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

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“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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Ralph Fiennes: 5 Best Performances

Ralph Fiennes is 55 years old today, and “to celebrate” the birthday of my favourite actor, I am doing this subjective list of his 5 best performances. Ralph is not only a great actor, he is super versatile. Whether it is a romantic hero in a sweeping drama; a disturbed individual in a psychological thriller; a true villain in a historic or adventure film; or simply a caricature of a man in a comedy; Ralph can nail any role with ease and grace. In no particular order:

patient_anglais-Almasy 1. Count Almásy – “The English Patient” (1996)

Anthony Minghella’s “The English Patient” was both a critical and box-office success, and will remain one of the most beautifully-rendered dramas ever. Part of the credit for this should go to its stars, and Ralph Fiennes here played Count László de Almásy (a role which landed him an Oscar nomination). This was a tricky role, because the hero was so imperfect. He is a multi-lingual cartographer, but, because of his origin, he is almost a man shrouded in mystery. We learn that, as a person, he can be selfish and very withdrawn, and, as a lover, very devoted, but also impulsive. He learns his lessons as circumstances in his life take a turn for the worse. Fiennes gives a very memorable performance as that man, and his romance with Katharine (Kristin Scott Thomas) is probably one of the screen’s most heart-breaking.

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5 Books that Deserved Better Film Adaptations

41FLvCi2O0L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. “The Bonfire of the Vanities” by Tom Wolfe

This 1987 book really is a modern classic; full of wit, satire and gripping narrative twirls. The book really epitomises everything that the 1980s stood for in the US, and was a giant critical success, becoming a bestseller. The hero here is one Sherman McCoy, a highly-paid Wall Street bond trader and a self-proclaimed “Master of the Universe”, who has it all, until one day, similar to his antecedent in “The Great Gatsby”, one accident ensures his dramatic fall from grace.

What, then, do we have by way of a film adaptation? An almost meaningless and very unfaithful adaptation titled, as the novel, “The Bonfire of the Vanities” (1990), which was neither funny (as was intended) nor convincing. Director Brian De Palma went for a black comedy effect, instead of a sumptuous drama, and crafted an atrocious film where the majority of the actors were also miscast.

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