Monday, 13 November 2017

''Mogambo'' (1953 film)- Review

The Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon is being hosted by The Wonderful World of Cinema, and the film that I have reviewed for the blogathon is Mogambo. 

Directed by: John Ford
Released: 1953
Country: United States

Genre: Adventure, Romantic drama

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Review

Victor Marswell (played by Clark Gable) is a hunter working in Kenya. When a false promise by an Indian maharajah lands the lively Eloise Kelly (played by Ava Gardner) in Kenya, Victor initially doesn't take her seriously but over the course of time he comes to appreciate her. Donald Nordley (played by Donald Sinden), an anthropologist and his wife Linda (played by Grace Kelly) arrive (they are there for Donald's work, he hopes to study certain traits of gorillas there). Linda is sophisticated, simple and sensitive, completely different from Kelly. While it is evident that Victor loves Kelly, he finds himself falling in love with Linda as well. Thus starts a love triangle in the middle of wildness and jungles, wild animals and dangers. Over the course of the film we get to know more about the three main characters and realize that they are, in one way or another, looking for fulfillment. 

''Mogambo'' is a really good film. I really liked the way the characters were gradually developed, the way their emotions and feelings for each other was portrayed. Clark Gable, Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly are brilliant in their roles, and the setting (that includes  exotic jungles and wild animals) is simply great.
 

Sunday, 22 October 2017

''Jane Eyre'' (1943 film)- Review

 The Joan Fontaine Centenary Blogathon is being hosted by In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood and The Wonderful World of Cinema. The film that I have reviewed for the blogathon is Jane Eyre.


Directed by: Robert Stevenson
Released: 1943
Country: United States

Genre: Romantic drama, Mystery

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Review

Charlotte Brontë's ''Jane Eyre'' happens to be my favorite novel of all time. I have loved the novel since I was eleven years old. And I LOVED this adaptation. Starring Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine, it is such an atmospheric, well-acted and well-directed film. 

Jane Eyre is an orphan who lives with her aunt, Mrs. Reed, and is treated cruelly by her relatives. Mrs Reed sends Jane to Lowood, a boarding school. Harsh conditions prevail in Lowood. Jane completes her education there, staying there for ten years. She then finds a job as a governess at a mansion called Thornfield Hall. Over the course of time she becomes really attached to Thornfield Hall and her student, Adele, and also starts feeling attracted to Edward Rochester, her moody employer who hides a tender heart beneath his rough exterior. Mr Rochester, however, is hiding dark secrets and Thornfield Hall itself guards secrets and mysteries...

''Jane Eyre'' is such a great film! I loved the Gothic atmosphere prevailing throughout the film! Thornfield Hall was portrayed just the way Bronte had meant it to be: a mysterious, shady manor. Jane and Mr. Rochester were brought to life and fleshed out. Their chemistry is beautifully developed and believable. Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles are excellent in their roles, playing two lost souls with sheer perfection.  Margaret O'Brien (playing Adele) also delivers an excellent performance and (surprise!) a young Elizabeth Taylor also appears in this film, playing Jane's childhood friend, Helen.

I loved the screenplay as well. It does take liberties with the source material but I had no problem with it. The changes it makes are tender and well-crafted and I really liked them. It is an adaptation, after all, and these subtle changes are something that, in my opinion, we should welcome in adaptations. There are adaptations in which certain alterations seem odd because they drift too far from the plot- sometimes even ruining the overall story- and I, of course, don't support them. But when it comes to the alterations that this film makes, they are well-balanced and appreciable. 

I loved ''Jane Eyre''. I loved the Gothic atmosphere, the chemistry between Jane and Mr. Rochester, the performances by Fontaine and Welles, the beautiful cinematography and the screenplay.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

''On Golden Pond'' (1981 film)- Review

 The Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn blogathon is being hosted by In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. The film that I am reviewing for the blogathon is On Golden Pond, the film for which Katherine Hepburn won her fourth Oscar.

ON GOLDEN POND (1981 FILM)
 
Directed by: Mark Rydall
Released: 1981
Country: United States

Genre: Drama

Rating: 4 out of 5

Review

''On Golden Pond'' is a gentle and deeply moving film, filled with warmth and emotional depth. Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda play Ethel and Norman Thayer.  Ethel is in her sixties while Norman has just turned eighty and for the summer they are visiting their cottage which is situated on a lake called Golden Pond. For them, Golden Pond is a place that brings back a lot of memories. The loons that swim gently on the lake- and their calls- make them nostalgic and ponder about life. Ethel is cheerful and optimistic and although she is well aware of the fact that anything drastic can happen to them- particularly to Norman- any time because of their age, she tries staying cheerful. She helps Norman stay positive and active.  

