Tag Archive: Cowboys


This Blogathon, hosted by ‘Real Weegie Midget’, that I joined the last minute (as we just came across each others Blogs, just few days ago, and before I knew it, I was invited to take part in this new Blogathon), is in correspondence to actor Jack Nicholson’s 80th Birthday!! Thus, a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY, to a legendary genius of modern cinema, Jack Nicholson!! Wish him all the best in health and happiness in his old age. For this Blogathon, I’m paying a ‘Double Bill’ tribute, featuring Nicholson’s TWO Film releases, of 1966 (both Acid Westerns, with similar story line)!!!!!
Ride in the Whirlwind (1966)

Directed by Monte Hellman, and Written, Produced & Starring, a very young Jack Nicholson; the story is about an innocent man on run from a group of vigilantes.

Three cowboys, including a young man called Wes (Nicholson) stop to break for the night, at a remote hideout of a gang of outlaws, led by Blind Dick (a young, Harry Dean Stanton). Come morning, they find themselves surrounded by a vigilante hanging party. It’s interesting to note, how the vigilantes here are portrayed in a realistic light. Unlike many films and television shows of today, where people taking the law into their own hands, are portrayed in a heroic light; here we see them, for what they actually can be. They are not necessarily the good guys. They not only kill off the gang they are after, but they are responsible for the deaths of two innocent people as well, assuming they are part of a gang of robbers. Plus they are on a hunt to kill off, another innocent person, Wes. It’s a hint on why people shouldn’t take the law into their own hands. Protecting oneself and other victims is a different matter, but going after someone, committing murder, in the name of justice, without any factual evidence, doesn’t make you a hero/heroine. Sure the law makes mistakes too, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to go around harming people in the name of justice. Vigilantes are humans too, and human beings are very flawed creatures.

A pretty good story, but just an OK film. Average Fare!!!
My Rating: 6/10!!!

Jack Nicholson in Ride in the Whirlwind (1966)

The Shooting (1966)

Directed by Monte Hellman, and Produced & Starring, a very young Jack Nicholson; this film is about a group cowboys going on a hunt, under the persuasion of a mysteriously secretive woman.

While, in Ride in the Whirlwind, Nicholson plays the hunted, here he is the hunter. The villain of the piece. Nicholson plays a gunslinger named Billy Spear, who’s been hired by a nameless woman (Millie Perkins). What’s really interesting here is, like most of the male characters in the film, we (the audience) ourselves, aren’t aware of what the hunt is for, until the end. The woman who hires them, is very secretive, and keeps changing her story, as to what they are accompanying her for. The ending of this movie is, unexpectedly, excellent.

Very good movie, very well told!!!!
My Rating: 8/10!!!!

Millie Perkins & Jack Nicholson, in a scene from The Shooting (1966)

Nicholson’s TWO Roles

Whilst, in Ride in the Whirlwind, Nicholson plays an innocent and kindly character, in The Shooting, he is sexier and scummier.

Young Nicholson is brilliantly different in the two very diverse roles he does. In Ride in the Whirlwind, you feel sorry for him, he is just a young man, who is afraid of being killed, for something he hasn’t done. He has his whole life ahead of him, but is being pursued by idiotic vigilantes; who assume they are being very heroic, by trying to kill him off. He’s just a kid. But in The Shooting, he shoots an innocent kid, Coley (Will Hutchins); and you wish to shoot him off. He is the monster, with a conniving smile, and an equally slimy body language, accompanying the smile. Amazingly Nicholson doesn’t look so young, despite the fact, both these movies were made back to back, in 1965, and released in 66’. Besides, he was in actuality in his late 20’s, when he made these movies. He’d turn 30, less than a year, after their releases. So, in reality, he wasn’t ‘just a kid’. But he looks really young, and with his innocence, in Ride in the Whirlwind, to complement him, he looks like he could be still in his teens even.

Out of the two roles, it’s his devious persona, in The Shooting, that shows potential for a more successful acting career. The acting career, we are used to, in some of his most defining roles, in films like; Easy Rider (1969), Chinatown (1974), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), The Shining (1980), The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981), Batman (1989), A Few Good Men (1992) As Good as It Gets (1997) and The Departed (2006); to name some.

Though Jack Nicholson, ventured into Hollywood, at the wee age of 17, in 1954; it was the 70’s decade that brought him into prominence. And his most notably, best performance to date, no doubt was in, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, for which Nicholson bagged his very first Oscar trophy, for ‘Best Actor’, at the 48th Academy Awards, held in 1976.

Jack Nicholson & Cameron Mitchell, in a scene from Ride in the Whirlwind (1966)

Behind the Scenes
As stated above, Jack Nicholson, didn’t just act in these low-budget movies, but he also produced them; plus he also wrote the screenplay for Ride in the Whirlwind. This wasn’t his first screenplay, yet success as a writer, was yet to happen. It was later, for The Trip (1967) that he would be commended for his brilliant literary skills, on a very 60’s, counterculture, film script, about a hallucinogenic acid trip. Speaking of counterculture and acid trips, both these acid westerns too, have a major influence of the 1960’s counterculture. But one of the major flaws in both films, happens to be the look of Millie Perkins’ character (yes she appears in both films, in a supporting role in one, and a lead in the other). Her hairdo feels very 60’s (but her head is mostly covered with a hat, in The Shooting). Luckily her makeup is that of a minimalist nature; which apparently Perkins wasn’t very happy about.

Monte Hellman and Jack Nicholson made decisions on the films together, including the lead cast. They together searched for locations for several weeks; before deciding on Kanab, Utah, USA. It was the perfect site to film both their films. The cinematography in The Shooting is wonderfully imaged. The entire film was shot in natural light.

It was producer, Roger Corman’s, idea, to make two films back to back. Corman financed the pictures, serving as the film’s uncredited ‘Executive Producer’. Nicholson was apparently worried about going over budget, while making these movies. But both films were completed in a total of six weeks of continuous shooting (three weeks per film). And thus, the films were completed for the original budget estimated. Yet, Hellman had to spend more than a year, editing the film footage.

These two Acid Westerns; which do not romanticise the west, rather shed a more realistically bleak light; one of which is just OK, and other really good; is an interesting insight into Jack Nicholson in the making. The Nicholson we came to know and love, today.

A Special THANK YOU, to my new found blogger pal, of ‘Real Weegie Midget’, for roping me in, for the Here’s Jack Blogathon 2017.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
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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
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The classic western, Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957), is based on an actual event that transpired, in Tombstone, Arizona, USA, in the late 19th Century. There was a gunfight between the Earp brothers and the Clanton clan of outlaws, that lasted 30 seconds, and this movie traces the steps that led to the disastrously notorious shootout, at OK Corral, on, 26th of October, 1881.

The Arrival of a Lady!! It’s interesting to note, how the people of the town are dressed is similar earthly tones, blending into the backdrop. Contrasting to the greyish, reddish & brownish hues, we see a lady dressed in dark green with a green parasol. This use of contrasting colour, in the scene, itself tells us, that she’s an outsider, and all the townsfolk notice her. Added to which, from her attire and elegant gait, one can tell, that she’s a classy lady, travelling through. The fact she’s a lady, is further confirmed later on, with her sophisticated mannerisms and eloquent speech. And she’s a bold woman, from the 19th century, not afraid to travel on her own. This is none other than the arrival of Laura Denbow (played by Rhonda Fleming), a very respectable charcter. Yet she finds herself in trouble with the law, on her first day in town. She’s arrested and imprisoned, for playing a man’s game, i.e. Poker. For the law of that state, prohibits women from gambling. It’s OK for men to gamble though. Soon the lady in question and the towns Sheriff, Wyatt Earp (Burt Lancaster), who arrested her, would fall for each other, and decide to marry. But fate would have something else in store.

The Arrival of a Lady!!
It’s interesting to note, how the people of the town are dressed is similar earthly tones, blending into the backdrop. Contrasting to the greyish, reddish & brownish hues, we see a lady dressed in dark green with a green parasol. This use of contrasting colour, in the scene, itself tells us, that she’s an outsider, and all the townsfolk notice her. Added to which, from her attire and elegant gait, one can tell, that she’s a classy lady, travelling through. The fact she’s a lady, is further confirmed later on, with her sophisticated mannerisms and eloquent speech. And she’s a bold woman, from the 19th century, not afraid to travel on her own. This is none other than the arrival of Laura Denbow (played by Rhonda Fleming), a very respectable charcter. Yet she finds herself in trouble with the law, on her first day in town. She’s arrested and imprisoned, for playing a man’s game, i.e. Poker. For the law of that state, prohibits women from gambling. It’s OK for men to gamble though. Soon the lady in question and the towns Sheriff, Wyatt Earp (Burt Lancaster), who arrested her, would fall for each other, and decide to marry. But fate would have something else in store.

Lawman, Wyatt Earp (Burt Lancaster), of Dodge City, Kansas, USA, on the verge of getting married to his beloved, Laura Denbow (Rhonda Fleming), receives a letter from his brother asking him to help clean up an outlaw mess in Tombstone, Arizona. In Tombstone, Earp, discovers Ike Clanton (Lyle Bettger) is involved in stealing Mexican cattle. Wyatt Earp, now being made US Marshal, with authority over the whole country, bans the use of firearms in Tombstone. Having failed to bribe Earp, Clanton, with murderous intent, isn’t happy, and accidentally kills the youngest of the Earp brothers. Now Wyatt Earp, has only vengeance in his mind, and along with his brothers, and Doc Holliday (Kirk Douglas), sought out to get rid of the Clanton menace for good.

As the Sheriff is away, having romantic moment in the woods, with his beloved, the mob comes into town, and disrupts everything.

As the Sheriff is away, having romantic moment in the woods, with his beloved, the mob comes into town, and disrupts everything.

The look of the movie is simply amazing. Love the impressive cinematography by Charles Lang. The dusty backdrops of cowboy country, is beautifully captured, and the use of colour to symbolically focus on a trait of personality, is used to perfection. It’s interesting to note how well the sets are designed, in dull brownish hues, along with certain costumes (designed by the famed Edith Head) used to compliment or contrast the backdrop, as an allegory to showcase, the difference between characters, who tend to belong to this desert town, blending into the landscape, and who doesn’t. Secondary, is the storyline, that’s based on a real historical incident, and how well the narrative works in the movie. Not a dull moment, though told in a very relaxed manner, building up the characters, of ordinary people of a small town, and showcasing how they ultimately end up being involved in a, willingly or unwillingly, historical moment in time, with which their names would simultaneously end up being associated with. Watch out for a very young Dennis Hopper, as the little brother of Ike Clanton, who’s unwillingly forced to join his brother, against the Earps & Holliday.

A young, baby faced, Dennis Hopper, as Billy, the kid brother of the Clanton’s, who innocently gets roped in on the gunfight.

A young, baby faced, Dennis Hopper, as Billy, the kid brother of the Clanton’s, who innocently gets roped in on the gunfight.

Produced by Hal B. Wallis, directed by John Sturges, and starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas in the lead, this is a really interesting movie to sit through. It chronicles the tale of how a peace loving sheriff, who doesn’t even carry a gun, is forced to lead a gunfight against a lynch mob. The cast is brilliant, as is the story line. Love the cinematography, and the set décor. It’s thanks to this combination that the film happens to be amongst the most celebrated of Hollywood westerns. But yet, it’s no where as great as, High Noon (1952), The Searchers (1956), The Misfits (1961), The Outrage (1964) and 3:10 to Yuma (2007), to name some excellent Hollywood films of the ‘Western’ genre; or near excellent flicks like, The Left Handed Gun (1958), The Unforgiven (1960), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and Australia’s The Proposition (2005). Still, Gunfight at the OK Corral, is a really enjoyable flick, in league with famed westerns like, Love Me Tender (1956), Rio Bravo (1959), A Fistful of Dollars (1964) and Unforgiven (1992).

