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”
“Indignation” is a directional debut of a screen-writer and producer James Schamus, known for adapting the script of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000) and being the producer of “Brokeback Mountain” (2005). Adapting the book by Philip Roth, in “Indignation”, Schamus presents the life of Marcus Messner (Logan Lerman), a bright lad who, while working as a butcher in his father’s store in New Jersey, receives a prestigious scholarship to attend a college in Ohio. What follows is the depiction of Marcus’s troubles of fitting into his new college environment as he simultaneously tries to deal with his socially-unacceptable abhorrence for organised religion and with the confusion of his sexual-awakening. Schamus’s film is a particular kind of a film which is heart-breaking in individual scenes and bitter-sweet in its overall presentation, and the director manages to convey the story masterfully, paying particular attention to the character presentation and dialogue.
The Handmaiden (2016)
“The Handmaiden” is an award-winning erotic psychological drama directed by Park Chan-wook (“Oldboy” (2003), “Stoker” (2013)). Based on/inspired by the novel “Fingersmith” (2002) by Sarah Waters, the film centres on a young maid, Sook-Hee, who arrives to the estate of an affluent book-lover, Kouzuki, to be a servant to his niece Lady Hideko. However, nothing is as it seems, because Sook-Hee’s main employer is actually a conman, self-named Count Fujiwara, who made a deal with the young maid to con Lady Hideko out of her inheritance. Fiercely intelligent and provoking, “The Handmaiden” does three things brilliantly: it toys cleverly with its audience’s imagination, and challenges its formed beliefs and visual interpretations; touches a sensitive nerve with its poetic and erotic imagery; and provides a stunning cinematic experience.
Synopsis: One year after the existence of the afterlife is scientifically verified, millions around the world have ended their own lives in order to “get there”. A man and woman fall in love while coming to terms with their own tragic pasts and the true nature of the afterlife.
“The Village” is a 2004 film directed by M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense” (1999) and starring Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt and Bryce Dallas Howard. The film tells of a 19th century village whose inhabitants live in a constant fear of some creatures that start terrorising the village population. One of the protagonists of the movie is a blind girl named Ivy. Although the movie is not as bad as critics claim and its soundtrack is absolutely beautiful, it has a needless array of well-known star-actors involved, which is distracting. “Running Out of Time” is a popular 1996 book by Margaret Peterson Haddix for young adults about a girl (Jessie) in a 19th century village who is sent on a mission to town to look for medicine to cure a diphtheria epidemic in her village.
Even though the plots of both “The Village” and “Running Out of Time” look different, there are considerable similarities between the two. The ways in which the book and the film are similar speak volumes when one considers the most important things of both: “Running Out of Time”’s narrative and “The Village”’s final plot twist.
The rumours about Martin Scorsese’s “Silence” have been circulating for a long time now, especially regarding the forthcoming Academy Awards. On 29 November, his historic film about a Jesuit missionary’s persecution in the 17th century Japan premiered at the Vatican. Personally for me, the presence of Andrew Garfield, who is a good actor, will be distracting in the movie because of all the associations I have with him in the most diverse films, from comical “The Amazing Spider-Man“(2012) to modern “The Social Network” (2010)…How to shed these?
“What if you had to tell someone the most important thing in the world, but you knew they’d never believe you?” (Doug Carlin)
In 2006, the now late Tony Scott directed a time-travel thriller “Déjà-vu”, starring Denzel Washington and Val Kilmer, presenting a story of A.T.F. agent Doug Carlin who starts to investigate the bombing of a ferry in New Orleans, but ends up embarking on a romantic time-travel mission to save the lives of many. Coming from a film director known for “True Romance” (1993) and “Enemy of the State” (1998), “Déjà-vu” plays all its cards right, and, despite perhaps failing to convince the audience of the plot’s technological advances, the movie still feels very “complete”, fun to watch and provides just the right amount of suspense to keep one intrigued until the very end. Continue reading ““Déjà-vu” Mini-Review”