Tag Archive: Documentaries


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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

On the 2nd of December, 2014, watched the television movie; based on real life events, that led to the eccentric lifestyles, of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ aunt and cousin, in their latter days; Grey Gardens (2009). One of the DVD’s I brought from Australia.

From Riches to Rags  Grey Gardens (2009) Based on a True Story

From Riches to Rags: Grey Gardens (2009). Based on a True Story (Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense)

In the early 1970’s, brothers (Documentary Filmmaking duo) Albert and David Maysles, had initially planned to document a film on former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ (widow of late President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, and by now re-married, to Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis), young life in East Hampton, New York. But once the project fell through, and having heard of the notorious scandal about ‘Grey Gardens’, a dilapidated house in the neighbourhood of East Hampton, New York, the brothers decided to make a documentary (a reality show), about Mrs. Edith Bouvier Beale (Big Edie) and her daughter, (also named) Edith Bouvier Beale (Little Edie), the residents of ‘Grey Gardens’. Mrs. Bouvier Beale, was Jacqueline (née Bouvier) Kennedy’s father’s sister, thus Little Edie, was Jacqueline’s first cousin, who was almost 12 years older than Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.

Mrs. Edith Bouvier Beale (a.k.a. Big Edie)

Mrs. Edith Bouvier Beale (a.k.a. Big Edie) The Mother

Thus, the direct cinema documentary, Grey Gardens (1975), was born. The 2009 television film, starts off here, in the early 70’s, and flashes back to 1936, where Little Edie (magnificently played by Drew Barrymore), with Gardenias decorating her hair, is nervously getting ready for her ‘Débutante’ (a social event where a young lady from an aristocratic/Upper-Class family , is introduced to society at a formal presentation, once she has reached the age of maturity. Which meant the young lady was eligible to marry, and part of the purpose was to display her to eligible bachelors and their families within their circle). The film flashes back and forth, rendering a beautiful sad tale, of the fall of a high society mother and daughter, into poverty, negligence, loneliness and a dysfunctional, shabby, lifestyle.

Drew Barrymore (as the daughter, Little Edie) and Jessica Lange (as the mother, Big Edie) in a scene from Grey Gardens (2009)

Drew Barrymore (as the daughter, Little Edie) and Jessica Lange (as the mother, Big Edie) in a scene from Grey Gardens (2009)

Such a sad, tragic, heartrending story told, so beautifully, about the Bouvier Beale, mother and daughter. Jessica Lange does a superb portrayal of Big Edie, of her highs and lows, showcasing her high societal status and her decline into a reclusive, unsocial existence. While Drew Barrymore isn’t far behind as the daughter, Little Edie, capturing the tragic decent from class, elegance and sophistication to insanity, an untidy lifestyle and self-imprisonment in her mother’s home. This film brilliantly depicts, the unhappy life of Mother and daughter, living in seclusion, and extreme poverty, within their property, completely cut off from society. A rare real life tragedy, of a mother and daughter’s deterioration from riches to rags.

Drew Barrymore as Little Edie in her younger days.

Drew Barrymore as Little Edie in her younger days.

Their lives and home, were ultimately in such pathetic state, that finally Jackie O’ (played by Jeanne Tripplehorn, in a cameo, in the movie), came to their rescue. Why Big Edie’s two sons, never bothered to help them, remains a mystery. At the same time, Big Edie, never wanted to leave ‘Grey Gardens’, either, for it had been her home, since she acquired it in 1924. So in 1972, Jacqueline Onassis, helped them, donating money and workmen, to bring back the house to a habitable standard, that wasn’t in violation of any New York health codes.

