Tag Archive: Documentaries


From movies released last year, 2016; I’ve only seen 12 of them so far; 9 of them within last year itself; and only 2 on the Big Screen; from the rest, except for a couple of them, that I watched online, on iflix, the others were on cable TV (either On Demand, or a foreign television channel)!! Here are the Best to the Bad!!!!!

Left: Sonam Kapoor as Neerja Bhanot in Neerja (2016) Right: The late Neerja Bhanot

Left: Sonam Kapoor as Neerja Bhanot in Neerja (2016)
Right: The late Neerja Bhanot

1. Neerja (2016) – Excellent: 10/10!

In 1985, Pan Am (Pan American World Airways) began an all Indian cabin crew for its India/Pakistan/West Germany routes. Neerja Bhanot was the Head Purser, of Pan Am Flight 73, when hijackers attacked the flight, on the 5th September, 1986.

The Pan Am flight had reached the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan, from India, that morning. Carrying 380 passengers on board, the flight was on it’s way to Frankfurt, West Germany, and was to travel to New York, USA. As the flight was ready to close it’s doors, at the Jinnah International Airport, four armed Palestinian men of the terrorist organisation, known as ANO (Abu Nidal Organisation), forced their way into the aircraft; disguised as security officers escorting a Libyan diplomat. The brave Neerja Bhanot, quickly warned the trio of pilots, who, following protocol, escaped through an overhead hatch in the cockpit. Thus, making sure the plane does not leave the tarmac. Neerja, though terrified, along with other attendants, hid American passports, so that the ANO couldn’t differentiate, Americans from non-Americans, as the terrorists were specifically targeting Americans. After 17 hours, of their demands being unheard, the terrorists went crazy, and opened fire on all passengers. Neerja Bhanot quickly opened the emergency exit, and managed to save the lives of 360 passengers on board (20 others were killed), and 19 crew members. Bhanot made sure, all the people, who were still alive had escaped, without saving herself first. Ultimately she sacrificed her life, saving the lives of three children, as she shielded them from gunfire. She died of gunshot wounds, just a couple of days, before her 23rd birthday.

Sonam Kapoor does justice to the role of Neerja Bhanot!! Kapoor was spot on. In an interview, when Kapoor was asked, whether she is looking forward to winning the ‘Best Actress’ trophy at the Filmfare Awards, this year; she replied, that she didn’t know, for that was not the reason, she did this movie. None the less, she deservedly won the Critics’ Award, for ‘Best Actress’ at the 62nd Filmfare Awards, held earlier this month. However she lost out in the popular vote, for ‘Best Actress’. The movie altogether won six awards, including the Critics’ Award, for ‘Best Director’ (for Ram Madhvani), the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ trophy (for Shabana Azmi) and ‘Best Production Design’ (for Aparna Sud). The Production Design was truly superb, the way they replicated the whole Pan Am Flight 73, by making the model of the flight and it’s interiors, to perfection. It looked like an actual plane, on the tarmac.

This tragic story, is a must see. A perfect tribute, to the late Neerja Bhanot (1963-1986)!! Bhanot, an ordinary girl, not your conventional super heroine; but when put in an extraordinary situation, showed an inner human bravery, under fear. Also see my mini-write up on Facebook’s AHC page (Link:- https://www.facebook.com/search/str/%2523nuwansensfilmsense/keywords_search?filters_rp_author=stories-feed&filters_rp_creation_time=%7B%22start_month%22%3A%222016-03%22%2C%22end_month%22%3A%222016-03%22%7D)!!

Watched Neerja, on the Big Screen, early last year (in March 2016)!!

Here’s to Neerja Bhanot, an innocent girl, a film buff, a model, an abused wife, a divorcée, an air hostess, and most of all, a humanitarian; who put others before herself! Bhanot was posthumously awarded the Ashoka Chakra Award, India’s highest peacetime military decoration award, for valour, courageous action or self-sacrifice, away from the battlefield. She was the youngest, and first female, recipient of this award. She received various more awards, posthumously; for her bravery, her loyalty to her passengers, and humanity.

2. Kapoor & Sons (2016) – Excellent: 10/10!

A fun filled family film, with a gay character. Bollywood is becoming more progressive. It’s a beautiful family movie, about a dysfunctional family, that get together to celebrate, the family patriarch’s, 90th Birthday; post recovery from a heart attack. A lot of drama, secrets, pain, romance and comedy, unfold; into a complex family reunion. With a great ensemble cast, the movie is made in a way, that the whole family can enjoy; from tiny tots to the elderly!! Just loved this Dharma Productions, movie, directed by Shakun Batra.

The Film won five trophies, at this year’s Filmfare Awards; including one for the legendary, Rishi Kapoor; who deservedly won, in the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ category. 64 year old Kapoor, played the 90 year old, head of the house, with perfection; in this movie.

Watched Kapoor & Sons, last year, when it was shown on the Indian cable channel, Colors (July 2016).

3. PINK (2016) – Excellent: 10/10!

“No means No!”, utters Amitabh Bachchan’s character; as he defends three girls (one of whom was molested), when the trio are charged with prostitution and attempted murder by the male culprits.

This is a brilliant Art House film, an excellent courtroom drama, and a women’s rights advocacy. Amitabh Bachchan proves, he is still the best actor around, in the aesthetic world of films. Bachchan plays a retired lawyer; taking care of his ailing wife, while suffering from his own health issues; who takes up this case, pro bono; for the sake of three innocent victims, who are being charged with a crime, and not the other way round. He does it for justice, and a woman’s right to refuse sexual advances.

Amitabh Bachchan lost out, in the ‘Best Actor’ category, to Aamir Khan. I haven’t seen Dangal (2016); for which Kahn won the Filmfare Award, earlier this month; but the 74 year old, Big B (i.e. Mr. Bachchan), was phenomenal, in PINK.

Watched PINK, late last year, on another Indian channel, Star Plus (November 2016)

4. Confirmation (2016) – Excellent: 10/10!

From one fictional tale of sexual abuse, to another based on a real incident. Though in this case the abuse might be merely verbal, and not of a physical nature; it is still a case of abuse of power, and gender discrimination.
confirmation-2016This movie deals with the ‘Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination’ of 1991; when a law professor, Anita Hill; who had previously worked under Clarence Thomas; was asked to ‘confirm’ her allegations of sexual harassment, against Thomas. Another sad, excellent film, with an unsettling ending, for both the protagonist’s of the movie. Kerry Washington is superb as Hill, who is initially reluctant to come forward.

Watched this television drama, Confirmation, when it was shown on the cable channel, HBO Signature (July 2016).

5. Tere Bin Laden: Dead or Alive (2016) – Near Excellent: 9/10!

A hilarious piece of satire, set during Obama’s presidency, dealing with; making a false proof, of the actual; Osama’s death. Not amongst the greatest comedies ever, but I couldn’t stop laughing. The movie was really enjoyable. Thus, I think I’ve given it a tad higher rating, than I should have. For more details, see my post Mai May Movies 2016 from May 2016, as well.

6. Airlift (2016) – Near Excellent: 9/10!

A true account of Indians trapped in Kuwait, in 1990, as the country was being invaded by Iraq; under Saddam Hussein. Yet again, see my mini-review under, ‘Mai May Movies 2016’, from May 2016.
pink-laden7. Michael Moore in TrumpLand (2016) – Very Good: 8/10!

