“Little Women” (1994) Review

little_womenLittle Women (1994)

It is Christmas eve, and while I want to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas, I thought I would also review one of the films that could make Christmas all the merrier. In 1993, Gillian Armstrong (“Oscar and Lucinda” (1997)) directed just yet another, as everyone then thought, adaptation of the famous novel by Louisa May Alcott “Little Women”. Based on the true-to-the novel script by Robin Swicord (“Wakefield” (2016)), the film stars such great names as Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder, Gabriel Byrne, Kirsten Dunst and Christian Bale. The story is about four girls of the March family and their modest, but interesting lives in times of the Civil War in the US. A very much Christmas movie, Armstrong’s “Little Women” perfectly conveys the heart-warming camaraderie of the four girls, telling of their lives’ ups and downs as they try to find their way in the world torn by hardship.

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“Still Alice” Review

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Still Alice (2014)

Still Alice” is a film based on Lisa Genova’s 2007 best-selling novel of the same name and starring Julianne Moore in the role which landed her an Oscar for the best performance of the year. However, “Still Alice” is so much more than simply a demonstration of an interesting character study and Moore’s outstanding acting ability. It is a very important film, shedding light on a very misunderstood illness, and it was co-directed by the late Richard Glatzer, who was himself a sufferer of a motor neuron disease. The merit of the film lies in its ability to dramatise so well a story of one woman’s battle with an incurable illness, but do so so intelligently, delicately and movingly, the film becomes not only a powerful statement, but also an entertaining and totally engrossing watch.

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The Food in Film Blogathon: Facing Windows (2003)

Food in Film BannersSpeakeasy and Silver Screenings are presenting The Food in Film Blogathon, and I thought I must participate since food in films has always fascinated me. Food can be used sensually in a movie, as in “Como Agua Para Chocolate” (1992), in “I Am Love” (2009) or even in “The Lunchbox” (2013), or it can be used morbidly, as in “Rope” (1948), among other purposes and expressions. But, in many films, it seems to inexplicably connect main characters, and my choice of a film is exactly the one where food functions as such. In the Italian-language film “Facing Windows“, food does not play a leading role, but it does provide a point of connection between the main characters, becomes one of the components of a hidden passion, and symbolises the idea of remaining true to oneself, one’s origin and one’s beliefs. 

Facing Windows PosterFacing Windows (2003)

In this film, Giovanna (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) and her husband Filippo (Filippo Nigro) stumble upon an amnesiac man, Simone (Massimo Girotti), while out, and take him to their home. Simone only remembers a name “Simone” and a particular neighbourhood in Rome. While Giovanna gets entangled into Simone’s mysteries, she also becomes infatuated with the neighbour whose windows are just opposite hers, handsome bachelor Lorenzo (Raoul Bova), and the duo soon pursue the mystery behind Simone’s true identity together. Coming from Turkish director Ferzan Ozpetek, this film is a gem of the Italian-language cinema. It is an emotionally-moving, mystery-filled film, which also provides an in-depth character study. While the story here is interesting and poignant, the film is also beautifully presented, with aesthetically-pleasing shots and a very memorable, melancholy-inducing soundtrack, most of which is written by Andrea Guerra (“Hotel Rwanda” (2004)).

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“Una” Mini-Review

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Una (2017) 

There are some films which touch very sensitive topics, and most of the time it may be advisable to avoid such films. But, there comes a film which deals with a hard-to-digest-topic so unassumingly, the viewers will hardly notice that what they are seeing is something quite shocking. “Una” is one of these films, telling the story of Una, now a grown-up woman who recalls her past sexual relationship with a much older man when she was just thirteen. Directed by Benedict Andrews and starring Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn in the lead roles, this film, which is based on a theatrical play “Blackbird“, is an interesting account of a twisted relationship and “damaged” personalities. Beyond its uncomfortable subject matter, the film also offers a well-thought-out, even if “minimalist” plot, interesting cinematography and mesmerising performances.  

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“The Discovery” Review

The Discovery Poster

The Discovery (2017)

The Discovery” is a film which had its first premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 2017, but, arguably, it deserves more attention than it eventually got. Here, Will (Jason Segel) and Isla (Rooney Mara) meet in the strangest of times. It has been scientifically proven that the afterlife does exist, and this fact alone spiralled millions of suicides around the world, with people almost desperate to “get to the other side”. The scientist Thomas Harbor (Robert Redford) is behind the new discovery, and he has another trick up his sleeve: he thinks he can also show what the afterlife looks like before people take their lives. After all, who would not want to look at a holiday brochure before committing to their holiday destination? Although the film’s narrative slops and the chemistry between Segel and Mara is lukewarm, the film is atmospheric, raises some fascinating issues, and has a strong ending.

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“The Beguiled” Review

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**SPOILER ALERT**

Sofia Coppola’s “The Beguiled” has probably been one of the most anticipated movies of this summer, and is based on the novel by Thomas P. Cullinan, initially titled “A Painted Devil”. In “The Beguiled” (2017), Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman) runs an all-girl boarding school in Virginia amidst the waging of the American Civil War, and among the remaining six of her pupils are highly-strung Edwina (Kirsten Dunst) and a boy-crazy girl Alicia (Elle Fanning). All is well, until one of the girls, Amy (Oona Laurence), discovers a wounded Yankee soldier (Colin Farrell) in the periphery of their school, and decides to bring him to school so that he can receive an immediate medical help. As the soldier recovers, however, he stars to pay special attention to the girls in the school, sparking fits of uncontrollable passion, and, ultimately, suspicion and jealousy. Although the film is beautifully shot, it is also a misguided attempt to produce something evocative and deep. Sofia’s “The Beguiled” has virtually no character development; the plot, which misses the dramatic point of Cullinan’s book completely; and the film’s choice of the cast is almost as bad as its adapted script.

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“Wakefield” Review

172431_aaWakefield (2016)

Based on a short story by E.L. Doctorow (which, in turn, is a re-telling of the story by Nathaniel Hawthorne) and shot over just twenty days, “Wakefield” is a film about Howard Wakefield (Bryan Cranston (“Drive (2011), “The Infiltrator” (2016)), a busy city lawyer, who is silently enduring a personal crisis. On a daily basis, he is commuting to and from NYC to meet his clients, until one evening, his schedule is disrupted by a power outage. At this point, Howard begins to reflect on himself, on his place in life, and on his surroundings. Confronting personal issues usually takes time, and he wastes no time hiding from his family in the attic of his garage next door. This location is a perfect place for a hide-out since it provides him with a perfect position for the close surveillance and monitoring of his own house. Directed by a female director Robin Swicord (the screenwriter behind such great films as “Little Women” (1994) and “Memoirs of Geisha” (2005)), “Wakefield” is deeper and more interesting than first meets the eye. Combining an in-depth psychological character study with an interesting narrative structure, the film manages to deliver both a satisfying and a peculiar cinematic experience, largely driven by Bryan Cranston and Jennifer Garner’s committed performances.

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