Watched Gunfight at the OK Corral, on Monday, 14th September, 2015. One of the DVD’s I brought from Australia in November 2014 (Also see my 200th post Holidaying in Australia, comes to an end). I still have a few movies, I bought Down Under, left to watch. The last one I watched, was This Property is Condemned (1966), back in May 2015 (see my posts Condemnation of a woman during the Depression era of the American south, Mai May Movies 2015 and Classic Movie History Project Blogathon – 1966: The Year dubbed as Nineteen Sexty Sex). Prior to that I managed to watch quite few of those DVD’s last year in November/December 2014, itself. Also see my post Gunfire @ OK Quarrel on my new website, from today itself.

Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957)
My Rating: Very Good!! 8/10!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

And in Cinema: 1960’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Year: 1966

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My favourite film of Year: Nineteen Sexty Sex

My favourite film of Year: Nineteen Sexty Sex

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

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

Sex on the Dance Floor: Liz Taylor & George Segal

Sex on the Dance Floor: Liz Taylor & George Segal

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

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

Scenes from This Property is Condemned (1966)

Scenes from This Property is Condemned (1966)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cul-de-Sac 66'

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

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

Julie Andrews and Paul Newman in Torn Curtain (1966)

Julie Andrews and Paul Newman in Torn Curtain (1966)

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

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

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

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

Scene from Masculin Féminin (1966)

Scene from Masculin Féminin (1966)

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

The cover of Film Review from December 1966

The cover of Film Review from December 1966

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

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

Veruschka and David Hemmings in Blow-Up  YEAR:1966

Veruschka and David Hemmings in Blow-Up
YEAR:1966

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

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

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

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

Regards
Nuwan Sen

On the Ides of March (15th March), 2015, my maternal grandmother, known simply as Attammi to us (among all her grandkids), passed away. She was 93 years old.

Attammi in a wheelchair. This was the last Picture I took of Attammi (24th June 2014)

Attammi in a wheelchair. This was the last Picture I took of Attammi (24th June 2014)

Was it a shock? A sad surprise? Not really, we were sort of prepared for it, as she had been ill for sometime now. But still, is anyone ever really ready, no matter how anticipated. It’s still sad. When I heard mum that morning, on the phone, speaking about a peaceful death, a chill ran through my spine. I felt it was my beloved Attammi. Still I preferred to believe I might be mistaken. Then mum told me the news. I wasn’t shocked, I had felt it a minute or so ago. We spoke about her for a little while. Neither of us shed a tear, but the pain of her loss was within us. Then Suddenly mum said she needed to cry. I told her to please do. She did, reducing her pain a little, but I still couldn’t. Mum & sis left that day itself, on Sunday. It was the next morning, I finally shed a few tears, before leaving. Dad & I, left for Veyangoda, on Monday morning, the day of the funeral. Once I saw Attammi lying there, peaceful in her coffin, I felt a bit better. I haven’t cried till now. But have been pensively reflecting on all the great memories I shared with her, and planning on working on this tribute to her long journey from an angelic little girl, to her great love marriage, to her philanthropic work for the Kegalle hospital, to letting her two elder daughters travel abroad, to travelling abroad herself, to becoming a mischievous Grandmamma, to accepting the changing modern world through her grandchildren, to losing the great love of her life (her husband) to an accident, to witnessing her grandkids marriages, to turning into a Great Grandmother. She had a beautiful long life, full of ups and downs and survival.

Attammi & I On Attammi's 90th Birthday (18 Jan 2012)

Attammi & I
On Attammi’s 90th Birthday (18 January 2012)

Mini-Bio, Memories & Timeline
(avec excerpts from Atta’s personal ‘Diary of Events’)

Attammi made her entrance into this world, in the Roaring 20’s, in Ceylon, under the British Raj, as Leelawathie (Leela) Dissanayake, to James and Julie Dissanayake, on the 18th of January, 1922. Much loved as a baby, unlike most little ones, she was considered a, non-mischievous, saint of a child. Growing up surrounded by eight siblings, she was the second child and the elder daughter.

Attammi’s parents having eloped, they were estranged from Attammi’s mother’s relatives for a period of time. The first time Attammi met her cousin, my maternal grandfather (Atta to us), was when she was just beginning her teens. Attammi’s mother, was the younger sister, of Atta’s father. But since Attammi’s mother, Julie, had run off and married in secret, Atta’s father had cut her off from his life. It’s hard to say whether the brother and sister ever reconciled, but it took more than a decade or so for Atta’s father to soften down enough to allow any interaction among the cousins (after all blood is thicker than water), and thanks to which my grandparents finally met. For Atta and Attammi, it was love at first sight. Sounds cheesy in today’s non-romantic, digital age, cyber sexed, universe, but it’s true. My maternal grandparents were the most romantic couple I ever knew in real life.

– Silent Love Story

Atta met his first cousin, Wije (Attammi’s elder brother), for the very first time, in 1935. Soon a friendship developed and one day on a visit to Bandarawella, Wije’s family home, Atta was introduced to Wije’s sister (Atta’s future wife). Atta was just 15, and Attammi just 13. A Ceylonese Romeo and Juliet. On the 14th of January 1936, Atta (aged 16) wrote on his diary how madly he was in love with her, but never mentioned it, as he felt they were too young. A couple of years later, when he was 18, he told his father. His father asked him to abandon this insanity. Thus Atta decided not to pursue it any further, but, in his heart, he always held a “soft corner for this girl”, as he stated in his diary (See excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events). In 1939, Atta was recruited into the Army (British controlled Armed forces of Ceylon), with advent of the Second World War.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

Meanwhile, Attammi, waited to hear from Atta, but kept her love for him to herself. Almost a decade went by without her mentioning anything to anyone, but secretly pined for the young man she fell madly in love with, as a 14 year old, her first and only love. In her early 20’s, as proposals started to come her way of fine young suitors, she rebuffed them all. Finally she told her younger brother, Pragne, about her secret crush. Pragne wrote to Atta, letting him know, that my grandmother was still holding on to hope for a future with him. And that if Atta is not interested, to let her know, so that she can move on. Atta was pleasantly surprised, for though he had been in love with her, he never knew she had felt the same. He had barely spoken to her. In January 1944, Atta let his father know, that he truly loved this girl, he barely knew, and was finally granted permission to woo her. My grandparents briefly courted, for a few years, whenever they could meet (as they lived quite a distance to each other, and travel within the island was comparatively more of a hassle, and was slower in speed). Atta lived in Mayfield, and Attammi in Bandarawella. Soon ‘D-Day’ was here, and the long awaited romantics, finally got married on the 10th of July, 1947. And thanks to this beautiful union, my mum is in existence today, and in turn us.

Atta & Attammi on their wedding day.  (10th  July 1947)

Atta & Attammi on their wedding day.
(10th July 1947)

Being a couple of modernists, in their day and age, Attammi was one of the rare brides, to incorporate the traditional Kandyan saree, along with a western veil. And back then it wasn’t a controversy, thanks to the open-minded elite, of that day and age. But in more recent times, in the late 1990’s and the early noughties, to be more specific, with the increasing rate of hypocrisy in this country, along with a fake sense patriotism that exists today, and false pride of being Sri Lankan, a lot of Lankan’s seem  horrified that anyone could dare to wear the traditional Kandyan with an English inspired veil, and that too back in 1940’s. My Grandfather wore a three-piece suit, but that’s acceptable, in this sexist minded country, of the 21st century. I, for one, am proud, to be a descendant of such an intelligent Grandfather, and such a kind-hearted Grandmother (I have never met a gentler soul), and their rare perfect union, with a modern outlook towards life. In a way, though sad, am glad they are no more, to experience, this inhumane extremist society, of racial and religious divisions, and jealousy (after all it’s considered a GREEN country, and not necessarily due to the environment), narrow minded attitudes, with the kind of Hitler mentality (minus the power, thank god) that exists today, in a country that my Grandparents use to hold in such high regard once. They had a peaceful co-existence of a near perfect companionship of contentment, living happily, through majority of the 20th century, and being able to witness the start of the 21st.

– Atta

The year 1920 began, with the birth of my maternal grandfather (Atta). Atta was born as Ekanayake Mudiyanselage Ariyachandra Ekanayake (later simply known as Ariya Ekanayake), in British Ceylon, on the 1st of January, 1920, to James and Agnes Ekanayake. Atta’s mother was a widow with a daughter, when James Ekanayake fell in love with her. James and Agnes married on 4th December 1912. Yet it would be seven years, and almost a month, later, that James would finally become a father for the first time, with Atta’s birth. Atta hardly got to know his mother, as on the 8th of March, 1922, when Atta was just two years old, his mother died, due to postnatal complications, four days after giving birth to a baby girl. Atta’s father later re-married, and the Atta’s step-mother lived up to her status of a being a real ‘stepmother’. She deeply disliked all three of her stepchildren. Besides Atta’s elder half-sister, from his mother’s first marriage, Atta had quite a few younger half-siblings from his father’s second marriage. Some, not all, of his half-siblings, were pretty much like their mother. Atta as the eldest son was obliged to help and make his younger siblings happy in every way possible, and spent majority of his life taking care of every single need of his ungrateful half-siblings, who never seemed satisfied. Relatives sure can be poisonous sometimes. I personally don’t believe in  associating family just for namesake. If there is no genuine friendship within the family, such family members are definitely not worth it. I had a great rapport with both Atta & Attammi, more than any other grandchild of theirs shared with them.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

In April 1932, when Atta was 12 years old, his paternal grandfather died, at the Kandy hospital. It was at his grandfather’s funeral that Atta met his aunt (his father’s estranged younger sister, Attammi’s mother) for the very first time. In August 1932, Atta’s “father took up billet at Mayfield” estate. It’s in Mayfield that Atta would later meet his first cousin (Attammi’s elder brother) in April 1935. Atta’s unkind stepmother, started to suffer mentally in the early 1930’s, and soon was admitted to a Metal hospital in April 1933.

– WW-II & post

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

Aged 19, Atta joined the Army, and with the start WW-II, his “battery took charge of Hoodstower and Ostenburg at Trincomalee”. Atta describes this time of his life as the “worst period” of his “army life”. In October 1943, he was sent to Bombay (now Mumbai), in India, for Coast Artillery training. This is a period he loved, and has told me personally, how much he enjoyed his stay in Bombay, befriending a lot of foreigners. He competed with many Indians, Anglo-Indians and Burmese, and beating them all, was ranked 1st in his course. After he left the army, Atta temporally worked as a clerk, and later trained in the Health Unit’s sanitary department, and took up a job as a Sanitary Inspector. As he disliked this job, he resigned a couple of months after he got married. And in October 1947, he “took up appointment in the CGR” (Ceylon Government Railway). For which he worked for the rest of his life till he retired.

(All lines within double quotes, are straight from Atta’s ‘Diary of Events’.)

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

– Independence & post   

On the 15th of August, 1947, the neighbouring country, India gained independence from the British (see my post Sixty Six years of Indian Independence from August 2013), making India the first British colony to do so. As a result of which, various other British colonies started to gain independence as well. And Ceylon became an independent country the following year, in 1948.

Whilst working for the CGR, Atta was transferred many a times to various locations in Ceylon. My grandparents and mother, have oft spoken about the great times they had, their wonderful experiences, living in beautiful bungalows, making newer friends, from various parts of the country, as they travelled around. ’twas almost like working for a diplomatic mission, but instead of travelling around the globe, they got to travel around the country.

Yet, in October 1948, when Atta was transferred to Colombo, his wife couldn’t accompany him. Attammi was in her first trimester of her pregnancy, expecting their first child, my mother. Atta had written in his diary, as how difficult it had been for him, to leave his pregnant wife. Luckily he was in Colombo for only a very short period of four months. Soon he was transferred to Nawalapitiya, on the 1st of February, 1949, and Attammi joined him on the 7th of February, 1949. Thus on the 24th of May, 1949, my mother came into this world, as Lalitha Damayanthi Ekanayake (a.k.a. Lala, Lala-Damayanthi & Dammi) in Nawalapitiya, and Ariya & Leela Ekanayake’s life as devoted parents began.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

Throughout the 1950’s, wherever Atta was based, his whole family travelled,  living in various locations around the island, from Nawalapitiya To Haputale to Induruwa to Kosgoda. But as the children started to grow older, Atta felt they should have one base, especially as not to break their education, by changing schools. Thus he built a house, and on 3rd January, 1961, they moved into their new permanent home, in Kegalle. So throughout the 60’s and 70’s, the family lived in Kegalle, along with their family pet, or rather my mother’s dog, whom she named ‘Tiny’. Since then, Atta travelled alone wherever he was required to do so. And therefore my mother studied at St. Josephs Convent, in Kegalle, along with her two younger sisters.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

India became a Republic on 26th January 1950. Yet it took another 22 years for Ceylon to become a republic, and the island did so, on 22nd May 1972, and was renamed as Sri Lanka. Yet Sri Lankans have not much of a regard for it’s republic day, as they have for their day of independence.

