Tag Archive: Fonda


Mai May Movies 2019!

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

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The

Feature Films

The Front Page (1931)

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 9/10!

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La Chienne (1931)

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 8/10!

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Drums Along the Mohawk (1939)

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 8/10

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The

Short Films

Dream House (1953)

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

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

My Rating: 8/10!

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

Feature Films

Mr. & Mrs. ’55 (1955)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last movie I watched this month (May 2019).

My Rating: 6/10!

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Postscript:

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

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

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The 70’s

Feature Films

The Last Detail (1973)

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

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

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

My Rating: 3/10!

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The White Buffalo (1977)

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

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

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

My Rating: 4/10!

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This Decade (2010’s)

Documentaries

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

Room 237 (2012)

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

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

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

My Rating: 6/10!

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Vadim, Mister Cool (2016)

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

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

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

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

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

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Carré 35 (2017)

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

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

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

My Rating: 8/10!

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Short Films

Uuquchiing (2018)

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

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

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

My Rating: 3/10!

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Feature Films

12 Years a Slave (2013)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Postscript:

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

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Chouf (2016)

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 8/10!

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Rutabaga (2018)

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

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

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

My Rating: 1/10

La Révolte des Innocents ()

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

Really good movie, based on a real incident!

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

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

My Rating: 8/10!

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Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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Simon Emanuel, Chewbacca, Joonas Suotamo & Thandie Newton at the event of Solo – A Star Wars Story (2018), at the 71st Cannes Film Festival

Everything that has a beginning, has a an end; as does this prestigious, 71st Cannes Film Festival, of May 2018!! It ends tonight, and am really looking forward to finding out who’s won what? I couldn’t check out the Cannes updates properly this year, for various reasons, but below are some fashionable highlights from various days & nights at the Film Festival.

Enjoy

Nuwan Sen’s Fashion Sense

German Film Director, Wim Wenders

Spanish Husband & Wife: Javier Bardem & Penélope Cruz

From the Land of the Pharaohs: Austrian/Egyptian Film Director, A.B. Shawky, with Egyptian Actress, Shahira Fahmy

Mexico & India: Salma Hayek & Nandita Das, were among the 82 women that marched for Gender Equality in the Film Industry, at Cannes this year (Inset: Director Das with her lead star, of Manto (2018), Nawazuddin Siddiqui)

Brazilian Filmmaker, Joe Penna, and Danish Actor, Mads Mikkelsen

Young Russian Film Director, Kantemir Balagov

International Belles: Fan Bingbing, Marion Cotillard, Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz and Lupita Nyong’o (Cannes 2018)

The Frenchmen: Pierre Deladonchamps, Christophe Honoré and Vincent Lacoste

Solo Guys (Day & Night): Donald Glover & Alden Ehrenreich; with the cast and crew of Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Solo Wookiee: Finnish Actor and former Basketball Player, Joonas Suotamo, with his ”Star Wars” character ‘Chewbacca’

Jackson Lee (son of Spike Lee), Topher Grace, Adam Driver and Director Spike Lee, attend the screening of Blackkklansman (2018)

Former First Lady of France (and Italian Singer/Songwriter), Carla Bruni Sarkozy

From Russia with Love: Katya Mtsitouridze, in a neatly tailored White attire

Chique Chic: Marion Cotillard at the Cannes Film Festival this year

More Marion Cotillard (Cannes 2018)

Newly Married, Bollywood Fashionista, Sonam Kapoor, in a White Bridal Lehenga (Cannes 2018)

From the Silk Route: Melissa Zuo, shimmers in Silver attire

Walk for Gender Equality: Jury President, Cate Blanchett, with Feminist Film Director, Agnès Varda (of the French New Wave fame); the first woman to receive an honorary ‘Palme d’Or’, at a Cannes Film Festival

Pretty in Pale Pink: Bella Hadid at the 71st Cannes Film Festival

Chinese Actress, Bingbing Fan

Cannes 2018: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan; seen here with her daughter, who accompanied her up to the Red Carpet

Winnie Harlow goes Green @ Cannes 2018

Knife + Heart: French Film Director, Yann Gonzalez, with Kate Moran & Vanessa Paradis (Inset: Nicolas Maury & Vanessa Paradis)

American Actress, Amber Heard

80 year old, Jane Fonda, graces the Red Carpet with charm, at the 71st Annual Cannes Film Festival (Mai 2018)

Deepika Padukone in Hot Pink Ruffles (Cannes 2018)

More of Daring Deepika: Deepika Padukone in Purple Pant Suit

A Sad Affair: 72 year old Helen Mirren, in a comfortable trouser suit, walks away after she tripped and had a bad fall

John Savage @ Cannes 2018

Milla Jovovich looking like a Greek Goddess

Defying Protocol: Kristen Stewart makes a statement against the Cannes Film Festival, by walking barefoot

Lebanese Film Director, Nadine Labaki, with her young actors; Zain Al Rafeea (a Syrian refugee) & Yordanos Shifera, from Capharnaüm (2018)

Franco-Swiss Model, Nabilla Benattia poses near some Stormtroopers (Cannes 2018)

From Deep Down Under: New Zealand Female Model, Georgia Fowler (in a black sheer Saree dress), with Australian Male Model, Jordan Barrett

Goodbye Cannes Film Festival (for )

Nuwan Sen’s Film 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

Sometimes I end up watching such great movies, but I never get to blog about them. A good example is the three excellent films I watched in March 2015; Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013), Haider (2014) and Her (2013). I never got a chance to write even a mini-critique on them. Thus this month I though, I should do a post, of all the films I watched in May, including the best, the bad and the not so bad.

My May Movies 2015

So here is a round up of the all the films (feature length, short film, television movie & television mini-series) I watched this month, May 2015.
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Le Vice et La Vertu (1963)

Le Vice et La Vertu (1963)Director Roger Vadim’s Le Vice et La Vertu, is mostly a chic sexploitation of his then life partner, Catherine Deneuve. Roger Vadim was a very aesthetically stylish director of his time, yet somewhat lacking in great story telling; who was notorious for the way he directed his two bewitchingly beautiful wives, Brigitte Bardot (in the 50’s) and Jane Fonda (mid-60’s to early 70’s), as well as his equally beautiful life partner, Catherine Deneuve (the early 60’s). All superb acting talent, but Vadim, preferred to turn them into sex-symbols of the 50’s & 60’s. Not that he was necessarily pervert, but he admired their beauty, femininity, elegance and grace; and he liked to flaunt their sexuality on screen. Yet, post-Vadim, all three femmes, went on to become some of the greatest acting talent, that existed/is still existing, in the international platform of cinematic geniuses. Especially when it comes to Deneuve and Fonda.

