Monday, 13 November 2017

''Mogambo'' (1953 film)- Review

The Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon is being hosted by The Wonderful World of Cinema, and the film that I have reviewed for the blogathon is Mogambo. 

Directed by: John Ford
Released: 1953
Country: United States

Genre: Adventure, Romantic drama

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Victor Marswell (played by Clark Gable) is a hunter working in Kenya. When a false promise by an Indian maharajah lands the lively Eloise Kelly (played by Ava Gardner) in Kenya, Victor initially doesn't take her seriously but over the course of time he comes to appreciate her. Donald Nordley (played by Donald Sinden), an anthropologist and his wife Linda (played by Grace Kelly) arrive (they are there for Donald's work, he hopes to study certain traits of gorillas there). Linda is sophisticated, simple and sensitive, completely different from Kelly. While it is evident that Victor loves Kelly, he finds himself falling in love with Linda as well. Thus starts a love triangle in the middle of wildness and jungles, wild animals and dangers. Over the course of the film we get to know more about the three main characters and realize that they are, in one way or another, looking for fulfillment. 

''Mogambo'' is a really good film. I really liked the way the characters were gradually developed, the way their emotions and feelings for each other was portrayed. Clark Gable, Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly are brilliant in their roles, and the setting (that includes  exotic jungles and wild animals) is simply great.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

''Jane Eyre'' (1943 film)- Review

 The Joan Fontaine Centenary Blogathon is being hosted by In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood and The Wonderful World of Cinema. The film that I have reviewed for the blogathon is Jane Eyre.

Directed by: Robert Stevenson
Released: 1943
Country: United States

Genre: Romantic drama, Mystery

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Charlotte Brontë's ''Jane Eyre'' happens to be my favorite novel of all time. I have loved the novel since I was eleven years old. And I LOVED this adaptation. Starring Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine, it is such an atmospheric, well-acted and well-directed film. 

Jane Eyre is an orphan who lives with her aunt, Mrs. Reed, and is treated cruelly by her relatives. Mrs Reed sends Jane to Lowood, a boarding school. Harsh conditions prevail in Lowood. Jane completes her education there, staying there for ten years. She then finds a job as a governess at a mansion called Thornfield Hall. Over the course of time she becomes really attached to Thornfield Hall and her student, Adele, and also starts feeling attracted to Edward Rochester, her moody employer who hides a tender heart beneath his rough exterior. Mr Rochester, however, is hiding dark secrets and Thornfield Hall itself guards secrets and mysteries...

''Jane Eyre'' is such a great film! I loved the Gothic atmosphere prevailing throughout the film! Thornfield Hall was portrayed just the way Bronte had meant it to be: a mysterious, shady manor. Jane and Mr. Rochester were brought to life and fleshed out. Their chemistry is beautifully developed and believable. Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles are excellent in their roles, playing two lost souls with sheer perfection.  Margaret O'Brien (playing Adele) also delivers an excellent performance and (surprise!) a young Elizabeth Taylor also appears in this film, playing Jane's childhood friend, Helen.

I loved the screenplay as well. It does take liberties with the source material but I had no problem with it. The changes it makes are tender and well-crafted and I really liked them. It is an adaptation, after all, and these subtle changes are something that, in my opinion, we should welcome in adaptations. There are adaptations in which certain alterations seem odd because they drift too far from the plot- sometimes even ruining the overall story- and I, of course, don't support them. But when it comes to the alterations that this film makes, they are well-balanced and appreciable. 

I loved ''Jane Eyre''. I loved the Gothic atmosphere, the chemistry between Jane and Mr. Rochester, the performances by Fontaine and Welles, the beautiful cinematography and the screenplay.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

''On Golden Pond'' (1981 film)- Review

 The Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn blogathon is being hosted by In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. The film that I am reviewing for the blogathon is On Golden Pond, the film for which Katherine Hepburn won her fourth Oscar.

