Tag Archive: French Literature


Plein Soleil (2015)

Plein Soleil (2015) short film

Oh!! The Heat!!! In Plein Soleil (2015), during a heat wave, under the scorching hot sun, an already stressed out man, is asked by his wife, to drop off their baby to the Day-Care centre, as he’s taking the car to work. Reluctantly, he agrees. Stuck in traffic, this sweaty uncomfortable weather, keeps adding discomfort to his already boiling head, under the heaty hood of his car. Soon he reaches his office, and manages to avoid an accident, with a boy and his football. He locks the car and rushes to his workplace, forgetting the baby baking inside.
Plein Soleil (2015) zee Scene 1The whole movie has a feel of impending doom, a tragedy waiting to happen. From one angle, he’s an irresponsible father, but at the same time, he’s stressed out. But you can’t help feeling angry at the man, as we see him enjoying cocktails with his colleagues, and chatting up with his boss, in the air-conditioned office, as his baby cries all alone, stuck in a car, with the heat rising inside this locked vehicle, from 43° to 45° and so on. I was on the edge of seat, the suspense killing me, like the oven suffocating the child in that contraption. What about the boys playing football? Will they hear?? One boy actually comes to get the ball, near the parked car, thinks he hears something, but ignores it and goes back to the game. What will happen to the baby?? It’s heartrending. You just want to save the baby somehow. But feel helpless, being on the other side the wide screen (outside the television).
Plein Soleil (2015) zee Scene 2Not to be confused with René Clément’s, excellent French classic, Plein Soleil (1960), starring Alain Delon and Maurice Ronet, based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Talented Mr. Ripley; this 2015 Belgian Short film, by Frédéric Castadot (which happens to be his directorial debut), is a brilliant masterpiece of the 21st century cinema. Hated the pain of watching the baby in pain, and loved the movie for it’s excellence.

I watched this 24 minute short flick; starring Aurélien Labruyère, in the lead, as the stressed out, irresponsible, father; late Tuesday evening (telecast at 8pm (2000hrs)), on TV5MONDE. Plein Soleil (2015), is a must watch!! 10/10!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
(nu Sense on FILM) #‎NuwanSensFilmSense‬

3 Nu Posts on Nu Site

Do check out the 3 posts, I have done so far, on my new website, nu Sense on Film.

Nu Posts Nu Site (1)

(From Today: 6th of September, 2015)

(From Last Month: 30th of August, 2015)

(From Last Month: 22nd of August 2015)

Nu Posts Nu Site (2)

Your comments are welcome, either on the nu site, or here.

Quoting Jean Cocteau

The extreme limit of wisdom,
that’s what the public calls madness.
     – Jean Cocteau
    (1889 – 1963)

BOOKISH NUWAN ()

Nuwan Sen (Quoting Quotes)

3 years . 3 months . 3 weeks . 3 days

Bastille Day 2015 Header

3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks & 3 days; that’s exactly how old my Blog is today. I started this Blog on the 20th of March, Year 2012. Today is also Bastille Day, i.e. the National Day of France. So I thought, why not do something different today, that is relevant to both, my Blog, and the French republic, the largest country, in the western region, of the European continent.

So here is my foursome of 3’s (my favourites in each) in relation to this beautiful country, called France.

1st 3.
My trio of favourite hangouts in Paris
I first visited Paris, during my hectic one month Eurotrip of Spring 2005 (April 2005). Spent just one evening in Paris, at the time. Later I got a chance to live there, for almost a year, in 2008 & 2009. I fell deeply in love with the City of Love, the most beautiful concrete jungle I’ve ever lived in.

(i)  The Champs-Élysées

Watching the Bastille Day parade, Bastille Day ((14th July 2008) The Champs-Élysées, Paris

Watching the Bastille Day parade, On Bastille Day (14th July 2008)
Champs-Élysées, Paris

At the Virgin Bookshop  (an Old underground bank vault that has been turned into a bookstore) Champs-Élysées, Paris (August 2009)

At the Virgin Bookshop (an Old underground bank vault, that has been turned into a bookstore) Champs-Élysées, Paris (August 2009)

With a French friend (I befriended in Sydney), in front of one of the Gaumont cinemas, at the Champs-Élysées, in Paris (8th September 2009) The night before I let Paris, France. Haven't returned since.

With a French friend (I befriended in Sydney, Australia), in front of one of the Gaumont cinemas, at the Champs-Élysées, in Paris (8th September 2009)
The night before I left Paris, France. Haven’t returned since.

I loved hanging out around the Champs-Élysées, such a beautiful location, with it’s wide walkways, lined up with trees, leading up to the Arc de Triomphe. Especially being a film buff I was a frequent visitor to the Champs-Élysées, whilst living in Paris, for there are two Gaumont Cinemas, on either side of the broad boulevard. Got to watch some great European & Hollywood films. I went to the cinemas near the Palais Garnier (Opera House), as well. Another beautiful spot, with the Opera House, and the Galeries Lafayette (a posh department store) et al. But I love the whole atmosphere, and the feel, with the hustle and bustle of the walkways, of the Champs-Élysées. On 14th July 2008, I went to watch the Bastille Day parade, at the Champs-Élysées as well.

