Tag Archive: Lee


Queer Movies, and the month of Mardi-Gras

10 years ago, on 3rd March 2007, I witnessed the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras (simply known as Mardi-Gras, down under). This was when I was a student, doing my MA in painting (2006-2007), at COFA (College of Fine Arts), UNSW (University of New South Wales). It was a spectacular event, with gaudily glittering floats, semi naked bodies, cute kids, and the Sydney Mayor. In full swing, in the Australian summer, it went on, from dusk till dark.

The Mardi-Gars festival, is actually a carnival before Lent, in the Christian calendar. BUT, in Sydney, it’s a Pride carnival. Mainly due to the fact, that during the Pride month (which happens to be the summer month of June); is in the heart of winter, down under; where seasons go in the exact opposite direction to the norm. Christmas down under, is in the height of the hot sweltering summer. Thus, the Pride March, down under, has been interwoven with the Mardi-Gras; and is known as the Sydney Mardi Gras!! This takes place, on the first Saturday, of March. And thus, this year, it was held on 5th March 2017!!

In 2008, it was on the 1st of March, 2008. By now, I’d completed my 2nd Masters, and I was temporarily working as an ‘International Student Advisor’, at the ISS (International Student Services), in UNSW. I did not attend it that year (in fact, March 2007, has been the only Mardi-Gras carnival I’ve seen, so far). But I did, go and see, one movie, at the Mardi Gras Film Festival, held in Sydney, in February 2008. The movie was, The Houseboy (2007); and it was pathetic. One of the worst films I’ve ever seen.
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Downloading

Towards the end of last month, I came across a fellow film buff, from Pakistan, on Twitter, with whom I ended up chatting (something I rarely do, that too on Twitter). Soon I befriended him, on FB (Facebook). And on his FB timeline, he had mentioned Mahershala Ali, an actor of Muslim faith, who won the Oscar, for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ for Moonlight (2016), at the 89th Academy Awards, held on the 26th of February 2017; and how proud he felt of being a Muslim, himself, for the very first time. I simply asked him whether he’d seen Moonlight, and that I’d love to. He told me he had watched it twice; and said he’d send me the link to download the movie. And he did.

Now, back to 10 years ago; Year 2007!! I was dead against piracy, and downloading movies on the web, et al. I remember how my Australian friends & flatmates, use to react; feeling embarrassed at doing such things themselves. But I have been living in Sri Lanka, for 7½ years now, and not being able to watch any good movies (as they practically are never shown in Cinema’s here); I’ve had to rent or buy films occasionally, that happen to pirated copies. See my posts on Life of Pi  (2012) and Mud (2012) from October 2013.

But, luck had me travelling to, places like:-
New Delhi, India, between 2010 & 2012 (where you don’t see pirated copies in street shops, unlike Sri Lanka, and have to (literally) go to an underground market, if you want cheap pirated copies); where I not only got to buy good original DVD’s (even though they were with Indian copyrights, thus they have to be approved by the Indian Censor board, and certain films, have a universal rating, with sex and nudity edited out; and though am against censorship, I prefer to buy original DVD’s, than badly pirated ones, found in good shops, in Colombo and it’s suburbs, in Sri Lanka), but also got to see some great films on the Big Screen, on the superb Cineplex’s of New Delhi (see my list on IMDB titled Oscar Winners … and then some 2012, from March 2012).
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Adelaide & Sydney (once again), Australia, in November 2014; where too, I watched a couple of the superb films, on the big screen, plus bought many a DVD’s (see my Blogpost Holidaying in Australia, comes to an end from November 2014).

Meanwhile, back in Sri Lanka, I’ve tried to download films, from certain sites; either I get an error message, or it’s not available in this country, or something or the other. So, only way, I’d watch films online, is if they were available on Youtube; and late last year, streamed a few on iflix. But, as I mentioned above, that this nice new (virtual) friendly acquaintance of mine, sent me a link. And on the night of 28th February 2017; I started to download, Moonlight. By the time, I finished downloading the film, it was next morning, i.e. 1st March 2017. Thus Moonlight, was my very first successful download. And within the next few days, I downloaded four more s; in conjunction, with the month of (or rather the last week of), Sydney’s version, of the Mardi-Gras festivities.
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5 Queer Movie, within the first 5 Days, of March 2017

So here are my mini-critiques on the 5 films, I’ve downloaded so far (downloaded for the very first time). And unlike the pathetic film I saw at the  Mardi Gras Film Festival; except for one here (which too was Averagely good), all the rest of the films were pure excellence of Cinematic magic.
Thus, here is my own little ‘Queer Film Festival’!!!!!!
Beware of some spoilers below!!!!!
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1. MOONLIGHT (2016)

An Art-House Film, that bagged the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar, this year; a rarity, and a win after a fumble at the Academy Awards, that almost felt like Moonlight, had not won.

Moonlight is a touching portrayal of a young, afro-American, gay man, Chiron, brought up in a rough neighbourhood, in Miami, Florida, USA. With a drug addicted, emotionally unstable and abusive, mother; plus being bullied and beaten up in school; Chiron grows up to be a thuggish looking drug dealer, with a heart of gold. The finalé with the admission of virginity, by a very masculine, strong built man, pulls at your heart strings. This is a brilliant, coming of age, drama, about sexuality, true love, and what it’s like to be black in America, especially in a poverty stricken neighbourhood. Directed by Barry Jenkins, who won the ‘Best Director’ Oscar; Moonlight is a powerful piece of though provoking cinema. This is also Jenkins’ directorial, feature film, debut.

Ashton Sanders & Jharrel Jerome in a scene from Moonlight (2016)

The strong built, Trevante Rhodes, brings out such a sensitive performance; through a character, that outwardly generally feels frightening, with his gold chain, and gold teeth; and tough, overtly masculine, act; that touches deep, seeping into your veins, feeling the pain he’s going through. What a beautiful human being the character of Chiron is. The movie is told in three chapters, with three actors, playing one character, Chiron, in three stages of his life. Thus, the film has a main character (Chiron the protagonist of the film), but no lead actor, as such. The trio of actors perfectly essay the role of Chiron. In fact, the whole ensemble cast is terrific.

Mahershala Ali; who won the Oscar, for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ (making him the very first Muslim to win an Oscar, in the acting category); plays a kindly drug dealer, who becomes a mentor, a father figure, for little Chiron. Overall an excellent movie, that deserved the ‘Best Picture’ award, at the 89th Academy Awards, held last month. Moonlight, was the first film with an all-black cast, and the first LGBT film, to win an Oscar, for ‘Best Picture’ ever.

