Tag Archive: Elvis


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

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

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

Mrs. Scarface & Johnny Montana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catwoman & Batman

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

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

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

That Romantic Comedy Co-star

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

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

Beaus from Period Pieces

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

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

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

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

Real Life on Reel Life

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

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

Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds (1995)

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

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

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

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

Nuwan Sen

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
#NuwanSensMovieSense

#‎NuwanSensFilmSense

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A couple of months ago, today (on the 16th of February, 2017), I was nominated for the Mystery Blogger Award, by Charlene of charsmoviereviews; but I never got to work on it, until now. So first of all, let me Thank you, Charlene, for nominating me for this mysterious award 😉 ; and let me also apologise for the delay. Sorry!!
This award was created by Okoto Enigma.

So here are the rules:-

– Put the award logo/image above. Done
– List the rules. Done
– Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their Blog. Done
– Mention the creator of the award and provide the creator’s link as well. Done
– Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
– Nominate 10 to 20 people & notify your nominees by commenting on their Blog
– Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
– Share a link to your best post(s)

Fellow Film Buffs: Gingerella (in front) in a playful stance; whilst Nudin (in the back) looks on

Three3 Things about myself :-

1. My two Dogs ( & ), are the best thing that happened to my life; and the only good thing in this Dog forsaken country, that I happen to live in.

2. I detest the country I live in (although I hate hating), the country of my unfortunate roots (not my birth, thankfully); and I have 41 years of depressing experiences of reasons for it (I am not going to tell you my whole life story now, am I 😛 ).

3. Being an untouched loner, I long to have a good partner; with a good, kind, heart, and intellect; someday (sooner the better). ❤

Done

Nominees :-
Any fellow blogger that even glances at this post for even a second, consider yourself nominated. But don’t feel obligated. Accept it, If you like, and continue this chain of Blog awards. If you don’t enjoy it, you don’t have to. Rules are meant to be broken, and am bending them a little here, for the sake of my dear bloggers. You are all NOMINATED!!!!!
Done
Here are the Questions that ‘I’ have to answer:-

Q.1 What is one place on Earth you would like to visit but have not yet had the chance?
A.1 Niagara Falls

Q.2 What is your favourite Academy Award Best Picture winner?
A.2 Gone with the Wind (1939)

Q.3 What is one hairstyle you would like to try?
A.3 That’s hard to say, I’ve practically done everything I liked, from Billy Idol/Grease look/Elvis blend -minus the gel (teens n’ 20’s), to floppy long locks with Beatle Bangs/Parveen Babi Bangs (30’s; as you can see on my Gravatar image); the Mohawk/Mr. T look doesn’t really interest me (It’s just not me). So I really don’t know!!!! 😦 What else is there left to try?? Now, I’ve re-cut it really short.

Q.4 What is one project or new hobby you would like to start?
A.4 Something in the Arts field; but again, I’ve tried a lot of stuff, I don’t know. What’s new??

Q.5 What is your favourite song?
A.5 Imagine by John Lennon

Done
AND Here are my Questions that ‘YOU’, my fellow bloggers reading this post, have to answer (Enjoy):-

Q.1 What’s your favourite film adaptation of a novel you have read?
Q.2 What’s your favourite film adaptation of a novel you have not read?
Q.3 Who is your favourite film character? And Why?
Q.4 If you could go back into the 20th century, which classic celebrity, who died last century, would you like to meet?
Q.5 Who is/are the actor(s)/actress(es) of today, still in their early 20’s, you would like to get naked with, in real life? (Crazy/Weird/Naughty Question) 😀

Link to your best posts (that’s a hard one, so here are some of my personal favourites; 2 from each year) :-

PAST POSTS

Year 2012
Bookish Nuwan (More of a TWEET, than a Blog Post, my very 1st official write-up)
Prater Violet

Year 2013
Édith Piaf: 50th Death Anniversary
Sissi : 115th Death Anniversary of Empress Elisabeth of Austria

Year 2014
THE BILLY WILDER BLOGATHON: Love in the Afternoon
The Essential 60’s Blogathon : Dr Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Year 2015
Classic Movie History Project Blogathon – 1966: The Year dubbed as Nineteen Sexty Sex
Classic Cinematographers: Jack Cardiff

Year 2016
Love Wins – 1 YEAR!!
Shakespeare: Intellectual Minds and Beyond!!

POST OF 2017, so far

Year 2017
90 Years of Sidney Poitier Blogathon: To Sidney, with Love
Mardi-Gras, Movies-Gay

That’s it folks!
Enjoy
Nuwan Sen
(NSFS)
#‎NuwanSensFilmSense

HAPPY HIPPY 2016!!!!