(ii) Along the River Seine

Along the River Seine, Paris (September 2008)

Along the River Seine, Paris (September 2008)

Along the River Seine, in Paris (August 2009)

Along the River Seine, in Paris (August 2009)

Along the River Seine, Paris (August 2009)

Along the River Seine, Paris (August 2009)

Being a romantic at heart, I can just lose myself walking along the River Seine. It’s just so beautiful, with all those old bridges, ancient brick roads, aesthetically appealing historic architecture, on either side of the river, passing tiny avenues, and the old street vendors, selling old books and souvenirs of Paris, and the fresh clean air. Best to walk alone along these streets, to enjoy oneself. Just get lost in yourself, it’s Poetic Justice, in a positive sense, that is. It’s pure heaven!!!!!

(iii) The Louvre

At the Egyptian Gallery The Louvre, Paris (July 2008)

At the Egyptian Gallery
Louvre, Paris (July 2008)

Under the Glass Pyramid  With my sister, and her husband, when they visited Paris (Spring 2009) The Louvre, Paris (April 2009)

Under the Glass Pyramid
With my sister, and her husband, when they visited Paris (Spring 2009)
Louvre, Paris (April 2009)

With a self-portrait of Eugène Delacroix Louvre, in Paris (May 2009)

With a self-portrait of Eugène Delacroix
Louvre, in Paris (May 2009)

Being an artist as well, I’ve visited this famous museum only four times (it’s free every first Sunday of the month). And yet I never got a chance to complete every nook and corner of this beautiful building, in itself, not to mention, the well maintained, collection of art work from around the globe. The Louvre is my second favourite, yet most visited, Museum in the French capital. My favourite museum happens to be Musée d’Orsay, but I’ve only visited it twice. And I’ve visited other various Art Galleries and Museums in Paris as well. Thus, not just the Louvre, but I can say that the Parisienne museums in the general sense, could be another great hangout, but it’s specifically the Louvre, I enjoyed hanging out in the most, even though I love the Musée d’Orsay more.

2nd 3.
My trio of all time favourite French Films

(i) Jules et Jim (1962)
Jules et Jim (Special Post on France) 3-3-3-3 Photographic PosterMy all time favourite piece of French cinema. Directed by François Truffaut, and starring Jeanne Moreau, Oskar Werner, and Henri Serre, this French New Wave classic, is also among my TOP-10 all time favourite movies. An epic saga spanning over 3 decades, happens to be one of my favourite tragic romances ever. Truffaut was a genius. An excellent love triangle, involving two best friends (an Austrian & a Frenchman), both of whom fall for the same French beauty, with a serene looking smile.
Also see my lists The Essential 60’s (Top 60) (pictorial tribute) and Why I love …. (list of critiques), from January 2012, and November/December 2012, respectively, on IMDB.

(ii) Les Enfants du Paradis (1945)
Les Enfants du ParadisOne of the most beautiful epics ever made. Les Enfants du Paradis, directed by Marcel Carné, made with great difficulty during the second World War, and set in the backdrop of the French Theatre during the 19th century, is France’s answer to America’s Gone with the Wind (1939).
Also see my post Children of Paradise: The French Epic from last year (July 2014).

(iii) Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (1964)
Les Parapluies de CherbourgOne of my favourite musicals ever. Directed by Jacques Demy, this romantic 60’s movie, set in the late 50’s, is about a young unmarried pregnant girl, separated from her lover (who’s gone to fight for the French, during the Algerian war), having no news of his whereabouts, she has to come to a crucial decision for the wellbeing of her unborn child. Love this classic. Love Catherine Deneuve!!!!
Also see my post Being mesmerised by ‘The Umbrellas of Cherbourg from August 2013.

3rd 3
My trio of favourite holiday destinations, in France (outside Paris)

(i) The French Riviera (Côte d’Azur)

Beaulieu-sur-mer, South of France  (July 2009)

Beaulieu-sur-mer, South of France (July 2009)

Beaulieu-sur-mer, South of France (July 2009) On the way to Monaco

Beaulieu-sur-mer, South of France (July 2009)
On the way to Monaco

On Bastille Day (14th July 2009) Villefranche-sur-mer, South Of France

On Bastille Day (14th July 2009)
Villefranche-sur-mer, South Of France

Of course, the most beautiful warm holiday resort I’ve ever been to. With it’s rocky mountains, pebbled beaches and luxurious backdrops, the French Riviera is a class apart. Very expensive though, I practically starved. But unlike Paris, where I loved living in, I cannot see myself residing in the Côte d’Azur. I’ll miss the city too much. But it’s no doubt a perfect holiday resort, to take some time off, and just chill. Next time, if and when, I get a chance to visit the south of France again, I should have a load of money saved up, so that I don’t end up poverty ridden by the end of it.

