Saturday, 9 November 2013

A brief note

I have been blogging about books and films in two different blogs- Blog of an aspiring movie buff and Shounak's book reviews. However, keeping both of the blogs updated has become difficult for me, because of shortage of time. Therefore, from now on, I'll review both films and books in a new blog: Life with Books & Movies. While both of the old blogs will remain, I'll publish all my book and film reviews in the new blog, from now on.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

''Little Miss Sunshine'' (2006 movie)- Review

Directed by: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Released: 2006
Country: United States

Genres: Comedy-drama, Adventure

Cast: Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Alan Arkin, Steve Carell, Abigail Breslin, Paul Dano

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


''Little Miss Sunshine'' is about a dysfunctional family that has to drive 800 miles to reach a beauty pageant. The journey brings them across a lot of incidences: sad revelations, tragic incidences, yet the unity that is the basis of all families will bind them together.

The above description may make you think that '"Little Miss Sunshine'' is a very serious film. It absolutely isn't! ''Little Miss Sunshine'' is in fact a bright, gentle comedy-drama that may not make us laugh aloud all time, but it gives a smile. It is an emotional, a charmingly delightful, heartwarming, and funny film.

The aforementioned family consists of the father, Richard (Greg Kinnear), who is a serious man and often starts saying unpleasant things. The mother, Sheryl (Toni Colette). The son, Dwayne (Paul Dano), who has not spoken for nine months. And the charming and cute daughter, Olive (Abigail Breslin), who dreams of winning a beauty pageant one day. And then there is the Grandpa (Alan Arkin), who coaches Olive so that she can participate in the pageant. 

Sheryl's brother, Frank (Steve Carell), is discharged from the hospital, having been hospitalized for attempted suicide. We get to know about the family as Frank comes to know how things have changed during the time when he was absent.

Olive gets qualified for a beauty pageant, ''Little Miss Sunshine'', and for participating in it, the family has to drive from New Mexico to California. Richard thinks that winning in the main thing... and Olive can participate only if she is confident that she can win. Olive is confident... And then the family decides that they will be driving to California!

But this drive will change the life for the members of the family. For some, it will help them to reveal their emotions and warmth. For some, it will bring painful revelations. For some, it will bring tragedy. But this journey will help them learn a lot, will help them to forget the disdain they have for each other and bring back the warmth and unity in them.

There are several themes and messages in this film. The one that I found most touching is that no matter who leaves you, no matter who abandons you, disrespects you, family will always be there for you. It was really touching.

A real loser is someone who's so afraid of not winning he doesn't even try.- this is what Olive's grandfather tells her. It is one of the main messages of the film.

 The film was also very funny, very hilarious, with funny dialogues and funny, often unexpected incidences. I found the scene where the horn of the car breaks really very funny (and what the policeman found when he came to check the car!). Then there was Olive's performance in the contest. And Olive's response when she is asked where her grandpa is.  The film has a blend of emotional moments and really very funny moments. 

And now for the characters. The characters were deep and well-written. The performances were very remarkable. Abigail Breslin, as the little Olive, was really good.

''Little Miss Sunshine'' is a gentle, hilarious, delightful, touching film. Very good film with a splendid depth and message.

4.5 out of 5


Friday, 25 October 2013

''Exam'' (2009 movie)- Review

Directed by: Stuart Hazeldine
Released: 2009
Country: United Kingdom

Cast: Adar Beck, Gemma Chan, Nathalie Cox, John Lloyd Fillingham, Chukwudi Iwuji, 

Genres: Psychological thriller, Mystery, Drama

Rating: 4 out of 5


Eight candidates. In a room. For attending an assessment for a job. There are strict rules... But there is no question. The candidates co-operate with each other to find what the question is. And in doing so, they come across revelations, arguments, quarrels, and there are a lot of psychological effects...

''Exam'' is a splendid psychological thriller. It's a very deep and intense mystery and the psychological effect and intensity was really very, very impressive. I enjoyed every moment of it.

The invigilator mentions three rules:
(1) If the candidate ruins his/her paper, he/she will be disqualified.
(2) If the candidate tries to talk to the invigilator or the guard, he/she will be disqualified.
(3) If the candidate tries to leave the ruins his/her paper, he/she will be disqualified.

But when the candidates look at the paper, there is no question in it! They cannot ask the guard, because if they do so, they will be disqualified... But then they recall that they are allowed to talk to each other! They co-operate and try to work together to find out the question. They give each other nicknames: Blonde, Brunette, Dark, White, Black, Brown, and Deaf (there was another candidate who was disqualified at the very beginning of the exam, for ruining her paper).

On co-operating, discussing, trying to find new methods to discover the hidden question, they find out about each other, about the company, and more revelations. As the atmosphere grows tense and suspenseful...

This film was indeed very, very tense, very suspenseful, very puzzling, very engrossing! I loved the concept and also the twist at the end! The performances were brilliant, and the atmosphere, the situations were so well developed. It's a really very good film with a very clever storyline. 