Watched Moonlight, late Wednesday night (1st of March, 2017)!!

My Rating:-
Excellent!!! 10/10!!
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2. CAROL (2015)

A Christmas Carol, a beautiful Christmas romance, and a wonderful, lesbian, love story.

Cate Blanchett is superb as ever, nothing surprising about that fact. Todd Haynes, is an equally great director, again nothing new about that. But, Rooney Mara, WOW!!! What a brilliant performance. I’ve seen excellent films, starring Mara, in small roles, like in The Social Network (2010) and Her (2013); but I hardly noticed her in these movies. So she definitely was the surprise packet in Carol, for which Rooney Mara, tied in, for the ‘Best Actress’ win, at the 68th Annual Cannes Film Festival, in May 2015 (see my posts The 68th Cannes Film Festival finalé and Winners & Disappointments – at Cannes 2015, from May 2015).

Carol, is based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith, titled The Price of Salt. Though am a fan of Highsmith thrillers, I haven’t read this particular novel. This story, is very different to Highsmith books (at least that’s what I gathered from the movie). While most Highsmith literature has to do with crime, interwoven with themes of sexuality; The Price of Salt seems to be, an out and out, love story, of two beautiful women; living in a male oriented, homophobic, world. Sadly, this is the world, a great American writer like, Patricia Highsmith, a lesbian herself, had to survive in, in the 1950’s.

Carol is a beautiful heart warming Christmas romance, set in America, in the foxy 50’s, starring two fantastic foxy actresses. Rooney Mara carries ’s charm and simplicity, with grace; and bold Blanchett, is outstanding as ever. Carol, has the potential of being, a future Hollywood classic. While Moonlight, is a brilliant, low-budget, American indie-film; Carol is the quintessential, modern day, Hollywood romance.

I had the luck of seeing Cate Blanchett, in real life, down under. Heavily pregnant, she came to UNSW, to see a digital television exhibit, at our University; in early 2008. I actually didn’t recognise her at once. For one thing I wasn’t aware she was pregnant. So, when I saw a heavily pregnant lady, come out of the exhibit, in a massive pair shades, with a little boy, and stare right at me; I didn’t really pay much heed to her (I was waiting to go inside, with a couple of friends; waiting for whoever was inside to come out). But I did feel she looked familiar. Then she removed her dark glasses (for our benefit 😀 ), and started speaking to a person in a wheelchair, quite near me. It was her voice I recognised, and it’s only then I looked at her. After she left, I asked the students working the exhibit, and they confirmed it was her!! If I already knew she was pregnant, I would’ve recognised her instantly.

Watched Carol late night, on the 2nd of March, 2017!!

My Rating:-
Excellent!!! 10/10!!
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3. HOLDING THE MAN (2015)

Above: Actors Ryan Corr & Craig Stott; as Timothy Conigrave & John Caleo, respectively; in the film, Holding the Man (2015)
Below: The real-life Timothy Conigrave & John Caleo

What better day to watch an Australian Gay-themed film, than on the night of, Sydney’s Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. Of course being on this side of the Ocean, there is no way I can attend the parade, down under, in all it’s splendour. But instead, I watched an Australian Queer Film, based on a memoir; which was the basis of a stage play, with the same title, by Tommy Murphy (who is also accredited with the screenplay for this movie), that came out in 2006; whilst I was in living in Sydney. The play was a big hit in Sydney; and in 2007, I remember seeing an interview with Tommy Murphy, on a local television channel in Sydney. Unfortunately I never got to see the play.

As I mentioned, Holding the Man, is based on the true story, of Timothy Conigrave’s (stage artiste, writer & activist), 15 year love affair with John Caleo (who died of AIDS); which Conigrave penned down, in a book called, Holding the Man. Conigrave completed this book shortly before dying of an AIDS-related illness, himself, in October 1994, at the age of 34 (a month before his 35th Birthday).

Holding the Man, is a tragic story, chronicling the life of two gay men, in Melbourne, Australia, who fall in love as teenagers, in the 1970’s; and survive all odds, when the land of Oz, was still very homophobic. It’s a pity, Timothy Conigrave and John Caleo, weren’t able to see, how much the world has changed today, and how much more open, Australia is to gay culture today. In fact, Sydney is the next gay capital of the world, after San Francisco, in USA. BUT, no matter how open and free, homosexuality is down under, today; sadly many a Australians do take Gay people for a joke. Homosexuality is no laughing matter. People can still be pretty cruel, and inhumane, even in Australia, towards the LGBTIQ community.

Watched Holding the Man, late night, on the 4th of March, 2017. The movie finished past midnight!! A sad beautiful tale, filmed beautifully by director, Neil Armfield. This is among the rare greatest Australian films, I’ve seen.

My Rating:-
Excellent!!! 10/10!!
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4. REFLECTIONS OF A GOLDEN EYE (1967)

Brando & Taylor, on the sets of Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967)

Based on the novel, Reflections in a Golden Eye, by Carson McCullers; this beautifully made movie, with a uniquely stunning photographic technique, was directed by John Huston, starring Elizabeth Taylor, in the lead, with Marlon Brando, Brian Keith, Julie Harris and Robert Forster. This was Forster’s debut role, where he played a sexual desire, of Brando’s character.

The main plot of the movie, revolves around the wife of a Major, stationed in a US Army post in the American South in the late 1940’s. The said wife is played by Elizabeth Taylor. A young new Private (Forster), has a perverted obsession, who voyeurs around the violet eyed beauty (Taylor), watching her naked body reflect through the golden brown lens of his eye. It’s a beautifully filmed, movie about a peeping Tom; unaware, of the Major (Brando), the husband, of his sexual desire, himself has a repressed homosexual desire for the Private. Seeing the Private’s naked golden body, many a times in the brown woods, only adds to the Major’s already uncomfortable want for a young man, he cannot have.

Despite a great story line, and the beautiful photographic technique, the film isn’t without it’s flaws. The most visible one being, that of Taylor’s character. Though the film is set in the late 40’s, Elizabeth Taylor’s look, just doesn’t feel the post-war period. With the latest hairdo’s and fashionable dress sense, straight out of the 60’s; Taylor is magnificently more modern, than the setting of the movie. Another flaw is, the movie starts to bore in the middle, especially after the death of a mentally unstable character, played by Julie Harris. Added to which, Huston could have focused more on the Major’s repressed sexuality; i.e. the character played by Marlon Brando.