(ii) Le Mont Saint-Michel

Mont St. Michel, Normandy (September 2008)

Mont St. Michel, Normandy (September 2008)

In front of the chapel, on top of Mont St. Michel, in Normandy (September 2008)

In front of the Chapel, on top of Mont St. Michel, in Normandy (September 2008)

Inside Mont St. Michel, Normandy (September 2008)

Inside Mont St. Michel, Normandy (September 2008)

Off the northern coast of France, in Normandy, is an island entirely made up of a steep granite hill, with a black clay based beach, surrounding it. One of the most beautiful ancient citadels I’ve ever visited. Mont St. Michel, is part of the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

(iii) Giverny

Claude Monet's Garden  Giverny, France (August 2008)

Claude Monet’s Garden
Giverny, N. France (August 2008)

Claude Monet's Home & Gardens Giverny, N. France (August 2008)

Claude Monet’s Home & Gardens
Giverny, N. France (August 2008)

With a Classic Sports Car Giverny, N. France (August 2008)

With a Classic Sports Car
Giverny, N. France (August 2008)

Being an artist, how can I not mention Giverny, where the late Impressionist Artist, of the 19th & early 20th century, Claude Monet’s, house and gardens are located. A must see for any artist, florist and anyone with a sense, or even a tiny streak, of artistry, in them. Also a must see for artists, are Monet’s paintings housed at the Musée d’Orsay (mentioned earlier) – an old railway station, that existed from the beginning of the 20th century up to the late 1930’s, and transformed into, primarily, an impressionist Art Gallery, in Paris, in the 1980’s

Last (4th) 3.
My trio of favourite, French born, French film stars

(i) Catherine Deneuve
Catherine DeneuveBeen a fan of hers, since like ever. This 71 year old actress is no doubt my all time favourite French celebrity. Having started her cinematic journey in the late 50’s, Deneuve had two film releases this year, and has no plans of retiring from the film industry, any time soon.

(ii) Alain Delon
Alain DelonI first discovered the existence of Alain Delon, at the turn of the century. Since then have seen quite a lot of, this 79 year old star’s, great movies; and have loved him, in everything I’ve seen him in. But I haven’t really watched any of his movies, he’s acted in, in his old age. His last film appearance, so far, was in 2012.

(iii) Marion Cotillard
Marion Cotillard (Special Post on France) 3-3-3-3Back in 2007, whilst living in Sydney, I watched the film Love Me If You Dare (2003), when it was shown on a local channel there. I thought she looked beautiful, and she was a good actress, and the film was really good as well, and that was that. Then mid-2007, the Édith Piaf bio-pic, La Vie en Rose (2007), starring Marion Cotillard, in the lead, as Piaf, was released, in Australia. I went to watch it, ‘cause I’ve been a fan of Édith Piaf’s beautiful song, ever since I watched Audrey Hepburn’s rendition of Piaf’s La Vie en Rose in Sabrina (1954), when I was a teenager, back in 1994, whilst living in New Delhi, India. By the turn of this century, I was aware who Édith Piaf was. Thus Piaf was my motivation behind watching La Vie en Rose, and not Cotillard. But Cotillard did such a brilliant job, she was Piaf incarnate. I was instantly hooked by her brilliant performance, and Cotillard became my favourite French movie star from 21st century. Born in 1975, she’s my age, practically (she’ll turn 40 later, in September, this year). At the Oscars, in 2008, she bagged the ‘Best Actress’ trophy for her role in La Vie en Rose. Returning home from work, I just managed to switch on the television to see her name being announced as that year’s winner. I was delighted. And since then I’ve see quite a few of her movies, both from France and Hollywood. Am really keen on checking out her most recent, British venture, Macbeth (2015), where she plays Lady Macbeth, and which was released at the Cannes Festival a couple of months ago (May 2015). Also see my write-up, paying tribute to Édith Piaf, Édith Piaf: 50th Death Anniversary, from a couple of years ago.

So here you are, my foursome of 3’s, honouring my 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks & 3 days, of blogging, till date, as well the French National day, in my own way.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense
Nuwan Sen and the French Republic

 

LG32

Today, French Actor, Louis Garrel; one of my favourite celebrities, especially of the highly artistic, and intellectual, European Cinema, fame; begins his 33rd year in life on earth. I’ve been a fan of Louis Garrel, ever since I saw him in, Bernardo Bertolucci’s, The Dreamers (2003), almost 12 years ago.
Louis Garrel (June B'day)Born with a silver spoon; on the 14th of June, 1983, to film director, Philippe Garrel (son of actor Maurice Garrel), and actress Brigitte Sy; Louis Garrel was destined to be an integral part of cinema. But he has also proven his worth, being one of the finest actors in film industry today.

Louis Garrel began his film career at the age of 6, when he appeared in Philippe Garrel’s Les Baisers de Secours (1989), alongside his parents, who played the lead. But his next role came in Ceci est Mon Corps (2001), 12 years later. He wasn’t seen in any movie in between. Soon he gained international fame, when he played twin brother to Eva Green, in The Dreamers, co-starring Michael Pitt, and directed by the greatness of controversy, Bernardo Bertolucci (Also see my post Bernardo Bertolucci & His Films from March 2014).