Despite all Michael Moore had to say in this Stand-up/Documentary, Trump still triumphed; and now, 70 year old, Donald J. Trump; a business magnate; is the President of the United States!!

What I really liked about this documentary, is without directly attacking Trump, Moore slowly tries to make people understand, why he shouldn’t be the political leader, of America; and the dangers they face, if he came into power. This was almost an advertorial campaign for Hillary Clinton. Despite all this explanation, it is a pity, Mrs. Clinton; so much a better politician, lost out, to a business celebrity. I was rooting for her to be the first female President of America. Sad! And many, open-minded, Americans were distraught with the results. And the Women’s March 2017, is proof of that.

Watched this last year, as Trump won the elections, on iflix (November 2016).

8. Passengers (2016) – Pretty Good: 7/10!

I loved, Norwegian director, Morten Tyldum’s, The Imitation Game (2014); and his Hodejegerne (2011), a.k.a. Headhunters, is in my watch list. And when I went and watched, Passengers, in 3-D; I really enjoyed majority of the movie. BUT, unfortunately there is ‘But’!!

A spaceship carrying over 5000 people, under induced hibernation; travelling to a distant planet, in a span of 120 years; has a malfunction. As a result, more than one person, is woken up, approximately 90 years early. The film, with just two lead characters, who have to carry the burden of film, entirely on their shoulders, is very impressive. And it goes on really well, to near excellence; the whole while, a question of ethics, gnawing at you (the audience). But then (spoiler alert), a third person wakes up; and starts to ruin the film; turning the highly clever premise, and the intellectually stimulating story, into a silly, action blockbuster, waste. From here the movie becomes really, unrealistic (sure it’s set space, but the fictional aspects, still have to be believable enough) and, the romantic angle, pretty mushy. None the less, majority of this, stunningly, visually, beautiful movie, is worth checking out!!

Chris Pratt & Jennifer Lawrence in Passengers (2016)

Chris Pratt & Jennifer Lawrence in Passengers (2016)

For next month’s Oscars, Passengers, has been nominated for it’s Production Design; and the interiors of the Spaceship are magnificent; as are the special effects. But then again, CGI/special effects, are practically good in any movie today; and unfortunately, most of the time, that is the only good thing about a movie. I hope this movie bags a trophy for ‘Best Production Design’, at the oncoming Academy Awards. Passengers, might not be a great film, but still quite good, a very enjoyable movie; until they ruin it towards the end.

Watched Passengers on the Big Screen, earlier this month (January 2017)

9. My Sweet Audrina (2016) – Very Bad: 3/10!

A creepy thriller, with a really interesting premise. But a bore of a film. Don’t waste your time on it.

Watched this TV film, last year, online, on iflix (November 2016).

10. Ki & Ka (2016) – Very Bad: 3/10!

The concept of the wife going to work, and husband staying at home, and being a househusband/homemaker, may seem a bit outdated; but that is not reason the movie doesn’t work. It had it’s fun spots, and serious segments; but the movie as a whole, was pretty stale and dull. On the positive side, I love the fact, the man, by choice, decides to be a homemaker; and is very supportive of his wife; and I loved the role reversal, the Abhimaan (1973) moment, in the movie, where the wife pushes him to do an interview on TV, and as he starts becoming a celebrity, she starts to feel jealous. So the concept was enjoyable. The movie also reminded me of, this Hindi sitcom; we use to watch as kids; Mr ya Mrs (1987-1988). But the movie is a bit of drag, and ultimately a waste of time. Enjoyable premise, yet poorly executed.

Saw Ki & Ka, when it was shown on Colors, last year (October 2016).

10+1. 13 Hours (2016) – Very Bad: 3/10!

Based on real events, it’s such bore of film. On the 11th of September, 2012; the US Ambassador’s compound, and an unofficial CIA base, in Benghazi, Libya, is attacked. The movie starts off really well, but then drags on, and is way to long. I felt I sat through the movie for ‘13 hours’ myself.

Watched 13 Hours, on HBO On Demand, late Sunday night (29th January 2017)!!
film-13-hours-201610+2. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016) – THE Worst film, of 2016, that I have seen, so far: 1/10!

It’s not even worth talking about, this crap of a film, by Karan Johar. Johar is a good director, and did a marvellous job when it came to his short film, within Bombay Talkies (2013); an anthology of four short films. In fact his directorial segment was my favourite. BUT, when it comes to feature length films, he sure mucks it up. And he is a good producer; Dharma Productions, is his company, the company that produced, the above mentioned, Kapoor & Sons. Plus, he is quite a good television talk show host. Really enjoy watching, most of his interviews on, Koffee with Karan (2004 onwards). Currently, the latest season, of Koffee with Karan, is running on the Indian cable network, Star World.

Watched Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, when it was telecast, on Colors, on Saturday morning (28th January 2017)!!

Special Note: End of last year, I watched a Sinhala documentary, called Usaviya Nihadai, which I tweeted as being released in 2016, for it was released in Sri Lanka, only last year; amidst a lot of controversy (of course, I watched it on the small screen; rented it out, when it was provided by our cable operator). But according to IMDB, it was released in 2015!!!!! Apparently it was released at a ‘Sakhalin Film Festival’, in Russia (I didn’t even know about an island called Sakhalin; let alone about this festival; till now). I gave Usaviya Nihadai, an Average Fare rating, of 6/10!!

Ki & Ka (2016) is practically a remake of the 70’s classic, Abhimaan (1973); with roles reversed!!

Ki & Ka (2016) is practically a remake of the 70’s classic, Abhimaan (1973); with roles reversed!!

Unfortunately, from the releases of 2016, I haven’t watched any Oscar worthy, English language, movie (except for the great production design, in Passengers). BUT Amitabh Bachchan’s performance in PINK (2016), is definitely an Oscar worthy performance. Pity, I doubt Hollywood has even heard of this movie, let alone, nominate the Big B, for his outstanding acting skills, in general.

Looking forward to, watching the Oscars LIVE telecast, next month (February 2017).

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
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The Girl who SURVIVED

Yesterday I watched the short documentary, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015), on HBO On Demand.

Right: The Film Poster Left: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy winning the Oscar, for ‘Best Documentary - Short Subject’; at the 88th Annual Academy Awards, 2016!!

Left: The Film Poster
Right: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy winning the Oscar, for Best Documentary – Short Subject; at the 88th Annual Academy Awards, 2016!!

This excellent Documentary Short, by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, won the Oscar for ‘Best Documentary – Short Subject’, earlier this year, at the 88th Annual Academy Awards. This was the second Oscar, for this brilliant Pakistani director. She won an Oscar in 2012, for the short documentary, Saving Face (released in 2012, itself), shared with her co-director, Daniel Junge.

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, is a beautiful, yet tragic tale, about a brave 19 year old girl, who escaped an attempt on her life, from her father and uncle, for marrying against their wishes. And, the state of affairs in the Pakistani judiciary system (specifically in the province of Punjab).

Saba, a 19 year old girl, who secretly wed Qaiser, with the help of his family; as her parents and uncle (father’s brother), were against their union; was taken away by her father and uncle, soon after her marriage, before they could consummate it. On the way, they stopped the car, next to a river; beat her up, and then, tried to shoot her forehead, but mistakenly shot Saba on her face, for she managed to move her head just in time. She lost consciousness, and the culprits assuming they had succeeded in killing her, put her in a bag, and threw her into the river, to drown, and never be found. When she came to, the brave child, swam up, clung to a branch/roots, with a lost sense of direction. Seeing the light of a motorbike, she climbed out, and walked to the nearest gas station. The documentary starts, with her lying in a hospital bed, with a badly scared face. The film chronicles her recovery, whilst shedding light on what happened to her, through numerous interviews, including the two culprits in jail. The father and uncle, so blinded by their faith, have no reservations of their wrong doings.