Le Vice et La Vertu, is a modern adaptation, inspired by, the notorious, Marquis de Sade’s, sadistic, 18th century text, Justine, ou Les Malheurs de La Vertu (Justine, or the Misfortunes of Virtue). Set during the second World War, the movie is about a group of elitist Nazi officers, residing in a remote Austrian chalet, who abduct pretty young French goddesses, and use and abuse them (sexually & otherwise) for their sexist/perverted/machismo pleasure.

Le Vice et La Vertu is beautifully filmed in black and white, yet unfortunately it’s not the best of movie viewing. This was Catherine Deneuve’s first notable role, and she plays the character of, the virtues, Justine, whose life is ruined by these monstrous Nazi officers.

It’s still a watchable movie, average fare. So do give it try for Vadim and Deneuve’s sake. It’s worth checking out, at least once. I watched Le Vice et La Vertu, on TV5MONDE. The first film, I watched this month.

My Rating: 6/10!!!
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American Hustle (2013)
Set in the 70’s, American Hustle, is based on real life events. As the movie starts it states that, “Some of this actually happened”.

The story is about the FBI (ABSCAM) operation, that took place in the 1970’s and early 80’s. An FBI agent (Bradley Cooper), ropes in two con-artists (Amy Adams & Christian Bale), to help him with a massive sting operation on catching corrupt American politicians red-handed.

Amy Adams

Love the movie, Love the 70’s setting, Love the cast. The acting talent involved is impeccable with Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Louis CK, Jack Huston, Alessandro Nivola and Elisabeth Röhm. David O. Russell’s American Hustle, was nominated for 10 Oscars, but didn’t win any.

I watched this near perfect, Hollywood, vintage, crime drama, American Hustle, on HBO Hits.

My Rating: Near Excellence!!!! 9/10!!!!!
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Warm Bodies (2013)
A Zombie Rom-Com!!! Warm Bodies was surprisingly pretty good.

Nicholas Hoult plays a zombie, residing among other living dead, within the confines of an airport. Those first few minutes of the film, was hilariously excellent. It was like a short film, within the feature film. Then came the humans. And the zombie finds a pulse, and a heart beat.

This is where the film, directed by Jonathan Levine, starts to descend, and I felt it would end up being one of those tasteless, blood and gore, flicks, with a romantic input. But luckily it wasn’t that kind of a movie, and the romance didn’t really ruin the movie experience for me. I know the story sounds pretty silly, and certain parts of it are, but I actually enjoyed it, and ‘twas way better than what I expected it to be. In fact, it was altogether a fun ride.

Warm Bodies is told from the zombie’s perspective, which itself makes it pretty unique. I’d Love to read the novel by Isaac Marion, this comical take on this zombie apocalypse, is based on.

Watched Warm Bodies on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: 7/10!!!!
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Summer in February (2013)

Summer in february WeddingSummer in February is one of the most disappointing Heritage Films, I’ve seen till date. Based on a true story, this British film revolves around four famous Impressionist Artists (the Lamorna group), from the Edwardian era; especially the real life tragic love triangle involving two artists (Alfred Munnings, and his unhappy wife, Florence Carter-Wood) and a young military officer, Major Gilbert Evans.

Beautifully set, in the countryside, on the Cornwall seascape; with great potential, and capability, of being a really great film, Summer in February stars Dominic Cooper, Dan Stevens, Emily Browning, Shaun Dingwall, Hattie Morahan, Tom Ward-Thomas and Max Deacon. Directed by Christopher Menaul, the film is so poorly made, that it’s not really worth watching. Sadly a pretty bad movie, and a total waste of time.

Watched Summer in February on HBO On Demand

My Rating: 4/10!!
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Transcendence (2014)
I was pleasantly surprised. It’s actually a very good movie. Not one of those films, where special effects take over, and rule and ruin a movie. I already did a post, two weeks ago, soon after I watched it. Check it out – Transcendence of an already Superior Brain.

I saw, this really good, directorial debut by, Cinematographer, Wally Pfister, i.e. Transcendence, on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: 8/10!!!!
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This Property is Condemned (1966)
One of DVD’s I bought during my Aussie trip in November 2014. Money well spent, for Sydney Pollack’s This Property is Condemned; starring Natalie Wood and Robert Redford, which happens to be a brilliant piece of cinema; is definitely a keeper. Am glad it’s part of my movie collection. Sultry Wood is just breathtaking, in her flirty, yet naïve, role, in this cinematic wonder, set in the sizzling heat of the 30’s American deep south. I already did a post on this one-of-a-kind tragic love story, an elongated version of a one-act play by Tennessee Williams, soon after I watched it. The script was co-written by Francis Ford Coppola. To read my review on This Property is Condemned, see my post Condemnation of a woman during the Depression era of the American south, from less than two weeks ago.

This Property is Condemned Wood and Redford

This Property is Condemned is just the second DVD, I watched this year. Haider, I mentioned atop, was the first (and that was back in March 2015). I still have some of films I brought from Australia, late last year. And added to which, I got down a few Hindi films, from New Delhi, India, back in February 2015. Haider happens to be one of them. This Property is Condemned, is the best, and my favourite, movie, from among all these movies, I watched this month.

My Rating: Excellent!!!!! 10/10 !!!!!
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Good People (2014)
Starring James Franco (one of my favourite actors today), Kate Hudson, Tom Wilkinson, Omar Sy and Anna Friel; Danish director, Henrik Ruben Genz’s, Good People, shows how even a little greed can make the nicest people take a wrong turn in life.

Once a couple accidentally come across some stolen money, they decide to keep it for themselves, than turn it over to police. Soon the couple find themselves in trouble with, the deadly culprits responsible for the stolen cash, their adversary, and the cops. Quite generic, extremely uninventive, and very  predictable. Yet pretty good viewing. James Franco is brilliant, as is the rest of the cast. It’s thanks to these really good actors, that the movie is this good.