A scene from the film, Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967); featuring Robert Forster, in the original release of the picture, with the golden hue, that did not impress audiences.

Initially the movie was released, with a golden hue enveloping the movie, as a reference to a drawing of a golden peacock, in the movie; a golden peacock in whose eye, the world is a mere reflection. But audiences did not seem to get this symbolic aspect, thus the original copy was withdrawn from cinema’s, and a normal coloured version re-released. I saw the ordinary colour version, but I’d love to check out Huston’s original aesthetic creation; with the warm sepia tint, over the colour film.

None the less, it’s a very admirable effort by John Huston. I watched Reflections in a Golden Eye on Sunday afternoon, 5th March 2017!!!!

My Rating:-
Average Fare!! 6/10!
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5. SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY (1971)

Last but not the least, most probably my favourite of the lot. What a clever, unusual film. The 60’s & 70’s were definitely the period that Hollywood ruled; bringing out bold unique plots.

Starring Peter Finch, Glenda Jackson and Murray Head; and brilliantly directed by John Schlesinger; Sunday Bloody Sunday, is a very mature, open minded, intelligent story. Murray Head plays a bisexual; who has two partners. One, played by Finch, and the other by Jackson. And each is aware of the other’s existence; and have a mature understanding, and acceptance, of the other, though neither of the, young bisexual scientific artist’s, partners have met each other. What’s more interesting, is how decent these people are, and in what a civilised manner, they handle sharing the same partner. They go on living a very normal life, with their lover, who finds time to spend with both, his male lover, as well as his female lover.

This is a very modern outlook, we don’t really see in this century. Of course, there are plenty of films on threesomes, extreme sexual deviations; but most of the time it’s showcased in a sleazy manner. That’s the beauty of this film, despite having a homosexual man and heterosexual woman, sharing one lover, there is nothing sordid about it. It’s so sophisticatedly handled, and is made to feel, so normal, and that too in a movie, that came out in the 70’s decade; it’s a wonderful feat.

One of the most intellectually adult movies, I’ve ever come across. Peter Finch, is spot on, as the elderly gay man, who is not seen suffering because of his sexuality, and who happens to a well to do Jewish doctor. Glenda Jackson plays a divorcee, who suffers from a childhood trauma, during the war. And each of them lives a relatively happy life, sharing one man, without suffocating the lover. And the lover, being bisexual, enjoys openly romancing both. And yet, it’s only the two of them he romances, and he doesn’t hide the fact he’s also seeing the other. So technically he is faithful to both his lovers.

A lot does happen in the movie, but it’s more character based, where these three people live a very civilized life, in a very normal manner, with acceptance and understanding. Isn’t this the kind of normal acceptance, of people who are different, and understanding them, that could make the world a better place. In a way, a very futuristic attitude. It’s a society that doesn’t have to fight for Gay Right’s, or Women’s Lib, et al; why?? ‘cause gay men and women are seen, living a relatively liberal lifestyle, with no judgement. Their friends accept them, friends’ children play with them, they are asked to take care of the kids, they trust each other; isn’t this the kind of normality, that ought to really exist, in today’s world, but sadly does not. Schlesinger, though set the movie in the 70’s itself, has forecasted a very progressive future, which should have made it’s way, by now.

This British film, is a masterpiece of cinematic intellect. A must watch. The Best film, in this list, I watched Sunday Bloody Sunday, late Sunday night (5th March 2017); the movie ended past midnight. Totally worth it!!

My Rating:-
Excellent!!! 10/10!!
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So that’s all folks, the 5 films I watched, within the first 5 days, of this month. Four of which, were pure excellence!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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

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

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

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

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

Watched Black Sea on HBO On Demand.

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

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

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

Watched Les Rides on TV5MONDE.

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

Watched Nightingale on HBO On Demand.

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

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

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

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

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

Watched Voulez-vous Danser avec moi on TV5MONDE.

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

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

Watched Kill the Messenger on HBO On Demand.

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

Watched Squatters on HBO Signature.

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

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

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

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

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

Watched Poltergeist on HBO.

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

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

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

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

Watched As Above, So Below on HBO On Demand.

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

Watched Le Lieu du Crime on TV5MONDE.

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

Watched Into the Storm on HBO On Demand.

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

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

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

Watched Timbuktu on TV5MONDE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watched J’ai Tué ma Mère on TV5MONDE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jacques Bernard in Les Enfants Terribles (1950)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watched Les Enfants Terrible on DVD.

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

Adelaide & Hahndorf

Cowboy Down Under Hahndorf, Australia

Cowboy Down Under
Hahndorf, Australia

On the 2nd of November, 2014, afternoon, I left Colombo, along with my mother, sister and brother-in-law (my sister’s husband), for a trip to Australia. We flew in a well spacious Emirates (code-share with Qantas) flight, to Singapore, and from Singapore in a congested Qantas Flight (with good enough service though) to Sydney, and from Sydney in a, comparatively better, domestic, Qantas flight to Adelaide. Thus, after almost two days of travel, we arrived in Adelaide on the evening of 3rd November, 2014. I was half dead, by the time we reached Franklin Central Apartments (where we had rented an apartment for the duration of our stay in Adelaide) in the city centre, after all I hadn’t had a wink of sleep in the three flights to Adelaide from Colombo.

It was nice to be back in Australia after 6½ years, though it was my first time in Adelaide. Back when I was living in Sydney (New South Wales), between June 2006 and June 2008, I had covered most of the Australian Eastern coast, from The Great Barrier Reef, Cape Tribulation, Cairns, Kuranda, Townsville, Magnetic Island et al up North East (Queensland), to Melbourne (Victoria) and the Great Ocean Road tour through Bells Beach, The Grotto up to see The Twelve Apostles, South East. But this was my first time in the state of South Australia. And I’ve never ventured towards the Western territory of Aussie land till date. Plus, this was also the first time I travelled down under with my family. My sister and father, had visited Australia (Sydney), back in September-October 2011, but this was the first time for my mum and my sister’s husband. And the first time for all of us in Adelaide (SA).

On the Emirates Flight I watched most of Boyhood (2014), and latter part of it in the Qantas Flight to Sydney. I mostly read Ben Okri’s The Age of Magic in the flight to Sydney, a book I bought at the Singapore (Changi International) Airport, whilst on transit. Coincidentally, it was a novel related to travel. A philosophical look at a train journey from Paris, France to Basel, in Switzerland. I couldn’t complete it though. In the third flight (Sydney to Adelaide), I tried to watch Magic in the Moonlight (2014), a Woody Allen flick, which I switched off, as I was too tired.

