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


Review

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. 

Saturday, 20 May 2017

''Stagecoach'' (1939 film)- Review

Directed by: John Ford
Released: 1939
Country: United States

Genre: Western, Drama, Adventure

Rating: 5 out of 5

Review

I started watching ''Stagecoach'' without knowing what to expect from it as I have only watched a few western movies. This film, however, left me impressed and deeply moved.

Several people start a journey to Lordsburgh on a stagecoach. They continue their journey even after they come to know that there is trouble ahead, that Apaches might attack them on their way. The people on the stagecoach are Dallas (played by Claire Trevor)- who happens to be a prostitute, Lucy Mallory (played by Louise Platt)- who is expecting to meet her husband on the way (her husband is in the army), Doctor Boone (played by Thomas Mitchell)- a doctor who often drinks, Mr Hatfield (played by John Carradine)- a gambler, Mr Peacock (played by Donald Meek)- a whiskey salesman, and Mr. Gatewood (played by Berton Churchill)- a banker. The stagecoach is being driven by Buck (played by Andy Devine), who is accompanied by Marshal Curly Wilcox (played by George Bancroft). Curly is accompanying the stagecoach because a fugitive, Ringo Kid (played by John Wayne), has escaped from penitentiary and is traveling to Lordsburgh to have his revenge on the person who killed his family members. Curly is searching for Ringo. They come across Ringo on the way and Curly arrests him. They continue their journey, knowing that there is danger ahead, that Apaches can attack any time, and on their way they slowly get to know more about each other and learn to leave their prejudices behind and accept one another.

''Stagecoach'' is a deeply moving film with great character development. My favorite characters were Dallas and Ringo. I felt so sad and infuriated when I saw the other passengers of the stagecoach initially treating Dallas with prejudice and hatred. Although she is extremely goodhearted, her fellow passengers initially neglect and ignore her just because of her occupation. Nobody bothers to ask her opinion. When Dallas sees that Mrs. Mallory (who happens to be pregnant) is feeling unwell, she offers to sit beside her so that she (Mrs Mallory) can put her head on her (Dallas') shoulder. Mrs. Mallory, influenced by her social prejudice, refuses. I felt so overwhelmed when I saw Ringo caring for Dallas. ''What about the other lady?''- he demands when nobody bothers to ask Dallas' opinion. Eventually, a deep bond develops between the two of them. The other passengers of the stagecoach eventually manage to leave their prejudices behind as well.

The performances were great, the characters were deeply developed, and the most special thing about the film was the presence of Ringo and Dallas. Such wonderful characters they were! Dallas, particularly, was the most beautifully developed character. I loved this film.


 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

''Ida' (2013 film)- Review

Directed by: PaweĊ‚ Pawlikowski
Released: 2013
Country: Poland

Genre: Drama

Rating: 5 out of 5

Review

''Ida'' is a beautiful and thought-provoking film. It is only an hour and twenty minutes long, but within that duration it manages to move us deeply.

The film is set in the 1960s, in Poland. The protagonist is Anna, played by Agata Trzebuchowska. Anna is a novice nun about to take her vows but is then informed that before taking her vows, she has to meet her only living relative, Wanda Gruz (played by Agata Kulesza), who happens to be her maternal aunt. Anna has never seen Wanda before, and when they meet, Wanda reveals that Anna's parents were actually Jews who were murdered during the World War II. She also reveals that Anna's actual name is Ida. Anna/Ida wants to know where her parents are  buried. Together, Wanda and Ida make a journey that takes them back to the place where her (Ida's) parents used to stay, with the intention of knowing what happened to them. In this journey, Wanda and Ida go through realizations, self-discoveries and emotional upheavals. 

Both actresses are brilliant in their roles. The film kept me intrigued from the time Ida and Wanda first met. But I had no idea about the direction the film was heading to. The journey the women go on turns out to be a journey of self-discovery and revelations. The revelations they come across leave a deep impact in both of them. They both have questions about their identities, their lives. The film also explores how the tragedies of the Holocaust left impacts in the minds- and lives- of people. Moving and hauntingly beautiful, ''Ida'' is a brilliant film.