– History repeats itself.  

Like Atta & Attammi, my parents met for the first time, when they were teenagers. Mum was about 15, and dad was a couple of years older than her. Mum had fallen madly in love with him. She didn’t see him again, as a teen, except for briefly coming across him once more in the 60’s. In her early 20’s, the two older sisters (my mum and her younger sister) overheard Atta mention that they were of marriageable age. My mum having no desire to marry; as she wanted to do a job, and higher studies, plus she had a secret crush on my dad, whom she hadn’t seen in ages; wasn’t too happy about it. My mother’s sister, wrote to my father, who was residing in New Delhi, India, with his family by then, letting him know, and apologised in advance if he had someone else in his life. My father in the meantime, had broken up with his Indian girlfriend. And he accepted. My parents didn’t really court, as they were residing in two different countries, but wrote to each other regularly. It would be a couple of years later, that they would see each other, all set to marry. When my mum first saw him as an adult, in 1973, she was shocked. He had long floppy hair, long sideburns, wearing a tight shirt, and bellbottoms. He looked like a hippie and definitely not, the man she had fallen in love with. Atta told my father, that if my father wishes to marry Atta’s daughter, he ought to cut his hair. He did so. And thus on the 10th of December, 1973, my parents wed. And my mum was Mrs. Senadhira now.

Atta & Attammi, with My Parents :- Top: On my Parents wedding day (10th December 1973)  Below: On my Parents 25th Wedding Anniversary (December 1998)

Atta & Attammi, with My Parents :-
Top: On my Parents wedding day (10th December 1973)
Below: On my Parents 25th Wedding Anniversary (December 1998)

– Bharat Darshan  

Soon after the wedding, my parents left for New Delhi, India, in December 1973 itself.

On the night of 21st June 1975, Lala-Damayanthi went into labour, and 26 minutes past midnight (thus 22nd June early morning), with my birth, Atta & Attammi became grandparents, for the first time; ‘twas the longest day of the year. I was born in New Delhi, India.

Little ME: With my maternal Grandparents on my first Trip to Sri Lanka in 1976 (Me aged One)

Little ME: With my maternal Grandparents on my first Trip to Sri Lanka in 1976 (Me aged One)

Whilst, living in Delhi, we use to travel to Sri Lanka a lot, especially during the Indian Summer holidays (May-June-July), or, during Delhi’s Winter Vacation (December-January). I travelled to Sri Lanka for the first time, during the Winter Vacation of 1976, aged one. Atta & Attammi, however visited India twice in the 70’s. First time was before I was born, and next was in 1978, when I was three years old. Being Buddhists, we all travelled to all the Buddhist destinations in India and Nepal.

My maternal Grandparents Second trip to India. Atta & Attammi, my parents & I, in New Delhi, India, in 1978.

My maternal Grandparent’s Second trip to India. Atta & Attammi, my parents & I, in New Delhi, India, in 1978.

Attammi has often reminisced about her two trips to India. Atta had been so proud of my mum. My mother was working at All India Radio (A.I.R), at the time, as a Newsreader, Announcer & Translator, as did my father, who was also in charge of the Sinhala service at A.I.R. Attammi told me how happy she felt, when my mum took her to see the red bricked round offices, and Attammi described the circular stairway, inside the building. I envy her, for I haven’t seen the inside of A.I.R. It’s a stylish Office building. Added to which my parents had a very international group of friends, including Indians, Chinese, Burmese, Thai, Russian, French, Tanzanians, et al, who worked for their respective stations at A.I.R. We lived at Asia House Flats at the time. My mum has always maintained, that those were the best years of her life.

My maternal Grandparents, Mum & I (a three year old me seated on our first car and shielding the sun from my eyes) in front of India Gate, New Delhi, India in 1978.

My maternal Grandparents, Mum & I (a three year old me seated on our first car and shielding the sun from my eyes) in front of India Gate, in New Delhi, India, in 1978.

Attammi also told me once, how when one day Attammi and I were alone at home, I had asked for Pani (water in Hindi). She had no idea what I needed, and kept showing me various stuff, toys, clothes et al. I just kept asking for Pani. A little while later, the cleaning woman had come, and when I asked for Pani, had poured me a glass of water. Attammi said that she felt so bad, that she had assumed the three year old little innocent kid was desperately in want of some materialistic object, and never guessed he was just thirsty. Due to this incident she would remember the term Pani, for the rest of her life.

India had been Attammi’s first trip abroad, and she was one of the few people I know, who held beautiful memories of her two trips there, and being able to see my mum happily settled in New Delhi, was an added bonus, for both Atta & Attammi.

On the 20th of October, 1980, my pretty little baby sister was born, in New Delhi, India. She was a tiny pink baby, named Sachinta (Sachi) Senadhira. Atta & Attammi became grandparents for a second time, and this was their first granddaughter.

Two Mothers & Two Daughters L-R: Attammi, my sister Sachi, and my mum, at Mum's home (PIX: October 2011)

Two Mothers & Two Daughters
L-R: Attammi, my sister Sachi, and my mum, at Mum’s home (PIX: October 2011)

In 1983, as all of Atta & Attammi’s children (except for mum, who was in Delhi) were moving towards Colombo, Atta decided to move to a closer proximity to Colombo, themselves, yet live in a place, they could enjoy the relaxation of country life. Thus he sold off their house in Kegalle, and all the land, including Paddy fields, he owned in Uttuwangkanda, for a very minimal fee, to the workers of the fields, and he had already, in the past, let the caretaker, build a house for himself, in a plot of land, for free. Atta got a earful, for doing so, from certain half-sisters, who felt he should have given it to them instead of doing the poor workers a favour. Ahg!! Toxic relatives!!! Atta never condemned their behaviour, and let his step-mother, and her kids, treat him badly all his life. Of course, all of Atta & Attammi’s parents, were dead and gone by the 1980’s, including Atta’s Step-mom.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

Having left their beautiful home in Kegalle, on the 4th of February, 1983, Atta purchased a nice looking property, in Veyangoda. Almost two weeks later, on the 17th of February, 1983, my grandparents, along with their son, moved into their new home, where Atta & Attammi, lived for the rest of their lives. Their son, and his family, are the current occupants of the Veyangoda house.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

In the same year, 1983, in the month of September, my father joined the mission (the Sri Lankan High Commission, in New Delhi, India), as a Third Secretary, which was the beginning of his diplomatic career.

– Getting to know my Grandparents better

As a child, my maternal grandparents, like my paternal grandparents, were Achchi & Seeya. Achchi meaning Grandmother, and Seeya meaning Grandfather, in Sinhala. In 1988, we came to live in Sri Lanka, from New Delhi, India, for good. Soon, my sister and I were admonished against calling our maternal grandparents Achchi & Seeya anymore, as all our younger cousins called them Attammi & Atta. We obliged and loved calling them Attammi & Atta. So for the first 12½ years who were Achchi & Seeya, to me, their eldest grandchild, were now Atta (Grandpa) & Attammi (Grandma). We didn’t mind, and thought it cool, to be able differentiate the two pairs of grandparents, like it’s done in India. In the Hindi language, Dadaji & Dadima, are paternal grandparents, and Nanaji & Nanima, are maternal grandparents. So our Nana & Nani, were Atta & Attammi, since 1988 to eternity.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

In 1988, my parents bought a plot of land, and built a house, and we moved in January 1990. And have been living here, on no.56, Siripura, since then (except whenever we lived abroad). The day we moved into our new house was one of the happiest days of Atta’s life, as he felt we were settled down. My mother having her own house to her name, was a relief for Atta. And it is my mother who has lived in this house the most. The rest of us have lived abroad on and off, while, except for in 1994 (when we all – my parents, sister & I – went back to live in New Delhi, India, together as a family, for a year), she only travelled abroad on holiday.

As I was coming of age, these crucial years were unfortunately spent mainly in Sri Lanka (12½  to 18½ years of age), yet on the plus side, it was during this period of my life I really got to know both pairs of grandparents, and other relatives. A few nice relatives, and many many ‘green’ ones, and very Sri Lankan (and definitely not in a good way). Today I have an allergic reaction to such people.

When I was 15 (a month away from turning 16), in May 1991, I sat for my GCE London O/Levels. Atta’s gift to me, for completing my O/L’s, was letting me read his massive personal Diary. That was the first time I came across this biographical work of his, and I really enjoyed his romantically penned down poetic prose. He had never let anyone touch this book till then, not even his children. Atta had two diaries; one massive one, written so eloquently; and another ‘Diary of Events’, in point form, marking essential events in his life. I have kept a few diaries, but not so systematically as he did. But I generally too, do, tend to mark down essential events, and being a film buff, all the movies I watch, on my calendar at least. I guess I get it from him. But I haven’t necessarily saved them all up. Today, I haven’t the faintest idea, as to what happened to the massive, very informative diary of Atta’s. But luckily, my mother did manage to locate, and save, Atta’s less descriptive ‘Diary of Events’, after his death, from which I have a few excerpts here, in this post. Of course I caught the writing bug from both sides of my family. My fathers side happens to be a family with a journalistic background, while my mother and her father (Atta), happen to be skilled in the aesthetic form of penning down their thoughts.

Excerpt from My Calender (March 2015)  Although not as systematically as Atta, in my own way, I too tend to mark down essential events in my life.

Excerpt from My Calender (March 2015)
Although not as systematically as Atta did, in my own way, I too tend to mark down essential events in my life, in my calendar at least.

In 1995; exactly 73 years after the death of Atta’s mother, due to complications relating to childbirth; on 8th March, 1995, my paternal Grandmother (Achchi) died at the Bangkok airport. She was residing in Australia by then, both my paternal grandparents having migrated down under, in the early 1990’s. Achchi came to Sri Lanka, on her own, for a holiday, and after spending a month with us, en route to Sydney, whilst on transit in Bangkok, Thailand, she suffered a heart attack. It took practically a week to get her body back to Sri Lanka. This was the loss of my very first  grandparent. It was on Attammi’s shoulder, 19½  year old me, cried on.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

By June 1996, I had got into Delhi University, in New Delhi, India. Atta and Attammi were delighted. Being their eldest grandchild (I happen to be the eldest grandchild, on both sides of my family), I was the first grandkid to get into college (University). I left in July 1996.

As I mentioned earlier, I was very close to my maternal grandparents. We shared very similar interests. Atta & I had a lot in common. Atta & I shared a love for English Literature (my mother too was a student of English Literature), classic cinema (Atta mostly loved Westerns, and since childhood, besides being a fan of films, I always had a thing for the cowboy look, with the cowboy hat, checked shirts, tight jeans, and boots, and I till date love to dress up like an American cowboy of the Old West, or try to come as close to it as possible (also see my post Holidaying in South Australia from November 2014) ), and we shared a love for old English songs like; She’ll be coming ‘round the mountain, Oh! Susanna, My Bonnie lies over the Ocean, Isle of Capri, Wooden Heart, Welcome to my world and What a Wonderful World; to name a few, and ballroom dance. As a young gentleman, he was member of an elite club, where he use to go ballroom dancing. He spoke about it often, how it was a form tap dance (not the metallic heel & toe styles of Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly/Debbie Reynolds/Donald O’Connor, Sammy Davis Jr. and/or  Gregory Hines). It was a form of dance, where the male would tap on the shoulder of another male on the dance floor, and step in as the next lead dance partner, to the female follower. Atta had danced with quite a few fair ladies back in the day, but he had a reputation of being a real gentleman. Attammi knew about his love for dance, and after marriage he took her with him. But Attammi wasn’t much of a dancer. Thus Atta stopped going to club altogether. If he couldn’t dance with his wife, he had no interest in dancing with anyone else. But he did dance, whenever there was a family get together. Though Atta & I shared a lot more in common, than Attammi & I, it was Attammi, I was closest to among all my relatives. I loved her dearly, and anyone who knew her even briefly, adored her almost as much.

