5 Great Films about Adventurers and their Journeys based on Real Stories

Kon Tiki PosterI. Kon-Tiki (2012)   

Kon-Tiki” is an Academy Award nominated adventure film which tells the true story of Thor Heyerdahl (Pal Hagen), a Norwegian adventurer, who sailed around 5000 miles from Peru to Polynesia on a wood raft in 1947 to prove his point that it was possible for pre-Columbian tribes to populate Polynesia from the east. Thor gathers his crew and everyone assumes that they are on a suicide mission, especially since one caveat of the journey is that they build their raft like indigenous people of the past allegedly did, using no modern equipment. What I like most in this great film is that it has a soul. This is truly an inspirational voyage film with one likeable and relatable hero at its centre, some emotionally-moving scenes (Thor also has a wife Liv), and with some absolutely stunning “ocean” cinematography and vistas. Unlike previously reviewed “The Lost City of Z“, “Kon-Tiki” largely takes place where the main action is – the ocean, in this case, and there are a number of tense scenes involving storms and sharks. Moreover, there is some humour and sarcasm thrown into this story, which make for an even more enjoyable watch.  Read more of this post

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“International Crimes” Films

Captain Phillips PosterI. Piracy 

Article 101 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea defines piracy as “any illegal acts of violence or detention… committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or aircraft and directed…on the high seas against another ship or aircraft…”. In 2017, there were 117 piracy incidents recorded (Statista statistics); and, in 2016, 191 similar incidents were reported (ICC statistics); in 2010, Somali pirates took hostage 49 ships with over 1.000 people on board (International Maritime Bureau information).

Captain Phillips (2013) 

The film showcases just this instance of a rising cross-border illegal activity, and tells of an incredible true story of the 2009 Maersk Alabama hijacking (see also a Danish counterpart “A Hijacking” (2012)). Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) was in charge of one ship destined for Mombasa, Kenya from Oman. Captain Phillips and his crew then had to handle four Somali pirates who boarded their ship. “Captain Phillips” has plenty of nicely-executed, tense scenes, and Hanks gives a magnificent performances in the lead role, even though Barkhad Abdi (later “Blade Runner 2049” (2017)) was the only actor nominated for an Academy Award. In the film, it is easy to empathise with the Captain Phillips’s situation and admire his and his crew members’ actions. Perhaps, the film is a little too straightforward for the lovers of intrigue and nuance, but Hanks always plays sympathetic characters excellently, and the film largely holds on the fascinating situation involving the lead character’s commitment to preserve the lives of his crew members as he tries to reason with irrational demands of the invaders. 9/10  Read more of this post

20 Fascinating Films about Visual Art

Andrei Rublev Poster1. Andrei Rublev (1966) 

It will be a crime not to begin this list with Andrei Tarkovsky’s masterpiece “Andrei Rublev“. A paragraph will not be sufficient to do justice to this largely black-and-white film which lasts around three hours, and, in some way, it is a difficult watch. Andrei Rublev was a 15th century icon painter living in medieval Russia, and the film follows his journey as he leaves Andronikov Monastery with two other monks, travelling to Moscow. What follows is the depiction of medieval Russian rituals, Tatars’ invasion, Andrei’s attempts to protect a simple-minded girl, among others events. Some stunning iconography by Rublev is also on display, including “The Holy Trinity” and “Christ, the Redeemer“, at the end. “Andrei Rublev” is a complex work of art which masterfully conveys the messages on morality, religion and artistic freedom. On such a film, one can simply say that it is not merely a movie but one of a kind cinematic experience. 

Seraphine Poster 2. Seraphine (2008)

This film, which is based on a true story of Seraphine Louis and which won 7 Cesar Awards, is an exquisite and quietly powerful portrayal of an awakening painter. Seraphine (Yolande Moreau) is a naively eccentric, deeply religious woman devoid of social graces and who works as a cleaner in a house in Senlis, France. When a new tenant from Germany, Mr. Uhde, an art expert, arrives to stay at the house he is impressed by Seraphine’s natures mortes. A convincing performance by the leading actress makes this film poignant and heart-felt, even if it is overlong. This interesting story is proof that an artistic genius can be found even in most unexpected of places.  Read more of this post

“My Evil Twin” Film List

Doppelgängers have been baffling people for centuries. Identical twins, in particular, have always held a certain fascination on the public with some saying that they possess sinister abilities or are mystically bonded. However, it is the notion of “an evil twin” which probably holds the most fascination because it involves the timeless tale of the good vs. evil battle – i.e, the situation whereby twins look absolutely identical to each other, but one twin is good, whereas another harbours evil intentions. Below are 10 great films (in no particular order) that display and explore just this interesting situation, attempting to awe their audience.