 

Jeanne Tripplehorn as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Jessica Lange as Big Edie, in a scene from, Grey Gardens (2009)

Jeanne Tripplehorn as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Jessica Lange as Big Edie, in a scene from, Grey Gardens (2009)

I heard about the 1975 documentary, over 10 years ago, and had an interest in checking it out back then. Then this television movie came out in 2009, but I thought I’d rather watch the documentary first, and then the feature film. But when I saw the DVD, of the new film, available Down Under, I just had to buy it. Now, after watching Grey Gardens (2009), am even more keen on watching the original documentary, Grey Gardens (1975) by the Maysles Brothers.

Grey Gardens

Drew Barrymore as Little Edie in her older days at ‘Grey Gardens’.

The Maysles duo deserve a great thank you, for bringing out the lives of these amazingly astonishing women, who were helplessly stuck in the past. If not for these brothers’ documentary, these two women, would have been long forgotten, erased from history. And a bigger gratitude to director Michael Sucsy, for bringing out this wonderful feature adaptation for the small screen. This fascinating film honours and sympathises with these two tragic individuals, without making a mockery of them. It’s a sad, yet beautiful, movie to sit through.

Miss Edith Bouvier Beale (a.k.a. Little Edie) The Daughter

Miss Edith Bouvier Beale (a.k.a. Little Edie) The Daughter

After the success of the 1975 documentary, Big Edie passed away, in 1977. Little Edie finally sold the house in 1979. Little Edie died all alone in 2002, and her body was discovered, five days after her death. A sad end to a tragic life.

Grey Gardens (2009), won two Golden Globes, one for ‘Best Television Movie’, and a ‘Best Actress’ award for Drew Barrymore. Jessica Lange was also nominated in the same category as Barrymore. Plus, this movie, won six Emmy Awards, including for ‘Best Television Movie’, and ‘Best Actress’ for Jessica Lange. Drew Barrymore too was nominated in the same category as well. Added to which this television film got various accolades at various award functions. Excellent 10/10 !!!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Television Film Sense
Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Roundhay Garden Scene (1888), is a 2 second documentary, shot by Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince, today, 126 years ago, on the 14th of October, 1888.
Roundhay Garden Scene (1888)Filmed in the garden of Oakwood Grange; the home of Elizabeth Whitley Le Prince’s parents, Joseph and Sarah Whitley (the Whitley family house in England), in Roundhay (a suburb of Leeds, Yorkshire), in Great Britain; the movie shows Adolphe Le Prince (Le Prince’s son), Sarah Whitley, (Le Prince’s mother-in-law), Joseph Whitley (Le Prince’s father-in-law) and Harriet Hartley. The characters are shown walking around in circles, laughing to themselves and keeping within the area framed by the camera.

72 year old, Sarah Whitley, died ten days after the film was shot, on 24th October 1888.

Just watched it online on ‘Wikipedia’. Check it out when you can, it’s worth it. A good insight into early cinema through one of the earliest surviving motion pictures in existence.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

(Oscar 2014 Special)
Some of the great winners, were as I predicted, but I was surprised when Gravity (2013) garnered more wins than I anticipated.
(Oscar 2014 Special)
Oscars (March 2014)

Oscars (March 2014) LN (NS)

Oscars (March 2014) Cate Blanchett
Worthy Winners of The 86th Annual Academy Awards
I watched the Oscars Live!, starting from the Red Carpet, from early in the morning today. It started at 5:30 a.m. here. As I didn’t fall asleep all night, I didn’t really need to wake myself up.
Except for The Great Gatsby (2013) and the French short film Avant que de tout perdre (2013) a.k.a. Just Before Losing Everything; both of which I gave a 8/10 rating last year, on IMDB; I haven’t watched any of the films nominated for the Oscars this year. Besides that, having followed the hype, some of my predictions were spot on.