I watched Good People on HBO Hits

My Rating: 7/10!!!!
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Les Apaches (2013)
A totally senseless movie, dealing with teenagers, theft, and a senseless killing. It’s not even worth writing about. Really Bad! A waste of time.

I watched Les Apaches on TV5MONDE.

My Rating: 3/10!!
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Bessie (2015)
This television movie, is a really good Bio-Pic, on the life of legendary African-American blues singer, famously known as The Empress of the Blues, Bessie Smith.

Queen Latifah, as Bessie, does a superb job, paying tribute to an American icon. Directed by Dee Rees, the film also stars, Mo’nique, Charles S. Dutton, Mike Epps, Khandi Alexander, Oliver Platt, Bryan Greenberg and Michael Kenneth Williams.

Bessie, is the only television movie I watched this month, not counting the mini-series Olive Kitteridge, which I watched later.

Watched Bessie on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: 8/10!!!!
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Amour (2012)
A promise to love one another, till death do them apart. Sad, tragic and beautiful.

Austrian film director, Michael Haneke’s, Amour, is about a retired old couple, both music teachers, residing in Paris, enjoying life. They are seen leading a highly cultured, posh, tasteful, happy and relaxed life, going out to concerts, reading intellectual books and spending their free time well. And they are always together. Yet, one day the wife has stroke, and she’s bedridden. Her husband stays by her side, taking care of her, till her time is up.

Great acting, great direction, and a brilliant art-house film. A nouveau, new-wave, if you may. This French Film stars veterans, Emmanuelle Riva, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Isabelle Huppert.

Amour was nominated for 5 Oscars, including for ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’, and a ‘Best Actress’ nomination for Emmanuelle Riva. Making her the oldest actress to be nominated for an Oscar that year. The 85th Academy Awards, was being held, on her 86th Birthday, itself. Pity she lost out to Jennifer Lawrence, for Silver Linings Playbook (2012). It’s also interesting to note, while Riva was the oldest nominee, the youngest ‘Best Actress’ nominee, was 9 year old, Quvenzhané Wallis, for Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012), that year.

Winner of the Palme d’Or, at the Cannes Film Festival, in 2012; and Oscar winner for ‘Best Foreign Language Film’, at the 85th Academy Awards, the following year; Amour is the best French Film, I watched, on TV5MONDE, this month. Plus, it’s the last Palme d’Or winner I watched (See my list Palme d’Or Winners – from the past, that I’ve watched so far, on IMDB, seen only 18 winners so far).

My Rating: Excellent!!!!! 10/10 !!!!!   
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Noah (2014)

Noah - Douglas BoothOne the least impressive Biblical adaptations on screen.

Logan Lerman (a young favourite of mine) as Ham, is nothing but a juicy piece of tasty looking ham, a total disappointment. Lerman, generally a really good actor, just hams it up, in this movie. Pun(s) intended.

With an impressive cast; including Anthony Hopkins, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Douglas Booth and Emma Watson; Darren Aronofsky’s Noah is one of the most boring, and time consuming, films, I watched this month. Pretty Bad!

Watched Noah on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: 4/10!!
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Eight Below (2006)
Very good movie, set in Antarctica, and inspired by true events.

A story about how an abandoned group of dogs, survive the harshest of winters in the south pole. A very sad movie, beautifully made by Frank Marshall, and starring Paul Walker, Jason Biggs and Bruce Greenwood.

Eight Below

My puppy, Gingerella, sat through the whole movie with me, watching it from here and there, and being confused as to what those dogs were doing inside a flat wide screen.

Saw Eight Below on HBO On Demand.

My Rating: 8/10!!!!
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Bombay Velvet (2015)
Beautiful costumes. Era of the late 40’s, 50’s & 60’s captured well. Stylish. Nice music. Story pretty good. Acting pretty good (especially Karan Johar, who is spot on, in his cool, effeminate, villainous persona). Ranbir Kapoor’s hair do, and body language remind one of classic Bollywood hero’s like Kishore Kumar and Joy Mukherjee. Anushka Sharma captures the vintage styles to perfection. Yet, Anurag Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet, is a very poorly executed movie. It’s not a bad movie as such, it’s just not a good film either. And definitely not worth sitting through on the Big Screen. And I watched it on the Big Screen. The travel, the time, the traffic, the heat, the sweat, and icily freezing film hall (which made you feel you were watching the film up in the Alps, open air), were not worth the trouble I had to go through to watch this movie. Bombay Velvet is just the third film I watched on the Big Screen this year. The first two being; P.K. (2014) & The Theory of Everything (2014), in January and February 2015, respectively.

Average fare! Nothing to miss! OK venture!

My Rating: 5/10!!!
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Les Invasions Barbares (2003)
A hilariously excellent comedy, with a touch of sadness. Les Invasions Barbares, a.k.a. (English title) The Barbarian Invasions, is about a dying man, spending his last days, in the company of his old friends, flames, his ex-wife and his estranged son. It’s witty, crazy, sad, and a lot of fun. Simply Hilarious!!!!!

Directed by Denys Arcand, the movie comprises of actors, Rémy Girard, Stéphane Rousseau, Dorothée Berryman, Marie-Josée Croze, Louise Portal, Toni Cecchinato, Marina Hands and Yves Jacques.

One of the Best Canadian films I’ve seen. Watched, this Oscar winning, Les Invasions Barbares on TV5MONDE.

My Rating: Excellent!!!!! 10/10 !!!!!  
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Papa Oom Mow Mow (2014)
The only short film I watched this month.

This short film is about a young punk, a rebel, who doesn’t find happiness in his way of life. Set in Rouen, France, Papa Oom Mow Mow, does a superb depiction of the 1980’s. Especially with the punk hairdo’s and very 80’s fashionable attire. But, it is just an average film, not a great movie to sit through.

Watched Papa Oom Mow Mow on TV5MONDE, just after Les Invasions Barbares.

My Rating: 5/10!!!
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Olive Kitteridge (2014)
True this is not a movie, but a mini-series. Yet a mini-series, is almost like a four hour long television movie. Thus, Olive Kitteridge, the only mini-series I watched this month, has every right to be on this list.

