Thursday, 31 January 2013

''The Godfather Part III'' (1990 movie)- Review

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Released: 1990
Country: United States

Starring: Al Pacino,  Andy García, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Sofia Coppola, Eli Wallach, Joe Mantegna, Richard Bright, Raf Vallone, Franc D'Ambrosio, Donal Donnelly, Helmut Berger

Genres: Crime drama

Rating: 4 out of 5


The concluding chapter of The Godfather Trilogy is enjoyable than the second part, yet not as exceptionally powerful as the first two movies. Yet, in the third part, there is a strange power, and the dramatic contents are much intense. Here, family relationships are given much more emphasis. The first two films were also intense in family drama, yet in the third part it seems as if the family relations, perhaps not as intense as that of the first two films, yet they are more touching.

Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) is now an old man, and regrets for all his past deeds: his involvement in crimes, and especially for the fact that he murdered his own brother, Fredo. He is now trying to legitimize the family business, and is trying to stay away from the world of crimes.

His children are grown up: Anthony (Franc D'Ambrosio) and Mary (Sofia Coppola). Both are memorable characters. Anthony loves his father, but knows that his father had murdered his own brother. Anthony wants to be an opera singer, but Michael wants him to be a lawyer, to finish his education at the law school. Mary is closer to her father, and is the chairman of the Vito Corleone Foundation. Kay (Diane Keaton) and Michael are now divorced, and Kay comments that she ''dreads'' Michael.

Enter  Vincent (Andy García), the illegitimate son of Sonny Corleone, Michael's late elder brother. Vincent is in nature a young with a good heart, yet he has inherited the bad temper of his late father. Along with Connie (Talia Shire), Michael's only living sibling, he remains a confidant of Michael. Connie, on the other hand, now plays a different role. To me, Connie will remain one of the most memorable characters in The Godfather Trilogy. The first film began with her wedding. We saw her as an abused wife, then we saw her as a hysterical widow furious at her brother because he killed her husband, then we saw her as a reckless woman who goes through meaningless relationships and marriages, and then we saw her as a kindly woman taking care of Michael's little children. And what role does she play now? She is one of the few people whom Michael is closest, she is Michael's confidant, and yet there it seems she is a cunning woman. She supports Vincent in every of his decisions, not caring if it will be right or wrong.

Then there is a trouble (once again!) as conspiracies to kill the Don Corleone starts, and then...

The Godfather Part III is a strange movie, if compared to it's predecessors. What impresses us about this movie, in fact? Was it the dark sides of the story, or the touching family story, or both? Be it anything, I enjoyed this movie better than The Godfather Part II, though there can be no denying that Part III is weaker than the first two films.

Al Pacino, playing the repentant Michael Corleone, plays a touching character. Like Connie, Michael has also had different forms. First, a young man not willing to join the family business. Then he became the ruthless don. And now he is repentent for his past crime, and has become charitable and is no longer coldhearted. Diane Keaton retains the charm as Kay. Andy Garcia deserves special praise.

And now, the performance of Sofia Coppola (daughter of Francis Ford Coppola) is heavily criticized. But I thought she was not that terrible. Sure, her performance wasn't good. Not good at all. She was somewhat expressionless (for example, she couldn't really act angry). But then again, Sofia adds a particular sweetness in the character of Mary. In fact, Sofia Coppola is even charming at times, though her performance was mostly bad.

The screenplay is excellent. Cinematography is worthy of praise. Music is excellent. The opera near the end of the film was fascinating.

Flashback and nostalgia can be seen in the movie, bringing back memories of the old days. The youth of Michael Corleone, for example. These nostalgias remind us of the first film of the series. The trilogy can be viewed as the life of Michael Corleone. A touching ending it has, and the conclusion to The Godfather Trilogy, is, I think, satisfying and touching.

4 out of 5

''The Philadelphia Story'' (1940 movie)- Review

Directed by: George Cukor
Released: 1940
Country: United States

Main cast: Katherine Hepburn, James Stewart, Cary Grant, Ruth Hussey, John Howard, Roland Young, John Halliday, Mary Nash, Virginia Weidler, Henry Daniell

Genres: Romantic comedy, Drama

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Tracy Lord is in a fix. She is to marry George Kittredge. Two years ago, she had divorced her first husband, C. K. Dexter Haven. Now she will marry Kittredge. Three people, two of them employees of the Spy Magazine, and the third one is Dexter, now recovered from his alcohol problems, arrive in Tracy's house. The two people pretend to be the friends of Tracy's brother Junius. Things take a complicated turn as Tracy goes through realizations, love, tears, laughters, smiles, within these two days.

