Wednesday, 27 March 2013

''Casablanca'' (1942 movie)- Review

Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart in ''Casablanca''

Directed by: Michael Curtiz
Released: 1942
Country: United States

Main cast: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Dooley Wilson

Genres: Romantic drama, War

Rating: 5 out of 5


I don't have enough words to describe how I felt about ''Casablanca''. I loved it? No. It was more than that. It was much, much more than that! I absolutely fell in love with ''Casablanca''. Seriously, it's one of the greatest movies I have ever seen. The compelling film has one of the best screenplays of the 1940s, some of the most memorable dialogues, some extremely memorable characters, a wonderful direction by Michael Curtiz, and last but not the least, wonderful acting from such stars as Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Rains.

The film is set in French Morocco. During the World War II, many people have escaped from Europe to Casablanca, French Morocco, from where they are waiting for exit visa to America. Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), a man with a past revealed in course of the film, runs a nightclub and gambling dean. News reaches that two German couriers have been murdered. A man named Ugarte tells Rick to keep letters of transit, which has apparently been obtained by murdering the couriers. However, soon Ugarte is arrested and later dies mysteriously.

German Major Strasser (Conrad Veidt) arrives in Casablanca. It is known that Victor Laszlo, a Czech Resistance leader, will be arriving in Casablanca in order to go to America. Strasser orders to make sure that Laszlo cannot leave America.

Laszlo (Paul Heinrid) arrives, and with a twist, brings his wife, Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), with him. It is revealed that while Rick had been in Paris, Ilsa and Rick had had an affair, and Rick didn't even have the slightest idea that Ilsa was married. They were supposed to go to Casablanca together, but on the date when they were going to leave, Ilsa left for him a short letter, informing him that she can't go with him- and that she can't explain the reason. Why hadn't Ilsa, during their short affair, let Rick know that she was married? Why, why, why, did she make a promise and then broke it? Why did it all happen?

But meanwhile there are other problems as well. Laszlo HAS TO leave Casablanca for the safety of Ilsa and himself. And the way he can get out are the Letter of Transit, which were originally intended to be sold to him. On the other hand, the Gestapos are also after Laszlo.

The film has got some very compelling performances. Humphrey Bogart, for example, listed as the greatest American male star of all time by the American Film Institute (AFI), brings the character of Rick to life. We feel a lot of sympathy for the character. Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa, oh, how very amazing! These two amazing stars bring the sweetness between the relationships to life. Paul Heinrid as Victor Laszlo is no less remarkable. Oh, Claude Rains! Playing the very odd Captain Louis Renault (and being nominated for an Oscar for this role), he gives another great performance.

The screenplay, based on the unpublished stage play Everybody Comes to Rick's, is absolutely fascinating and filled with lots of memorable dialogues. For example, ''We'll always have Paris.'' is such a very memorable dialogue. 

One of the main themes of ''Casablanca'' is that many things happen in our life, that remains in our memories forever. Many beautiful things happen in our life, and many of those beautiful moments we will lose. But yet, life goes on. And we often can't go back to the past. We have to live, if we want, sometimes looking back at those memories.

Wonderful movie, a great masterpiece, a favorite film! :)

5 out of 5

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

''My Fair Lady'' and ''Run Lola Run''

My Fair Lady (1964 movie)

Directed by: George Cukor 
Released: 1964
Country: United States

Main cast: Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Wilfrid Hyde-White,  Stanley Holloway, Jeremy Brett, Theodore Bikel, Gladys Cooper, Mona Washbourne