Olive Kitteridge

The show revolves, around a depressed, miserable woman, Mrs. Olive Kitteridge, living in a fictional, sleepy, New England town, in Maine, USA. It specifically explores Mrs. Kitteridge’s relationship; with her husband, Henry Kitteridge; son, Christopher Kitteridge; family acquaintances; and other townsfolk. Olive is very good at keeping her emotions to herself, not letting anyone in. Beneath her harsh exterior, lies a soft heart, and thus she suffers for it, all on her own. Whilst others dismiss her as an unfeeling, crude and sarcastic, woman, with no feelings what so ever. Yet, Olive Kitteridge, too is woman, who’s very adamant, highly negative, stuck in her old ways, and never willing to change. At the same time, we see her open minded attitude, as well, especially when she tells off a narrow minded man, for rejecting his daughter, because of her sexual orientation. Olive Kitteridge, is a good housewife, but not a great wife. Her maternal instincts pop up, in concern for a miserable son of depressive woman, but Olive Kitteridge, herself , is far from being a perfect mother, to her own son. She is a complex character, who’s living, ’cause she is alive, leading an unhappy existence. Her routine life goes on and on, and she has no desire to continue living; yet she saves unhappy people from giving up on life, and who plot to end their own lives. At the same time, her complicated son resents her, for ruining his life, and making him feel like a failure, besides the fact he’s a well to do podiatrist.

Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins are superb in the lead, as are the supporting cast, including John Gallagher Jr., Zoe Kazan, Brady Corbet, Cory Michael Smith, John T. Mullen, Peter Mullan, Jesse Plemons and Bill Murray

This excellent mini-series, is set, within a span of 25 years; from around 1980 (when the Kitteridge’s are in their middle-ages, with a teenage son), till about the mid-noughties (when the widowed Olive Kitteridge leads a lonely life into her old age). Beautifully filmed, with a bleak outlook throughout the show, the second episode has some really interesting sequences of magical realism. Yet, this is shown through the eyes of a depressed young medical student, thus not meant to seem realistic. It’s only in his mind. Yet it’s a surreal experience. The show, through various episodes deals with crime, drama, romance, desire, psychology, loneliness and tragedy. A must see!!!!!

Watched, this four part, mini-series, Olive Kitteridge, on HBO On Demand, within two days (two episodes each day).

My Rating: Excellent!!!!! 10/10 !!!!!   
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Michael Kohlhaas (2013)
The French Film, Michael Kohlhaas, is based on a novel, which is loosely based on the life of the merchant, Hans Kohlhase (1500-1540), a 16th century historical figure, from Germany.

The movie, is about an ordinary man, who seeks justice, for the insensitive treatment of his horses, his man servant, and later the murder of his wife. When turned down, he ends up plotting revenge against the whole elitist system.

Quite dull, but due to a pretty good storyline, the movie was watchable. Definitely not a great historical drama. Yet a must see for any history buff.

The movie; directed by Arnaud des Pallières; stars Mads Mikkelsen, in the lead (as Michael Kohlhaas), alongside Denis Lavant, Sergi López, David Kross, Swann Arlaud, Bruno Ganz, Amira Casar, Roxane Duran (in a cameo, as the Princess) and little Mélusine Mayance (as Michael Kohlhaas’ daughter).

Watched Michael Kohlhaas on TV5MONDE

My Rating: 6/10!!!
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Dolly ki Doli (2015)

Sonam kapoor as DollyHeaded by Sonam Kapoor in the lead, this is a comedy about a little group of swindlers, who rob the rich and vulgar, through Dolly (Kapoor), their star con-woman. She marries into these, Mama’s and Papa’s, boy’s, who haven’t much of backbone, and robs them blind on her wedding night. Meanwhile a cop, who seems to have a personal vendetta, against Dolly, is on the lookout for her.

Bollywood film, Dolly ki Doli, has the capability of being a really good, authentic, comedy, but it fails to deliver. A bit of drag, unmemorable songs, and the predictable love angle, kind of ruin it. But I do like the fact, the movie didn’t dive back into her past romance, of being ditched, and reason for her being a con woman. That’s all showcased within one flashback song sequence. And I did love the way the movie ended. The special appearances by, Saif Ali Khan, real life royalty playing a fictional Prince, and the breathtaking, Malaika Arora Khan, in a seductive musical number, were an added bonus.

Dolly’s character, was very well handled by fashionista Sonam Kapoor. Among her ditched line of grooms, we see, actors Rajkummar Rao and Varun Sharma, who don’t easily give up on her, nor the loot. The cop was played by Pulkit Samrat. This was the directorial debut of Abhishek Dogra.

Watched, the Hindi film, Dolly ki Doli, today (Sunday) afternoon, on Star Plus.

My Rating: 5/10!!
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May Mai yo Banner Below

Some of the Films In-Competition, at The 68th Annual Cannes Film Festival, held this month, this year(May 2015).

Some of the Films In-Competition, at The 68th Annual Cannes Film Festival, held this month, this year (May 2015).

The Cannes Film Festival is coming to an end, the jury is locked away somewhere, and no more official screenings are going on. The results of this international Film Festival held in the fashionable French Riviera, will be announced tonight. As a film fanatic, am waiting in anticipation, as to who’ll win what, and who (which movie) shall take home the coveted Palme d’Or, the highest honour, in the international arena of Cinema.

Meanwhile, below are a few highlights, through pictures, of the 68th Cannes Film Festival, held in this warm month of May, Year 2015.

The 68th Annual Cannes Film Festival (Day 1) - Opening Ceremony (May 2015)

The 68th Annual Cannes Film Festival (Day 1) – Opening Ceremony (May 2015)

Simple & Sophisticated:  Jane Fonda in a white suit at the Cannes Film Festival 2015

Simple & Sophisticated: Jane Fonda in a white suit at the Cannes Film Festival (May 2015)

Gayish Charm: Young Canadian Film Director/Actor, Xavier Dolan (one of the Jury members this year) was dressed up to suit both, the classy status of the reputed Cannes Film Festival, as well as his own flamboyant personality, at Cannes (May 2015).

Gayish Charm: Young Canadian Film Director/Actor, Xavier Dolan (one of the Jury members this year) was dressed up to suit both, the classy status of the reputed Cannes Film Festival, as well as his own flamboyant personality (May 2015).

Actress, Rooney Mara, Film Director, Todd Haynes & Actress, Cate Blanchett, at the screening of their collaboration, Carol (2015), the Cannes Film Festival (May 2015).

Highsmith Trio: Actress, Rooney Mara, Film Director, Todd Haynes & Actress, Cate Blanchett, at the screening of their collaboration, Carol (2015), the Cannes Film Festival (May 2015).