Tuesday, 16 May 2017

''Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte'' (1964 film)- Review

Directed by: Robert Aldrich
Released: 1964
Country: United States

Genre: Psychological thriller, Mystery, Psychological horror

Rating: 4 out of 5

Review

The first season of the TV series 'Feud' chronicled the rivalry and feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford and that was what made me interested in ''Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte''. The early days of the production of the film has been depicted in the series, of how this film was planned as another film to star Crawford and Davis after the enormously successful ''What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?'', also directed by Robert Aldrich. However, the tension between the two stars kept increasing. Crawford, feeling that Davis controlled Aldrich and was trying to humiliate her, apparently feigned sickness and was replaced by Olivia de Havilland. I did not actually want to watch the film right now as, before watching it, I wanted to make myself fully familiar with the earlier works of the great stars starring in this film- besides Davis and de Havilland, Joseph Cotten, Mary Astor, Agnes Moorehead and Cecil Kellaway also appear in this film. However, my curiosity got the better of me and I ended up watching the film and admiring it.

Davis plays Charlotte. In 1927, she falls fallen in love with a married man, John (played by Bruce Dern) although she does not know that he is married. After being confronted by Charlotte's father (Victor Buono), the man, John, tells Charlotte that he is married. Charlotte is heartbroken. A party is going on in the house at that time and Charlotte appears with blood smeared on her white dress and when it is discovered that John is dead, all the people in the town starts suspecting that it was Charlotte who killed John.

Years pass. Charlotte's father has died. Charlotte is now a recluse, living all alone in the big house, tended by a housekeeper (played by Agnes Moorehead) who comes to clean the house everyday. The local doctor, Dr. Drew Bayliss (played by Joseph Cotten), occasionally visits her. People rarely go near that house as they are afraid of Charlotte. To this day, she clings to the memory of John. Threatened with the demolition of the house, Charlotte asks her cousin, Miriam (played by Olivia de Havilland), to come. Miriam comes and there is a reunion between the cousins after years. However, very soon, unexpected, startling things start happening and Charlotte keeps feeling the presence of John in the house at nights.

There is a Gothic atmosphere in some of the scenes and the film works as a perfect psychological horror. There are scenes in which Charlotte feels the presence of John and the atmosphere in those scenes are simply great. There are several twists and turns throughout the film, making the story a perfect mystery.

As for the performances, Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Agnes Moorehead, Joseph Cotten Mary Astor (playing John's widow) and Cecil Kellaway (who plays an investigator interested to know the real facts behind John's mysterious murder) are all great. Bette looks so very cute with her hair in those braids! Charlotte is so childlike and innocent! 

The thing about the film that keeps haunting me the most is the lovely song by Patti Page- ''Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte''. Those lyrics keep playing in my mind: ''Hush, hush sweet charlotte/ Charlotte, don't you cry/ Hush, hush, sweet Charlotte/ He'll love you till he dies/... You weep because you had a dream last night/ You dreamed that he said goodbye...'' John had written this lullaby for Charlotte all those years ago and she clings on to this lullaby just like clings on to John's memories.

''Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte'' is a layered, twisted and atmospheric film. I liked it very much and really admired the atmosphere.

 

Monday, 15 May 2017

''Hacksaw Ridge'' (2016 film)- Review

Directed by: Mel Gibson
Released: 2016
Country: United States

Genre: Biographical, War, Drama

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Review

''Hacksaw Ridge'' is a biographical film that tells the story of Desmond Doss. Doss (played by Andrew Garfield) strictly believes that no matter what the situations are a person should never be killed. Socially awkward and meek, Desmond is only in his early twenties when the World War II starts. Believing that he should not be sitting home when the rest of his countrymen were off to the war, Desmond enlists, intending to be a combat medic. However, he absolutely refuses to carry a gun. Even when his superiors try to talk him into it, he refuses. He does not want to be connected to something that is used for killing people. The other soldiers think that Desmond is a coward and that he will not last long in the war, but Desmond proves them wrong by showing great heroism when they try to defeat the Japanese army at Hacksaw Ridge in the Battle of Okinawa. His heroism saves a lot of lives and he manages to do this without even carrying a weapon for self defense.