What’s worse, is how the girl is pressured into forgiving the attempted murderers. Under the Pakistan law, within that province, if the matter happens to be that of an ‘Honour Killing’, as is the case, with the attempt on Saba’s life; if either the relatives (in the case of a death), but in this case the victim herself, can say, that the two men are forgiven, and they’d be released. It’s hard to believe, that today, the 21st century, such practices still exist, even in the remotest area’s, of the world. It’s really depressing, to see, how, the young girl was manipulated into forgiving those two men, making her believe she had no other choice. In her case, it was her lawyer; who too was actually replaced by the village elders, without her knowledge (initially she had an open-minded, intellectual lawyer, by her side, who was ready to fight for justice); who stated she had forgiven the culprits. Thus, the sad state of affairs, that the two men are roaming the streets of Pakistan’s Punjab, scot-free.

Kudos, to Pakistani director (and activist), Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, for bringing out such a masterpiece on malpractice, set in her own homeland; letting the world know, what life might be like, in majority of places, not just Pakistan, but various other third world countries; especially in countries practicing an archaic system of law; that definitely needs to be rejuvenated and renewed.

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015)
My Rating: Excellent!!!!! 10/10!!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

Watched Black Sea on HBO On Demand.

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

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

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

Watched Les Rides on TV5MONDE.

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

Watched Nightingale on HBO On Demand.

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

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

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

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

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

Watched Voulez-vous Danser avec moi on TV5MONDE.

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

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

Watched Kill the Messenger on HBO On Demand.

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

Watched Squatters on HBO Signature.

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

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

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

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

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

Watched Poltergeist on HBO.

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

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

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

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

Watched As Above, So Below on HBO On Demand.

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

Watched Le Lieu du Crime on TV5MONDE.

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

Watched Into the Storm on HBO On Demand.

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

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

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

Watched Timbuktu on TV5MONDE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watched J’ai Tué ma Mère on TV5MONDE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jacques Bernard in Les Enfants Terribles (1950)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watched Les Enfants Terrible on DVD.

My Rating: Excellent – 10/10!!!!!
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Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
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Mai May Movies 2016

…AND THE WINNERS  are …

Ken Loach wins the Palme d’Or for I, Daniel Blake (2016)

Ken Loach wins the Palme d’Or for I, Daniel Blake (2016)

The Cannes Film Festival, for the Year of the Sweets, finally came to an end, last night. Like a true film fanatic/movie maniac/Cinema enthusiast; I stayed awake past midnight, on this side of the planet, to see who won the Palme d’Or, Grand Prix, et al, at Cannes, this year; on a special feature on the news channel, FRANCE24.

Xavier Dolan wins the Grand Prix for Juste la Fin du Monde (2016)

Xavier Dolan wins the Grand Prix for, Juste la Fin du Monde (2016)

Ken Loach won the Palme d’Or for the British film, I, Daniel Blake (2016); which happens to be Loach’s second Palme d’Or; and young Xavier Dolan won the Grand Prix for the Canadian movie, Juste la Fin du Monde (2016)!! The Palme d’Or (a.k.a. Golden Palm) is the highest honour at the Cannes Film Festival; and French New Wave actor, Jean-Pierre Léaud, received an honorary Palme d’Or, this year, for his contribution, to the world of Cinema. Grand Prix (a special jury award), is the second most prestigious award of the festival. The Pame d’Or, initially was known as the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film, and at one time, as the Grand Prix du Festival; which should not be confused with the modern day Grand Prix. The Grand Prix, itself was once known as Grand Prix Spécial du Jury, and later as Grand Prix du Jury. Both the Palme d’Or and Grand Prix, are awarded to the film directors, for what is considered the best movie, for the year. The ‘Best Director’ award, was a tie, this year. Romanian director, Cristian Mungiu; for Bacalaureat (2016); and French film director, Olivier Assayas; for the English language movie, Personal Shopper (2016); tied in for the ‘Best Director’ award. Iranian director, Asghar Farhadi, took home the award for ‘Best Screenplay’; for Forushande (2016). Iranian actor, Shahab Hosseini, bagged the prize for ‘Best Actor’; for the same movie; whilst Filipino actress, Jaclyn Jose, won the prize, for ‘Best Actress’; for Ma’ Rosa (2016). British filmmaker, Andrea Arnold, was awarded the Jury Prize (the third most highest honour, at the festival), for American Honey (2016).

The Late Nellie in Paterson (2016)

The Late Nellie in Paterson (2016)

Among other awards; the Un Certain Regard Award (for ‘Best Film’) and the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize, went to Finland’s Hymyilevä Mies (2016) by Juho Kuosmanen, and Japan’s Fuchi ni Tatsu (2016) by Kôji Fukada, respectively. The Queer Palm Award went to French director, Sébastien Lifshitz, for his documentary, Les Vies de Thérèse (2016). The L’Œil d’Or (or The Golden Eye), awarded to documentaries only, was given to, Brazilian Film Director, Eryk Rocha, for Cinema Novo (2016). The Palme Dog Award (awarded to the best performance by a canine), was posthumously awarded to, a female English Bulldog, the late, Nellie; for USA’s Paterson (2016) by Jim Jarmusch. In the movie, Nellie, stars as a male dog, named Marvin.

Cannes Sweet Year: Nathalie Baye, Xavier Dolan and Marion Cotillard, at the festival, on DAY-9

Cannes Sweet Year: Nathalie Baye, Xavier Dolan and Marion Cotillard, at the festival, on DAY-9

These are some of the main awards mentioned here. There are various other awards, at the Cannes Film Festival. So congratulations, to all the winners, of the 69th Cannes Film Festival. Year of the Sweets!!

I’d love to check out most of the films, shown at Cannes, this year. The only sad part for me was, Marion Cotillard didn’t receive any special recognition, for her work, this year. But this, 40 year old actress, is a superbly talented performer, and has won many accolades in the past, including at Cannes. And she no doubt shall, in the near future as well. At least, 27 year old film director, Xavier Dolan, won for Juste la Fin du Monde, which starred Cotillard. Dolan also won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, for the same movie, this year. Both Xavier Dolan and Marion Cotillard happen to be frequent faces at the Cannes Film Festivals, especially within the last decade. They are the future!!!!

All The Best!!!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

P.S. Tweets relating to Cannes 2016

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The ever stunning, Marion Cotillard, looking classy as ever, in a black dress, on Day 9, of the Cannes Film Festival

The ever stunning, Marion Cotillard, looking classy as ever, in a black dress, on Day 9, of the Cannes Film Festival

On Day 9, of the Cannes Film Festival, for 2016 (that was on Thursday, 19th May 2016), Marion Cotillard walked the red carpet, yet again. This time it was for, the Canadian film she stars in, directed by, young Canadian film director, Xavier Dolan. The film was Juste la Fin du Monde (2016), English title being, It’s Only the End of the World.