Bollywood @ Cannes: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor & Katrina Kaif, aping Hollywood styles (May 2015).

Bollywood @ Cannes: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor & Katrina Kaif, aping Hollywood styles (May 2015).

Oozing Sexuality: Marion Cotillard (wrapped around in an expensively Bejeweled mini towel dress) & Michael Fassbender (in a dashing tuxedo)  yesterday at the premiere of Macbeth (2015), at The 68th Annual Cannes Film Festival (May 2015).

Oozing Sexuality: Marion Cotillard (wrapped around in an expensively bejeweled mini towel dress) & Michael Fassbender (in a dashing tuxedo) yesterday evening, at the premiere of Macbeth (2015), at The 68th Annual Cannes Film Festival (May 2015).

Waiting in anticipation, to see which movie, from which country, in which language, shall receive the honour of winning the Golden Palm (Palme d’Or) this year. And wondering, when I’ll get a chance to enjoy, these honoured selection of films.

Also see my Palme d’Or list titled Palme d’Or Winners – from the past, that I’ve watched so far on IMDB, from last night.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
 2015

Tweets from yesterday, today & tomorrow

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Iconic Hollywood starlet of the 40’s, Lauren Bacall, passed away earlier this week, on Tuesday, 12th of August, 2014, aged 89, after suffering a stroke.
Lauren Bacall 1942With hardly any legends, from the age of film-noir, still alive, it’s an end of an era. Especially with the death of Lauren Bacall, one of the most modern minded, sophisticated, innocently naughty and sultry stars of that period. She started her career as a teenager, as a fashion model, for magazines like Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. Soon she was discovered, by director Howard Hawks’ wife Nancy (a.k.a. Slim), when she spotted Bacall, on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar. Bacall was offered to act opposite either Cary Grant or Humphrey Bogart. Though a superb actor, Bogart didn’t interest Bacall much, but she was exited about starring opposite the very tall and handsome Cary Grant. But when she met Bogart in person, sparks flew. Soon Bogart and Bacall appeared in Hawks’ To Have and Have Not (1944), an adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s worst known novel of the same name.

To Have and Have Not, is a movie I studied, in my first semester, for the module ‘Film Analysis’ (which was on Howard Hawks), for my MA in International Cinema (2002-2003), from the University of Luton, Luton, UK. I did a presentation, comparing and contrasting Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca (1942) to Howard Hawks’ To Have and Have Not (1944); a step-by-step scene evaluation of To Have and Have Not, and a 2,500 worded essay comparing the book by Ernest Hemingway, and the movie by Howard Hawks, where my ultimate conclusion was that the movie belonged completely ‘to Hawks and Hemingway not’.
Lauren Bacall collageBacall was a hit in her debut performance as ‘Slim’ (Bacall’s character in the movie was named after Nancy Hawks’ pet name, in the book such a character does not exist). One of the most iconic scenes in To Have and Have Not is where Bacall teaches Bogie how to whistle. Normally books are known to be better than the movie, it’s a clichéd fact. But in the case of To Have and Have Not, this is a rare instance, where the movie is definitely better than the boring book it was adapted from. Don’t get me wrong, I think Ernest Hemingway is a great author, but To Have and Have Not, is no where near among his best works. Howard Hawks has managed to edit, change and re-polish it into a beautiful movie.

Soon Humphrey Bogart married the much younger Lauren Bacall, in 1945. Known as Bogie and Bacall, the two were the most romantic couple that existed in Hollywood in the 40’s and 50’s, until Bogart’s death in 1957. Bogie and Bacall starred in many a famous Film-noir films of that period, including The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947) and Key Largo (1948). In 1957, they were to appear in yet another film together, but that project never materialised, due to Humphrey Bogart’s demise due to cancer.

Lauren Bacall with Humphrey Bogart in 'To Have Have Not'

Lauren Bacall with Humphrey Bogart in ‘To Have Have Not’

Bacall was distraught after the loss of her husband, she re-married once in 1961, to Jason Robards, but that marriage didn’t work out. Then onwards she lived a single life, with her children and gave herself completely to the arts.

Her great film credits are endless, and span two centuries. Besides the Bogie and Bacall films, mentioned above, she starred in many a famous films without her beloved husband, including, Confidential Agent (1945) opposite Charles Boyer, Bright Leaf (1950) opposite Gary Cooper, Young Man with a Horn (1950) with Kirk Douglas and Doris Day, How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable, Blood Alley (1955) with John Wayne, Written on the Wind (1956) with Rock Hudson, Designing Woman (1957) opposite Gregory Peck, North West Frontier (1959) with Kenneth More, Sex and the Single Girl (1964) with Henry Fonda, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood, Harper (1966) with Paul Newman and Janet Leigh, Murder on the Orient Express (1974) with an all-star cast, The Shootist (1976) with John Wayne and James Stewart, The Fan (1981) with James Garner and Michael Biehn, Appointment with Death (1988) with Peter Ustinov, Prêt-à-Porter (1994) with an all-star cast, The Mirror has two Faces (1996) with Barbra Streisand and Jeff Bridges, Dogville (2003) with Nicole Kidman, Birth (2004) with Nicole Kidman and Cameron Bright, Manderlay (2005) with Bryce Dallas Howard, The Forger (2012) with Alfred Molina, and Bacall was rumoured to be working on a new project, Trouble is my Business, to be released next year.

(Main Pix) Lauren Bacall with Jeff Bridges in 'The Mirror Has Two Faces'  (Inset) Bacall with Film Director/Actress Barbra Streisand in the same movie

(Main Pix) Lauren Bacall with Jeff Bridges in ‘The Mirror Has Two Faces’
(Inset) Bacall with Film Director/Actress Barbra Streisand in the same movie

Lauren Bacall, has won many a awards, but she’s been nominated only once for an Oscar, in 1997, for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for Barbra Streisand’s directorial venture, The Mirror has two Faces (1996). In 2009, she was given an Academy Honorary Award in ‘recognition of her central place in the golden age of motion pictures’.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

(P.S. See my post 6° with Lauren Bacall from last year as well)

I discovered Sidney Lumet films, pretty late in the day, for a film buff, though I was aware of some of his more famous work, since my teenage years. Some of the first films of his I watched were about a decade ago, The Appointment (1969), Serpico (1973), Murder on the Orient express (1974) and Dog Day Afternoon (1975). And the most recent movie of his I watched was, his feature length directorial debut, 12 Angry Men (1957).
Sidney LumetBeginnings
Sidney Lumet was born in Philadelphia, USA, on the 25th of June, 1924, to two veterans of the ‘Yiddish Theatre’. Thus, dramatic arts being in their bloodline, Lumet was lucky enough to be born into such a family. Lumet’s father was a Polish Jewish emigrant to the United States. Lumet’s mother died when he was still a child.