Atta & Attammi, my sister & I, at Home (56, Siripura). Picture taken on my 20th B'day (22nd June 1995)

Atta & Attammi, my sister & I, at Home (56, Siripura). Picture taken on my 20th B’day (22nd June 1995)

– Attammi & I

Attammi was the kindest person I ever knew personally, and everyone who knew her, adored her, and she adored everyone she met. I don’t think she ever disliked anyone. She was one the most non-judgemental persons I knew. She was a great fan of, and had great respect for, the British monarchy, especially the late Queen mother (wife of King George VI, and the mother of Queen Elizabeth II & Princess Margaret), the reining Queen Elizabeth II and the late Princess Diana. She was also a fan of local actresses Rukmani Devi and Iranganie Serasinghe, lace, embroidery, Edwardian white lace dresses and colonial designs. Yet she knew how to move along with the times. She had her own fashion statement, which involved her trademark long necklace. She never liked to leave the house in the way she was dressed at home, though she was always neatly attired. She didn’t accept all changes, yet she was curious to learn of new trends. She liked the bouffant hairstyles of the 60’s, but wasn’t a fan of the mini-skirts, which was a craze in Sri Lanka in the 70’s. Except for my mum, practically every youngster Attammi knew wore mini-skirts in that decade (graceful or not), including her other two daughters. She didn’t like it, but she didn’t speak against it. She accepted women wearing pants though, and didn’t mind my mum wearing bellbottoms in the 70’s. She felt it was both fashionable and practical, and pretty decent at the same time. In fact once she told me she actually liked my mother’s trademark (casual) attire, with her short tunic style Indian Chikan Kurta’s with trousers/Jeans, that my mum has been wearing since the 70’s till date. A perfect blend of the east and west. Yet Attammi herself, never left her traditional Kandyan saree, her Malaysian inspired lungi’s and long gowns. The only thing she added to her wardrobe, was the Kaftan, in the early 80’s, for it was similar to her long gowns. Then the 1990’s came, she accepted the styles of her grandchildren. I remember, when I was 17, I ripped a pair of corduroy jeans, and I asked Attammi to stitch a few patches (on non-ripped areas, of course!). While mum was horrified at me ripping my pants, like a hippie, my grandmother was really excited with the project. She watched in awe, as I cut the two kneecaps, and below one butt, on the pants, slowly removing the horizontal threads, neatly loosening the vertical threads. Not only did she enjoy it, she gave me her own tips. She told me we could add bottle caps, make my pants look really flashy and cool. She was fun, and a great friend. In fact, as a teenager, I use to jokingly call her my ‘girlfriend’. She was no doubt my favourite grandparent.

We were so different, yet so alike. We had really interesting conversations. Of course we didn’t agree all the time. I wasn’t exactly a granny’s boy. After all I have my own brain. Yet we’d discuss and debate. She learnt to accept modernity. She didn’t understand modern art, especially my art, but understood there has to be something deeper and conceptual. She’d listen to reason, and not dismiss anything just because it’s new, yet she was very nostalgic of the good old days. Of course with the 21st century, she wasn’t a great fan of the kind of noisy music, jumping up and down kind of dance popular in this country today, nor did the digital age interest her. She definitely wasn’t a fan of rap, crap and hip-hop. A craze here today. She was a calm and peaceful person in general, and not a fan noise pollution. In fact her voice was hardly audible. We use to joke, what she might sound like when she needed to wisper. She was a person who loved to speak of the way she use to travel in tram cars and double-decker buses (both of which cease to exist here before I came into existence), and the old train journey. Yet in her old age, about a decade or so ago, she even rode on the back seat of a motorbike for the first time, with a helmet, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Tongue-in-Cheek: Attammi goes French, in a Beret, I brought from Paris (26th October 2008)

Tongue-in-Cheek: Attammi goes French, in a Beret, I brought from Paris (26th October 2008)

Attammi always enjoyed my blunt directness, especially when directed to narrow minded, hypocritical comments by Sri Lankans. I remember once when a woman in hippie style skirt & blouse (a terrible fad here), was talking nonsense as to women wearing pants, being indecent, and not being a Sri Lankan outfit et al. I mentioned that the skirt & blouse wasn’t a Sri Lankan outfit either. Attammi cracked up laughing. She was so glad I wasn’t like the present generation of Sri Lankans. Once I remember, standing in queue, in front of the Dalada Maligawa (Buddhist Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic), in Kandy. There was a board asking people not to wear pants inside the temple. I joked that maybe we should remove are trousers before we go in. Attammi started laughing. Though a very silent person, Attammi’s beautiful laughter was audible and very supportive. Of course the pants statement was directed at women. But the hypocrisy of it all, women are seen walking in bikini tops, and short skirts, inside the temple, and even the traditional Kandyan saree, some people wear it, with plenty of cleavage, open backs, belly popping, tops. And the traditional cloth & jacket, don’t even let me start. And the more conservative pant suits are considered indecent. That’s Sri Lanka. Thank God, that was never my grandparents. Though very traditional in attire (in a more decent fashion, than most so called traditionalist of this country), Attammi was very open-minded.

– Philanthropic acts of kindness

At Attammi's place, on the day of the  Veyangoda Dané (December 2008). A Dané she gives on every December Full Moon Day, since the 1980's. She is seen here with two of her creations. The table cloth, and the patchwork seat cover, all made by Attammi. She was superb in needle work craftsmanship.

At Attammi’s place, on the day of the Veyangoda Dané (December 2008). A Dané she use to give on every December Full Moon Day, since the 1980’s. She is seen here with two of her creations. The table cloth, and the patchwork seat cover, all made by Attammi. She was superb in needle work craftsmanship.

Since the early 1980’s, on (Unduvap Poya) full moon day, every December, she gave a Dané (Alms Giving), to about a 100 Síl attained laymen/laywomen, at a Buddhist temple, in Veyangoda, to commemorate Bhikkhuni Sangamitta’s arrival in Ancient Ceylon, in the 3rd century BC, along with a sampling of the Bo-tree, in Bodh Gaya, India, under which Prince Siddhartha Gautama is said to have attained enlightenment, and thus later known as Lord (Gautama) Buddha, whose teachings were the foundation of Buddhism. Bhikkhuni Sangamitta, daughter of Emperor Ashoka of India (304 BC – 232 BC), was the first Buddhist nun to visit this island. She was sent here, along with several other nuns, by the Indian Emperor, to start a lineage of nuns or Bhikkhunis (fully ordained female Buddhists). So Attammi was a feminist of sorts in her own right. Back in the 1960’s she helped patients at the Kegalle Hospital, by taking them meals and stitching clothes for the maternity ward, all by herself, and not for money. She helped the poor with food and clothing. She even gave up her own valuable time, along with Atta by her side, inserting herself, to help needy relatives. She was a practicing Buddhist. Though pretty devout, she accepted the fact that I am a free thinker, and that I didn’t blindly accept anything and everything, just because it was tradition, or stated in religion. But I never put down anyone’s religious beliefs either. She actually liked, I had a mind of my own, and my blend of practicality from the west, and sentimentality of the east. She liked the fact that I am very honest and direct, yet my capability to be diplomatic at the same time. She liked the fact I showed her respect, as my grandmother, at the same time, I could be open with her, as if she were a peer. A true friend.

– Atta’s Demise

The last time I saw Atta alive, was about a month before he died. I was working as a journalist (editorial staff), for a local newspaper then. I mentioned to him that I had applied to a University, in England, to do a Masters. He was pleased, but he gave me a worried look, and said that he was getting too old to worry now. I asked him, “what is there to worry, Atta?”. But that’s Atta, always worried for everyone he cares about. He was worried when my mother went to India in the 70’s , worried when his second daughter went to the middle east in the 70’s, worried when I went to India in the 90’s, worried when my sister went to India in the 90’s. He could never stop worrying.

On 15th May 2002, Atta paid a visit to someone who had taken ill. On his way back, a speeding car ran over him, killing Atta instantly. Atta was a very healthy, 82 year old, when he died. It was tragic, and a sudden shock for all of us. Although; as Atta was so dependant on Attammi; Attammi use to worry, if she were to die before he did, how he would manage on his own, she felt lost without him. And it would be sometime, before she could get on with her life again. Atta and Attammi, were one of those rare couples, that loved each other so much, that it was difficult to think of them, being able to go on living, without one another. Unfortunately for my sister, who was studying for her Bachelors in Delhi University, and had her final year exams at the time, could not attend Atta’s funeral. It was very difficult for her at the time. We let her know he passed away, but didn’t tell her how he died, until she got back.

Atta renewed his handwritten will, a numerous times, practically each decade. The first was in the 60's, and the last was closer to his death.

Atta renewed his handwritten will, a numerous times, practically each decade. The first was in the 60’s, and the last was closer to his death.

About the speeding car that killed my grandfather, that same vehicle had been involved in another accident, killing a young pedestrian, sometime before it killed my grandfather. The driver was a young man, who was a pilot trainee, at the time. Most Sri Lankans excused him, saying he must have been driving the car as if he were flying a plane. What a foolishly idiotic thing to say. If this man can’t handle driving a car carefully, how can he take the responsibility of flying a passenger jet, where the safety of hundreds of passengers is concerned. The man’s family offered us money, but we refused. What good was that. His pilot licence and driving licence should have been revoked. But no such thing has ever happened. In fact, he is still speeding along the streets, with a legal licence that allows him to do so. Welcome to Sri Lanka!!!!

But at least I get to write about it now. The pen is mightier than the sword. Or is it?? Definitely not in this country. A month after Atta’s death, I got my conditional offer letter, from the University of Luton. Even if he wasn’t alive to hear about it, at least I managed to tell him, I had applied for it. I left for England in September 2002.

– Moving along and finding newer reasons to rejoice

Few years after Atta’s death, Attammi finally learnt to let go, there were upcoming events, that would provide her with another reason to continue living. In May 2005, I came back to Sri Lanka, by now a post-graduate, having completed my first Masters, an MA in International Cinema (2002-2003), from the University of Luton, Luton, United Kingdom. Plus my sister was getting married.

Sachi’s wedding took place in our house, at 56, Siripura, on 19th May, 2005. Subsequently, Attammi’s various other grandchildren followed suit, and got married, within the next seven years. Unlike Atta, Attammi had the luck of seeing five of her grandchildren, out of eight, get married. Meanwhile, I went and lived in Sydney, Australia, for a couple of years, where I did a second masters, MA in Painting (2006-2007), at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales. And later resided in Paris, France for almost a year. With new found happiness in Attammi’s life, and giving another shot at a will to live, till she was meant to go, Attammi even did a cataract operation, on both her eyes, in the latter half of her 80’s. She ended up being able to see better than any of her descendants. In fact we had to squint to see, what she could see afar. She spent her widowed life, dividing her time, staying at her various children’s homes for short periods of time. But she could never stay too long in one location. Soon she was to reach another milestone in her life.

Attammi & I at a cousin's (One of Attammi's granddaughter's) wedding (August 2010)

Attammi & I at a cousin’s (Attammi’s fifth grandchild’s/third eldest granddaughter’s) wedding (August 2010)

On the 10th of August, 2010, Attammi became a Great-Grandmother, for the first time. My first cousin (Attammi’s fourth grandchild, and second eldest granddaughter), gave birth to a baby girl. This is the first significant event in her life; from becoming a mother, to an in-law, to a grandparent, to a grandmother-in-law, to a great grandparent; that wasn’t related to our family, Lala Damayanthi’s husband and kids.

– Attammi, after turning 90.

On, 18th January 2012, Attammi celebrated her 90th Birthday. Year 2012, would be the last year, she’d be fit travel around.