On 4th morning, though still a bit tired, I started to feel better, and we headed off to Hahndorf. An old German town, founded in 1838, by Captain Dirk Hahn, in the suburbs of Adelaide. Hahndorf literally means Hahn’s Town. I fell in love with the small European Town, and it’s friendly atmosphere. We walked around the streets, had a great lunch at ‘The Hahndorf Inn’. I even had some beer. Being a person who doesn’t enjoy drinking, especially alcohol, it was a pretty big deal. The last time I had any alcohol was six years ago. So it’s that rare I’d taste alcohol. I am not anti-alcohol, I just don’t enjoy drinking, I never did. Otherwise I have a sweet tooth and love desserts, and most of the ones I love have alcohol in them. Thus it’s not for any moral or religious reason that I don’t drink, but simply ‘cause I don’t like to. Beer even less so, as I generally give more preference to sophisticated liquor, like wine, cherry, champagne, and chocolate based liqueurs. But I can’t go to a German inspired habitation and expect to taste classy drinks and not taste their Beer. Otherwise, in lieu of beer, I ought to taste nothing at all. Along with the Beer we had a great pork based meat platter. The three of us really enjoyed it, and my vegetarian mother, enjoyed her Pretzel Bread appetiser.

Strawberry Fields, Hahndorf, Australia.  (L-R) My Sister, My Mum, My Sister’s  Husband.

Strawberry Fields, Hahndorf, Australia.
(L-R) My Sister, My Mum, My Sister’s Husband. PIX: Nuwan Sen

The highlights of Hahndorf, were being able to see a Museum related to Sir Hans Heysen (a German born, Australian, pastoral artist, that I wasn’t that well aware of) at the Heritage Museum & Art Gallery (which was also the information centre for the town), and of course the strawberry picking. My mum, did the most picking, and I the least 🙂 . Hey, I was busy taking pictures of the beatific strawberry fields, not that I didn’t pick any strawberries, I just picked comparatively very little, while she filled up a whole box. Of course my sister did the second best, but I doubt her husband did much picking either. I saw him ordering everyone around more and less picking. Ha!! None the less we did have fun. Next day Mum & I went to the shops, at Rundle Mall. That evening my father joined us in Adelaide. He left SL, two days after we did.

With Matthew Flinders, in Adelaide, Australia.

With Matthew Flinders, in Adelaide, Australia.

On the 6th, it was my day, my lone day. Thus the lone wolf, scavenged through Adelaide, towards ‘The Art Gallery of South Australia’. On the way I saw some interesting sculptures/statues/busts of famed people, including Mary Lee; a 19th century, Irish-Australian, social reformer and a feminist of the suffragist movement of South Australia; and Matthew Flinders (pictured above), English navigator and cartographer, the first person to circumnavigate Australia and identify it as a continent. The art gallery wasn’t that massive, and housed very little amount of works, compared to many a galleries I’ve visited in Europe, Asia and Australia itself. There were very few famed Australian artists, the likes of Grace Crowley, Sidney Nolan and Martin Sharp. But one of my favourite Australian Artists, Brett Whitely (see my post Beatle News #8 …& Brett Whiteley), was missing. Of course I’ve seen some of his works earlier, at ‘The Art Gallery of New South Wales’, in Sydney, when I use to live there (2006-2008). And I had seen a Sidney Nolan Exhibition, in early 2008, at ‘The Art Gallery of NSW’, as well. But I wished more Ozzie artists were hung at ‘The Art Gallery of South Australia’, as well. They did have some European works too, including Impressionist artist, Camille Pissarro, whose works I had seen at the Museé d’Orsay in Paris, France, when I lived there back in 2008-2009. There was also an interesting exhibition of etchings by G.B. Piranesi. Plus a post-post modernism exhibition by recent artists, using cut glass and lighting. Post the Art Gallery I checked out the ‘University of Adelaide’ and visited the ‘South Australian Museum’ briefly. All in proximity to each other. Along all these walks I met some really interesting people to talk to, which I hardly get out here. After the Museum closed I headed back to the Rundle Mall, and shopped for some books at Dymocks , and then headed to the cinema. Palace Cinema. And ended up watching Fury (2014), starring Brad Pitt and Logan Lerman. After the movie, it was late night, I walked back, met some French and German Rickshaw wallah’s. Had a nice chat with them as well. T’was a nice long day, by myself.

Cowboy in a Rickshaw With a German Rickshaw wallah

Cowboy in a Rickshaw
With a German Rickshaw wallah

On the 7th was my sisters MBA graduation ceremony (from the Australian Institute of Business), the main reason we went Down Under, in the first place. The Ceremony took place at the Adelaide Town Hall, and there was formal dinner post that at the Gallery on Waymouth. My sister did her degree in Colombo from AIB, but she had her post-graduation ceremony down there. Gallery on Waymouth was an interesting, purposely Kitsch style, Art Gallery style, café, with a Graffiti wall at the side entrance. Inside, I loved a couple of works inspired by Andy Warhol and an old Australian Matchbox cover, by an unknown artist, bringing Pop Art to the 21st century and giving it an Oz twist.

MBA Graduation Ceremony @ Adelaide Town Hall (Left to Right) Me (Nuwan Sen), My Dad, My Mum, The Post Graduate (My Baby Sister - Sachinta), The Chairman of AIB (Prof. Selva Abraham), and Sachinta's husband (Umesh).

MBA Graduation Ceremony @ Adelaide Town Hall
(Left to Right) Me (Nuwan Sen), My Dad, My Mum, The Post Graduate (My Baby Sister – Sachinta), The Chairman of AIB (Prof. Selva Abraham), and Sachinta’s husband (Umesh).

On the 8th of November, 2014, we left Adelaide for Sydney. On this Qantas flight, I was planning to check out Magic in the Moonlight (2014), which I couldn’t on the way to Adelaide. But this Qantas flight didn’t have any screens per seat. Thus I lounged back in my chair and got back into reading Ben Okri’s The Age of Magic.