The war scenes are brutal, well-made and extremely realistic and I found myself looking away from those scenes for seconds because of moments of extreme violence, horror and brutality. The film does a great job portraying the bravery and heroism of Desmond Doss. It is impossible not to love Desmond. The character maintains his innocence and firm determination throughout the film and I cheered for him during the scenes in which he proves his heroism and everybody acknowledges it.. Glimpses into his relationship with his family members and how it has shaped his life and his views further develop the character.  Andrew Garfield does a great job and Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey,  Huge Weaving (as Desmond's father; his experiences in the World War I left him emotionally unstable but he eventually goes on to play a great role in Desmond's life) and Teresa Palmer (as Dorothy, a nurse with whom Desmond falls in love) provide great support.

In short, ''Hacksaw Ridge'' is a very well-made war film that depicts the brutality and horror of wars and the heroism of its protagonist, Desmond Doss, with perfection.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

''Wuthering Heights'' (1939 film)- Review

Directed by: William Wyler
Released: 1939
Country: United States

Genre: Romantic drama

Rating: 5 out of 5

''Wuthering Heights'' has been one of my favorite novels ever since I first read it back in 2010. I was indeed aware of the fact that the 1939 film adaptation omits a lot of things from the book- it excludes the entire second half of the book, for example- I loved this film. It was so hauntingly poetic and atmospheric. It retained the Gothic atmosphere of the book perfectly and although not entirely faithful to the novel, it is a great film in its own right. 

When Mr. Lockwood (Miles Mander) has to spend a stormy night in the house of his landlord, Mr. Heathcliff (Lawrence Olivier), he encounters strange, eerie things, such as the voice of a woman coming from the moors. Mr. Lockwood is perplexed. The elderly housekeeper, Ellen Dean (Flora Robson) explains to him the mysteries of the house, Wuthering Heights.

Decades ago, Wuthering Heights used to be a happy house. It was owned by the Earnshaws. The family consisted of the loving Mr. Earnshaw and his two children, Hindley and Catherine (Cathy). On a trip to Liverpool, Mr. Earnshaw came across an abandoned boy and brought him to Wuthering Heights. He was named Heathcliff and Mr. Earnshaw started raising him as a son. Cathy and Heathcliff soon became great friends. However, Hindley was greatly jealous of Heathcliff. After Mr. Earnshaw's death, Hindley- now the owner of Wuthering Heights- turned Heathcliff into a stable boy, neglecting and humiliating him. Several years passed, Heathcliff (played by Laurence Olivier) and Cathy (played by Merle Oberon) were still very close and love each other deeply. However, when Cathy came across the handsome, wealthy Edgar Linton (played by David Niven), she decided to marry him, primarily for his wealth and social status. She wanted the best for Heathcliff, but also knew that she would never be able to acquire the social life and wealth she wanted for herself if she married Heathcliff. Hearing this, Heathcliff left Wuthering Heights, and although Cathy initially was heartbroken, she moved on and married Edgar, but some years later, Heathcliff returned. Now a wealthy man, he had other intentions in his mind as well. 

There is no doubt in the fact that the film is not very faithful to the novel. While the novel has a lot of focus on Heathcliff's vengeful attitude and how it destroys everyone around him, the film focuses more on the relationship between Heathcliff and Cathy and I was completely fine with that. After all, I cannot possibly have an opinion about a film on the basis of how faithful it is to its source material. I am supposed to have an opinion based on how perfectly the film works. When it comes to that, this film is simply great.

I loved the atmosphere. Consider the scenes in which Heathcliff and Cathy meet on the Penistone Crags. They are just so beautiful, so very poetic. I really fell in love with those scenes. I loved their conversations. Or consider the scene in which Cathy expresses to Ellen how much she loves Heathcliff and utters the famous line- ''I am Heathcliff''. There is a storm outside and as Cathy is standing beside a window, a lightning flashes on her face. There are so many poetically atmospheric scenes throughout the film that it was just impossible on my part not to love it. The film is made more poetic by the beautiful black-and-white cinematography: I don't think color cinematography could ever be this poetic.