Genres: Musical, Drama, Romantic, Comedy

Rating: 5 out of 5

Short review

One of the many things I love about musical films are their musical charm- how emotions, feelings, nostalgia, are reflected though songs and music. As of now, my favorite musical film of all time is ''The Sound of Music'', but I think now ''My Fair Lady'' is competing with ''The Sound of Music'' to be my favorite musical film! I absolutely loved George Cukor's ''My Fair Lady''; it's a wonderfully touching film with a powerful musical charm. The film is set in the Edwardian Era. Henry Higgins, an expert in phonetics, one day meets flower seller Eliza Doolittle, a poor young woman who speaks with a Cockney accent. Higgins challenges that he can improve Eliza's accent within six weeks and can present her as a Duchess at the embassy ball. Eliza decides to take phonetics lessons from him so that she can have a status in the society and run a florist shop.  Within weeks, after hard and intense lessons and practices, Eliza's accent improves, and she quite looks aristocratic. At the ball, everybody praises her, some even mistaking that she is a foreign Princess. After the ball, Eliza assumes that Higgins did all these just to win his bet, and leaves his house. Only then the arrogant Higgins realizes how much he has grown accustomed to Eliza.

I simply loved ''My Fair Lady''. Audrey Hepburn gives one of the finest performances of her career. It is a surprising thing that Audrey wasn't nominated for the Oscar for this role. Rex Harrison, as Higgins, is also fascinating. The musical charm of this film is beyond remarks. So many memorable songs are present. My favorite song is ''Wouldn't it be Loverly?'' Oh, such a beautiful song! The script is great. The cinematography is charming. Overall, it is one of the most memorable films I have seen recently.

Run Lola Run (1998 movie)

Directed by: Tom Tykwer
Released: 1998
Country: Germany

Main cast: Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu, Herbert Knaup

Genres: Crime Action-thriller, Drama

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Oh, ''Run Lola Run'' is one of the most technically astounding films I have seen recently. What will I say? It's an amazing, excellently written, directed, and edited film. The story is simply. Lola's boyfriend Manni has lost a lot of money that belonged to his criminal boss. Now, Lola must get that much money before Manni robs a store. She starts running to her father, who might help her. This is shown in three ways, and in each story, there are different results to the incidence and characters. The film's major charm is it's technical aspects. The editing is simply awesome. The sudden fast paces, occasional use of animation, speeding up, and the marvelous musics playing at the background makes it something of a technical achievement. The story is also touching, and the screenplay is, oh, wonderful! Franka Potente as Lola gives a superb acting. ''Run Lola Run'' is nothing short of a technical masterpiece! 

4.5 out of 5

4.5 out of 5 

Saturday, 16 March 2013

''On the Waterfront'' (1954 movie)- Review

Directed by: Elia Kazan
Released: 1954
Country: United States

Main cast: Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Leo J. Cobb, Karl Malden, Rod Steiger, Pat Henning, Ben Wagner
Genres: Crime drama

Rating: 5 out of 5


Elia Kazan's ''On the Waterfront'' is a wonderful film for any reasons. Firstly, maybe because of the performance by Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint (both Oscar winners for their roles in this film). Secondly, because it's a moving and intense film. However, it is not really a film to fall in love with, yet the intensity it has is powerful, the direction by Kazan is excellent, the script is brilliant, some of the dialogues are completely unforgettable.

Corrupted union boss Johnny Friendly (played by Leo J. Cobb) kills Joey Doyle, who was going to testify against him. Terry (Marlon Brando) the brother of Johnny's right hand man Charley, is indirectly used in this crime. Terry is not pleased with what he has done, and does not like the work that his brother and Johnny Friendly does.

Terry develops a bond with Edie (Eva Marie Saint), the sister of the late Joey Doyle. Then there is Father Barry (played by Karl Malden), who, along with Edie, insists Terry to testify. Will Terry do it? Terry hesitates, as the people involved with the murder are his ''friends''; Charley is his brother, and Johnny Friendly has also played roles in his life. On the other hand, there is a humanistic and noble side in him, a side which is against the injustice and crimes committed by the corrupted union boss. 

The screenplay (by Budd Schulberg) is very powerful; it is brilliant, and rightly deserved the Oscar which it won. The film has some very unforgettable dialogues. One memorable dialogue ''You lost a battle, but you have a chance to win the war''. The dialogues are made more powerful and efficient by the way that the actors deliver them. Indeed, the film has excellent performances, most remarkably from Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint.