Nuwan Sen n’ Travel

On Sunday night, 11th May 2014, I watched Men in Black 3 (2012), when it was shown on Star Movies.
MIB pic 2
I watched Men in Black (1997) back in the late 90’s, a pretty good comedy and I really enjoyed the movie (7stars). Men in Black -II (2002) was quite bad, and a waste of time (4stars), the third instalment, however, which I watched day before, was not that bad and surprising was enjoyable enough. It was kind of an amalgamation of Back to The Future (1985) and Aliens (1986). Back to the Future was an excellent science fiction comedy that came out in the 80’s (10stars, Yup! a guilty pleasure of mine), but Aliens wasn’t that great a gory sci-fi B-movie (3stars). I preferred Alien (1979), the predecessor of Aliens, which too was just OK, not bad (6stars). Hans Rudolf Giger, Swiss artist known for his work on Alien and Aliens, died yesterday, aged 74, in Gruyeres, Switzerland, after succumbing to injuries he suffered in a fall.

Men in Black 3 (2012), has the infamous comic Agent J (played by Will Smith), going back in time to, July 15th, 1969, to save the life of his partner, Agent k (Tommy Lee Jones) from being killed by a villainous alien, Boris The Animal (Jemaine Clement), who travels back in time to, 16th of July,1969, to kill off the younger Agent K (Josh Brolin), thus changing the course of history. Thus Agent J, just has to go back and make things right, and change history too, so that the younger Boris, doesn’t survive at all, preventing a future alien attack on earth, period.
MIB pic 1
It’s always fun to see new movies set in the 60’s and 70’s, when the world changed into (or rather should have) to a more relaxed and open-minded lifestyle we are accustomed to today. The 60’s in MIB3 looks fun and colourful and more stylish than the 21st century. The Back to the Future  element adds to the hilarity of the situation. And so does the retro style, 60’s, colourfully dressed, glamorous, B-movie aliens. The icing on the cake most probably was seeing Bill Hader playing Andy Warhol, and that too at ‘The Factory’. That was hilarious, he was spot on, until he removes the wig and dark glasses and exposes the great artist as an undercover agent for MIB. And added to that, apparently all the models are actually Aliens in disguise. Ha!! wonder what Andy Warhol would have said if he were alive today. He most probably would have had a good laugh and opened a can of Campbell’s soup.
Overall, the movie was pretty enjoyable, yet predictable. There is nothing new, that has not been done before. The rush to Cape Canaveral, Florida, where Apollo 11 is set to shoot into space is fun. That’s the enjoyable part, of interconnecting actual events with fictional ones, pertaining to the movie. We also see Neil Armstrong (played by a virtual unknown, Jared Johnston) briefly, ready for take off.

Barry Sonnenfeld, isn’t among my favourite directors ever, but I don’t dislike him either. MIB, the first was pretty good, and the latest is watchable. The worse movie he directed, so far as I’m concerned, was Wild Wild West (1999). But I do like him as director of photography (cinematographer) for films like Big (1988), When Harry Met Sally… (1989) and the MIB trilogy, though he’s not the among the greatest, or my favourite, cinematographers ever. Will Smith is the one who came up with the idea to a make a movie where he travels back in time, for the third instalment of MIB, to Sonnenfeld. Etan Cohen wrote the screenplay.

Men in Black 3  Rating: 6/10 OK-Not Bad, can enjoy if there is nothing else to watch, or do.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

MIB posters

Nuwan Sen n’ The Space age

 

Guess these international films, from around the globe, released between 1949 and The Year 2000 :-

Q1. Q 40'sQ2.Q 50'sQ3.Q 60'sQ4. Q 70'rQ5.Q 70'rsQ6.Q 70'rszQ7.Q 70'sQ8.Q 80'sQ9.Q 90'sQ10. Q 90'z……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Clues:-

  • Check out Tags for hints on various genre’s, stars et al

Answers:-
I shall provide the answers myself, once some of my fellow bloggers have given this a try

Have Fun with the quiz

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Loving Film

Six Degrees of Separation: from Alain Delon to …
(Alain Delon celebrated his 78th Birthday earlier this month, on 8th November 2013)

Alain Delon 6°
…Charlize Theron
Delon played a criminal mastermind devoid of any conscience, in Plein Soleil (1959/60), which was based on the novel, The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith (1), and another crime novel of hers was the basis for the Alfred Hitchcock (2) classic, of the same name, Strangers on a Train (1951), and Hitchcock made the movie Torn Curtain (1966); an espionage thriller set beyond the Iron Curtain of East Germany; starring Julie Andrews (3), who starred in the musical, based on a true life story that took place in Austria, The Sound of Music (1965), which also starred Nicholas Hammond (4), who later played the famous fictional webbed suited superhero, ‘Spider-Man’, in the television series, The Amazing Spider-Man (1977–1979), and later Tobey Maguire (5) took over the reigns, and played the webbed superhero, in a more skin-tight stretchy suit, in the trio of Spider-Man franchise of films (from 2002 to 2007), and Maguire appeared in The Cider House Rules (1999), which co-starred Charlize Theron (6).

…Lee Remick
Delon at one time was engaged to actress Romy Schneider (1); with whom he worked on a few projects, including Christine (1958), L’Amour à la Mer (1964) and La Piscine (1969) to name a few; and Schneider was famously associated with the trilogy of Sissi films (1955,1956 & 1957), where she portrayed the well known 19th century fashionista, Empress Elisabeth of Austria (2), a.k.a. Queen of Hungary (nicknamed ‘Sissi’), as did Ava Gardner (3) in Mayerling (1968), and Gardner starred alongside Deborah Kerr (4) in  The Night of the Iguana (1964), and Kerr starred in the beautifully, spooky, children’s horror flick, The Innocents (1961), which was based on a novel, The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James (5), and another novel, of his, was the basis for the film, The Europeans (1979) starring Lee Remick (6).

…Jacqueline Kennedy
Delon starred alongside Claudia Cardinale (1) in the Italian venture, Il Gattopardo (1963), and Cardinale appeared in the Hollywood crime comedy, The Pink Panther (1963), which was directed by Blake Edwards (2), as was 10 (1979), which also starred Dee Wallace (3), who played mother to a very tiny little Drew Barrymore (4) in the children’s, science fiction, drama, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), and Barrymore played Edith Bouvier Beale (5), a.k.a. Little Eddie, in Grey Gardens (2009), who was the cousin of, the United States of America’s, former First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy (6).

AD 6° Connections

…Juhi Chawla
Delon starred in Luchino Visconti’s (1) Rocco and His Brothers (1960), and Visconti directed Italian actress Alida Valli (2) in Senso (1954), who earlier came in the noir classic, The Paradine Case (1947), along with French born, Hollywood star, Louis Jourdan (3), and Jourdan played lead villain in the Bond flick Octopussy (1983), along with Indian actor Kabir Bedi (4), whose daughter, Pooja Bedi (5), came in the Bollywood flick, Lootere (1993), which co-starred, Punjabi born, former beauty queen (Miss India 1984), and Bollywood superstar of the 1990’s, Juhi Chawla (6).