4 out of 5

Sunday, 13 October 2013

''Gigi'' and ''The Wizard of Oz''- Movie Reviews

Gigi (1958 movie)

Directed: Vincent Minnelli
Released: 1958
Country: United States

Genre: Musical romantic comedy

Rating: 4 out of 5


Gigi is an amusing, cheerful, lighthearted musical comedy. I enjoyed every minute of it. It was so entertaining and funny! The plot centers around Gigi, a teenaged girl who lives with her mother and grandmother. Her mother is an opera singer, and we never see her (but we do hear her voice). It is Gigi's grandmother who takes care of her. Besides going to school, Gigi is further educated by her great aunt, Alicia, who gives her lessons on becoming a courtesan, lessons that are difficult and need a lot of patience.

Gaston Lachaille is a young, successful man who finds everything in life boring. He is very close to Gigi and her grandmother. One weekend, Gaston takes Gigi and her grandmother to the seaside, for holidays. Gigi and Gaston's relationship gradually becomes stronger, and realizing this, grandmother and Aunt Alicia start giving more emphasis in Gigi's training to become a lady, hoping that someday Gaston will ask her hand in marriage. However, there is Gaston's fame and notoriety, and Gigi's immaturity and working class background. Despite intensive training from Aunt Alicia, it is obviously not possible for Gigi to completely change her manners and attitude. Will these be a barrier to their relationship?

Gigi was really very funny and fully entertaining! It was so lighthearted and charming! The screenplay, situations, and dialogues were humorous and witty. While the songs were not that much memorable, they were really impressive as well! The performances were really very impressive. Leslie Caron (as Gigi), Louis Jourdan (as Gaston), Maurice Chevalier (as Honore Lachaille), Hermine Gingold (as Gigi's grandmother), and Isabel Jeans (as Aunt Alicia)- all of them gave such excellent performances. The characters were wonderful and funny. Overall, ''Gigi'' was an entertaining and funny musical comedy, witty and charming!

4 out of 5

The Wizard of Oz (1939 movie)

Directed by: Victor Fleming
Released: 1939
Country: United States

Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Musical, Drama

Cast: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Clara Blandick, Charley Grapewin

Rating: 5 out of 5

Oh, how I love The Wizard of Oz! It had been a long, long time since I last watched the film! I read the book in March 2013, and since then, I have been eager to watch the film again.

The first few scenes and the last scene are filmed in sepia, but the time that Dorothy, the protagonist, spends in the land of Oz, are filmed in brilliant color. Dorothy is a girl who lives with her uncle and aunt in a farm. A vicious neighbor, Miss Gulch, threatens to take away her dog, Toto, from her, because the dog regularly disturbs her. Dorothy yearns to get away from the farm, to somewhere magical, wonderful...

Suddenly, a twister carries Dorothy and Toto, along with the house, to the land of Oz. There, she is warmly greeted by the Munchkins, who are grateful to her because her house had fallen on the Wicked Witch of the East, killing her. However, the Wicked Witch of the West, the dead Witch's sister, now wants to capture Dorothy, because she (Dorothy) has the red slippers previously owned by the dead witch... Dorothy wants to return home, to Kansas. She is told to follow a path made of yellow bricks, to the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. On her way, she comes across a Tin Man looking for a heart, a Scarecrow looking for a brain, and a Lion looking for courage. They decide to go to the wizard together.

However, the Wicked Witch of the West is looking for Dorothy...

I just LOVED The Wizard of Oz! It was so beautiful, so colorful, so lively! It was filled with charming songs. And oh the sceneries, the production design, the sets- they were just BEAUTIFUL!

Dorothy comes to draw parallels between the people whom she meets in Oz, and the people whom she knows in real life. For example, she imagines the Wicked Witch of the West as Miss Gulch, the vicious neighbor who wants take her dear little dog, Toto, away from her. And she finds similarities between her three companions and three friendly workers of the farm.

The farewell scene was really very emotional and touching... The performances were brilliant. Judy Garland, as Dorothy was amazing. Ray Bolger (as the Scarecrow), Bert Lahr (as the Lion), Jack Haley (as the Tin Man) and Frank Morgan (as the Wizard) were amazing! Margaret Hamilton was brilliant as the Wicked Witch of the West.

The Wizard of Oz is certainly a very delightful, wonderful film!!! It's so magical and charming. The most memorable things about this film are the set decoration, colorful backgrounds and cinematography, dialogues, and some of the songs.

5 out of 5

Thursday, 10 October 2013

''Signs'' (2002 movie)- Review

Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

Released: 2002
Country: United States

Cast: Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin, Abigail Breslin, Cherry Jones, M. Night Shyamalan

Genres: Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


M. Night Shyamalan's ''Signs'' deals with a possible alien invasion--- and a family dealing with it, along with it's personal tragedies. Signs has a really good atmosphere, and excellent characterization and acting.

The aforementioned family consists of widower Graham, his two children, Morgan and Bo, and his younger brother, Merril. Graham starts noticing crop circles in his crop fields, and such signs start appearing all around the world... It is guessed that there might be a possible extraterrestrial invasion. As people all around the world get frightened and take preparations to survive the invasion and also to face the aliens, Graham and his family members also have to face them...