The Trio of Dreamers  - Louis Garrel with Eva Green & Micheal Pitt

 The Trio of Dreamers: Louis Garrel with Eva Green & Micheal Pitt

I watched The Dreamers, when it premiered in Oslo, Norway, at a Film Festival, late 2003. Till date it’s my favourite film – on film buffs, of Bernardo Bertolucci, and of all three lead cast members, including Louis Garrel.

Since then I’ve seen him do some great work in films like, Ma Mère (2004), Dans Paris (2006), Les Chansons d’Amour (2007), La belle Personne (2008), and the short film Diarchia (2010). Being a fan Garrel, I need to catch up a bit more.
La JalousieMore recent movies of his, am really keen on checking out, include; Le Mariage à Trois (2010), Les Amours Imaginaires (2010), Les Bien-Aimés (2011), Un Château en Italie (2013), La Jalousie (2013), Saint Laurent (2014), L’Astragale (2015), Mon Roi (2015) and Les Deux Amis (2015); to name some.

Louis Garrel and Gaspard Ulliel in Saint Laurent (2014)

Louis Garrel and Gaspard Ulliel in Saint Laurent (2014)

Wishing Louis Garrel all the success in the world, cinematic and otherwise.
Happy 32nd Birthday.

Nuwan Sen’s Film 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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On Sunday night (1st March 2015), watched the 1962 French New Wave flick Le Combat dans L’île. One of the best among, film française (French Films).

Jean-Louis Trintignant and Romy Schneider in a scene from Le Combat dans L'île (1962)

Jean-Louis Trintignant and Romy Schneider in a scene from Le Combat dans L’île (1962)

This masterpiece of the Nouvelle Vague (French New Wave), directed by Alain Cavalier, deals with a husband and a wife, a political assassination attempt, tested friendships and infidelity. It’s a brilliant movie starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Romy Schneider, as husband and wife; and Henri Serre, as a close friend, kind confidant and ultimate lover.

Jean-Louis Trintignant, plays a foolish man, conned into a rebellious group, and, though not necessarily an abusive husband, definitely a bully of a husband, and a very possessive and untrusting husband, with a major inferiority complex. Yet he isn’t as sceptical, in fact happens to be pretty gullible, when it comes to outside negative influences, that doesn’t concern his marriage. He resides in Paris, France, with his beautiful wife.

One day Clément (Jean-Louis Trintignant), gets involved in a political assassination attempt, which happens to be the brainchild of Serge (Pierre Asso), his superior, among the underground rebels; unaware to Clément’s wife, Anna (Romy Schneider). It is Clément who pulls the trigger, under the guidance of Serge, during attempt to kill a famous French politician. Soon Clément is forced to abscond, along with Anna, to his childhood friend, Paul’s (Henri Serre) home, a safe haven, in the countryside. Here Clément learns, that it’s actually Serge who betrayed him. Thus he vows to take his revenge, for his own folly, in trusting Serge with his life. Paul, being a modern day democrat, and an advocate of non-violence, is horrified by Clément’s involvement in the failed assassination attempt, and throws him out of his house. Yet for Clément, with nothing but vengeance in his mind, takes no heed to Paul’s contempt towards him, and leaves for South America, in search of Serge, leaving Anna behind.

Anna is devastated, and falls into a grave depression, but Paul, along with the help of Cécile (Diana Lepvrier), Paul’s housemaid, pulls her out of it. Soon news of Clément being a wanted man, for the murder of Serge, reaches France. With no news from Clément, Paul and Anna fall into each others arms. But soon Clément returns, and now devoured by jealousy, after he learned of his wife’s infidelity, keeps challenging Paul to a dual. Sensible Paul keeps refusing. But the immature Clément wouldn’t let the couple, that is now expecting a child together, be, and wouldn’t stop harassing them until Paul agrees to a fair fight. It’s a matter of honour for, the archaic mentality of the male chauvinistic, Clément. While Paul and Anna, are more open minded, practical, and nice couple, who seem perfect for each other. But thanks to the brashness, of Clément, the story is headed for an, uncalled for, shootout, with tragic consequences.

BEHIND THE SCENES: The cast of Le Combat dans L'île, having fun on the sets.

BEHIND THE SCENES: The cast of Le Combat dans L’île, having fun on the sets.