…Helen Mirren
Delon appeared in Is Paris Burning? (1966), which co-starred Kirk Douglas (1), father of actor Michael Douglas (2), who came in Coma (1978); a mystery set in a hospital, where suddenly young healthy people start falling into a coma, after being operated on, and a young female doctor tries to uncover this conspiracy, which in turn ends up being a threat to her own life; the said young doctor was played by Canadian born actress, Geneviève Bujold (3), who portrayed the famous 15th century Queen consort, Anne Boleyn (4), in Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), mother of, the famous virgin queen of the 15th and early 16th centuries, Queen Elizabeth-I (5), who was portrayed by Helen Mirren (6), in the television mini-series Elizabeth I (2005).

…Madhuri Dixit
Delon played Julius Caesar (1) in the comedy Astérix aux jeux Olympiques (2008), as did Rex Harrison (2) in Cleopatra (1963), and Harrison played the lead negative role in the Bollywood gem heist of a movie, Shalimar (1978), which co-starred Zeenat Aman (3), whose most notable role happens to be that of the Hippie girl she played in Bollywood’s most loved Hippie movie, Haré Raama Haré Krishna (1971), which co-starred actress Mumtaz (4), who starred alongside Vyjayanthimala (5) in Suraj (1966), and Vyjayanthimala played a courtesan in Devdas (1955), and actress Madhuri Dixit (6), took over the role of the courtesan, in the re-make, Devdas (2002).

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense ()
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Six Degrees of Separation: from James Franco to

James Franco 6°

…Hilarie Burton
Franco portrayed legendary method actor James Dean (1), in the television movie, James Dean (2001), and Dean starred alongside Elizabeth Taylor (2) in Giant (1956), and Taylor was married to Conrad Hilton jr (3); son of the founder of the Hilton Hotel chain, who was Taylor’s first husband, who was  a gambler, alcoholic and was very abusive towards Taylor, and his abusive behaviour towards her resulted in a miscarriage, Taylor’s parents were horrified, and soon Taylor’s first marriage ended after suffering, and surviving through, nine months of a miserable marriage to Hilton jr; and Conrad Hilton jr happens to be the great uncle of Paris Hilton (4), who appeared in the remake of a B-movie, horror classic, House of Wax (2005), which co-starred Chad Michael Murray (5), who starred alongside Hilarie Burton (6) in the television soap, One Tree Hill (2003-2012).

…Hattie McDaniel  
Franco starred in the bio-pic Milk (2008), which co-starred Emile Hirsh (1), who starred in an adventure flick, based on a real life story, called Into The Wild (2007), which saw, a yet unknown, young, Kristen Stewart (2) who gained fame through the series of five Twilight movies (from 2008 to 2012), which co-starred Robert Pattinson (3); as a kind-hearted vampire who falls in love with a human and is in constant loggerheads with a werewolf, who too has the hots for the same person; and Pattinson appeared in the tragic drama, Remember Me (2010), where Pierce Brosnan (4) played his father, and Brosnan starred alongside Halle Berry (5) in Die Another Day (2002), who was the first African American actress (black actress) to bag the Best Actress trophy at the Oscars, in 2002, for Monster’s Ball (2001), and the very first black celebrity, to ever win an Oscar, was Hattie McDaniel (6), for Best Supporting Actress, in 1940, for Gone with the Wind (1939).

…Laurence Olivier
Franco directed and acted in, the one hour long, short film, Interior. Leather Bar. (2013), a re-imagining of the lost 40 minutes, of the film-within-the-film, of Cruising (1980), which starred Al Pacino (1), who played the lead mafia boss, in The Godfather: Part – III (1990), which also starred Austrian actor Helmut Berger (2), and Berger came in the movie, The Damned (1969), which co-starred Charlotte Rampling (3), who had a cameo in Deception (2008) starring Ewan McGregor (4), who shares a close friendship with fellow actor Jude Law (5); who was at one time his roommate; and Law starred in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004), in which CGI manipulated archive footage of the late actor, Sir Laurence Olivier (6), is used as the villain of the movie, in a hologram form; the villain of the movie too is discovered to have been dead for quite sometime towards the end of the film.

Jamesing Sixes

…Sergio Fascetti
Franco carried an entire movie on his shoulders, when he played the lead, in the biographical adventure film, 127 Hours (2010), which was directed by Danny Boyle (1), who also directed the zombie flick, 28 Days Later … (2002), starring Cillian Murphy (2), who worked with director Ken Loach (3) in The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006); about the Irish anti-British rebellion for independence in the 1920’s; and Loach also directed Poor Cow (1967), which starred Terence Stamp (4), who played a visitor that seduces a whole family in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s (5) Teorema (1968), an Italian classic, and  Pasolini also directed the very controversial Salò o le 120 Giornate di Sodoma (1975); set in a Nazi-controlled northern Italian state during the second world war, where four dignitaries round up sixteen perfect specimens of youth, and subject them to 120 days of physical, mental and sexual torture; in which Sergio Fascetti (6) played one of the victims.

…Tena Desae
Franco played the famed ‘Wizard’ in, Oz the Great and Powerful (2013), which happens to be a sequel/prequel to the children’s classic musical The Wizard of Oz (1939), which starred a teenaged Judy Garland (1), mother of Liza Minnelli (2), and Minnelli starred in the 70’s, somewhat campy, musical, Cabaret (1972), which was based on Christopher Isherwood’s (3) semiautobiographical novel, Goodbye to Berlin, and Isherwood’s novella, A Single Man, was the basis for the movie with same name, released in 2009, starring Nicholas Hoult (4), who appeared in the British television show, Skins (2007 till date), which co-starred Dev Patel (5) who starred in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011), which also starred Tena Desae (6).

