Tag Archive: Novels


A strict Calvinist missionary from New England, marries a young girl who’s been pining for her beloved sea captain; from whom she hasn’t heard from, for two years. Soon the missionary, with wife in tow, sets sail for a new life, in a new land, known as the islands of Hawaii. Cultures clash, religious ideals clash, between the blinded Calvinist Ministers and the equally blinded Hawaiian natives, while caught in the middle of all this, is the young new bride, who tries to be the mediator. Added to this, whilst pregnant with her first child, the sea captain she yearned for at one time, touches the shores of Hawaii, only to cause chaos and mayhem, in the once paradise islands.

Such a brilliant classic, an epic saga of civilising the tribes of the Hawaiian islands; is an underappreciated gem of a movie, that spans three decades. Based on the third chapter ‘From the Farm of Bitterness’, of an even more epic scale novel, Hawaii by James A. Michener, the story is known for it’s historical accuracy. Plus, the lead male character of Reverend Abner Hale (Max von Sydow), is loosely based on the life of missionary Hiram Bingham I; leader of the first group of American Protestant missionaries from New England, who introduced Christianity to the Hawaiian islands. Added to which the character of Queen Malama (Jocelyne LaGarde) was based on Queen Ka’ahumanu, the actual ruler of Maui when the missionaries reached these beautiful islands. Yet, though the film’s historical background is spot on, the tale is fictional, and not based on a true story, just inspired by one.

Julie Andrews and Max Von Sydow

The ever wonderful Julie Andrews plays the minister’s young bride, Jerusha Bromley Hale. The sensible, the practical and the open minded personality, who dares to argue with her husband for the sake of the lovely innocent natives, at the same time, tries to make the natives understand her husband’s point of view. She’s compassionate, and understanding, without judging anyone or taking any sides. She’s the one who tries to bring a truce. Meanwhile, a mother to three kids (as the movie goes forward), she keeps having to deal with the animosity between her adamant husband, and the equally adamant captain she had once hoped to marry. The equally adamant captain, is played by Richard Harris.

Directed by Oscar winning director, George Roy Hill, with such a superb cast, this critically acclaimed movie, was the 2nd highest-grossing film of 1966; yet it’s a wonder this movie hasn’t gained much popularity, since. Is it because it’s too long ?? The original cinematic release was 189 minutes long (thus over 3 hours long); but the version I saw, was the edited version, of a 161 minutes (thus practically ½ an hour of film footage was missing). As a true film buff, I’d really like to watch the film in it’s entirety, with the missing ½ hour.

Richard Harris, Julie Andrews and Max Von Sydow

The screenplay co-written by Dalton Trumbo (see my post Trumbo 9/11 from September 2016, as well) and Daniel Taradash; Hawaii, originally was slated to star Audrey Hepburn and Alec Guinness, in the lead; and Rock Hudson as the Captain. And director Fred Zinnemann was meant to helm the project. But as Zinnemann and Trumbo had conflict of interest, Zinnemann walked out of the Director’s chair. Soon, forces of nature took over, and due to bad weather, and various other reasons, the project was delayed, not just a few years, but by over half a decade. Actors Gene Hackman and John Cullum, were known for their appearances in film, pre-fame. Added to which the film is notable for making the (unaccredited) debut of actress, Bette Midler; as well as the only film appearances of, Jocelyne LaGarde (who gained an Oscar nomination in the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ category, making her the only performer in Academy Award history to be nominated for the only performance ever given), and Max von Sydow’s two sons, Henrik von Sydow and Clas S. von Sydow.

I can imagine Audrey Hepburn doing justice to role of Jerusha Bromley Hale; just as brilliantly as Julie Andrews, has done. Alec Guinness would have been just as spot on, as the adamant Reverend Abner Hale, as Max von Sydow was. And no doubt, Rock Hudson would have been even more dashing in Richard Harris’ shoes, as Captain Rafer Hoxworth. Pity, despite it’s success in 1966, and having been nominated for seven Oscars (the following year), the film hasn’t aged well. To some extent, it does feel like a film made in the 50’s, than the 60’s. But I still enjoyed it, and despite a few minor flaws, I can’t accuse Hawaii of being anything, less than pure excellence.

I watched Hawaii late Sunday night, on 11th June 2017, but actually downloaded this movie, beginning of last month (May 2017).

Hawaii (1966)
My Rating: 10/10!!!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

The indirect vengeance of a non-visible villain. A villain that you never see, in his negative persona, on screen. YET, a villain who manages to torment his ex-wife, through his literary brilliance.

Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals (2016) is a masterpiece of filmmaking. A great piece of Cinematic Literature. Brutally direct, unnerving at times, difficult to sit through, and a class apart. One of the most sophisticatedly directed Hollywood thrillers of this century. Tom Ford is the future of American Cinema.
This post is full of spoilers, after all, it’s a character analysis.  

Nocturnal Animals is about a well to do, but unsatisfied, art gallery owner, Susan Morrow (Amy Adams), who one day receives a draft of a novel, written by her ex-husband, Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal); with whom she has had no contacts, for almost two decades. Slowly as she reads the novel, it becomes clear, the entire book is a conniving, vengeful, manipulative attack, on Susan. His revenge, for what he feels, she had done to him, in real life, all those years ago. Her guilt, her past memories, start to painfully gore into her psyche. The concept of ‘The Pen is mightier than the Sword’ stabs deep, in this unique blend of two storylines, one real (the reality set in the movie), and other fiction (the book written by the villain of the piece).

The Two Gyllenhaal’s  
Jake Gyllenhaal plays two characters, one is Edward Sheffield, the writer, the other Tony Hastings, the fictional character, penned down by Edward. Both are shown as lovely human beings, nice/kind/caring/sensitive. A loving husband; any woman would be lucky to be married to.

We see Edward, of the past, from Susan proposing to him, defending him, loving him, and marrying him. But their lives are not going anywhere. He is a struggling writer, with not much ambition in life, and an inferiority complex, of being considered weak. Although, Susan never calls him weak, and defends him, when her mother (Laura Linney) calls him thus. Yet, the fact Susan considers him sensitive in felt like an attack on his manhood. Edward’s ego can’t handle it. Worse, when she leaves him for a more dashing, classy, young gentleman, Hutton Morrow (Armie Hammer); to whom Susan is married to, in the present; that seems like the nastiest thing she has done to him. Not really though, the worse was yet to come.

Then in comparison, and contrast, to Edward, we see Tony Hastings, the fictional character, in Edward’s novel (in fact we see Gyllenhaal as Tony Hastings, before we see him as Edward Sheffield). Like Edward, Tony, is a loving husband; and a father of a teenage girl; with a kind and caring personality. Tony sets out on a trip, with wife and daughter, in tow (played by Isla Fisher & Ellie Bamber, respectively), through the dark deserted roads cutting through America. Soon they are attacked, by a gruesome group of creepy men, headed by Ray Marcus (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). We see Tony, helpless, and unable to defend his wife and kid, from these devils (the vicious villains of the novel). We see, Tony, as a normal human being, not a superhero. Ironically, a realistic portrayal of a fictional character. What follows is a tense drama.

Amy Adams, with a copy of John Currin’s Nude in Convex Mirror, hanging behind her; in a scene from the film.

Bringing out the Invisible Villain
Amy Adams is the icing on the cake. It’s through her emotional turmoil, as she reads the book, that gives birth to the real villain of this movie. It’s Adams’ character, Susan, that brings out the villain of Gyllenhaal’s character, Edward, to light. Every word, every tragedy, in the book, is a deeply cruel allegory of what Susan had done to Edward (according to Edward), in the past.

As the tension unfolds in the book, we (the spectators), along with Susan, feel the taunting tenseness of the sequence, taking place on the road. That is a very unnerving scene, as these hooligans harass the Hastings family. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is superbly shocking, as the villain in the book, Ray Marcus. But we have to remember, that he is but a fictional villain; not a real one (real as set in the movie). At the same time, the drama of the book, like the reel reality, is so engrossing, we are drawn into this parable of realism. We sit there, watching this long uncomfortable sequence, hoping the family will be sparred from these devils in human form.

As we see, a helpless Tony Hastings, not being able to help his wife and kid; after all normal human beings aren’t superhero’s, it’s a cry of Edward’s own inferiority complex, of himself being weak willed, as Edward assumed Susan felt about him. Even towards the end of the novel, Ray, calling Tony weak, is a hint, on Susan looking down on Edward (according to Edward), even though she never felt that way. And Tony proving, with a gun, he’s not weak anymore, is a metaphor of Edward proving, with his words, that he’s not weak anymore, either.

Jake Gyllenhaal, in his Edward Sheffield persona; in Nocturnal Animals (2016)

The shocking scene, where Tony finds his wife and daughter, raped, murdered, and kept in a suggestive manner in the nude; is an allegory of Susan’s secret abortion of Edward’s child, unbeknownst to him. In the present Susan has an adult daughter, Samantha Morrow (India Menuez), with her current husband, Hutton Morrow. But back then, she killed their child, worse she was accompanied by her then lover, Hutton Morrow. It’s obvious that Edward had kept a grudge, for close to two decades, because of it.