TOP: Xavier Dolan & Marion Cotillard   BELOW: The Female cast of the movie, with the young Director, Dolan

TOP: Xavier Dolan & Marion Cotillard
BELOW: The Female cast of the movie, with the young Director, Dolan

The bewitching beauty looked gorgeous as ever, in an Audrey Hepburnisque, style, little black attire. Her kind face, charming smile, her eyes sparkling, no doubt, this ravishing beauty, is one of the most beautiful film actresses of today, not to mention, greatly talented. Being a great fan of young Xavier Dolan, am really keen on checking out, Juste la Fin du Monde, as well, which, alongside Cotillard, co-stars Vincent Cassel, Nathalie Baye, Gaspard Ulliel and Léa Seydoux. Xavier Dolan attended last year’s festival (May 2015) as a Jury member. Other movies shown on the 19th of May, included, the Romanian film, Bacalaureat (2016), a.k.a. Graduation (English title); and a midnight screening of Gimme Danger (2016). Directed by Jim Jarmusch, Gimme Danger (his second movie shown at the Cannes this year), is a documentary based on musician Iggy Pop, and his rock band from the 1960’s & 70’s, ‘The Stooges’.

The Cast; (L-R) Gaspard Ulliel, Léa Seydoux, Marion Cotillard, Xavier Dolan (Film Director), Nathalie Baye & Vincent Cassel; of Juste la Fin du Monde (2016), at the 69th Cannes Film Festival, on Thursday night (19th May 2016)

The Cast; (L-R) Gaspard Ulliel, Léa Seydoux, Marion Cotillard, Xavier Dolan (Film Director), Nathalie Baye & Vincent Cassel; of Juste la Fin du Monde (2016), at the 69th Cannes Film Festival, on Thursday night (19th May 2016)

Yesterday, Sean Penn’s The Last Face (2016), and Danish Director, Nicolas Winding Refn’s, The Neon Demon (2016), opened at Cannes. Penn’s film was cited as being the worst film shown at the festival, and The Neon Demon was booed at. I might still check them out, if I come across them; but this Friday’s, two unpopular film entries, interest me the least.
Cannes Sweet Year - Day 11 (Queer Palm)Today, Day 11th, the 69th Cannes Film Festival, comes to an end. They’ll be showing the French film, Elle (2016), by Dutch director, Paul Verhoeven; along with the Iranian movie, titled, Forushande (2016), a.k.a. The Salesman (English title), by Asghar Farhadi. The Queer Palm takes place today as well. Xavier Dolan’s Laurence Anyways (2012), won the Queer Palm, back in 2012. Laurence Anyways was an excellent film, to come out of Canada. And tomorrow, the winners shall be announced; and I can’t wait to find out who shall take home the prestigious Palm d’Or this year. The Year of the Sweets!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

The 88th Annual Academy Awards came and went. Leo finally won an Oscar; although this wasn’t the film, I wanted Leo to win an Oscar for (see my post Oscar White, from February 2016, on my website nu Sense on Film); YET, I was genuinely happy for him, when he won (’Twas about time!!), for The Revenant (2015). Besides the great Oscar wins, and some unpleasant surprises [Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), won an Oscar for ‘Best Costumes’; I was like “What Costumes???”, and Sam Smith and James Napier were awarded for, the not so melodic song, “Writing’s On The Wall”, from Spectre (2015); chosen over, Lady Gaga’s, perfect Oscar song, “Til It Happens to You” – of which she gave a brilliantly touching performance on stage, at the Oscar ceremony itself, from the documentary, The Hunting Ground (2015)]; the next best thing about the show, is the arrivals of the glitterati, in their glamorous attire; on the famous Red Carpet. So here are my TOP – 10, favourites, among the actresses (it’s generally hard to differentiate male attire), from this year’s, controversial Oscar ceremony. Chris Rock did a fine job of hosting the show!!
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No.1 – Cate Blanchett, seen here, with Carol (2015), director Todd Haynes; and inset, with co-star from the same movie, Rooney Mara (both Blanchett and Mara were nominated for an Oscar) appeared in a fairy tale style, bluish evening dress. She looked exceptionally regal, that day.
1. Cate Blanchett with Carol (2015) Director Todd Haynes; & co-star Rooney Mara (no.1)
No.2 – Lady Gaga!! Oscar nominee, Lady Gaga, once notorious for her weirdly unique appearances, came dressed like a real ‘Lady’. A class apart, I loved her elegant white trouser n’ robe combo. My favourite Lady Gaga outfit, so far.

No.3 – Alicia Vikander [who won the Oscar, for ‘Best Supporting Actress’, for The Danish Girl (2015)] looked really adorable, in her Mellow Yellow outfit. That 50’s style dress, along with Vikander’s perky sweetness, made her seem like a young Audrey Hepburn, in her heydays.
3. Alicia Vikander (no.3)
No.4 – Sexy n’ Simple; Priyanka Chopra looked dazzling, in her white lace attire, teamed up with diamonds. The way she wore the dress, it felt like she were wearing a lace saree. Chopra carried it really well. One of my favourite Bollywood stars, of today, who’s been making big strides, in the music world, as well as on, American Soap Opera’s .
4. Priyanka Chopra (no.4)
No.5 – Simply Charming; in a red hot number, Charlize Theron, with her ‘open heart surgery’ type, plunging neckline, was to die for.

No.6 – Margot Robbie; seen here with Jared Leto (who himself looked dashing in a, black & Maroon, tux, sporting a flower, for a bow); looked as glamorous as ever, in a gold dress, with long sleeves, and another deep neckline.
6. Jared Leto and Margot Robbie (no.6)
No.7 – Brie Larson, going through jet lag, seen here with last year’s ‘Best Actor’ Oscar Winner, Eddie Redmayne; who handed her, this year’s ‘Best Actress’ trophy, for Room (2015); looked bewitchingly beautiful in a blue frilly dress. Glowing with maternal love, Larson, high-fived her little co-star, 9 year old, Jacob Tremblay, before collecting her Oscar.
7. Brie Larson & Eddie Redmayne (no.7)
No.8 – British actress, Sophie Turner, whose work, am not that familiar with, looked stunning in a soft shade of silver.
8.
No.9 – Tina Fey’s purely royal purple evening gown, was spot on. She looked every bit an imperial head (of Hollywood, at least).

No.10 – Oscar nominee, Saoirse Ronan, looked patriotically grandeur, representing her Irish roots, in an enviously glittering dark green. She was nominated for playing the lead in Brooklyn (2015), a movie that deals with an Irish immigrant, arriving in The States, in the 1950’s. She lost out to actress, Brie Larson.
10. Saoirse Ronan (no.10)

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So here are my Top Ten favourites, among the femme fashion, at this year’s red carpet. Which was your favourite outfit? And what was your favourite Oscar moment??

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen’s Fashion Sense
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John Lennon, what can I say!!! He’s my favourite Beatle, a Peace Activist & a modern day saint. Artiste Extraordinaire!!!!
John LennonIMAGINE!!! A world without John Lennon, The Beatles and Lennon & Ono’s Peace Activism and Pacifism. Impossible! I can’t!! The world wouldn’t be what it is today; the open minded, free spirited, sphere, with comparatively lesser wars than the epical carnages that history chronicles. He brought Peace through his music, his lyrics and the famous Bed-In’s. People are more understanding (or should be) than ever before. Not that the world is full of empathicalists today (far from it, especially in this island, that I live in), but the world is slowly improving for the better to some extent (see ’s, existentialist character, Jo Stockton, teach her co-star a thing or two about ‘Empathicalism’, in one of her movies, in my Blog post, for Audrey Hepburn’s 85th from May 2014). And John Lennon, along side his second wife, artist, Yoko Ono, played an important role, for this ever changing world, in the late 60’s & 70’s. If he were alive today, John Lennon would be celebrating his 75th Birthday, on this day, with his messages of peace, love & equality. A sad loss of a legend, a humanitarian, a believer of Equal Rights, a man without borders and an intellectual.
John Lennon SupermanTo John Lennon (1940-1980)!!!!! A & a real life Superhero!!