Sidney Lumet made his debut on Radio at the age of four, and by five he was already working on stage, as part of the ‘Yiddish Theatre’ group. Soon he was working on Broadway plays, and by eleven he starred in his first film, a short film called Papirossen (1935). At fifteen, he appeared on the feature film, One Third of a Nation (1939). But soon his acting career came to a standstill with the Second World War and him coming of age, and he was stationed in India and Burma as a radar repairmen between 1942 and 1946. On his return to the States, he formed an Off-Broadway theatre group, and became it’s director. Soon he evolved into being a highly respectable Television director. But it was only in his 30’s that he got to finally direct his very first feature film, 12 Angry Men (1957).
Sidney Lumet's 12 Angry MenSidney Lumet & Social Realism
I watched 12 Angry Men (1957), Lumet’s first big screen directorial venture, just late last month, when it was shown; projected on to a not so big – big screen; at the Ethnic Centre here. 12 Angry Men is about 12 angry jurors, headed by Henry Fonda.

A young Hispanic man is on trial for the murder of his intolerable father. As the juror’s are locked up in the room, to discuss the case, we find 11 of the juror’s having already made up their mind that the kid is guilty, except for one, Henry Fonda. It’s interesting to watch how effectively Fonda’s character creates doubt in each juror’s mind, and turns them one by one to agreeing with him on a ‘Not Guilty’ verdict, in this highly intellectualised film. A very intriguing character study of 12 varied unnamed men (simply known as Juror. #1, Juror. #2, Juror. #3 et al), stuck inside a room on a very hot day, with their temperatures rising to near boiling point. The film was nominated for three Oscars, including for ‘Best Picture’ and ‘Best Director’.

Beautifully directed, it’s a bridge between art cinema and a commercial venture, which veers more towards art cinema. Yet, Lumet never liked to make his films too artsy, but at the same time wasn’t interested in making an overtly decorated, visually appealing, meaningless film either. He liked a social message input, he loved realism, yet the kind that people would enjoy watching. Lumet abided by a good script, great dialogues and superb performances from his actors, testing them to the limits, rather than action.

I had seen the latter remake (1997 version) of this movie starring Jack Lemmon, George C. Scott, Edward James Olmos and Tony Danza, about a decade or so ago. Which too was a very good television adaptation. But the Lumet classic was a magnificent piece of social realism. In fact Sidney Lumet is known for films on Social Realism. Take Network (1976) for instance.

Faye Dunaway, on the phone, in a scene from, NETWORK

Faye Dunaway, on the phone, in a scene from, NETWORK (1976)

I watched Network, down under, in Sydney, back in 2008, when it was shown at the ‘Art Gallery of New South Wales’. We (my friends and I) use to  go and watch some great classic, and foreign language, movies at this Art Gallery in Sydney, while I resided there (2006-2008). Network is a fascinating tale of media manipulation (electronic media in this case) to get what they want. They’d do anything possible, to the extent of being inhumane to gain higher ratings for their show. The movie, staring Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Robert Duvall and Peter Finch, shows how an ageing anchor, when fired, reacts in a strange way, and ends up being a martyr of sorts exploited by the television industry. The movie was nominated for 10 Oscars, and took home 4 trophies. Peter Finch was the first actor to win the ‘Best Actor’ award posthumously at the Academy Awards.

Network is a brilliant insight into media lifestyle, and my favourite Lumet film till date. Network was the second last Sidney Lumet film I watched until I saw 12 Angry Men, end of last month.

In 2007, while studying in Sydney, Australia, I watched Equus (1977), at my University (UNSW) library. Another superb character analysis here, with Richard Burton playing a psychiatrist trying to make sense of teenage boy’s unhealthy attraction towards horses. The boy, played by Peter Firth, finds sexual satisfaction through grooming horses and riding them in the nude. Yet one day in rage he blinds six horses in a stable. In early 2007, the play, by Peter Shaffer, which this movie is based on, was in the talks, as Daniel Radcliffe was performing the role of the teenage boy obsessed with horses, for a stage version, on the other side of the ocean. Soon I knew I had to check this film out, and it was truly worth it.

Richard Burton does a superb job as the psychiatrist, who ends up envying the young man, for the youngster finds more pleasure through horses, than the shrink has ever done in his life. Equus was nominated for 3 Oscars.
Sidney Lumet's Murder on the Orient ExpressLumet’s take on Agatha Christie
One of the first Lumet movies I watched was, Murder on the Orient Express (1974), just over a decade ago, whilst living in Oslo, Norway. Based on an Agatha Christie novel, this was a brilliant adaptation with a great star cast of legendary actors including Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman and Albert Finney to name a few. The whole movie set in a train, Pre-World War-II, where one of the passengers included, the famed fictional Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot (Albert Finney). A business tycoon (Richard Widmark), has been killed, stabbed 12 times, and everyone has a motive. The suspects include a great glamorous star cast, with the who’s who of cinema. Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Vanessa Redgrave, John Gielgud, Michael York, Sean Connery, Anthony Perkins and Jacqueline Bisset. Ingrid Bergman won the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ Oscar, the movie altogether was nominated for six awards.

Around the same time I also watched Lumet’s The Appointment (1969). Just don’t recall whether I watched in Norway or in England, UK. The Appointment, starring Omar Sharif and French actress Anouk Aimée, was a moderately good movie, set in Rome, about a husband who suspects his innocent wife of being a high-class prostitute, with tragic consequences.
The Appointment was nominated for the ‘Palme d’Or’ at the Cannes Film Festival in 1969.

