The Colours Blogathon: Betty Blue (1986)

betty-blue-movie-poster-1986-1010355058Catherine at Thoughts All Sorts is hosting The Colours Blogathon, and my contribution to this amazing and colourful parade of entries is a French cult classic film from the year 1983 called “37°2 Le Matin” or simply “Betty Blue“. Nominated in 1986 for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language Film category, this film of a passionate, but doomed love affair is now almost iconic. It exquisitely, stylishly and powerfully narrates and presents the love story of Zorg and Betty, initially written by Philippe Djian, the author behind “Elle(2016). Faithful to the book, this movie is like its main heroine, Betty: undeniably beautiful, unashamedly erotic and sensual, and also a bit crazy and self-indulgent, capable of finding beauty in tragedy and charmingly rendering it through a cinematic prism. In “Betty Blue”, what you may find is both an artfully erotic cinematic take on a moving love story, and an uncomfortable film filled with both familiar and unfamiliar character studies. Add to this a beautiful soundtrack by Gabriel Yared and a delightfully colourful cinematography, and you have a truly memorable film about passionate love gone awry.   

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The Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon: Rope (1948)

338Maddy at Maddy Loves Her Classic Films is hosting The Alfred Hitchcock blogathon, and this is my entry dissecting one of Hitchcock’s most claustrophobic and intriguing films: “Rope” (1948). Even thought this film may not be as ambitious as Hitchcock’s later “Psycho” (1960), it is still suspenseful, tense, cerebral and belongs to one of my favourite cinematic “genres”: “one location” setting films. This “genre” was later used by Lumet (“Twelve Angry Men” (1957)), Polanski (“Repulsion” (1965)) and Mangold (“Identity” (2003)), among others, to a great result. And, this is because in such films what the audience is usually left with is the fascinating psychological “game” among characters of scheming, guessing, suspecting or simply going crazy, without any outside “distractions” being present. Hitchcock’s “Rope” is no different.

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The Swashathon (the Swashbuckler Blogathon): The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)

swashathon-2-princess-brideMovies Silently is hosting the Swashathon or the Swashbuckler Blogathon, and I could not pass this opportunity by to review Randall Wallace’s “The Man In the Iron Mask” (1998). As many of you would know, today is also Bastille Day or la Fête nationale in France, which provides for another excuse to delve into a film portraying France. Here, despite many critics’ allegations that “The Man In the Iron Mask” is laughable, flimsy and disrespects the novel by Alexandre Dumas it is based on, the film is actually an enjoyable ride from start to finish. If the audience does not take this film too seriously, and allow themselves to be carried away by the plot, action and the humour, they are in for a treat. The visuals are delightful, the music composed by Nick Glennie-Smith is great, and the film has a cast many directors would “die for”: Leonardo DiCaprio (Revolutionary Road” (2008)), John Malkovich (“The Portrait of a Lady” (1996)), Jeremy Irons (“The Correspondence” (2016)), Gabriel Byrne (“I, Anna” (2012)) and Gerard Depardieu. 

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The Medicine in the Movies Blogathon: Spellbound (1945)

oie_yqu5svckigzsCharlene at Charlene’s (Mostly) Classic Movie Reviews is hosting this absolutely amazing blogathon – The Medicine in the Movies Blogathon, and this review of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Spellbound” (1945) is part of the race. There are many good movies out there which explore interesting, intricate aspects of medicine: from Wellman’s overblown, but entertaining “Night Nurse” (1931) to Soderbergh’s documentary-like, but fascinating “Contagion” (2011). Psychiatry in films has not been left too behind either. Many films here focused on a mental institution itself, such as “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975) and “Girl, Interrupted” (1999), while others touched on various psychiatric issues through their “serial killer” plots, such as Hitchcock’s “Psycho” (1960) and Mangold’s “Identity (2003). But, while these films often explored medical concepts and disorders indirectly, some movies really got to grips with the intricate details of psychiatry by focusing on the issues head on. “Spellbound” is one of them.  

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The “No, YOU’RE Crying!” Blogathon: Head in the Clouds (2004)

tearjerker6Debbie at Moon in Gemini is hosting the “No, YOU’RE Crying!” Blogathon, and I thought I would be part of that amazing film race. It is great when a film is so powerful emotionally that it makes you cry, even though there may not be many films out there who possess this enviable quality. Of course, some films are heart-breaking in themselves, such as “Life is Beautiful” (1997), but there may also be others, which do not immediately make you weepy, but which through their moving ending or the heartfelt relationship/chemistry between characters, make you also want to cry. “Head in the Clouds” is such a film for me. It is a very underrated romantic drama set on the eve of the WWII, telling of a rich heiress Gilda Bessé (Charlize Theron), who refuses to face reality while being surrounded by her friends Guy (Stuart Townsend) and Mia (Penélope Cruz).

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The Jack Lemmon Blogathon: Days of Wine and Roses (1962)

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Critica Retro and Wide Screen World are hosting the Jack Lemmon blogathon, and I thought I would jump in and contribute since Jack Lemmon was such a great actor, and I particularly admire his versatility and dedication to the screen. He was cast in such well-known films as “Some Like It Hot” (1959) and “The Apartment” (1960), but I thought I would talk about the more controversial and serious “Days of Wine and Roses” (1962). I would also like to thank Paul at Paul’s Cinema & TV Reviews for recommending that I watch this film after my previous review of similar-themed “The Lost Weekend” (1945). 

Days of Wine and Roses (1962)

upgkztid“They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate;
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.
They are not long, the days of wine and roses,
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.” (Ernest Dowson)

The film’s title was taken from this poem by Ernest Dowson, and the film’s story is about Joe Clay (Jack Lemmon), a public-relations man who does not mind to indulge in drinking as part of his job arranging and going to parties. When he meets beautiful Kirsten Arnasen (Lee Remick), both become smitten with each other, and Joe soon introduces Kirsten to the pleasures of drinking by pouring a crème de cocoa in her brandy. After their marriage, however, the pair’s slide into booze-madness gets steeper, and their drinking intensifies, until both of them do not see any way out.
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Studio Ghibli: “Only Yesterday” (1991) and “Kiki’s Delivery Service” (1989)

“…What drives animation is the will of the characters” (Hayao Miyazaki).

Only Yesterday” and “Kiki’s Delivery Service” are two completely different in plot animations, but both were produced about the same time by famous Japanese Studio Ghibli, an animation film studio known worldwide for the quality of their animations. While “Only Yesterday” focuses on grown-up concerns and largely targets teenager/adult audience, “Kiki’s Delivery Service” is a completely child-friendly movie, which also has important messages to deliver.

OYpostOnly Yesterday (1991)

Only Yesterday” has a plot filled with highly emotional undercurrents and intelligence: a 27 years old unmarried woman, Taeko, from Tokyo, visits countryside while reminiscing over her childhood of when she was a shy and creative fifth grader at school. Through her nostalgia, we get to learn about many situations which have had the biggest impact on her up until her present life, and get to understand her past choices, hopes and regrets. Directed by Isao Takahata (“The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” (2013) and “Grave of the Fireflies” (1988)), “Only Yesterday” is a beautiful animation which touches upon such often overlooked in films/animations topics as the “grip” of persistent childhood memories and their traumatic or positive impact on one’s later life and development, the benefit of re-discovering oneself in a different setting, the importance of staying true to oneself no matter the circumstances, and the imperative of letting go and forgiving “one’s former self”, as well as people from one’s past, to be able to carry on and lead a happy, fulfilled life.  Read more of this post

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