I. The Red Shoes (1948)
The Red Shoes is about the rise to stardom of a dancer Victoria Page (Moira Shearer) who falls under the strict control of one charismatic, but elusive and mysterious company director Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook). Page becomes truly famous after appearing in Lermontov’s ballet “The Red Shoes”, but soon finds herself torn between her new love – composer of “The Red Shoes” – Julian Craster (Marius Goring) and her professional life. The film is brilliant in terms of cinematography, camera-movements and visual impact. The beautifully-designed production and the ballet, that incorporates a story of one girl whose red shoes take control over her life, are memorable. The film also makes certain observations on the creative process of a theatre/ballet production, and on art and artistic input. It asks – what price a person will be willing to pay for the sake of artistic glory and full professional realisation in theatre/ballet? The story of one girl whose red shoes control her (a Hans Christian Andersen fairy-tale) mirrors the story of Victoria Page who, ultimately, has to choose between her romantic interest and her blind devotion to the demands of the man behind the “The Red Shoes” genius – Boris Lermontov. Continue reading “Recently Watched: Films: The Red Shoes (1948), West Side Story (1961) & Black Narcissus (1947)”
The Shape of Water (2017)
“Words lie, but looks don’t…When you fall in love, you fall in love, absolutely, all at once, all-in. It’s a miracle” (Guillermo del Toro).
“Unable to perceive the shape of You, I find You all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with Your love, It humbles my heart, For You are everywhere” .
This tale of unlikely love between the Princess without Voice or Elisa and the creature from the Amazon has been nominated for thirteen Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and there are good reasons for this furore. Mexican director Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006)) has finally made the movie he wanted to make for a long time. Del Toro merges different cinematic genres (fantasy, drama and romance), while paying tribute to black-and-white Hollywood musicals and B-movie monsters, to produce a movie which is almost faultless in its directional execution, acting and emotional content. The director draws on a number of sources to tell the unlikely love story which, among many other things, portrays and sympathises with the lives of the “underdog” minority, and engagingly sets out the high-pressure conditions of living in the times of the Cold War.
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Ruth of Silver Screenings and Kristina of Speakeasy are hosting the O Canada! Blogathon to celebrate all things Canada in film and TV, and I thought I would contribute because Canadian cinematography is close to my heart. It has always tried to be different and often experimented. Xavier Dolan, my choice for this blogathon, is no different. He is a Montreal, Quebec-born film director who produced his first major film “I Killed My Mother” (2009), that received numerous awards, at the age of 20, and who then went to direct five other award-winning films with his seventh film “The Death and Life of John F. Donovan” (2018) currently being in production. I will focus on two of his films: “Laurence Anyways” (2012) and “It’s Only the End of the World” (2016).
Laurence Anyways (2012)
Xavier Dolan writes unusual films with equally unusual presentations, but his stories are always full of much humanity and bare human emotion, and, thus, they are always very relatable. “Laurence Anyways” is one of those movies. It is a beautiful and daring French-language film about the enduring power of love that trespasses the boundaries of societal conventions.
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Little 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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Speakeasy 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 (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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Phyllis Loves Classic Movies and The Flapper Dame are hosting the Duo Double Feature blogathon, and this is my contribution to this amazing and fun cinematic race. The blogathon showcases pairs of stars who made only two films together, and my choice is Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, who were in both “Pretty Woman” (1990) and “Runaway Bride” (1999). The onscreen couple consisting of Julia Roberts and Richard Gere may not be the most “homogeneous” of couples ever (for example, because the individual differences still show), but, in this case, it is the case of opposites attracting. The result is the onscreen chemistry which is palpable and undeniable, and which seems very “genuine” and moving, with its quirky and fun moments. This means that while Roberts and Gere’s iconic pairing in “Pretty Woman” might have been quite unforgettable, their chemistry in “Runaway Bride“, nine years after their first film, was still as solid.
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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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