Character Analysis  
Clément is a failure in life, which gives rise to his unkind ways, violent mentality, inferiority complex and insecurity. He is an extremist fool. He beats his wife, yet he truly loves her. Loves her to the brink of suffocation. His physical appearance adds to his characterization. He is a good looking bloke, yet not well rewarded in height, and not as handsome as his close friend Paul. It’s an interesting contrast between the two friends. Paul is tall, handsome, kind, sensible and practical. A perfect gentleman. While Clément is brash, unsympathetic, immature, moody, rough and unsophisticated in mannerism. Anna is a former actress, who’s left the stage, after getting married. She seems to have an existentialist personality. Clément is very possessive of her, he feels he own her. Anna rebels against his domineering behaviour, and is constantly horrified of his violent tendencies, yet she almost always ultimately gives in, letting him have his way. She revolts against his brutishness, but yet, at the same time, is submissive. She loves and fears him and seems tired of fighting, yet she doesn’t accept his negative attitude towards life. In fact, once she tells him, that he is ‘‘killing her’’. She means metaphorically, as well as his physical bullying towards her. The way he strangles her neck with lust, as he kisses her. He treats her as his property, property he loves to death. But what’s more ironic here is, as she tells him, he’s ‘‘killing her’’, metaphorically, he is actually ready to kill the traitor, Serge, the man who betrayed him. Three really intriguing character sketches here. Anna’s love for Clément, shows her love for a passionate romance, at the edge of being deadly. Yet, when she finally falls for Paul, it’s more of a settle-down kind of love affair. Relaxed, along with a kinder and gentler man, a complete contrast to her ruthless, obsessive, husband. With Paul she’s ready to start a family, and live happily. That is until, Clément comes back and gets ready to ruin her stress free life.

Symbolism of the Landscape: The Secluded Isle  
The countryside where Paul lives is beautiful. Especially Paul’s little Isle, with his Tudor style house atop; with the dark timber frameworks, and white plaster; along with a river flowing below. It’s picture perfect. A happy private and scenic retreat, away from habitation. Perfect for a couple in love, a relaxed lifestyle, and great for bringing up a family. It’s such a romantically  beautiful landscape. A place which landscape artists would love to paint, poets would love to write about, and writers would love to use to muse about their next venture. Yet, the place can also be symbolic, of isolation, loneliness and insecurity. Ultimately this beautiful location is where all the drama unfolds. The climax. The final combat in the isle, takes place, as the title suggests. This is where the fire and ice (as the English title of the movie, Fire and Ice, suggests) face each other. While the fire tries to melt the ice, the ice tries to extinguish the fire. One through foolish provocation, the other forced against his will.

A marvellous movie by Alain Cavalier, with a superb cast. Romy Schneider happens to be one of my favourite actresses, from European cinema. Schneider is of Austrian birth, but she’s acted in French, Italian, German and English language movies. Le Combat dans L’île happens to be her first venture into the Nouvelle Vague. French actor, Henri Serre, happens to be the star, of my all time favourite French flick, director François Truffaut’s New Wave classic, Jules et Jim (1962), which happens to be part my all time favourite, Top-10 Films (see my list of critiques titled Why I love …. from November/December 2012 on IMDB).

Le Combat dans L’île, is a blend of Art Cinema meets a thriller, combined with a love story, a tragedy, and more than a pinch of the element of noir. The film itself, like the character of Anna, embodies an existentialist undercurrent. A beautiful directorial debut feature by Alain Cavalier

Le Combat dans L’île (1962). Pure Excellence!!!!! 10/10!!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Young Directors on my BLOG

Young Directors

It’s always interesting to get comments and respond to them once I do a post on my blog. And I have enjoyed that luxury thanks to many a fellow bloggers, and some of them great personalities, such as published authors, Short film directors and famed film critics. But what’s more interesting is when I write a post on something, say a movie or a book, and somebody affiliated to the said movie/book responds positively to my little critique. Two such instances arose, within the last, over 2½ years, that I’ve been blogging.

In December 2013, I wrote about the short film Portraits de Maîtresses (2012) by Rocco Labbé (See Portraits de Maîtresses: Rocco Labbé’s take on Charles Baudelaire). Sometime later, within the same month, while I was very ill, young Mr. Labbé brought a smile to my pale face, when he commented on my ‘About’ page. I was so pleasantly surprised that I forgot my illness for a few minutes. Thank you Rocco Labbé.

In June 2014, I blogged about yet another short film I really enjoyed, Sylvain Bressollette’s Le Ballon de Rouge (2012/2014) (not to be confused with 1956 classic Le Ballon Rouge – See my list 50-50’s on IMDB). Then last evening Mr. Bressollette had commented on my blog, under the post Le Ballon de Rouge (2012/2014). And I also visited his website http://www.sylvainbressollette.com.

Thank you all my fellow bloggers, friends, relatives, and other followers, including Rocco Labbé and Sylvain Bressollette, for enjoying, and commenting on, my blog.
Please keep visiting.

Cheers
Nuwan Sen
Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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Phlims prom a Pestival

Films from a Festival
Festival FilmsLast week I attended the International Film festival that took place in Colombo. Organised, in association with the Okinawa International Movie Festival in Japan, this was the first time in Sri Lanka that an International film festival was held. About time. Especially for rare film buffs here with taste, like me, this was heaven sent. I only managed to watch eight of the many films on show, due to coinciding times, no repeats, the distance between cinemas, traffic, heat, exhaustion, dehydration, and TBA (To Be Announced) films; still on TBA; even though the film festival is long over; et al. So here is a brief write-up on each movie I got to watch, at the Film Festival last week. Of course, it’s pronounced ‘Phlim Pestival’ in local English (People here love to insult other accents, especially of my birth country, Europe and America, but they never see their own faults, just felt like giving them a taste of their own medicine, hence the tongue-in-cheek title).