It was really sad, when she fell ill. Back in December 2012, she fell down, near her bed, while trying to wear her slipper. She was rushed to the hospital, having broken her hip and leg. When I went to see her, she was delirious. She was lying in her ward bed, with a massive plaster on her leg, plucking imaginary flowers. She had no idea where she was, and of her surroundings. I walked up to her, bent down close to her ear, and slowly whispered “Attammi”. She suddenly jerked, stopping what she was doing, and looked at me, and a happy smile came over her tired face. She had recognised me. She asked me something pointing to the roof, and then lost herself to her imaginary world again. We stayed all night as her leg was being operated on, fitted with a metal plate on her thigh.

She soon recovered, and started walking with the help of a walker. I visited her as regularly as possible, which made her really happy, yet sad when we left. Ironically, on the Ides of March (15th of March), 2013, I wrote a blog post, in which I spoke of Atta as well, in regard to Shakespeare’s play on Julius Caesar, Caesar was killed on the Ides of March (see my post Beware, The Ides of March are upon us from a couple of years ago). Atta had been dead for 10 years and 10 months exactly, on 15th March 2013. I even read it to Attammi, back then. Who knew then, that a couple of years later, she’d die on the very same day.

She fell down several times, within the last two years. I saw her grow weaker, and this was the first time I witnessed a person deteriorate with age. She was just skin and bones, and mostly bedridden. Yet, she could manage to briefly sit up with great difficulty. The last time I took a photograph of hers, was in June 2014 (see PIX right at the top). The last time I saw her alive, was when I visited her in December 2014, on Unduvap Poya day, the day of the Dané that Attammi’s been giving since the 1980’s. That day I didn’t go with the others to the temple, but stayed behind with her, as did my mother and aunt. We (my parents, sister, her husband, & I) had travelled to Australia, back in November 2014. I showed Attammi the photographs of the trip on my blog, and spoke about Pam Achchi, Attammi’s sister-in-law (Pragne’s wife), who resides down there (see my post Holidaying in Australia, comes to an end from November 2014) et al. She even asked me about my blonde highlights, on my hair (for I have never tinted my hair prior to this). We had a nice chat, and a nice pleasant day. I never got to see her alive after that.

Atta & Attammi, in Good ol' days.

Atta & Attammi, in the Good ol’ days.

Coincidentally, both Atta & Attammi, died on a 15th day of a month, that too a month of which, the first two letters spell ‘Ma’. Atta died on 15th May 2002, and Attammi on 15th March 2015. 12 years and 10 months apart, exactly.

Attammi was one of the most selfless people I knew. She helped everyone and anyone she could, without expecting anything in return. It’s hard to believe she is no more. She didn’t leave us at once. She helped us get ready for her death. Instead of easing her pain, by dying suddenly, she suffered for about a year, bed ridden, lending us time to prepare. Even in death, this was a selfless act, on her part. It’s already been over 15 days, since her demise. I guess I have been dragging this blog post, ‘cause I wasn’t ready to let go. Once I finish this post, it feels as if it might be over. But I have to let go now. Can’t just sit here typing away. It’s time for me to say Goodbye to my darling Grandmother. She’s no more………………………………………….……………………………………………………………

With Attammi’s passing, now I have One Less reason to visit sri lanka, let alone live here, and Zero reason to ever go to veyangoda.

Attammi might have left this world, but her memories shall stay alive, within our hearts, till the end of our days, and maybe more.

With lots of love
A tribute to my most beloved Attammi, a true friend & confidant.
Your eldest Grandchild,
Nuwan Senadhira (a.k.a. Nuwan Sen)

Atta & Attammi’s Life through pictures

My Great Grandparents On the Left, Atta's parents. I'm not sure who the little girl, in front of Atta's mother,  in the picture is, or the Gent & Lady in the middle, nor the Gent standing on the right. The Lady seated, on the right, in an Edwardian attire,  is Attammi's Mother (Atta's father's sister), before she got married.

My Great Grandparents
On the Left, Atta’s parents.
I’m not sure who the little girl (squatting on the floor), in front of Atta’s mother, in the picture, is, or the Gent (standing) & Lady (seated) in the middle are, nor do I have any inkling, as to who, the Gent standing on the far right, is. The Lady seated, on the right, in an Edwardian lace attire, is Attammi’s Mother (Atta’s father’s sister), before she got married.

Attammi, in her younger days, in saree (Indian Style), before she got married.

Attammi, in her younger days, in a saree (Indian Style), before she got married.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events, from the latter the part of the 40's decade, leading up to his marriage, and post.

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events, mostly from the latter the part of the 40’s decade, leading up to his marriage, and post.

An invitation, from Attammi's parents, for an AT HOME, an informal social gathering, prior to my grandparents wedding.

An invitation, from Attammi’s parents, for an AT HOME, an informal social gathering, prior to my grandparents wedding.

My (maternal) Grandparents, on their wedding day (10th JULY 1947)

My (maternal) Grandparents, on their wedding day (10th JULY 1947)

Ariya & Leela get married (10th July 1947)

Ariya & Leela tie the knot (10th July 1947)

Atta & Attammi on their Wedding Day (10th July 1947)

Atta & Attammi on their Wedding Day (10th July 1947)

The newly married couple (my grandparents seated), with Attammi's younger brother, Pragne, standing behind.

The newly married couple (my grandparents – seated), with Attammi’s younger brother, Pragne, standing behind.

My Grandparents with my mum.

My Grandparents with my mum.

Mother & Daughter Attammi with her first child (my mom), when she was a baby.

Mother & Daughter
Attammi with her first child (my mom), when she was a baby.

Atta & Attammi. with their eldest daughter (my mom).

Atta & Attammi with their eldest daughter, Lala-Damayanthi (my mom).

Attammi with her two eldest children (my mum & her sister), in the early 50's.

Attammi with her two eldest children (my mum & her sister), in the early 50’s.

Atta & Attammi travelling with their two elder daughters (my mother & her younger sister), in the early 50's.

Atta & Attammi travelling around Ceylon, with their two elder daughters (my mother & her younger sister), in the early 50’s.

Brothers & Sisters : Attammi avec her siblings.

Brothers & Sisters
Attammi avec her siblings (She is seated, in a chair, on the right hand side).

Atta & Attammi, with all four of their children, in Kegalle.  My mum being the eldest, is seen standing in the middle in the back row, flanked by her two younger sisters, and her younger brother (the youngest in the family), standing in front of my mum.

Atta & Attammi, with all four of their children, in Kegalle (in Ceylon), in 1966.
My mum being the eldest, is seen standing in the middle in the back row, flanked by her two younger sisters, and her younger brother (the youngest in the family), standing in front of my mum.

Atta's entry in his Diary, the first time he became a proud Father-in-law (10th December 1973).  The Day his eldest daughter Lala-Damayanthi took the plunge.

Atta’s entry in his Diary of Events, the first time he became a proud Father-in-law (10th December 1973). The Day his eldest daughter Lala-Damayanthi took the plunge.

The Proud Parents, now turn In-Laws. My (maternal) Grandparents @ my parents wedding, in Kegalle (10th December 1973)

The Proud Parents, now turn In-Laws.
My (maternal) Grandparents @ my parents wedding, in Kegalle (10th December 1973)

Attammi, with her back turned, on her eldest daughter's wedding day.

Attammi, with her back turned, on her eldest daughter’s wedding day. The Ceremony took place in their home, in Kegalle.

Atta, with his back turned towards the couple, walking in the opposite direction, during his daughter & new son-in-law, Sugi's, wedding ceremony (10th December 1973).

Atta, with his back turned towards the couple, walking in the opposite direction, during his daughter & new son-in-law, Sugi’s, wedding ceremony (10th December 1973).

Atta & Attammi, with their first grandchild (Me aged one), on my first trip to Sri Lanka (1976).

Atta & Attammi, with their first grandchild (Me aged one), on my first trip to Sri Lanka (1976).

My Grandparents, parents & me (aged three), in New Delhi, India (when Atta & attammi came there for a holiday), in 1978.

My Grandparents, parents & me (aged three), in New Delhi, Capital of India, located in Northern India (when Atta & attammi came there for a holiday), in 1978.

Buddhist Pilgrimage Atta & Attammi, my parents & I, at Lord Buddha's birthplace, next to the base of the Ashoka Pillar, in Lumbini, Nepal (1978).

Buddhist Pilgrimage
Atta & Attammi, my parents & I, at Lord Buddha’s birthplace, next to the base of the Ashoka Pillar, in Lumbini, Nepal (1978).

Buddhist Pilgrimage Atta & Attammi, my parents & I, in Sarnath, a suburb of Varanasi (where Gautama Buddha is said to have given his first sermon about the fundamental principles of Buddhism), in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), in Northern India, in 1978.

Buddhist Pilgrimage
Atta & Attammi, my mother & I, in Sarnath, a suburb of Varanasi (where Gautama Buddha is said to have given his first sermon about the fundamental principles of Buddhism), in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), in Northern India, in 1978.

Buddhist Pilgrimage My Grandparents, mom & I, in Shravasti (where the Buddha, is said to have spent 24 Chaturmases (a holy period of four months), in UP state, in Northern India (1978).

Buddhist Pilgrimage
My Grandparents, mom & I, in Shravasti (where the Buddha, is said to have spent 24 Chaturmases (a holy period of four months), in UP state, in Northern India (1978).

Atta & Attammi at their second child/daughter's wedding (22nd January 1980), in Kegalle.

Atta & Attammi at their second child/daughter’s wedding (22nd January 1980), in their home, in Kegalle.

My Sister, Sachi, & I, on holiday in Sri Lanka. With my grandparent at their new home, in Veyangoda (Early 80's).

My Sister, Sachi, & I, on holiday in Sri Lanka. With my grandparent at their new home, in Veyangoda.

Above: An exactly, 11 years, and 11 month, old  me, with Atta & Attammi, at my Uncle's (my father's youngest brother's) wedding ceremony, on the 22nd of May, 1987 (Exactly 15 years after SL became a republic, and exactly one month prior to my 12th Birthday). This was my first holiday, without my parents, I stayed in Sri Lanka for over a month during my summer holidays. It was my worst holiday ever. I don't personally know the short kid, standing next to me, who was about the same age as me, at the time. We were both Page Boys, at the wedding, and I was also the Ring Bearer (this was the second time I was a Page Boy, the first was (aged 4) at my mother's youngest sister's wedding, in March 1980 .  Below: My maternal Grandparents, congratulating, my father's Brother and his new Bride. The professional cameraman afar, is the 11 years, 11 months, old me, with my first very own camera. I loved that camera back then.

Above: An exactly, 11 years, and 11 month, old me, with Atta & Attammi, at my Uncle’s (my father’s youngest brother’s) wedding ceremony, on the 22nd of May, 1987 (Exactly 15 years after SL became a republic, and exactly one month prior to my 12th Birthday). This was my first holiday, without my family (parents n’ sister). I stayed in Sri Lanka for over a month during my summer holidays. It was my worst childhood holiday ever.
P.S. I don’t personally know the short kid, standing next to me, who was about the same age as me, at the time. We were both Page Boys, at the wedding, and I was also the Ring Bearer (this was the second time I was a Page Boy, the first was (aged 4) at my mother’s youngest sister’s wedding, in March 1980 .
Below: My maternal Grandparents, congratulating, my father’s Brother and his new Bride. The professional cameraman afar, is the 11 years, 11 months, old me, with my first very own camera. I loved that camera back then.

Before laying the foundation stone, @ 56, Siripura  The new plot of land, my parents bought, before we built a house. On my sister's 8th Birthday (20th October 1988) Our family came to live in SL, for good, in January 1988. We bought this land, built a house, and moved in, in January 1990. In this picture: we all took turns cleaning the land, before laying the foundation stone, on Sachi's 8th Birthday. Attammi is seen .. Behind her is Achchi (my paternal grandmother). Dressed in a blue frock, is the B'day girl. In a pink dress, a cousin of mine (my mother's niece). A lanky tall 13 year old me. And my mother (far right).