Happy New Year

Classic - 1

to my Blogging Pals, the Arts and to a Utopian, stress-free, peace-filled & happy future !!!

Year 2016!!!!

Classic - 2

Dali

Elvis

 

Cheers

Nuwan Sen

‘‘I sure lost my musical direction in Hollywood. My songs were the same conveyer belt mass production, just like most of my movies were.’’
– Elvis Presley
(1935-1977)

Elvis Presley Beautiful

Elvis the Pelvis, was one of the greatest rock sensations to have ever existed, in the previous century. His unique signature pelvis shake, his hair puff, dashing good looks and baritone voice, brought about a rapid change to the pop scene, back in the 1950’s. Added to which, Elvis, who never believed in segregation, and was anti-racial prejudice, brought black and white youth together through his music. In fact when audiences first heard his songs on the radio, they assumed he was a black man. Young Elvis also broke Memphis’ segregation laws, by attending a local amusement park on what was designated as its coloured night.
Elvis Presley (The king of Rock n’ Roll)Though a great musical artiste, he was however unable to have a similar impact on film. Not much of an actor, yet he wasn’t really given much of an opportunity as such, to explore his cinematic side, as well. He was typecast, even though he played diverse characters like a boxer, an army Specialist 5 (SP5), a race car driver and a jailbird, to name a few of his Big Screen characters.

Only thing worse than watching a bad movie is being in one.
– Elvis Presley
(1935-1977)

Yet, though not necessarily great, none of his movies are out and out bad. Most, in fact, are quite enjoyable, thanks to the melodic music, the soothing songs, talented vocals, the scenic location shots, pretty girls, and of course – the most beautiful creature; batting those long eyelashes and flashing that charming smile, the movie revolves around – Elvis Presley, who else. He’s prettier than his female co-stars. A rarity in Hollywood, back in the day.

Elvis Presley’s brilliant performance in the movie Jailhouse Rock (1957)

Elvis Presley’s brilliant performance, in the movie, Jailhouse Rock (1957)

Set of Seven Presley Pictures I’ve seen so far (& My Ratings)     

Love Me Tender (1956)
Elvis’ very first cinematic venture, was the very film of his I saw. This was as a teenager, back in 90’s. I have no memory of having watched any Elvis film prior to that, as a kid in the 80’s.
I loved the music, loved Elvis’ presence, and was saddened by his tragic end, in this classic western, set just after the American Civil war. This movie isn’t a musical as such, though it contains a few songs, by Elvis Aaron Presley, in his Big Screen debut.

My favourite song from the movie: Love Me Tender!

My Rating: 8/10

Post Love Me Tender, I’ve seen quite a few of his films, within the last 20 years. Here are the rest of his cinematic ventures, that I’ve seen so far, in order of year released.

Jailhouse Rock (1957)
A pretty good movie, where Elvis plays a prisoner, serving time for manslaughter. Post his release from prison, he ends up being a singing sensation. I loved the whole performance choreographed around the song, Jailhouse Rock. A performance, as an ode to his character’s days in prison.

My favourite song from the movie: Jailhouse Rock!

My Rating: 7/10
Elvis Presley movieKing Creole (1958)
Directed Michael Curtiz, produced by Hal B. Wallis and based on a  novel by Harold Robbins, A Stone for Danny Fisher; this is touted as the best performance by Elvis Presley. In fact Elvis himself apparently loved King Creole the most, among his movies. Yet I beg to differ. Though a brilliant story, and a very good Elvis flick, this wasn’t his best performance. He’s capable of doing better. But story wise, yes King Creole, had more of a concrete story line, compared to most of his latter films. This movie also starred Walter Matthau (as a crook) and Carolyn Sue Jones (as the crook’s frightened mistress).

My favourite song from the movie: Crawfish! (the very first song in the movie, a duet with veteran jazz vocalist, Kitty White)

Also see my post DVD Films From Last Month PART-II from December 2014, in regard to King Creole.

My Rating: 8/10

Blue Hawaii (1961)
Another romantically enjoyable musical, with scenic locations, songs, music and Elvis Presley of course. Watch out for the brilliantly comical performance by Angela Lansbury, who plays mother to Elvis’ character.

My favourite songs from the movie: Can’t Help falling in Love with You and Moonlight Swim!

Also see my post DVD Films From Last Month PART-III from January 2015, in regard to Blue Hawaii.