They are visited by their daughter, Chelsea (played by Jane Fonda), who is accompanied by her boyfriend, Bill, and Bill's teenage son, Billy. Chelsea has never really had a smooth relationship with her father and is filled with bitterness about her childhood. She feels that her father never paid her enough attention when she was a child. As Chelsea and Bill are about to visit Europe, they decide to leave Bill's teenage son, Billy (played by Doug McKenon) with Ethel and Norman. The elderly couple agree, and after Chelsea and Bill leave for Europe, Ethel and Norman eventually develop a strong bond with Billy, something that not only invigorates Norman but also, eventually, goes on to strengthen several relationships.
 
This is such a beautiful film, completely unpretentious yet powerful and moving. Its simplicity gives it a beauty of its own, the emotional content being perfectly balanced. The title sequence is gorgeous: the way sunlight is reflected from the rippling water of the lake,  is amazing; the warmth and charm reflected in the sequence can be felt throughout the film. Both Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda are excellent in their roles. Jane Fonda, Doug McKenon and Dabney Coleman are great as well. I loved the character development, the performances, the story, the screenplay, the beautiful cinematography, the score- well, I admired everything about this movie!


 

Saturday, 30 September 2017

''Gosford Park'' (2001 film)- Review

Directed by: Robert Altman
Released: 2001
Country: United Kingdom

Genre: Mystery, Drama

Rating: 5 out of 5

Review

What a perfect film ''Gosford Park'' is! I loved every minute of it.

The events of ''Gosford Park'' take place over the course of a single weekend in 1932. Sir William McCordle (played by Michael Gambon) is a wealthy industrialist, although he comes from a humble background. He is married to Sylvia (played by Kristin Scott Thomas), who comes from the titled aristocracy. Sylvia is snobbish, and although she married Sir William for his money, she looks down on him as he wasn't born into wealth. Sir William and Sylvia invite a number of people for a weekend hunting party which they will be organizing at Gosford Park, an estate they own. Among the people invited to the party are relatives of Lady Sylvia's, a couple of distinguished men from Hollywood and other acquaintances. But there are other people as well. All these distinguished guests have brought with them servants- lady's maids and valets- and the servants will be staying ''below stairs'' with the servants of the household. It is a typical British country house and below the stairs, servants occupy a world of their own, a world that has its own hierarchies. Over the course of the weekend, we get to know a lot about the hosts, the guests and the servants. Quarrels and little problems arise and after Sir William is found murdered in the library, Inspector Thompson (played by Stephen Fry) comes to Gosford Park to investigate. Several of the people present in Gosford Park during the party had motives to kill Sir William...

''Gosford Park'' is not merely a mystery film. It is so much more than that. The mystery is an element of the film, but what is much more engrossing is just how complex and layered the story is. There is such a vast array of characters; at first I was worried I wouldn't be able to keep track of all of them but eventually, over the course of the film, each character turned out to be unique. Many of the characters are hiding layers of secrets and lies. Within a single weekend life fully changes for some of the characters we meet.

As for the cast, it was such a joy to see Michael Gambon, Eileen Atkins, Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith,  Stephen Fry, Charles Dance, Geraldine Somerville, Kristin Scott Thomas, Emily Watson, Kelly Macdonald, Clive Owen and Ryan Phillippe (to name but a few) in the same film! Like I have already said, every single character was unique and fleshed out, and these great actors brought their characters to life.

''Gosford Park'' is a social commentary as well, depicting how life was like in those great country houses. The employers and the servants lived in the same house, but occupied two completely different worlds. The employers did not have to worry about anything; the servants were there to take care of the needs. The servants, in their part of the house, maintained a hierarchy as well. The housekeeper and the butler reigned supreme; how they would sit at the dining table would be based on how senior the servant was. Lady Sylvia looks down on those who weren't into money- which includes her own husband. She looks down on Mabel, a guest who does not from an aristocratic background. On the other hand, she is in friendly terms with her lady's maid. I guess that was because the division between the employers and servants was so clear, so conspicuous that her lady's maid would never be a threat to her and as such Lady Sylvia (and others of her class) found it fully acceptable to be in friendly terms with her lady's maid but not with someone like Mabel, who would be staying in the same part of the house as an equal. However, in the eyes of someone as snobbish as Sylvia, people like Mabel could never be their equals.

I really loved ''Gosford Park''. Everything I love about a great story was present there: complex characters, intertwined subplots and hidden twists. 