Before laying the foundation stone, @ 56, Siripura
The new plot of land, my parents bought, before we built a house. PIX: On my sister’s 8th Birthday (20th October 1988)
Our family came to live in SL, for good, in January 1988. Later, the same year, we bought this land, built a house, and moved in, in January 1990.
In this picture: We all took turns, on Sachi’s 8th Birthday, cleaning the land, before laying the foundation stone.
Attammi is seen with the mamotie. Behind her is Achchi (my paternal grandmother). Dressed in a blue frock, is the B’day girl. In a pink dress, a cousin of mine (my mother’s niece). A lanky tall 13 year old me, in really short shorts (very 80’s). And my mother (far right).

Two Mothers & Two Daughters My grandmother, mother & sister (22nd October 1989).

Two Mothers & Two Daughters
My grandmother, mother & sister (October 1989).

(L to R) Atta, my mum, Mum's cousin (Attammi's niece), My younger mum's sister, and Attammi @ a function (1990)

(L to R) Atta, my mum, Mum’s first cousin (Attammi’s niece), My mum’s younger sister, and Attammi @ a function (in 1990)

Attammi with her eldest granddaughter, my sister, Sachi.

Attammi with her eldest granddaughter, my sister, Sachi.

On Attammi's 70th Birthday (18th January 1992).

On Attammi’s 70th Birthday (18th January 1992).

Atta &Attammi's 45th Wedding Anniversary, celebrated at our place (56 Siripura) 1992.

Atta & Attammi’s 45th Wedding Anniversary, celebrated at our place (@ 56 Siripura) in JULY 1992.

At my maternal Grandparents 45th Wedding Anniversary celebration. Atta & Attammi avec some of their grandchildren. 17 year old me, being oldest (and tallest) grandchild/grandson, is standing right behind the elderly couple. My 11 year old sister (the second oldest grandchild, and eldest granddaughter), in white, is standing, on the right side of the picture. Sachi is actually wearing our mother's bridal attire, minus the shawl/fall (July 1992)

At my maternal Grandparents 45th Wedding Anniversary celebration.
Atta & Attammi avec some of their grandchildren. 17 year old me, being the oldest (and tallest) grandchild/grandson, is standing right behind the elderly couple. My 11 year old sister (the second oldest grandchild, and eldest granddaughter), in white, is standing, on the right side of the picture. Sachi is actually wearing our mother’s bridal attire, minus the shawl/fall (July 1992)

Attammi avec her two eldest grandchildren (Sachi & I).

Attammi avec her two eldest grandchildren (Sachi & I). Me-aged 17.

YEAR: 1994 Atta & Attammi, with their eldest grandchild/grandson (Me, aged 19, on holiday in SL), and their youngest grandchild/granddaughter (aged One).

YEAR: 1994
Atta & Attammi, with their eldest grandchild/grandson (Me, aged 19, on holiday in SL), and their youngest grandchild/granddaughter (Kasini – aged One).

(L to R) My Grandmother, my aunt (my father's youngest brother's wife), and Mom (@ Mom's home - 56, Siripura), at my 21st Birthday Party (22nd June 1996). That was the last birthday I celebrated with a party.

(L to R) My Maternal Grandmother, my Aunt (my father’s youngest brother’s wife), and Mom (@ Mom’s home – 56, Siripura), at my 21st Birthday Party (22nd June 1996). That was the last birthday I celebrated with a party.

Attammi celebrates her 75th Birthday, with the love of her life, Atta (January 1997)

Attammi celebrates her 75th Birthday, with the love of her life, Atta (January 1997)

Golden Jubilee Atta & Attammi celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary (JULY 1997) On the floor, left side of the photograph, is a painting I did & gifted my grandparents with. 50 years of marital bliss ( a rarity today).

Golden Jubilee
Atta & Attammi celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary (JULY 1997), in Veyangoda
On the floor, left side of the photograph, is a painting I did & gifted my grandparents with.
50 years of marital bliss (a rarity today).

Golden Jubilee Atta & Attammi, with their eldest daughter's family. Seated My mother, My Grandfather, My Grandmother, and My father. Standing: My Sister & I This was the first time, Sachi (aged 16), wore a sari. Attammi was so pleased, it touched her heart. Such a pleasant surprise to see  her eldest granddaughter, in a sari (that too in the kandyian style). JULY 1997

Golden Jubilee
Atta & Attammi, with their eldest daughter’s family.
Seated: My mother, My Grandfather, My Grandmother, and My father.
Standing: My Sister & I
This was the first time, Sachi (aged 16), wore a sari. Attammi was so pleased, it touched her heart. Such a pleasant surprise to see her eldest granddaughter, in a sari (that too in the kandyian style). JULY 1997

Attammi, with her two elder daughters, at my aunt's place. My mom's seated in the middle (21st June 1998).

Attammi, with her two elder daughters, at my aunt’s place. My mom’s seated in the middle (21st June 1998).

Mum & Attammi, at a dinner party (at our place, 56, Siripura), hosting Sachi's completion of her A/levels (4th July 1998).

Mum & Attammi, at a dinner party (at our place, 56, Siripura), hosting Sachi’s completion of her A/levels (4th of July, 1998).

Silver Jubilee  My Grandparents, with my parents, at my parents 25th Wedding Anniversary (at our place - 56, Siripura). DECEMBER 1998

Silver Jubilee
My Grandparents, with my parents, at my parents 25th Wedding Anniversary (at our place – 56, Siripura).
DECEMBER 1998

Father-Daughter Dance Ballroom genius, Atta, waltzes with his eldest daughter, Lala-Damayanthi, during the celebration of her, 25 years of marriage, to Sugi (December 1998)

Father-Daughter Dance
Ballroom genius, Atta, waltzes with his eldest daughter, Lala-Damayanthi, during the celebration of her, 25 years of marriage, to Sugi (December 1998)

At my mum's 50th Birthday party, at mums (@ 56, Siripura). Sachi & I, seen in the background. My parents & my grandmother in the foreground. Behind Attammi, is her youngest grandchild (my youngest cousin, from my mother's side).  MAY 2009

At my mum’s 50th Birthday party, at mums (@ 56, Siripura).
Sachi & I, seen in the background. My parents & my grandmother in the foreground. Behind Attammi, is her youngest grandchild (my youngest cousin, from my mother’s side).
MAY 1999

At my mum's 50th B'day Celebration (L to R) My Great Aunt (Attammi's younger sister), Ammi (my mother), and Attammi (my maternal Grand-mum).  MAY 1999

At my mum’s 50th B’day Celebration (@ our home).
(L to R) My Great Aunt (Attammi’s younger sister), Ammi (my mother), and Attammi (my maternal Grand-mum).
MAY 1999

On my sister (Sachi's) 21st Birthday celebration. Atta & Attammi, with their eldest, now 21 year old) Granddaughter (October 2001)

On my sister (Sachi’s) 21st Birthday celebration(at our place @ 56, Siripura).
Atta & Attammi, with their eldest (now 21 year old) Granddaughter (October 2001).

Attammi with her three elder granddaughter's, at Mum's (56, Siripura). My grandmother is resting her head on my sister.

Attammi with her three elder granddaughter’s, at Mum’s (@ 56, Siripura).
My grandmother is resting her head on my sister, Sachi.

Attammi (September 2005)

Attammi (September 2005) @ 56, Siripura.

Attammi with her eldest Grandchild (Me aged 33) at my Aunt's (October 2008)

Attammi with her eldest Grandchild/Grandson (Me aged 33) at my Aunt’s (October 2008)

On Attammi's 87th B'day (18th of January 2009)

On Attammi’s 87th B’day (18th of January 2009)

Attammi & I, at a Reception. December 2009

Attammi & I, at a Reception.
December 2009

Attammi (with back turned), with me, at a function. December 2009

Attammi (with her back turned), and I, @ a Reception.
December 2009

My Grandmother (with her back turned), with her daughter (my mom), at her daughter's (@ 56, Siripura). OCTOBER 2010

My Grandmother (with her back turned), with her daughter (my mom), at her daughter’s (@ 56, Siripura).
OCTOBER 2010

My (maternal) grandmother, with my sister, Sachi, at Sachi's 30th B'day Party (October 2010). This was the last grand scale function we had at our home. And Attammi was present for all the family functions we had at 56, Siripura.  Who knew back then that this (her eldest Granddaughter's Birthday celebration, would be Attammi's last party at her eldest daughter's house.

My (maternal) grandmother, with my sister, Sachi, at Sachi’s 30th B’day Party (October 2010). This was the last grand scale function we had at our home. And Attammi was present for almost all the family functions we had at 56, Siripura.
Who knew back then that this (her eldest Granddaughter’s Birthday celebration), would be Attammi’s last party at her eldest daughter, Lala-Damayanthi’s, house, she’d be able to attend.

Attammi, my sister & my mum, at our place (56, Siripura).  This most probably was the last time she could visited us. October 2011

Attammi, my sister & my mum, at our place (56, Siripura).
This most probably was the last time she visited us.
October 2011

The Great Grandmother (L-R), My Aunt (Attammi's second daughter, my mum's younger sister), with her eldest grandchild/granddaughter, on her lap (her younger grandchild/granddaughter is seen in the crib), my mum, me, & Attammi, at my Aunt's (April 2012).

The Great Grandmother
(L-R), My Aunt (Attammi’s second daughter, my mum’s younger sister), with her eldest grandchild/granddaughter, on her lap (her younger grandchild/granddaughter is seen in the crib), my mum, me, & Attammi, at my Aunt’s (April 2012).

Nuwan Sen’s Roots
Nuwan Sen’s Family Album
Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense

A Page From History –  Rewind to 1940
A look back at The 12th Annual Academy Awards, held in February 1940.
Oscar FunctionThe 87th Annual Academy Awards, will be held tonight. Really looking forward to catching the live show (tomorrow early morning out here), to see who wins what.

So, for today’s post, I’ve decided, to travel back in time, to celebrate this years Oscars, with an insight, into the 12th Annual Academy Awards, from the ‘Year 1940’.

BEST PICTURE

The civil war epic Gone with the Wind (1939), grabbed the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar that year. No doubt the Best movie to come out of the 30’s decade, Gone with the Wind, has aged well, and happens to be amongst the best loved Hollywood classics ever, from the 120 year history, of global cinema. Gone with the Wind received 13 nominations altogether, and took home 10 Academy Awards (8 from the competition, out of the 13 nominated, plus 2 Honorary awards). Among the winners, of this highest grossing film of 39’, included:-

  • The ‘Best Director’ Oscar to Victor Fleming. Although, initially, after the script went through many a revisions, it was Director George Cukor, who started working on this project. But Cukor was fired after three weeks of shooting, due to a disagreement, regarding the film’s pace and the script, between Producer David O. Selznick and Cukor. Actresses, Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland heard that Cukor was fired, while the ‘Atlanta bazaar scene’ was being filmed, the two actresses apparently went straight to Selznick’s office, in full costume, and requested him to reconsider, as the film had already been delayed by two years, due to various other problems. Then Victor Fleming, took over the reins, for most of the project. But Fleming briefly left the project due to exhaustion, and director Sam Wood, worked on the film for a couple of weeks. Soon Fleming came back to complete the picture. Thus, though Victor Fleming directed majority of the picture, about 15 to 20 percent of the direction, should be credited to Cukor and Wood, each (i.e. 30 to 40 percent of the whole film). Thus, Victor Fleming was responsible for directing about 60 odd percent of this classic film.
  • The ‘Best Actress’ Oscar to Vivien Leigh. The search for someone to play the lead character, of Scarlett O’Hara, led to 1,400 potential Scarlett O’Hara’s being interviewed. Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Jean Arthur, Lucille Ball, Susan Hayward, Lana Turner and Paulette Goddard, were some of actresses tested for the part. None seemed to be right to play Scarlett O’Hara. When David O. Selznick watched the British flick, A Yank at Oxford (1938); an excellent film, related to sports and sportsman, starring Robert Taylor, in the lead; O. Selznick felt the British actress Vivien Leigh, was an excellent actress, but too British to play O’Hara. Yet Leigh was given a series of screen tests to do, and Voilà!! O. Selznick found his O’Hara.
Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American ever, to be nominated and, to win an Academy Award.  She bagged the Oscar for BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS for her incredible performance as ‘Mammy’ in Gone with the Wind (1939)

Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American ever, to be nominated and, to win an Academy Award. She bagged the Oscar for BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, for her incredible performance as ‘Mammy’, in Gone with the Wind (1939) NSFS

  • The ‘Best Supporting Actress’ Oscar to Hattie McDaniel. Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American ever, to be nominated and, to win an Academy Award. Olivia de Havilland, from this same epic tear jerker, too, was nominated, in this same category.
  • The ‘Best Screenplay’ Oscar to Sidney Howard. Sidney Howard died in August 1939, thus became the first person to garner a posthumous Oscar nomination and win.
  • The ‘Best Cinematography (in Colour)’ to Ernest Haller & Ray Rennahan.
  • The ‘Best Art Direction’ to Lyle Wheeler.
  • The ‘Best Film Editing’ to Hal C. Kern & James E. Newcom.
  • An ‘Honorary Award’ to William Cameron Menzies. The production designer and art director, was acknowledged for his outstanding achievement in the use of colour, for the enhancement of dramatic moods, in the production of Gone with the Wind.
  • The ‘Technical Achievement Award’ to Don Musgrave and Selznick International Pictures. Which was yet another ‘Honorary Award’, for pioneering in the use of coordinated equipment, in the production Gone with the Wind.