When it comes to the performances, they are great. Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon are great in their roles. David Niven, Geraldine Fitzgerald (playing Edgar's sister, Isabella), Flora Robson and Hugh Williams (playing the adult Hindley) are excellent as well. (I just noticed something: the physician, Dr. Kenneth, is played by Donald Crisp, the same man who played the villain in ''Broken Blossoms''!). 

''Wuthering Heights'' is a hauntingly beautiful and atmospheric film. It will be injustice if it is compared to the original novel because, while the novel is one of the greatest works in English literature, the 1939 film adaptation is a great film in its own right, no matter how different it is from its source material. 

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

''The Seven Year Itch'' (1955 film)- Review

Directed by: Billy Wilder
Released: 1955
Country: United States

Genre: Romantic comedy

Rating: 4 out of 5

Review

Billy Wilder's ''The Seven Year Itch'' starts with the narrator describing a practice among the native Americans living in Manhattan centuries ago. When summer came, they would send their wives and children to colder and comfortable places, while they would stay behind for their work. However, once their wives would go away, many of the men would become smitten by beautiful women. The narrator then tells us that the film has nothing to do with native Americans, but that the story would be set in the modern day Manhattan. 

The narrator implies that nothing much has changed in men in the present day Manhattan. Our narrator, Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell) is a middle-aged man working for a publishing company. As it is summer, he sends his wife and son to Maine, but stays behind for his work. He tries his best not to feel attracted to women and not to smoke, but when a beautiful young woman (Marilyn Monroe) moves to an apartment in the same building, his determination is tested and he must now try his best not to become attracted to her.

''The Seven Year Itch'' is a very funny film. Richard is pretty paranoid and often expects the worst. His imaginations and fantasies are hilarious. There are scenes in which he imagines his attraction to his neighbor will be publicly revealed and he imagines hilarious consequences. The kind of background music heard in those scenes are music you would expect in a serious drama film or even, at times, in a thriller film. However, the film is not even close to being a serious drama: the film is very lighthearted. The background music reflects Richard's paranoia and it makes everything way more hilarious.

Tom Ewell and Marilyn Monroe are both wonderful in their roles. Monroe is charming and cute as the innocent neighbor Ewell is great in his role and the scenes in which his character talks to himself, imagining the consequences that can come if his attraction to his neighbor is publicly revealed, are hilarious. 

''The Seven Year Itch'' is a very entertaining and amusing film. A Billy Wilder film has, till now, never disappointed me. 
 

Sunday, 7 May 2017

''Nebraska'' (2013 film)- Review

Directed by: Alexander Payne
Released: 2013
Country: United States

Genre: Comedy-drama

Rating: 5 out of 5

Review

I have watched Alexander Payne's ''The Descendants'' several times. I love it so very much. I love the character development, the humor and the moments which are emotionally overwhelming.

The difference between ''The Descendants'' and ''Nebraska'' is in the types of family the two films deal with. The family we saw in ''The Descendants'' was a dysfunctional one, while the family in ''Nebraska''- the Grant family- is a loving one. The Grant family consists of Woody Grant (played by Bruce Dern) and his wife Kate (played by June Squibb) and their grown-up sons, David (played by Will Forte) and Ross (played by Bob Odenkirk). Woody and Kate are in their seventies. Age has caught up with Woody. He has always been simple and kind, helping others and believing everything that people told him. They live in Montana. When Woody gets a letter stating  he should travel to Nebraska to collect a million dollars that he has won, he wants to go to Nebraska by any means possible. Kate, David and Ross know that it is just a scam, but Woody is adamant and wants to collect the money, even wanting to walk to Nebraska to collect the prize money. David decides to drive his father to Nebraska. He knows that it is just a scam, but he wants his father to be happy and he knows that driving to Nebraska might make him happy even though it does turn out to be scam. As they start their drive to Nebraska- they are soon joined, on their way, by Kate and Ross- they have a good time together, sharing little adventures. David also comes to know little things about his father that he had never known before.

