The Oscars have again surprised the world, and, this time, thankfully, not because they gave an award to the wrong film. Parasite, a South Korean movie, has officially become the first foreign-language film to win the most prestigious award – Best Picture, a fact that is especially remarkable given that it was also nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category and won there too. The Oscars have also been overly “white” this year, did not recognise some (more art-house) films and acting which are also deserving of praise and nominations (that acting in “The Lighthouse“!), and, for the year that is supposed to celebrate women in cinema-making and acting, did not acknowledge great acting and films made by women (for example, no women nominees in the category of Best Director). I will only very briefly comment on the 2020 wins in the following categories: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actor in the Supporting Role and Best Cinematography. Continue reading “The Academy Awards 2020: Some Commentary”
A number of remakes (new film adaptations) is coming soon or has already hit the screens, including “Murder on the Orient Express” (2017) and “Suspiria” (2018) (still to premiere), and “It” (2017) and “Flatliners” (2017) (already here). Perhaps, it is time to revisit/draw attention to some other in existence. While such remakes as “The Departed” (2006), “The Fly” (1986) or “The Italian Job” (2003) are relatively well-known, some others may just not be. So, without further ado and in no particular order:
1. Original: Ocean’s 11 (1960) = Remake: Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
“Ocean’s Eleven” (2001) is a popular fast-paced heist film directed by Steven Soderbergh (“Side Effects” (2013)) and starring such major names as George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts. In the film, Danny Ocean (Clooney) assembles his team to steal millions from three casinos in Las Vegas: The Bellagio, The Mirage and the MGM Grand. Extremely entertaining and amusing, “Ocean’s Eleven” proved to be a great film overall, largely thanks to the clever script and the star-packed cast. However, “Ocean’s Eleven” is, in fact, a remake of the movie by Lewis Milestone (“All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930)) of the same name, i.e. “Ocean’s 11” (1960). Here, Frank Sinatra plays Danny Ocean, and the story now echoes the remake, save for the fact that Las Vegas here is the old one, and all the technology employed in the 2001 version is, understandably, nowhere to be seen. That also means that both films differ in a way the teams do their job and rob the casinos. It looks now that few people will prefer the 1960 version to the 2001 one. “Ocean’s Eleven” (2001) not only has a more ironical and sharper script, its secondary characters received their full spotlight, something which could not be said for the 1960 version. Continue reading “10 Popular Films that are actually Remakes”
Directed by Dominic Sena, “Kalifornia” centres on two couples and takes place on the road. On the one hand, we have an intelligent pair of up-and-coming journalists: Brian Kessler and Carrie Laughlin, played by David Duchovny and Michelle Forbes, who are in the midst of an important Serial Killers book project and who are eager to reach the coast of California in the hope of a better life. On the other hand, we have two beaten-down-by-life vagabonds: Early Grayce and Adele Corners, played by Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis, who are easily labelled as “white trash” in the film and who are accustomed to the life of crime and delinquency, wanting nothing more than a ride across the US at someone else’s expense. A chance meeting between the two pairs sets an unimaginable chain of events.
Story: Based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith “The Price of Salt“, “Carol” is a romantic drama set in the 1950s in New York. It is about a young department-store clerk, Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), and her “forbidden” relationship with a much older affluent woman, Carol (Cate Blanchett), who goes through a bitter divorce.
Director: Todd Haynes.
Leads: Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.
Analysis: The film has to be outstanding regarding its directing and acting merits. “Carol” competed for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival 2015, where Mara won the Best Actress Award (shared), and the film also topped the Golden Globe nominations. Highsmith’s novels enjoyed quite a success on screen, for example, both Anthony Minghella’s “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999) and Hossein Amini’s “The Two Faces of January” (2014) were reviewed positively by critics; and the in-depth exploration of same-sex relationships on screen is becoming quite a trend, for example, see “Blue is the Warmest Color” (2013) and “Clouds of Sils Maria” (2014). Overall, no fault found so far.
Conclusion: “Carol” promises to be a touching film, full of inexplicable emotion and depth. A definite must-watch.
Predicted score: 10/10 Continue reading “Previews: “Carol”, “Experimenter” and “By the Sea””
12 Years a Slave (2013)
Coming from Steve McQueen (director of ‘Shame‘ (2011)), ‘12 Years a Slave’ can now be comfortably described as this year’s cinematic sensation. The film, based on a self-autobiographical novel by Solomon Northup, tells the story of a black free man, who lives a happy family life in Saratoga, New York in 1841. After he is tricked, kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South, his life turns up-side-down, and a once brilliant musician and an educated family man is now forced to endure an unjust hard life of a slave in Louisiana. The film is very truthful to Northump’s novel, and is filled with so much realism that when one of the characters at the end of the film starts talking about freedom and black people’s rights, the audience may find it hard to believe a word he says – so engrossed they have become in the political/social ideology of that time and in black people’s lives on a plantation in Louisiana.
’12 Years a Slave’ is a new film by Steve McQueen, the director who also brought us ‘Hunger’ (2008) and ‘Shame’ (2011). The film is based on a true story of a free black man from New York, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who was abducted and sold into slavery in Louisiana. The film portrays Solomon’s journey to regain his freedom, escaping a cruel plantation owner, Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), while at the same time striking up friendships with such people as a Canadian carpenter and outspoken abolitionist, Mr Bass (Brad Pitt). According to many polls around the world, Steve McQueen’s ‘12 Years a Slave’ is an early frontrunner for the Oscar Award 2014, along with Lee Daniels’ ‘The Butler’, David O. Russell’s ‘American Hustle’ and the Coen Brothers’ ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’.
After all these years, it is still hard to watch Dean’s mannerism being ripped off.
Based on Michael Lewis’s book of the same name; directed by Bennett Miller; and also starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, ‘Moneyball‘ tells the story of Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), a very ambitious general manager of Oakland A’s baseball team. Beane desires to see his team at the top of every league game, winning the World Series, but, due to the financial constraints, cannot realise his dream. Therefore, hiring a Yale economics graduate, Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), Beane uses statistical analysis, measuring in-game activity, to choose his team players. The players picked by Beane are those “undervalued” by others, even though they show a promising talent. Beane’s main premise here is that everyone in baseball asks “wrong questions”, for example concentrating on players’ usual winning record and subjective opinions of a player, rather than asking such objective questions as “which player on a particular team contributed the most to the team’s offense?” These are the principles of subermetrics or “baseball economics”. As Wikipedia states, sabermetrics is “concerned both with determining the value of a player or team in current or past seasons and with attempting to predict the value of a player or team in the future”.