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.