10

The Geneva Convention (2016) a.k.a. La Convention de Genève

Two group of teenagers are getting ready for a fight, over somebody owing someone money. One young man, tries to act as a mediator; and thus unfortunately gets roped into it. But when the person, the money is owed to, walks in, with no violence in his mind, the movie takes a comical turn.

Pretty Good Coming of Age, movie!!!!
My Rating:- On FFF: 3½/5  On IMDB: 7/10

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Short Film, I watched on 11th February 2017
LONE1 RANGER

Flesh & Volcanoes (2014/15) a.k.a. La Chair et Les Volcans

An ailing adolescent girl, lives with her father, in Auvergne; a beautiful region in France, popular for it’s dormant volcanoes, and natural hot springs. The young lonely girl deals with daily constraints of living in this little village, with a lot of patience. But there is a limit to her patience; and her inner volcano could easily burst out, any day now, and make her do something completely irrational.

Pretty good, specially thanks to surreal hallucinogenic qualities interwoven into the film. Though I wasn’t a fan of the abrupt runaway, at the end. Still Quite Good!!!!
My Rating:- On FFF: 3½/5  On IMDB: 7/10

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Short Films, I watched on 13th February 2017
FIVE5 FILMS

In Deep Waters (2014) a.k.a. Dans les Eaux Profondes

A beautiful creation in animation, blending 3D & 2D artwork. Yet, quite an unnerving experience. Is it possible, to spend nine months, in your mother’s womb, with the corpse of your dead twin, and never know about it. Does the feeling of loneliness, fear of being alone, have something to do with?

This is a beautifully shocking tale, of three lonely people, who are unaware; the reason they don’t feel whole; is ’cause of  the fact, that they were meant to be a twin; but their sibling died in the womb, in the initial stages of pregnancy. Scary, Excellent!!!!!
My Rating:- On FFF:  5/5  On IMDB:   10/10

A Town Called Panic: Back to School (2016) a.k.a. La Rentrée des Classes

A beautifully animated children’s movie. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Love the stop motion animation, process, used in this.

In a school, an astronaut named, Monsieur Youri (an obvious allegory on Soviet Russian cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin; the first human to venture into space and orbit the earth, in 1961. See my Blogpost The American Civil War & Yuri Gagarin from April 2013) arrives; and tasks the students to measure the distance between the Earth and the Moon. The prize; a trip to the moon, with Monsieur Youri, in his rocket. It’s hilarious how, a Cowboy, a Red Indian, and a group of farm animals, try to find the distance, from the Earth to the Moon.

Comically Excellent!!!!!
My Rating:- On FFF:  5/5  On IMDB:  10/10

Veil of Silence (2016) a.k.a. Un Grand Silence

Set in 1968, in a sanatorium for pregnant teenagers, expecting unwanted children, a well-to-do young pregnant girl is sent, by her parents; to avoid scandal. Being the only well-to-do girl, she finds it hard to fit in with the other, more rebellious, and somewhat jealous, peers. She faces a dilemma, when she doesn’t want to give up her baby, and go back to her wealthy family; and start anew.

A very tragic film, about the hypocritical world; which doesn’t necessarily denounce teenage sex, but does so, to the unfortunate result, of pre-marital sex. It’s absurd, how an unplanned pregnancy is looked down on; and mainly it’s just the woman carrying the child who bears the burden, of being a societal outcast. Of course, this is set in the late 1960’s, in a more rural country side.

Starring Nina Mazodier, in the lead, Un Grand Silence is the directorial debut of Julie Gourdain. The movie also stars, Sonia Amori, Clarisse Normand and Louise Legendre.

The last film, I watched, of the festival, and it went on till close to half past midnight; thus finished on 14th February 2017 (St. Valentines Day), on this side of the ocean. Very Good!!!!
My Rating:- On FFF:  4/5  On IMDB:   8/10

Juliet’s Band (2016) a.k.a. La Bande à Juliette

A French film bordering on sexual harassment, tells of a group of art students, who travel to one of their batch mate, Juliette’s, holiday home in Normandy. Here she introduces the others to her childhood friend. Soon her childhood friend, tells Juliette, about one of art students constantly hitting on her, and treating her in a discriminating manner. But, Juliette doesn’t believe her own close friend. A sad film, where we ourselves wonder whether Juliette’s friend is just crying wolf (as she’s suppose to have done in the past), or telling the truth.