It's impossible not to admire these lovely characters. David is amazing. He knows that his father has won no such thing, that it is just a scam. He knows that his father has a lonely, uneventful life in Montana and that is why he drives his father to Nebraska to make him happy. Over the course of the film we get to spend a lot of time with David and it just makes his character more lovable.

Woody and Kate are really cute too. Bruce Dern and June Squibb are excellent in their roles. I admired Kate as much as I admired David. For her, the wellbeing of her family is the top priority. There is a scene in which she confronts some extended family members when they start claiming that Woody owes them money and that he should pay them back once he receives his prize money. Such a strong performance she delivered throughout the film and particularly in that scene.

Another thing that really touched me is the way the four members of the family have retained strong bonds. David and Ross might have lives of their own, but in a situation like this- driving to a different state together- they become childlike once again and their mother is once again the formidable yet sweet matriarch. No matter where our life takes us our bond with our family members always remain strong.

''Nebraska'' is lovely and gentle, sweet and beautiful, deeply moving and often funny. It is a very character-driven film and Woody, Kate and David are three lovely characters.  

Friday, 5 May 2017

'Jaws'' (1974 film)- Review

Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Released: 1974
Country: United States

Genre: Thriller, Adventure

Rating: 5 out of 5

Review

''Jaws'' is a genuinely terrifying film. Like, really. It is so very suspenseful, tense and thrilling.

When a woman dies when swimming in the ocean on Amity Island, it is immediately assumed that the death was caused by a shark attack. While police chief Martin Brody (played by Roy Scheider) wants to close the beaches, the authorities of the island are reluctant: it is the tourism season and tourism has a great impact in the economy of the island. The shark is lurking in the ocean and a few more devastating attacks follow. Wanting to rid the island of this vicious predator, Brody, oceanographer Matt Hooper (played by Richard Dreyfuss) and seafarer Quint (played by Robert Shaw) decide to catch the deadly shark, embarking on a dangerous and unpredictable mission.

''Jaws'' really scared me. From the very first scenes. The presence of the shark casts a sinister atmosphere throughout the film: it is so very suspenseful when we are fearing that the shark might appear anytime and that suspense is intense. Whenever the shark appears (and whenever we see its fin) it is terrifying, extremely terrifying. I found myself whispering 'get to the shore' over and over again to the vacationers when the shark was about to attack them.

''Jaws'' is suspenseful and intense, excellently-directed and acted. If you want a good scare then ''Jaws'' is definitely one of the films I would recommend the most! 

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

'Inside Llewyn Davis'' (2013 film)- Review

Directed by: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Released: 2013
Country: United States

Genre: Dark comedy, Drama

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Review

Set in the 1960s, ''Inside Llewyn Davis'' follows a few days in the life of folk singer Llewyn Davis (played by Oscar Isaac). Llewyn is a struggling singer, has no permanent job and his latest album hasn't been commercially successful.

''Inside Llewyn Davis'' takes us, well, inside Llewyn Davis. We see the world through his eyes. Several people around him consider him a loser; they think that he is messing his own life up. Are they right? Well, that depends on the perspective. But at the end of the day, the film does not ask us to judge Llewyn Davis but rather to spend a few moments with him and it does so successfully.

The song ''500 Miles'' is sung by two of Llewyn's friend and I thought this really reflected Llewyn. ''Not a shirt on my back/ Not a penny to my name/ Lord, I can't go back home this a-way''. Is Llewyn ashamed of himself? No. But he does look fed up with life anyway. In spite of that, however, he loves folk songs and although it might look that he has given up, but he does want to make something of himself in the world of folk music. But, nevertheless, he is frustrated. He feels alone and lost in a world where people have to race to survive. We feel for him.

Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake and John Goodman play important supporting roles. The cinematography is oh-so-beautiful, giving the film a very poetic aura. Oscar Isaac's performance is really very good and ultimately this great-looking, excellently-written film is really moving.