Tag Archive: True Story


An Unexpected Pleasant Surprise!!!

On Twitter, I’ve been taking part in a quite few Film Challenges, for sometime now (but not regular enough). Yesterday afternoon, I was going through IMDB, checking out films I love, from before 1929, when I came across something unexpected. This was for yesterday’s , hosted by Gabriela(@noir_or_never) of Pale Writer: Classic and Horror films unite!! The Challenge was, to mention a Film made before 1929, that should have won an Oscar. I actually found FIVE FILMS!!!!! Anyway, I also checked Roundhay Garden Scene (1888) on IMDB. AND Wow!!!! What did I see??? I couldn’t believe my EYES👀, when I saw this.

IMDB (i.e. the famed Internet Movie Data Base) has a poster I created some years ago for a Blog Post of mine, posted on their site; front page of this Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince Documentary from !!! I was like Wowza!!! That’s a lovely compliment! Feel really honoured!! Wonder how long they’ve had it! BUT, wait!!

Hmmmm!! ’twas not with my consent though! My Copyright!!!! Ha!! 😍

My Copyright!!!! Ha!! 😍

Of course, am kidding. After all, my Blog is in the public domain; so anyone can use my content (I think🤔). Anyway, it’s nice to see they’ve used it; and to post it on their site. Which means someone (or more than one person) from IMDB, has come across my BLOG!!!! That means there are more viewers for my Blog than am aware of!! That’s a great honour in itself!! 💗

What’s more surprising is, the fact this poster isn’t that great. I don’t have Photoshop or any other cool tools/Apps to create anything artistic (digitally speaking). I just have the ordinary “Paint” icon, on my Laptop (same with my previous Laptops). So there is nothing great about it. But it’s lovely to see it on IMDB!! PLUS, my printed name is quite noticeably visible on it!! 😊 Also see my Post, Roundhay Garden Scene (1888) – A Two Second Documentary, from October 2014.

Of course, I didn’t select, Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince’s (a.k.a. Louis Le Prince), Roundhay Garden Scene, for the Film Challenge (after all, though it’s the oldest surviving film footage; it was never shown on the Big Screen; the 1st Cinematic release was by the Lumière Brothers’, who had their 1st private screening of a projected motion picture, in 1895, for a select audience of 200 people), but I felt Le Prince deserved a Special Posthumous Oscar Award, for his contribution to the Moving Image. His unsolved disappearance (and maybe murder), on the way to demonstrate his scientific invention, in September 1890, is still a mystery.

Speaking of Twitter, I got this e-mail, last week (screenshot above). Although I’ve got only 661 followers (664 as of today) & am following 2,454 Twitter accounts; 8,769 people have seen my Tweets, within the week before last!! Wonderful! On my Blog here, I have 329 followers so far; and 83,320 views, altogether (yup, just decided to check that as well). Not Bad, eh!! 🙂

Meanwhile the Cannes Film Festival is currently under way; and I haven’t been able to follow that properly this time.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
(@Nuwansenfilmsen)

Nuwan Sen (NSFS👁)

Since Audrey Hepburn’s 90th Birth Anniversay (on 4th May 2019), twitter has been abuzz avec Hepburn tweets! I, of course, happen to be among the main culprits flooding Twitter, along with my fellow Twitterians/Audrey Hepburn fans, with Hepburn related tweets! Happily Guilty! So, thought I’d share my tweets, along with some other Twitterians’ tweets, posted on the 4th of May 2019, as well as post the 4th, within this last week, culminating today!

May the 4th Be with You (Tweets Posted on 4th May 2019)

#NSFS

Tweets Post the 4th (5th to 11th May 2019)

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense (#NSFS)

For the very first time in this country, there was a special Film Festival, celebrating women & womanhood, to coincide with , this year! This was in the first week of this month! The opening movie was on 28th February 2019, which I didn’t go for, plus I wasn’t able to attend the movies on 1st & 2nd of March 2019! So the 3rd of March, 2019, was my very 1st attendance at the very 1st Colombo International Women’s Film Festival!! The Festival took place at the National Film Corporation (NFC), in Colombo.

Julia Jentsch & Emilia Pieske in 24 Wochen (2016)

My Day 1 (3rd March 2019)

Afternoon 3:30pm (1530hrs)

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Tradition (2016) – Short Film, directed by Lanka Bandaranayake

An elderly woman decorates a young depressed looking bride, in traditional Kandyan jewellery, as the bride reflects on her past sexual liaisons. Good premise and the decorating of the woman in bridal attire is beautifully done, but the flashbacks look fake. Sometimes nudity is added just for the sake of it, and it doesn’t work, like in this case. For example, there is stark naked man seated in toilet, then he just gets up showing us his clean buttocks and flushes the toilet (he neither wiped nor washed his ass before doing so, yet the bugger was spotlessly clean), another half naked man walks really carefully, in nothing but a shirt, and turns slowly so that his perfectly placed shirt manages to cover his penis (who talks and walks like that, is he training to be a monk?) As I mentioned the nudity is put in just for the sake of sensationalizing nudity. What I am trying to say is not that shit ought to shown on his ass or there need to be a show of a guys genitals, but my point is how unrealistic and artificial those flashback scenes felt. What I liked was veteran, Irangani Serasinghe, who was admiringly marvellous as she explained the significance of each piece of jewelry. Especially when she puts the chained rings, and mentions that the new bride will be chained to her husband and children for life (in other words, there is no escape). The ugly and unhappy bride was well portrayed as well, and from her memories we are shown she’s no virgin bride as Sri Lankan brides are presumed to be!

Good Concept, but the flashback sequences could’ve been handled better.

