Sunday, 30 November 2014

''Manhattan'' (1979 movie)- Review

Directed by: Woody Allen
Released: 1979
Country: United States

Genres: Romantic comedy, Drama

Cast: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Michael Murphy, Mariel Hemingway, Meryl Streep, Anne Byrne

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 


''Manhattan'' tells the story of Isaac Davis (Woody Allen), a man in his early 40s. He is divorced, and is having an affair with Tracy (Mariel Hemingway), who is only 17. The other people present in the story are Isaac's friend Yale Pollack (Michael Murphy) and his wife Emily (Anne Byrne). Yale is secretly having an affair with Mary (Diane Keaton), and soon informs Isaac about this. Isaac finds this hard to believe, as he always thought Yale and Emily to be a perfect couple.

While Isaac wants Tracy not to take their affair seriously because of their huge age difference, Tracy sincerely loves Isaac. She wants to be important in Isaac's life. On the other hand,  Yale cannot possibly spare enough time for Mary, as he is already married and has other responsibilities. After he breaks up with Mary, she (Mary) becomes very close to Isaac and that leads to a relationship. Things get difficult: Tracy loves Isaac. She is heartbroken to know that Isaac has fallen for someone else. Yale is struggling with a marriage he is not happy with. Where will these lead to?

There is another interesting woman in this film, and she is played by none other than the magnificent Meryl Streep. She plays Jill, Isaac's ex-wife, who turned out to be a lesbian, divorced Isaac, and moved in with her girlfriend, and is currently writing a book where she will discuss those days when she was married to Isaac, a project Isaac is not quite happy with. 

Now ''Manhattan'' was indeed something wonderful! It was really very witty, really very funny. The circumstances and the story were not funny at all, of course. But the dialogues. The script. The entire film was presented in such a humorous, light way. The light and witty atmosphere kept me smiling and it often made me laugh! In addition, the characters are so interesting. Sure, they act immaturely throughout the film. That is, Isaac, Mary and Yale. They cannot decide whom they actually love. They cannot sort out their priorities.  I would say Tracy was way better than these three 40-year old-characters. Sure, Tracy's decisions  and emotions for Isaac were rather immature, they were sure to hurt herself. But. She loved Isaac truly. She loved him and wanted to be important in his life. She did not suffer from dilemma like the older, ''matured'' people do. She was too dedicated to Isaac. That was rather a negative aspect. But she loved him truly. Throughout the film she remained loyal to Isaac. That is actually the thing that matters. But in spite of the dilemmas and ever-changing decisions of the three older characters, they were funny, they were interesting, they were likeable and cute (especially Isaac and Mary). Isaac and Mary looked quite sweet together as well.

Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Michael Murphy- they were excellent. And Mariel Hemingway- playing the young Tracy- was unforgettable.  And Meryl Streep, who remains memorable though playing a small role.

 Filmed in brilliant black-and-white, the film looks really good! Several scenes were really memorable as they were really good looking! There were some really beautiful scenes with Isaac and Mary.

''Manhattan'' is really an excellent film, it indeed is. Personally, I thought it was the best Woody Allen film I have watched till now. But that being said, I have watched seven or eight Woody Allen films (I know I need to watch more). Overall, it was an excellently-directed, excellently-written, excellently-acted film that was funny and witty and had a good mixture of funny and romantic elements along with occasional emotional moments.

4.5 out of 5




Wednesday, 26 November 2014

''Mildred Pierce'' (1945 movie)- Review

Directed by: Michael Curtiz
Released: 1945
Country: United States

Genres: Drama, Film-noir, Mystery, Crime

Cast: Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott, Eve Arden, Ann Blyth, Bruce Bennett

Rating: 5 out of 5


Mildred, our protagonist
Mildred Pierce. A heartbreaking, hauntingly sad film. To begin with, it's one of the strongest, one of the most overpowering films I have ever watched. It is, indeed.  Joan Crawford's performance is one of the strongest performances I have ever come across. A puzzling beginning leads to a melodramatic, suspenseful, painful film. It is a film that is not be missed, it is a must-watch.

The film opens as the titular character's husband, Monty Baragon, is shot dead. We do not see who shoots him. Our protagonist, Mildred Pierce Baragon (Joan Crawford), is called to the police station, where she is informed that the murder was committed by Bert Pierce, Mildred's ex-husband. Mildred refuses to believe so, and when she is asked why, she begins to tell her story, and through flashbacks, we come to know about her life, about the circumstances preceding this incidence, about everything that ultimately led to this day, this incident.