In the book, Tony has help, in the form a cop, a Good Samaritan, Bobby Andes, played by Michael Shannon (another brilliant role). But in the real world, Edward seems to have managed on his own. Edward at the same time, needn’t have gone so far, as to specifically send her the unpublished draft of his novel, titled Nocturnal Animals (a nickname he had for her, as she’s a night bird, who finds it difficult to sleep), and dedicated to her; as karma, had got her already.

Susan isn’t happily married. It is hinted that her husband is unfaithful. She is mostly alone, surrounded by material objects, living in a massive box of a stylish house. A modern day, glass, fortress, she seems to have created for herself. No real human connection. Her only child lives somewhere else. She’s succeeded in life, as a career woman, but not in happiness, not in living her life to fullest. She’s filthy rich, but not a soul near her. A rich loner, unhappy, and somewhat of a recluse. Edward’s final stab, at her, and her loneliness, is at the end of the movie. Where he agrees to meet her, at a posh restaurant; but stands her up. She ends up all alone, stood by everyone she cared for. It’s Edward’s revenge, fully accomplished.

Behind the Scenes: Amy Adams & Tom Ford, on the sets, during the making of the movie.

The Aesthetics   

Nocturnal Animals is a stylish thriller; dark, neo-noir, masterpiece; brilliantly filmed. Kudos to Tom Ford for bringing out something so unique; yet so Hitchcockian. The film is pure artistry, at it’s best. The symbolic aesthetics, the spot on imagery; the likes of, the bathtub scenes, shower scenes, the dead nude wife/sleeping nude daughter, et al; are perfectly synchronised. The entire movie, is a brilliant study of the cinematic arts. A must for all film fanatics, and it ought be taught to all film students, in film schools.

PIX: ME, with Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog (Magenta); at Château de Versailles (a.k.a. Versailles Palace), in France (30th September 2008).

The start of the movie itself, hints on the aesthetic superiority of the film, as real life flabby nude women, are showcased in a virtual art form, at an exhibition. Also a hint on the compare and contrast of the reality and fiction, that’s to follow, in Nocturnal Animals. These massive heaving nudes, reminded me of the study of the naked monstrosity depicted in Jenny Saville paintings. Speaking of ‘’, the films itself showcases famed artworks, from more contemporary (post-post modernist) creations like, Balloon Dog by Jeff (the king of ), Nude in Convex Mirror by John Currin (pictured above), Damien Hirst’s Saint Sebastian, Exquisite Pain, an ‘Untitled’ artwork by Mark Bradford;  to past artworks from the mid/late-20th Century, like the popular, post-modernist artist, Andy Warhol’s Shadow, Joan Mitchell’s Looking for a Needle and Alexander Calder’s 23 Snowflakes; to name some. Of course, all these artistic creations play a vital symbolic role, in the movie.

Revenge an artwork by the Art Department of Nocturnal Animals & Tom Ford, is symbolic of what the storyline of the film itself happens to be. An unnoticeable revenge. A revenge, that seems innocent; but in reality is pure torture, for the person it’s indirectly been enacted on.

Besides being a critically acclaimed masterpiece and equally visually stunning, Nocturnal Animals, is an artist’s heaven, a fashionista’s must have collectable, an interior decorator’s dream décor inspiration, and a modern architect’s ornamental wonder. A special shout out to the amazing crew of the film; especially, Abel Korzeniowski, for his haunting musical score, Seamus McGarvey, for his photographic brilliance, Christopher Brown, for his art direction, Shane Valentino, for his production design, and Meg Everest, for her art décor.

With a superb cast, backing it, and pure excellence, in every cinematic element of the film, including a great storyline, and helmed by Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals is amongst the best films, ever made. Truly, one of a kind.
My Rating: 10/10!!!!!
This post is my contribution to The Great Villain Blogathon 2017! A Blogathon hosted by Ruth of Silver ScreeningsKristina of Speakeasy and Karen of Shadows & Satin. Thank you Ruth, Kristina and Karen; for getting me involved in this blogathon. Thoroughly enjoyed being part of it.

I ended up watching this downloaded movie, twice (downloaded, ‘cause as such great films never come to cinema’s, in this aesthetically depressive country; yet it’s only just been almost a couple of months, since I first started downloading films, on the net). The first time I watched it, was last week (last Wednesday, to be more specific); which gave me the unique concept, I was hoping to find, to take part in this Blogathon; and then again, this Sunday. A special thank you, to Tom , for bringing out such a fantastic film, after all these years. Nocturnal Animals (), based on Austin Wright’s novel, Tony and Susan, is Ford’s second feature film. The first was, based on a another genius writer’s, superb novella, A Single Man, by Christopher Isherwood. This adaptation of Isherwood’s quick read, was released in 2009. Love the Ford Movie, Love the Isherwood Book. So Ford took his time, between two films, without rushing into things; and the result of which being, nothing but Excellence!!!!!  

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
#‎NuwanSensFilmSense (Facebook)
(Twitter)
(Twitter)
nu Sense on Film (Website)

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

So here are the rules:-

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

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

Three3 Things about myself :-

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

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

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

Done

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PAST POSTS

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

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

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

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

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

POST OF 2017, so far

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

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

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.
°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°

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).
-and-
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.
°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°

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!!!!!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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!!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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!!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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!!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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!!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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

Last Friday (on 18th of November, Year 2016), watched the DVD of The Devil is a Woman (1935). A story of a man’s obsession for a woman he could never own; and a woman who refuses to be any man’s possession.
the-devil-is-a-woman-marlene-dietrich-1Set in the early 1900’s, during the Spanish carnival season; a hedonistic period of merry making; the entire story revolves around, a woman who seeks pleasure for the self, with no care for others feelings. At the same time, the men who lust for her are no saints themselves; and they deserve what they get (or rather not get), in return. The Devil is a Woman, is based on a French novel, La Femme et le Pantin by Pierre Louÿs; the English title of which reads as, The Woman and the Puppet.
the-devil-is-a-woman-marlene-dietrich-2The Synopsys
The movie begins with the carnival, in the beginning of the last century, in southern Spain, where a wanted man, Antonio Galvan (Cesar Romero), for his revolutionary ideals, walking through the merriment, sees a beautiful veiled woman. He’s instantly infatuated. The woman, he finds out, is called Concha Pérez (Marlene Dietrich). Soon he meets an old friend at the pub, an ex-military officer, Captain Don Pasqual ‘Pasqualito’ Costelar (Lionel Atwill), and tells him of his interest for a woman named Concha. Pasqualito then cautions Antonio against her, telling him to be careful of that woman, and soon Pasqualito tells him of his own past experience, when he fell for Concha, five years before. Told in flashback we see Captain Pasqualito’s obsession for Concha Pérez (back in the late 1800’s, and how she constantly tricks him, and runs off with his money. As the movie proceeds, we realise what a fool Pasqualito is, and at the same time, how violent and nasty he can be.

Marlene Dietrich and Lionel Atwill in a scene from the film.

Marlene Dietrich and Lionel Atwill in a scene from the film.

The Character roles
Marlene Dietrich is hilariously superb as a morally questionable character. Yet she hardly lets the two lead men, enjoy her lips, let alone her body. She definitely cons them, and especially uses, the Captain, Pasqualito, for his money. At the same time we don’t feel sorry for Pasqualito either, for he can be brutal. True, she not much of a lady, at the same time she is honest on issues of her untrustworthiness, but what right has he to hit her black and blue. It makes him less of a man, and not enough to even pity the fool. She, at the same time, is a bold woman, who doesn’t let men overpower her, mentally. After she’s beaten by Pasqualito, she comes off unscathed, with not a care in the world. I’ve seen very few movies of Dietrich, and her portrayals are generally that of very serious characters (with a touch of humour, perhaps); but never seen her do something so farcically fun. Thus, this was something really different for her. A comical Dietrich is practically unheard of. And I loved her mischievous performance. Lionel Atwill is superb as a fool in lust, than love. It’s amazing how much Atwill resembled Josef von Sternberg (the director of the movie). Was there reel life, imitating the real? Was von Sternberg obsessed with Dietrich, and thus portrayed her as a devilish woman (though not necessarily as heartless and vindictive, as the men in movie see her as) in this film? She’s definitely not evil, as the title suggests, though men who can’t have her, might accuse her of being so, out of spite. None the less, after collaborating in seven movies together, this was the last film Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg worked on. He was a superb director, and she was his discovery. A pity, they went on to make movies for another couple of decades (Dietrich even longer, further down the years), but they never ever worked together again. YET, the collaboration of one director, with one actress, creating cinematic magic, in seven films, is till date, unmatched in the history of cinema.

Marlene Dietrich and Cesar Romero in a scene from the film.

Marlene Dietrich and Cesar Romero in a scene from the film.

Besides, Dietrich and Atwill, Cesar Romero is hilarious, as an exiled rebel, secretly in back in Spain, whose character of Antonio Galvan, despite listening to the former Captain’s advise, and agreeing on having nothing to do with Concha; gets a bout of amnesia (not literally), and goes running straight into the arms of Concha. Of course, Pasqualito’s advise, wasn’t out of any good intention, but more due to his own desire to own Concha, for himself; to get Antonio Galvan, out of the picture. The rest of the supporting cast are just as enjoyable in their respective roles; Concha’s mother, a con woman herself; the one-eyed woman who practically makes fun of Pasqualito’s desperate state, straight to his face; the governor, Don Paquito (Edward Everett Horton), who himself has his brain in his crotch, when it comes to the affairs of the seductive Concha; etc etc etc… The actors, and the superb direction by Josef von Sternberg, make the movie, with hardly much of a plot to speak of, an enjoyable affair.

Marlene Dietrich, on the sets of the film, (inset - right) Costume Designer, Travis Banton

Marlene Dietrich, on the sets of the film, (inset – right) Costume Designer, Travis Banton

One of the elegant Edwardian costumes designed, in White Chiffon and Lace, by Travis Banton, for Marlene Dietrich.  The photograph above, this sketch, shows Dietrich in this particular outfit, on the sets of The Devil is a Woman (1935)

One of the elegant Edwardian costumes designed, in White Chiffon and Lace, by Travis Banton, for Marlene Dietrich.
The photograph above, this sketch, shows Dietrich in this particular outfit, on the sets of The Devil is a Woman (1935)

The Production Design & Costumes
With the beautiful scale of art design and marvellous costumes, this movie would have looked spectacular, if it were made in colour. In fact, the film won the award for ‘Best Cinematography’ at the Venice Film Festival.

The costumes itself, besides being marvellous, are symbolic as well. We see Dietrich character wear a lot of lace, and hide her face in veils and masks. It pertains to her personality, as well, besides her love for fine things. Her hiding her face behind a literal mask, could mean she’s also hiding behind a metaphorical one, as well. Is she just a vulnerable young woman, afraid of being owned, afraid of commitment, just pretending to be a femme fatal?? Does she just pretend to have a block of “Ice” where she should have a heart?? Does she really not care, for anyone?? The duel sequence tells us otherwise. We get to see what’s actually beneath her nonchalant attitude. As does her visit to the hospital to see Pasqualito. When she lets go of Antonio Galvan, we see she’s trying to save him from being arrested. Of course (spoiler alert), last minute, at the border crossing, she refuses to run off to Paris with Galvan. She won’t leave her beloved Spain, but at the same time it doesn’t specifically show her going back to Pasqualito, either. She’s an independent woman, even at the end, and belongs to no one.

RIGHT: Audrey Hepburn in How to Steal a Million (1966) LEFT: Marlene Dietrich in The Devil is a Woman (1935)

RIGHT: Audrey Hepburn in How to Steal a Million (1966)
LEFT: Marlene Dietrich in The Devil is a Woman (1935)

The Audrey Hepburn Connection
Getting back to the beautiful costumes (literally speaking), they are the zenith and nadir of fashion. We see her in poverty, conning Pasqualito in gaudy costumes, in the flashbacks (towards the end of the 19th century), and as a very fashionable lady, in glamorous attire in the, movie settings, present (early 20th century). Some of these gorgeous costumes (of the 1900’s), by Travis Banton, reminded me of the stylish costumes of Audrey Hepburn, from My Fair Lady (1964). Of course, both the movies are set during the Edwardian era, one in Spain, the other in UK. But these two movies comprise some of the most stylish costumes from that period, before the Great War; over a hundred years ago. Of course, My Fair Lady is set in the 1910’s, whilst The Devil is a Woman, is set in the late Victorian, to the beginning of the Edwardian era. At the same time the British era’s don’t necessarily apply to Spain. Dietrich’s costumes in the flashbacks are more like that of a gypsy woman (I haven’t posted any of the pictures with gaudy costumes above, but just the more fashionably elite attire, worn by the glamorous Dietrich, thus, below I’ve posted a couple of hideous costumes, worn by her, seen in flashback sequences). Again here, her cheap glittery attire, seen in flashback, to the more elegant Edwardian outfits, in the, films, present day, could again by symbolic of her character. It seems to showcase her improvement in taste, her sophistication, and her growth, as a individual, and not just as a fashionista. In the more elite settings, we see Dietrich’s character have a heart, though see refuses to openly show her kinder, and more vulnerable, side. As I mentioned earlier, she’s seen hiding behind masks, a plenty, both literally and figuratively.

Despite the stylish costumes, worn mainly, in the latter part of the movie, the lace eyewear, worn by Marlene Dietrich, at her initial entrance into the movie’s carnival (she’s seen in lace eyewear more than once), reminded me of the black lace eyewear, worn by Audrey Hepburn, in How to steal a Million (1966), released in the year know as Sexty-Sex!! Of course, How to steal a Million, was set in the mid-60’s itself.

Couple of gaudy costumes, worn by Marlene Dietrich, in the movie, in the flashback sequences, set in the Victorian era.

Couple of gaudy costumes, worn by Marlene Dietrich, in the movie, in the flashback sequences, set in the late-Victorian era.

One thing missing here, is Dietrich’s trade-mark, sharp, clean-cut, masculine trouser suits. Her androgynous sexual ambiguity, and her bold masculine femininity, is something missing in this movie. We don’t see her, even in drag, at least once. Another rare differentiation from her usual roles. Pretty much out of her comfort zone, yet ironically this is supposedly one of Marlene Dietrich’s favourite roles ever. It’s definitely a very non-Dietrich role, in very non-Dietrich attire. Especially in those ridiculous gypsy style clothing, she’s practically unrecognizable.

The Controversy
The movie met heavy censorship, back in the day. Spain was outraged with the depiction of Spanish people in the movie. And once the Spanish government threatened to boycott all Hollywood films, Paramount Studio’s got hold of all prints in circulation, and burned them all. But Marlene Dietrich saved a copy, for herself, thus the movie still survives, in the 21st century. None the less a very bold movie, to come out of the 30’s, and most probably unacceptable back then (due to the crazed Hays Code of Law), that a woman should find herself in charge of herself, and not running behind a man.

The Dietrich DVD’s
Back in mid-September 2016, my father went to the States, for a an official visit. I asked my sister, who lives in USA, to get me some books and DVD’s, and sent her a massive list. She sent me most of the books, and six DVD’s. One of the DVD’s was a collection of Marlene Dietrich films, titled, “Marlene Dietrich: The Glamour Collection”, comprising of five of her films. I watched Morocco (1930) and Blonde Venus (1932), last month (October 2016) itself. Am yet to watch the rest from her collection.
the-devil-is-a-woman-marlene-dietrich-through-the-gateThe Dietrich Films
The first I heard of Marlene Dietrich, was as a teenager, in 1992, the year Dietrich died, aged 90. I saw a magazine full of her glamorous pictures. The first film of hers, that I know of, that I watched, was in 2002. When I was doing my MA in International Cinema (2002-2003), at the University of Luton, Luton, UK; in my first semester, for the module, ‘Post-colonial and third Cinema’, we mostly studied Asian and African movies (third world Cinema). BUT we also watched a Hollywood classic set in Africa, studying the orientalist attitude towards the third world. The film was, The Garden of Allah (1936), starring Dietrich alongside Charles Boyer. Post that I saw her in more mature, yet secondary, roles, like in the noir-classic, Touch of Evil (1958), and, the Audrey Hepburn, rom-com, Paris – When It Sizzles (1964).

And then last month, I saw her; first, in, the near excellent, Blonde Venus (as I mentioned earlier), alongside Herbert Marshall and Cary Grant; and then, in the very good, Morocco, with Gary Cooper, with whom she had a brief love affair in real life. What’s interesting in these movies, is the fact, though an independent woman, in both films, her love for a man, ultimately dictates her life. Morocco was tragic, the way she ultimately runs like a slave after her man. Both movies were sad in their own way. Whilst Blonde Venus had a happy ending, with the family reunited, Morocco was depressing, to what she became in the end. This is where The Devil is a Woman, differs. She seems better off alone, in the end. Marlene Dietrich’s character can also be considered, that of an existentialist, a free spirited individual, who shapes her own destiny.

Though not an excellent piece of cinema, it comes pretty close. Especially worth checking out for; Josef von Sternberg superb direction and cinematography, the fabulous costumes by Travis Banton, and last but not the least, for the, uniquely fun filled, performance by Marlene Dietrich.

The Devil is a Woman (1935)
My Rating: Near Excellent 9/10!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
(Twitter)
#‎NuwanSensFilmSense (Facebook)
(Twitter)
nu Sense on Film (Website)

Quoting Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy Brilliant Quote

BOOKISH NUWAN ()
Nuwan Sen (Quoting Quotes)

Quoting Vladimir Nabokov

“A writer should have the precision of a poet and the imagination of a scientist”
– Vladimir Nabokov
     (1899-1977)

BOOKISH NUWAN ()
Nuwan Sen (Quoting Quotes)

Go Gay: A Pride Month Special
Celebrate Pride (One Year)

One year ago, today, on the 26th of June, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States of America, legalised same-sex marriage, nationwide!!! This was not just a big win for America, but the world. Even though, Canada, was the first country, outside Europe, to legalise same-sex marriage; and besides Europe, being more tolerant, and open-minded, than anywhere in the world (Netherland was, not just the first European country, but the first country, in the world, to legally recognise, same-sex union); this win in the United States, marked a historic moment, for the entire world. One small step for America, a giant leap for the future of the world (with apologies to Neil Armstrong). Today, Asia, is the only continent, where, not a single country, allows, same-sex unions (although Israel accepts same-sex marriages performed overseas, and in India & Nepal, it’s not explicitly prohibited). In most countries, in Asia and Africa, homosexuality, is a still a criminal offence (including here, in Sri Lanka).

So, to celebrate the very 1st anniversary, of the American Supreme Court’s ruling, of the Obergefell v. Hodges trial; in favour of gay-marriage; I’ve decided to do a blog-post, on the top most (my personal favourite) gay-teamed, Feature Films of The Big Screen! Only movies, where, either the central theme, revolves around a homosexual character, or the main plot, of the movie, deals with sexuality itself, are included here. So here they are, the crème de la crème:-

COOL CLASSICS – That Dared!!!

Rope (1948)
An Alfred Hitchcock classic!! Hitchcock’s very first film made in colour; is loosely based on the notorious ‘Leopold & Loeb’ case of 1924. This is oldest movie I’ve seen, that dared to showcase, a homosexual couple. Even though in negative sense. Not that their sexuality is portrayed negatively, but the fact that the gay couple, also happen to be a couple of murders, is what makes them being a gay couple, more acceptable, during that time period. This was during a height of the dreaded Hays Code. Yet, thanks to the sophistication of Hitchcock’s direction, the movie doesn’t directly state the couple of guys, living together, are a gay couple; but it’s obvious to critical eye, what Hitchcock is implying. Besides, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, were a gay couple, on whom, the two “roommates” of the movie, are based on.

None the less, Rope, is an excellent, suspenseful, thriller, that doesn’t discuss their sexuality, but rather the murder, the couple commits. The two men in question, strangle their former classmate, just to prove their superiority of intellect, by murdering an inferior human being. To the two, psychologically disturbed lovers, this ‘Perfect Murder’, is a true work of art, of geniuses.

Starring James Stewart, Farley Granger, John Dall and Joan Chandler; this is a must see, especially, for any fan of Hitchcock’s. Rope is specifically notable for taking place in real time, plus the brilliant editing, that makes it appear as if the whole movie was shot in a single continuous shot. This was achieved by the use of really long takes. No close ‘cuts’!!! Excellent piece of Hitchcockian drama.

Am glad, my all time favourite director, dared to bring out something, that was still a taboo, without any trepidation. Yet, do it in such a way, as to get away from the censors. Hitchcock was no doubt, a clever genius!!!!!

TOP: Farley Granger, Dick Hogan and John Dall; in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (1948) BELLOW: Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn; in William Wyler’s The Children’s Hour (1961)

TOP: Farley Granger, Dick Hogan and John Dall; in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (1948)
BELOW: Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn; in William Wyler’s The Children’s Hour (1961)

The Children’s Hour (1961)
A very bold movie to come out in the early 60’s. The issue of lesbianism, dealt so sophisticatedly, at a time, before the hippies and the sexual revolution, were yet to take place, changing the mind set of society for the better. And the best part is, my all time favourite star of class, plays the lead in it. Audrey Hepburn, who else.

Directed by William Wyler, and starring Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine, as two school teachers, at a girls hostel run by them; the movie is a about a child that cries wolf; and who accuses the two teachers of being a lesbian couple. This is a shocking story, of how one child’s, nasty lie, ruins, the lives of the teachers, who are ultimately left with nothing. What’s more surprising, is towards the end, when it is revealed that one of the teachers, is actually a lesbian, who’s had to repress her feelings towards the other teacher; afraid of how she’d react. The movie ends in a tragic note. It’s a touching, and a beautifully made movie, that dared to bring out such a tender issue, when the world was still not open enough to accept homosexuality, that too on Hollywood’s celluloid.

Kudos to director, William Wyler, for bringing out such a bold gem like, The Children’s Hour, back in the beginning of the 60’s decade. Wyler directed some marvellously enjoyable fare, back in the day; the likes of, Wuthering Heights (1939), Roman Holiday (1953), Ben-Hur (1959), How to Steal a Million (1966) and Funny Girl (1968); to name some.

Ludwig (1972)
A Luchino Visconti masterpiece, on the life of King Ludwig-II of Bavaria. A brilliant Historical film, about a tragic King, who suffered due to his sexual repression (he was gay), and thus plunged into insanity. The question of his clinical insanity remains unresolved, till date.

Helmut Berger, perfectly, essayed this role, with ease, of the mad King of Bavaria. Romy Schneider, reprised her role of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, which she earlier starred as, in Austria’s, Sissi, trilogy (1955, 1956 & 1957). Also see my post Sissi : 115th Death Anniversary of Empress Elisabeth of Austria from September 2013.

Directed by, Italy’s, Luchino Visconti, Ludwig, has an interesting array of International stars, including, Trevor Howard, Silvana Mangano, Nora Ricci, Helmut Griem, John Moulder-Brown, Sonia Petrovna and Adriana Asti; to name some. A must watch, for any Film/History Buff.

Cabaret (1972)
This is a really good, beautiful n’ camp, musical. Based on segments; especially the segment on ‘Sally Bowles’; of Christopher Isherwood’s, famed Berlin diaries, that he novelised into, Goodbye to Berlin. Love the movie, love the book; enjoyed the book more, of course.

By the 70’s, homosexuality was out in the open; with quite a few campy movies being released. Thus, the trio of leads, Michael York, Liza Minnelli and Helmut Griem, playing gay/bisexual characters, would have been pretty acceptable, by then. The movie is set, in a sleazy night club, in 1930’s Berlin, Germany; as the Nazi Party rises to power around them.

Since many a true movie buffs, most probably have watched Cabaret, and loved it, it’s the novel, Goodbye to Berlin, that I’d highly recommend. It’s really worth a read. In fact, I just read it last year, around this time (June 2015); although, I actually bought it, during my trip down under, back in November 2014.

Victor/Victoria (1982)
From one campy musical, to another; this time, starring the singing and dramatic sensation, Julie Andrews. Andrews plays a woman, who in a guise of a man, performs on stage, as a woman. So basically, she plays a woman, who pretends to be man, in feminine drag. It’s a hilarious musical, again set in the underground gay clubs, this time, of 1930’s Paris, France. James Garner plays the confused millionaire; and owner of multiple clubs in Chicago, USA; who falls in love with her, even though he is straight. Confused, as to why he is in love with her; ’cause he is made to believe this is a gay man, performing dressed as a woman, on stage.

Last of the great musicals, of the last century. Since I have this on tape (old video cassette), I’ve watched it a few times. But still, the last time I saw this movie was, most probably, close to a decade ago. An exceptional musical, directed by Blake Edwards; Julie Andrews’ husband.

Another Country (1984)
This movie is based on a true story, about a Cambridge spy, that defected to the communist east; i.e. Soviet Russia (USSR). With a stellar cast, including, Rupert Everett, Colin Firth and Cary Elwes, this is a brilliant British bio-pic, on a disillusioned member of the ‘Cambridge Five’ spy ring, Guy Burgess.

The BBC mini-series Cambridge Spies (2003), too was based on the actual Cambridge Spies, of the 1930’s. Both, this movie, and the mini-series, are exceptional. A must see for any Modern History Buff!!
Maurice (1987)Maurice (1987)
A movie about repressed homosexuals, set in the Edwardian England. This masterpiece of Heritage cinema, a Merchant/Ivory production, is among the greatest British films ever made. Love this movie, based on E.M. Forster’s controversial novel. This is one rare gay-themed classic, that shows a happy ending, with hope, for a young gay couple, that too, in a very constricted era.

Starring James Wilby, Rupert Graves and Hugh Grant; this, Merchant/Ivory piece of British Brilliance, is a must watch for any film, and literature, buff.

The Last Emperor (1987)
Based on the life of Emperor, Henry Pu Yi; the last of the Emperors of China (the final ruler of the Qing dynasty), and his brief rein, within the walls, of the Forbidden City; this is an extraordinary bio-pic, by director, Bernardo Bertolucci. The film won 9 Oscars, including one for ‘Best Picture’.

Pu Yi’s two depressed wives, are shown to have a sexual affair of their own. So not out an out a lesbian film, yet it’s a classic that dared to show two women’s affection for each other, quite openly. An excellent masterpiece, of movie making.

THE NINETIES & NOUGHTIES – Still risking it!!
By the 1990’s there were quite a few, good, gay-themed, movies coming out of the celluloid closet, and onto the big screen. But the 21st century cinema, has been pretty marvellous, for the amount of, excellent, gay-themed films, that have got recognition around the globe. More than ever before.

My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Based on William Shakespeare play, Henry IV, the movie is about a pair of hustlers, played by River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves. Directed by Gus Van Sant, this movie also happens to be an interesting road movie, taking the young men on a journey of self-discovery; and a brilliant flick, focusing on, male prostitution.

Swoon (1992)
This excellent movie, made in black & White, is based on the actual gay lovers, of the roaring 20’s; Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold Jr., who kidnapped and murdered a child. Another superb flick.

Ironic, that Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (I’ve spoken about, above); which was loosely based on this very same criminal act, executed by these lovers; was made in colour; and this 90’s, more direct approach; was filmed in Black & White. I spoke about this movie, once earlier. See my post ~Famed Female Cinematographer turns 55 today from July 2014.

Fresa y Chocolate (1993)
Known as Strawberry and Chocolate, in English, this Spanish language, Cuban, film; is a very political movie about a gay communist, who falls for a young heterosexual man. A coming-of-age story, told via a close, gay/straight, friendship. Beautiful, touching, and pure excellence.

Fresa y Chocolate, stars Jorge Perugorría, Vladimir Cruz, and the film direction, happens to be a joint collaboration, by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabío.
Priest (1994)Priest (1994)
A superb British film, starring Linus Roache, as a catholic priest torn between his faith and sexuality. The film also stars, Tom Wilkinson and Robert Carlyle. A heart-rendering deeply touching, movie, by the late Antonia Bird.

Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994)
Based on Anne Rice’s acclaimed novel, Tom Cruise, plays a gay vampire, who turns his lustful desire (Brad Pitt), into a vampire as well. It’s an epic hellish tale, of the blood lusting lives of, the two male vampires, who roam for centuries, along with a child, a little vampire (Kirsten Dunst); who practically is like a child the couple adopted. A Vampire Love Story, about a  happy Vampire Family. Move away, Twilight films (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012). Of course the movie doesn’t directly state, that it’s about a gay vampire; but the homoerotism, between the two men, makes it quite obvious, as to why, Cruise’s lonely character saved, the other man, by turning him into a vampire as well. He needed his mate alright!! 😉

Fire (1996)
Two neglected housewives fall into arms of each other. Superb Art House Indian film, by Deepa Mehta; starring Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das, in the lead. This is the first of Mehta’s elemental trilogy. Watched ages ago, but just over a decade ago, I wrote a small critique online, on IMDB.

Check it out (Link:- http://www.imdb.com/user/ur7151691/?ref_=nb_usr_prof_0 Scroll Down)

Wilde (1997)
Tragic bio-pic based on the life of famed poet, playwright & author, Oscar Wilde. Starring Stephen Fry and Jude Law, as the lovers, Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas (a.k.a. Bosie), respectively; this is a touchingly sensitive portrayal of the kind hearted Wilde’s love for a selfish, prick of a, younger man. This British flick has a great star cast, including the legendary Vanessa Redgrave, Michael Sheen, Tom Wilkinson; along with gay cameo’s by Ioan Gruffudd, Orlando Bloom and Adam Garcia.

Mrs. Dalloway (1997)
The whole life of a woman unfolds in one day. Vanessa Redgrave plays the titular character, of Mrs. Dalloway, based on a novel by Virginia Woolf. Mrs. Dalloway is hosting a party, and as she prepares for the party, she reflects on her past. Her sexual repression, in a time when homosexuality was a taboo, is represented, in a way, where, she herself doesn’t consider herself a lesbian; but assumes her feelings towards a woman, is, as that of, a heterosexual male. Her sexuality is fluid. Then again, this was set during the Edwardian era, up to the 1920’s. Beautiful movie. Have had the book, for ages, but am yet to read it.

Directed by Marleen Gorris, this movie also stars, Rupert Graves, Natascha McElhone, Michael Kitchen, John Standing, Lena Headey and Alan Cox.

Bombay Boys (1998)
A hilarious Indian English-language comedy, about a trio young Indians, who’ve been living abroad, coming to India. One of those guys, comes to find himself, and he sure does.

Enjoyable satire, hinting on the underworld ties, towards the Bollywood film industry. Kaizad Gustad directorial debut, is a must watch. The film stars, Rahul Bose, Naveen Andrews, Naseeruddin Shah, Roshan Seth, Tara Deshpande and Alexander Gifford.

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
My favourite movie from the 1990’s. Love the Book! Love the Movie!! Love them both equally.

Based on Patricia Highsmith’s brilliant novel, this was directed by the late Anthony Minghella. This is the movie that made me a fan of Jude Law; shifting from Matt Damon. See my more in-depth critique on The Talented Mr. Ripley, in my list, My favourite J-Law Movies, on IMDB, from five years ago.

Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
Superb flick, for which, Hilary Swank, bagged the ‘Best Actress’ Oscar; in the millennium year; Year 2000!!!!

A girl guises herself as guy, to find herself; with disastrous consequences. Directed by Kimberly Peirce, this beautiful movie, speaks on repressed sexual desires and gender issues. The film also stars, Chloë Sevigny and Peter Sarsgaard.

Before Night Falls (2000)
An American Biographical movie, on Cuban poet and novelist, Reinaldo Arenas. Directed by Julian Schnabel, Javier Bardem, takes the lead, as the famed poet, who was imprisoned for being an openly gay writer. Superb!!

Frida (2002)
Another bio-pic, this time on, artist Frida Kahlo; who openly flaunted her bisexuality. A brilliant, English Language, film on, Mexican painter, and her husband/artiste colleague, Diego Rivera. Frida Kahlo’s art was her autobiography; as she depicted all the key moments in her life, in her artwork. This movie, aesthetically, chronicles it.

Directed by Julie Taymor; Salma Hayek plays Frida Kahlo, so effortlessly, she feels Kahlo, in every way. This no doubt, is the best role, essayed by Salma Hayek. Can’t think of anything Hayek has worked on, that ’s better. Besides she doesn’t need to, for this movie, no doubt, is her biggest triumph.

Left: British Author, Virginia Woolf  Right: Mexican Artist, Frida Kahlo

Left: British Author, Virginia Woolf
Right: Mexican Artist, Frida Kahlo

The Hours (2002)
From an artist, to a writer; The Hours, is a partial Bio-pic, on author Virginia Woolf. The issues concerning lesbianism is three different era’s, this movie, stars Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore. Each character plays a lesbian woman, that exists, in three different periods in time. Yet, they are all connected, through Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway (see the movie from 97’, mentioned above).

Woolf, writes it; another reads it; and another lives the life of it’s heroine. Nicole Kidman took home the Oscar, for ‘Best Actress’, for her brilliant performance, as, acclaimed author, Virginia Woolf. An excellent movie, by Stephen Daldry!!

Possession (2002)
Two literary sleuths unearth the amorous secret of two Victorian poets, one of whom was in a lesbian relationship.

Lesbianism/bisexuality in the Victorian era. Another excellent flick; with Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart, Jeremy Northam and  Jennifer Ehle.

The Dreamers (2003)
Another great, by Bernardo Bertolucci. This time about a trio of young dreamers, living in their own little world, away from the Paris riots of 68’.

A lot of fun and games, and plenty of homoerotism. Though it doesn’t directly show the two guys engage in any sexual interaction, there is more than a hint, that the two have done it; possibly more than once. Check out my write-up, on Bernardo Bertolucci & His Films from March 2014; to read more about Bertolucci films, including the two, I’ve spoken of here. Bertolucci’s, The Last Emperor and The Dreamers!!!!!

Carandiru (2003)
This Brazilian movie, is set in the largest prison, in São Paulo, Brazil. The inmates consist, of a lot of, gay, bisexual, transgender personalities, and a vulnerability, towards infecting themselves, with the AIDS virus.

This superb flick is based on the notorious, Carandiru massacre, of 1992. With deaths of 111 inmates, this massacre, is considered to be a major human rights violation, in the history of Brazil. Directed by Héctor Babenco, the film stars, Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos (as a doctor) and Rodrigo Santoro (as a transsexual inmate).

Bright Young Things (2003)
Based on Evelyn Waugh’s novel Vile Bodies, this movie is set in the late 1920’s, 30’s & 40’s, London. The movie is about fun loving youth, that existed in the roaring 20’s (through to the 1940’s). Michael Sheen, plays a gay man, that has to leave the country, to avoid prosecution, due to his sexuality. A thoroughly enjoyable film.

The book is more of a futuristic look at world, published in 1930. Thus it’s not that realistic; as no great depression, affects the fun loving youth. But I haven’t read the book yet, though I have it in my collection. Thus it’s hard for me to judge. But, knowing about the content helps, as the film isn’t accurate in it’s period, that it’s set in. Feels Roaring 20’s throughout, than more depressive 1930’s. None the less, it’s an excellent movie, and this was the directorial debut, of actor Stephen Fry.

Alberto Ferreiro and Gael García Bernal; in a scene from, Pedro Almodóvar’s, La Mala Educación (2004)

Alberto Ferreiro and Gael García Bernal; in a scene from, Pedro Almodóvar’s, La Mala Educación (2004)

La Mala Educación (2004)
An excellent Art House film, which also happens to be my favourite Spanish movie ever. Pedro Almodóvar is my favourite director from Spain; and he’s brought out some marvellous movies. This is my favourite film of his.

The movie stars, Mexican actor, Gael García Bernal, in the lead, who does a superb performance of a transvestite, on reel; although we later discover, he isn’t really one, just pretends to be one. García Bernal is another brilliant actor, and no doubt, my favourite Mexican star. He’s had some uniquely great roles, from the noughties, onwards. La Mala Educación, is a must see.

Kinsey (2004)
Kinsey, is based on the life of famed sexologist, Alfred Charles Kinsey. He founded the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University, today known as the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. He’s most famous for his publications, on his study of, human sexual behaviour.

As Kinsey (played by Liam Neeson) prefers to experience, everything first hand, he does so, with homosexuality, as well (along with Peter Sarsgaard’s character). This is another, excellently educational, biographical film.

A Home at the End of the World (2004)
This brilliant modern epic, chronicles the lives of two best friends, one of whom is gay, the other gay-ish, from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. A beautiful tale, starring Colin Farrell, Robin Wright and Dallas Roberts.

De-Lovely (2004)
A beautiful musical bio-pic, on composer Cole Porter. Chronicles his, hidden sexual, life and career. It’s De-Lovely!!! The movie stars, Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd; with notable cameo’s by, Sheryl Crow, Robbie Williams, Alanis Morissette and John Barrowman; in various musical appearances. A very enjoyable, dramatic, and a tear-jerker of a, musical.

Was Nützt die Liebe in Gedanken (2004)
Also known as, Love in Thoughts (in English), this is an intriguing German movie, starring Daniel Brühl and August Diehl. The movie is about a shy virgin poet, and his openly gay, aristocrat, friend. The movie showcases an all-night party, and deals with a suicide pact. A superb German film.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Most probably, the most popular gay-themed epic ever. This is one of the greatest epic tales, to come out of Hollywood; along the lines of, Gone with the Wind (1939), War and Peace (1956), Doctor Zhivago (1965), The Godfather trilogy (1972, 1974 & 1990), and in this century, Cold Mountain (2003); to name some.

Ang Lee’s magnum opus, is about a secret love affair, between two cowboys, who fall for each other, whilst working together, as young men, back in the 1960’s. They get married, to women, have kids, time flies, but their love for each other never dies. A tragically beautiful epic-Love Story!! It’s a pity, the movie was deprived of the ‘Best Picture’ trophy, at the Academy Awards, the following year. However, the film starring, Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams; did bag a trio of Oscars. ’Twas, Ang Lee’s, very first Oscar win; out of the two, he’s won so far; for ‘Best Achievement in Directing’.

Breakfast on Pluto (2005)
No doubt the best role, that Cillian Murphy, has ever done. He plays a transvestite, from Northern Ireland, back in the 1970’s. The film chronicles his/her life, through the political struggles, of Northern Ireland, to her life in London, as a prostitute; all in the pursuit of finding her biological mother. It’s a sad touching story, of a person not accepted in her own town, for being different, and her quest to find maternal love.

Based on the novel, Breakfast on Pluto, by Patrick McCabe; this is a brilliantly heart-rendering movie. A must see, British/Irish, flick, directed by Neil Jordan. Year 2005, was a great year for LGBT movies, made in the English language; especially in the commercial sphere.

Also see my list Kill Ian Murphy from November 2011 (Nuwan Sen), on IMDB.

Capote (2005)
This Bio-pic, is based on Truman Capote’s research for, his acclaimed novel, In Cold Blood. The basis for this particular novel, was inspired by an actual murder, of a Kansas family. The four members of the Herbert Clutter family, were brutally killed, by two young men; Richard (Dick) Hickock and Perry Smith. The two men were falsely informed, that the house contained a safe with $10,000. However, there no such safe, and the duo murdered the entire family. During his research, Truman Capote extensively interviewed Perry Smith, in prison. Basically, Capote, psychoanalysed, and got to understand the inner workings of the criminal mind. The movie, of , In Cold Blood (1967), is a brilliant cinematic venture, based on the novel. The movie, Capote, is based on Capote’s research, on the 1959 murder.

Year 2005, was definitely a year, when actors did daringly challenging roles; and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, won an Oscar, for his portrayal of the late Truman Capote, one of my favourite American authors. Also want to add, that Catherine Keener was superb as, author, Harper Lee.

Kevin Zegers and Felicity Huffman; in Duncan Tucker’s Transamerica (2005)

Kevin Zegers and Felicity Huffman; in Duncan Tucker’s Transamerica (2005)

Transamerica (2005)
From a epic journey of a transvestite, in the United Kingdom, in Breakfast on Pluto, to a journey on the road, with a transsexual, in the United States, in Transamerica (2005); year 2005, sure was a brilliant cinematic journey for the other sexes (as I stated earlier).

Here, actress, Felicity Huffman, plays the transsexual, who’s had (is going through) a sex change, from a man to a woman; when he/she finds out, that, she has a son (Kevin Zegers), from a one night stand, Huffman’s character had with a woman, when she was a young man. Soon the female father, and son, take a road trip. Superb road flick, by Duncan Tucker. Felicity Huffman, should have won the ‘Best Actress’ trophy, at the Academy Awards, in 2006.

Heights (2005)
Heights is a movie, set in New York, with various storylines, crisscrossing, each other. In one, James Marsden, plays a closeted homosexual, married to a woman (played by Elizabeth Banks).

Another beautiful movie, in the style of, I Heart Huckabees (2004), Crash (2004), Babel (2006), Little Children (2006) et al, which culminate into a brilliant climax. Heights, also stars Glenn Close, Isabella Rossellini and Jesse Bradford. This is the only feature length film, directed by, screenwriter, Chris Terrio. Thus he’s a ‘one film’ wonder, for now.

Infamous (2006)
While Philip Seymour Hoffman, did a brilliant job, playing Truman Capote; Toby Jones in Infamous, felt Truman Capote, in every way possible. From the short height, the rounded face, the small make of a genius, that Capote was; Toby Jones managed to get himself into character with perfection.

It’s rare, I would enjoy two movies, that were made on the same tale, but both, Capote and Infamous, are equally superb. Both based on Capote’s research for In Cold Blood. Watch out for Sandra Bullock’s excellent performance as Harper Lee. Yes, this movie, is the exact same story, with the same lead characters, as Capote.

The History Boys (2006)
The History Boys, as the title suggests, is full of Boys!! Set in a Grammar School, in 1980’s Britain; the movie is about a group of unruly teenage boys. Mainly their relationship towards a young, highly intellectual, professor. A very enjoyable movie, with an old gay lecturer, who enjoys giving the boys a lift on his bike; and the assessment of the possibility of the younger lecturer being gay himself; especially through the seduction of this said young lecturer, by one of the teenage schoolboys.

A superb comedy/drama, based on a play by Alan Bennett, and directed by Nicholas Hytner. The movie stars, Stephen Campbell Moore, Dominic Cooper, Richard Griffiths, Penelope Wilton, Georgia Taylor, and a cast full of charming young men.
Life in a Metro (2007)
Life in a Metro and Barfi! (2012), are definitely, two great Bollywood flicks, by Anurag Basu. He ought to do more movies like that. Like, the earlier mentioned, Heights, this is also a potpourri, about various people living in a metropolis. In this case, in Mumbai. Among the people, there also happens to be a closeted gay couple, who use a female colleague (who’s clueless of their sexuality), when one’s family, visits Mumbai. Hilarious at times, at times heart provoking, this is among the Best of Bollywood.

This movie has a stellar cast, including, Dharmendra, Nafisa Ali, Shilpa Shetty, Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Kay Kay Menon, Sharman Joshi, Shiney Ahuja and Ashwin Mushran, to mention some.

Les chansons d’amour (2007), a.k.a. Love Songs (in English)
An enjoyable musical, about a threesome (a guy and two girls). The trio of lovers, enjoy their youthful, carefree, life in Paris, until the death of one of the girls. This forms a rip in the relationship of the two left behind, and movie concentrates on how the death of a loved one, affects the other two.

But soon the focus shifts, as a young gay man, forms an infatuation, towards the guy (of threesome). Before soon, the two men are singing and rolling around in bed.

This is a beautifully made, romantic movie, without making the subject matter, sleazy in anyway. As if a threesome is the norm, and the world has accepted homosexuality whole heartedly. What a lovely movie, handled so sophisticatedly, by director, Christophe Honoré. Starring Louis Garrel, Clotilde Hesme, Ludivine Sagnier and Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet; this is a lovely, modern day, French, musical, to come out in recent times.
Milk (2008)Milk (2008)
A beautiful and tragic, bio-pic, on the life of California’s first openly gay elected official, and iconic American gay-activist, Harvey Milk. Set in the 1970’s, and another excellent political flick, directed by Gus Van Sant, this is among the greatest biographical films ever made. Sean Penn won an Oscar, for his touching performance, as Harvey Milk; Dustin Lance Black took home the Oscar for the ‘Best Original Screenplay’. The movie has roped in a brilliant star cast, of straight actors, playing gay roles; including James Franco, Emile Hirsch, Diego Luna and Alison Pill.

Doubt (2008)
Starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis, this is another brilliant film, about the doubt in the mind of a nun, whether she accused, a gay priest, of paedophilia, by mistake.

A very sensitive subject matter, this movie is set in a Catholic School, in the early 1960’s. This, must watch, movie, is directed by John Patrick Shanley, based on his own play. Pure Excellence, lead by Streep!!!!!

A Single Man (2009)
Love the Book, by Christopher Isherwood!! Love the Movie!! Love them both equally!!

Set in sizzling 60’s, the story is about, one day, in the life, of a gay English Professor, living in Los Angeles, California, in USA. One year, after the death of his lover, he sets out to kill himself, at the end of the day; but the events of the day, change his mind. Of course, in the book, he doesn’t try to kill himself, but the end result is the same.

This is a very stylishly made film, by Fashion Designer, Tom Ford (which also happens to be his very first directorial venture); starring Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode and Nicholas Hoult.

J’ai tué ma Mère (2009), a.k.a. I Killed My Mother (in English)
Unlike all the other films, I’ve spoken of here; majority of which I watched eons ago, within the previous two decades; I watched J’ai tué ma Mère, quite recently, in this decade. In fact, I saw this fabulous flick, just last month, this year!!

See my Blog-Post, Mai May Movies 2016 from May 2016!!!!!

David’s Birthday (2009)
Although, I watched this movie, some years ago, I did work on it, for a Blogathon I took part in, last year, this month.

See my Blog-Post, Beach Party Blogathon: Italian Film ‘Il Compleanno’, in English – ‘David’s Birthday’ (2009) from June 2015.
Natalie Portman in Black Swan (2010)Black Swan (2010)
In the last year, of the first 10 years, into the 21st century, Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan was released; for which Natalie Portman bagged the ‘Best Actress’ Oscar, the following year.

This is a brilliant movie, about a split personality, of a dancer, as she performs two roles, that of the white swan, and the black swan. The darkness of the black swan’s soul, starts take over her life. The movie also explores her sexuality, through an explicitly psychodynamic lesbian sex sequence. Nathalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, along with French actor, Vincent Cassel; are superb in their respective roles.

THE LAST FIVE YEARS – The Future is Here!

Laurence Anyways (2012)
Another brilliant Canadian movie, by young Xavier Dolan; I mentioned his first movie above, J’ai tué ma Mère. This time, a movie dealing with the issue of a transgender personality. A man who slowly transforms into a woman, ’cause he feels like a woman. But he isn’t a gay man. So basically he turns himself from a straight man, to a lesbian woman. The movie is an epic, that deals with the slow transformation, over the years, and stresses on how it affects his near and dear ones. Especially his beloved wife.

Laurence Anyways, stars, Melvil Poupaud, Suzanne Clément and Nathalie Baye. Along with this, director Xavier Dolan films, are among the best Canadian films, I’ve come across. The American television movie, Normal (2003), has pretty much the same premise.

La vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 et 2 (2013)
Known as, Blue is the Warmest Colour, in English; this is an exceptional lesbian themed film, about two young French girls, by, Tunisian-French, director Abdellatif Kechiche.

The French movie is about, the sexual awakenings, of a young girl, through a girl she met by chance. A girl with short-cropped blue hair. The two fall deep in love, and experiment an erotic romance. Beautifully made, this sensual film stars, Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Salim Kechiouche and Jérémie Laheurte. One of the best, lesbian-themed, films, ever made. Pure Indulgence!

The Imitation Game (2014)
Another great bio-pic; this time on famed Cryptanalyst/Mathematician & Theoretical Biologist, Alan Turning. The man behind the famed ‘Turing Test’. The movie is set during World War II, when he decrypted, German intelligence codes, for the British government. At the age of 39, Alan Turning, was convicted, under indecency laws, for Homosexual acts, in 1952.

Directed by, Norway’s, Morten Tyldum, and having roped in a superb cast; including, Benedict Cumberbatch (as Turing), Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, Mark Strong, Allen Leech and Matthew Beard; this a superb, English-Language, bio-pic, to come out in recent times.

Eisenstein in Guanajuato (2015)
Yet another bio-pic!! This is about one of silent cinema’s greatest film director’s, i.e. Russian born, Sergei Eisenstein. The man responsible, for bringing out, Bronenosets Patyomkin (1925), a.k.a. Battleship Potemkin (in English). Battleship Potemkin, is a propaganda film, based on the mutiny that occurred in June 1905, when the crew of the Russian battleship, Potemkin, rebelled against their officers. This Soviet Russian film, Battleship Potemkin, is today, amongst the greatest films ever made; and one of my personal favourites, of the silent era. It’s a brilliant cinematic artwork, in the field of visual aesthetics.

Eisenstein in Guanajuato, deals with Eisenstein’s trip to Guanajuato, in Mexico, and his gay sexual odyssey, in the 1930’s, after he achieved fame for Battleship Potemkin. Definitely a great Peter Greenway flick; and now Greenway is working on a sequel to Eisenstein in Guanajuato. Finnish actor, Elmer Bäck, essays the role of the famed Sergei Eisenstein, with ease. He does a brilliant job, and viewers are transfixed onto the screen, thanks to him, the superbly satirical dialogues, and the breathtaking cinematography. A must watch!!

10 Star Rating, for each of the above!! All the films I’ve spoken about are nothing less the EXCELLENT!!!

OTHER FILMS

Above: Whoopi Goldberg and Margaret Avery; in  Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple (1985)  Below: Queen Latifah and Tika Sumpter; in Dee Rees’s Bessie (2015)

Above: Whoopi Goldberg and Margaret Avery; in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple (1985)
Below: Queen Latifah and Tika Sumpter; in Dee Rees’s Bessie (2015)

There are many excellent films with gay characters or (sometimes subtle) gay themes; like in; Rebecca (1940), Les Enfants Terribles (1950), Strangers on a Train (1951), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), Ben-Hur (1959), Some Like it Hot (1959), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), In Cold Blood (1967), The Damned (1969), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Midnight Express (1978), The Color Purple (1985), Proof (1991), As Good as it Gets (1997), My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997), American History X (1998), Billy Elliot (2000), La Face Cachée de la Lune (2003), Little Miss Sunshine (2006) and Meet Bill (2007) (to name some); that I haven’t included here. Mainly because their main plot doesn’t revolve around homosexuality, or a homosexual character; but they do have gay characters, with quite prevalent, supporting roles; or sometimes even a very significant gay sub-plot, sometimes indirectly. But it’s not the main plot, nor does it have anything to do with the lead characters, thus have omitted some of these greats. Then there are gay-themes in television films like Family Album (1994), Common Ground (2000), No Night Is Too Long (2002), Normal (2003), Prayer for Bobby (2009), Christopher and His Kind (2011), The Normal Heart (2014), et al; that I haven’t spoken of here, as, for this post, I’ve concentrated on Cinematic ventures, only. Nor have I spoken of any short-films, as well; like the brilliant, Fishbelly White (1998) and Blessure (2009); or like the pretty good, Week-end à la Campagne (2007) and Homophobia (2012). Then again, haven’t seen that many Gay-shorts. Not to mention, there are some superb television series (sit-coms, mini-series, long serials et al), such as, Oz (1997-2003), Will & Grace (1998-2006), Cambridge Spies (2003), Angels in America (2003), American Horror Story (2011 onwards), The New Normal (2012-2013), Empire (2015 onwards), Bessie (2015), etc etc….; that openly explore Gay issues, and/or have gay lead characters.

Above: Mark Rendall and  Logan Lerman; in Richard Loncraine’s My One And Only (2009) Below: Kristen Stewart and  Juliette Binoche; in Olivier Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)

Above: Mark Rendall and Logan Lerman; in Richard Loncraine’s My One And Only (2009)
Below: Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche; in Olivier Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)

I also want to make a Special Mention, on some other near excellent to really good, gay-themed movies (of the Big Screen); From the Near-Excellent (with a 9 Star Rating), to the Very-Good (with an 8 Star Rating). These movies are really worth watching. The likes of; Voulez-vous Danser avec Moi (1959), Teorema (1968), Midnight Cowboy (1969), Deliverance (1972), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Caligula (1979), American Gigolo (1980), La Ley del Deseo (1987), Less Than Zero (1987), Philadelphia (1993), The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994), The Basketball Diaries (1995), Love and Death on Long Island (1997), Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997), No se lo Digas a Nadie (1998), Gouttes d’eau sur Pierres Brûlantes (2000), Presque Rien (2000), The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy (2000), Y tu Mamá También (2001), Das Experiment (2001), Yossi & Jagger (2002), Food of Love (2002), Le Temps qui Reste (2005), Crustacés & Coquillages (2005), Douches Froides (2005), Where the Truth Lies (2005), Kinky Boots (2005), Death at a Funeral (2007), Evening (2007), Little Ashes (2008), Latter Days (2008), Taking Woodstock (2009), Everybody’s Fine (2009), My One and Only (2009), Kill Your Darlings (2013), The Kids Are All Right (2010), Bombay Talkies (2013) and Clouds of Sils Maria (2014); to name some.

TOP: Edouard Collin and Théo Frilet; in  Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau’s Nés en 68 (2008) BOTTOM: Fawad Khan and Sidharth Malhotra; in Shakun Batra’s Kapoor & Sons (2016)

TOP: Edouard Collin and Théo Frilet; in Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau’s Nés en 68 (2008)
BOTTOM: Fawad Khan and Sidharth Malhotra; in Shakun Batra’s Kapoor & Sons (2016)

There are other many great movies, I’ve heard of, like, Tea and Sympathy (1956), Victim (1961), The Servant (1963), Les Amitiés Particulières (1964), Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967), Les Biches (1968), The Boys in the Band (1970), Entertaining Mr. Sloane (1970), Fortune and Men’s Eyes (1971), Morte a Venezia (1971) Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), Ai no korîda (1976), Die Consequent (1977), Una Giornata Particolare (1977), Un hombre llamado Flor de Otoño (1978), Querelle (1982), Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985), My Beautiful Laundrette (1985), The Crying Game (1992), Voor een Verloren Soldaat (1992), Xi Yan (1993), Fucking Åmål (1998), Gods and Monsters (1998), Better Than Chocolate (1999), Monster (2003), Grande École (2004), The 24th Day (2004), C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005), Huhwihaji Anha (2006), Nés en 68 (2008), Plein Sud (2009), Einayim Petukhoth (2009), Les Amours Imaginaires (2010), Habitación en Roma (2010), An Fei ta Ming (2010), 80 Egunean (2010), Howl (2010), Ludwig II (2012), The Broken Tower (2011), Sal (2011), On the Road (2012), Tom à la Ferme (2013), Margarita with a Straw (2014), Yves Saint Laurent (2014), Saint Laurent (2014), Aligarh (2015), Carol (2015), The Danish Girl (2015), Holding the Man (2015), Kapoor & Sons (2016), et al; yet I haven’t watched any of them; but have read some very positive reviews, along with good ratings, for them. These are some gay-themed films, am really keen on checking out.

So here’s to a more open-minded society; the future of equality, understanding human associations, personalities and reason. Giving everyone a fair chance, as they deserve. Here’s to a Brighter Future!!!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
#‎NuwanSensFilmSense
Films 2005

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!!!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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!!!!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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)
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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!!!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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!!!!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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!!!!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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!!!!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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!!!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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!!!!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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!!!!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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!!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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!!!!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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!!!!!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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!!!!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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!!!!!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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!!!!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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!!!!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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!!!!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

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!!!!!
……………………………………………………………………………………………….
Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
#‎NuwanSensFilmSense
Mai May Movies 2016

Pure British Sophistication!!! Chic & Classy, the Poshest of the Posh, Kate Winslet joins me, by turning 40 today. So, Happy Birthday, to one of my favourite Brits, of the 21st century!!!!!

English Rose: Kate Winslet turn 40!

English Rose: Kate Winslet turn 40!

With her charming smile, her naturalistic simple appearance, and eloquently well spoken British English, that would have pleased Professor Higgins; Kate Winslet today, is one of the most talented British actresses to have graced the Big Screen, both, in her own homeland, as well as Hollywood. Her elegantly well spoken, vocal diction, is the most articulate, since Julie Andrews, ran singing up the Austrian hills in a habit, 50 years ago. Winslet’s acting skills are second to none other than that of, the marvellous 66 year old, Meryl Streep. With her great cinematic choices; grace, elegance, poise, and such a kindly face; she is my favourite actress of this century.

Back in the mid-90’s, I read a small snippet on the movie, Jude (1996), most probably before it’s release, on some magazine, which accompanied a picture of Kate Winslet and Christopher Eccleston. To my memory, this was the very first I heard, and/or saw a picture, of Kate Winslet. I don’t recall coming across anything about her, prior to that. I was really keen of watching Jude at the time, as it was based on the novel, Jude The Obscure, by Thomas Hardy. Soon I forgot the cast, but remembered that there was a movie called Jude, that I wish to see. Then in early 1998, in my second year, at Delhi University, Titanic (1997) was being shown at a relatively newer Cineplex in the city. Multiplexes were quite new back in the 90’s, in New Delhi, thus a craze among young Delhiites, and we had heard about the curved wide screens at this particular cinema, with multiple halls, called Satyam Cineplex. So one wintry night, close to spring, along with some fellow students (friends & acquaintances), we went all the way to Satyam, which was quite a distance, from the north campus, to watch the late night show of Titanic. Getting the tickets wasn’t easy, even at that late hour, and we ended up in the front row seats. Generally not a fan of sitting right in front, but Titanic was totally worth it. As the lead  character played by Michael Pitt, in my favourite film on film buffs, The Dreamers (2003), states, about sitting right up front in the cinema, “it was because we wanted to receive the images first. When they were still new, still fresh. Before they cleared the hurdles of the rows behind us. Before they’d been relayed back from row to row, spectator to spectator; until worn out, second-hand, the size of a postage stamp, it returned to the projectionist’s cabin.” Over five years later, when I watched Michael Pitt’s character, Matthew, narrate those words, I could relate to it, especially since I watched at least two movies in that manner, in my DU years, and one of them was Titanic. I loved the movie; even though somewhat censored, when it came to the innocent, non-sexual, nudity showcased in the film; and everything about it, including Kate Winslet. Post that, I’ve seen Titanic quite a few times.

Kate Winslet in Jude (1996)

Kate Winslet in Jude (1996)

Being a great fan of Sandra Bullock, back in the 90’s, Winslet didn’t become my favourite actress, over-night. Literally!!! Titanic ended past midnight, thus next morning, and it was freezing cold by then. Later that year, I saw Jude, and fell in love with it, and thought Kate Winslet was brilliant. A couple of years later, I got to re-watch it. Consequently, over the next few years, I watched quite a lot of films of hers, some good, some not so, including, Heavenly Creatures (1994), Sense and Sensibility (1995), Hamlet (1996), Hideous Kinky (1998), Holy Smoke (1999), Quills (2000), Enigma (2001) and Iris (2001). Jude happens to be my favourite of Kate Winslet movie from the 1990’s.

Then in 2004, whilst living in Portsmouth, UK, I watched two interesting movies of hers. One was the really good thriller, with a very clever twist, The Life of David Gale (2003). The other, was the brilliant, surreal, masterpiece, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004); for which Winslet was nominated for a fourth time, and which was her second ‘Best Actress’ nomination, the following year. So, Year 2004, was the year, Kate Winslet, became my favourite actress. And since then, she is till date, my favourite female star of the 21st century. Back in 2000, I fell in love with Jude Law, practically replacing Matt Damon, as my favourite actor, when I watched The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), my favourite film from the 90’s decade, for which Law received his very first Oscar nomination. But it was four years later, after watching some more of his movies, that Law really became my favourite male star of the 21st century. So Year 2004, was a crucial year, for both Jude Law (who had quite a few releases that year) and Kate Winslet (mainly in regard to me). Year 2004, was when Law & Winslet, became my two favourite films stars, of the new century; and 11 years later, they still are (though unfortunately, Law hasn’t appeared in anything that impressive lately). It’s an interesting coincidence, to note, that both, Law & Winslet, happen to be Brits. Back then, they hadn’t actually worked together. But post 2004, Law & Winslet, have worked in a trio of films, out of which, I’ve unfortunately watched only, The Holiday (2006). A beautiful Christmassy romance flick, and if I remember correctly, I watched it on Boxing Day 2006, the day after Christmas; in Sydney, Australia. Later, I re-watched The Holiday, with my flatmates on DVD, the following year.

Law & Winslet: Movies in which both, Jude Law and Kate Winslet, appeared in.

Law & Winslet: Movies in which both, Jude Law and Kate Winslet, appeared in.

Then in early 2007, one Summer evening, at the height of the dry Australian heat, I saw Little Children (2006), on the Big Screen. Another excellent, Art House, film, and another superb Kate Winslet performance, for which she received her third ‘Best Actress’ Oscar nomination. By 2005, she was already, the youngest celebrity to be nominated four times, by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars). She was still 29, when she was nominated for a fourth time, for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Then came her magnum opus, The Reader (2008), for which she finally won the ‘Best Actress Oscar’. ’twas about time. I watched The Reader, twice within 2009 itself, the latter was on the Big Screen, in Paris, France. Today The Reader is my favourite of Kate Winslet movies. She’s definitely come a long way since her Titanic days. By now, I’ve seen quite a load of Winslet films of this century, including, Finding Neverland (2004), Romance & Cigarettes (2005), Revolutionary Road (2008), Carnage (2011) and Labor Day (2013). Added to which, I’ve also seen the excellent TV-miniseries, Mildred Pierce (2011), for which Kate Winslet won a Golden Globe award, an Emmy, among other wins, as well, for her performance as the titular character of the show. From her movies, that I haven’t seen yet, am really keen on watching, War Game (2002) & Pride (2004); for which she had lent her voice; All the King’s Men (2006), Contagion (2011), A Little Chaos (2014), Steve Jobs (2015) and The Dressmaker (2015), to name some.

It’s interesting to note, that Kate Winslet has appeared in some of my favourite pieces of literature, including adaptations of, Shakespeare’s Hamlet (an excellent modern adaptation), Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader, and Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road. Love those Books, Love their movie adaptations just as much.

Wishing Kate Winslet, all the best, on her 40th Birthday (Actors, Parminder Nagra and Scott Weinger, also turn 40 today. Best Wishes to them as well).

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Kate Winslet in Titanic (1997)

Kate Winslet in Titanic (1997)

Related posts/lists

Six Degrees of Separation: Kate Winslet
Mildred Pierce: TV miniseries
K Winslet
Oscar Winners … and then some 2012.
Labor Day: An Enjoyable Piece of Labour

(NSFS