Directed by: Mark Rydall
Released: 1981
Country: United States

Genre: Drama

Rating: 4 out of 5


''On Golden Pond'' is a gentle and deeply moving film, filled with warmth and emotional depth. Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda play Ethel and Norman Thayer.  Ethel is in her sixties while Norman has just turned eighty and for the summer they are visiting their cottage which is situated on a lake called Golden Pond. For them, Golden Pond is a place that brings back a lot of memories. The loons that swim gently on the lake- and their calls- make them nostalgic and ponder about life. Ethel is cheerful and optimistic and although she is well aware of the fact that anything drastic can happen to them- particularly to Norman- any time because of their age, she tries staying cheerful. She helps Norman stay positive and active.  

They are visited by their daughter, Chelsea (played by Jane Fonda), who is accompanied by her boyfriend, Bill, and Bill's teenage son, Billy. Chelsea has never really had a smooth relationship with her father and is filled with bitterness about her childhood. She feels that her father never paid her enough attention when she was a child. As Chelsea and Bill are about to visit Europe, they decide to leave Bill's teenage son, Billy (played by Doug McKenon) with Ethel and Norman. The elderly couple agree, and after Chelsea and Bill leave for Europe, Ethel and Norman eventually develop a strong bond with Billy, something that not only invigorates Norman but also, eventually, goes on to strengthen several relationships.
This is such a beautiful film, completely unpretentious yet powerful and moving. Its simplicity gives it a beauty of its own, the emotional content being perfectly balanced. The title sequence is gorgeous: the way sunlight is reflected from the rippling water of the lake,  is amazing; the warmth and charm reflected in the sequence can be felt throughout the film. Both Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda are excellent in their roles. Jane Fonda, Doug McKenon and Dabney Coleman are great as well. I loved the character development, the performances, the story, the screenplay, the beautiful cinematography, the score- well, I admired everything about this movie!


Saturday, 30 September 2017

''Gosford Park'' (2001 film)- Review

Directed by: Robert Altman
Released: 2001
Country: United Kingdom

Genre: Mystery, Drama

Rating: 5 out of 5


What a perfect film ''Gosford Park'' is! I loved every minute of it.

The events of ''Gosford Park'' take place over the course of a single weekend in 1932. Sir William McCordle (played by Michael Gambon) is a wealthy industrialist, although he comes from a humble background. He is married to Sylvia (played by Kristin Scott Thomas), who comes from the titled aristocracy. Sylvia is snobbish, and although she married Sir William for his money, she looks down on him as he wasn't born into wealth. Sir William and Sylvia invite a number of people for a weekend hunting party which they will be organizing at Gosford Park, an estate they own. Among the people invited to the party are relatives of Lady Sylvia's, a couple of distinguished men from Hollywood and other acquaintances. But there are other people as well. All these distinguished guests have brought with them servants- lady's maids and valets- and the servants will be staying ''below stairs'' with the servants of the household. It is a typical British country house and below the stairs, servants occupy a world of their own, a world that has its own hierarchies. Over the course of the weekend, we get to know a lot about the hosts, the guests and the servants. Quarrels and little problems arise and after Sir William is found murdered in the library, Inspector Thompson (played by Stephen Fry) comes to Gosford Park to investigate. Several of the people present in Gosford Park during the party had motives to kill Sir William...

''Gosford Park'' is not merely a mystery film. It is so much more than that. The mystery is an element of the film, but what is much more engrossing is just how complex and layered the story is. There is such a vast array of characters; at first I was worried I wouldn't be able to keep track of all of them but eventually, over the course of the film, each character turned out to be unique. Many of the characters are hiding layers of secrets and lies. Within a single weekend life fully changes for some of the characters we meet.

As for the cast, it was such a joy to see Michael Gambon, Eileen Atkins, Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith,  Stephen Fry, Charles Dance, Geraldine Somerville, Kristin Scott Thomas, Emily Watson, Kelly Macdonald, Clive Owen and Ryan Phillippe (to name but a few) in the same film! Like I have already said, every single character was unique and fleshed out, and these great actors brought their characters to life.