Added to these 10 trophies, Producer David O. Selznick, was also given the ‘Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award’ for his body of work, which includes this epical classic. Gone with the Wind was the highest-grossing film of all-time, back then, and remained so until, 1965, when The Sound of Music (1965), displaced Gone with the Wind, as the highest-grossing film of all-time. When adjusted for monetary inflation, it is still the most successful film in box-office history, till date. Added to which, Gone with the Wind, set records for the total number of Oscar wins, and nominations, at the time.

This, almost four hours long, timeless masterpiece was also nominated for; ‘Best Actor’ to Clark Gable, Gable lost out to Robert Donat, who won for Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939), a movie I haven’t watched, thus can’t judge, but Gable’s, now famed, role of Rhett Butler, is definitely Oscar worthy; ‘Best Special Effects’, but lost out to a movie called The Rains Came (1939), am bit surprised here, though I haven’t watched The Rains Came, am aware that Gone with the Wind has some exceptional visual effects for it’s time, sans modern day CGI, especially the ‘Burning of Atlanta’, the scene in which Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara escape the burning city, saving three more lives, is so realistic, that the technique used, is till date, one of the most impressive feats in film history, Gone with the Wind was actually a breakthrough in special effects, at the time, despite that, it didn’t bag the Oscar for ‘Best Special Effects’, a pity; ‘Best Original Score’, which went to Herbert Stothart for The Wizard of Oz (1939), The Wizard of Oz is a brilliantly colourful children’s movie, with marvellously rhythmic music, but again, the superb background score by Max Steiner for Gone with the Wind, is unforgettable, and one can just drift off listening to the brilliant score, thus I feel Gone with the Wind, at least deserved two more wins, for ‘Best Special Effects’ and ‘Best Original Score’; ‘Best Sound Recording’, and lost out to a love story called, When Tomorrow Comes (1939), another film I haven’t seen.

Acting Duo, Husband & Wife to be, Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh.

Acting Duo, Husband & Wife to be, Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh.

Other films nominated in the ‘Best Picture’ category, included some amazing movies, after Gone with the Wind:-

  • William Wyler’s brilliant adaptation, that was Wuthering Heights (1939), which was based on one of my favourite novels, spanning three generation, that I studied in school (Grade 8) when I was 13 years old, authored by Emily Brontë. Watched this movie, over a decade ago. Love the movie, almost as much as the book, besides the fact that a whole generation is missing in the movie. The film is still brilliant on it’s own. Nominated for 7 Oscars altogether; including for ‘Best Director’, ‘Best Actor’ to Laurence Olivier, and ‘Best Supporting Actress’ to Geraldine Fitzgerald; Wuthering Heights, won an Oscar for ‘Best Cinematography (in Black & White)’ to Gregg Toland.
  • Ninotchka (1939), a hilarious comedy, where Greta Garbo plays a very rigid Russian woman, (i.e. the Soviet Union back then, under Joseph Stalin), with a lack of sense of humour, who is sent to Paris, France, on official business and learns to laugh and what true happiness is. The tag line reads ‘Garbo Laughs’. She also falls in love with the city, the free spirited and romantic Parisian society (pre-World War -II), and of course a handsome Count (played by Melvyn Douglas). Besides for ‘Best Picture’, Ninotchka, was nominated for 4 Oscars, including a ‘Best Actress’ nomination for Greta Garbo’s hilarious performance. Ninotchka was banned in the Soviet Union, at the time. Watched this a decade ago as well.
  • The much loved children’s classic, The Wizard of Oz (1939), I watched when I was about 14. A little too late for me to enjoy, as I found it pretty childish at the time, but none the less I realised it was an excellent film for kids. Nominated for 13 awards, it won 2 Oscars, for ‘Best Original Score’ (as mentioned above) and ‘Best Original Song’ for the song ‘Over the Rainbow’. Then child actress, Judy Garland, won a special award, ‘Academy Juvenile Award’, for her exceptional performance as little Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz.
Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh at the 12th Annual Academy Awards, held on the 29th of February, 1940

Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh at the 12th Annual Academy Awards, held on the 29th of February, 1940 (They married later that year) NSFS

OTHER AWARDS & FILM NOMINATIONS

Only Angels Have Wings (1939), is a movie I got to study, back 2002, in my first semester, for the module ‘Film Analysis’ (where we analysed films of director, Howard Hawks), for my MA in International Cinema (2002-2003), University of Luton, Luton, UK. Only Angels Have Wings is a very good emotional drama, though not a great movie, starring Cray Grant, Jean Arthur and Rita Hayworth. This Hawks/Grant aviation classic, was nominated in only 2 categories, ‘Best Cinematography (in Black & White)’ and ‘Best Special Effects’, and won neither.

OSCARS 1940 The 12th Annual Academy Awards

OSCARS 1940
The 12th Annual Academy Awards (NSFS)

Thomas Mitchell won the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ Oscar for Stagecoach (1939). A famous John Ford directed western (for which Ford was nominated), with John Wayne in the lead, that am yet to watch. Stagecoach also bagged the Oscar for ‘Best Musical Score’. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), another much loved classic, am yet to see, won an Oscar for ‘Best Original Story’. James Stewart was nominated for ‘Best Actor’, as well as Frank Capra, for ‘Best Director’, for this film.
American actor/screenwriter/film director/producer, Douglas Fairbanks, who died in December 1939, was given a posthumous ‘Honorary Award’, as well, for his contribution to the international development of the motion picture industry, as the very first President of the Academy. Douglas Fairbanks had hosted the very first Oscars Ceremony in 1929.
GWTW OscarThe 12th Annual Academy Awards, was held on the 29th of February, 1940, at a banquet, in the Coconut Grove, at The Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, USA. Hosted by Bob Hope, this was the very first Academy Award function, Hope hosted. Bob Hope altogether ended up hosting the Oscars, a total of 19 times. I haven’t seen this show (obviously again as I didn’t, nor did my parents still, exist back then), but would love to check it out, some day. Yet I watched a few scenes from the show; online, on Youtube; including the celebrity guests arriving for the function, a very young Mickey Rooney presenting young Judy Garland with the special award, and Hattie McDaniel’s touching humble speech, paying credit to her ‘‘race and the motion picture industry’’, when she made history by winning the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ trophy.

GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) – Best Picture. Winner of 10 Academy Awards.

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

P.S.  Also see my previous post 50 years ago – At The Oscars.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s New Pussycat (1965)

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

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

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

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

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Consequences of Drug Addiction – Panic in Needle Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pure Realism. 9/10!!!!

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Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii

Hawaiian Musical Dream – Blue Hawaii

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

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

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

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

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

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Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Man going Homicidal – The Shining

The Shining

The Shining

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In Love with an Edwardian Lady – Somewhere in Time

Somewhere in Time (1980)

Somewhere in Time (1980)

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

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

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

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The Flight to Heaven – Always

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

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

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

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

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

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The Rise of a Singing Sensation – King Creole  

Elvis Presley and Michael Curtiz on the sets of King Creole

Elvis Presley and Michael Curtiz on the sets of King Creole

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

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

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

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Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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

Adelaide & Hahndorf

Cowboy Down Under Hahndorf, Australia

Cowboy Down Under
Hahndorf, Australia

On the 2nd of November, 2014, afternoon, I left Colombo, along with my mother, sister and brother-in-law (my sister’s husband), for a trip to Australia. We flew in a well spacious Emirates (code-share with Qantas) flight, to Singapore, and from Singapore in a congested Qantas Flight (with good enough service though) to Sydney, and from Sydney in a, comparatively better, domestic, Qantas flight to Adelaide. Thus, after almost two days of travel, we arrived in Adelaide on the evening of 3rd November, 2014. I was half dead, by the time we reached Franklin Central Apartments (where we had rented an apartment for the duration of our stay in Adelaide) in the city centre, after all I hadn’t had a wink of sleep in the three flights to Adelaide from Colombo.

It was nice to be back in Australia after 6½ years, though it was my first time in Adelaide. Back when I was living in Sydney (New South Wales), between June 2006 and June 2008, I had covered most of the Australian Eastern coast, from The Great Barrier Reef, Cape Tribulation, Cairns, Kuranda, Townsville, Magnetic Island et al up North East (Queensland), to Melbourne (Victoria) and the Great Ocean Road tour through Bells Beach, The Grotto up to see The Twelve Apostles, South East. But this was my first time in the state of South Australia. And I’ve never ventured towards the Western territory of Aussie land till date. Plus, this was also the first time I travelled down under with my family. My sister and father, had visited Australia (Sydney), back in September-October 2011, but this was the first time for my mum and my sister’s husband. And the first time for all of us in Adelaide (SA).

On the Emirates Flight I watched most of Boyhood (2014), and latter part of it in the Qantas Flight to Sydney. I mostly read Ben Okri’s The Age of Magic in the flight to Sydney, a book I bought at the Singapore (Changi International) Airport, whilst on transit. Coincidentally, it was a novel related to travel. A philosophical look at a train journey from Paris, France to Basel, in Switzerland. I couldn’t complete it though. In the third flight (Sydney to Adelaide), I tried to watch Magic in the Moonlight (2014), a Woody Allen flick, which I switched off, as I was too tired.

On 4th morning, though still a bit tired, I started to feel better, and we headed off to Hahndorf. An old German town, founded in 1838, by Captain Dirk Hahn, in the suburbs of Adelaide. Hahndorf literally means Hahn’s Town. I fell in love with the small European Town, and it’s friendly atmosphere. We walked around the streets, had a great lunch at ‘The Hahndorf Inn’. I even had some beer. Being a person who doesn’t enjoy drinking, especially alcohol, it was a pretty big deal. The last time I had any alcohol was six years ago. So it’s that rare I’d taste alcohol. I am not anti-alcohol, I just don’t enjoy drinking, I never did. Otherwise I have a sweet tooth and love desserts, and most of the ones I love have alcohol in them. Thus it’s not for any moral or religious reason that I don’t drink, but simply ‘cause I don’t like to. Beer even less so, as I generally give more preference to sophisticated liquor, like wine, cherry, champagne, and chocolate based liqueurs. But I can’t go to a German inspired habitation and expect to taste classy drinks and not taste their Beer. Otherwise, in lieu of beer, I ought to taste nothing at all. Along with the Beer we had a great pork based meat platter. The three of us really enjoyed it, and my vegetarian mother, enjoyed her Pretzel Bread appetiser.

Strawberry Fields, Hahndorf, Australia.  (L-R) My Sister, My Mum, My Sister’s  Husband.