When Mildred was married to Bert Pierce, she was just an ordinary homemaker, baking cakes and pies, looking after her two daughters, Veda and Kay, doing everything to arrange the best education and upbringing for them. Her husband lost his job, started an extra-marital affair, that destroyed the peace of the family, ultimately leading to their separation. Mildred had no money, but she was determined. She wanted to provide everything for her daughters. She did not want her two daughters to have a working class upbringing. She started working as a waitress, and soon earned enough money that could afford piano lessons for Veda, that could afford expensive ballet lessons for Kay, that could afford a maidservant, that could afford a comfortable peaceful life.

But can things actually remain this simple? Veda (Ann Blythe), Mildred's elder daughter, didn't like the fact that Mildred worked as a waitress. She wanted a much better, a much happier life. A life with no wants, no poverty. Veda was ambitious, she was ungrateful, she was spoiled rotten. She wanted to have a lavish, respected life. She wanted everything. Mildred couldn't please Veda. No matter how she tried, she could not win Veda's affection. But she led her life, she did everything, just for the sake of her children. After Kay suddenly died, Mildred decided to dedicate her life for the comfortable upbringing of Veda. She was determined to do everything for Vera's happiness. She started her own restaurant chain- and soon became a successful and wealthy businesswoman- earning a lot of money, working hard- all for Veda's sake. The sole purpose of her hard work was Veda. The sole purpose of her life was Veda.  But Veda could never be satisfied. Never. She never showed any gratitude for anything her mother did for her- she wanted more, she did not remain satisfied with all the things her mother did for her. She did not show any gratitude, nor did she return her mother's life.

Where did Mildred's efforts lead everybody to? How did Mildred's affection, her determination to do everything for her daughter, and Veda's view to life, mess up everybody's life?

''Mildred Pierce'' has a wonderful mixture of emotional drama, heartbreaking moments, mystery, suspense, noir elements. There were times I forgot that this was actually a mystery film; I focused so much on Mildred, her sacrifices, her determination. Mildred is imperfect, she is completely flawed. But she is a mother, after all. The things that she does throughout the film are not unrealistic, because she is a mother. It becomes pathetic, the way she continues to forgive Veda. It is stupid, it is pathetic, but it is not illogical. The way she continues to forgive her daughter is logical yet stupid, because a mother can never get indifferent to her children, no matter how ungrateful, how horrible her children are. I felt pity for her, she is such a pathetic, yet such a strong character. Joan Crawford's performance is definitely unforgettable. Ada (Eve Arden), a confidant of Mildred, says,"Personally, Veda's convinced me that alligators have the right idea. They eat their young." In this case, I think, it's definitely logical. I was shocked at Veda's behavior. How can somebody possibly be so ungrateful, so horrible? How can somebody be so nasty? How can somebody be so indifferent to all the things her mother did for her? She is evil, and Ann Blythe does give a brilliant, extremely praiseworthy performance.

Suspense is aplenty, as we keep on waiting eagerly to discover what actually led to the event at the beginning of the film. With excellent noir elements and suspense, it works as a wonderful mystery film mixed with melodrama, great emotional depth, tragedy.

I loved this film, I really did. It is a film with an excellent depth, filled with melodramatic and suspenseful elements. It has got strong performances. The characters are all flawed but have excellent depth. It is heartbreaking, tragic, suspenseful film, an unforgettable gem of a film.

5 out of 5 

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

''Divergent''- Book Review

Author: Veronica Roth
Published: 2011

Genres: Novel, Sci-Fi, Adventure, Fantasy

Rating: 5 out of 5


So I have finally read it. Finally. And I was simply so overwhelmed- needless to say, I LOVED ''Divergent'', I really, really, really loved it. While reading it I was like, ''Why did it take me such a long time to start reading this!?'' ''Divergent'' is a book that made me thrilled, that made me smile, that made me think, that brought tears to my eyes. It was an intense, emotional, thrilling, action-packed ride, it was! I would easily recommend it to anyone! 

A dystopian novel, ''Divergent'' is set in a post-apocalyptic future where Chicago is divided into five different factions having different characteristics. Years ago, these factions were formed to protect humans from their adverse qualities that lead them to their destruction. The factions were formed to make sure that human stick to the good qualities only: the selfless people belong Abnegation, the truthful and honest people belong to Candor, Erudite consists of people who value knowledge above all, Amity consists of peace-loving people, while Dauntless consists of dauntless, brave people. Every person should choose a faction once he/she reaches the age of sixteen. After choosing, the people need to stick to the values and qualities of the faction they have chosen.

The protagonist and narrator, Beatrice Prior, was born to parents belonging to Abnegation. Her father is one of the people entrusted with the task of running the city: most of the people running the city belong to Abnegation for their selfless nature. Beatrice just cannot accept the Abnegation lifestyle. She cannot think of spending the rest of her life making compromises and sacrifices and sticking to selflessness. The time has come for Beatrice and her brother, Caleb to choose the faction in which they will spend the rest of their lives. They have to go through an apitutude test, where it will be tested which faction is suitable for them. Beatrice's reports are problematic: the person who conducted the test, Tori, explains to Beatrice that she possesses the characteristics of being in Abnegation, Dauntless, and Erudite. Such a person who can belong in different factions are known as ''Divergent''. Tori explains that being a divergent is a dangerous, extremely dangerous thing. She does not explain why, and erases the result of Beatrice's test.

 Beatrice is faced with a difficult dilemma: she does not want to spend the rest of her life being selfless and making sacrifices, but she feels hesitant to leave her parents. On the other hand, she is attracted to the brave lifestyle of the Dauntless faction.  In the Choosing Ceremony, however, she ultimately chooses Dauntless, thereby abandoning her parents.

Beatrice, along with the other initiators, has to go through three training phases- three difficult, extremely difficult and torturous phases. To Beatrice, these seem cruel. These seem dangerous. These seem extremely cruel and torturous. But at the end of the third phase, only ten initiators will be allowed to be Dauntless, all the other initiators will become factionless and live terrible lives in the streets. Beatrice, who renames herself as Tris, has to go through all these phases, all these cruelties. Slowly, she comes to appreciate, she comes to love the Dauntless way of life. It is a hard life, it is a difficult way, but she comes to appreciate it, she wants to belong in it. But for that she has to survive the difficult phases...

And she falls in love with one of her trainers, Four...

And there is a danger, an unknown conspiracy lurking behind...

Words will not be enough to describe how much I loved ''Divergent''. It was fascinating.  I couldn't put it down. It kept me reading, it kept me expecting, it kept me thrilled, it kept me predicting what might happen next. I loved the storytelling and the character development. I loved the setting, I really did. I loved Tris. I loved Four. And I appreciated all the other characters, their development. There were parts in which I cheered for Tris. I was overjoyed when Tris achieved something. There were emotional scenes in which I cried with Tris. There were scenes that made my heart pound, that made me anxious. 

I would like to conclude saying that ''Divergent'' is a must-read for everybody. You want dystopia? Sci-Fi? An adventure-filled and action-packed novel? Romance? A novel filled with thrilling as well as heartbreaking and emotional moments? ''Divergent'' has it all. For me, it was a wonderful ride, a wonderful, thrilling, emotional, beautiful, heart pounding ride. I look forward to rereading this one soon! 

5 out of 5



Saturday, 22 November 2014

''Sparkling Cyanide''- Book Review

Author: Agatha Christie
Published: 1945

Genres: Novel, Crime, Mystery

Rating: 4 out of 5


...Rosemary, that's for remembrance.

Memories of Rosemary Barton haunt the six people who had been witnesses to a tragedy a year ago- Rosemary Barton, a beautiful, bubbly socialite, apparently committed suicide taking potassium cyanide, during her birthday party. A year has passed, but the memories of Rosemary- and those of that dreadful evening- haunt these six people. There is Iris, Rosemary's younger sister. There is George Barton, Rosemary's middle-aged husband. There is Ruth Lessing, George's secretary. Anthony Browne, one of the many men Rosemary was friends with. And finally we have Stephen Farraday and his wife Lady Alexandra Farraday. These six people think of Rosemary, and their associations with the high-spirited, beautiful, brainless woman. Rosemary is dead, but her memory, her very presence, clings on to them.

George Barton receives anonymous letters stating that Rosemary had actually been murdered- that it had not actually been a suicide. Being restless, George gets determined to find out the person who had murdered his wife. And the murderer must be one of the six people present in the birthday party.

Who had a motive for Rosemary's murder? Insights into the minds and thoughts of the six people give light to more possibilities, more motives, more complex circumstances. And when a second murder takes place, things seem to get way complicated...

The first part of this book was rather slow paced, and it was absolutely necessary, as we get insights into the minds of the six major characters, their backgrounds, their thoughts. We come to know what they thought about Rosemary. The characters are really well developed.

Psychologically intense, complex, and quite unpredictable- I really enjoyed this novel. I really did. It is definitely not the one of the best Agatha Christie novels I have read, but it was definitely fascinating, complex and unpredictable.

 4 out of 5