''Gosford Park'' is a social commentary as well, depicting how life was like in those great country houses. The employers and the servants lived in the same house, but occupied two completely different worlds. The employers did not have to worry about anything; the servants were there to take care of the needs. The servants, in their part of the house, maintained a hierarchy as well. The housekeeper and the butler reigned supreme; how they would sit at the dining table would be based on how senior the servant was. Lady Sylvia looks down on those who weren't into money- which includes her own husband. She looks down on Mabel, a guest who does not from an aristocratic background. On the other hand, she is in friendly terms with her lady's maid. I guess that was because the division between the employers and servants was so clear, so conspicuous that her lady's maid would never be a threat to her and as such Lady Sylvia (and others of her class) found it fully acceptable to be in friendly terms with her lady's maid but not with someone like Mabel, who would be staying in the same part of the house as an equal. However, in the eyes of someone as snobbish as Sylvia, people like Mabel could never be their equals.

I really loved ''Gosford Park''. Everything I love about a great story was present there: complex characters, intertwined subplots and hidden twists. 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

''Terms of Endearment'' (1983 film)- Review

Directed by: James L. Brooks
Released: 1983
Country: United States

Genre: Comedy-drama

Rating: 5 out of 5


'Terms of Endearment'' left me emotionally overwhelmed. This gentle film explores the complexities of human relationships and the unpredictability of life with sublimity and perfection.

Aurora Greenway (played by Shirley Maclaine) is a strict, no-nonsense middle-aged woman who hasn't had a romantic relationship in years. Her daughter, Emma (played by Debra Winger), falls in love with Flap Horton (played by Jeff Daniels), although Aurora disapproves of the relationship because she thinks Flap has no ambition. Emma, however, gets married to Flap and they move to Iowa. Time flies and Emma finds that her relationship with Flap is getting strained with the passage of time. Aurora, on the other hand, starts a relationship with Garrett (played by Jack Nicholson), a quirky astronaut living next door. The film follows the lives of these people, of the twists and turns, joys and heartbreaks, happiness and tragedies that they go through and how their relationships stand the test of time, misunderstandings, problems and tragedies.

''Terms of Endearment'' does not tend to sugarcoat anything. It presents a realistic portrayal of life. It shows just how strong human relationships can be, how unpredictable life can be. . Although it initially appears that Aurora and Emma are not really close, over the course of the film we get to discover just how much they love each other, just how important they are to each other. They share the tiniest details of their lives with each other; Aurora is Emma's biggest confidant and vice-versa.The characters we see are fleshed out and realistic.  As for the performances, they are great: Shirley Maclaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson and Jeff Daniels are magnificent in their roles.

 ''Terms of Endearment'' made me smile with the characters, laugh with them, sympathize with them. Some parts were truly heartbreaking. This is exactly why I loved this film so much. It took me right into  its own world, making it possible for me to fully understand the characters and appreciate them. This is a simple yet breathtakingly beautiful film.


Thursday, 24 August 2017

''In the Heat of the Night'' (1967 film)- Review

Directed by: Norman Jewison
Released: 1967
Country: United States

Genre: Mystery, Drama, Crime

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


When, one night, an industrialist is found murdered in Sparta, Mississipi, a policeman suspects Virgil Tibbs (played by Sidney Poitier), an African-American man who was waiting for a train at a nearby station. However, when it is revealed that Tibbs is actually a highly successful policeman from Philadelphia, the racist police chief, Gillespie (played by Rod Steiger), asks Tibbs to help him solve the case. Although initially reluctant, Tibbs eventually agrees to help Gillepsie, and in a town shadowed by racism, he manages to discover clues that will help him solve the mystery.

While ''In the Heat of the Night'' is an excellent mystery film- with clues surfacing from unexpected places, culminating in an unpredictable solution to the mystery- there is a great focus on the subject of racism. In spite of the fact that Tibbs is a well-known homicide expert, he is subjected to racial prejudice and racist remarks over and over again. You can see how humiliated and indignant he feels when he is suspected by the police of Sparta and when he is subjected to prejudice. His indignant response to a racist remark- ''They cal me Mr. Tibbs!''- is possibly one of the most famous quotes in film history. 