Signs is not entirely a disaster film. While there are some hints of people taking preparations for survival from a possible alien attack, the main focus is on the family. The family's facing the aliens is presented together with the recent personal tragedy--- the death of Graham's wife. The film's focus is somewhat personal, and this helps a lot in the excellent character development. The characters' emotions, mainly those of Graham, are well presented. The characters were thus quite well developed.

There is also plenty of suspense. One of the most frightening moments in the film was the scene of the Brazilian footage--- a birthday party where suddenly an alien appears. There is a lot of suspense and emotional depth, the family waiting and preparing for such a disaster, fears  and suspense mixed with sorrow and memories. The fears and suspense and uncertainty and sorrow. The film also has some wry humor now and then, which is quite impressive.

 The characters and their emotions are portrayed really well, and performances are brilliant. Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Abigail Breslin, Rory Culkin- all of them were so wonderful. 

''Signs'' is an entertaining, suspenseful, emotional film, that has such a well developed atmosphere, screenplay, characterization and performances. I liked it. Very much.

3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

''Chinatown'' (1974 movie)- Review

Directed by: Roman Polanski
Released: 1974
Country: United States

Genres: Crime, Mystery, Thriller, Drama

Cast: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Perry Lopez, John Hillerman, Darrell Zwirling, Diane Ladd, Belinda Palmer

Rating: 5 out of 5


Jake Gitties (Jack Nicholson) is a private investigator, who investigates about people committing extra-marital affairs. One day, a woman, introducing herself as Mrs Mulwray, comes to him, and tells him that her husband is, apparently, involved with another woman, and asks him to find out about this. On investigating this, Gitties finds out about secrets and crimes, murders and personal secrets of the past. 

Roman Polanski's Chinatown is a mystery with a lot of drama and depth in it, with excellent performances, screenplay, dialogue, and score. It's a film that remains quite unforgettable.

Hollis Mulwray (Darrell Zwirling) is apparently in a relationship with another woman. After the supposed Mrs Mulwray hires Gitties, he starts spying on Hollis and his girlfriend. But, after some time, a woman (Faye Dunaway) comes to Gitties and tells him that she is Mrs Mulwray. Then who was the woman who had hired Gitties? And for what purpose did she try to impersonate Mrs Mulwray? 

But before long, Hollis Mulwray is found dead. His death was apparently caused by drowning. Or was it actually murder? Gitties investigates and spies, and comes across a plot, a secret, a crime. Hollis Mulwray apparently came to know about it, and he was murdered. But who is behind all these? Gitties takes the help of Mrs Mulwray, and in time, comes across shadows and personal secrets related with the crimes...

Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway are excellent as the two lead characters. Dunaway's performance remains quite unforgettable, for example, the confrontation scene at the car, the scene where Mrs Mulwray tells Gitties the identity of Katherine, and of course, the last scene. Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, and John Huston- all of them were excellent in the final scene.

The story was excellent and the wonderful screenplay developed the situations excellent--- it always remained suspenseful and exciting and dark, sometimes a little violent, and near the end, emotional as well.

Monday, 16 September 2013

''Moulin Rouge!'' (2001 movie)- Review

Directed by: Baz Luhrmann
Released: 2001
Country: United States, Australia

Genres: Musical, Romantic drama

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, Jim Broadbent, Richard Roxburgh, John Leguizamo

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Moulin Rouge! is perhaps one of the most beautifully told musical love stories I have ever come across. Beautifully written, designed, directed and acted, this film was touching and deep.

Our protagonist is an aspiring writer, Christian (Ewan McGregor), who has moved to Montematre, Paris, to find inspiration for writing. One day, he comes across Toulouse-Lautrec, who, along with several people, is working on a play. Christian gives them advise on writing, which makes them request Christian to write the whole play for them. They are writing the play for Satine (Nicole Kidman), the star of the famous nightclub, Moulin Rouge. They decide to arrange a private meeting between Christian and Satine.

What follows can be a little confusing. A Duke (Richard Roxburgh) has offered to invest in a play, where Satine will play the main role. The owner of the nightclub, Harold Zidler (Jim Broadbent), arranges a private meeting between the Duke and Satine. On the other hand, Christian comes to Satine's room, and Satine thinks Christian is the the Duke. Christian falls in love with Satine at first sight.

Soon when the Duke arrives, he is shocked to see Satine ''in the arms of another man''. Satine and Christian cook up a story, that they are rehearsing for a play. The Duke demands the story of the play. Christian makes a story: a sitar player and a courtesan have fallen in love, but they are threatened by the presence of an evil maharajah, who also loves the courtesan. Hearing the story, the Duke is quite impressed and decides to invest.

Little do they understand, that the play they are working on will become the story of their lives... Satine and Christian fall in love, but there is the Duke, who makes a lot of contribution to Moulin Rouge, under one condition, that Satine should belong to him. And on the other hand, it is also revealed that Satine has tuberculosis (though it is known by only a few people. Satine herself is not informed).

I loved ''Moulin Rouge!''. It was so touching, deep, and well-acted. I loved Christian, and I loved Satine. There were so many beautiful songs... My favorite song is (of course) ''Come What May''. I also loved the song ''One Day I'll Fly Away''.

I loved how the characters of the film were represented by the characters of the play ''Spectacular Spectacular'': the courtesan by Satine, the sitar player by Christian, and the maharajah by the Duke.