My Rating: 7/10

Kid Galahad (1962)
A pretty good re-make of a 1937 noir classic. A sporty flick, where we see Elvis put on his boxing gloves. In a very different avatar, to the kind of characters he’s played before. The movie also starred Charles Bronson, Joan Blackman and Ed Asner.

My Rating: 7/10

Elvis Presley & Ann-Margret on the sets of Viva Las Vegas (1964)

Elvis Presley & Ann-Margret on the sets of Viva Las Vegas (1964)

Viva Las Vegas (1964)
One of my guilty pleasures. I thoroughly enjoyed this insight into 60’s Vegas. The music, the songs, the dances, the sexy clothes and the great chemistry between Elvis and Ann-Margret.

My favourite song from the movie: The Lady Loves Me! (poolside duet with Ann Margret)

My Rating:10/10 (as I said, guilty pleasure, though I’ve only watched it once, over a decade ago)

Frankie and Johnny (1966)
Not to be confused with the more famous 1991 romantic comedy, starring  Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer; this 1966 (a not so sexy film released in the year dubbed as Nineteen Sexty-Sex) musical, set in a riverboat, where Elvis Presley plays a riverboat gambler, has some amazing musical performances. The movie also happens to be a period piece set in the late 1800’s.

My Rating: 7/10

Unless you are die hard Elvis fan, or love his music in general, you won’t really enjoy sitting through his movies. For it’s the songs that make these movies memorable. But one should still notice that none of his films are actually bad as such, though no where near, among the greatest films ever made. None of films are musicals in the traditional sense as well. A musical is a movie, where the story is told through music. In the case of Elvis films, the music is more of an icing on the cake, that can be tasted without the songs, yet the songs just add to the flavour, and beautify it.

Elvis Presley photographed by William Speer

Elvis Presley photographed by William Speer

The Death of an Icon

I want to entertain people. That’s my whole life. To my last breath.
– Elvis Presley
(1935-1977)

Today is the 38th Death anniversary of the famed King of Rock n’ Roll, Elvis Presley. Presley died on the 16th of August, 1977; at the time believed to be due to years of prescription drug abuse, and a result of suffering from multiple ailments for a long period of time; including – glaucoma, high blood pressure, liver damage, and an enlarged colon. He was only 42 years old. Amidst many a conspiracy theories, in the early 1990’s; in 1994, Presley’s autopsy was reopened. It was deduced that he had actually died of a violent heart attack, and not due to drugs, as earlier stated. A tragic loss for the music industry, a sad loss of a beautiful human being.

Elvis Presley photographed by William Speer

Elvis Presley photographed by William Speer

Elvis Aaron Presley, is till date, the best-selling solo artist in the history of recorded music, with an estimated record sales of around 600 million, and counting, worldwide.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense!!!!!
Nuwan Sen n’ Musical Greats!!!!!
Nuwan Sen n’ Elvis Presley Films!!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

And in Cinema: 1960’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Year: 1966

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My favourite film of Year: Nineteen Sexty Sex

My favourite film of Year: Nineteen Sexty Sex

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

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

Sex on the Dance Floor: Liz Taylor & George Segal

Sex on the Dance Floor: Liz Taylor & George Segal

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

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

Scenes from This Property is Condemned (1966)

Scenes from This Property is Condemned (1966)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cul-de-Sac 66'

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

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

Julie Andrews and Paul Newman in Torn Curtain (1966)

Julie Andrews and Paul Newman in Torn Curtain (1966)

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

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

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

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

Scene from Masculin Féminin (1966)

Scene from Masculin Féminin (1966)

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

The cover of Film Review from December 1966

The cover of Film Review from December 1966

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

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

Veruschka and David Hemmings in Blow-Up  YEAR:1966

Veruschka and David Hemmings in Blow-Up
YEAR:1966

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

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

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

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

Regards
Nuwan Sen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s New Pussycat (1965)

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

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

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

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

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Consequences of Drug Addiction – Panic in Needle Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pure Realism. 9/10!!!!

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Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii

Hawaiian Musical Dream – Blue Hawaii

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

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

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

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

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

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Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Man going Homicidal – The Shining

The Shining

The Shining

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In Love with an Edwardian Lady – Somewhere in Time

Somewhere in Time (1980)

Somewhere in Time (1980)

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

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

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

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The Flight to Heaven – Always

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

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

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

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

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

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The Rise of a Singing Sensation – King Creole  

Elvis Presley and Michael Curtiz on the sets of King Creole

Elvis Presley and Michael Curtiz on the sets of King Creole

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

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

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

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Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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