It is really sad the way he is often treated, but, no matter how indignant and humiliated he feels, he does not budge from his stance, from his determination to solve the puzzling, complicated mystery.

Another important character is, of course, Gillespie, played by Rod Steiger. Although initially unpleasant and prejudiced, he eventually learns to respect Tibbs and overcome his prejudices. Both Poitier and Steiger deliver excellent performances.

To sum it up, ''In the Heat of the Night'' is a very powerful film. Besides being an excellent mystery, it also explores a very important social issue.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

''The Country Girl'' (1954 film)- Review

Directed by: George Seaton
Released: 1954
Country: United States

Genre: Drama

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Theater director Bernie Dodd (played by William Holden) hires actor Frank Elgin (played by Bing Crosby) for his new play, and because his (Frank's) alcoholism bothers him, he pays a visit to his home. Bernie comes to think that Frank is manipulated by his wife, Georgie (played by Grace Kelly). There was a time Frank used to be a well-known actor but his career has declined, his alcoholism making it particularly hard for him to find work. Bernie is concerned and is prepared to help Frank at any cost. Over the course of time, however, Bernie comes to realize that everything is not what meets the eye.

''The Country Girl'' is indeed a powerful, emotionally raw film.  The characters are very realistic. Grace Kelly's performance is phenomenal, while William Holden and Bing Crosby are great in their roles as well. The secrets revealed over the course of the film make the characters stronger and layered.  

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

''The Royal Tenenbaums'' (2001 film)- Review

Directed by: Wes Anderson
Released: 2001
Country: United States

Genre: Comedy-drama

Rating: 5 out of 5


''The Royal Tenenbaums'' is such a lovely film! It is warm, gentle, moving and funny.

Royal (played by Gene Hackman)  and Etheline Tenenbaum (played by Anjelica Huston) have three children: Chas (who becomes an expert in financial matters and starts his own business in his childhood), Margo (who is adopted and starts writing brilliant plays before reaching her teens) and Ritchie (who is a famous table tennis player). After Royal and Etheline separate, the latter takes all the responsibilities of bringing up and educating their children. Years pass and the successes that the Tenenbaum child enjoyed in their childhoods do not follow them into adulthood. They are visibly depressed and have had traumatic episodes in her lives. For various reasons, Chas (Ben Stiller), Margo (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Ritchie (Luke Wilson) find themselves under the same roof after years and when Royal tells them that he has cancer, things take a different turn and might help the family members settle their mutual differences and problems.

While the film is witty and enchanting, it also strongly addresses dysfunction. The characters are realistic and lovable in their own ways. The distance that has been created among the members of the Tenenbaum family is very understandable. It is evident that they love one another, but past incidents have caused them to hold grudges against one another.

Hackman, Huston, Stiller, Paltrow, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson (who plays Ritchie's childhood friend, Eli), Danny Glover (who plays an accountant who falls in love with and proposes Etheline) and Bill Murray (who plays Margo's husband) are all brilliant in their roles. Hackman is so cute and I loved the way he tries to make up for everything, how he comes to understand that he has never fulfilled his responsibilities towards his family. Besides Royal, I really, really, really loved Margo. Gwyneth Paltrow shines in her role. I loved the character. I could understand the mess she was in. Although one of the calmer characters in the film, she is a very powerful character in her own right.

Overall, I loved ''The Royal Tenenbaums''. It is such a heartwarming film, beautifully written and directed.


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 Chloë 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!   

Saturday, 17 June 2017

''Memento'' (2000 film)- Review

Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Released: 2000
Country: United States

Genre: Psychological thriller, Mystery, Drama

Rating: 5 out of 5


Christopher Nolan's ''Memento'' blew my mind. It is such an intelligent thriller, so twisted, so very layered and brilliantly presented.