Best Picture
12 Years a Slave (2013), as I predicted.
Best Director
Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity (2013), I predicted, either Cuarón for Gravity or Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave, and felt more Cuarón than McQueen.
Best Actor
Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club (2013), as I predicted.
Best Actress
Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine (2013), was a bit unsure, but while watching the show, when the film sequences, for the Best Actress nominees, unfolded, I felt Blanchett should win.
I actually saw a heavily pregnant Cate Blanchett in real life, as close as I’m seated in front of my laptop right now, with her son, in early 2008, when she visited the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, Australia. Since I wasn’t sure that it was her, she took off her massive dark glasses, so that I could recognise her 🙂 . I still ignored her, and then she started speaking to a gent in a wheelchair on my right. I recognized her voice instantly. The main reason I wasn’t sure it was her, was ‘cause I was unaware she was pregnant at the time. I just felt this pregnant lady looks a bit like Cate Blanchett, but this can’t be her, until she spoke that is.
Best Supporting Actor
Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club (2013), as I predicted.
Best Supporting Actress  
Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave (2013), I was divided between Jennifer Lawrence and Julia Roberts, but this was a pleasant surprise, as when I saw the nominees clips on the show, I felt this actress seems more worthy of the famed golden nude statuette, as well.
Best Original Screenplay
Spike Jonze – Her (2013), I actually thought Dallas Buyers Club, would bag this one too.
Best Adapted Screenplay
John Ridley – 12 Years a Slave (2013), as I predicted
Best Foreign Language Film
To Italy – La Grande Bellezza (2013) a.k.a. The Great Beauty, as I predicted.
Best Animated Feature Film
Frozen (2013), as I predicted due to it’s fame, though from the trailers et al I had seen, I felt the Japanese flick, Kaze Tachinu (2013), a.k.a. The Wind Rises, deserved it more. But since I haven’t seen any of them, I shan’t debate this any further.
Best Achievement in Cinematography
Gravity (2013), I actually thought Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), might take home the Golden naked man.
Best Achievement in Editing
Gravity (2013), I was unsure.
Best Achievement in Production Design
The Great Gatsby (2013), I was unsure. A very Baz Luhrmann type film.
Best Achievement in Costume Design
The Great Gatsby (2013), I was unsure, though the gaudy n’ glittery costumes were pretty over the top, and was worth the recognition. Very  Baz Luhrmann.
Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling
Dallas Buyers Club (2013), as predicted.
Best Original Score
Gravity (2013), was unsure.
Best Original Song
Frozen (2013), was unsure.
Best Achievement in Visual Effects
Gravity (2013), as I predicted.
Best Documentary, Feature
Twenty Feet from Stardom (2013), as predicted, when I watched the nominees on the show announced. I felt this seemed like the most entertaining documentary among the nominees, and felt it might win.
Best Documentary, Short Subject
The Lady In Number 6 (2013), as predicted, when I watched the nominees on the show announced, I felt this should win.
Best Animated Short Film
Mr Hublot (2013), was unsure.
Best Live Action Short Film
Helium (2014), was unsure. I had watched Avant que de tout perdre (2013) a.k.a. Just Before Losing Everything, on TV5 MONDE, last year. I was surprised to see it on the show, when it was shown among the nominees.
I thought Avant que de tout perdre was very good, but didn’t think it was excellent enough to be nominated for ‘Best Short Film’, that too at the Oscars.
Humanitarian Award
Angelina Jolie – She definitely deserved it.

Congrats to all the winners of Oscars 2014.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
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Oscars (March 2014) Rest of them all

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My Favourite movie by decade, My Favourite Oscar Winner per decade (Oscar 2014 Special)
RH NS
Back in April 2011, I made a list titled My Favourite movie by decade, and in November 2012, I made a list titled Why I love …., comprising of my TOP-10 all time favourite movies, and critiquing on each one of them, on IMDB.
This evening, prior to watching this years Oscars, which will be shown live tomorrow early morning (i.e. tonight in the United States), I decided to do a post, both about my Favourite movie from each decade and my Favourite Oscar Winner per decade. For my Favourite movie from each decade is not necessarily the Best film of the decade, neither is it necessarily an Oscar Winner for ‘Best Picture’.