Initially, as a kid, when I first saw the music video of Lennon’s Imagine, featuring John Lennon & Yoko Ono, I felt a bit bored. But slowly I started loving the lyrics, the music crawled under my skin, and I started having a great admiration for The Beatles as a whole. And by the early 90’s, Lennon’s Imagine, was, and till date is, my all time favourite song. Since the early 90’s, I’ve read so much on The Beatles, especially Lennon and Paul McCartney, the songs they co-wrote, and have listened to practically every single song The Beatles, and post-Beatles Lennon, ever released. More recently, mid-2007, whilst living in Sydney, Australia, I watched The U.S. vs. John Lennon (2006), on the Big Screen, down there. A very inspiring documentary focusing on Lennon’s quest for world peace, the famed War Is Over posters, anti-Vietnam war protests; and specifically emphasising the futile attempts by President Richard Nixon’s, American, government, to silence him. John Lennon managed to shake Nixon’s government to the edge of paranoiac fear, just through his songs, especially Give Peace a Chance. An exceptional documentary, and am glad I got to watch, The U.S. vs. John Lennon, on the Big Screen. I’d generally rarely watch a documentary in the cinema, but ’twas totally worth it!!

John Lennon with his fellow Beatles; including best pal, Paul McCartney; in the mid-60’s

John Lennon (far right), with his fellow Beatles; including best pal, Paul McCartney (in the middle); in the mid-60’s

John Lennon was also a feminist (see my post Beatle News #10 from April 2013), who took his wife’s, Yoko Ono’s, surname, on the 22nd of April, 1969, as a middle name, through an official ‘Deed of Change of Name’. Thus changing his name from John Winston Lennon to John Winston Ono Lennon, a month after they were married (in March 20th, 1969). Proper Feminism is about Equal Rights, between men and women, thus it’s not essential for one to own a pair of breasts to be a feminist. Being a believer of Equal rights myself, I consider myself a feminist as well; though being a free thinker and a believer of equal rights on varied issues of race, religion, gender and sexuality, the tag of feminism alone isn’t enough to describe who I am. None the less, I believe in the stone faced feminism of the 60’s & 70’s, and am a die hard fan of John Lennon, not just due to his music, but for the kind of great humanitarian he was.

John Lennon & Yoko Ono, during their famous Bed-In’s for Peace, in 1969

John Lennon & Yoko Ono, during their famous Bed-In’s for Peace, in 1969

In early 2012, I was in New Delhi, India, during the annual World Book Fair, and, among many, ended up buying two books on the Beatles; The Beatles: The Days of their Life by Richard Havers (copyright:2010) and A Hard Days Write: The Stories behind every Beatles Song (New and Updated Edition (copyright:1994, new edition:2010)) by Steve Turner. I started blogging in March 2012, and meanwhile, after going through theses books, they soon inspired me to start a segment, on my Blog. Do check out all my Beatle News, from #1 to #33, I posted between March 2013 and February 2014, especially the ones on , and their famous ’s () and Bagism, for World Peace (including Beatle News #4, Beatle News #5, Beatle News #11, Beatle News #12 and Beatle News #16).

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Beatle News  #34:
On Tuesday, 6th of October, thousands of people joined together to form a human Peace sign in honour of John Lennon’s 75th Birth Anniversary, three day before his birthday. This tribute took place in Central Park’s East Meadow, New York, in the United States of America. I wish I was there, as one of the participants. His widow, Yoko Ono, is currently helping to fund a mobile studio called The Lennon Bus, in his name, to help music students and aspiring songwriters. This year also marks the 35th Death Anniversary of John Lennon, who was shot by a deranged fan, on the 8th of December, 1980.

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John Lennon & Yoko Ono with their newborn, Sean Ono Lennon, in 1975.

John Lennon & Yoko Ono with their newborn, Sean Ono Lennon, in 1975.

Today also happens to be, Lennon’s second son’s (Lennon & Ono’s only child together), Sean Ono Lennon’s, 40th Birthday as well. Both Lennon & Ono have a child each, from their previous marriages as well.

Sean Ono Lennon earlier this year (April 2015)

Sean Ono Lennon, who turns 40 today, in a picture taken earlier this year, in April 2015.

Sean Taro Ono Lennon was born on John Lennon’s 35th Birthday, on the 9th of October, 1975. A parent couldn’t have asked for a better birthday present than that. Going back to John Lennon’s feminism, after the birth of Sean Lennon, John became a house husband and stay-at-home dad, taking full responsibility for the care of his younger child, until John Lennon was killed five years later. Though, no where near as famous, as his post-modernist, aesthetically superior, parents, Sean Ono Lennon, too is a music artiste and activist, in his own right.

Sean Ono Lennon, who turns 40 today, in a picture taken earlier this year, in April 2015.

Sean Ono Lennon, who turns 40 today, in a picture taken earlier this year, in April 2015.

To John Lennon and Sean Lennon, who were born this day, 75, & 40, years ago, respectively. John Lennon shall forever live on through his brilliant musical legacy and Peace activism. And wishing Sean Ono Lennon all the best, and hope he’ll keep carrying the torch forward (the legacy of his father), like his mother, Yoko Ono has continued to do so. Have a fantastical 40th Birthday, Sean Ono Lennon.

Nuwan Sen n’ The Beatles
Nuwan Sen’s Music Sense

(nu)Site & ol’ BLOG

British Cinematographer Jack Cardiff & the famous Red Shoes

British Cinematographer, Jack Cardiff & the famous Red Shoes

A post/questionnaire on my five favourite posts, of my own write-up’s, from within the last two months (August/September 2015), on both; my newer Website (nu Sense on Film), which I started couple of months ago; and my old Blog (No Nonsense with Nuwan Sen), which I started in March 2012, over 3½ years ago.

Tea Time, with American icon, James Dean, from the era of cool.

Tea Time, with American icon, James Dean, from the era of cool.

TOP-5
1.Classic Cinematographers: Jack Cardiff

2.James Dean: Sixty Years since the Death of an Icon

3.Bollywood Bellbottoms: Noughties Bollywood’s taste for the 70’s

Bollywood Bellbottoms: Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta & Saif Ali Khan; dance to a 70’s  Stlye disco number, “Its the Time to Disco”, in the Hindi movie, Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003)

Bollywood Bellbottoms: Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta & Saif Ali Khan; dance to a 70’s Stlye disco number, “Its the Time to Disco”, in the Hindi movie, Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003)

4.WORLD DOG DAY: Special Post on

5.Foxy French-Femme turns 40: Marion  

Cannes Film Festival: Marion Cotillard in an elegant stripe Suit (May 2015)

Cannes Film Festival: Marion Cotillard in an elegant stripe Suit (May 2015)

Q.Which one/s out of my TOP-5, mentioned above, did you, my fellow bloggers et al, enjoy reading the most? Is there another Blog-post from (August/September 2015), not mentioned here that you happen to like?