''Moulin Rouge!'' is also visually astounding. The cinematography was wonderful. The set decoration was excellent as well. The colorful buildings, and the sky... they looked so beautiful. The costume design was really good as well. The editing was superb.

Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman were amazing! Their performances were so good that they made the characters come to life.

Moulin Rouge! is a touching and deep love story! The performances, the visual aspects, the story,  the songs, they were excellent. It's a beautiful, colorful film.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

''Winter's Bone'' (2010 movie)- Review

 Directed by: Debra Granik
Released: 2010
Country: United States

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Garret Dillahunt, Shelley Waggener, Kevin Breznahan

Genre: Drama

Rating: 4 out of 5


Winter's Bone is a film which I had been eagerly waiting to watch. And when I finally watched it today, I was overwhelmed. It was such a gentle, captivating film with excellent performances.

Jennifer Lawrence is one of my favorite actresses. And I think she is one of the most talented young actresses today. Her portrayal of Ree Dolly is so memorable, so touching. There is the screenplay, that is filled with excellent dialogues and situations, dialogues delivered so fascinatingly by the actors.

The first scene of the film shows two children playing. They are Ashley and Sonny, younger siblings of our protagonist, Ree. Ree Dolly has to take care of her two little siblings and their mentally unstable mother. Their father isn't home. He hasn't been home for a long, long time. Her father is involved in drug dealing. Ree, the only able member of the family, has to look after her family members.

All of a sudden, a terrible thing happens. The local sheriff informs Ree that her father has to appear at the court, and if he doesn't appear, the family will lose their house and the nearby woods. Ree, shocked by this news, has to find her father. Where can he be? To save her house, to keep her family safe and alive, she has to either find her father, or to prove him dead. And Ree suspects that her father is dead, he might have been killed. But how will she find her? She meets many characters, goes through difficulties, comes across characters who do not help her in her quest, but make it more difficult for her.

The protagonist, Ree, is extremely memorable. She is a gentle, poverty-striken girl, who has to look after her family, who has to struggle against poverty to provide for her little siblings. However pissed off she gets, she doesn't lose her patience. She answers all the questions that she is asked, no matter how much that irritates her. Even in those situations which should have tested her patience, she remained calm; strict in her quest, yet gentle. There are only a few scenes where you see a little roughness in her character. Jennifer Lawrence definitely deserved the Oscar nomination that she received for this role.

Another character that gets much significance is Teardrop Dolly, Ree's uncle. He is also involved in drugs. John Hawkes is excellent as well.

Throughout the film we see Ree's encounter with characters who are difficult to deal with, who are dangerous. 

The cinematography is fascinating, and the performances are really very good. Winter's Bone is a gentle and captivating film, emotional and bleak. Poverty, characters' emotions, a person's attempt to keep her family safe. Winter's Bone is a grim and slow-paced film, yet so gently deep and excellently acted.

Friday, 6 September 2013

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

Directed by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz 
Released: 1951
Country: United States

Genres: Drama

Cast: Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm, Gary Merrill, Hugh Marlowe, Thelma Ritter, Marilyn Monroe, Barbara Bates

Rating: 5 out of 5


All About Eve is a great film. Yeah, it's GREAT. The wonderful story is presented with a great screenplay, with excellent performances from the leads and the supporting cast. Eve Harrington is such a vile and cunning character... And Anne Baxter is excellent... she is perfect as Eve. 

All About Eve starts at an an award ceremony, the ''Sarah Siddons Award''. It is time to present the award to a very talented actress. And the award goes to... Eve Harrington...

As Eve receives the award, two characters, theater critic Addison Dewitt (Sanders) and Karen Richards (Holm), wife of a playwright, narrate how Eve found this fame... how Eve climbed the social ladder and became so famous and, and known as one of the talented young actresses.

Flashback. About a year ago, Karen Richards had come across a gentle young woman, Eve Harrington. Karen is impressed after observing that Eve is such an avid fan of the famous and successful theater actress, Margo Channing (Bette Davis). Karen takes Eve to Margo, who also gets quite happy to see the girl's devotion for her. Gradually, Eve becomes Margo's constant companion. And everybody gets quite fond of her. Eve becomes friends with playwright (and Karen's husband) Lloyd, theater director (and Margo's boyfriend) Bill, and producer Max Fabian.

But things are not as simple as they seem to be. Over time, Margo starts noticing strange things. Eve becomes her understudy without her knowing it... Eve gets to play an important part in a play. Is Eve really a naive girl who was such a dedicated fan of Margo? Is Eve really a modest girl? Or were they all nothing but pretenses? Is Eve nothing but a ruthless social climber?

Both Anne Baxter and Bette Davis give memorable performances. Baxter is amazing... At the beginning of the film, she perfectly plays a naive and modest girl, an avid fan. Nobody can guess what the character's purpose really is, what her intentions really are. Similarly, she also plays an excellent villain. One of the most memorable instances of her villainy was the scene where she meets Karen Richards in the lady's room. Ah, that scene was so very well crafted. The apology, and then the terrible blackmail... oh, the scene was so well written. I began to hate the character at the latter part of the film, especially after the scene at the lady's room. There Eve had revealed her true color, that her apologies were meaningless and nothing but a part of her bunch of pretenses. There have been several characters similar to this one. Becky Sharp, for example. A social climber who can do anything to reach her goal .