George Cukor (who had previously directed Katherine Hepburn in his adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's ''Little Women'') directs this cheerful and lighthearted romantic comedy that makes you simply laugh out loud and that brings a smile. But to me it didn't seem a great movie. I thought it was just an above-average movie, and to me, it may be a forgettable experience. Yet, can I say this movie is not good? No!!! This movie is an above-average entertaining movie that deserves a watch. A passionate story it tells.

This movie was Katherine Hepburn's first big hit following several flops. Hepburn, who had played the tomboyish Joe in Cukor's ''Little Women'', plays the lighthearted Tracy in this film, and with her charm makes the character a delight. She is shown as a tomboyish, upper class woman. Though not spoiled, she is slightly haughty. Her planned marriage with George Kittredge (John Howard) gets quite a big popularity in the media. The publisher of the Spy magazine Sidney Todd (Henry Daniell) orders two of his employees, reporter Macaulay ''Mike'' Connor (James Stewart) and photographer Elizabeth Imbrie (Ruth Hussey) to investigate the story. It turns out that Tracy's ex-husband C. K. Dexter Haven was a former employee for the Spy magazine.

So they work out on a plan. Mike and Elizabeth will acts as friends of Tracy's absent brother Junius. So they enter into the house, and Dexter confronts Tracy. The family, however, comes to understand that these people are from newspaper, not Junius's friends. Nevertheless, because they are under a blackmail, the family pretend that they don't know anything, and decides to present themselves as extremely elegant.

One of the most funny scenes are just at that time. Tracy's little sister Dinah, generally a tomboyish young girl, pretends to be extremely girlish and sings and plays the piano. That one was an extremely funny and bizarre scene.

Anyways, what happens is confusions. Tracy's uncle Willie has to pretend that he is Seth, Tracy's father, and Seth has to pretend that he is Willie. But these little deceptions don't last for long. And then, within these two days, through a number of events, Tracy realizes many things about herself, about her life, and has to think about her choices once again.

There is sort of a love rectangle thing in this film. Love triangle is something that is seen quite frequently in romantic films, but love rectangle? I guess that's a rare thing and it may even be difficult to construct. Yet ''The Philadelphia Story'' is completely a light film. But is there emotional depth in this movie? Of course, there is! 

I don't think ''The Philadelphia Story'' is a very great movie. While it is charming and without a doubt very impressive, yet to me the film was not memorable, and I doubt if it would be unforgettable to me. But certainly, it's a passionate love story, with such tender lightness and humor throughout. 

Katherine Hepburn is fascinating, bringing into life many emotions. James Stewart is excellent (oh well, I again have to repeat, he is excellent as he always is! He's such a great actor). Cary Grant is brilliant and Ruth Hussey gives great support, but next to them, the real praises should go to the brilliant Virginia Wiedler, who is so very amazing in her role as Tracy's young sister. 

The film is a real funny one, with the screenplay being excellent, the dialogues witty and some of them extremely memorable. All in all, ''The Philadelphia Story'' is a real entertainment. It didn't disappoint me, and the film is a real enjoyable and filled with entertainment, entertainment, entertainment! Maybe not very memorable, and the last few scenes are a bit slow-paced and may be boring, yet it absolutely deserves a watch. 

3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Broken Blossoms (1919 movie)- Review

Directed by: D. W. Griffith
Released: 1919
Country: United States

Starring: Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess, Donald Crisp, Edward Peil Sr., Arthur Howard, George Beranger, Norman Shelby

Genres: Drama, Romance

Rating: 5 out of 5


Lillian Gish is the heart of D. W. Griffith's ''Broken Blossoms''. The innocence of the female protagonist's face, the tortures she face, her heart becoming so fulfilled after receiving a little gentleness, having received only harshness and cruelty in her life- all these are brought to life by Gish. The film is a poetic film, with a beauty and sweetness and along with that, horror of cruelty ultimately bringing a tragic end.

''Broken Blossoms'' has a romantic genre, but it is not just a romantic film. It is also a lyrical drama that becomes so very touching.

Cheng Huan (Richard Barthelmess) is a Chinese young man. He is gentle, polite, and a religious Buddhist. He leaves China to preach the message of Buddha in the Anglo-Saxon lands. There he becomes the owner of a small shop. He also sees brutality and intolerance around him.