Average Fare: 5/10

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Deepa Mehta’s Anatomy of Violence (2016) was based on the real life gang rape that shook the Indian capital, in December 2012, yet depicting a fictional backstory for each of the perpetrators.

Anatomy of Violence is made in the style of a mockumentary, a fake realism of sorts, with adult actors playing children as well, including their own younger selves. The movie was actually bit of a drag, and a lot of time is wasted on each person’s backstory. The perpetrators are humanized a level bit too much. Showed them in a very sympathetic light and time wasted to show how ‘ordinary’ these men are. No matter what they might have gone through when they were young (for it’s mere speculation) that’s no excuse for what they did, as adult men, with a mature enough brain that’s quite aware of what they were doing. And we do get to see that they have no conscience, no regret. As much as you can empathize with what they might have gone through growing up, you can’t feel any kind sympathy towards their selfish inhumane act. These six men, gang raped a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, Jyoti Singh Pandey, in a moving bus, beat her and tortured her. She succumbed to her injuries and died in within two weeks after the assault.

The film is divided into segments, and the Aftermath segment, with the details of actual newsreels inter cut with documentary drama style, was the best segment. This film could have worked way better as a documentary of an Actors Workshop, rather than using the improvisational exercises as a representation of reality.

None the less, Anatomy of Violence was an averagely good effort, from the acting talent, as well as from the famed film director.

Average Fare: 6/10

Panel discussion on Violence Against Women.

This discussion was quite good. Wish there more people in attendance, only about ten people were left in the audience (for the movie there were only a few more, who left as the interesting discussion started). I shared my own thoughts on Deepa’s Mehta’s perspective transferred onto the Big Screen (including some of the stuff I mentioned above), when the audience was given a chance to question and comment. I enjoyed this post-film Q&A, more than the actual feature. Wish Deepa Mehta herself was present. It would’ve been interesting to speak to an acclaimed director like her directly, a director I use to have such great admiration for back in the 90’s & noughties (especially thanks to her directorial ventures like; the brilliant first two installments in her Elements trilogy, Fire,1996 &1947:Earth,1998, and a really good third installment made amidst a lot of controversy, Water, 2005, as well as her, far from great, but still pretty good flicks, like, Camilla, 1994, Heaven on Earth, 2008 & Midnight’s Children, 2012).

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Evening 6:15pm (1815hrs)

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Bless this home (2019) – Short Film by Randi Pavithra Kaluarachchi, was just crap.

The silly “Dishum Dishum” sequence was ridiculous (a play on fantasy versus reality). Can’t really compare it to Mehta’s film, where adult actors play child characters. What Pavithra Kaluarachchi wanted to showcase was domestic violence, in a manner of child’s play. So we see the parents in cowboy hats (the father in full cowboy gear) pointing their figures at each other going “Dishum Dishum”. Ultimately we see the woman dead, in reality. It just didn’t work, for me at least, and it came out looking quite silly. As I mentioned it to the director herself, when I met her briefly later that night.

It might have worked better if she made it in a more surreal setting, having a cowboy chasing a cowgirl, both on horseback, making it looking like an actual western, and then the cowboy lassoing the cowgirl off her horse, cutting to reality to show the dead woman and two little kids starring at her. That would have made for a better movie than two fully grown humans doing a silly “Dishum Dishum” to each other inside a house!!!!

Thus it’s mainly thanks to the two adult leads, that the movie was ruined. A good concept none the less, what Randi Pavithra Kaluarachchi tried to indirectly show, but unfortunately, really poor in the execution.

Pathetic: 1/10

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24 Wochen (2016), English Title: 24 Weeks

Directed by Anne Zohra Berrached, this German movie, discusses the issue of late-term abortion. This was the best film, I saw, at the Festival.

A happily married woman with a little daughter, is about 6 months pregnant with her second child, when she learns that the unborn child would have down syndrome. Along with her husband, they slowly come to terms with bringing up a child with down syndrome, including taking their little girl to special schools for kids with down syndrome, so that the daughter can adapt to her brother’s disability, once he’s born. Just as they’ve made peace with the fact of raising a child like that, they get worse news. The unborn baby also has a heart defect.

The movie deals with the moral dilemma the parents have to face, when it comes to having a late-term abortion, trying to make the decision as to have the baby, or abort the growing child. And since it’s a late-term abortion, she’d have to go through an induced labour and the probability of the child being born alive are high. Thus, the new born baby will have to be given a lethal injection. Sad, tragic, painfully heart rending!!! We feel for the parents, having to go through what they are going through, without judging them for their final decision.

Beautiful and tragic!

Very Good: 8/10!

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My Day 2 (5th March 2019)

Evening 6:15pm (1815hrs)

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Love vs. Love (2019) – Short Film by Pavithra Damunugahkumbura. What in the world was that? It was so pathetic, there is nothing to salvage!

Pathetic: 1/10

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Mary Shelley (2017)

Saudi Arabia’s 1st female filmmaker, Haifaa Al-Mansour, directed the bio-pic of the famed female author responsible for giving birth to Frankenstein, in the early 19th century. The book was published in 1818.

The movie is beautifully made, but falters towards the end, but it’s still a pretty decent period piece (see my tweets below). Al-Mansour’s previous feature film (a Saudi Arabian movie, made in the Arabic language), Wadjda (2012) was a superb movie. I highly recommend that. Way way better than this bio-pic, which too was quite good though.

Pretty Good: 7/10

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My Day 3: Closing Ceremony (7th March 2019)

Evening 6:30pm (1830hrs)

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Sri Lanka’s veteran female director, Sumitra Peries, was felicitated with the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’, at this 1st Colombo International Women’s Film Festival! Deservedly so, SL’s top director, Lester James Peries’ wife, is a filmmaker in her own right. This event took longer than necessary, mainly thanks to long boring speeches by multiple female film personalities of this country. Sumitra Peries though, was kind enough not to take too much time, as she felt us spectators might be anxious with all talk and no screening happening.

From the speeches, Dr Sumathy Sivamohan, through her speech, though a tad long, shared something really interesting on how when Sumitra Peries’ directorial debut, Gahanu Lamai (1978), was released, they traveled all the way from Jaffna to Colombo, when they heard it was directed by Lester James Peries’ wife. Yashoda Wimaladharma gave a very genuine speech, recalling the Late Lester James Peries, with a teary eye and a wavering voice. Touching!

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Sumitra Peries’ latest venture, Vaishnavee (2017), closed the Film Festival. As much as Mrs Peries is a well revered personality here, I was really disappointed with this movie. A localized tale, akin to the ancient Greek mythological tale of Pygmalion and the Ivory Sculpture, Vaishnavee, truly bored me. A grieving puppeteer, whose bride to be has eloped with her lover, carves a female puppet from a tree inhibited by a tree goddess. The puppet comes to life and he falls in love with it, but they aren’t destined to be together. The concept of being in Love with the Unreal (see my Blog post from May 2017, as well). The acting, the characters and the plot development was far from good. Irangani Serasinghe was OK; Mahendra Perera was Mahendra Perera, like he is in practically every movie; few funny moments with Samadhi Arunachaya (a sort of comic-relief); Veena Jayakody looked like she was suffering from a constant asthma attack, and the rest of the cast members, including Yashoda Wimaladharma, truly bored me. Some laugh at them, rather than laugh with them, funny moments in the film (with the exception of Arunachaya). Enjoyable story line based on a fantasy, but poor execution. Though not the worse film ever, it was still really bad!

Very Bad: 3/10

Instead of showing her latest movie, it would have been better for the festival organizers to have shown her best work. Like Ganga Addara (1980) for example. Though that too is only Average Fare (after all Lankan movies are yet to come to an international standard, they have a long way to go, see my Blog post on The SAARC Film Festival 2018 from May 2018), Ganga Addara is definitely among the better movies made in this country.

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I wish I could have worked on a better post, analyzing the movies in depth, but struggling through so much emotional turmoil, through my stress, anxiety attacks and depression, it’s been very difficult to do a proper blog post. But am managing the best I can. Way too many disturbances and distractions, breaking my concentration and ruining my train of thought. Sometimes am just too exhausted, both physically and mentally. My head literally hurts (but my diabetic meds are pretty strong too) and I feel very sensitive to sound (and this country is very noisy in every possible way). Plus, my high blood sugar is apparently affecting my eyesight. My vision fluctuates in a very weird manner, especially when typing on my Laptop!

Anyway, glad there was this wonderful festival. This was the 1st, hope there will be more in the future. This country is very good at having a 1st, but follow ups are an extreme rarity (for e.g. there was a 1st and 2nd Colombo International Film Festival, in 2014 & 2015; but nothing else). So kudos to all the organizers for this film fest, celebrating Women, for , let’s hope it continues, annually.

Nuwan Sen’s Movie Sense

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There was a time when women use to raise a hem to get a him. Well not anymore (there is not much left to raise in most modern dresses, anyway). AND definitely not the dignified British Royals. But ever wonder, how their soft graceful chiffon dresses never truly fly up, a la Marilyn Monroe style, even in the windiest weather. Royal fashion tricks reveled below.

Marilyn Monroe, when her dress blew up, and ended her marriage

Back in windy Autumn of 1954, during the shoot of The Seven Year Itch (1955), actress Marilyn Monroe was filmed with her dress billowing (a very famous scene from this classic comedy, with the iconic Monroe, halter-neck, light shaded, ivory cocktail dress) at Lexington Avenue, in Manhattan, New York City (USA). This shoot lasted several hours, surrounded by around two thousand spectators, and photographers. The scene was re-shot later in a studio, and both, edited together, ended up in the movie. The jealous Joe DiMaggio, Marylin Monroe’s baseball player husband, was far from impressed. And their marriage ended. What did he expect?? He was married to a much loved actress, and that too a sultry sex-symbol of the 50’s decade. If her sex-siren image, hurt his male chauvinistic pride so much, why did he marry her in the first place?? This popular image has been recreated by many, post Monroe’s death, one of the most notable, that comes to mind is, Kelly LeBrock’s famous red satin dress, from The Woman in Red (1984).

Duke & Duchess of Cambridge: Prince William & Kate Middleton

Today I came across an unusual article, on Yahoo UK, about how the royals have managed to keep their dresses from flying high. So apparently when it comes to the younger royals, a la Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, they use static underwear to keep their dresses in place. Yup, undergarments that help keep your dress in place. But how did royals manage to do so, in the past?????

It seems the Queen of England, Queen of United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms, Queen Elizabeth II, wore dresses with lead curtain weights sewn into her hemlines. Of course, it depends on the fabric. If the Queen wore chiffon dresses, which she did, quite often, in summer months, a pea size lead, or a tiny lead chain, is sewn into the hems. It’s hard to say, whether the late Queen Mother (Elizabeth II’s mother), and her favourite grand-daughter-in-law, the late Princess Diana, did the same. But they sure were just as dignified, in their lifetime.

So below are some, not so Marilyn Monroe style, billowing moments, of the Royal Ladies.

Queen Elizabeth II, during a trip Down Under

Princess Diana battles through windy weather, in Italy

Prince Charles watches, as Camilla Parker Bowles pays tribute to the late Marilyn Monroe

The Queen in Trousers

Queen Elizabeth II in Trousers

Of course, the more sensible thing to wear, especially in windy weather, is a pair of trousers. It’s decent, it’s elegant, it’s fashionable, it’s comfortable, as well as practical. Of course, the queen is rarely seen in trousers, even though she wears them, a plenty.  That’s because the Queen wears trousers, casually, mostly during her private time, with family, at home, for leisure activities, sports and holidays. She is rarely seen in more formal trouser suits/pant suits, during formal functions or visits. In fact, when it comes to her formal engagements, she loves romantic vintage dresses, and loves bright colours with matching hats and coats. Nothing beats Princess Diana’s chic fashion sense, when it comes to the British royals, but the queen has her own signature style, and she is a fashionista in her own right. Apparently Kate Middleton follows suit (pun intended), and loves to wear fashionable dresses for formal engagements, than trouser suits; though casually she might be seen in all-American jeans.

Thus, the secrets to how the Royals remain fashionably dignified in bad weather, reveled.

Nuwan Sen n’ STYLE
Nuwan Sen’s Fashion Sense
Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense

 

On this Day …………

Martin Luther King jr. – Maya Angelou – Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

TWO EXECUTIONS

The Civil Rights Activist

On the evening, of 4th April, 1968; globally well know American activist, Martin Luther King Jr., was shot by James Earl Ray. King Jr. succumbed to his wounds, and died an hour after the fatal incident. He was 39 years old. Today marks the 50th Anniversary of his death!!

The People’s Leader

Educated at Berkeley and Oxford, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was a very prominent and progressive figure in Pakistani politics, in the 1970’s.  First as the President of Pakistan (1971 to 1973), and then as the Prime Minister of Pakistan (1973 to 1977). On the 5 of July, 1977, the military, led by General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, staged a coup, Operation Fair Play; relieving Prime Minister Bhutto of power. After various appeals and legal battles, Bhutto was finally sentenced to death. On 4th April 1979, 51 year old, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged to death, at Central Jail Rawalpindi. General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq imposed Martial Law, and his military dictatorship ruled Pakistan, until his death in 1988, in a plane crash. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s eldest daughter, Benazir Bhutto, soon came into power, after the death of her father’s assassin; bringing an end to military rule, and in turn becoming the first woman leader of Pakistan; as well as the very first woman to head a democratic government in a Muslim majority nation. The irony is, the more modern, open-minded, progressive country of the United States of America, is yet to have a female leader. Benazir Bhutto, too was assassinated, in 2007. She was 54 years old.

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BIRTH OF A CAGED BIRD

The Poet

Maya Angelou was born on April 4th, 1928; in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. She was named Marguerite Annie Johnson. Having gone through childhood trauma, including rape and child abuse, she grew up to be a prolific poet, singer, and civil rights activist. Having published 7 autobiographies; the most well known happens to be I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings from 1969. This memoir helped increase black feminist writings in the 1970’s. She received many accolades in her lifetime, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2011, which was presented by President Barack Obama. After suffering from poor health, in her old age, Maya Angelou died on the morning of May 28, 2014.

Éric Rohmer – Pareveen Babi – Roger Ebert

THREE GREAT FILM PERSONALITIES

The French Director

According to IMDB, French Film Director, Éric Rohmer, was born on the 4th of April, 1920. BUT, this is disputed by other sites, including Wikipedia’s “Rohmer” page (although if you go to other links, on Wikipedia, his birthday is listed as 4th April). But the Year is definitely, 1920. None the less, he was among the most influential directors, of French New Wave movement. Aged 89, he died on January 11, Year 2010.

Bollywood Babi69

If Parveen Babi were alive, she would’ve been 69 years old. Born into a noble Muslim family, in Junagadh, Gujarat, India; on 4th April 1949; grew up to be the quintessential heroine of 70’s Bollywood. With her minimalistic modern style (parted Babi bangs & bellbottoms) and brilliant acting talent, she captivated audiences of that era; as both a star and an intellectual actress. She was the first Bollywood star to appear on the front page of America’s Time magazine (July 1976 issue) as the modern face of Indian Cinema. But, alas, she suffered from schizophrenia, almost her entire life. Once her illness was out in the open, thanks to Mahesh Bhatt’s feminist films, Arth (1982); she left the industry (in 1983, after completing her film projects; which were released throughout the 80’s decade, keeping her fame intact) and took refuge under the patronage of U. G. Krishnamurti, and embarked on a spiritual journey. She returned in the late 80’s, by now suffering, not just from her ailments; but from deep depression as well. Soon she became a recluse. Parveen Babi died all alone, on 20th January 2005, and no body knew; until two days later. Her death, till date, is not clear as to what truly happened; police ruled out any foul play, and apparently she starved to death. She was 55 years old. Bollywood ought to have been more empathetic towards her.

The Death of a 1975 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Roger Ebert, the most prestigious American Film Critic, who was a film critic for Chicago Sun-Times, from 1967 until his death; won a  Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, in 1975. Ebert was the first Film Critic, to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Having lived with cancer of the thyroid and salivary glands since 2002, Aged 70, Roger Ebert, died on 4th April 2013; as he was preparing to leave the hospital.

Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense
Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

A LETTER TO VIOLET EYED HEAVEN: TO ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMEN THAT GRACED THE HOLLYWOOD SCREENS

Elizabeth Taylor with her two great Loves
Left: Mike Todd (1950’s)
Right: Richard Burton (1960’s & 70’s)

Dearest Ms. Taylor,

              First of all, let me thank you, for contributing so much to the world of Cinematic Arts; with your marvelous performances; working tirelessly to bring us, film buffs, joy for eternity.

              Born in United Kingdom, to two American citizens, on the 27th of February, 1932; you moved to the United States of America, at the age of 7; in April 1939, as tensions of another war gripped Europe. Couple of years later, you started working in Hollywood, as per your mother’s wish. You were adored by Hollywood for your unique sharp features, raven hair and fair skin. Specifically it was your unique eyes, a genetic mutation; that grabbed their attention. Blue eyes that appeared Violet, and a double pair of natural eyelashes. A rare beauty, and a natural acting talent; proved through your first auditions. Casting directors found you different to other child actors of the time; and some were afraid of your direct open attitude. Growing up, you survived through many hurdles and hardships. Two of your baby teeth were pulled out, before they were ready to fall; to make you seem more mature. By the age of 12, you had no free time at all, as you attended school in the studio lot itself, and then you had to practice singing, dancing and the lines for next day’s scenes. You never really had a childhood, as you mentioned once, that your childhood ended, when you became a child star, as MGM controlled every aspect of your life. Born with scoliosis; in your preteens, whilst filming for National Velvet (1944), you had a bad fall and fractured your back, which went undetected for many years; for which you suffered in silence, your entire life. Yet the worse was yet to come.

              In May 1950, aged only 18, you married heir to the Hilton Hotels chain, Conrad Hilton Jr.! Beaten black and blue on your wedding night; and having gone through abuse at his hands, your parents were horrified when they found out. Eight months into your marriage the two of you divorced. This caused a public scandal, and it sadly reflected badly on you, not on the man who abused you. Then a year later, you were back in the United Kingdom; this time working on a British Film Ivanhoe (1952). During the filming of Ivanhoe, you met  the newly divorced actor, Michael Wilding (20 years your senior). He thought marrying a young innocent starlet like you, would aid his failing career; and you felt being an older gentleman he’d be kinder, and you’d feel secure. But ’twas far from a happy marriage. Egoistical men, little understood your compassion and sympathetic nature towards people suffering; including your kindness towards gay actors, Montgomery Clift, Rock Hudson and James Dean; to name a few. One of your main co-stars, of the epic, Giant (1956), James Dean was killed in a car crash, on 30th September 1955; before the movie was completed (although Dean had finished working on his scenes). You were devastated. Soon, yet another young actor was almost killed in a car crash, but you weren’t going to let history repeat itself. On 12th May 1956, during the filming of Raintree County (1957); when close friend and co-star, Montgomery Clift had a terrible accident (soon after leaving a dinner party at Wilding and your Beverly Hills home; when Clift fell asleep whilst driving); you rushed to his aid, and saved his life by literally shoving a hand down his throat, and pulling out his teeth, he was choking on. Your husband was not impressed. After giving Wilding two sons, and his philandering ways reached scandal magazines; you couldn’t take it anymore, and divorced him, in 1957. Having suffered through two bad marriages, you wouldn’t have wanted to experience that pain again. But then came Mike Todd (an even older gentleman, born on the 22nd of June, Year 1909; who had been married twice before, who’d lost his first wife to death, and next to divorce), an American Theater and film producer, who swept you off your feet. The first great love of your life.

              You and Mike Todd had a whirlwind romance. Married on 2nd February 1957; it was a third marriage for both, a 24 year old, you, and 47 year old Mike Todd. For the first time in your life, you were truly happy and deeply in love.You traveled around the world in Todd’s private jet, named The Liz (a.k.a. The Lucky Liz); a testament to your love for each other. In fact, Todd had released a film, Around the World in 80 Days (1956), based Jules Verne’s classic novel; which ended up winning five coveted Oscars, including for ‘Best Picture’; just over a month after you were married; at the 29th Annual Academy Awards. You were lucky for him; and you were lucky in love, for the very first time in your life. For once, both Todd and you, were in happy, like never before. Later that year, you gave birth to a beautiful baby girl; your very first daughter. A child born out of marriage filled with love and joy. On the first anniversary of the release of his Oscar winning film, Todd threw a grand party, as a celebration of his love for you. 18,000 of close friends were invited to this Madison Square Garden extravaganza. A live coverage of the event was held. Todd loved to boast, and why not, he was jubilant, as were you. A 14 foot high cake was made for the event, and you had to climb up to cut the cake. It was all show and pomp; but ’twas wasn’t hypocritical function in the name of traditions or customs you were carrying out; but a fun filled party. Apparently the party ended up with a very Hollywood  slapstick style food fight, thanks to a rowdy crowd; but you, Todd, your close friends and other elegant guests weren’t part of that. The television coverage of the party made it an Hollywood event of the century; and the function was deemed a flop. But did it matter, not really. This was your great love story, and you felt safe that nothing could ruin this euphoric romance. But then tragedy strikes…..

              On 21st March 1958, you were to fly with your husband to New York, where the Friars Club was to honour him the next night as Showman of the Year. But you were suffering from a bronchitis cold and a temperature 102°. You really wanted to go, but Todd insisted you stay at home and rest. Added to that there was a rainstorm outside. Actor, Kirk Douglas, your next door neighbour, was to accompany your husband. But, Anne Buydens (Douglas’ wife) had a bad feeling about the plane ride. They argued, but Buydens won, and Douglas missed the flight, and was mad at his wife for it. Mike Todd hugged you for a fifth time, part of him not wanting to leave you alone with your children. Even though ill, you were glowing with love and sadness and being apart. When Todd got onto his plane, he spoke to you once again, he called from the air-to-ground telephone, and told you he’ll call you once he lands in Tulsa, to re-fuel. But he never did. Despite the bad weather, the flight was considered safe enough, to fly smoothly. At 10:41pm (2241 hrs), left the airstrip , and headed to New York. The twin-engine Lockheed Lodestar plane suffered engine failure, went out of control and crashed killing all four people on board, including Mike Todd; the love of your life. It was 22nd March 1958, early morning, when the incident happened. Meanwhile Kirk Douglas recalls having missed the flight and mad at his wife, ” We were driving and not talking to each other, so we turned the radio on, and the announcer spoke of the shocking news of the plane crash. At the same time, you, sick in bed, unaware called up Todd’s personal secretary, as you were worried you hadn’t heard from him. Soon you got the shocking news, and your world came tumbling down.

              Your close friends, actresses, Debbie Reynolds and Shirley MacLaine, rushed to your side; staying there for a few days, and helping taking care of your three kids. Liz Todd was still a baby (she would never get to know her wonderful dad). Film director Howard Hughes, lent you his jet. There was hardly much left of Todd’s remains, as the plane had exploded on impact. The only items recovered from the wreckage were Todd’s wedding ring, and a pair of platinum cuff-links, gifted by Todd’s friend, actor and singer, Eddie Fisher (Debbie Reynolds’ husband). The funeral was in Chicago. You were so distraught, you threw yourself over the coffin. The pain of loss of someone you loved so dearly would have been unbearable. Two decades later, grave robbers would desecrate his remains, due to rumours of a $100,000/- diamond ring, said to have been placed in his coffin by you, before burial. His remains would be found, have to be reexamined by dental records once again, and reburied, in a secret location.

              Your next marriage, was the biggest mistake you made. You were grief stricken at the loss of Mike Todd, and Eddie Fisher, took advantage of it, and proposed marriage to you, admitting he had always been in love with you. You accepted without thinking of the consequences. You did not marry him for love, but for marriage security (this was still the 1950’s and marriage was considered, one of the main criteria for a woman to gain respect; today a woman does not need a husband anymore). But by accepting, you hurt your best friend, Fisher’s wife Debbie. Soon your image turned from grieving widow to homewrecker, in the eyes of the public. Both Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher (Fisher and Reynolds  daughter); would eventually forgive you (Eddie Fisher is the one that abandoned them); but for the world to do so, it would take some more time (both Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher died in December 2016). To add salt to your wounds; Mike Todd had accumulated a lot of debt, which meant you would have to earn to pay it back; due to pressure from film studios. Added to which, being on a contract, meant you owed MGM; to work for them. You had no choice but to work on a film you detested, due to this contract; BUtterfield 8 (1960). But you managed to convince them to cast husband no.4, Eddie Fisher, in a sympathetic role. Having a kind heart, you were more concerned about his image, than your own. Then you won an Oscar for BUtterfield 8! Even though you were nominated thrice for ‘Best Actress’, it was finally for the film you hated, that you bagged the award. You went crying up to the stage. You were definitely not thrilled; as you were forced into working for this movie, not ’cause you wanted to. Added to which your marriage to a spineless man, wasn’t working. Even though you’d give the marriage six years of your life. But, you needn’t fret, for your next great love, was just around the corner.

Elizabeth Taylor was no doubt THE most beautiful Cleopatra to grace the cinematic screens ever!

              Now, in 1961; you had finally completed your MGM contract, and were free of it. Not only that, you had won an Oscar, for ‘Best Actress’. 20th Century signed you on for their next big venture, a historical epic on the Queen of the Nile, Cleopatra. This would be your biggest venture yet, and a crucial turning point in your life.

              You became the first Hollywood actress to be paid $1 Million for the role; and this expensive production, of Cleopatra (1963), would be among the most loved Historical epics of all time. You’d end up being so closely identified with role; when film buffs hear the name “Cleopatra”; it’s your bewitchingly beautiful face, in ancient Egyptian garments, that come to mind. Cleopatra today is synonymous with your portrayal of her on celluloid (a role you almost lost the role, when you suffered from pneumonia). Added to which, you’d end up meeting the second love of your life, Richard Burton. The Burton-Taylor romance is one of the most talked about love stories, in the world of cinema (also see my Blog-post, Sexiest Couples of Hollywood from July 2016). Your violet eyes sparkled when you saw him, he felt the same, sparks flew; you were both unhappily married to different people. An extra-marital love affair started to ignite on the sets of Cleopatra. Like the character you were portraying, you were neither young nor innocent; but a bold brave new woman, afraid of no man. Like Cleopatra, who had two great loves in her life, Cesar and Anthony; you found your next great love, the actor playing Anthony, opposite you. In a sense, it was real-life, imitating reel-life; a reel life, based on a real life historical account from an ancient civilization. Soon paparazzi snapped you and your new lover, on a yacht in Ischia, Naples, Italy in 1962. Your scandalous new romance was out in the open. People, who hated your marriage to Fisher, started enjoying this affair with Burton. Whilst, the love story, with Mike Todd, turned you into a happily married family type of woman; this new romance showcased a side, people had never seen before. A sizzling sexy side of your persona. Your steamy romance was the talk of the town. Soon you divorced Fisher, in 1964; and married your new love, Richard Burton. 

Dubbed at Liz & Dick, you two would end up doing some of the greatest performances in your lives. You ended up appearing in 11 films together, and stage plays. The most notable film of which, happens to be, Mike Nichols’ Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966); for which you won your next ‘Best Actress’ award, at the 39th Annual Academy Awards (Oscars 1967). Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? also happens to be among my Top 10, all time favourite movies. The movie itself, felt like reel-life, imitating real-life (a reversal of fortune from the time you filming Cleopatra). You two loved each other, were perfect for each other, bickering and fighting; you loved each other. You had a tempestuous relationship; mainly thanks to his alcoholism. Nor matter how much you loved him, you could not handle his drinking; and he was alleged to smoke at least a 100 cigarettes a day. Thus, after completing one more movie with him, coincidentally titled, Divorce His, Divorce Hers (1973), you finally divorced your second great love, in 1974.

Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton on the cover of NOVA (October 1966 issue)
Photographed by Douglas Kirkland

              But, both Burton and you, loved each other way too much. And reconciled, married in 1975. But this second marriage to Burton, wasn’t to last too long. You two divorced once again, this time for good, in 1976. Post that you married twice again; but that was more for companionship; and less to do with love, sex and romance. You were married to Republican politician, John Warner, and helped him with his electoral campaign. Meanwhile, you became an advocate for HIV and AIDS awareness, in the 80’s; along with actress Doris Day. You spent the 1980’s onward, raising money for various causes. You bravely persuaded President Ronald Reagan to acknowledge the disease for the first time in a speech in 1987, and publicly criticized presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton for lack of interest in combating the disease. You awarded for your humanitarian efforts, as well as for your contribution to the arts. You were the first celebrity to create a signature line of perfume. Soon other stars followed suit. And you founded a jewelry company, House of Taylor.

After having suffered most of your life, to physical ailments, mental depression and prescription drugs; you finally left the world of the living, aged 79, on the 23rd of March, Year 2011. But you live on, in our hearts; through your great cinematic ventures. You left behind a great legacy; as one of the last stars of classical Hollywood cinema, and also one of the first modern celebrities of Hollywood. You were among the lead actors, at the time Hollywood, and the world, went through a major transition. The 1960’s & 70’s decades.

               Here’s to you Ms. Elizabeth Taylor, a beautiful heart, and an equally beautiful actress. Thinking of you, on your 86th Birth Anniversary.

                                                                                                            Thanking you,

                                                                                        with Love, from one of your ardent fans, 

                                                                                                                             Nuwan Sen

picmonkey_image (12)

This Blog Post, in the form of a letter, is my contribution to the, THE ELIZABETH TAYLOR BLOGATHON, hosted by Crystal Kalyana of In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood!!

 

Thank you Crystal, for letting me take part in this beautiful Blogathon.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
#‎NuwanSensFilmSense

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, happens to be one of my favourite epic novels; a condensed version of which, we studied in Grade 8 (at Stafford International School), when I was 13 years old. Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre too I read in my early teens; and later saw the extravagant play, based on Jane Eyre, by a British drama troop visiting New Delhi, India. So, having read two of the sisters works, out of the trio of published Brontë writers; Les Soeurs Brontë (1979), English title – The Brontë Sisters, supposedly the most accurately bleak biopic based on the lives of the famed Brontë’s; was definitely a must see for me, as both a lover of literature, and a diehard Film Fanatic!!!! And so I did, yesterday evening, when Les Soeurs Brontë, was telecast on TV5MONDE.

Pascal Greggory (as Branwell), Isabelle Adjani (as Emily), Isabelle Huppert (as Anne) and Marie-France Pisier (as Charlotte Brontë); in André Téchiné’s Les Soeurs Brontë (1979)

The title, Les Soeurs Brontë (1979), is a tad misleading, as there is a lot, over an hour, about the depressing life of the artist, Branwell Brontë (played by Pascal Greggory), the less famous brother, of the Brontë sisters. Thus the film ought to have been aptly titled, The Brontë Siblings, or simply The Brontë’s (or Les Brontë’s)!! The version I watched was the 115 minutes long movie, which was released at the 32nd Cannes Film Festival in May 1979; competing for the prestigious Palme d’Or. The original (unreleased) film is said to be around three hours long. I’d love to watch that version as well. Hopefully it will be released in it’s entirety on DVD, someday.

There have been very few English Language Biographical films/television mini-series, on the lives of the Brontë’s. Yet, ironically, this French epic, happens to be the most accurate re-telling of the Brontë family on the Big Screen. Set in wet and windy Yorkshire, the movie tells the story of the lives of the Brontë siblings, as adults. Thus, the two elder sisters, who died, aged 9/10 and 11, are not spoken of. We see the three famed sisters and only brother, living an averagely well enough life, though it’s still a pretty stoic existence, in the countryside. The mother is long dead, thus the rest of the household comprises of; their ageing, Anglican Minister, father; a spinster aunt (which hints, determining the fate of the Brontë children) and the housemaid. At the beginning of the movie, the brother, Branwell Brontë, paints a a portrait of the four living siblings; which is admired by the entire family. They have an artist in their midst. A painting, which later on, Branwell erases himself off of, as he nears his own death from depression.

The Three Sisters: The original Bramwell Brontë painting of the famed Brontë sisters (before they were famous)
Bramwell Brontë erased himself from the painting.

The tale of the Brontë’s is really a tragic one. And the movie is filmed beautifully, with superb cinematography, creating the atmosphere of pure misery, with a backdrop of a dull, dreary, cold, uninviting, capture of the Yorkshire moors. Despite leading an ordinary life, that won’t really amount to anything; these three Victorian women desire to make something of their lives. We see, a pre-20th century feminism, a 19th century subtle boldness, the three encompass. They aren’t very vocally vociferous about not being just household creatures serving men, but they somehow manage to enforce their desires in a very patriarchal society. Charlotte Brontë (Marie-France Pisier), the eldest sibling, is the most ambitious. She somehow convinces her aunt, to permit her to go and study French, in Brussels, Belgium; along with her younger sister, Emily Brontë (Isabelle Adjani). She wishes to come back and open a school. However, Emily ends up despising Brussels, especially as the two English Protestant sisters have to deal with residing in a Catholic country. Charlotte endures without agitation, as she wants to somehow study, at the same time we see her silently fall for her much older teacher. Meanwhile, Anne Brontë (Isabelle Huppert), finds work as a governess, with a wealthy English family. While the three sisters are away, the unsuccessful Branwell, has to deal with the death of their aunt; who dies from exhaustion from constipation. Funny, as it might sound today, it is sad, at one time such a thing existed, as medicine wasn’t advanced enough for ageing people suffering from constipation. Her death, gets all the three sisters to stop their academic/working lives and come back home; for the sake of their father and brother.

Father & Daughter: Patrick Magee & Isabelle Adjani in a scene from the film

From here we see a lot about Branwell Brontë. His affair with an older married woman. Him not achieving anything through his literary works. His depression when his lover leaves him (she leaves to be with her children, once her husband dies). To his ultimate demise. Of course the lives of the rest of the sisters are shown too; but he seems to be the protagonist for most of the film, until his death. Meanwhile, we see the father’s support of his children’s wishes; their father, Patrick Brontë (Patrick Magee). It’s as Branwell Brontë nears his death, from drugs and alcohol; we see the trio of Brontë sisters secretly publish a book each, under a male pseudonym.  Soon two of the sisters succumb to tuberculosis, and Charlotte Brontë is the only living sister, by the Operatic end of the movie. Charlotte too died young, at the age of 38.

With a great cast, the movie is well acted, perfectly directed, beautifully photographed; yet not without a few minor flaws. Branwell Brontë’s story is a bit of a bore; but overall, the entire movie is slow paced anyway. But the darkly depressing portrayal of the Brontë’s, make the icy brilliance of the movie, extremely realistic. With very naturalistic performances, we feel what they are going through. We feel the depressing tone of the film to near perfection. It’s hard not to be annoyed at Branwell Brontë though; and admire the sisters, especially Charlotte and Emily. Both Branwell and Charlotte suffer through unrequited love; but Charlotte bears it all, with a strong mind and unbroken spirit, even though with a broken heart, and ends up publishing a novel, which Branwell never gets to know about. But Branwell, when ditched by his older lover; takes refuge in alcohol and Opium; dies of tuberculosis, and passes his illness onto his two younger sisters, Emily and Anne, as well. Charlotte Brontë was, less than a year, older than Branwell.

Marie-France Pisier as Charlotte Brontë, in a scene from Les Soeurs Brontë (1979)

It’s sad, when the movie ends, we realize that none of the Brontë family members were aware of the three sisters accomplishments, other than the trio themselves, and most probably the father. The mother, the brother, the aunt, et al are dead, by the time the books are published and credited to the three sisters.

Marie-France Pisier, steals the show, as the eldest sibling, Charlotte, who survives everything, and everyone, that tries to pull her down. After Pisier, Isabelle Adjani, who plays Emily, is the next brilliant character sketch. Emily loves to trek through the moors, in men’s clothing. Not that she is a tomboy; but she dresses in trousers, as a practicality; as she tells her maid, “it makes me walk faster”. But she’s careful not to let anyone see her dressed in that manner, other than her own family. For a Victorian Lady to be dressed in trousers would have been a scandalous affair. Isabelle Huppert plays the youngest, and doesn’t have the sense of psychological strength of her elder sisters. But the dullest character is played by Pascal Greggory. Who to is actually superb, in doing a character role of a very weak human being. All the actors are superb, including stars like Patrick Magee, Hélène Surgère and Jean Sorel; to name a few, in their supporting roles. Hélène Surgère plays the aptly named Madame Robinson; the older married woman who seduces Branwell Brontë. I think the biggest flaw of the movie is that, too much of the plot is focused on Branwell Brontë; though the title suggests otherwise.  Yet, trust the French to bring out a masterful retelling of three of greatest writers of British literature. However, Patrick Magee, who is Irish; spoke his lines in English, and then dubbed into French. Though, I hate the idea of a movie dubbed in a different language, in general (I prefer reading subtitles in English of foreign language films I don’t understand); it really works well here.

The Three Actresses, who played the Brontë Sisters: (L to R) Marie-France Pisier, Isabelle Huppert and Isabelle Adjani

Overall a beautifully executed piece of cinema, a well made period drama, just slightly less than excellence for a few minor flaws.

Les Soeurs Brontë (1979)
My Rating: Near Excellent – 9/10!!!!


#‎NuwanSensFilmSense
Bookish Nuwan

Quoting Parveen Babi

 

The essence of spirituality lies in being a good human, and following, good, positive principles
– Parveen Babi
     (1949 – 2005)

 

Parveen Babi with Shashi Kapoor, in the late 70’s, on the sets of Kaala Patthar (the film was released in 1979)
The Film was based on the Chasnala mining disaster of 1975

Amitabh Bachchan & Parveen Babi in a scene from Deewar (1975)
This tragedy was loosely based on the life of notorious Indian gangster, Haji Mastan

Parveen Babi with her (then) life partner, Kabir Bedi, in ROME, in 1976

Lovers in Rome: Kabir Bedi and Parveen Babi, in 1976

Amitabh Bachchan & Parveen Babi, in the biggest Bollywood blockbuster of 1977; Amar Akbar Anthony
A comedy about three brothers, brought up in three different faiths; Hindu, Muslim & Christianity. The Big B and Babi starred in a number films together, and all of them super-hits

Pink n’ Blue, I Love You
Hema Malini (dressed in pink) in the titular role, of Raziya Sultan (1983), along with Parveen Babi (in Blue)
This bio-pic is based on the life of Queen Razia Sultan (1205 – 1240), the only female to ever rule the Delhi Sultanate; and this was one of the rare Bollywood commercial films to tackle Lesbianism (although the lovers were shown in a purely platonic sense, it was well hinted)

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
#‎NuwanSensFilmSense
Nuwan Sen (Quoting Quotes)

Right: Lady Gaga & Matt Bomer in American Horror Story – Hotel
Left (inset): Ewan mcGregor in Fargo

My Latest list, of quick write ups, on IMDB:-

Modern (seasonal) Anthology Series on Television

(Link:- http://www.imdb.com/list/ls020472233/)

Nuwan Sen’s TV Sense


(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