Bette Davis was fascinating as well. Her character, Margo Channing, an actress who is at the peak of her career, feels threatened because of her age. She feels threatened by Eve, her rising fame. And she begins to hate Eve after she comes to realize how ruthless, how snake-like she actually is. Davis was excellent, and Margo is a character for who is sometimes irritating, but mostly a character whom we can sympathize. 

Celeste Holm- she was so nice. George Sanders (as Addison), Gary Merrill (as Bill), Hugh Marlowe (as Lloyd), and Thelma Ritter- they are all so amazing. Marilyn Monroe is present in a small role.

The last scene was so iconic and memorable! I was really impressed with the last scene.

The screenplay was amazing... all of characters were brought to life, the situations were built up well. All About Eve is an excellent film, with an excellent cast, an excellent story with a great screenplay.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

''The Village'' (2004 movie)- Review

Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan 
Released: 2004
Country: United States

Cast: Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver

Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Drama

Rating: 2.5 out of 5


M. Night Shyamalan's ''The Village'' started incredibly well. The visuals were excellent, the cinematography was fascinating, the music was WONDERFUL, and the story was overall engrossing. The presentation remains wonderful throughout the film... Only, the story just gets far less interesting, far less engrossing, far less nice. What we guessed was a horror story, turns into something else. While the acting is absolutely excellent, the storytelling and the screenplay wasn't satisfactory. That being said, The Village is a really well made film, with excellent score and cinematography, but the story gets uninteresting near the middle of the film.

The Village is set in 1897. A group of people live in an isolated village. The village, surrounded by a mysterious and scary woods, has no connection with the neighboring town. There are mysterious and scary creatures living in the woods. For this reason, nobody dares, nor is allowed, to go to the woods. The people live with peace and harmony, and the constant fear of the creatures living in the wood.

Our protagonist is a blind girl, Ivy (Bryce Dallas Howard). She is a kind, sweet young woman. Her fiance is Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix), who has a deep wish to cross the woods one day, and reach the town. One day, the crazy man of the village, Noah (Adrien Brody), stabs Lucius, apparently because of jealously (apparently, he loves Ivy). 

Lucius, after the incident, is injured and may die without immediate treatment... But the medicines are not available in the village. To save the life of Lucius, Ivy decides to cross the wood and go to the town herself, to get the medicines.

Then a shocking twist is revealed that almost changes the entire story. I won't say that the twist was something bad. I must admit that it was something very well thought of. But, ultimately, it wasn't very satisfying.

You can see beautiful images and scenes throughout the film. At the very beginning, scenes like the villagers doing their regular works, are very well shot and presented. The scenes in the village is well executed and beautifully designed. It was a visual beauty. And the music, oh, it was beautiful. I can't deny how well made the film is.

But what lacks is the storytelling. It was really very engrossing at the beginning, but later I somehow lost interest. The film has a nice (and sweet) story that could have been told in a better (and fast) way. Ultimately, I didn't think it was a bad film. The beautiful cinematography, the beautiful music, the excellent acting, all these cannot be denied. It starts as a horror film, but after the twist is revealed near the middle, I didn't have an idea what genre I should call it. I think it should be rather called a drama/mystery.

2.5 out of 5



''One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'' (1975 movie)- Short review

Author: Milos Forman
Released: 1975
Country: United States

Genre: Drama

Cast: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, William Redfield, Will Sampson, Brad Dourif, Danny DeVito, Sydney Lassick

Rating: 4 out of 5


R. P. McMurphy, a man who has been arrested several times for assault, pretends to be mentally unstable when he is serving a sentence in a prison. He is sent to a mental institution, where it will be checked whether something is wrong with him or not. McMurphy gets acquainted and becomes friendly with several patients, and comes to know the strict head nurse, Nurse Ratched (played by Louise Fletcher). The nurse is strict, and, because of her strict character, wants the patients to be firm in their work and their daily routine as well. McMurphy becomes annoyed because of her strictness, and inspires the patients to defy her, to have fun, to get out of the strict routine. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is an entertaining film, with amazing performances. Jack Nicholson is absolutely wonderful. Louise Fletcher is excellent... Dourif, Simpson and Redfield are amazing as well. I had mixed feelings towards Nurse Ratched's character. At times, I did hate her, but I didn't think her to be a complete villain. Nurse Ratched is strict and determined in whatever she does. Because of her overly strict character, a horrible incident happens near the end of the film. She is not really a bad person. She should have realized that it's sometimes necessary to mix emotions with whatever she has to do.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

''Gone with the Wind'' (1939 movie)- Review

Directed by: Victor Fleming
Released: 1939
Country: United States

Main cast: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, Carroll Nye, Hattie McDaniel, Butterfly McQueen, Harry Davenport, Ona Munson

Genres: Romantic drama, War

Rating: 5 out of 5


Scarlett O'Hara is certainly one of the most unique, one of the most memorable characters I've ever come across. At some point of the film, Rhett Butler makes a comment about her: ''What a woman!'' Scarlett O'Hara is indeed a memorable character, and through the film, her character undergoes a lot of qualities: flirtatious, romantic, kind, desperate, ambitious, vicious. Sometimes, she is an immensely likeable character, a character you feel kindness and sympathy for, and sometimes, she is unpleasant. She repeatedly reminded me of Becky Sharp. But no, she is not heartless as Becky Sharp. Scarlett O'Hara, the protagonist of ''Gone with the Wind'', is a character difficult to describe. She is unique.