Day 1, 3rd Sept
Killa (2014) – This Marathi Art house movie, from India, is about a prepubescent boy, who moves from the city of Pune to a small town, with his mother, after the death of his father, and due to his mothers transfer from her work. Just as he manages to settle down, make friends, and an incident at the Fort that destroys his trust in people, his mother gets another transfer to yet another location in India. Beautifully directed movie, by a previous cinematographer.
Post the movie there was a Q&A. After complementing the director, Avinash Arun, for the wonderful experience Killa was, I asked him the significance of the literal Fort (Killa), especially for the child (for I gathered the metaphorical meaning of the title), and what inspired Mr. Arun to make this movie. He answered just part of my question, saying it was his own childhood experience moving around the country with his mother. Thus I asked him whether it was autobiographical, he answered with a ‘Yes’, and then I asked him whether it was set some time in the past, maybe the 80’s (as I had guessed), and ‘Yes’ came the reply. My Rating 9/10.

Mauvais Sang (1986) – This French movie starring Michel Piccoli, Juliette Binoche, Denis Lavant and Julie Delpy, was a pretty morbid, aesthetically, and visually, beautiful piece of drama, though not a great movie. Made at a time when AIDS was still relatively a new disease in the world, the movie is set in the near future at the time (lets say end of the 80’s), where a disease is killing off people having sex instead of making love, sex without any emotional attachment. An ageing American woman is after the serum, an antidote, to this new mysterious illness, and she hires two aging Frenchman, who recruit a young man, to get hold of this serum. A very slow paced movie, to be watched with a load of patience. Some beautiful reflections on various facial expressions and a study of human emotions. My Rating 8/10.

Il Deserto Rosso (1964) – Unlike the above two movies, which I watched in cinemas, Il Deserto Rosso, was shown that afternoon at the Goethe Institute, a German cultural centre here. Thus it was a DVD projected on to a screen. Il Deserto Rosso, is an excellent movie by the late great Michelangelo Antonio. The story is about a mentally ill woman, Giuliana (Monica Vitti) who tries to survive in the world of modern day eccentricities and existential uncertainty. Her loneliness and insecurity of life is exploited by Corrado Zeller (Richard Harris), a business associate of her husband, Ugo (Carlo Chionetti).
To start off the cinematography is beautiful, with a predominantly grey scale, the movie starts with the greyish dull background of the industrial country side, with a woman (Vitti) dressed in green coat walking towards the camera, with her child in a Mustard brown overcoat. I loved the Mustard and Green contrast to the foggy backdrop. If not for those two characters, one could have easily assumed the film was made in Black & White. Being Antonio’s first colour venture, he symbolically brings out the feeling of emotional and physical alienation, with the industrial wasteland and one lonely woman stuck in this hideous landscape, in such a beautiful country. With some brilliant camerawork and amazing cinematography, the bleakness of the visual picture adds to the beauty of the sadly neurotic tale in the movie.
One of the most beautifully tragic sequences is when her son (Valerio Bartoleschi) fakes a sudden paralysis, she assumes it’s polio. Once she discovers his cruelty of conning her, it only adds to her isolation in the modern industrial wasteland, not even being able to trust her own little child. Which makes her run straight from the frying pan into the arms of the fire, Corrado Zeller, who forces himself on her. In the end you wonder whether this mentally ill woman is the only morally sane person in this inhumane landscape.
Michelangelo Antonio is a genius at story telling and he takes his time to develop the plot. Excellent Italian movie. My Rating 10/10.

Day 2, 4th Sept
Apur Panchali (2013) – Apur Panchali is a true story, about the forgotten young actor, Subir Banerjee, who starred in the first instalment of Satyajit Ray’s famous Apu Trilogy, i.e. Pather Panchali (1955). Beautifully done biographical movie of how life imitates art, as if the Apu films were made for the little actor who starred in the first venture. This beautiful Bengali Art film from India is a pure cinematic enchantment with a high international standard. I love the inputs of the classic trilogy along with scenes from life of Subir Banerjee. The character is shown initially snubbing everyone who asks him whether he played Apu, who grows up to detest cinema and Ray. But by the end of the film we see the suffering man’s soft corner. Parambrata Chatterjee does a superb performance as the younger Subir Banerjee, as does Ardhendu Banerjee, as the older version. Loved it!! My Rating 10/10.
Festival FilmzIdentificazione di una Donna (1982) – Yet another Italian film by Michelangelo Antonio, which too was a projected DVD, I watched at the Goethe Institute that evening/night, instead of a cinema. An erotic insight into a movie directors many female conquests, two main ones. Another romantic and aesthetically sexually explicit venture by the veteran Italian film maestro. My Rating 9/10. 