…Audrey Hepburn
Franco starred alongside Tobey Maguire (1) in Spider-Man (2002), and Maguire appeared in Ang Lee’s (2) The Ice Storm (1997), and Lee won his second Best Director Oscar, earlier this year, for Life of Pi (2012), in which Bollywood actress Tabu (3) played the lead character’s mother, and Tabu’s aunt, 70’s feminist actress, and social activist, Shabana Azmi (4) starred in the British movie Madame Sousatzka (1988), in which the titular character was played by Shirley MacLaine (5), who starred along with Audrey Hepburn (6) in the, very bold for that period, movie, The Children’s Hour (1961), where two school teachers are accused by a student of being lesbians.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense ()
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Six Degrees of Separation: from Rock Hudson to

Rock Hudson 6°

…Lillete Dubey
Hudson starred alongside Elizabeth Taylor (1) in Giant (1956), and television actress Sherilyn Fenn (2) portrayed Taylor in the TV movie, Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story (1995), and Fenn starred in the creepy flick Boxing Helena (1993), alongside British actor Julian Sands (3), who acted in, one of the best of British Heritage Cinema of the 80’s, Room with a View (1985), which was based on novel by E.M. Foster (4), as was A Passage to India (1984), starring Victor Banerjee (5), who appeared in Delhi in a Day (2011), where Lillete Dubey (6) played his daughter.

…Joe Manganiello
Hudson starred alongside Doris Day (1) in one the most famous sex-comedies ever, Pillow Talk (1959), and Day starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s (2), 50’s re-make of his own 30’s classic, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), and Hitchcock was portrayed by Anthony Hopkins (3) in the bio-pic Hitchcock (2012), and Hopkins’ most famous role is that of a psychotic, cannibalistic, intellectual, killer in The Silence of the Lambs (1991), which co-starred Jodie Foster (4), who came in Flightplan (2005), in which Matt Bomer (5) had a small role, and Bomer currently plays the lead, in the television series, White Collar (2009 -till date), and in an episode, from the third season, of which, Joe Manganiello (6) has a guest role in.

…Tanay Chheda  
Hudson played a man who is an expert on sports fishing, but not so much when it comes fishing for a life partner, in the comedy Man’s Favourite Sport (1964), in which John McGiver (1), had an interesting small role, as did he in yet another hilarious comedy, Ariane – Love in the Afternoon (1957), where Audrey Hepburn (2) played the titular character; of the ‘afternoon girl’ of a playboy, driving the playboy to the brink of insanity; and Hepburn starred in Two for the Road (1967), a story chronicling 10 years of a couple’s relationship; from the day they met, to marriage, parenthood, infidelity and the disintegration of their love for one another; where the male lead was played by Albert Finney (3), who later came in the epic fantasy, Big Fish (2003), where Ewan McGregor (4) played the younger him, and McGregor came in Trainspotting (1996); a movie set in Edinburgh’s drug scene; which was directed by Danny Boyle (5), who directed Slumdog Millionaire (2008), where Tanay Chheda (6) played the younger (not the youngest) version of the lead character.

Rocking Sixes
…François Goeske   
Hudson came in The Mirror Crack’d (1980), which was based on mystery novel by Agatha Christie (1), as is the, 25 year long running, British television series Agatha Christie: Poirot (1989– till date), and in a 2004 episode, of which, starred Emily Blunt (2), who, in The Young Victoria (2009), played England’s Queen Victoria (3), as did Austrian actress, Romy Schneider (4), in Mädchenjahre einer Königin (1954); who starred in another historical bio-pic; Ludwig (1972), where the titular charcter was played by Helmut Berger (5), who more recently appeared in the German television crime thriller, Damals warst Du still (2005), which co-starred French actor, François Goeske (6).

…Leehom Wang
Hudson appeared as a guest for quite a few episodes, in one season, of the famed 80’s soap, Dynasty (1981-1989), of which, the negative lead, was played by Joan Collins (1), who starred alongside George Hamilton (2), in the television movie, Monte Carlo (1986), and Logan Lerman (3) portrayed Hamilton in, My One and Only (2009), and Lerman, as a child artiste, appeared in The Patriot (2000), which also starred Heath Ledger (4) who appeared in Brokeback Mountain (2005), which was directed by Ang Lee (5), who also directed Lust, Caution (2007) which starred Leehom Wang (6).

…Robert Sean Leonard
Hudson played a young man in love with a much older woman, in the May/December tear-jerker, All That Heaven Allows (1955), where the older woman was played by Jane Wyman (1), who later starred in the 80’s soap, Falcon Crest (1981-1990), which also starred, Susan Sullivan (2), who currently plays mother to Nathan Fillion (3) in the crime drama, Castle (2009 -till date), and Fillion stars in Much Ado About Nothing (2012), a modern updated version of William Shakespeare’s (4) famed comical play, and Kenneth Branagh (5) too directed, and acted in, another modern film adaptation of the same play in 1993, which also starred Robert Sean Leonard (6).

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense ()
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Yesterday I spoke about the five films that didn’t work properly. Life of Pi (2012) was one of them. In fact, Life of Pi was the first movie, out of the faulty five, I tried watching towards the end of last month. Finally I did, in one go, this Wednesday.

Life of Pi finally

If Mud (2012) was about a friendship that develops between a young boy and a convict, whilst helping the convict build a boat, in a remote isle on the banks of the Mississippi river; Life of Pi deals with a friendship between a young man and carnivorous Bengal Tiger, stuck on a boat, in the middle of the Pacific ocean.

Yet another much awaited brilliant surreal movie, with a CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) created tiger, for which director Ang Lee deservedly took home the Best Director Oscar earlier this year. Life of Pi also won Oscars for Cinematography and Visual Effects, and was nominated (and won) in various categories for various award ceremonies including the Golden Globes and the BAFTA’s.

The Pi Story
Life with Family
The movie starts off with now all grown up, middle-aged, Pi (Irrfan Khan), residing in Canada, narrating his life story to a down on his luck writer, played by Rafe Spall. From here we are taken back in time to French occupied state of Pondicherry, located in the southern region of India, in the 1950’s. In 1954 the French leave Pondicherry handing it to the recently Independent India. Pi is born into the newer Indian Pondicherry within the same decade, the second child, of a family, that own a zoo. From here onwards we learn how Pi was named after the French word for ‘swimming pool’, Piscine, more accurately the ‘Piscine Auteuil Molitor’ of Paris (now abandoned famed swimming pool of the past). Soon in school his name is changed to ‘Pissing’ by his schoolmates, and from there he soon manages to get people calling him ‘Pi’ (π),the 16th letter of the Greek alphabet, (which was not an easy task for young Pi).
Soon the boy’s curiosity grows to question various religions and religious beliefs. The 12 Year old Pi (played by Ayush Tandon) tests various faiths, beginning from Hinduism, then Christianity, and ultimately Islam.
One of my favourite scenes of the film is this philosophical discussion held sitting round a dinning table, comprising of Pi’s parents, the Patel’s (played by Adil Hussain & Tabu), elder brother, Ravi (Mohamed Abbas Khaleeli) and of course young Pi himself. The father being a practical man, and due various reasons, doesn’t believe in religion, while the mother, who was brought up with modernist views, finds peace and contentment in her religion as her parents cut her off for marrying beneath her. So here we have an interesting discussion of conflicting views, from the two parents towards young Pi. At the same time both have a good argument on their side. Born into the Hindu religion, the father admonishes Pi, not to blindly follow many a religions and stick to one, at the same time he states how science has taught us way more than religion ever has. The mother agrees, but she adds that science teaches us what’s out there, while religion teaches us what’s within us (heart and soul). Interesting argument both managing to make a point, and in the end, to the fathers dilemma, Pi states he wants ‘‘to be baptised’’. It’s hilarious, the mother finds pleasure, more because little Pi dared to oppose the father at the same time seeming to take his advise on not to follow all faiths blindly.
As Pi grows older, it’s interesting to see his relationship with his parents, brother, and Anandi (Shravanthi Sainath); the dancing girl; a teenage crush of his.