Al Pacino Sidney Lumet films

Lumet works with Al Pacino
Around the same time, 10 years ago, in 2004, I watched Serpico (1973) and Dog Day Afternoon (1975), on the small screen, while living in Portsmouth, England, UK. Both starring Al Pacino, and both based on a true story. Serpico is a brilliant film, where Pacino plays a real life heroic cop, NYPD officer Frank Serpico, who went undercover to expose corruption in the police force. Dog Day Afternoon is a fictionalised story about an actual Brooklyn Bank robbery that took place in 1972, during the hot ‘sultry dog days of summer’. Both films were nominated in various categories at the Academy Awards, and Serpico took home no Oscars, including the ‘Best Actor’ trophy for Al Pacino, while Dog Day Afternoon bagged one but both Pacino and Lumet lost out on their consecutive awards yet again.

Christopher Reeve in DEATHTRAP (1982)

Christopher Reeve in DEATHTRAP (1982)

Lumet works with his daughter, Jenny
Sidney Lumet cast his writer daughter in three movies, including Deathtrap (1982), Running on Empty (1988) and Q & A (1990). Am yet to watch any of these movies.

Lumet’s last work
I watched Lumet’s last film, Before the Devil knows You’re Dead (2007), early on in 2008, on the big screen, in Sydney, Australia. By now Philip Seymour Hoffman, even more popular, post his Oscar win for Capote (2005), played the lead in this tragic cinematic piece of excellence.

Ethan Hawke and Marisa Tomei in a scene from BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD (2007)

Ethan Hawke and Marisa Tomei in a scene from BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD (2007)

Most probably the most out and out commercial venture made by Sidney Lumet. And not necessarily as great as many of his classics, but still an excellently well made movie. Before the Devil knows You’re Dead, is about two brothers who decide to rob their own parents jewellery store, yet hoping to make it a victimless crime. But there is no such thing as a perfect crime, thus things go haywire and their mother, who gets shot, falls into a coma. The movie has a great cast, besides Seymour Hoffman, it also stars Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney, Marisa Tomei, and Rosemary Harris. Unfortunately, a talented actress like Marisa Tomei, is wasted in this movie. She’s used as nothing but a sex object, sharing a bed between two brothers. Married to one, and having affair with other.

Lumet classics am yet to watch
Besides Deathtrap (1982), Running on Empty (1988) and Q & A (1990),  there are so many of his films am yet to watch including, Stage Struck (1958), That Kind of Woman (1959), The Fugitive Kid (1959), View from the Bridge (1961), Long Day’s journey into Night (1962), The Hill (1965), The Anderson Tapes (1971), The Verdict (1982), Garbo Talks (1984), The Morning After (1986), A Stranger Among Us (1992), Guilty as Sin (1993), Night Falls on Manhattan (1997), Strip Search (2004), Find Me Guilty (2006) and much much more.

Night falls on Manhattan

Though Lumet was nominated many a times for various films, he never won an Oscar. But he did receive an Honorary Academy Award for ‘Lifetime Achievement’ in 2005.
He was also nominated twice at the Cannes Film Festival.
Altogether 14 of his films were nominated at the Oscars in various categories, and some of his films, made in the 70’s, took home more than one Oscar.

Sidney Lumet died, aged 86, of Lymphoma, on 9th April 2011. As soon as I heard of this, I paid tribute to the great director by making a ‘Set of 7’ list on IMDB, along with seven mini critiques (see my list Sidney Lumet: Set of Seven on IMDB).

Day before yesterday was Sidney Lumet’s 90th Birth Anniversary.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Yesterday, 14 of May, 2014, the Cannes Film Festival 2014 opened with the premier screening of Grace of Monaco (2014). The film was booed by critics’ and audiences alike, for inaccurate portrayal of the famed Princess of Monaco and Hollywood royalty. The movie is out of the competition though. But am still keen on checking out this movie.
Cannes 2014 poster
The 67th annual Cannes Film Festival is running from 14th to 25th of May, 2014. The jury for the main competition is headed by New Zealand film director Jane Campion. Other members of the jury include, American film director Sofia Coppola, American actor Willem Dafoe and Mexican actor & film director Gael García Bernal among others. The winning film in the Un Certain Regard section should be announced on 23rd of May, 2014. The winner of the Palme d’Or will be announced on 24th of May, 2014 (due to European Parliament elections taking place on 25th May 2014). The festival poster features Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni from Federico Fellini’s 1963 film . Another great movie am yet to watch.
Opening Ceremony & "Grace Of Monaco" Premiere - The 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Looking forward to seeing who wins the Palme d’Or this year.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Six Degrees of Separation: from Logan Lerman to …

Logan Lerman 6°

…Elijah Wood
Lerman starred alongside Aaron Eckhart (1) in the hilarious comedy Meet Bill (2007), and Eckhart appeared in the magnificent satire that was Thank you for Smoking (2005); a humorous insight into the manipulative business tactics of a tobacco industry; which was directed by Jason Reitman (2), who later directed yet another comical brilliance that was Juno (2007), starring Ellen Page (3); who earlier played a very dark role, of an underaged teenager who has her heart set on castrating a paedophile who she suspects is responsible for the death of yet another underaged teenage girl; in Hard Candy (2004), which co-starred Patrick Wilson (4), who appeared in Little Children (2006) with Kate Winslet (5), and Winslet starred in, the surreal masterpiece that was, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), which also starred, former child star, Elijah Wood (6).

…Tom Sturridge
Lerman did one of the laziest roles ever in the pathetic flick called Gamer (2009), the only saving grace, of which, was the villainess character, excellently portrayed by Michael C. Hall (1), whose most notable role, happens to be, the titular character, of a serial killer, he plays in the television series, Dexter (2006-2013), and in the last season of which Sam Underwood (2) played his young protégé, and Underwood starred in a stage version of the play Equus, a play written by Peter Shaffer (3), and the 2007 West End and Broadway productions, of this same play, starred Daniel Radcliffe (4), who plays famed poet, of the Beat generation, Allen Ginsberg (5) in the movie Kill your Darlings (2013), and Ginsberg was also portrayed by Tom Sturridge (6) in On the Road (2012).