Day 3, 5th Sept
Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya (2013) – This is an interesting comical  Bollywood commercial cartoon film, made in Hindi, with song n’ dance, fantastic music and vibrant colourful animation. A great commercial venture especially for kids. Initially, the fart jokes early on, cheapened the movie a bit for me, but the story was excellent, well told and movie was worth watching, especially for the marvellous animation. A near Brilliant movie.
Again there was a Q & A, with director Shilpa Ranade. Without a mike in the balcony of the cinema hall, I had to shout my question, and asked about the inspiration behind this story (I wanted say a lot more, had I a mike up there). She mentioned that it was a story (Bengali book) she was brought up on and there was a Bengali language film made by Satyajit Ray. And I asked her if there was an English translation available of the book, which I guessed there should be,  and she confirmed it with a ‘Yes’.  I checked online and discovered, the book’s origins belong to Satyajit Ray’s own grandfather, Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury, an author that existed in the 19th Century. Ray’s 1969 film was titled after his grandfathers Bengali book, Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne. My Rating, for Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya, 9/10.

Disengagement (2007) – Yet another movie starring Juliette Binoche. This time an English language French movie set in Avignon, France and the Gaza strip, an exclave region of Palestine. The film deals with a mother (Binoche) who goes looking for her daughter in Gaza, to hand in her inheritance, during the Israeli disengagement from Gaza, i.e. the withdrawal of the Israeli army from Gaza, and the dismantling of all Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip in 2005, due to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Yet another emotional tragic French Film worth checking out. One of the highlights of the movie is seeing, veteran French actress, Jeanne Moreau, in a cameo appearance as the family attorney. My Rating 8/10.

Ajeyo (2014) – This Assamese Art film, from India, by Jahnu Barua, was slightly disappointing. Assamese films aren’t that famous, among various movies in India, that come out from various Indian languages from various states in India. The story was good, but poorly executed. Firstly it felt like a boring television soap, and it seem to waste a lot of time. But soon the movie catches up. Jahnu Barua, is a respected director in the Assamese community.
There was one last Q & A here, and I was glad to have to shout out my question from above in the balcony sans a mike, yet again. Majority of the movie being set during India’s Independence and partition from Pakistan, circa 1947, I asked him whether it was a real life account of an actual person. He said it was mostly fiction, but also had some actual human experiences as well. My Rating 6/10.  

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Les Enfants du Paradis (1945), known in English as Children of Paradise and Children of the Gods consecutively , is masterful work of cinema. This epic tear jerker romance is one of the greatest classics of all time. Loved by the French and any other cinema enthusiast, with highly cultured and aesthetic taste, from around the globe. Among the greatest classics ever made.
Children of Paradise (1945) Classic NS 1What the movie is about (including the plot summary)

This movie is centred around a stage (mime) artiste, and his painful love for a kind hearted beauty, who’s been pursued by three other suitors; another stage actor, a criminal and an aristocrat. Yet, the beauty only loves the innocent eyed mime artiste, but varying circumstances won’t let them be together. One of the greatest tragic love stories ever, Les Enfants du Paradis, to the French is what Gone with the Wind (1939) is to Americans, and Mother India (1957) is to Indians. The, over three hours long, movie is divided into two parts.

1re Partie (Part – I)
Boulevard du Crime
1827: The film begins with a camera panning through the crowds at a fair on Boulevard du Temple, in Paris, nicknamed ‘Boulevard du Crime’ due to the crime melodramas that were so popular in many a theatres around there at the time. We see Garance (Arletty), a beautiful woman who earns her living by modestly exhibiting her physical charms in a carnival show. As she walks along the Boulevard through the crowds, we meet an actor named Frédérick Lemaître (Pierre Brasseur), Garance’s first suitor, who tries to flirt with her, unsuccessfully. Then we meet Pierre-François Lacunaria (Marcel Herrand), a ruthless thief, who fronts as a scribe, to cover up his organised criminal enterprises, Garance’s next pursuer. Shortly at the fair, Garance is accused of stealing a watch, which was actually stolen by Pierre-François, while they were watching a pantomime, featuring mime artiste, Baptiste Debureau (Jean-Louis Barrault), Garance’s third suitor, the only one Garance truly falls in love with. Having witnessed the whole crime, Baptiste, who’s dressed up as Pierrot; a stereotypical fictional character, famous in Italy and France; mimes out what actually took place to the police and the victim, in turn saving Garance from being arrested. Garance reciprocates with a flower, which Baptiste saves, who’s already madly in love with Garance. And Garance too, sympathetic towards his innocent sad eyes, loves him back. But neither says anything to one another.