Eva Marie Saint and Marlon Brando in ''On the Waterfront''
Brando brings the character Terry to life. The character itself is memorable. Take a look at his background. This dialogue that the character gives give us some insight to the life of this character: ''You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody instead of a bum, which is what I am'' The character is not shown as perfect. He has done a lot of wrong and bad things. Yet, there is a soft and humanistic, memorable side in him, that being one of the reasons making this film so memorable.

Eva Marie Saint gives a yet another powerful. She and Brando make the bondage between the two characters sweeter. Her expressions  and overall acting- oh so wonderful. Near the beginning of the film, just after Joey Doyle is killed, the character shouts, '' "I want to know who killed my brother!" The way Eva Marie Saint says this, we understand that she is a great actress. Several years later she gave another memorable performance in Alfred Hitchcock's comedic thriller ''North by Northwest''.

The other actors, remarkably Leo J. Cobb and Karl Malden, all give excellent performance.

Overall, this is a brilliant film, that is rather simple, but with a script so powerful and performances so brilliant, a presentation so memorable- so sublime!

5 out of 5!


Monday, 11 March 2013

''Suspicion'' (1941 movie)- Review

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Released: 1941
Country: United States

Genres: Romantic-drama, Mystery, Psychological Thriller

Cast: Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Nigel Bruce, Cedric Hardwicke, May Whitty, Heather Angel, Auriol Lee, Leo G. Carroll

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine star in Hitchcock's romantic thriller ''Suspicion'', which, with little humor and comparatively limited thrills, may not one of the most memorable Hitchcock films, but it is an emotional journey. Just like Hitchcock's earlier ''Rebecca'' (also starring Fontaine), ''Suspicion'' depends on the emotions of the main character. We have Lina, a woman who, after marrying a wonderful man, Johnny Aysgarth, slowly comes to learn that her husband may not be the wonderful, charming man she thought he was.

Based on the novel ''Before the Fact'' by Francis Iles, ''Suspicion'' tells the story of Lina (Joan Fontaine), who, after meeting the handsome Johnny Aysgarth (Cary Grant), falls in love with him, and despite her father's disapproval (as Johnny seems not to have a very innocent past), they marry. Slowly, she comes to learn that her husband is not the person she thought. He is under huge debts, attends races, and sells two precious chairs that her father had given her as a wedding gift. Gradually, more vices and faults of Johnny are learned by Lina, and among them, there might even be a murder.

''Suspicion'' is quite an above-average entertainer that can keep the viewer's attention till the end. But however, the climax didn't quite please me. The climax scene should have been more well-written. But other than this, it can be said that the entire film is quite well-written and has an emotional depth. Excellent performances are given by Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine (who won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in this film) and Nigel Bruce. Bruce plays Beaky, a friend of Johnny who knows quite a lot about Johnny's history and plays a very significant role in the film. The score is not unforgettable, and the cinematography is alright. Overall, this is not certainly one of the best Hitchcock films, but certainly a good film.

3.5 out of 5!


Thursday, 7 March 2013

''Taxi Driver'' (1976 movie)- Review

Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Released: 1976
Country: United States

Genres: Crime, Drama, Psychological thriller

Main cast: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, Cybill Shephard, Albert Brooks, Leonard Harris

Rating: 5 out of 5


Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), a Vietnam War veteran, has insomnia. To spend his night, he takes a job, driving a taxi during night. Life may seem smooth, but inside Travis, there is a desire to clean the social indiscipline of the city: to make it a clean city with peace and sanity. But his desire is something dark, he is clearly mentally unstable, yet so gentle, yet so violent.

Like many other great films, ''Taxi Driver'' is another film whose greatness can't be explained in a few words. This, certainly, will not be one of my favorite films- but no one can deny it's greatness, it's accomplishment. The disturbing theme of the film is artistically played on screen, so engrossing and a wonder to look at.

Travis Bickle wants to clean the social indiscipline of the city. Driving taxis at night, he keeps a diary where he describes how he's passing his life. He becomes attracted to a woman named Betsy (Cybill Shephard), takes her to dates, form a relationship with her, a relation that ultimately comes to an end when he takes her to a see a pornographic film. Why did he start a relation with Betsy? Because he thinks that Betsy is a lonely person. And he knows very well what loneliness means.