Nuwan Sen’s Film (ART, HISTORY, NEWS n’ EVENTS, LITERATURE) Sense

Today happens to be the 101st Birth Anniversary of my all time favourite cinematographer, Jack Cardiff. His uniquely brilliant, colourful aesthetics, in movies like. Powell&Pressburger’s Black Narcissus (1947) and The Red Shoes (1948), Alfred Hitchcock’s Under Capricorn (1949), and King Vidor’s War and Peace (1956), are stunningly splendid, with it’s vivid spectrum of striking colours. His creations on the big screen, are pure art. A massive canvas filled with moving pictures.

Jack CardiffJack Cardiff was born on the 18th of September, 1914, to a couple of music hall performers. By the age of four, he was already a child artiste, who’d worked in music hall productions as well as a few silent movies. As a child actor he starred in My Son, My Son (1918), Billy’s Rose (1922), The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots (1923) and Tiptoes (1927). By 15 he started working as a camera assistant, clapper boy and production runner. By 21, Cardiff had graduated to camera operator and occasional cinematographer. Having already worked with Alfred Hitchcock, in The Skin Game (1931), as a clapper boy; soon he got a chance to work with Powell&Pressburger, as a second unit cameraman. Powell&Pressburger were so impressed that they hired him as a cinematographer, and the rest is history.

Ben Cross and Amy Irving in The Far Pavilions (1984)

Ben Cross and Amy Irving in The Far Pavilions (1984)

Ben Cross and Omar Sharif in a scene from The Far Pavilions

Ben Cross and Omar Sharif in a scene from The Far Pavilions

As a little kid, back in the mid-1980’s, I watched The Far Pavilions (1984), a beautiful mini-series, set in India, in the 1800’s. Back then, I had no idea who Jack Cardiff was, but was amazed by the superbly, epic scale, picturesque, television show, which has been tagged as, “Gone With The Wind (1939), of the north-west frontier of India.” I got to re-watch it in my teens, back in the early 1990’s. Thus, even though unaware at the time, this was my very first Cardiff involved show, that I witnessed. And I’ll end up watching quite a few Cardiff’s aesthetic brilliance of the big screen (on the small screen), before I learn the cinematographer responsible for the visual beauty of these great movies.

The Red Shoes (2)

Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes (1948)

Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes (1948)

Scenes from The Red Shoes

Scenes from The Red Shoes

Still as a kid, towards late 80’s, when I watched The Red Shoes, I was spellbound. The beautiful colour combination, costumes, the respectable art form of the ballet, the story, the movie as a whole, I fell in love with it almost instantaneously. And at the time I didn’t even realise it was an old movie. Especially ’cause I had no idea who the actors were. By then I knew quite a few classic stars, from Charles Chaplin, Laurence Olivier, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Julie Andrews, Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, Al Pacino et al; so I felt these must be very new actors, who aren’t famous yet. In fact, even now, besides The Red Shoes, am not familiar with the work of Moira Shearer (who was actually a renowned ballet dancer, and had appeared in very few films), Austrian actor, Anton Walbrook, and Marius Goring. The story follows the life of a young ballerina, who becomes the lead dancer in a new ballet called, The Red Shoes, a fairy tale. The movie tells a story within a story. One through the ballet, and the other, the movie plot. I remember this scene, where the lead male character, asks the ballerina, “Why do you want to dance?”, she fearlessly quickly answers with another question, “Why do you want to live?”
I only saw The Red Shoes, once, less than 30 years ago, but I still remember, that scene so well, as if I saw it yesterday. That was the scene, that changes the lead character, played by Moira Shearer, Victoria Page’s, life, in the movie. The ballet sequences were mesmerising, telling a beautifully epic tale of it’s own, and filmed so beautifully. My personal favourite was the one with raggedy clothes, portraying an exhausted ballerina, complimenting the frighteningly beautiful visual effects of the time. Eons before the evolution of CGI.

Scenes from War and Peace (1956)

Scenes from War and Peace (1956)

Scenes from War and Peace

Scenes from War and Peace

Audrey Hepburn in a scene from War and Peace

Audrey Hepburn in a scene from War and Peace

The next, was War and Peace, which I watched around the same time, more ‘cause I was already a great fan of Audrey Hepburn by then. A brilliant epic, adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s celebrated novel, War & Peace. With a stellar star cast, including Mel Ferrer, Henry Fonda, Audrey Hepburn, Jeremy Brett, May Britt and Anita Ekberg, this Hollywood adaptation, of a novel based on Napoleonic Wars, especially Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812, happens to be amongst my favourite of epic scale war movies. And again, I recall, how brilliant the cinematography was. Of course the movie mainly focuses on complex relationship and personal maturation, of the three lead characters, and two aristocratic families, on the backdrop of the historical events of the Napoleonic invasion. I got to re-watch War and Peace, as an adult, just over a decade ago, whilst living in London. ’Twas  really worth it.

In the 90’s, as a teen, I watched Paul Czinner’s, As You Like It (1936). A pretty good movie adaptation of Shakespeare’s famed comedy. Jack Cardiff worked as a camera operator for this film, starring Laurence Olivier and Elisabeth Bergner. I enjoyed the movie, but I don’t recall much greatness, cinematography wise. Anyway, Cardiff wasn’t responsible for cinematography. Plus this happens to be a Black & White film, and Cardiff was famous for excelling in colourful epics.

Whilst living in Portsmouth, UK, 11 years ago, around this time, most probably to celebrate Jack Cardiff’s 90th Birthday (he was still alive then), one of the British channels, telecast, two of his movies. I already knew about both these films, and had heard about Cardiff. But it was that particular day, 11 years ago, that I got to know who Jack Cardiff was, after seeing these two films, which were shown one after another, that day. Black Narcissus and Under Capricorn. I loved the movie, and learnt a lot more about Cardiff, once I googled him out, back in 2004. And to see he was responsible for the magnificent cinematography, of my childhood films, The Red Shoes and War and Peace as well, was an added bonus. Since then, Cardiff happens to be my all time favourite cinematographer, of yesteryear.

Black Narcissus (3)

Scenes from Black Narcissus

Scenes from Black Narcissus (1947)

Scenes from Black Narcissus (1947)

Scenes from Black Narcissus (1947)

Cardiff’s work, on Black Narcissus, is undeniably the best I’ve seen till date. Set in the foothills of the Himalayas, near Darjeeling, India, and made as India was on the verge of getting their Independence from the British Raj, it’s another excellent movie, in every way possible, from the narrative, the brilliant cast, the setting, the cinematography, you name it. Starring Deborah Kerr, Jean Simmons (playing an Indian girl named ‘Kanchi’), Flora Robson, Kathleen Byron, David Farrar, Esmond Knight, Nancy Roberts and Sabu Dastagir, it’s a touching story of a group of Anglican nuns living in isolation, who have to ultimately, after being tragic victims of jealousy and lust, have to leave their peaceful life in India, under the British Empire. Jack Cardiff won his very first Oscar, for his beautiful creation of Black Narcissus, under the category, ‘Best Cinematography, Colour’. He was nominated for three more Oscars, twice for colour cinematography, and once for film direction, but never won. In 2001, he was awarded an honorary Oscar, as the ‘Master of light and colour’. Prior to that, in 1995, he was honoured with a lifetime achievement award, by the British Society of Cinematographers. And in Year 2000, Jack Cardiff was also awarded the OBE (Order of the British Empire).

Scene from Under Capricorn (1949), Down Under.

Scene from Under Capricorn (1949), Down Under!

