The Great Villain Blogathon: Keyser Söze in The Usual Suspects (1995)

Villains 2017Great stories often owe much to their great villains, and, to that effect, Silver Screenings, Shadows and Satin and Speakeasy have organised this great blogathon “The Great Villain Blogathon” to “celebrate” the villains and their villainy in films. On the face of it, there are many different villains out there. Some are unmistakably “bad”, such as the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz” (1939), while others may hide beneath the clock of benevolence and do their harm inconspicuously, such as Nurse Ratched in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975). While such antagonists are undeniably present and easy to locate in the film, there may also be others, whose presence is acutely felt by every character in the film, who instil fear and apprehension through their powerful and magnetic personalities, but, who, nevertheless, remain elusive and virtually unknown. One of such characters is Keyser Söze in Bryan Singer’s “The Usual Suspects” (1995).
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“Personal Shopper” Mini-Review

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Personal Shopper (2016)

In “Personal Shopper”, a film of Olivier Assayas (“Paris, je t’aime” (2006)), Kristen Stewart plays a young woman Maureen who mourns the loss of her twin brother Lewis. Maureen visits the house where Lewis lived with his girlfriend, and believes that his ghost will try to communicate with her. In her daily job, Maureen is a personal shopper to a rich and famous star in Paris, a job she dislikes and only too keen to break the “rules” of her employment now and then. Soon her personal identity issues mix with her paranormal beliefs, producing restlessness and paranoia. Although admirable in its fresh approach, the film is also unfocused and dull. It tries at least three different points of focus: a ghost story; a murder mystery; and a high-society critique, all of which are underdeveloped and none of which work to a satisfactory conclusion.

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“Brimstone” Review

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Brimstone (2017)

“Brimstone” is a highly controversial film produced by the Dutch director Martin Koolhoven. The film’s non-linear plot follows Liz (Dakota Fanning), a young girl and then woman, who is plagued by the harassment and persecution of one – the Reverend (Guy Pearce). Unflinching in the way it portrays highly controversial topics and beautiful in its execution, this film will be deemed “shocking” and “distasteful” by some, while others will only see in the film extreme courage, originality and intelligence. Either way, this atmospheric film will have a big impact on the viewer, and the sensations it will provoke will not fade away any time soon. In that vein, although “Brimstone” was misunderstood and fiercely criticised in the US, the film has been the centre of praise in Europe, and rightly so.

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Rome: 10 “Must-See” Films set in the City

Being a cultural and historical centre for centuries, Rome has always attracted leading cinematographers. In the 1950s and 1960s, Rome was considered the European “Hollywood”, embodied in the famous Cinecittà film studio that produced such epic films as “Ben-Hur” (1959) and “Cleopatra” (1963). To this day, this historic city remains the one to which filmmakers flock to: (i) showcase its main beauties and cultural delights, as is the case with “Roman Holiday” (1953), ““Plein Soleil” (1961), “My Own Private Idaho” (1991) and “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999); (ii) to ridicule Rome’s high society and decadent lifestyle, as in “La Dolce Vita” (1960) and “The Great Beauty” (2013); or (iii) to provide a setting for a grim, chaotic, (post-)war, almost apocalyptic scenario, as embodied in such films as “Rome, Open City” (1945), “Bicycle Thieves” (1948), “L’Eclisse” (1962) and “Il Conformista” (1970). 

I. Roman Holiday (1953)Hot-Sale-Roman-Holiday-Metal-Tin-Sign-20-30cm-Vintage-Metal-Art-Poster-Retro-Special-Bar

Directed by William Wyler (“Ben-Hur“), this tale about a princess who escapes from her tiresomely busy daily duties while in Rome only to meet and have a romantic connection with a journalist is fascinating, recalling in plot “It Happened One Night” (1934). In Rome, Princess Ann and Joe Bradley (Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in their respective leading roles), go through the famous sights of Rome, including: meeting at the Roman Forum (more precisely at the Temple of Saturn and the Arch of Septimus Severus), where the Princess falls asleep; trying their luck at the Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verita) at the Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin; going past on a scooter by the Colosseum; having breakfast near the Pantheon; taking in the sun on the Spanish Steps; and attending the interview at the Palazzo Colonna.

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Gloves in Films: Hiding True Character and Desires

audrey-hepburn-breakfast-at-tiffanys-costume-wallpaper-2This will be my 200th post on the blog, and I thought I would do something different. I have always been fascinated with objects and their symbolic meanings in films, and some object-placements in films evoke powerful imagery and are open to different symbolic interpretations. On the face of it, gloves in films do not present a big conundrum: they can be worn for warmth; because of an unspoken societal rule/etiquette; as a result of a fashion trend; in the course of a professional pursuit, such as medicine or sport; or in the course of a crime. However, arguably, gloves may also sometimes have a more symbolic interpretation in a film, and represent a character’s “camouflaged”/hidden true intention or desire, or emphasise a character’s subconscious attempt to distance him(her)self from others, hiding their true character.

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“Lady Macbeth” Trailer

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