Jodie Foster and Robert De Niro in ''Taxi Driver''
Travis buys guns, does exercises, to become more physically fit, that will help him to ''clean up'' the city. He comes across child prostitute Iris (Jodie Foster), and becomes desperate to save her. To return to her the normal childhood.

Loneliness plays a major role throughout the film.  Travis Bickle is certainly a lonely man, and umm... it'll be really very difficult to describe him. Really.

It is an extremely well-written and well-directed film. The screenplay is wonderful. It is filled with wonderful dialogues (the most memorable dialogue: ''You talkin' to me?'' which Travis asks himself, looking into the mirror). The acting, mentionably that of Robert De Niro, is wonderful. Jodie Foster has importance only in some 20 minutes (or even less than that), but the young actress played her role perfectly in a wonderful way. Cybill Shephard's Betsy will also remain a memorable character. Actually, none of the characters, other than Travis, actually gets that much importance in the film. Sure, they are all important, they are all connected to Travis, and we don't feel that they are missing. Yet, the screen presence of most of these characters, compared to that of Travis, is quite less.

The film actually gets shocking and disturbing at it's climax. Sure, the audience expected a certain violence at the climax, but it is so disturbing, compared to the rest of the film. The ending is also excellent, but let's not go into details.

Overall, Martin Scorsese's ''Taxi Driver'' is one of the best works in the careers of both Scorsese and Robert De Niro. An excellently-made film, ''Taxi Driver'' is one of the films that should not be missed.

5 out of 5

''Amarcord'' (1973 movie)- Review

Directed by: Federico Fellini
Released: 1973
Country: Italy

Main cast: Bruno Zanin, Magali Noël, Puppela Maggio, Armando Brancia, Giuseppe Ianigro, Ciccio Ingrassia, Donatella Gambini

Genres: Coming-of-age Comedy-drama

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Federico Fellini's ''Amarcord'', considered to be one of his best works, is a pleasure indeed. It is cheerful, bizarre, eccentric and funny. What is noteworthy is that showing the daily life and eccentricities of the eccentric people in a village, through humor, drama, and art, ''Amarcord'' succeeds in making the audience sit 2 hours looking at the screen, guessing what will happen next. No, it's not a film with a story, a problem, a solution. It is just a 2 hour of journey showing us the days of the protagonist, teenager Titta, and the people around him.

Titta recalls his days as an adolescent in the particular village, filled with eccentric but mostly goodhearted people. We meet a wide variety of characters: there is Titta's short tempered father, then there is the beautiful Gradisca (upon whom many teenagers have a strong crush on), there is Titta's mentally ill uncle, there is nymphomaniac Volpina. And so many other people, to name but a few.

The film starts as people of the village cheerfully welcome spring. And oh, this actually kept me gazing at the screen. So cheerful and carefree the characters were looking! Actually, I can't give a proper plot summary; it seems really difficult. But just remember that Titta recalls his days of his adolescene, in a village, in Fascist Italy.

The screenplay is brilliant, cheerful. The score is absolutely amazing. Cinematography deserves special praise. It is a delight to look at the film. Overall, this is a well-written, well-made, and oh, an excellent film by Federico Fellini! :)

Sunday, 3 March 2013

''Mama'' (2013 movie)- Short review

Directed by: Andres Muschietti
Released: 2013
Country: Spain, Canada

Genres: Horror, Mystery

Main cast: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nelisse, Daniel Kash, Javier Boter, Jane Moffet

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Short review

''Mama'', directed by Andres Muschietti, is a excellently photographed and well made film, and it is a scary, enjoyable, and entertaining journey.  It is a well-acted film, and most remarkably, the performances of young Megan Charpentier and Isabelle Nelisse are worth mentioning. The story: A man left his two daughters, Victoria and Lily, in a cabin in the woods. He thinks of killing his daughters before committing suicide, but then a mysterious figure kills him. Five years later, the girls' uncle, Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who has been searching for the girls for a long time, and his girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain), finally find the girls. The girls, especially Lily, are animal-like in their behaviors. How did they survive in the woods during the last five years? Victoria says that a particular ''Mama'' had taken care of them. It is initially thought that Mama is an imaginary figure, but we soon come to know that Mama is not imaginary; she still visits Victoria and Lily... 

The actors are well-cast in their roles. Jessica Chastain, in the particular hairstyle, looks quite unrecognizable. Also, the kids give a remarkable performance. It is a beautifully photographed film, and sometimes it looks quite Tim Burtonish. The score is also quite good. Makeup and effects are good. On the whole, it is quite a good film, and it is touching and pretty, and at the last scene, I was almost in tears because it was so moving.

3.5 out of 5 

Saturday, 2 March 2013

''Jane Eyre'' (2011 movie)- Review

Directed: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Released: 2011
Country: United Kingdom, United States

Main cast: Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, Judi Dench, Sally Hawkins, Holliday Grainger, Tamzin Merchant, Imogen Poots, Sophie Ward, Jayne Wisener, Harry Lloyd

Genres: Romantic Drama, Mystery

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


I'm a big fan of the Bronte sisters. I can spend hours after hours  reading Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights. So, you can guess that I am very enthusiastic about the adaptations of ''Jane Eyre''. I have seen two Jane Eyre adaptations, a made-for-TV movie, and this 2011 adaptation of the novel. This adaptation, directed by Cary Joji Fukanga, is a slightly flawed film, but overall, it is a good film.

But it has several problems. First of all, it might be a little tough for those who haven't read the novel, to understand the film. That's a problem, and then there are some problems with the characters. Young Jane Eyre was supposed to be smart, but, though there is smartness shown in this film, the characters lacks the original depth found in the novel.

But more of that later. First, the storyline. Jane Eyre, an orphan, had been raised by her widowed aunt, Mrs Reed. Mrs Reed is cruel, spoils her children, and treats Jane with no affection. She sends Jane to the Lowood School, a harsh boarding school, and there, Jane spends several troublesome and sad years. After becoming an adult, Jane is appointed as a governess in Thornfield Hall, a big, grand and ancient house. Her student is Adele Varens, a French ward of Edward Rochester, owner of the house. Mr Rochester rarely comes to Thornfield Hall.

Mr Rochester (Michael Fassbender), though somewhat cold, gradually becomes good friends with Jane. Jane slowly falls in love with him. There is something strange and mysterious going on in Thornfield Hall (I won't reveal it here!).

It seems to Jane that Mr Rochester loves the beautiful Miss Ingram. After some times, Mr Rochester reveals that he doesn't love Miss Ingram; he loves Jane. They spend some happy days, and then they are to be married. But there is an obstacle, an unknown mystery, a shocking revelation, that changes their lives. 

If you ask me about what I felt about this film, I really liked it. The beautiful and memorable background score is still ringing in my ears. It is a subtle, lyrical picture. It is extremely well made. The production design deserves special praises. The green sceneries are extremely beautiful. Cinematography is wonderful. The acting, mentionably that of Mia Wasikowska, is wonderful.

But it has lots of problems as well, for example, though it is would be a good treat for any person who liked the original novel, it might be slightly difficult for those who haven't read the novel yet. It lacks much of the depth of the original novel. Some characters are not very well-developed, for example, young Jane (Amelia Clarkson). Young Jane was supposed to be more smart, wasn't she? Mrs Reed (Sally Hawkins) should have been more nastier. Mrs Fairfax (Judi Dench), Thornfield's housekeeper, wasn't very warm, but near the end of the novel, she showed a memorable warmth. 

Other than these, it is a good and memorable film. To me, the most memorable thing about this film is the scenic beauty and the score, both of which are extremely beautiful. The film itself is good, and I think, as an adaptation, it is more than okay. A subtle, yet lyrical journey.

3.5 out of 5!