The film starts in Tara, a beautiful plantation in Georgia. The film starts with two young men flirting with our protagonist, Scarlett, the daughter of Gerald O'Hara, the owner of the plantation. The people of Tara are going to visit the nearby plantation, Twelve Oaks, the home of the Wilkes. The two young men inform Scarlett that Ashley Wilkes has decided to marry his cousin, Melanie. Hearing this, Scarlett is shocked. She had always thought that Ashley Wilkes is in love with her.

The next day, at the barbecue in Twelve Oaks, it is evident that Ashley Wilkes will be marrying Melanie. Scarlett is disappointed, but flirts with every young men present. She is the subject of attention of every single young men present in the party. At the library, Scarlett confronts Ashley, revealing how much she loves him. The two have an argument, Scarlett slaps Ashley, who thereafter leaves the room. Their conversation, however, is overheard by a visitor, Rhett Butler. Scarlett, jealous and disappointed because Ashley is going to marry Melanie, marries Melanie's brother Charles, in hopes of taking revenge from Ashley. As the American Civil War starts, most men, including Ashley and Charles, enlist. However, Charles dies in the war, making Scarlett a widow.

But Scarlett has her plans, her ideas, of getting back Ashley again. She goes to Atlanta to live with Melanie, in hopes that when Ashley will come to Melanie and she (Scarlett) can woo him again. On the other hand, Rhett Butler also apparently is in love with her, though she knows that she only wants Ashley in her life.

The Civil War takes away everything: the glamor, the beauty of the South, the beauty of the plantation, and the beauty from the lives of people like Scarlett, Melanie, and Ashley. It is during this point that Vivien Leigh, the actress who plays Scarlett, gives perhaps the most memorable, most emotionally intense performance. The carefree, flirtatious girl with a lot of beaus, has to struggle with so much hardships, and her determination to take care of the pregnant Melanie. During this hard time, her taking care of everything so wonderfully, almost can makes us forgive her flirtatious nature. However, things change after the war. Having worked so hard throughout the time of the war to provide her family, she is now ambitious to get back the wealth that the whole South had lost during the Civil War, and will do anything for this. Her character takes a vampish, coquettish turn.

Scarlett O'Hara is a character not afraid to take any risks, even it is a great danger to her prestige and reputation. Her marriages for revenge and wealth, her wooing. 

How wars can affect lives, how wars can affect cultures- is so wonderfully portrayed in this film. The glamor of the lives of the people living in the South is portrayed very well at the beginning of the film, through the barbecue at the Twelve Oaks. And how all these charms, grace, are devestated, destroyed, burnt, are clearly portrayed.

Vivien Leigh's performance is so excellent, so touching. Clark Gable is wonderful as Rhett Butler. Olivia de Havilland as Melanie, is perfectly amazing. I liked each of the characters. I liked how they are well developed. Each of the characters, major, supporting or minor, are memorable, are important.

''Gone with the Wind'' is about Scarlett O'Hara, it is about the effect of love, it is about the devastating effects of war, it is about the devastating effects of ambitions. Gone with the Wind is certainly one of the most beautiful, one of the most depressing, and one of the best films I've ever seen.

5 out of 5

Saturday, 3 August 2013

''The African Queen'' (1951 movie)- Review

Directed by: John Huston
Released: 1951
Country: United States, United Kingdom

Genres: Adventure drama, War, Romance

Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Katherine Hepburn, Robert Morley

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


The African Queen shows a lot of promise when it starts, and it definitely fulfills all the promises. It's an absolutely amazing, thrilling and tense adventure romance film!

Rose Sayer (Katherine Hepburn) and her brother, Samuel, live in Africa. World War I starts, and the German soldiers start burning the house of the village. Samuel dies because of the shock that he receives, witnessing these incidences. The place is no longer safe. Rose starts a journey on a boat named ''African Queen'', along with the boat captain Charles Allnut (Humphrey Bogart), who drinks a lot. They begin a dangerous and thrilling journey, their aim being to destroy Queen Louisa, a German ship. A dangerous journey that makes them encounter waves, rocks,  leeches, and love.

This film was tense, thrilling, adventure packed, romantic, humorous, with EXCELLENT performances from Hepburn and Bogart. I liked both the main characters, especially Hepburn's character, who was brave, adventure loving, and curious. There are also many funny scenes (one of the scenes I found funniest was the scene where Bogart's character mocks the sound of the animals). And sometimes it gets sad and shocking, such as the scene with the mosquitoes. It was also sometimes touching, especially at the last few scenes. The screenplay was excellent, humorous at times, adventurous at times, thrilling at times. Overall, The African Queen is an excellent film!


