Friday, 22 July 2016

''Guess Who's Coming to Dinner'' (1967 film)- Review

Directed by: Stanley Kramer
Released: 1967
Country: United States

Genre: Comedy-drama

Main cast: Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, Katherine Hepburn, Katherine Houghton, Cecil Kellaway, Beah Richards, Roy E. Glenn, Isabel Sanford

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Such a wonderful and thought-provoking film it is! ''Guess Who's Coming to Dinner'' tells the story of Joanna Drayton (Houghton), a girl from a progressive upper-middle class white family who has always been taught by her parents that there is no difference between a white person and a black person. The film is set in the 1960s, when interracial marriage was still illegal in many of the states of the United States. Joanna falls in love with John (Poitier), a highly educated and well-established African-American young man. When Joanna introduces John to her parents, her parents are surprisingly are in a dilemma, which is pretty much in contrast to their mentality which enables them not to judge people based on the color of their skin. Joanna waits for her parents' approval of the marriage. While Joanna's parents are definitely not racists, they still fear what their daughter might face if she marries John, they are uncertain about and afraid of the things that she might have to face from the society and the people around them. As the evening approaches, all of them get together, waiting for dinner: Joanna and her parents, John and her parents- who, like Joanna's parents, are also uncertain, and a family friend who warmly approves of the relationship. What will happen and what will truimph? The love between two human beings or the fear of the mentality of many of the people around them? 

''Guess Who's Coming to Dinner'' is definitely a thought-provoking film. While there is plenty of humor, there is also a great depth in the film, great character development- along with great performances by both the lead and the supporting cast. The story is definitely very interesting, the screenplay is wonderful, the subject matter is serious and thought-provoking. There are plenty of scenes that make us laugh, but at the same time, there are plenty of scenes and situations that make us think hard. Spanning just a single day, the film is about how, with the passage of time, the characters deal with the situation that has arisen and deal with their own dilemmas, providing us an insight into the minds of the characters to whom, over the course of the film, we get deeply attached. 

(Also, the song ''The Glory of Love'', with which the film begins, is beautiful and very, very memorable!). 

Thursday, 21 July 2016

''Gone with the Wind''- Book Review

Author: Margaret Mitchell
Published: 1936

Gienre: Historical fiction

Rating: 5 out of 5


Its hard for me to write this review. It actually is. To express my feelings on this novel. To express how powerful this novel is. To express how heartbreaking it is. To express the myriad of emotions I went through while reading it. I finished reading it just a few minutes ago and wanted to wait for a while before I would write this review, but I couldn't. I feel like expressing all the things I feel about this novel, all the powerful emotions I experienced reading this novel, right now. 

''Gone with the Wind'' is the story of Scarlett O'Hara and set in the Old American South, starting a few days before the American Civil War. Scarlett is the pampered daughter of Gerald O'Hara, the owner of Tara, a huge cotton plantation, and lives a sheltered life, a privileged, carefree life. Scarlett has admirers and ''beaux'', but loves Ashley Wilkes, a neighbor, only to discover that Ashley has made his made up his mind to marry Melanie Hamilton, his cousin, who is like him in tastes, gentle and refined, unlike the wild, coquettish Scarlett. This breaks Scarlett's heart, but being embittered, she makes up her mind to marry Melanie's brother Charles, mostly because she wants to make Ashley jealous. However, immediately after all these, the Civil War starts, and all the young men she knows have to go to the war. The war, however, devastates their lives, devastates their lifestyle. Very soon, everything is shattered, not just their old dreams, but also their old lifestyles, their civilization. Scarlett, the sheltered daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, has to make her way through the clutches of poverty, a girl who never had to get her hands dirty has to work in the fields to ensure food for herself and those she loves. This is the story of Scarlett O'Hara, of her plights and the people she loves and the things she loves and the lengths that she can go to achieve what she wants. This is the story of Scarlett O'Hara who faces defeat and endures only to hold her head high once again.

''Gone with the Wind'' is an intensely powerful novel. This is a novel that spans several years and introduces us to many, many characters. This is not just the story of Scarlett O'Hara but also that of the people around her, the places she knows and lives in. There is so much depth in it all. The most remarkable thing about the novel is the character development. These characters are so richly development, they have so much depth. Scarlett O'Hara is a character I often disapproved of. She is a character that can often be annoying and irritating. She is a character that I often found stupid. But at the same time, I applauded her when she triumphed, I felt sympathy for her when she was cornered by those around her. I appreciated her when she- though rarely- developed warm feelings for those around. It took me around two weeks to finish reading this huge novel, but by the time I finished reading the novel, I had grown so attached to her, I knew her thoroughly and had followed her through her journeys and her trials and tribulations. She is a flawed protagonist, often an anti-heroine, yet she is so human, she is such an excellently developed character. 

There are many, many other characters. One of my favorite characters- if not my very favorite- is definitely Melanie. She is such a wonderful person, a person who always tries to find the best in everyone. And I loved the way friendship- a deep, deep friendship- is developed between Scarlett and Melanie. No matter how much Scarlett thought she disliked Melanie. Then there are characters like Rhett, Mammy, Ashley, Aunt Pittypat, Will, Uncle Peter, Gerald, Grandma Fontaine- and many other excellently developed characters.

I know I am returning to the topic of Scarlett once again but I am doing it because I need to. She is such a richly developed character, she indeed is. And the way she has to go through her trials and tribulations, her struggle to survive in a world greatly changed- and the way she took care of everybody around her in the hard, hard times. I know she can be annoying. I know she can stupid. Even disgusting at times. But she is a human being. Sh experienced so, so many things. Margaret Mitchell makes sure that we get an inner view of Scarlett's heart, and the deep human emotions and feelings- whether good or bad- she goes through throughout the novel- is described with so much depth! 

This is a story of love and hate and misunderstanding and stupidity and devastation and most importantly, human nature and human emotions. The book moved me and touched me in a hundred different ways with its depth. 

5 out of 5

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

''The Remains of the Day'' (1993 film)- Review

Directed by: James Ivory
Released: 1993
Country: United Kingdom, United States

Genre: Drama

Rating: 5 out of 5


''The Remains of the Day'' is set in Darlington Hall, a large English country house, and the central characters are the butler of the household, Mr Stevens, played by Anthony Hopkins, and the housekeeper Miss Kenton, played by Emma Thompson. Mr Stevens has worked as a butler all his life, and is a man with a serious composure, almost never expressing his feelings. The comparatively openhearted Miss Kenton finds it odd that Mr Stevens never expresses his feelings. But the middle-aged man thinks that a man in his profession should solely focus on his work, properly serving his employers. Miss Kenton, with the the passage of time, finds herself developing feelings for Mr Stevens, feelings which the man could have perhaps been able to return had it not been for his strict dedication to his work.

The story of Mr Stevens and Miss Kenton is told along with a number of subplots concerning the household of which they are a part. A major portion of the film is set in the mid-1930s and Lord Darlington's (the owner of Darlington Hall, played by James Fox) political views- which would eventually make him despised by everybody over the course of the years- is an important subplot. Minor subplots include one about Lord Darlington's nephew, played by a young Hugh Grant, and a very minor subplot concerning the affair of one of the maids of the house. All these subplots help in the weaving of the gentle main plot concerning Mr Stevens and Miss Kenton, as they witness all the incidents happening in the house. 

Miss Kenton. Mr Stevens. These are two characters that you start caring for. The plot and the character development are so very good, and the best thing about all these is that these developments happen gently, slowly, giving us the opportunity to properly get to know the two characters. Emma Thompson's quiet performance is extraordinary, while Anthony Hopkins is perfect as Mr Stevens, making the character believable. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's screenplay is brilliant, it really is. The developments of the characters and the story are done so very well.

 The film is as simple as it can be but this very simplicity is beautiful and heartbreaking. At the end of the day, we are left with a film that is simple and gentle yet extraordinarily powerful. ''The Remains of the Day'' is a beautiful film.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

''The Theory of Everything'' (2014 film)- Review

Directed by: James Marsh
Released: 2014
Country: United Kingdom

Genre: Biographical, Romantic drama

Rating: 4 out of 5


''The Theory of Everything'' is the story of Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and his first wife Jane (Felicity Jones). The film spans years and begins when Stephen is a PhD student at Cambridge. He meets Jane, who is a student of languages and could not be more different from him. Eventually, the two very different people fall in love. Its a beautiful, beautiful affair, but things take a different turn when Stephen comes to know that he has motor neuron disease, which will eventually make it impossible for him to talk or walk, and he is expected to live for a maximum of two years. The young Stephen is deterred, he loses all hope, but then in steps Jane. Jane, who deeply loves Stephen, wants him to continue his studies and hard work in spite of his disease. She encourages him, and eventually decides to marry him, to the surprise of everyone. In a very memorable scene in the film, Jane tells Stephen's father that she may seem softhearted but she is strong enough to take care of and encourage the person she loves. 

Spanning several years, ''The Theory of Everything'' focuses, firstly, on the relationship between Stephen and Jane. Secondly, the things that Stephen accomplishes one after another, in spite of his serious illness. Thirdly, the problems and complexities that Jane faces over the course of the years. While the film focuses greatly on how Stephen deals with the situation he is in and defying all challenges, continues his hard work and research, the film is also as much about Jane as it is about Stephen. Jane has her own struggles, her own emotional ups and downs, her own challenges. Its a film that deals with the challenges faced by Stephen and Jane: Stephen dealing with his physical and emotional challenges, while Jane, over the years, goes through complexities of her own and faces them bravely. I admired both of them. I admired both Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. They were perfect in their roles. Really.

''The Theory of Everything'' is a deeply moving film: its about the bond between two people who, many years ago, had fallen in love. No, they do not remain the carefree university students that they were in the beginning of the movie. Lots of things change, their lives change.  While the romance between the two of them might not have remained constant, their love story is something that might not have always remained the same and many changes came to their lives but the basis of it, their emotional bond and respect for each other, always remained.

 4 out of 5