The Dark Mirror PosterI. The Dark Mirror (1946)

Starring Olivia de Havilland and Lew Ayres, this entertaining film starts with the investigation of a murder and eyewitnesses all point to one suspect, but the detective soon realises their eyewitness accounts are useless because he deals with twin sisters and finding out which one is culpable looks like an impossible task. This is definitely a movie which demarcates clearly an evil and a good twin, and it also deals with the topic from a scientific point of view because some study is conducted on twins in the story.

dead ringers posterII. Dead Ringers (1988) 

Loosely based on a real life story, this film, directed by David Cronenberg, is a fascinating account of two brothers gynaecologists Elliot and Beverly Mantle (Jeremy Irons in a dual role) whose bond goes far beyond an ordinary friendship or sibling companionship, complicating their personal relationships and career aspirations. Clearly, it is Elliot who is more uncaring and ruthless of the two, with Beverly being more emotional.

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Paris: 10 Great Films set in the City

To follow from my Rome-location film list which I made last April, here is the list of 10 films that showcase the delightful City of Light – Paris, a permanent place for romance, charm, elegance and sophistication. As usual, this is a subjective, in no particular order, slightly “off the beaten path” films list.   

I. Amelie (2001)  Amelie Poster

This romantic comedy, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (“Delicatessen” (1991)) and starring Audrey Tautou and Mathieu Kassovitz, could be described as the very definition of whimsical Paris. The film is set around Montmartre, a place that once nurtured great writers and painters, and is about a shy waitress, Amélie Poulain, who is seemingly on the mission to better the lives of those around her. Set in Montmartre, naturally, the film features the Basilica du Sacre-Coeur, and Café des Deux Moulins (15 rue Lepic) where Amélie works. However, the film also displays such sights as the distinctive staircase leading to the Métro Lamarck-Caulaincourt as well as the Pont des Arts.

II. Breathless (1961)Breathless Poster

A “New Wave” film-critic-turned-director Jean-Luc Godard produced in 1960 his directional debut “À Bout de Souffle” or “Breathless“, starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg as Michel Poiccard and Patricia Franchini respectively, and what a debut it turned out to be! Breaking from previous confined film traditions, “Breathless” is a thriller and a love story in one package, showcasing such famous landmarks of Paris as Avenue des Champs-Élysées, l’Arc de Triomphe,  and the Notre-Dame de Paris, while action also takes place around Avenues Mac-Mahon and George V (George V Métro station) and the Boulevard Saint-Germain. The final tense scenes take place not far from the Boulevard du Montparnasse – Rue Campagne Première. 

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10 Fascinating Films Exploring Mother-Daughter Relationship

Today (11th) is Mother’s Day in the UK, and I am exploring a mother-daughter relationship on screen. At times, this relationship is sweet and inspiring, at other times – it is challenging and even devastating. Recent films that explore (partially or otherwise) a mother-daughter relationship include “Lady Bird” and “I, Tonya”, and the question arises – what other movies do the same? In no particular order:

Terms of Endeartment PosterI. Terms of Endearment (1983)  

This is a comical tearjerker of a movie about the relationship of a mother and her daughter (Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger), and its enduring nature. Underneath, the movie is about many things, such as accepting people for who they are and making peace. The film also features the performance from Jack Nicholson.  

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Mildren PierceII. Mildred Pierce (1945) 

 The film perhaps shows a more destructive mother-daughter relationship, but a relationship neverthelessJoan Crawford gives an outstanding performance as the mother of a spoiled daughter Veda (Ann Blyth) who only thinks about social-climbing and is ashamed of her mother’s blue-collar profession. Will there be a time when Veda goes too far and Mildred snaps?  

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5 Forthcoming Book-to-Film Adaptations that Can Go Very Wrong

81GcOE3jVsL 1. “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt 

Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch” is the number one international best-seller which won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2014. The story of a boy who lost his mother in a tragic event and who then clings to the only object that reminds him of her – the picture of a goldfinch is really the masterpiece (as was also called so by some critics), and Tartt was even compared to Dickens. The story is very emotionally-powerful and detailed, even though the second part is weaker than the first. What of the movie, then? The film is scheduled for 2019; will be directed by John Crowley (“Brooklyn” (2015)); and will star Ansel Elgort (“Baby Driver” (2017)) as the main character Theo. Why the film could prove to be a total disaster? There are many reasons. Though Elgort will probably look good as Theo, it will be next to impossible to capture the magic of the book. In the book, Theo battles internally with grief and trauma which are barely perceivable, and no film would really match the masterly of capturing the internal dilemmas of the main character in the book, not even considering all the philosophical references implicit in the book’s narrative structure. It does not also help that the book is around 860 pages long and spans many years. More so, the film could really tarnish the captivating narrative of the book for good. Why even try? 

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