Beautifully filmed, in a lovely house, yet a very slow moving, movie. But still, enjoyable enough. La Bande à Juliette, happens to be the directorial debut, of newcomer, Aurélien Peyre. The movie, from France, stars a beautiful young cast, including Pauline Acquart, Adrien Schmück, Phénix Brossard, Aurélien Vacher, Fanny Lamblin, Faustine Levin and Lucas Audineau.

Average Fare!!!
My Rating:- On FFF:  3/5  On IMDB:   6/10

The Last Frenchman (2015) a.k.a. The Last of the Frenchmen, and Le Dernier des Céfrans

What is it to be French? A pretty good story on Muslim youngsters, with Middle Eastern/African roots, born in France. Technically they are French, born and brought up in France; but when one young Muslim boy goes to enlist in the French army; he’s questioned, as to where his loyalties stand. Added to which, it’s difficult for him to tell his fellow ‘Muslim’ French friends, that he is enlisting.

The movie starts off with the French Muslim youngsters; going to the mosque, then hanging out, making fun, of one of the gang, for dressing up in outdated clothing; from Back to the Future (1985), et al. Then one of them, goes off to enlist. We see an identity crisis, these kids are neither here nor there. They are born French; but their roots aren’t. Thus, they are not accepted in either societies, without scepticism.

There is a scene, where the lead young man, waiting to enlist, is standing at a bus stand, named Frantz Fanon. This could be symbolic, as the; Martinique born, Afro-Caribbean psychiatrist, philosopher & revolutionary; the late, Frantz Fanon, spoke in detail, on the subject of identity crisis in the fields of post-colonial studies. Back in 2002-2003; when I was studying for my MA in International Cinema; I used his very first published book, Black Skin, White Masks, as a reference for various assignments, specifically on Post-colonial Cinema. Black Skin, White Masks, is a deep psychoanalysis, on effects of colonial subjugation upon Black people.

Despite a really good concept, and interesting metaphors, it feels like a waste. Quite a dull movie!! Only short film, in the online festival, that I did not care for, much; although I liked the idea, of the message the movie was trying to convey. Pretty Bad Film though!!
My Rating:- On FFF:  2/5  On IMDB:   4/10

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That’s all Folks!!
french-online-film-festivalThere were two short films, I couldn’t watch; i.e. Mother(s) (2015) a.k.a. Maman(s), and Of Shadows and Wings (2015) a.k.a. D’Ombres et d’Ailes; as, when I finished watching Un Grand Silence; it was already, past midnight (as I have stated above). Thus, unfortunately, I couldn’t see the last two available films, mentioned here. Plus, there were a couple of films, that were not allowed, in this country!!

One of the Classic Feature films, on the festival site, was, Agnès Varda’s Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962) a.k.a. Cléo de 5 à 7. Though I did not watch it online; I saw this excellent movie, some years ago. It’s French New Wave, classic. A Must Watch!! I gave it a 10/10, rating back then (also see my Blog-post Being mesmerised by ‘The Umbrellas of Cherbourg’ from August 2013). Sad, I couldn’t watch, any of the full length films, in the festival.

None the less, from the short films I watched, quite a few of them, were really worth it. Do check them out, if you get a chance, to do so!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
#‎NuwanSensFilmSense

french-short-films

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

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

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

COOL CLASSICS – That Dared!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE LAST FIVE YEARS – The Future is Here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OTHER FILMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
#‎NuwanSensFilmSense
Films 2005

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

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

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

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

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

Watched Black Sea on HBO On Demand.

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

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

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

Watched Les Rides on TV5MONDE.

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

Watched Nightingale on HBO On Demand.

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

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

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

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

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

Watched Voulez-vous Danser avec moi on TV5MONDE.

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

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

Watched Kill the Messenger on HBO On Demand.

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

Watched Squatters on HBO Signature.

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

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

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

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

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

Watched Poltergeist on HBO.

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

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

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

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

Watched As Above, So Below on HBO On Demand.

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

Watched Le Lieu du Crime on TV5MONDE.

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

Watched Into the Storm on HBO On Demand.

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

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

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

Watched Timbuktu on TV5MONDE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watched J’ai Tué ma Mère on TV5MONDE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jacques Bernard in Les Enfants Terribles (1950)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watched Les Enfants Terrible on DVD.

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