Alfred Hitchcock’s Under Capricorn, is set Down Under, in the depths of the heat and dust of the Australian outback, i.e. Sydney of 1831, a town full of ex-convicts. Starring Joseph Cotten, Ingrid Bergman and Michael Wilding, the movie tells the story of how an Irish gentleman, who visits Australia, comes across his childhood friend, now a married woman, who’s suffering from alcohol abuse, and helplessly watches her decent into madness. Amazingly George Cukor’s Gaslight (1944), a superb piece of noir, too dealt with a married woman’s (played by Bergman as well) decent into madness, and Cotton played, a sympathiser, who saves her from her murderous husband, the man responsible for driving her insane. Under Capricorn, was Hitchcock’s second film made in Technicolor, after Rope (1948).

Death on the Nile (2)

Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, with the Sphinx in the background, in Death on the Nile (1978)

Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, with the Sphinx in the background, in Death on the Nile (1978)

Back then I also got to watch, Death on the Nile (1978), a very good adaptation of crime writer, Agatha Christie’s novel. Which was a really good movie, though not great. But again the cinematography capturing ancient Egyptian monuments was simply brilliant.

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Scenes from Delhi (1938), in Connaught Place, New Delhi, India

Scenes from Delhi (1938), in Connaught Place, New Delhi, India.

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Five years ago, I saw the documentary short film, Delhi (1938), online, on the BFI (British Film Institute) page, on the Youtube website. Another colourfully breathtaking insight of Old and New Delhi, of the 1930’s, showcasing the beautiful historic architecture, the modern wide roads, and Indian attire, of the period under the British Raj, and captured to perfection by Jack Cardiff. One of the best short documentaries I’ve seen, and this 10 minutes of reel is definitely worth checking out.

Caesar and Cleopatra (1)

Scenes from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)

Scenes from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)

Claude Rains, Vivien Leigh and Stewart Granger in a scene from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), based on a play by George Bernard Shaw.

Claude Rains, Vivien Leigh and Stewart Granger in a scene from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), based on a play by George Bernard Shaw.

Black & White still, with Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh, in the technicolor film, Caesar and Cleopatra

Black & White still, with Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh, in the technicolor film, Caesar and Cleopatra

Then there was Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), starring Claude Rains, Vivien Leigh and Stewart Granger. Another classic film with breathtaking cinematography, based on an acclaimed play by George Bernard Shaw. Yet, Caesar and Cleopatra, is no where near as great, as some of the other movies mentioned above (cinematography wise), but still it’s another excellent cinematic experience, altogether. I watched this online as well, on Youtube, a few years ago. Sadly that’s the last of Cardiff’s films I saw, and I don’t own a single. All these movies of his, in which he worked as a cinematographer, is no doubt worth, adding to my home library, collection of movies.

Cameraman - The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (2010)

A documentary titled, Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (2010), was released, five years ago. Being a great fan of Cardiff, am really keen on checking it out. It chronicles his career of over seventy years, as a cinematographer, reviews his magnificent work, and details how he ended up mastering the process of Technicolor in Cinema of a bygone era.

Besides being a maestro in cinematography, Cardiff was also a film director. But from his directorial ventures, I’ve only watched, to my memory, My Geisha (1962), starring Shirley MacLaine, Yves Montand, Edward G. Robinson and Robert Cummings. That too, I watched, back in the 1980’s. My Geisha, was a hilarious comedy about an actress, Lucy Dell (MacLaine), who disguises herself as a Japanese Geisha, to bag the lead role, unaware to her husband (Montand), in her husbands new directorial venture, inspired by Giacomo Puccini’s, renowned Opera, Madame Butterfly.

Some of Jack Cardiff's directorial ventures, Sons and Lovers (1960), My Geisha (1962) and The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968).

Some of Jack Cardiff’s directorial ventures: Sons and Lovers (1960), My Geisha (1962) and The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968).

Being a fan of D.H. Lawrence, I’d really love to watch Cardiff’s adaptation of Sons and Lovers (1960), starring Trevor Howard, Dean Stockwell, Wendy Hiller and Mary Ure. Sons and Lovers, was Cardiff ’s very first nomination, for the ‘Best Director’ Oscar. Ironically it won one Oscar, for ‘Best Cinematography, Black-and-White’, for which he wasn’t responsible for. From Cardiff’s other works as a cinematographer, am really keen on watching, The African Queen (1951), Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), with Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe, and Crossed Swords (1977), with Oliver Reed, George C. Scott, Rex Harrison, David Hemmings and Mark Lester, to name a few.

All of Cardiff’s works I mentioned here as a cinematographer, are excellent films as a whole, except for Under Capricorn and Death in the Nile. Alfred Hitchcock’s Under Capricorn, is not necessarily Hitchcock’s best film, yet it’s still a near excellent noir flick. And John Guillermin’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s famed novel, Death in the Nile, though not the best adaptation of one of her novels, is still a very good crime movie.

In memory of Jack Cardiff (1914 – 2009), who shall forever be remembered for his masterworks in colour, especially at a time, when colour movies were a rarity, back in the 1930’s & 40’s. I’d love to watch more of his cinematic wonders, be it as a cinematographer, or a film director.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen’s ART Sense

Oscars 2015 The WinnersThe Arrivals

As I’ve been doing for the last few years, being a true Film buff, I woke up early, on 23rd of February, 2015, to catch the 87th Annual Academy Awards ceremony LIVE. The 87th Annual Academy Awards was held on the evening of 22nd February 2015, i.e. 23rd early morning, on this side of the Globe.

As I switched on the tele, at 5:30 a.m., the glitterati of Hollywood’s elite sashayed in, in their glamorous attire. The best dressed actresses of the evening included J-Lo, Emma Stone, Lupita Nyong’o, Marion Cotillard, Keira Knightley, Felicity Jones, Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laura Dern, Scarlett Johansson, Rosamund Pike, et al. Among the gents, Neil Patrick Harris, stole the show, when he walked in on the Red Carpet, dressed in a stunning tux, with his husband, David Burtka, walking behind him. Well, most of the male stars were smartly dressed, from director Richard Linklater and his young protégé, Ellar Coltrane, to actors Michael Keaton, Jared Leto, Chiwetel Ejiofor, David Oyelowo, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort and Kevin Hart, to musicians Hans Zimmer and Adam Levine. Best moment on the Red carpet was the typical Mother/Daughter tiff, with veteran Melanie Griffith and daughter Dakota Johnson, where Johnson came on harsh on her poor mother, and Griffith seemed slightly hurt. Yet, it made them so normal. Poor Mother.

Neil Patrick Harris, Hosting the Oscars, 2015

Neil Patrick Harris, Hosting the Oscars, 2015

I enjoyed the show as well, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. Though I agree, that he wasn’t the best person to host the Oscars, he wasn’t among the worst either, the way he’s been criticized about on social media. True, I agree that one of his gags was ill-timed. When; dressed in a black, pom-pom laden, elegant, evening gown; filmmaker Dana Perry; who was awarded for ‘Best Short Documentary’ for Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (2013); dedicated the Oscar to her son, who had committed suicide, Patrick Harris quipped that ‘‘It takes a lot of balls to wear a dress like that’’. Neil Patrick Harris, here, wasn’t being witty, but pretty foolish and unsympathetic. But besides that; and walking in ¾ naked, in tiny-whities, onto the stage, as a parody to Birdman (2014), the movie which ended up taking home the Oscar for ‘Best Picture’; I generally enjoyed the show, despite a few dry jokes, Mr. Harris came up with. I actually enjoyed the gag with the briefcase, he tasked Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer, to guard throughout the night. I didn’t think he was being racist, nor did I feel he was making fun of her weight. Of course, the gag ended up pretty silly, when he finally opened up the case. I even enjoyed the joke with the seat fillers, and Steve Carell.