Thursday, 1 August 2013

''The Lady Vanishes'' (1938 movie)- Review

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Released: 1938
Country: United States

Main cast: Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas, Dame May Whitty, Cecil Parker, Linden Travers, Naunton Wayne, Basil Radford, Catherine Lacey, Josephine Wilson

Genres: Comedy thriller, Mystery, Drama

Rating: 4 out of 5


I did hear a lot how remarkable The Lady Vanishes is. But I didn't have any idea that it would be SO good. I did hear that it was one of the best, maybe the best British film directed by Hitchcock, but I thought it can be almost called a classic. True, it is not an excellent film like Vertigo or Psycho or North by Northwest, but certainly, it is an early sign of the master of suspense's brilliance and excellence, which he would later prove with the beautiful Vertigo, the scary and suspenseful Psycho, and the suspenseful Rear Window.

The Lady Vanishes starts in an inn. Because of an avalanche, the train cannot run, so the passengers who would be in the train are forced to spend the night at an inn. Among the characters who stay at the inn are our protagonist, Iris (Lockwood), an elderly governess, Miss Froy (Whitty) and a musicologist, Gilbert (Redgrave). This part is filled with fun, jokes and comedy. The first twenty minutes or so of the film tend to be extremely light, without giving us a hint of how suspenseful it will become. The first shock comes as Miss Froy is standing at her window, hearing delightfully to a musician who is playing nearby, and when she looks away, a hand strangles the man who was playing the instrument...

The next morning, as everybody is preparing to get into the train and Iris is talking to Miss Froy, somebody throws something, apparently targeted at Miss Froy, and the thing hits Iris instead. Miss Froy, who is an extremely kind lady, takes care of her. In the train, Iris and Miss Froy have tea together, and then they go to their compartment. Iris closes her eyes, falling asleep...

Iris opens her eyes, and sees... that there is no Miss Froy in front of her. When she asks the other passengers of the compartment, they reply that there was no elderly lady traveling with her. And then she asks everybody who had apparently seen her with Miss Froy. And they also reply that there was no old lady with her, that she had taken her tea alone, the steward even showing the evidence that tea had been ordered for only one person. Where has Miss Froy disappeared? Has something terrible been happening to her? Is she in danger? Iris teams up with Gilbert, the young musicologist, to search for Miss Froy, and to save her from the danger that she is possibly facing.

The Lady Vanishes is really a suspenseful film. And there is a lot of comedy as well. The film is filled with humor and at the same time, with thrills. Humor is present in most Alfred Hitchcock films, but mostly they remain wry. The Lady Vanishes is meant to be a comedic thriller. It's meant to make the audience feel afraid and thrilled, and at the same time, laugh at the humor and the funny actions of Iris and Gilbert.

Margaret Lockwood gives a perfectly excellent performance as Iris, while Michael Redgrave is amazing as Gilbert. Dame May Whitty, as the kindly, warm, elderly lady Miss Froy, is perfect. 

The last scene was really heartwarming. The puzzle and mystery was excellent, and while I didn't think that the solution to the mystery was excellent, it was satisfactory and nice as well. Overall, I absolutely enjoyed this movie. Filled with suspense, thrills and humor, this is a must-watch for all Hitchcock fans.

4 out of 5

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

''Brief Encounter'' and ''Warm Bodies''- Movie reviews

Brief Encounter (1945 movie)- Review

Directed by: David Lean
Released: 1945
Country: United Kingdom

Cast: Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Cyril Raymond, Everley Gregg

Genre: Romantic drama

Rating: 5 out of 5


Brief Encounter is a beautiful and touching film about, as the title refers to, a brief encounter. Celia Johnson gives a breathtaking performance, and the film is a deeply moving story of love, pain and guilt.

The first scene of the film takes place at a refreshment room of a train station. The protagonist of the film, Laura, is sitting with a man. A typical small town gossip lady, Dolly, arrives and starts trying to strike up a conversation with Laura. Laura introduces the man as Dr Alec Harvey. Alec leaves the refreshment room as his train has arrived, and some time later, Laura and Dolly also get into their train. It is evident that Laura is troubled and worried.

Upon reaching home, Laura and her husband, Fred, sit in their library. Laura looks at her husband, and then starts thinking about the pain she is in. Just a few weeks ago, her life had been perfect, free from any kind of troubles. But now... a lot has happen in the past few weeks. Laura starts to think of all the incidences that happened in the past weeks.

Every Thursday, Laura goes to shopping and for watching movies, to Milford. One such Thursday, while sitting at the refreshment room of the railway station, she had come across Dr Alec Harvey. Something had gotten into her eyes, and Alec helped her to clean that up. It didn't seem a very memorable incidence, but over the next Thursdays, she and Alec come across each other repeatedly. They go to movies, they take lunch together, they drive around together. As both admit that they are in love, they are both struck with grief because they know that all these cannot last long. They both are married, both have happy families, and Laura feels terrible guilt, knowing that she is cheating on her husband.

Brief Encounter is a painful and emotionally intense film. Celia Johnson is just amazing. Her narration throughout the film makes the film more intense; her description of her sufferings, her pains, her guilt- are all so very memorable. Trevor Howard as Dr Alec Harvey is just as amazing. There are some very memorable scenes, like the scenes where they go for driving. Brief Encounter is the story of a brief encounter, an affair that is destined to end one day because of the people involved in it. It is an excellently acted and directed motion picture.