Three Centuries, Ten decades (I’ve omitted out the first two decades of the 20th century, for I don’t have a favourite from those two decades so far)

PRE-OSCARS
The 19th Century
1890’s
L’arrivée d’un train à La Ciotat (1895)
French Film (Silent Cinema)
The very first moving picture made, by the two Lumière brothers, Auguste and Louis Lumière. It just showcased a train coming to a platform and stopping. Sadly, like the Birth of a child, which starts with a frightened baby crying his/her lungs out, the Birth of Cinema, was marked with tragedy. People had never seen a moving picture before, and when the audience saw a train approaching towards them, on the Big screen, they started to run. So Lumière Brothers’ L’arrivée d’un train à La Ciotat resulted in a tragic stampede.
I saw this film, most probably somewhere in the 90’s, when I accidentally came across a documentary about cinema, on the telly. I don’t recall the documentary, for it was late one night, and I couldn’t watch the rest of the programme, but at least I got to watch the very first film ever made, and learn about the tragic aftermath. I haven’t seen this movie since, worth checking out for any movie buff.

The 20th Century  
1920’s
Metropolis (1927)
German Film (Silent Cinema)
An excellent German Expressionism, avant-garde, surreal, science fiction, cinematic wonder. I got to watch this classic on the big screen, back in 2007, at the Sydney public library, Sydney, Australia. I fell in love with this movie, set in a futuristic urban dystopia, almost instantly. And in 2008, when I was in Paris, France; I saw the metallic costume worn by actress Brigitte Helm, who played the lead female character, and the female android; when I visited the Cinémathèque Française there.
Metropolis (1927)
POST-OSCARS
The very first Academy Awards was held in May 1929. The winner for the most ‘Outstanding Picture’ Oscar (which was later, after going through many a name changes, from 1944 to 1961, known as the ‘Best Motion Picture’ award, and from 1962 onwards, till date, is known as the ‘Best Picture’ award), went to the silent venture, Wings (1927). Am yet to watch this silent classic, that bagged the very first Best film award. The oldest Best Picture winner I’ve watched is All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), which was excellent. Thus, my favourite Oscar winner from the end of the roaring 20’s, and the best, is All Quiet on the Western Front, which was the first film to win awards for both, ‘Outstanding Production’ (award name for Best Film at the time) and ‘Best Director’.

1930’s
Gone with the Wind (1939), my favourite movie of the 1930’s, my favourite Oscar Winner of that decade, and the Best Film to come out in that decade. My second all time favourite movie.

1940’s
Casablanca (1942), my favourite movie from the 1940’s, my favourite Oscar Winner of that decade, and the Best Film to come out in that decade. My third all time favourite movie.
1950's
1950’s
Roman Holiday (1953) – My Favourite movie from the 1950’s, also happens to be my all time favourite movie. Audrey Hepburn, my all time favourite film star, bagged the ‘Best Actress’ Oscar for Roman Holiday.
Special mention: Ben-Hur (1959), my Favourite Oscar Winner, and the Best Film, to come out of the 1950’s. (Also see my lists 50-50’s, The Foxy Fifties, These are a Few of my Favourites, Hepburn flicks through pictures and many more on IMDB)

1960’s
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) – My Favourite movie from the 1960’s.
My Fair Lady (1964) is my favourite Oscar Winner from the sizzling 60’s.
Special mention: I think François Truffaut’s, French new wave flick, Jules et Jim (1962), is the Best film of that decade, which also happens to be my second favourite film from the 1960’s. (Also see my lists The Essential 60’s (Top 60), The Late 60’s (1966-1970) öö, My Top 5 Musicals from the sizzling 60’s & 70’s and many more on IMDB)
60's
1970’s
A Clockwork Orange (1971) – My Favourite movie from the 1970’s, and the best film of that decade.
The Godfather: Part II (1974), is my favourite Oscar Winner from the suave n’ sophisticated 70’s. A very masculine decade for film, with a blend of classy and thuggery. The Godfather: Part II, also happens to be my second favourite from the 70’s. (Also see my lists My 70’s Top 5 and The Great 70’s Picture Show on IMDB)