The protagonist, Leonard (played by Guy Pearce), has anteograde amnesia, which means his mind cannot store recent memories. He, however, does remember everything up to the point of his wife's death. His wife was raped and murdered and he was terribly injured while trying to save his wife, resulting in his anterograde amnesia. Now he is looking for the person who was involved in the assault. Over the course of the film we keep on getting puzzled and surprised, as the film unfolds itself and reveals its secrets. Who exactly is Teddy (played by Joe Pantiliano), the person who claims to be his friend? What is the intention of Natalie (played by Carrie-Anne Moss), a woman who offers to help him?

I am not going to say anything about the chronology of the film. I am not. If I have to sum up the film in one word the word that will come to my mind is 'brilliant'. It is so very intelligent and the way the film unfolds itself is truly amazing. The final twist left me very impressed, very much so. This is the kind of film which demands a second watch. I watched it for the second time right after I finished watching it for the first time. Knowing the twists and revelations I admired the film even more than I did during my first watch. It is such a very layered, perfectly presented, excellently directed, beautifully directed, excellently-acted, BRILLIANT film.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

''Rebel Without a Cause'' (1955 film)- Review

Directed by: Nicholas Ray
Released: 1955
Country: United States

Genre: Drama

Rating: 5 out of 5


''Rebel Without a Cause'' reminded me of everything I love about films. It is such a very powerful and riveting film that I found myself loving it and it has surely become one of my all-time favorite films.

Jim Starks (played by James Dean) has recently moved to a new town with his parents. Jim is frustrated and feels that his parents don't understand him. We are introduced to two other teenagers, Judy (played by Natalie Wood) and Plato (played by Sal Mineo). Judy feels slighted by her father. Her father never pays her the attention that she wants from him. She feels that her father does not care for her anymore. Plato is extremely lonely and longs for friends, which leads to frustration that often causes him to become violent. On Jim's first at school, he is bullied by a boy called Buzz (played by Corey Allen).  Jim is humiliated when he is called a chicken (signifying a coward) and then gets into trouble with Buzz, something that results in a severe tragedy. Traumatized and feeling guilty about the tragedy and also deeply affected by the frustration they have to go through everyday, Jim, Judy and Plato form a close bond over the course of a single evening, while the outside world that has never understood them keeps haunting them, something that ultimately results in a tragedy.

Here are three characters who want to belong somewhere, to somebody. They have never felt that sense of belonging anywhere. Finally, the three of them find one another. Perhaps, they think, this is what they have been looking for? This kind of friendship and emotional bond had been missing in their lives, and when they finally find one another they discover that they can finally expect to let go of the loneliness that has been haunting them.

How can a film possibly be this much emotionally overpowering? I have seen films about loneliness and frustration and the discovery of someone who fully understands you, but very few of them were as powerful as ''Rebel Without a Cause''. The film knows just how to explore the subject. And when it comes to the characters, the success of character development depends on whether you can feel emotionally attached to them and want to spend more, much more time with them. ''Rebel Without a Cause'' fully succeeds in that. James Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo are excellent in their roles. The film makes us want to spend more time with Jim, Judy and Plato. It makes us desperately want a happy ending for the three characters we get to love. We anticipate a tragedy of some kind or other but we just don't want it to strike, we just want our characters to be happy.

These are universal themes- frustration, loneliness, communication gap and the eager desire to belong somewhere. The world is a complicated and lonely place and we are all looking for acceptance. It is tragic if teenagers- at an age when they are at the peak of the emotional development- find that there is now a distance between themselves and their parents, that they don't know just who they are, what their identity is, where they belong, who their friends are.

Teenagers often ''get into trouble'' when they find acceptance nowhere. It is the duty of others- particularly parents- to be compassionate and understanding towards teenagers. At the same time, we- whether we are children, teenagers or adults- go on looking for belonging and acceptance and once we find it, we feel a sort of fulfillment we have never felt before. ''Rebel Without a Cause'' thus explores several themes that are identifiable and understandable. It is one of the best films I have ever seen. 