Strawberry Fields, Hahndorf, Australia.
(L-R) My Sister, My Mum, My Sister’s Husband. PIX: Nuwan Sen

The highlights of Hahndorf, were being able to see a Museum related to Sir Hans Heysen (a German born, Australian, pastoral artist, that I wasn’t that well aware of) at the Heritage Museum & Art Gallery (which was also the information centre for the town), and of course the strawberry picking. My mum, did the most picking, and I the least 🙂 . Hey, I was busy taking pictures of the beatific strawberry fields, not that I didn’t pick any strawberries, I just picked comparatively very little, while she filled up a whole box. Of course my sister did the second best, but I doubt her husband did much picking either. I saw him ordering everyone around more and less picking. Ha!! None the less we did have fun. Next day Mum & I went to the shops, at Rundle Mall. That evening my father joined us in Adelaide. He left SL, two days after we did.

With Matthew Flinders, in Adelaide, Australia.

With Matthew Flinders, in Adelaide, Australia.

On the 6th, it was my day, my lone day. Thus the lone wolf, scavenged through Adelaide, towards ‘The Art Gallery of South Australia’. On the way I saw some interesting sculptures/statues/busts of famed people, including Mary Lee; a 19th century, Irish-Australian, social reformer and a feminist of the suffragist movement of South Australia; and Matthew Flinders (pictured above), English navigator and cartographer, the first person to circumnavigate Australia and identify it as a continent. The art gallery wasn’t that massive, and housed very little amount of works, compared to many a galleries I’ve visited in Europe, Asia and Australia itself. There were very few famed Australian artists, the likes of Grace Crowley, Sidney Nolan and Martin Sharp. But one of my favourite Australian Artists, Brett Whitely (see my post Beatle News #8 …& Brett Whiteley), was missing. Of course I’ve seen some of his works earlier, at ‘The Art Gallery of New South Wales’, in Sydney, when I use to live there (2006-2008). And I had seen a Sidney Nolan Exhibition, in early 2008, at ‘The Art Gallery of NSW’, as well. But I wished more Ozzie artists were hung at ‘The Art Gallery of South Australia’, as well. They did have some European works too, including Impressionist artist, Camille Pissarro, whose works I had seen at the Museé d’Orsay in Paris, France, when I lived there back in 2008-2009. There was also an interesting exhibition of etchings by G.B. Piranesi. Plus a post-post modernism exhibition by recent artists, using cut glass and lighting. Post the Art Gallery I checked out the ‘University of Adelaide’ and visited the ‘South Australian Museum’ briefly. All in proximity to each other. Along all these walks I met some really interesting people to talk to, which I hardly get out here. After the Museum closed I headed back to the Rundle Mall, and shopped for some books at Dymocks , and then headed to the cinema. Palace Cinema. And ended up watching Fury (2014), starring Brad Pitt and Logan Lerman. After the movie, it was late night, I walked back, met some French and German Rickshaw wallah’s. Had a nice chat with them as well. T’was a nice long day, by myself.

Cowboy in a Rickshaw With a German Rickshaw wallah

Cowboy in a Rickshaw
With a German Rickshaw wallah

On the 7th was my sisters MBA graduation ceremony (from the Australian Institute of Business), the main reason we went Down Under, in the first place. The Ceremony took place at the Adelaide Town Hall, and there was formal dinner post that at the Gallery on Waymouth. My sister did her degree in Colombo from AIB, but she had her post-graduation ceremony down there. Gallery on Waymouth was an interesting, purposely Kitsch style, Art Gallery style, café, with a Graffiti wall at the side entrance. Inside, I loved a couple of works inspired by Andy Warhol and an old Australian Matchbox cover, by an unknown artist, bringing Pop Art to the 21st century and giving it an Oz twist.

MBA Graduation Ceremony @ Adelaide Town Hall (Left to Right) Me (Nuwan Sen), My Dad, My Mum, The Post Graduate (My Baby Sister - Sachinta), The Chairman of AIB (Prof. Selva Abraham), and Sachinta's husband (Umesh).

MBA Graduation Ceremony @ Adelaide Town Hall
(Left to Right) Me (Nuwan Sen), My Dad, My Mum, The Post Graduate (My Baby Sister – Sachinta), The Chairman of AIB (Prof. Selva Abraham), and Sachinta’s husband (Umesh).

On the 8th of November, 2014, we left Adelaide for Sydney. On this Qantas flight, I was planning to check out Magic in the Moonlight (2014), which I couldn’t on the way to Adelaide. But this Qantas flight didn’t have any screens per seat. Thus I lounged back in my chair and got back into reading Ben Okri’s The Age of Magic.

Nuwan Sen n’ Travel

For my own Blogathon, I decided to work on the famous/infamous 60’s piece of satire by Stanley Kubrick, Dr Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), made at the height of the cold war, about an accidental American nuclear mission to blow up the then communist Soviet Union (USSR).
Dr. Strangelove pix 3The plot
Dr Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was made and set at the height of the cold war, a time when there was no actual physical warfare, but political and military tensions arose between the communist countries of the Eastern bloc and the Western powers (NATO headed by the United States); hence known as the Cold War. A crazed general, Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) secretly orders a surprise nuclear attack on Russia (USSR). Everyone, from the President of the United States, President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers) to General Ripper’s aid, RAF exchange officer, Group Captain Mandrake (Peter Sellers again), fruitlessly try to stop the bombing. A bombing which may cause a Doomsday scenario, ridding the entire planet Earth of it’s inhabitants. Which is a fact confirmed by, the very sinister looking, Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers yet again), the President’s advisor. Thus ensues a hilarious battle of the wits.

'The War Room'

‘The War Room’

The Art Décor
The set designs are beyond impressive. Especially the ‘War Room’ at The Pentagon in Washington D.C. (Arlington County, Virginia), USA, where the President and his men discuss how to avert the impending crisis. The room is so well designed, futuristic in style (also remember the movie was made at the height of the Space Age, which brought about an important facet towards the Cold War), it feels like a space station. And supposedly when actor Ronald Regan became the President of the United States in 1981, he had wanted to see the ‘War Room’, which existed in the movie, Dr. Strangelove. Alas!!! was he disappointed to find out that such a thing didn’t exist.
Added to that, the interiors of the flight is very impressive, as is the mirrored bedroom of Miss Scott (Tracy Reed) and the offices at the Air Force Base. Though set in the States, this British-American film was entirely made in England, United Kingdom.
Besides the art décor, the cinematography is an added bonus with beautiful aerial shots of snow capped mountains to the ice bergs on the ocean floor.

PETER SELLERS TRIPLE ROLE Top Left: as President Merkin Muffley Bottom Left: as Dr. Strangelove Right (Top & Bottom): as Captain Lionel Mandrake

PETER SELLERS TRIPLE ROLE
Top Left: as President Merkin Muffley
Bottom Left: as Dr. Strangelove
Right (Top & Bottom): as Captain Lionel Mandrake

Trio of Sellers
Peter Sellers does a triple role of three very varied characters in Dr Strangelove.

(i) Sellers plays President Merkin Muffley, the President of the United States, the only serious character is this dark comedy. Ironic, considering the fact that Sellers is known more as a comedian than a serious actor. Though President Merkin Muffley is a very serious character, with a slight (non-comical) cold, his tongue in cheek name suggests otherwise. The bald president is named  Merkin, and a merkin is actually a pubic wig. Added to that he does have some interesting dialogues, like “Gentleman, you can’t fight in here. This is the War Room”. Peter Sellers improvises a lot of his dialogues with the three characters he plays.

(ii) Sellers plays Captain Lionel Mandrake. This the most recognisable Sellers character, as a Brit, serving the British crown and country. Added to that his appearance, with his famous moustache intact, he feels more Peter Sellers than any of the other characters he plays.

(iii) Last but not the least, Sellers plays Dr. Strangelove, the presidents scientific advisor, an ex-Nazi scientist. Most probably recruited through ‘Operation Paperclip’, through which many a German scientists, technicians et al, from Nazi Germany and other countries, were brought into the United States, post World War – II, for employment beneficial to the United States. Dr. Strangelove is the most intriguing character, as the name suggests. His actual German name happens to be Dr. Merkwürdigliebe, which he apparently changed to it’s literal English meaning, i.e. Strangelove, when he became an American citizen. He is a proper avant-garde sinister character with a disability. We see the menacing Dr. Strangelove to be wheelchair bound, which adds to his sinister character. Sellers modelled this character after the character of ‘Rotwang’ from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), my favourite silent film without sound, and my favourite film from the Roaring 20’s. Adding to the appearance of this disturbing character, Sellers is seen wearing one glove, a black glove that belonged to director Stanley Kubrick. Recognising the connection to Lang’s work, Sellers borrowed one of Kubrick’s black gloves, which he felt naturally menacing. Dr. Strangelove is by far the best interpretation of a evil comical genius by Sellers in the movie. The character has a unique German accent that adds to his threatening appearance. And the character slowly losing the control of his gloved hand, due to ‘diagnostic apraxia’ or ‘alien hand syndrome’, a rare neurological disorder that causes hand movements without a person having control over it’s actions, adds to the hilarity of the situation at hand (Pun intended).

'Dr. Strangelove'

‘Dr. Strangelove’

The rest of the lead Cast & the characters they play
Besides Sellers, George C. Scott is hilarious as the very childish, immature and the heavily bellied, General Buck Turgidson. His surname itself suggests his pompous and pretentious personality. He also has false pride and a fake sense of patriotism, which finds him jubilant at the prospects of bombing down the communist nation.

Sterling Hayden is superb as the eccentric, paranoid, extremist, ultra-nationalist. His charcter genuinely believes in a conspiracy theory by the communists to impurify the “precious bodily fluids” of Americans, through Water fluoridation. Apparently it’s a Russian conspiracy to pacify people so that they would easily trust authority. The name Jack D. Ripper is an obvious synonym to the notorious Jack the Ripper of 19th Century England (London).

Major T. J. “King” Kong, Piloting the Air Force flight, was initially to be played by Peter Sellers himself, but was replaced by Slim Pickens, once Sellers, who had been reluctant at first at the work load anyway, sprained his ankle and could not work in the cramped cockpit set.

Keenan Wynn as a clueless Colonel Bat Guano, with a permanent horrified look on his face, is funny character himself. One interesting scene is, when he has to shoot off a coca cola machine in the bullet riddled Air Force building, he initially refuses stating it’s “private property”.

Also check out a young James Earl Jones in his debut performance as a Lieutenant Lothar Zogg, the B-52 bombardier.

'Miss Scott'

‘Miss Scott’

Sexual Connotations
The movie is filled with some really interesting sexual innuendoes via man made devices portrayed in very suggestive modes. One of the best sexual imagery is right at the beginning, as the credits role in. One plane is shown fuelling another, with very romantic music going on in the background. It literally looks like two flying insects mating up in the air. Could be a metaphor on the two heads of states trying to get on well together, a bit too intimately, during a crisis. Then there is a bomb falling towards it’s orgasmic end, with a man riding on it, waving his cowboy hat. Pretty homoerotic, to see a man riding a phallic shaped object hurling downwards. It’s hilariously intended to look overtly sexual, and apparently Stanley Kubrick confirmed it.
Ironically the bikini clad Tracy Reed (in her introductory role), as General Turgidson’s secretary and mistress, the only female character in the entire male oriented movie, is the least sexual impression in Dr Strangelove, besides her semi-nude centrefold, aptly nicknamed ‘Miss Foreign Affairs’, shown through a Playboy magazine.

Screening Delay
A private screening of the film was scheduled for the 22nd of November, 1963, the same day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The film was just weeks from its scheduled premiere. But due to the assassination the release was ultimately delayed until January 1964.

Award Nominations
The film was nominated for four Oscars. For ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’ to Stanley Kubrick, for Peter Sellers a ‘Best Actor’ nomination, and ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’ for Stanley Kubrick, Peter George and Terry Southern. The movie won none. After all My Fair Lady (1964), well deservedly garnered the top three awards; for ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’ for George Cukor, and a ‘Best Actor’ win for Rex Harrison; that year. And the historical epic Becket (1964), definitely deserved the award for ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’.

None the less, Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) is among the greatest movies ever made. And it’s definitely worth checking out.

My Rating
Excellent !!!!! 10/10.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
60's c

60's dTo my fellow Bloggers,
Do check out my previous post The Essential 60’s Blogathon. There is still time to take part in this blogathon, if you are interested.
Thanking you
Yours sincerely
Nuwan Sen