…Rudolph Nureyev
Lerman, as child artiste, appeared, alongside fellow child actor, Cameron Bright (1), in The Butterfly Effect (2004), and Bright played a kid who harassed a widow into believing that he was a reincarnation of her dead husband in Birth (2004), which co-starred Lauren Bacall (2), who was married to Humphrey Bogart (3); and together they were famously known as Bogie and Bacall; and Bogie starred alongside Ingrid Bergman (4), in the much loved tear-jerker classic, Casablanca (1942), and Bergman’s daughter, Isabella Rossellini (5), starred in White Nights (1985); which tells the story of a famed Russian male ballet dancer who had defected from the Soviet Union (USSR), who finds himself back in the USSR when a plane carrying him to Tokyo has to have an emergency crash landing there; the character of the defected dancer was loosely inspired by the renowned ballet dancer, Rudolph Nureyev (6).
Logayn Loveman
…Rock Hudson
Lerman appeared in the excellent re-make; 3:10 to Yuma (2007); of the classic western, 3:10 to Yuma (1957), and the original was directed by Delmer Daves (1), who made his directorial debut with Destination Tokyo (1943), starring Cary Grant (2), and Grant starred in the amusingly crazily splendid farce, Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), which was directed by Frank Capra (3), as was the romantic comedy, It Happened One Night (1934), which starred Claudette Colbert (4); who was famous for playing the legendary ‘Queen of the Nile’; in Cleopatra (1934), as was Elizabeth Taylor (5) in Cleopatra (1963), who starred alongside Rock Hudson (6) in Giant (1956).

…Roger Vadim
Lerman played son to Renée Zellweger (1), in My One and Only (2009), and Zellweger starred alongside Tom Cruise (2) in Jerry Maguire (1996), and Cruise appeared in The Color of Money (1986) with Paul Newman (3), who starred alongside Robert Redford (4), in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), and Redford appeared alongside Jane Fonda (5) in Barefoot in the Park (1967), and Fonda was at one time married to director Roger Vadim (6).

…Tom Ford
Lerman starred alongside Emma Watson (1) in The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), and Watson appeared in My Week with Marilyn (2012), which also starred Dominic Cooper (2), who came in The History Boys (2006), alongside Stephen Campbell Moore (3), who appeared in Bright Young Things (2003), which was based on Evelyn Waugh’s (4) novel Vile Bodies, and Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited, was the basis for the 2008 movie starring Matthew Goode (5), and Goode appeared in A Single Man (2009), which was the directorial debut of fashion designer, Tom Ford (6).

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense ()
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Six Degrees of Separation: Kate Winslet to ….

Kate Winslet Silver 6°

…Franco Zeffirelli
Winslet starred in Little Children (2006) along with Patrick Wilson (1), who previously appeared in the TV mini series, Angels of America (2003), which co-starred Al Pacino (2), who played the lead in Serpico (1973), which was based on a true story and directed by Sidney Lumet (3), who also directed Equus (1977), which was based on a play by Peter Shaffer (4), whose play The Royal Hunt of the sun was adapted into a movie, released in 1969, which also starred Leonard Whiting (5), whose most famous performance, is that of, ‘Romeo’ in Romeo and Juliet (1968), the finest cinematic version of this famed tragic love story, which was directed by, Tuscan born, Franco Zeffirelli (6).

…Louis Garrel
Winslet gained international fame when she played the fictional character of ‘Rose’ in Titanic (1997), which was based on a real incident, where Kathy Bates (1), played a real life survivor of the Titanic disaster, Molly Brown (2), and Brown was portrayed by Debbie Reynolds (3) in The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964); a biographical film on Brown, which includes her Titanic voyage and survival; and Reynolds starred in the musical, Singin’ in the Rain (1952), alongside Gene Kelly (4), who appeared in the French musical Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (1967), which also starred Catherine Deneuve (5), who recently came in another French musical, Les Bien-Aimés (2011), which co-starred actor Louis Garrel (6).

…Jennifer O’Neill  
Winslet bagged the ‘Best Actress Oscar’, for her role of ‘Hanna Schmitz’, in The Reader (2008), which was based on German novel by Bernhard Schlink (1), another novel of whose was the basis for the movie, Der Tod Kam als Freund (1991), which also starred Sebastian Koch (2), who played the lead in the Dutch film, Zwartboek (2006), which was directed by Paul Verhoeven (3), who also directed Starship Troopers (1997), which starred Casper Van Dien (4), who appeared in the forgettable Sanctimony (2000), which also had Catherine Oxenberg (5), who appeared in the pilot episode of the television series, Cover-Up (1984-1985), of which the lead star was Jennifer O’Neill (6).

… Bárbara Mori
Winslet starred alongside Leonardo DiCaprio (1) in Revolutionary Road (2008), and DiCaprio starred in The Great Gatsby (2013), in which Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan (2) had a small role, and Bachchan (a.k.a. Big B) was paired alongside Hema Malini (3) in a lot of films in the 70’s and 80’s, and Malini; who had held the no.1 position for two decades, a rarity in a male oriented film fraternity; was one actress that the Big B was never paired with, off screen, by gossip columnist; and Malini’s daughter, Esha Deol (4), appeared in Na Tum Jaano Na Hum (2002), which co-starred current superstar, Hrithik Roshan (5); known not just for his good looks and vanity driven muscular physique, but also for his outstanding dancing and acting abilities; and Roshan starred alongside Mexican actress Bárbara Mori (6) in Kites (2010).

… Henry Fonda
Winslet appeared in The Holiday (2006), a Christmas romance, where fellow British actor Jude Law (1) played her elder brother, and Law gained popularity worldwide; when he was nominated for an Oscar in 2000, for his role of ‘Dickie’; in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), which was based on an acclaimed novel, of the same name, by Patricia Highsmith (2), and this very novel was the basis for the French classic, Plein Soleil (1959/60), starring Alain Delon (3), who appeared in the Italian film, Il Gattopardo (1963), a film directed by Italy’s famed, Luchino Visconti (4), who also directed the German language film, The Damned (1969), with Helmut Berger (5), who starred in Hollywood’s, Ash Wednesday (1973); a controversial film at the time for showcasing actual plastic surgery (facelift) in progress; in which Henry Fonda (6) had a cameo.

… Roberto Rossellini
Winslet starred in Titanic (1997), a film directed by James Cameron (1), who also directed the cheesy, sci-fi flick, The Terminator (1984), which starred Michael Biehn (2), who played a stalker in The Fan (1981), where Lauren Bacall (3); played, the stage and screen siren, who’s been stalked; and Bacall was married to actor Humphrey Bogart (4), who is most famous for appearing in the much loved classic love story, Casablanca (1942) alongside, Swedish born, Ingrid Bergman (5), who was married to Italian director, Roberto Rossellini (6).

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