Life with Richard Parker
The majority of the plot deals with, how Pi survives a shipwreck, and the close bond formed between man and beast, each needing the other to survive, through this Odysseus journey back to civilization.
A beautifully told story, with a CGI created Bengal Tiger, and a very surreal oceanic backdrop.
Pi’s whole family dies in a shipwreck, and he survives along with some animals. Soon most of the animals die and it’s only him and a tiger, named Richard Parker due to a clerical error, that are stuck in a boat, and have to learn to get along with each other.
In the real world, between 1797 and 1884, there have been three known individuals named Richard Parker, who’ve been involved in three shipwrecks, within those two centuries. But am not sure whether the writer who created this story, intentionally used Parker’s name as an allegory.
In it’s almost entirety, the majority of the film, from the start, is made via the use computer graphics, and one can’t help but get a sense of artificiality whilst watching it. But the story is not necessarily meant to mirror reality. And the computer graphics don’t overpower the story and ruin it, instead it actually blends into the fabrication of this surreal fantastical piece of artistic cinema, and helps it move forward.

Nu Life (ν)  
We see the older, middle-aged, Pi, who has started life afresh in Canada, with his newer family. The older Pi, that’s been narrating his, hard to believe, survival story to a writer.

Top: Scene from the movie. Below: Creating the Tiger

Top: Scene from the movie.
Below: Creating the Tiger

The Director: Ang Lee
Ang Lee has definitely done a superb job, as almost always. Both visually appealing and constantly engaging, with not one dull minute. It’s another among Lee’s masterpieces.
Loved it!! 10/10 rating!!!

The Ice Storm
The Ice Storm (1997), was my introduction to Ang Lee, when I watched it about a decade ago, in Oslo. A film I almost did not watch. Even though I had watched Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility (1995) in England at the time, a superb period drama, I didn’t know who the director was at the time. I fell in love with this excellent film, The Ice Storm, starring all the famed child/teenage artists of the 90’s, including Elijah Wood, Cristina Ricci and Tobey Maguire. What really impressed me was how authentically 70’s it felt. If I didn’t know the cast, especially the younger cast, I would have actually believed the movie was, not just set in, but made in the 70’s. Of course Kevin Kline and Joan Allen existed in the 70’s, and were pretty young at the time, but they could have been made to look older through a really good make-up artist. As was the case in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf ? (1966), where Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were made to look, very believably, more mature, way beyond their years. So it’s thanks to Wood, Ricci and Maguire that I was certain that this was not a 70’s flick.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
After finding out Ang Lee had directed the marvel that was The Ice Storm, I had to check out Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), a movie prior to which I was reluctant to watch. And it was worth it. It wasn’t some silly, waste of time type, Martial Arts film, but an ode to the great oriental ancient art of self disciplined combat technique.

Brokeback Mountain
In the beginning of 2006, before the Oscars, I managed to watch Brokeback Mountain (2005). Another excellent venture created by Ang lee. A gay themed movie about two cowboys in the 60’s & 70’s, that was nominated in many a categories at the Oscars, but unfortunately won only for film direction, adapted screenplay and original musical score. It’s a brilliant film, and I refuse to call it a ‘gay movie’. For the term ‘gay movie’ could imply some sleazy cheap film meant for only a certain type of gay audience. No, this is an intellectual, thought provoking film meant for a broader audience. Ironically, that broader audience narrows down to a group of more open minded, intelligent, educated people, including true to heart film buffs.
I re-watched it in January 2008, in Sydney, when it was shown on the big screen at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, coincidently the day after Heath Ledger, the lead actor of Brokeback Mountain, died of a drug overdose. The place was packed, and no, Ledger’s death wasn’t the reason for the film being shown.

Lust, Caution
Lust, Caution (2007), original Chinese title Se,jie; was the last good Ang Lee film I watched in Sydney itself, before leaving, early-mid 2008. It might not be as great as the other Lee films I’ve spoken of here, but it’s a near excellent movie, set during the WWII-era Shanghai, under Japanese occupation in China. A long film with a few pretty graphic (but not pornographic) sex sequences, where watching those sex scenes were actually quite exhausting. But that’s what Lee was trying to show, for the lead character, played by Wei Tang, was playing a Chinese ‘Mata Hari’, seducing a Japanese official to spy for their cause against Japanese oppression. A tiring, yet a near excellent movie.

Taking Woodstock
Taking Woodstock (2009), was the last good Ang Lee film I watched, till Life of Pi. It was being released on the big screen in Paris, the day I was to leave Paris, September 2009. And it took me more than a year to finally locate it. It was in New Delhi, India, when I went there in November/December 2010, I found the movie. But it was an original Indian Copyright DVD, thus a censored version. All nudity clipped off. But I was glad that I finally found a copy, of a film based on the Woodstock of 69’, something I had been reading up various articles on, most of 2009. Both about the actual event and Ang Lee’s cinematic version. And at last being able to watch it was worth it. Another near excellent movie by Lee.

Some months ago I watched, Hulk (2003), when it was shown on Star Movies. I liked the credits in the beginning of the film, then slowly, slowly, the movie started to disintegrate into oblivion. Among the worst I seen. But the only bad film of Ang Lee’s I’ve seen till date.

All in all, Ang Lee is a great, very diverse, film director. No two films of his are alike, at least among his masterpieces.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Ang Lee Films (NS)

Ang Lee Films (NS)