Lillian Gish enters the screen. Gish plays Lily, the daughter of a boxer, Battling Burrows, played by Donald Crisp. Her innocent face without a smile and with sadness in her eyes immediately tell us that something is wrong. She is physically and mentally abused by her father. He treats her as a slave. And often, he inhumanly beats her. She never has the cause to smile. When her father repeatedly tells her to smile, we see her fingers moving her lips to form a smile. And oh- this thing Lily does a number of times in this movie, and this is something that can bring tears to our eyes. As the inter-titles say, Battling Burrows sometimes uses Lily as a ''punching-bag''.  There is indeed something in Lillian Gish's performance that, at once, makes her not only have pity for this character, but also makes us feel love for this movie, making the movie more, much more engrossing. Gish is perhaps one of the greatest actresses ever.

One day, after her father beats her like an animal, Lily walks away from the house. She walks into Cheng Huan's store, and then faints.

When Lily regains consciousness, she is immensely rewarded with kindness, gentleness, and nursing from Cheng Huan. Never in her life had she ever got so much gentleness. To her, the world had meant only a place for cruelty and harshness, and now she finds kindness from Cheng Huan. He nurses her, gives her flowers, and also gives her a doll. She finally has a smile in her face.

Does happy times last for long? Battling Burrows comes to know from a friend that about his daughter's interraction with a Chinese man, and now he will do anything brutal, anything terrible, to separate these two people and ultimately...

The most touching thing about this movie is the character Lily herself. I felt so very sad, so very pity for this character. Harshness and cruelty exists in this world. But this girl, as innocent as a child, why she has to face only cruelty? Never she can smile. One of the most touching things about this film was Lily trying to force a smile using with fingers. Why has she no cause to smile?

When Cheng Huan is kind and gentle to her, nurses her back to health, that brings a smile to our face. Her deep pleasure when Cheng Huan gives her flowers and a doll, just like the pleasure of a child, indeed brings a smile and emotions. And then she is brutally separated from the only person who has been kind to her.

The great Lillian Gish is the soul of the movie. She brings the character of Lily to life, contributing to make the picture much more touching and beautiful. Donald Crisp brings the brutality of Battling Burrows to life, making us hate the character, performing as an evil villain in a wonderful way. Richard Barthelmess is similarly wonderful. Cinematography is striking; the editing is excellent; the inter-titles are poetic and their backgrounds were artistic.

Films as sad and as poetic as this one occupy a special place in our heart. Broken Blossoms is a haunting poetry that, after we have watched it, haunts us, fills us with emotions, and lets us think about the movie.

5 out of 5


Monday, 28 January 2013

Pan's Labyrinth (2006 movie)- Review

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Released: 2006
Country: Mexico, Spain

Genres: Fantasy, Drama, War

Main cast: Ivana Baquero, Sergi Lopez, Maribel Verdú, Doug Jones, Adriana Gil, Alex Angulo, Roger Casamajor, Pablo Adán, Federico Luppi

Rating: 5 out of 5


Pan's Labyrinth. A movie where reality and fantasy is intertwined, a tale of good vs evil, a tale of fantasy, of triumph, of horror, of dark reality. It's something too beautiful, too excellent and a movie as excellent as this one is perhaps rarely seen. I think I'm slightly exaggerating, but if it is not among the best movies of all time, it certainly ranks as the best film of 2006.

''Pan's Labyrinth'' mixes the reality and fantasy, harsh real world and the dark fantasy, and awaits a fairytale world where our heroine belongs in fact. At the beginning of the film, the narrator tells us that centuries ago, the Princess of the underworld had escaped in order to learn about the human world. Blinded by the sunlight that erases her memory, she falls ill and dies. But her father, the king, believes that his beloved daughter will return to him one day.

Then the story shifts to Spain, 1944. The Civil War has ended, but still the rebels are hiding, and will anytime face the Fascists.

Ofelia is a young girl who is an avid reader of fairytales. Her mother, Carmen, is pregnant, and they are traveling to her stepfather, a Fascist captain. Carmen insists that Ofelia should refer to the Captain as her father, as he has done a lot for them.

But after reaching the countryside, Ofelia is sad. Everything is new, and she can never accept the unpleasant Captain as her father. One night, Ofelia notices an insect, who she instantly believes to be a fairy. She follows the fairy to a labyrinth, and there is a big hole in the ground, and there is a staircase that leads under the ground. She goes down the staircase, and there she is met by a faun (according to Wikipedia: The faun (Latin: faunus, Ancient Greek: φαῦνος, phaunos) is a rustic forest god or goddess (genii) of Roman mythology often associated with enchanted woods and the Greek god Pan and his satyrs.) The faun tells her that she is not the daughter of a human, she is in fact, the Princess, and in order to prove that she is the Princess and in order to return to the fairytale world, she needs to complete three tasks before the full moon is seen. Ofelia returns to the real world, and from then on, she works hard to complete the tasks, and besides this, she tries hard to protect her mother and the unborn baby.

The Captain is the evil antagonist of the film and I started hating the character. He is merciless, cruel and heartless. And his deeds, and the things he does in the film, oh, they are utterly terrible.

Ofelia befriends the maidservant Mercedes (Maribel Verdu), who has a secret of her own, that she and the family doctor have been helping the rebels secretly. Her own brother, Pedro, is himself a rebel. After Ofelia, the character for whom I really felt sympathy and likeness is Mercedes.

The reality, fantasy, and fairytale are mixed in this film. None of them are subplots. They are all the essential parts of the story. While we see Ofelia trying to protect her mother and the unborn child, to her protection of herself from the stepfather who hates her, to her constant desire to complete the tasks and return to the fairytale world, they are all the main story. But one of the basic things of this film is the good vs evil matter, that how the fascist Captain is cruel and heartless, and his tortures, and how good people in the story face the evil.

The most striking thing of this film is the cinematography by Guillermo Navarro. The cinematography and overall looks of this film is so beautiful. The film is a real visual treat with the darkness, and occasionally the color blue is the main color, and so the credits for dark and beautiful looks of this film easily goes to the wonderful work of cinematography.

Similarly, the screenplay is wonderful, and the Guillermo del Toro's direction is similarly amazing. The other things of this film that deserves special praises are almost every other thing, because this is a beautiful, excellent film. The sound, makeups, costumes- it would become a really long review to describe all these excellent elements of this film individually.

The star of the movie is Ivana Baquero, a young actress who gives such a powerful and intense performance. Baquero gives one of the most excellent performances ever given by a young actress, and I'm not exgrarating. The nervous, innocent character is brought to life by Ivana Baquero.

Sergi Lopez is similarly excellent in his role as the evil antagonist of the film, giving a talented performance making us hating the character. I also liked Maribel Verdú, playing the maid who hates working there and is secretly helping the rebels.  As the goodhearted doctor Alex Angulo is wonderful.

This one is a beautiful film, and maybe one of the most darkest, sweetest, beautiful fantasy films ever made. But however Alice in Wonderlandish the film may sound, there are scenes of brutal tortures and reality which make it a film unsuitable for pre-teens, and this film is absolutely not for children. This one is both a visual treat, and an emotional journey from the beginning to the end, making it a must-watch and a masterpiece, a classic.

5 out of 5

Friday, 25 January 2013

''The Social Network'' (2010 movie)- Short Review

Directed by: David Fincher
Released: 2010
Country: United States

Main cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Max Minghella, Brenda Song, Rooney Mara, Joseph Mazzello, Wallace Langham

Genres: Biographical Drama

Rating: 4 out of 5


David Fincher's ''The Social Network'' tells the story of Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of the social networking site Facebook. We see the early days when he started creating the website, we see a movie that tells a story of truimph, betrayal, joy... It shows us how Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, about it's success, and the personal and legal problems that came to his life. It turns out to be a uniquely excellent film, with the story being clear and easy to understand, unlike many movies which are based on true stories. Furthermore, the film has a talented cast (and oh, the excellent performances of Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield are worthy a lot of praise).

4 out of 5

Thursday, 24 January 2013

''Vera Drake'' (2004 movie)- Review

Directed by: Mike Leigh
Released: 2004
Country: United Kingdom

Main cast: Imelda Staunton, Phil Davis, Alex Kelly, Daniel Mays, Eddie Marsan, Richard Graham, Sam Troughton, Ruth Sheen, Adrian Scarborough, Lesley Manville, Peter Wight, Jim Broadbent, Martin Savage

Genres: Crime, Drama

Rating: 4 out of 5


''Vera Drake'' was in my to-watch list for a long time. Having loved Mike Leigh's ''Secrets & Lies'' (which is one of my favorite movies) I looked forward to watch more of his works. ''Vera Drake'' is a very excellent movie, another masterpiece from the talented Mike Leigh.  It is as wonderful as ''Secrets & Lies'', much more emotionally intense, and while not a classic like ''Secrets & Lies'', it is one of the best films directed by Mike Leigh and among the best films of 2004.

Imelda Staunton gives a marvelous performance as the film's protagonist and titular character, Vera Drake. Vera is a lower-middle-class woman who works as a maid in the house of  wealthy people. She probably is in her late fifties. Despite her financial hardships, she is a cheerful and happy person.  Her family consists of her husband Stan (Phil Davis), daughter Ethel (Alex Kelly) and son Sid (Daniel Mays). The family, despite of their financial difficulties, is very happy, and Vera takes care of them. Besides, she also takes care of her sick old mother. Always with a warm and affectionate smile, Vera is a caring and beloved person.
Imelda Staunton gives a stunningly excellent performance in ''Vera Drake''

But she has a secret of her own, a thing that she hasn't told anybody. For about 20 years, she has been performing abortions. Though it is against the law, she doesn't think she is doing anything wrong, she thinks she is just helping young woman by ending unwanted pregnancies. She does it without any money. But she hasn't even the slightest idea that Lily (played by Ruth Sheen), the person who organizes the abortions, actually gets the payment from the young women.

But then when one of her patients, Pamela, nearly dies, the detectives come to know that it wasn't a simple miscarriage, it was an abortion. When they come to know that it is Vera...

Imelda Staunton has brought her character to life. From the warm smile that brings her affection, warmness, and motherly character to life, to the tears that bring the tragedy to life, her performance simply makes the film a tear-jerking film. We see, throughout the film, how the life of the woman suddenly changes. We feel and pity and sad for this old woman... Imelda Staunton certainly deserved the Oscar nomination which she received.

It is an excellent film, with the excellent performances by the actors and the wonderful story and screenplay, the beautiful cinematography, and music. One of the best movies movies directed by Mike Leigh.

4 out of 5

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Short reviews of two films that I saw most recently

These are short review of two films that I saw most recently...

Rope (1948 movie)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Country: United States

Main cast: James Stewart, Farley Granger, John Dall, Douglas Dick, Joan Chandler, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Constance Collier, Edith Evanson, Dick Hogan

Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Rating: 4 out of 5 

Short review: ''Rope'' is Alfred Hitchcock's first Technicolor film.  The color is brilliant, the screenplay is excellent, and the sets are wonderful. The plot is about two friends, Bradley and Phillip, who murder their friend David Kentley because they think that they are superior to him. They hide the body in a chest. Then they prepare for a dinner party. The guests are: David's father and David's aunt, David's girlfriend Janet, Janet's ex-boyfriend Kenneth, and Rupert, a teacher of Bradley, Phillip, David and Kenneth. At the party, Bradley is overconfident and Phillip is very nervous. Bradley throws subtle hints about the murder here and there, thinking that none would understand. But Rupert is smart enough; he guesses that something is wrong. James Stewart is excellent as he is always. Next, Farley Granger gives an excellent performance as well. It seems as if he brings the nervousness, guilt and fear of Phillip to life. The others give excellent performances as well. The cinematography is wonderful, and the color is brilliant. The set deserves special praise; the big window is wonderful. It is an excellent film. 4 out of 5

Because I Said So (2007 movie)

Director: Michael Lehmann 
Released: 2007
Country: United States

Genres: Romantic-Comedy

Main cast: Diane Keaton, Mandy Moore, Gabriel Macht, Tom Everett Scott, Stephen Collins, Ty Panitz, Lauren Graham, Piper Perabo

Rating: 1 out of 5

Short review: ''Because I Said So'' is the dumbest and the worst film I have seen in the last few days. It centers around an overprotective mother Daphne (Diane Keaton) with three daughters. Daphne wants her youngest daughter Milly (Mandy Moore) to find a perfect life partner. She puts an ad at the Internet. Several men respond; she chooses architect Jason. Milly doesn't know what her mother has done. Jason meets Milly and she likes him. Meanwhile, another nice man, Johnny, whom Daphne hadn't preferred, also meets Milly, and she dates him as well. She starts an affair with both Johnny and Jason, and then... Well, I hated this movie. With the story too predictable and almost none of the jokes being funny and the screenplay being bad, I thought it was a terrible movie. Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore are amusing, but that doesn't make this movie a good one. Neither a good comedy nor a good romantic; it's a bad movie. 1 out of 5