Wednesday, 27 September 2017

''Terms of Endearment'' (1983 film)- Review


Directed by: James L. Brooks
Released: 1983
Country: United States

Genre: Comedy-drama

Rating: 5 out of 5

Review

'Terms of Endearment'' left me emotionally overwhelmed. This gentle film explores the complexities of human relationships and the unpredictability of life with sublimity and perfection.

Aurora Greenway (played by Shirley Maclaine) is a strict, no-nonsense middle-aged woman who hasn't had a romantic relationship in years. Her daughter, Emma (played by Debra Winger), falls in love with Flap Horton (played by Jeff Daniels), although Aurora disapproves of the relationship because she thinks Flap has no ambition. Emma, however, gets married to Flap and they move to Iowa. Time flies and Emma finds that her relationship with Flap is getting strained with the passage of time. Aurora, on the other hand, starts a relationship with Garrett (played by Jack Nicholson), a quirky astronaut living next door. The film follows the lives of these people, of the twists and turns, joys and heartbreaks, happiness and tragedies that they go through and how their relationships stand the test of time, misunderstandings, problems and tragedies.

''Terms of Endearment'' does not tend to sugarcoat anything. It presents a realistic portrayal of life. It shows just how strong human relationships can be, how unpredictable life can be. . Although it initially appears that Aurora and Emma are not really close, over the course of the film we get to discover just how much they love each other, just how important they are to each other. They share the tiniest details of their lives with each other; Aurora is Emma's biggest confidant and vice-versa.The characters we see are fleshed out and realistic.  As for the performances, they are great: Shirley Maclaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson and Jeff Daniels are magnificent in their roles.

 ''Terms of Endearment'' made me smile with the characters, laugh with them, sympathize with them. Some parts were truly heartbreaking. This is exactly why I loved this film so much. It took me right into  its own world, making it possible for me to fully understand the characters and appreciate them. This is a simple yet breathtakingly beautiful film.

  

Thursday, 24 August 2017

''In the Heat of the Night'' (1967 film)- Review

Directed by: Norman Jewison
Released: 1967
Country: United States

Genre: Mystery, Drama, Crime

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Review

When, one night, an industrialist is found murdered in Sparta, Mississipi, a policeman suspects Virgil Tibbs (played by Sidney Poitier), an African-American man who was waiting for a train at a nearby station. However, when it is revealed that Tibbs is actually a highly successful policeman from Philadelphia, the racist police chief, Gillespie (played by Rod Steiger), asks Tibbs to help him solve the case. Although initially reluctant, Tibbs eventually agrees to help Gillepsie, and in a town shadowed by racism, he manages to discover clues that will help him solve the mystery.

While ''In the Heat of the Night'' is an excellent mystery film- with clues surfacing from unexpected places, culminating in an unpredictable solution to the mystery- there is a great focus on the subject of racism. In spite of the fact that Tibbs is a well-known homicide expert, he is subjected to racial prejudice and racist remarks over and over again. You can see how humiliated and indignant he feels when he is suspected by the police of Sparta and when he is subjected to prejudice. His indignant response to a racist remark- ''They cal me Mr. Tibbs!''- is possibly one of the most famous quotes in film history. 

It is really sad the way he is often treated, but, no matter how indignant and humiliated he feels, he does not budge from his stance, from his determination to solve the puzzling, complicated mystery.

Another important character is, of course, Gillespie, played by Rod Steiger. Although initially unpleasant and prejudiced, he eventually learns to respect Tibbs and overcome his prejudices. Both Poitier and Steiger deliver excellent performances.

To sum it up, ''In the Heat of the Night'' is a very powerful film. Besides being an excellent mystery, it also explores a very important social issue.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

''The Country Girl'' (1954 film)- Review

Directed by: George Seaton
Released: 1954
Country: United States

Genre: Drama

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Review
  
Theater director Bernie Dodd (played by William Holden) hires actor Frank Elgin (played by Bing Crosby) for his new play, and because his (Frank's) alcoholism bothers him, he pays a visit to his home. Bernie comes to think that Frank is manipulated by his wife, Georgie (played by Grace Kelly). There was a time Frank used to be a well-known actor but his career has declined, his alcoholism making it particularly hard for him to find work. Bernie is concerned and is prepared to help Frank at any cost. Over the course of time, however, Bernie comes to realize that everything is not what meets the eye.

''The Country Girl'' is indeed a powerful, emotionally raw film.  The characters are very realistic. Grace Kelly's performance is phenomenal, while William Holden and Bing Crosby are great in their roles as well. The secrets revealed over the course of the film make the characters stronger and layered.