Among the performances of the night, the one I enjoyed most, was Lady Gaga paying tribute to Julie Andrews, Maria Von Trapp and The Sound of Music (1965), for this musical’s 50th anniversary. Known for her shock value, with her, eccentric and weird, yet authentic and aesthetic, sense of style, Lady Gaga, stunned audiences at the Oscars, in her vintage gown, looking very much a graceful sophisticated lady of elegance and class, as the world has never witnessed her before. Added to which, she sure has a healthy pair of lungs, and sang all the mesmerising songs from the classic movie to perfection. Lady Gaga is no doubt one of the most popular pop stars, since Madonna and Michael Jackson, to grace the face of earth. But her popularity, has more to do with her unique image, she’s created for her self, than her music. Touching was the scene, when Dame Julie Andrews, with her face radiating pure warmth and kindness, walked onto the stage and thanked Lady Gaga, embracing her. This powerful performance of Lady Gaga, definitely should have elevated her status, with the elitist, adding to her already great fan base.

Another great performance of the night, was the tribute to Martin Luther King jr.’s long march for voting rights, from 50 years ago, as well. The song ‘Glory’, from the film Selma (2014), was performed by John Legend and Lonnie Lynn (Common), on stage, which ended up bagging the Oscar for ‘Best Original Song’, that night. The song got a standing ovation, with a teary eyed David Oyelowo, looking on. Oprah Winfrey gave Oyelowo a hug to console him. It was very a touching moment as well.

Thus, though Neil Patrick Harris, wasn’t among the better Oscar hosts, the evening (at day time here) was enjoyable enough.

Winners as Predicted

As I had hoped, Eddie Redmayne won the ‘Best Actor’ Oscar (See my post Redmayne ‘is’ Hawking, in the new bio-pic on Stephen Hawking from earlier this month), for his brilliant performance as Stephen Hawking, in The Theory of Everything (2014). Interstellar (2014), grabbing the award for ‘Best Visual Effects’, was another plus for me. The Special effects were truly spectacular, as was the movie, for a change. Movies now a days, with great computer graphics, rarely tend to be great films as well (see my post The Big Screen – Films Down Under  from November 2014). Patricia Arquette winning the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for Boyhood (2014), was as anticipated. She deserved the Oscar, for brilliantly showcasing a difficult stage of, 12 years of, ‘motherhood’, in the beginning of the 21st century, in my favourite movie from last year, so far (see my post In-flight Entertainment from November 2014). Though Ethan Hawke, too, was nominated for Boyhood, I didn’t think his role was great enough for him to win the Oscar. I hadn’t really predicted as to who might win, until Lupita Nyong’o announced the nominees, showcasing their talent on screen. As soon as I saw the scene with J. K. Simmons and Miles Teller, from Whiplash (2014), I guessed Simmons might take home the trophy, even though I hadn’t seen the movie. And so he did, end up winning the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ Oscar. Once I saw the performance of the song ‘Glory’ from Selma, on the stage at the Oscars (as I’ve mentioned above), I expected it to win for ‘Best Original Song’, and it did.

Unpredicted Winners

The unexpected winners, happened to be, movies I haven’t seen yet. Like for instance, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014), which grabbed four Oscars, including for ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’ – to Alejandro G. Iñárritu, ‘Best Original Screenplay’, and ‘Best Cinematography’- to Emmanuel Lubezki. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) bagging four Oscars as well, was a total surprise. Whiplash won three. Citizenfour (2014), won ‘Best Documentary’. Citizenfour is based on and the United States, National Security Agency (NSA) spying scandal, of 2013, with regard to, former NSA contractor and American computer professional, Edward Snowden, who leaked classified information from the NSA to the mainstream media, back in June 2013. Snowdon currently lives in exile, under temporary asylum, in Russia. Am really keen on checking out this documentary.

The ‘Best Actress’ Oscar. Though, Felicity Jones from The Theory of Everything was nominated for ‘Best Actress’, I didn’t feel she’d win. And I wasn’t sure who’d win. Am a great fan of French actress, Marion Cotillard, yet I haven’t seen Two Days, One Night (2014), so I couldn’t judge. Thus when Julianne Moore won the ‘Best Actress’ Oscar, for Still Alice (2014), another film I haven’t seen, though unexpected, it wasn’t a surprise either. In fact, I would have been surprised, if Felicity Jones did win. She was great in the movie, but her role as Hawking’s wife wasn’t exactly Oscar worthy.

Among others:
‘Best Foreign Language Film’ to Paweł Pawlikowski’s Polish film, Ida (2013).
‘Best Animated Short Film’ to Patrick Osborne’s Feast (2014).
‘Best Live Action Short Film’ to The Phone Call (2013).
‘Best Short Documentary’ to The Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (as mentioned above).
‘Best Animated Feature Film’ to Big Hero 6 (2014)
‘Best Sound Editing’ to American Sniper (2014)
‘Best Adapted Screenplay’ to Graham Moore, for The Imitation Game (2014). Moore gave a heart whelming speech, regarding his youth.
Mr. Turner (2014), Unbroken (2014), Foxcatcher (2014), Inherent Vice (2014), and the neo-noir crime thriller, Nightcrawler (2014), not winning a single Oscar, though I haven’t watched any of them.

Boyhood (2014) The Best Film from last year, I've seen so far (NSFS)

Boyhood (2014)
The Best Film from last year, I’ve seen so far (NSFS)

Biggest Oscar Disappointment of the night

I was really disappointed when Boyhood didn’t win for ‘Best Picture’, along with a ‘Best Director’ Oscar for Richard Linklater. Although I haven’t seen Birdman, which I’d love to, Boyhood is a unique experience, rich in it’s context and an innovative study of family life today. A movie that shall age well, maturing as time goes by, and be remembered as one of the best movies, to ever come out of the 21st century. A film that film students would love to dissect and analyse. Richard Linklater has proved to be a true genius, through Boyhood.

But when Linklater lost out to, Birdman’s Alejandro G. Iñárritu, for ‘Best Director’, I had a hunch, that Boyhood might lose out to Birdman, yet again, for the Best Picture’ Oscar, for Year 2015. Sad!!

Another disappointment, was when Hans Zimmer’s hauntingly beautiful score for Interstellar was passed on, for the ‘Best Original Score’ award, to Alexandre Desplat’s background score, for The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Besides these two, one other disappointment, that didn’t even make it to the Oscars, was, that Fury (2014), though an excellent war film, made with a unique sense of realism, was unfortunately, not even nominated in any of the categories. It might not have won any award anyway, but should have been nominated for it’s storyline, and various technical categories, at least, if not in the main categories (see my post The Big Screen – Films Down Under from November 2014).

Honorary & Humanitarian Awards

Hollywood legend, Maureen O’Hara; Japanese Director, Hayao Miyazaki; and French screenwriter & actor, Jean-Claude Carrière; were awarded the Honorary Awards, this year, as was the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, to singer/actor, Harry Belafonte.

With end of the month of February, Oscar Season 2015 comes to an end.

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

Also See : The 87th Annual Academy Awards

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