Friday, 9 June 2017

''The Devil's Backbone'' (2001 film)- Review

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Released: 2001
Country: Spain, Mexico

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Drama, Fantasy

Rating: 4 out of 5


''The Devil's Backbone'' is set during the Spanish Civil War. The story takes place in an orphanage run by Caseras (played by Federico Luppi) and Carmen (played by Marisa Paredes). The authorities and the teachers try their best to protect the children from the horrors of the outside world. When a new boy, Carlos (played by Fernando Tielve) comes to the orphanage, he eventually comes to realize that there are secrets and an unsolved mystery in the orphanage.

''The Devil's Backbone'' had a Gothic, dark atmosphere and since I love anything Gothic, I really admired this film. I admired the atmosphere. I found the gradual revelations fascinating. While I did not love, love, love the film, there was a sort of haunting poetry running throughout the film. There were atmospherically tense moments but ultimately, the film culminated in a rather sentimental ending. The atmospheric horror film turns out to be an extremely touching and emotionally powerful film. It still haunts me when I think of it.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

''Aparajito'' (1956 film)- Review

Directed by: Satyajit Ray
Released: 1956
Country: India

Genre: Drama

Rating: 5 out of 5


''Aparajito'', Satyajit Ray's second film, is a sequel to his first, ''Pather Panchali''.

Harihar (Kanu Banerjee) and Sarbajaya (Karuna Banerjee) and their son, Apu (Pinaki Sen Gupta) have moved to Varanasi. Although there is poverty and a lot of troubles, they are initially happy but then, suddenly, Harihar dies. Sarbajaya is left to fend for herself and her son. They move to Sarbajaya's hometown, a remote village. The film follows the difficult lives of Sarbajaya and Apu (the adolescent Apu is played by Smaran Ghoshal) and how Sarbajaya has to come into terms with the painful changes once Apu moves to Kolkata for his education.

''Aparajito'' is quiet and unpretentious but the characters go through and display a wide variety of emotions. The most powerful performance is delivered by Karuna Banerjee, who plays Sarbajaya. You can feel the pain she feels when her son- the person she is still, after all the troubles she has been through (including the death of her daughter and husband), bravely facing life for- goes away to Kolkata. We can feel her longing for her son, the loneliness she goes through. Apu, too, is a character with depth. There is a scene- right after Sarbajaya and Apu move to the village- when Apu can hear the sirens from a train and rushes to see it passing by. Emotions are reflected on his face. What is he thinking of? Perhaps the time- depicted in ''Pather Panchali''- in which he and his elder sister had run to see the train passing by? When he decides to move to Kolkata, little can he imagine the loneliness his mother will go through. Being a teenager with little experience with human emotions, he can hardly comprehend his mother's emotions- something that he eventually comes to regret.

''Aparajito'' is a deeply moving and powerful film. 


Tuesday, 6 June 2017

''Brokeback Mountain'' (2005 film)- Review

Directed by: Ang Lee
Released: 2005
Country: United States

Genre: Romantic drama, Western

Rating: 5 out of 5


Ennis Del Mar (played by Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) first meet in the 1950s, when they take jobs as shepherds in the mountains of Wyoming. Eventually, they find themselves falling in love with each other and begin a relationship. However, they have to part once the summer is over. Ennis marries Alma (played by Michelle Williams) while Jack marries Lureen (played by Anne Hathaway), the daughter of a well-off businessman. Several years pass, Ennis and Jack both are settled in their lives and then they decide to reconnect. In an era when social attitude to homosexuality is mostly negative- and also because they both have families- they try their best to keep their relationship a secret, but this relationship goes on to impact the lives of themselves and those of the people around them.

''Brokeback Mountain'' is such a breathtakingly beautiful film. The chemistry between Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal is perfect and extremely touching. The film explores the various complexities of human relationship and human nature. Ennis and Jack love each other but they cannot reveal that to anybody- partly because of the society's attitude to homosexuality, partly because they have families. Alma- Ennis' wife- has no fault but she feels emotionally shaken when she comes to know that her husband is carrying on a relationship with another man- and it is natural for her; she cannot be blamed in this case. Nor can Ennis be blamed. This is where life has brought them to. This is just how complicated human nature is. Or perhaps it is not the people involved who are wrong- but it is the society that is to be blamed here? Would Jack and Ennis have to go through so much trouble in the first place had the society not been so intolerant?  Couldn't they continue their relationship, instead of getting married? They would have been so much happier had it not been for the society. Ultimately, their relationship- and repressed feelings- made them suffer and made their families suffer- because nobody can ever be happy leading a double life.
The screenplay is excellent, the performances (particularly those of Ledger, Gyllenhaal, Williams and Hathaway) are great and the cinematography is beautiful. ''Brokeback Mountain'' is a heartbreaking, emotionally overwhelming and deeply beautiful film.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

''All About Eve'' (1950 film)- Review

Directed by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz 
Released: 1950
Country: United States

Genre: Drama

Rating: 5 out of 5


''All About Eve'' starts in an awards show- the Sarah Siddons Award- that recognizes the best in theater. The young Eve Harrington (played by Anne Baxter), a rising actress, wins an award. Several people present in the ceremony recall how Eve made her way up the ladder- and the story is told in flashback.

Just a few months before, Karen Richards (played by Celeste Holm)- the wife of a famous playwright- had seen Eve waiting outside a theater. A play starring the famous theater actress Margo Channing (played by Bette Davis) had been taking place there. Karen had seen Eve waiting outside the theater before and Eve told her that she had seen every show of the play so far. When Eve expressed her admiration for Margo, Karen was impressed and took her to Margo. Margo was impressed by Eve, felt pity for her (as she said that she had lost a husband in the war and had evidently not had a very smooth life) and took her under her wing. Although initially very fond of Eve, Margo eventually started to feel insecure. Margo had been feeling insecure about her age and career lately (now being in her forties) and Eve's beauty, charm and youth seemed threatening to her. Although others around her thought that Margo had no reason to feel this way, Margo's insecurity grew over the passage of time and it also became evident that had certain plans up her sleeve.

Oh, how I loved ''All About Eve''! I loved the way the story eventually unfolded. I loved the way the characters were developed. I loved everything about it: the story, the screenplay, the way the film is narrated, the performances, everything. This was the second time I watched the film- I had first watched it back in 2013- and this time I loved it way more than the first time! 

The performances, the characters. I have a great deal to say them about them. The performances of the women, in particular, really impressed me. Bette Davis is simply great as Margo Channing. You can understand her, you can understand the reasons for her insecurity and fears. I loved the way Anne Baxter played her character. We eventually get to know the true nature of Eve and when we do, we cannot help being shocked. Celeste Holm, as Karen, is wonderful as well. Thelma Ritter shines in her small supporting role as Birdie, Margo's protective maid.

Gary Merrill plays Margo's boyfriend Bill, Hugh Marlowe plays playwright Lloyd Richards and George Sanders plays theater critic Addison Dewitt. All of them- particularly Sanders- are excellent in their roles.

I am glad that I decided to rewatch ''All About Eve''. I loved and appreciated it way more than I did during my first watch. It is a great film.


Tuesday, 30 May 2017

''The Martian'' (2015 film)- Review

Directed by: Ridley Scott
Released: 2015
Country: United States

Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Due to natural calamity, astronaut Mark Whatney (played by Matt Damon) is stranded on Mars. The other members of the mission, believing him to be dead, leave Mars. Mark is, in fact, alive and survives in Mars by managing to grow food and make water there. When scientists come to know that Mark is still alive, they must find a way to bring him back to the earth.

''The Martian'' is in many ways very innovative and interesting. Matt Damon's performance is great and the film is in many ways a really good survival film. I loved the way Mark manages to find ways to grow food and make water. I would definitely recommend the film to those who like sci-fi and even adventure and survival films.

 There is one thing, though, that I really disapproved of. There is a scene in which Mark is treating a wound and this is shown pretty graphically. It could have simply been implied instead of being portrayed so explicitly. The film is supposed to be watched by both teenagers and adults and not everybody can endure such graphic scenes.