Soon we see all three, Garance, Baptiste and Frédérick Lemaître working on the same stage, and living in the same residential apartment house, as neighbours. Meanwhile a fourth suitor, a rich aristocrat, propositions Garance to be his mistress. Love, jealousy, romance and crime, all take place in the first part itself. It’s so beautifully filmed with great difficulty. The movie was made during the second world war, through endless problems. What the cast and crew endured, through both, natural, and man made, disasters, whilst making such a great movie, adds to it’s high status.
Children of Paradise (1945) Classic NS 3A Look Behind the Troubled Scenes
Starting off with, the quarter-mile long main set, of ‘Boulevard du Temple’ a.k.a. Boulevard du Crime, was severely damaged by a storm and had to be rebuilt entirely. The set builders were short of supplies and the camera crew’s film stock was rationed. The financing, of the initial French-Italian production, suddenly had to stop just few weeks after production began in Nice, thanks to the conquest of Sicily in August 1943. Meanwhile, the Nazis forbade the producer, André Paulvé, from working on the film because of his remote Jewish ancestry. The production had to be suspended for three months. Soon the French film company Pathé took over the production, but their cost were uncontrollably escalating. Things were made worse by the theatrical constraints during the German occupation of France during World War II. The Vichy administration under Nazi Germany had imposed a maximum time limit of 90 minutes for a feature films, thus the epic film had to be split into two parts, against the wishes of film director, Marcel Carné.

Alexandre Trauner, Set Designer, and Joseph Kosma, Music Composer, were both Jewish, and had to work and live in secrecy throughout the production. Many of the 1,800 extras were Resistance agents using the film as daytime cover, initially mingling with some collaborators and Vichy sympathisers. The movie production had to be halted many a times, for various reasons during the war, and when resumed, in Paris, in early spring of 1944, the Director of Photography, Roger Hubert, had been assigned to another production and Philippe Agostini, who replaced him, had to analyze all the reels in order to match the lighting of the non-sequential shot list, through many a electrical power cuts.

Production was delayed again and again and later until the Allied forces landed in Normandy. When Paris was liberated in August 1944, the actor Robert Le Vigan, cast in a minor role, had to flee, as he was sentenced to death by the Resistance for collaborating with the Nazis. He was replaced at a moment’s notice by Pierre Renoir, and most of the scenes had to be redone. Le Vigan was tried and convicted as a Nazi collaborator in 1946. Director Marcel Carné along with writer Jacques Prévert, had to hide some of the key reels of film from the occupying forces, until the liberation of Paris.
Children of paradise (1945) Classic NS 22e partie (Part – II)
L’Homme Blanc
Without giving away much of how Part – I ended, the second part starts some years later. The two platonic lovers, who were never together (intimately), in the first part, have separated due to various reasons. Mime artiste, Baptiste Debureau, is now in a loveless marriage, with stage actress Nathalie (María Casarès), who we see pine for Baptiste’s attention in the first part. Nathalie plays his ever suffering devoted wife, who selflessly loves him with all her heart, even though he doesn’t feel the same for her. They even have a son together, but nothing can make Baptiste ever truly love his wife. Meanwhile we see Garance; whose real name, we discover is Claire Reine, by the end of Part – I; unhappily living under the rich aristocrat, Count Édouard de Montray (Louis Salou) for protection, to save herself from being arrested for an attempted murder, that she wasn’t involved in. Again the party that tried to commit the crime is none other than the thief, Pierre-François, towards the end of Part – I. In Part – II, Garance has been globetrotting with the Count for a number of years, and just returned to Paris.

A chance meeting between, Frédérick Lemaître, now a great stage artiste himself, and Garance, in a private Box, at the pantomime performance starring Baptiste, gives rise to a poisonous envy, within Frédérick, once he realises that Garance truly only loves Baptiste. Frédérick later enacts Shakespeare’s Othello, to perfection, focusing his own jealousy towards his own ‘Desdemona’, i.e. Garance. Meanwhile the Count too finds himself a victim of jealousy, wondering who Garance true love happens to be. During the production Othello, the Count starts to suspect Frédérick to be her secret love, and tries to provoke Frédérick to a duel.

Baptiste and Garance, never meet for majority of the second part, but when their paths do finally cross, tragedy befalls many people involved with the two lead characters. Such a sad, heart rending movie, filmed so aesthetically and brilliantly. Today it’s one of my favourite love stories ever and among the best French films I’ve ever watched. Some of the most beautiful scenes revolve around Baptiste’s character, and Jean-Louis Barrault does a superb job as the tragic mime artiste that makes others laugh yet suffers in silence. One beautiful scene is, when Baptiste, is beaten and thrown out of a Pub window in the first part, he returns wipes himself and picks up the flower that Garance thanked him with early on. Not one word spoken, and this is while he’s not in character. When in character, he performed his mimes on stage to perfection. The fluidity of his body movements, the expressions, the drama, the crime performed by a comical character. It’s pure brilliance especially his performance in Part – II. Love the set décor, the story, the analysis of love, greed and anger. The Carnivalesque situation, of disruption and celebration that happens at the same time, that takes place towards the end of movie, with one of the lead character’s (I shan’t mention whose) fate unknown, was a fascinating and unexpected ending. With brilliant actors and a superb director at the helm, Les Enfants du Paradis (1945), is really worth a watch.

Excellent !!!! 10/10

Les Enfants du Paradis was shown on TV5 MONDE. Part – I, on Tuesday 8th July, 2014, and Part – II, on Tuesday 15th July, 2014.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense