Tag Archive: stage



(1929-1993)

Remembering Audrey Hepburn, on her 88th Birth Anniversary!!!

Audrey Hepburn; a brave kid during the second world war who participated in the Dutch resistance, a beautiful young ballerina, a Tony & Oscar winning actress of the stage & screen, a Hollywood icon, a classy Fashionista, a kind humanitarian, a caring philanthropist, and a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF; who gave herself completely to serving poverty stricken, and ailing, children, across, Africa, South America and Asia!! A modern day saint!!

A mini-pictorial tribute, to this unique personality!!

Nuwan Sen

 

Queer Movies, and the month of Mardi-Gras

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

sidney-poitiers-90th-birthday

To Sidney Poitier Esq.  

Dear Sir,
            First of all, let me wish you a very Happy 90th Birthday. And a big congratulations for being in the acting profession, on both the stage and the screen, for over 70 years.
           Thank you sir, for making it in Hollywood, at a time, when non-Caucasian celebrities, were a rarity. Most of Hollywood was initially made up of, the British, various European countries, Canada, and a few Americans (though those Americans who found fame, were limited to the stars of the fairer skin). Yet, considering the fact, that many a notable Hollywood personalities, were mostly British (and from other Western European countries); it’s obvious that Hollywood is actually, made up of immigrants. Yet, a very big thank you, to you, Sir Poitier, for not only being a leading actor, from the 1960’s (a decade when the world began to change, for the better) onwards; but also, for being the first black male actor, to win an Oscar.
           Legendary, Hattie McDaniel, beat you to it, by winning in the, Best Supporting Actress, category, at the 12th Academy Awards, in 1940; for her brilliant role, as ‘Mammy’, in Gone with the Wind (1939). Thus, making her, the very first African American to win an Oscar. So in a way, she paved the way for you. But it’s only when you won, for Lilies of the Field (1963), at the 36th Academy Awards, in 1964; that darker skinned stars truly started getting a recognition. Of course, in the 70’s, there were a lot of Blaxploitation (a.k.a. Blacksploitation) films. A pity, Afro-Americans, were being reduced to cliché’s. BUT, luckily you were not part of the Blaxploitation cinema, of the 1970’s (not to my knowledge, anyway). So, thank you, for not falling into that trap, and keeping a dignified edge, for Black stars, yet to shine. Plus, thank you, for opening up an avenue for non-white acting talent, in general, in Hollywood. Today, a British born actor, with Indian roots, is nominated for an Oscar; i.e. Dev Patel, who has been nominated in the Best Supporting Actor, category, for his role, of an Indian brought-up abroad, in Lion (2016). So, you started it, by being the first non-white actor to make it in Hollywood (which was already full of white immigrants); and today there are quite a few immigrants, from Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and South America (of various skin tones), making it, in the most celebrated film industry, in the world.

Classic Bromance: Sidney Poitier & Tony Curtis in The Defiant Ones (1958)

Classic Bromance: Sidney Poitier & Tony Curtis in The Defiant Ones (1958)

          Growing up I had heard about you, but had watched very few films, of yours; like Sneakers (1992), and your directorial ventures, like, Stir Crazy (1980) and Hanky Panky (1982), for instance; but it was in my late teens/early adulthood, when I saw, Stanley Kramer’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), that you became one of my favourite stars. What a brilliant movie!! It’s my second favourite film, of yours. My first, is no doubt, the British film, To Sir, with Love (1967), directed by James Clavell. I had heard of , To Sir, with Love, since I was a kid (in the late 80’s). BUT, it was only, finally in 2005, that I got watch it. I actually saw it on the Big Screen, when it was shown at Russian Centre, here. But it’s rarely I get to see good cinema here, especially on the Big Screen. I’ve actually, only seen three classics, at the Russian Centre. First was, Gone with the Wind, in 2002. Then, To Sir, with Love, in 05’. And finally, Tess (1979), in 2012. So it’s that rare (see my Blog post on Tess from October 2012). Of course, the Ethnic Centre, in Colombo, is, comparatively better. It’s still been a while, since they last showed anything worthwhile; but this week, they are showing two of your movies; the above mentioned, Lilies of the Field, and The Defiant Ones (1958). Both are on my Watchlist. And am really keen on going and watching these two films, this week. I heard, you play a modern day saint, in Lilies of the Field. A really kind human being. Humanity, is the best religion to preach. Kindness and open-mindedness, is sadly something still missing in today’s world of greed and materialism. In, The Defiant Ones, I heard, that your co-star, Tony Curtis requested, that your name appeared alongside his, above the movie title. This was a progressive first for you, and all other (non-white) skinned actors. How kind, it was, of Tony Curtis, to request something, so unheard of, at the time. He didn’t see your skin colour, but the fact, that you were a talented actor, and a lead character, in the movie, and not a supporting one. Blackboard Jungle (1955), A Patch of Blue (1965) and In the Heat of the Night (1967), are three other movies, in my Watchlist, that am really keen on checking out.

Sidney Poitier receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, in 2009

Sidney Poitier receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, in 2009

             Besides being a talented actor, you’ve also been a great diplomat. In real life, you’ve played the role of an ambassador for the Bahamas, to Japan; for a decade, between 1997 and 2007. Concurrently you were also the Bahamas ambassador to UNESCO. This most probably was the greatest, and the most significant, role, in life, you had to play.
On top of all the film awards, you’ve received, I must congratulate you, on receiving the great honours, of the KBE (Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1974; and more specifically, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by the previous American President, Barack Obama. Again, thanks to you, paying the way for African Americans, in the United States; Barack Obama, was the very first African American president, that USA, finally had. Him winning the election, in the end of 2008, and becoming the President in January 2009; and during his tenure, the Supreme courts ruling, of same-sex marriage to be a fundamental right, in June 2015; America showed progression. Being an avid supporter of Equal Rights, you shall agree, how progressive and open minded the country was getting. BUT, a pity, with Trump’s triumph, at the elections, held in November 2016, the country seems to have taken a step backwards. None the less, there is still hope for improvement; and the 2017 Women’s March, held last month (in January 2017), not just in your part of the world; but around the globe, is enough proof!! You too were part of an equality march, back in 1963; the March on Washington, headed by Martin Luther King Jr.
              The last time you worked, on screen, was sixteen years ago. I hope, something that interests you comes up, and you wind up doing another impressive role, even today. Or a great directorial opportunity comes your way. I don’t feel, you’ve retired from the film industry, yet.
              And lastly, Thank You, once again, for your great contribution, to the world of Cinema.
                                                                     Wishing you the best of health and happiness
                                                                                                                             With Regards
                                                                                                                                    Nuwan Sen

This Blog Post, in the form of a letter, is my contribution to the, 90 Years of Sidney Poitier Blogathon, hosted by , of The Wonderful World of Cinema.

sidney-poitier-blogathon

Thank you Virginie; for letting me take part, in this wonderful Blogathon.
Please also do check out my Blog posts, To Sidney, with Love and South Africa, The Apartheid, Missing Diamonds and The Wilby Conspiracy, from 20th February 2013 & 23rd December 2014, respectively.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
#‎NuwanSensFilmSense

Quoting Édith Piaf

edith-piaf-2016

“Death is the beginning of something ”
– Édith Piaf
     (1915 – 1963)

Today happens to be the 53rd death anniversary of the famed French singer, Édith Piaf. She died from cancer, at the age of 47, on the 10th of October 1963. Also see my post Édith Piaf: 50th Death Anniversary, from October 2013.

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Nuwan Sen (Quoting Quotes)

Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense

…AND THE WINNERS  are …

Ken Loach wins the Palme d’Or for I, Daniel Blake (2016)

Ken Loach wins the Palme d’Or for I, Daniel Blake (2016)

The Cannes Film Festival, for the Year of the Sweets, finally came to an end, last night. Like a true film fanatic/movie maniac/Cinema enthusiast; I stayed awake past midnight, on this side of the planet, to see who won the Palme d’Or, Grand Prix, et al, at Cannes, this year; on a special feature on the news channel, FRANCE24.

Xavier Dolan wins the Grand Prix for Juste la Fin du Monde (2016)

Xavier Dolan wins the Grand Prix for, Juste la Fin du Monde (2016)

Ken Loach won the Palme d’Or for the British film, I, Daniel Blake (2016); which happens to be Loach’s second Palme d’Or; and young Xavier Dolan won the Grand Prix for the Canadian movie, Juste la Fin du Monde (2016)!! The Palme d’Or (a.k.a. Golden Palm) is the highest honour at the Cannes Film Festival; and French New Wave actor, Jean-Pierre Léaud, received an honorary Palme d’Or, this year, for his contribution, to the world of Cinema. Grand Prix (a special jury award), is the second most prestigious award of the festival. The Pame d’Or, initially was known as the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film, and at one time, as the Grand Prix du Festival; which should not be confused with the modern day Grand Prix. The Grand Prix, itself was once known as Grand Prix Spécial du Jury, and later as Grand Prix du Jury. Both the Palme d’Or and Grand Prix, are awarded to the film directors, for what is considered the best movie, for the year. The ‘Best Director’ award, was a tie, this year. Romanian director, Cristian Mungiu; for Bacalaureat (2016); and French film director, Olivier Assayas; for the English language movie, Personal Shopper (2016); tied in for the ‘Best Director’ award. Iranian director, Asghar Farhadi, took home the award for ‘Best Screenplay’; for Forushande (2016). Iranian actor, Shahab Hosseini, bagged the prize for ‘Best Actor’; for the same movie; whilst Filipino actress, Jaclyn Jose, won the prize, for ‘Best Actress’; for Ma’ Rosa (2016). British filmmaker, Andrea Arnold, was awarded the Jury Prize (the third most highest honour, at the festival), for American Honey (2016).

The Late Nellie in Paterson (2016)

The Late Nellie in Paterson (2016)

Among other awards; the Un Certain Regard Award (for ‘Best Film’) and the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize, went to Finland’s Hymyilevä Mies (2016) by Juho Kuosmanen, and Japan’s Fuchi ni Tatsu (2016) by Kôji Fukada, respectively. The Queer Palm Award went to French director, Sébastien Lifshitz, for his documentary, Les Vies de Thérèse (2016). The L’Œil d’Or (or The Golden Eye), awarded to documentaries only, was given to, Brazilian Film Director, Eryk Rocha, for Cinema Novo (2016). The Palme Dog Award (awarded to the best performance by a canine), was posthumously awarded to, a female English Bulldog, the late, Nellie; for USA’s Paterson (2016) by Jim Jarmusch. In the movie, Nellie, stars as a male dog, named Marvin.

Cannes Sweet Year: Nathalie Baye, Xavier Dolan and Marion Cotillard, at the festival, on DAY-9

Cannes Sweet Year: Nathalie Baye, Xavier Dolan and Marion Cotillard, at the festival, on DAY-9

These are some of the main awards mentioned here. There are various other awards, at the Cannes Film Festival. So congratulations, to all the winners, of the 69th Cannes Film Festival. Year of the Sweets!!

I’d love to check out most of the films, shown at Cannes, this year. The only sad part for me was, Marion Cotillard didn’t receive any special recognition, for her work, this year. But this, 40 year old actress, is a superbly talented performer, and has won many accolades in the past, including at Cannes. And she no doubt shall, in the near future as well. At least, 27 year old film director, Xavier Dolan, won for Juste la Fin du Monde, which starred Cotillard. Dolan also won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, for the same movie, this year. Both Xavier Dolan and Marion Cotillard happen to be frequent faces at the Cannes Film Festivals, especially within the last decade. They are the future!!!!

All The Best!!!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

P.S. Tweets relating to Cannes 2016

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William Shakespeare By William Blake

William Shakespeare By William Blake

Had William Shakespeare been immortal, he’d have been 452 years old today!! But, just short of, half a century of turning 500; 400 years after his death, at the age of 52, his mortality has stood the test of time, through his great works of Literature.

Why is the Bard, the quintessential element of the highly cultured, even today? The 21st century? He’s an artiste, of great penmanship, that goes beyond borders, race & religion, gender and sexuality. He’s ventured, beyond ink on paper, into the world of art, cinema and now cyberspace. Shakespeare Lives!!

With my family (parents & sister) at Shakespeare’s Birth Place (October 2004)

With my family (parents & sister) at Shakespeare’s Birth Place (October 2004) in Stratford-upon-Avon

In front of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, in London (February 2005)

In front of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, in London (February 2005) – UK

In front of Shakespeare & Company (Bookshop), in Paris (July 2008)

In front of Shakespeare & Company (Bookshop), in Paris (July 2008) – FRANCE

When I was in school, pre-teens, we studied condensed works of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet; and I went onto read other works, such as a condensed version of Othello; and soon, (unabridged) complete works, such as Twelfth  Night, Macbeth, Anthony and Cleopatra, etc etc… and many more (not to mention, the lyrical sonnets of his, we studied); and by the time I was in University, for my bachelors, I studied Julius Caesar and, other studies on, Othello. In my school days, the tragic love story of, Romeo and Juliet, was my favourite, but as I grew older, another, more serious tragedy started to grow on me, i.e. Hamlet. It is obvious, that Shakespeare has been inspired by the Classics; and having been a student of ‘Greek and Roman Civilisation’ (for my A/L’s – Advance Levels), Hamlet, is very much a Greek Tragedy, with a more contemporary setting, in 16th century Denmark; where “the killer must be killed, by the nearest and the dearest”!! In fact, Hamlet, was derived from a Scandinavian legend, of Amleth.

Scenes from Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet (1968), starring Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey; based on the most popular of tragic love stories of Shakespeare

Scenes from Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet (1968), starring Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey; based on THE most popular of tragic love stories of Shakespeare

Just as William Shakespeare, was inspired by the literary works of ancient Greece and Rome; Shakespeare has been a great inspiration to the world of modern cinema and computer games. All the romance, the tragedies, the wars; even in the worst of films today; don’t tell me there isn’t more than just a hint of the Bard himself, quite literally “Ghost” writing the story lines. Take a look at all the run on the mill, Hollywood and Bollywood, love, romance and violence; there is so much of Shakespearean comedies and tragedies, underlining the main plots.

BBC television adaptation of Antony & Cleopatra (1981); based on Shakespeare’s famed historical play

BBC Television adaptation of Antony & Cleopatra (1981); based on Shakespeare’s famed historical play

I have seen quite a few, of Shakespeare’s work, that have been adapted onto Television and film, and the ‘original’ screen versions I love, and or generally like, are; As You Like It (1936), Romeo and Juliet (1968), Antony and Cleopatra (1981) along with some other BBC adaptations of Shakespeare (watched as kids in the early/mid-80’s, don’t recall them all), Prospero’s Books (1991), and Much Ado About Nothing (1993). Some excellent, some just pretty good, adaptations of brilliant pieces of great literature, here. Added to these original adaptations there have been some superb modern adaptations, including, West Side Story (1961), set in the late 1950’s, in New York (see the post I did for The Stage to Screen Blogathon, from October 2014); My Own Private Idaho (1991), brought forward into the 20th century, in Portland, Oregon; Hamlet (1996), brought forward to 1800’s Denmark; A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999), again set in the late-19th century, this time in Italy; Titus (1999), mostly a mixture of ancient Rome, and the 20th century; Haider (2014), set in the mid-1990’s, Kashmir. Most modern adaptations of Shakespeare happen to be crap; but the above mentioned films happen to be some of rare greats, transporting the Bard’s work, very successfully, way post his time. Other (original & modern day) Shakespearian flicks, that I’ve seen (good or bad), to my memory, include; The Tempest (1979) pretty Bad; Angoor (1982), remember watching this enjoyable Bollywood comedy as a kid, but don’t remember it well enough to rate it; Hamlet (1990) very Bad; Romeo + Juliet (1996) pretty Bad; Love is all There Is (1996), one of worse films ever made; Dil Chahta Hai (2001), near Excellent; As You Like It (2006) pretty Good; and Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013) near Excellent (see my post Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela: A Pleasant Surprise from February 2014).

An artwork depicting William Shakespeare, with his family (wife and children)

An artwork depicting William Shakespeare, with his family (wife and children)

From Queen Elizabeth I, to the Suffragette movement, to the scientific world of technological advances; Shakespeare’s work is, no doubt, of highly cultural, social and political significance, around the Globe, even today. Back in the early 18th century, a club was formed, by a group of aristocratic ladies, known as the ‘Shakespeare Ladies Club’; who petitioned the London theatres to produce William Shakespeare’s plays, back in the 1730’s. The ‘Shakespeare Ladies Club’ was responsible for getting the highest percentage of Shakespeare plays produced in London during a single season in the 18th century. Thus they ended up being the modern women, of that era, that helped make, Shakespeare popular again. Still in the 18th century, in September 1769, months after the Bard’s 205th Birth Anniversary, actor & playwright, David Garrick, hosted the ‘Shakespeare Jubilee’, a three day festival, as an inspiration to the very essence of freedom, and promise of a new life. This movement, helped cement Shakespeare as England’s national poet. On the second day, of the function, Garrick gave recognition to the ‘Shakespeare Ladies Club’. The ‘Romantic Poets’, of the early mid-1800’s, attempted to revive Shakespearean verse, though not as successfully. Shakespeare had a strong influence on novelists, Thomas Hardy, William Faulkner and Charles Dickens. To celebrate, William Shakespeare’s, 300th Birth Anniversary, in 1864, 100,000 people marched to Primrose hill in North London, and using the Bard’s Birth, pitched a protest, against the departure of, the Italian nationalist responsible for the unification of Italy, Giuseppe Garibaldi, from England. The Suffragettes, used the character of Paulina, from Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale, a character that fights against injustices, and stands against an unfair King, symbolically. For the 300th Death Anniversary of Shakespeare, in 1916, a theatre performance was held, in Drury Lane, London. The eulogy, honoured the great, 16th & 17th Century writer, along with the shadow, cast by the Great War (WWI).

Various adaptations of Shakespeare’s Hamlet on the Big Screen

Various adaptations of Shakespeare’s Hamlet on the Big Screen

Added, to these various festivals, honouring Shakespeare, by literature buffs; it’s interesting to note, how many people, today; Shakespeare enthusiasts, or not; Literature literate or not (in English speaking communities); spurt out words and phrases, used by the Bard himself (whether he coined those words, is unclear; but it is obvious, that such words were used in the 16th century as well). Of course, us literature fans, do tend to quote him, with phrases like, “Part(y)ing is such sweet sorrow”, “To be, or not be”, “Friends, Romans, Countrymen”, “All’s Well, that Ends Well’ et al; but everyday, ordinary, English speaking folk, who have no clue, or have no interest, whatsoever, in the Bard, use words/phrases like, “What’s done is done”, “Laughable”, “break the ice”, “Devil’s incarnate”, “give the devil his due”, “not slept one wink”, “arch-villain”, “puking”, “come what, come may”, “mum’s the word”, “Good Riddance”, “faint-hearted”, “a heart of gold”, “in-stitches”, “vanish into thin air”, “stuff as dreams are made of”, “Too much of a Good Thing”, and many many more, from various plays of his. Many a words used in Elizabethan England, are still in use, in modern day English, mainly thanks to Shakespeare. As a matter of fact, Shakespeare’s usage of language, helped shape the modern day language of English.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1968)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1968)

Being a Film Buff; I’d love to watch, many more screen (Big & Small) adaptations of the Bard of Avon (be it an original or a modern adaptation, be it an English language or a foreign film); like; A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935), Romeo and Juliet (1936) Twelfth Night (1939), Henry V (1944), Romeo and Juliet (1947) Hamlet (1948), Macbeth (1948), Les Amants de Vérone (1949), Julius Caesar (1950), Othello (1952), Julius Caesar (1953), Kiss Me Kate (1953), Romeo and Juliet (1954), Richard III (1955), Forbidden Planet (1956), Kumonosu-Jô (1957), The Tempest (1960), Hamles (1960), Romanoff and Juliet (1961), Sibirska Ledi Magbet (1962), All Night Long (1962), Ophélia (1963), Hamlet (1964), Carry on Cleo (1964), Chimes at Midnight (1965), Othello (1965), The Wars of the Roses (1965-1966), The Deadly Affair (1966), Ages of Man (1966), The Taming of the Shrew (1967), The Winter’s Tale (1967), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1968), Quella Sporca Storia nel West (1968), King Lear (1971), The Tragedy of King Richard II (1971), Korol Lir (1971), Macbeth (1971), As You Like It (1978), The Life of King Henry VIII (1979), Measure for Measure (1979), Falstaff (1979), A Performance of Macbeth (1979), Twelfth Night (1980), The Tempest (1980), The Merchant of Venice (1980), Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (1980), All’s Well That Ends Well (1981), Othello, El Comando Negro (1982), The Comedy of Errors (1983), King Lear (1983), Ran (1985), The Angelic Conversation (1985), Otello (1986), Hamlet Liikemaailmassa (1987), Twelfth Night or What You Will (1988), Henry V (1989), Richard III (1995), Othello (1995), Twelfth Night or What You Will (1996), Looking for Richard (1996), 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), Titus Andronicus (2000), O (2001), Je rentre à la Maison (2001), My Kingdom (2001), The Seasons Alter (2002), Maqbool (2003), Souli (2004), The Merchant of Venice (2004), ShakespeaRe-Told (2005), Othello: A South African Tale (2005), Ye Yan (2006) Omkara (2006), Mark Antony (2006), The Hamlet Adventure (2008), Were the World Mine (2008), Macbeth’s Disciple (2008), Romeo & Julio (2009), Hamlet (2009), Romeo & Juliet in Stanley Park (2009), Verona (2010), Coriolanus (2011), Much Ado About Nothing (2011), Private Romeo (2011), The Hollow Crown (2012 onwards), Romeo & Juliet (2013), The Tempest (2014), Venus & Adonis (2015), Arshinagar (2015) and Macbeth (2015). This might seem like a lot, but it’s just a handful, considering the fact, there are thousands of adaptations of the Bard’s work, on film, within the last 120 years of the cinematic arts.

William Shakespeare – 400 year on! Never say Die!!
This month, literary enthusiast, have been celebrating Shakespeare, around the world, in his honour, for his 400th death anniversary; which was on the 23rd of April, 2016!!

To William Shakespeare (April 1564 – 23rd April 1616)  

Bookish Nuwan
Nuwan Sen n’ Literature
Nuwan Sen’s Art & Film Sense

Long before Lady Gaga, back in the punk 80’s, you had singers like Madonna, Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper and of course Prince (among many others)!! And prior to that, glam rock stars such as Gary Glitter, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, et al; and even earlier, pianist, Liberace. Prince wasn’t the first, nor will he be the last, of the flamboyant celebrities with a unique sense of style, and great talent.
Prince - Golden BellsPrince (1958-2016)!! You shall be missed!! Being a kid of the 80’s, I grew up listening to your music. Unfortunately, haven’t watched any of your movies. But I ought to. One of the most popular singers ever, of the Pop scene. May you rest in peace.
Prince - Purple RainPrince (born as Prince Rogers Nelson), aged 57, succumbed to Pneumonia, after battling the flu, since the beginning of this month. He was found dead, yesterday morning, in the elevator, at his Paisley Park complex, USA.

To one of the greatest artistes ever!! Prince, shall live forever through his music!!

Nuwan Sen n’ Musical Greats!!

Today happens to be the 101st Birth Anniversary of my all time favourite cinematographer, Jack Cardiff. His uniquely brilliant, colourful aesthetics, in movies like. Powell&Pressburger’s Black Narcissus (1947) and The Red Shoes (1948), Alfred Hitchcock’s Under Capricorn (1949), and King Vidor’s War and Peace (1956), are stunningly splendid, with it’s vivid spectrum of striking colours. His creations on the big screen, are pure art. A massive canvas filled with moving pictures.

Jack CardiffJack Cardiff was born on the 18th of September, 1914, to a couple of music hall performers. By the age of four, he was already a child artiste, who’d worked in music hall productions as well as a few silent movies. As a child actor he starred in My Son, My Son (1918), Billy’s Rose (1922), The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots (1923) and Tiptoes (1927). By 15 he started working as a camera assistant, clapper boy and production runner. By 21, Cardiff had graduated to camera operator and occasional cinematographer. Having already worked with Alfred Hitchcock, in The Skin Game (1931), as a clapper boy; soon he got a chance to work with Powell&Pressburger, as a second unit cameraman. Powell&Pressburger were so impressed that they hired him as a cinematographer, and the rest is history.

Ben Cross and Amy Irving in The Far Pavilions (1984)

Ben Cross and Amy Irving in The Far Pavilions (1984)

Ben Cross and Omar Sharif in a scene from The Far Pavilions

Ben Cross and Omar Sharif in a scene from The Far Pavilions

As a little kid, back in the mid-1980’s, I watched The Far Pavilions (1984), a beautiful mini-series, set in India, in the 1800’s. Back then, I had no idea who Jack Cardiff was, but was amazed by the superbly, epic scale, picturesque, television show, which has been tagged as, “Gone With The Wind (1939), of the north-west frontier of India.” I got to re-watch it in my teens, back in the early 1990’s. Thus, even though unaware at the time, this was my very first Cardiff involved show, that I witnessed. And I’ll end up watching quite a few Cardiff’s aesthetic brilliance of the big screen (on the small screen), before I learn the cinematographer responsible for the visual beauty of these great movies.

The Red Shoes (2)

Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes (1948)

Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes (1948)

Scenes from The Red Shoes

Scenes from The Red Shoes

Still as a kid, towards late 80’s, when I watched The Red Shoes, I was spellbound. The beautiful colour combination, costumes, the respectable art form of the ballet, the story, the movie as a whole, I fell in love with it almost instantaneously. And at the time I didn’t even realise it was an old movie. Especially ’cause I had no idea who the actors were. By then I knew quite a few classic stars, from Charles Chaplin, Laurence Olivier, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Julie Andrews, Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, Al Pacino et al; so I felt these must be very new actors, who aren’t famous yet. In fact, even now, besides The Red Shoes, am not familiar with the work of Moira Shearer (who was actually a renowned ballet dancer, and had appeared in very few films), Austrian actor, Anton Walbrook, and Marius Goring. The story follows the life of a young ballerina, who becomes the lead dancer in a new ballet called, The Red Shoes, a fairy tale. The movie tells a story within a story. One through the ballet, and the other, the movie plot. I remember this scene, where the lead male character, asks the ballerina, “Why do you want to dance?”, she fearlessly quickly answers with another question, “Why do you want to live?”
I only saw The Red Shoes, once, less than 30 years ago, but I still remember, that scene so well, as if I saw it yesterday. That was the scene, that changes the lead character, played by Moira Shearer, Victoria Page’s, life, in the movie. The ballet sequences were mesmerising, telling a beautifully epic tale of it’s own, and filmed so beautifully. My personal favourite was the one with raggedy clothes, portraying an exhausted ballerina, complimenting the frighteningly beautiful visual effects of the time. Eons before the evolution of CGI.

Scenes from War and Peace (1956)

Scenes from War and Peace (1956)

Scenes from War and Peace

Scenes from War and Peace

Audrey Hepburn in a scene from War and Peace

Audrey Hepburn in a scene from War and Peace

The next, was War and Peace, which I watched around the same time, more ‘cause I was already a great fan of Audrey Hepburn by then. A brilliant epic, adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s celebrated novel, War & Peace. With a stellar star cast, including Mel Ferrer, Henry Fonda, Audrey Hepburn, Jeremy Brett, May Britt and Anita Ekberg, this Hollywood adaptation, of a novel based on Napoleonic Wars, especially Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812, happens to be amongst my favourite of epic scale war movies. And again, I recall, how brilliant the cinematography was. Of course the movie mainly focuses on complex relationship and personal maturation, of the three lead characters, and two aristocratic families, on the backdrop of the historical events of the Napoleonic invasion. I got to re-watch War and Peace, as an adult, just over a decade ago, whilst living in London. ’Twas  really worth it.

In the 90’s, as a teen, I watched Paul Czinner’s, As You Like It (1936). A pretty good movie adaptation of Shakespeare’s famed comedy. Jack Cardiff worked as a camera operator for this film, starring Laurence Olivier and Elisabeth Bergner. I enjoyed the movie, but I don’t recall much greatness, cinematography wise. Anyway, Cardiff wasn’t responsible for cinematography. Plus this happens to be a Black & White film, and Cardiff was famous for excelling in colourful epics.

Whilst living in Portsmouth, UK, 11 years ago, around this time, most probably to celebrate Jack Cardiff’s 90th Birthday (he was still alive then), one of the British channels, telecast, two of his movies. I already knew about both these films, and had heard about Cardiff. But it was that particular day, 11 years ago, that I got to know who Jack Cardiff was, after seeing these two films, which were shown one after another, that day. Black Narcissus and Under Capricorn. I loved the movie, and learnt a lot more about Cardiff, once I googled him out, back in 2004. And to see he was responsible for the magnificent cinematography, of my childhood films, The Red Shoes and War and Peace as well, was an added bonus. Since then, Cardiff happens to be my all time favourite cinematographer, of yesteryear.

Black Narcissus (3)

Scenes from Black Narcissus

Scenes from Black Narcissus (1947)

Scenes from Black Narcissus (1947)

Scenes from Black Narcissus (1947)

Cardiff’s work, on Black Narcissus, is undeniably the best I’ve seen till date. Set in the foothills of the Himalayas, near Darjeeling, India, and made as India was on the verge of getting their Independence from the British Raj, it’s another excellent movie, in every way possible, from the narrative, the brilliant cast, the setting, the cinematography, you name it. Starring Deborah Kerr, Jean Simmons (playing an Indian girl named ‘Kanchi’), Flora Robson, Kathleen Byron, David Farrar, Esmond Knight, Nancy Roberts and Sabu Dastagir, it’s a touching story of a group of Anglican nuns living in isolation, who have to ultimately, after being tragic victims of jealousy and lust, have to leave their peaceful life in India, under the British Empire. Jack Cardiff won his very first Oscar, for his beautiful creation of Black Narcissus, under the category, ‘Best Cinematography, Colour’. He was nominated for three more Oscars, twice for colour cinematography, and once for film direction, but never won. In 2001, he was awarded an honorary Oscar, as the ‘Master of light and colour’. Prior to that, in 1995, he was honoured with a lifetime achievement award, by the British Society of Cinematographers. And in Year 2000, Jack Cardiff was also awarded the OBE (Order of the British Empire).

Scene from Under Capricorn (1949), Down Under.

Scene from Under Capricorn (1949), Down Under!

Alfred Hitchcock’s Under Capricorn, is set Down Under, in the depths of the heat and dust of the Australian outback, i.e. Sydney of 1831, a town full of ex-convicts. Starring Joseph Cotten, Ingrid Bergman and Michael Wilding, the movie tells the story of how an Irish gentleman, who visits Australia, comes across his childhood friend, now a married woman, who’s suffering from alcohol abuse, and helplessly watches her decent into madness. Amazingly George Cukor’s Gaslight (1944), a superb piece of noir, too dealt with a married woman’s (played by Bergman as well) decent into madness, and Cotton played, a sympathiser, who saves her from her murderous husband, the man responsible for driving her insane. Under Capricorn, was Hitchcock’s second film made in Technicolor, after Rope (1948).

Death on the Nile (2)

Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, with the Sphinx in the background, in Death on the Nile (1978)

Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, with the Sphinx in the background, in Death on the Nile (1978)

Back then I also got to watch, Death on the Nile (1978), a very good adaptation of crime writer, Agatha Christie’s novel. Which was a really good movie, though not great. But again the cinematography capturing ancient Egyptian monuments was simply brilliant.

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Scenes from Delhi (1938), in Connaught Place, New Delhi, India

Scenes from Delhi (1938), in Connaught Place, New Delhi, India.

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Five years ago, I saw the documentary short film, Delhi (1938), online, on the BFI (British Film Institute) page, on the Youtube website. Another colourfully breathtaking insight of Old and New Delhi, of the 1930’s, showcasing the beautiful historic architecture, the modern wide roads, and Indian attire, of the period under the British Raj, and captured to perfection by Jack Cardiff. One of the best short documentaries I’ve seen, and this 10 minutes of reel is definitely worth checking out.

Caesar and Cleopatra (1)

Scenes from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)

Scenes from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)

Claude Rains, Vivien Leigh and Stewart Granger in a scene from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), based on a play by George Bernard Shaw.

Claude Rains, Vivien Leigh and Stewart Granger in a scene from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), based on a play by George Bernard Shaw.

Black & White still, with Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh, in the technicolor film, Caesar and Cleopatra

Black & White still, with Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh, in the technicolor film, Caesar and Cleopatra

Then there was Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), starring Claude Rains, Vivien Leigh and Stewart Granger. Another classic film with breathtaking cinematography, based on an acclaimed play by George Bernard Shaw. Yet, Caesar and Cleopatra, is no where near as great, as some of the other movies mentioned above (cinematography wise), but still it’s another excellent cinematic experience, altogether. I watched this online as well, on Youtube, a few years ago. Sadly that’s the last of Cardiff’s films I saw, and I don’t own a single. All these movies of his, in which he worked as a cinematographer, is no doubt worth, adding to my home library, collection of movies.

Cameraman - The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (2010)

A documentary titled, Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (2010), was released, five years ago. Being a great fan of Cardiff, am really keen on checking it out. It chronicles his career of over seventy years, as a cinematographer, reviews his magnificent work, and details how he ended up mastering the process of Technicolor in Cinema of a bygone era.

Besides being a maestro in cinematography, Cardiff was also a film director. But from his directorial ventures, I’ve only watched, to my memory, My Geisha (1962), starring Shirley MacLaine, Yves Montand, Edward G. Robinson and Robert Cummings. That too, I watched, back in the 1980’s. My Geisha, was a hilarious comedy about an actress, Lucy Dell (MacLaine), who disguises herself as a Japanese Geisha, to bag the lead role, unaware to her husband (Montand), in her husbands new directorial venture, inspired by Giacomo Puccini’s, renowned Opera, Madame Butterfly.

Some of Jack Cardiff's directorial ventures, Sons and Lovers (1960), My Geisha (1962) and The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968).

Some of Jack Cardiff’s directorial ventures: Sons and Lovers (1960), My Geisha (1962) and The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968).

Being a fan of D.H. Lawrence, I’d really love to watch Cardiff’s adaptation of Sons and Lovers (1960), starring Trevor Howard, Dean Stockwell, Wendy Hiller and Mary Ure. Sons and Lovers, was Cardiff ’s very first nomination, for the ‘Best Director’ Oscar. Ironically it won one Oscar, for ‘Best Cinematography, Black-and-White’, for which he wasn’t responsible for. From Cardiff’s other works as a cinematographer, am really keen on watching, The African Queen (1951), Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), with Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe, and Crossed Swords (1977), with Oliver Reed, George C. Scott, Rex Harrison, David Hemmings and Mark Lester, to name a few.

All of Cardiff’s works I mentioned here as a cinematographer, are excellent films as a whole, except for Under Capricorn and Death in the Nile. Alfred Hitchcock’s Under Capricorn, is not necessarily Hitchcock’s best film, yet it’s still a near excellent noir flick. And John Guillermin’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s famed novel, Death in the Nile, though not the best adaptation of one of her novels, is still a very good crime movie.

In memory of Jack Cardiff (1914 – 2009), who shall forever be remembered for his masterworks in colour, especially at a time, when colour movies were a rarity, back in the 1930’s & 40’s. I’d love to watch more of his cinematic wonders, be it as a cinematographer, or a film director.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen’s ART Sense

Quoting Oscar Wilde 

You can never be
overdressed
or overeducated.
            – Oscar Wilde
         (1854 – 1900)

BOOKISH NUWAN ()
Nuwan Sen (Quoting Quotes)

Kill Your Darlings (2013) is based on the real life account, involving some of the famed poets from the Beat Generation, including Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, before they became famous.
Kill Your Darlings Blog HeaderThe Beats before The Beats
Before Allen Ginsberg became one of the greatest literary geniuses to have existed in America, in the previous century, he was just a geeky young student at Colombia University. Yet appearances aside, young Ginsberg got into all kinds of mischief, along with his group of friends, during his university years, in the 1940’s. Set a decade before the literary revolution of the Beat Generation, this group of misfits included his contemporaries, fellow poets, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. Unfortunately, all three of them were roped into, being indirectly involved in, a murder of a poet (a college Professor), who never got a chance to become famous for his intellect, but rather for the way he was killed, and made infamous as a sexual predator, just because he was gay. The murderer was released after two years, on the grounds that it was an ‘‘Honour Slaying’’, from forced homosexual advances, and that the murderer acted upon self-defence.

Kill Your Darlings, reminded me of some great films based on rebellious students, set in strict institutes. The likes of, A Yank at Oxford (1938), Mona Lisa Smile (2003), 3 Idiots (2009); and coming-of-age films like; To Sir, with Love (1967), Dead Poets Society (1989); which was actually set during the height of the Beat Generation, i.e. the 1950’s; School Ties (1992); which too was set in 50’s; Dangerous Minds (1995), The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002) and The History Boys (2006), to name some, out of many. While, like Kill Your Darlings; A Yank at Oxford, Mona Lisa Smile and 3 Idiots; are to do with college students, the rest of the films mentioned here are set in high school. But what’s common about these movies; either based on actual events, or out and out fiction; is the fact that it deals with anti-establishment, and ironically, as well as trying to fit in. These films are about youngsters (and sometimes adults/teachers as well), who can think for themselves; with a brain of their own; yet sometimes shy intellects take time to come out of their shell. And when they do, they fear nothing.

But that’s where the similarities end. For none of these films mentioned above, has a violent crime taking place. This is where Kill Your Darlings differs, and it’s based on an actual real life incident. While tragic deaths are seen in a few of movies mentioned here; either through suicide or accident; none of them result in murder. Thus this movie, ends up being a fusion of very varied genres, including, a crime drama, a love story (love triangle), a thriller, plus a biographical film, all roped into one. Yet the movie is less of a historical film, about the poets, that made them the famed Beats, and more to do with the love-triangle, that leads to a notorious tragedy the Beats unfortunately were associated with, during their college years.

LEFT: Allen Ginsberg  RIGHT: Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg in the movie

LEFT: Allen Ginsberg
RIGHT: Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg in the movie

Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg, leads the cast, with Dane DeHaan (as Lucien Carr), Jack Huston (as Jack Kerouac), Ben Foster (as William Burroughs) and Michael C. Hall (as David Kammerer); making up the group of friends (and two secret lovers within) and academics, living in New York, far away from the battle fields of Europe, during the Second World War. Three of the friends from this group are students at Columbia University. The whole cast is superb in their respective roles. Interesting to note that the lead character here, portraying the famous American poet of the 20th Century, was actually played by a British born actor. And he did a remarkable job of it.

Radcliffe was spot-on, as Ginsberg. On the home front; we see his troubled life as a youngster, taking care of his deranged mother suffering from a mental illness that was never properly diagnosed; and his father’s indifference to it, and later dealing with his father’s new girlfriend while his mother is being treated at a mental hospital. In college, his seduction and psychological manipulation, at the hands of Lucien Carr, who uses Ginsberg, as he uses everyone in his life, including his secret, older, lover, David Kammerer. Kammerer was in his late 20’s when he met Carr, and Carr was still a young boy aged 14. Soon they started having an affair. Though, Kammerer was wrong to do so, as it would seem as a paedophiliac act on his part; he was genuinely in love with Carr. Carr too was in love with Kammerer, but couldn’t accept it himself, for the older he got, he used men who fell in love with him, to get things done for himself. In his college years, Carr got Kammerer to do his homework for him, and later Carr did the same with Ginsberg. Young Ginsberg was really innocent, thus suffered due to his affection towards Carr. And Kammerer suffered because he could not let go of his love for a man (by the now an adult Carr) who felt the same, but was ashamed to admit it. This shame Carr felt, resulted in him committing a crime in one of the most unspeakable ways possible. The movie begins with this said crime, filmed beautifully, by director John Krokidas, in his debut feature film. The camera zooms onto a half-naked, bloodstained body of actor Dane DeHaan, submerged to the waist in water, carrying a bloodied dead body in his arms. The scene is pure artistic, poetic (in)justice, depicting love, sex and death; a hint of what’s to come; intercut with a verbal clash between DeHaan and Radcliffe, on either side of the prison bars. And the title thrown, one word at a time, in quick succession, onto the screen – ‘KILL’ ‘YOUR’ ‘DARLINGS’. Beautifully made, by a director, whose future creations, am really looking forward to watching.

A superb representation of, 3 Conflicted Souls (Allen Ginsberg, Lucien Carr and David Kammerer); among 4 Poets (Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and David Kammerer), who made up a group of 5 friends, (Allen Ginsberg, Lucien Carr, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and David Kammerer), including a love triangle, Ginsberg was part of, among 2 secret lovers (Lucien Carr and David Kammerer).

A Love Story with India: The real-life Allen Ginsberg in India, with friends, during his various visits to India.

A Love Story with India: The real-life Allen Ginsberg in India, with friends, during his various visits to India.

Allen Ginsberg, among the famed giants of modern American literature; coined in as The Beat Generation, of the 1950’s; has been portrayed by many a actors, from George Netesky (in 1970), to Ron Rifkin (1987), to David Markey (89’), to John Turturro (99’), to Ron Livingston (00’), to David Cross in I’m Not There. (2007); and more recently; James Franco (10’), Tom Sturridge (12’) & now of course Radcliffe. Besides Radcliffe’s brilliant performance, the only other cinematic version of Ginsberg I’ve seen, is that of Cross in I’m Not There., and that too, I hardly remember Cross’ role, in that excellent Bob Dylan bio-pic, where varied incarnations of Dylan were portrayed by a potpourri of six different actors. Incidentally, David Cross, who starred as Allen Ginsberg in I’m Not There., also appears in Kill Your Darlings, this time as Ginsberg’s father, Louis Ginsberg (a published poet himself, though not a renowned one, like his son ended up being).

Interesting fact: Ginsberg was a practicing Jewish Buddhist (Jubu) by choice, since 1950 (in his early 20’s), until his death in 1997. A Jubu, is a Jewish person who practices Buddhism, without denouncing ones own faith.

Radcliffe & I
Back 2007, whilst living in Sydney, I managed to watch most of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), when it was telecast in a local channel down under. Prior to that, when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released in 2001, I wasn’t that keen on the ‘Harry Potter’ series of films, as it was a series of children’s fantasy films. But since living in England (2002 – 2005), I had heard such good things about it, that when it was shown on the small screen, in Sydney, in 07’; as a true film buff; I decided to give it go. Though I didn’t get to see the finalé of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I felt it was a superb children’s movie, to come out in the 21st century. Around the same time, Daniel Radcliffe actually came to Sydney, to star in the Oz movie, December Boys (2007). And he came on the TV show, Rove (2007 – 2009), hosted by Rove McManus. I don’t remember whether I saw Radcliffe live on Rove first, or on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, whilst living in Australia. Most probably on Rove. I automatically liked Radcliffe’s, down to earth, friendly persona; ‘twas a fun interview. When Radcliffe was asked who he’d turn gay for (a question Rove McManus asks all the celebs he interviews, including when he interviewed, Kevin Rudd, the then, soon to be, Prime Minister of Australia), Radcliffe answered ‘Albert Einstein’. Smart answer! Nobody on Rove had ever come up with a non-sex-appeal, intellectual, personality’s name; as a person he/she would go gay for; at least not in the episodes I ever saw. In the same episode, Nikki Blonsky and Zac Efron appeared as well, to promote the musical, Hairspray (2007). Although I don’t recall, Nikki Blonsky’s answer, I remember that Efron didn’t answer the, ‘who he’d turn gay for ’, question, and sat there tight lipped. Which seemed pretty rude. But none the less, an interesting show; with Radcliffe’s knee length socks (discovered when he was asked about his hairy legs), contrasting to Efron’s sockless feet, and Radcliffe’s well timed gulp, all roped into the show’s jokes; making that episode of Rove, a very jovial experience. I never got to watch December Boys, but did enjoy watching Hairspray back then (guilty pleasure  😉 ).

The Cast of Kill Your Darlings (2013), with the Director of the film. (L-R)  Jack Huston, Michael C. Hall, Dane DeHaan, Daniel Radcliffe & Ben Foster; carrying Film Director, John Krokidas, in their arms.

The Cast of Kill Your Darlings (2013), with the Director of the film.
(L-R) Jack Huston, Michael C. Hall, Dane DeHaan, Daniel Radcliffe & Ben Foster; carrying Film Director, John Krokidas, in their arms.

Some years prior to my brush with Rove & Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (in Sydney 07’), I had actually watched The Tailor of Panama (2001); a pretty good movie, with Pierce Brosnan, Geoffrey Rush and Jamie Lee Curtis; which apparently also starred the little Radcliffe. But to be quite honest I don’t remember him in it at all. In 2007, he also came in the latest stage adaptation of the famous play by Peter Shaffer, Equus. It was all over the newspapers, Down Under. I’d have loved to watch that. I’ve seen the excellent, 1977, Sidney Lumet directed, movie adaptation of Equus, starring Richard Burton and Peter Firth. One of my favourite Lumet creations of the Big Screen (see my post Sidney Lumet & His Films from last year, June 2014, plus my Set of Seven on IMDB, from April 2011).

Post that, back in SL, around five years ago, I rented the DVD (unfortunately a pirated copy, pretty bad quality, and the only kind of DVD’s that can be found all over here; and I hate pirated DVD’s, thus I do buy good original films, when and if, I do go abroad – Europe, India & Australia) of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009). Thus that’s the only complete ‘Harry Potter’ film I’ve seen till date, and I felt it was a pretty good movie, though not as great as the hype surrounding the franchise. Then in February/March 2012, I was in New Delhi, India, and saw The Woman in Black (2012), starring Daniel Radcliffe, on the Big Screen there. The film was pretty pathetic (see my list of critiques titled Oscar Winners … and then some 2012 from March 2012, on IMDB), with the only saving grace being Radcliffe’s superb performance. He was brilliant, in such a mature role, as a father and a widower. I already liked his personality, when I saw him on Rove, back in 2007, and when I saw him in The Woman in Black; though a pretty bad movie; by now I had even greater respect for him, as an actor. Since then, I haven’t seen any of his films, until I saw Kill Your Darlings.

Kill Your Darlings Blog Bottom - Poster

I watched Kill Your Darlings, last week, on the 22nd of July, 2015, when it was shown at the Goethe Institute (German Cultural Centre), here. Daniel Radcliffe celebrated his 26th Birthday on the 23rd of July, 2015.

Kill Your Darlings (2013) – A Must Watch!!!!!
My Rating: Near Excellence!!!! 9/10!!!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense