Monday, 10 July 2017

''The Lady Eve'' (1941 film)- Review

Directed by: Preston Sturges
Released: 1941
Country: United States

Genre: Romantic comedy

Rating: 4 out of 5


''The Lady Eve'' stars Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck. Stanwyck plays a con artist, Jean Harrington. She works with her father to swindle money from wealthy people in various ways, particularly through tricks in card games. Jean and her father decide to make a wealthy young man- Charles Pike (played by Henry Fonda)- their victim. Charles is an ophidologist who is on his way back to the United States from South America, where he had been researching about snakes. Although she initially aims to trick Charles, Jean finds herself falling in love with him and feels guilty for what her intentions have been. Charles also falls in love with her but once she gets to know about Jean's real identity, he breaks their relationship. Several months later, Jean decides to take revenge on Charles for having ended their relationship and assumes the (fake) identity of the aristocratic Lady Eve to perplex Charles. What will this lead to?

''The Lady Eve'' is a fast-paced, highly entertaining screwball comedy. Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda deliver excellent performances. Memorable supporting characters are played by Charles Coburn (as Jean's father) and William Demarest (who plays Charles' valet). The film is an absolute delight from the beginning to the end. It is very funny- although never goofy (I really like goofy comedies too, though)- and a very intelligent comedy. The romance, too, is well balanced and very sweet. I really enjoyed it.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

''Zodiac' (2007 film)- Review

Directed by: David Fincher
Released: 2007
Country: United States

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime

Rating: 4 out of 5


''Zodiac'' tells the true story of the Zodiac killer, who committed murders from the late 1960s through the 1970s. The killer sends letters to newspapers and sometimes coded, ciphered messages that, he tells them, will contain hints to what his motives are. Two employees of the San Fransisco Chronicle, Robert Graysmith (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) and crime reporter Paul Avery (played by Robert Downey Jr.) become interested in the case and work to solve the puzzling mystery.

''Zodiac'' is a very effective thriller. I really liked the suspenseful atmosphere that prevails in many of the scenes. I liked the way the mystery keeps getting puzzling. It is a well written, well directed and well-acted film and the performances by Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo and ChloĆ« Sevigny are really good.   

Sunday, 2 July 2017

''To Each His Own' (1946 film)- Review

THE SECOND ANNUAL OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND BLOGATHON+ ERROL FLYNN is being hosted by  In The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood and Phyllis Loves Classic Movies. It will be taking place from July 1, 2017 to July 3, 2017. On July 1, 2017, the great Olivia de Havilland turned 101 years old. For the blogathon I will be reviewing ''To Each His Own'', the film that won de Havilland her first Academy Award.


To Each His Own (1946 film)


Directed by: Mitchell Leisen
Released: 1946
Country: United States

Genre: Drama

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Olivia de Havilland delivers a magnificent performance in ''To Each His Own'' as the protagonist, Jody Norris. Jody Norris is a very strong character, a character with great depth.

During the World War I, Jody is a cheerful, 17-year-old girl living with her father. She falls in love with Captain Bart Cosgrove (played by John Lund). However, Bart has to go to the war. Shortly after his departure, Jody comes to know that she is pregnant. However, she soon comes to know that Cosgrove died in the war. Devastated, but still hopeful about her child's future, Jody gives birth to a boy. However, due to circumstances, she is forced to give her child up for adoption. As the child grows up, Jody retains in her heart her great love and deep affection for him. She deeply cherishes her love for him and longs to be near him. Her love for her son becomes the main focus of her life, in spite of the fact that her son doesn't know that she is his mother. Time flies by: will Jody ever get what she has always longed for? 

''To Each His Own'' is an emotionally overpowering film depicting the enduring power of a mother's love. The way Jody longs for her son for years is deeply moving, extremely touching.

Olivia de Havilland shines in her role as Jody. In 'The Heiress'', the film that won her a second Oscar, she played a woman whose experiences make her transform from someone meek and timid to a mature, strong woman. In ''To Each His Own'', too, we see her character go through a lot, we see her character develop and strengthen. This is definitely an ideal example of great character development.

The supporting characters are well-developed too, particularly the characters played by Ronald Culver, John Lund, Phillip Terry, Mary Anderson, Bill Goodwin and Victoria Horne. I also loved Jody's father, played by Griff Barnett. He loves her daughter. He does not get mad at her when she reveals to him that she is pregnant. Rather, he tells her that he has never judged her. He supports her through everything. I loved the character. The scene in which he consoles Jody and tells her that he has never judged her really moved me.

''To Each His Own'' is a very powerful film, emotionally intense film.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

''Thelma & Louise'' (1991 film)- Review

Directed by: Ridley Scott
Released: 1991
Country: United States

Genre: Adventure, Crime, Drama

Rating: 5 out of 5


''Thelma & Louise'' is such a great movie! I loved every minute of it.

Louise Sawyer (played by Susan Sarandon) is a waitress and her friend Thelma Dickinson (played by Geena Davis) is a homemaker who isn't exactly close to her husband. They go on a road trip, wanting to take a break from their everyday lives. On the way, they stop at a bar, where a man attempts to rape Thelma. Louise rushes to her rescue, but when the man refuses to apologize and rather insults Thelma, Louise shoots him. Refusing to go to the police, Louise decides to drive to Mexico. On their way, however, they come across more and more hurdles and face them with heroism.

The titular characters, Thelma and Louise are such great protagonists! I loved their heroism.  I grew to care for these two characters over the course of the film! Both Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis are amazing in their roles. I loved their bond, their friendship! I loved the way they learn to stand up against the injustices committed towards them. Their friendship and the experience and ordeals they share over the course of the film culminate in an iconic ending.

Besides Sarandon and Davis, memorable supporting characters are played by Harvey Keitel (who plays Louise's boyfriend) and a young Brad Pitt (who plays a cowboy Thelma and Louise come across on their way). Keitel and Pitt are great in their roles as well.

''Thelma & Louise'' is an excellently written and acted film. I loved it. I loved the titular characters, their friendship and their depth. I loved the screenplay. The ending left me speechless. 


Saturday, 24 June 2017

''American Beauty'' (1999 film)- Review

Directed by: Sam Mendes
Released: 1999
Country: United States

Genre: Drama

Rating: 5 out of 5


Very few films can portray the hollowness of existence as eloquently as ''American Beauty'' does. The protagonist, Lester Burnham (played by Kevin Spacey) is a frustrated advertising executive. He finds no pleasure, no reason to live for. His wife, Carolyn (played by Annette Bening) is a real estate broker. Carolyn is very ambitious and career-oriented and becomes extremely devastated whenever things don't go according to her plans in her career.  Their daughter, Jane (played by Thora Birch), doesn't have a close bond with either of her parents. She, as it appears, is frustrated too. When Lester meets Jane's best friend Angela (played by Mena Suvari), he becomes infatuated with her, with Jane finding it creepy, causing it to develop more aversion on her part towards her father. A family moves in next door- the family consists of the homophobic Colonel Frank Fitts (played by Chris Cooper), his wife Barbara (played by Allison Janney) and their son Ricky (played by Wes Bentley). Ricky carries his video camera around and Jane discovers that he has been recording her.

All these people suffer from emptiness, hollowness and despair. Even the characters who initially seem happy are devastated inside, as several secrets are revealed over the course of the film.

''American Beauty'' has a sophisticated melody of its own. The way Kevin Spacey narrates the film, the excellent screenplay and the gorgeous cinematography give it a strange beauty. The film is about people who are unhappy, people who aren't satisfied with their lives at all and the frustration of the characters whose lives become interlinked eventually results in tragedy. 

There is opportunity for happiness is all around but people fail to realize it over and over again. Some aren't happy with what they get, some aren't happy with the kind of lives they are leading. The thing that matters the most in life is happiness and one has to search for that happiness instead of giving in to frustration. Emptiness is such a horrible thing and one has to find ways to get rid of that emptiness.

The characters we meet in ''American Beauty'' aren't exactly the kind of characters you can get to love. But at the same time they are characters you feel sympathy for, because of their visible frustration. It is an extremely thought-provoking film. 


Thursday, 22 June 2017

''Insomnia'' (2002 film)- Review

Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Released: 2002
Country: United States

Genre: Psychological thriller

Rating: 3 out of 5


Two detectives, Will Dormer (played by Al Pacino) and Hap Eckhart (played by Martin Donovan) arrive in a town to investigate the murder of a teenage girl. They are assisted by the young Detective Ellie Burr (played by Hilary Swank). While investigating the murder, however, a sudden accident changes the course of everything and Will is terribly haunted by what happens and things get even more complicated when he manages to guess who might have killed the girl.

The sun never sets in the town. Daylight remains even when it is midnight. The strange daylight terribly haunts Will after the sudden accident.

The entire film is very atmospheric, very well executed. The atmosphere is perfect for a great psychological thriller. Psychologically, the film is pretty intense and I really appreciated that.

However, what bothered me about the film was that the great atmosphere keeps promising a twist or just something much more than meets the eye. Perhaps a connection between the murder and the accident. Or a sudden revelation. I kept waiting for that moment and it never came. That is something that really bothered me. A film as atmospheric and psychologically intense deserves a way better ending.

That said, ''Insomnia'' is a good psychological thriller and it is definitely well-acted (excellent performances by Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank), well-directed and well-written. I expected more from it and was not entirely satisfied with it but it is a good film anyway.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

''Miracle on 34th Street'' (1947 film)- Review

Directed by: George Seaton
Released: 1947
Country: United States

Genre: Comedy-drama, Fantasy

Rating: 5 out of 5


''Miracle on 34th Street'' is such a lovely, cute little film! It is a film that is bound to bring a smile to anybody's face.

Doris Walker (played by Maureen O'Hara) is a single mother. She has always taught her daughter, Susan (played by Natalie Wood) to be practical and realistic. As such, Susan does not believe in fairytales. She does not believe in Santa Clause. When an elderly man calling himself Kris Kringle (played by Edmund Gwenn)- hired by the company Doris works for to pose as Santa Clause- claims to be the actual Santa Clause, many people think that he is either lying or he is slightly unstable mentally. While Kris- who moves in with Fred (played by John Payne), a neighbor of Doris'- tries to introduce Susan to fairytales and fantasies (with some help from Fred, who has apparently fallen in love with Doris and also wants to introduce Susan to the colorful world of fantasies and fairytales- several people are skeptical about Kris' identity. What does it eventually lead to?

''Miracle on 34th Street'' is a charming and heartwarming film. It definitely is. I loved it! Kris is so cute! Edmund Gwenn delivers a splendid performance and so do Maureen O'Hara, John Payne and Natalie Wood. Such a lovely film it is!