5 out of 5

Warm Bodies (2013 movie)

Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Released: 2013
Country: United States

Genres: Horror comedy, Romance

Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, Dave Franco, Aneleigh Tipton, John Malkovich

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Warm Bodies is the love story between a human and a paranormal creature. Oh, don't worry, it's not Twilight. Warm Bodies is set at a time when there are so many zombies... the number of the zombies have increased and humans have been forced to abandon the beautiful world where they once lived. They now have to live in special enclaves to remain safe from the zombies.

Our protagonist is a zombie, who doesn't remember his name. He just remembers that his name used to start with an 'R'. He lives a life without any fun or enjoyment, in an abandoned airport, with other zombies. He is the narrator throughout the film, though he can hardly speak.

One day, zombies attack some humans, and R saves one of the humans, Julie. R protects Julie, keeping her in the airplane which he uses as a home. Julie eventually starts to trust R and understands that it is not safe to try to run away now. However soon the other zombies get to know about Julie's presence. They try to attack her, but the sweet relation between R and Julie, brings a strange but wonderful result: the zombies begin getting back life once again.

Now, there are two groups between the zombies: human-like zombies and the skeleton-like zombies, called ''bonies''. The bonies attack the human-like zombies as they are starting to get back life. The human-like zombies realize that they need to team up with the humans to defeat the bonies and make the world peaceful once again. But the humans won't easily understand that they (the human-like zombies) are good. How will Julie and her friend Nora convince the humans that teaming up with the zombies is the only way to defeat the bonies and make the world peaceful once again? 

Warm Bodies is a sweet film and provides smart and effective entertainment. Nicholas Hoult is really sweet as the innocent, awkward zombie protagonist. Teresa Palmer is nice as well, as the female protagonist Julie. The concept itself is very nice.  A memorable scene is the one where Julie meets R in the balcony, a scene similar to a scene of ''Romeo & Juliet''. Among the funny scenes is the scene where Julie pretends to act like a corpse to make the zombies think that she is also a zombie.

While ''Warm Bodies'' may not be an excellent film, it provides real entertainment, and is overall, sweet and worth a watch.

3.5 out of 5 


Sunday, 28 July 2013

''(500) Days of Summer'' (2009 movie)- Review

Directed by: Scott Neustadter
Released: 2009
Country: United States

Genres: Romantic comedy, Drama

Cast: Joseph Gordon Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Geoffrey Arend, Chloe Grace Moretz, Matthew Gray Gubler, Clark Gregg

Rating: 4 out of 5


Romantic comedy is just not the best genre for me. Once, it had been one of my favorite genres. But after watching such a number of cliched teen rom-coms, the genre is no longer in my 'Favorite Genres' list. But however, now and then I come across such beautiful movies of the genre that, though not bringing back rom-com to it's previous position, leave me with a good feeling, with a smile, or perhaps, at rare occasions, a tear as well. (500) Days of Summer was indeed such a kind of film. It did not feel to me like it was great or something, but yet, it was a feel-good, cheerful, lively film.

Day 488. We see a young man (Joseph Gordon Levitt) and a young woman (Zoey Deschanel) sitting together a bench, looking and smiling at each other. Then follows flashbacks, flashbacks, and flashbacks. The film is not told in a chronological order and shifts among the days between Day 1 of Tom's meeting summer to Day 488 (We only see Day 500 in the last scene).

Tom (Levitt) waits for the perfect girl of his life. Summer (Deschanel), on the other hand, believes that there is no such thing as love. The two work at the same office. Tom's job is to make greeting cards, despite having studied architecture in college. The two meet and become friends, and eventually start a relation, though, as Summer suggests, they are just friends.

The film shifts between time periods. At one period, we see the blossoming relationship between Tom and Summer. At the other, we see Tom and Summer have broken up and Tom managing to deal with the stress and the sorrow that has followed. The two time periods and situations are mixed together, one showing Tom as a happy young man in love, and the other showing Tom as the broken man after the end of relationship.

The screenplay is very well written. The shifting between the days is done remarkably. I also liked the Expectation vs Reality scene. One of the most memorable scenes in the film was the dance  by Joseph Gordon Levitt, because of his happiness of finally finding a girl whom he thinks perfect and suitable for him, and whom he loves, and he dances with joy, and imagines all the pedestrians dancing with him as well (and there is also an animated bird in this dance scene!). It was a perfectly delightful and excellently-written scene.

Joseph Gordon Levitt is one of my favorite actors. He is charming and an excellent actor. In every scene in this film, he performs excellently. He brings the character to life! Zoey Deschenal is excellent as well. And Chloe Grace Moretz... she is one of my favorite young actresses. Mortez plays Tom's sister Rachel. Despite being so young, it is always Rachel who gives Tom advises and tips about relationships. Moretz also gave an excellent performance, though she plays a relatively small supporting role.

The romance is sweet, and the two lead actors bring their respective characters to life. It is written well, acted well, directed well, and indeed, a refreshing and sweet romantic comedy film.

4 out of 5