1980’s
Rain Man (1988) is my favourite movie of the 1980’s, my favourite Oscar Winner of that decade.
Special mention: Another Oscar winner, which I feel is the Best Film to come out in the 1980’s, is, the epic scale, bio-pic, of a modern day saint, directed by Richard Attenborough. The British film, Gandhi (1982). The 1980’s were a great decade for British, Historical and Heritage, films.
The 1980's
1990’s
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), is my favourite movie from the naughty 90’s.
Forrest Gump (1994), which also happens to be my second favourite from the 90’s, is my favourite Oscar Winner from that decade.
Special mention: Schindler’s List (1993), my third favourite from the 90’s, yet another Oscar winner, I feel, is the Best Film of that decade. (Also see my list The Nineteen Nineties (Top-5) on IMDB)

The 21st Century  
2000’s (2001-2010)
From the first decade of the 21st century, my favourite flick happens to be,  Closer (2004).
A Beautiful Mind (2001), my favourite Oscar winner from the last decade.
Special mention: Brokeback Mountain (2005), is the Best film to come out of the noughties. The Biggest mistake the Oscars made, this century, was not handing the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar to this gay themed epic.

This Decade
From this decade, which is only just over three years old, so far my favourite film, favourite Oscar winner and the Best Film, happens to be, The Artist (2011), a great tribute to early cinema and the roaring 20’s. One of my favourite silent films with sound.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
(Also see nuwansdel_02 , for the menu page, for all my list on IMDB)

Loving Film

Beatle News  #4  Bed-In #1

John Lennon & Yoko Ono Bed-In (NS)

 

  • 1969 – Five days after their marriage; and a day after having lunch with my all time favourite artist, Salvador Dalí; John Lennon & Yoko Ono, stage their very first famed Bed-In, for Peace, at the presidential suite (Room 902) of the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel, which last for seven days. Thus, Lennon & Ono spent their honeymoon, in that room, inviting the worlds press into their room every day between 9 a.m. to 9.p.m, where they discussed Bed Peace & Hair Peace, telling people not to go to war, but to stay at home, and let your hair grow. A strategy against the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. This was a non-violent protest staged by the two peace activist (a singer/songwriter and his artist wife).

I have loved the Beatles, since I was a kid growing up in the 80’s, and back then my favourite Beatle number most probably was, We all live in the Yellow Submarine. But, it’s only as a teenager, in the 1990’s, that I started to really understand what the Beatles were, and since then I’ve been a great fan of them, especially Lennon, and not just for their music. Then in July 2007, I went and watched this documentary, at the Chauvel Cinema, in Sydney, Australia, called The U.S. v.s. John Lennon (2006). I have watched very few documentaries on the Big Screen (hundreds on Telly, but rarely on the Big Screen). This was really worth it. It was a really good insight into Lennon’s peace activism, non-violence stance and he was like a new age Mahatma Gandhi. The movie dealt with how he managed to shake the Nixon administration, with just his songs dealing with Peace, and how the United States government wanted to get rid of him. Excellent Flick. I highly recommend it.    

  • 2013 – A few days ago, 44 years after Lennon & Ono, got married, Yoko Ono tweeted a photo of John Lennon’s Blood-Stained Glasses, the ones Lennon wore the day he was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman, as a plea for Gun Control, in the United States. Stating that, ‘Over 1,057,000 people have been killed by guns in the USA since John Lennon was shot and killed on 8 Dec 1980,’ on the poster. She supposedly also stated that, “We are turning this beautiful country into war zone. Together, let’s bring back America, the green land of peace”

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Nuwan Sen’s Music Sense. Nuwan Sen n’ Peace. Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense. Nuwan Sen & The Beatles ( ).

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