The Age of Innocence (1993)
Martin Scorsese once said that “The Age of Innocence” was the most violent film he had ever made. He was undoubtedly referring to the emotional torrents in the film, and, even though the film does not comes off as this totally perfect and touching romance, it still has many things to recommend it. Adapted from novel by Edith Wharton, the film pictures the 19th century New York’s delicate high society where manners and appearances take prime considerations. In the midst of it, lawyer Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) falls under the spell of the Europeanised and “exotic” Madame Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer), finding himself in a love triangle, because he is soon to be married to the society’s belle, May Welland (Winona Ryder). Violent passions raging within the high-fenced societal constraints, almost tearing apart the delicate rules of order and innocence, is the film’s main theme.
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“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.
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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.
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La La Land (2016)
Universally acclaimed, “La La Land” is the kind of a film which could melt the most cynical and toughest of critics. As romantic as it is visually stunning, the main charm of the film lies in its simplicity: a guy, Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), and a girl, Mia (Emma Stone) both dream of professional success in Hollywood, and first find true happiness in each others’ arms before the practical realities of their chosen star professions separate them. With an uncomplicated plot and an absolutely stunning soundtrack, “La La Land” has all the appeal of an old musical, while keeping things interesting and original with notes of modern music, the showcasing of modern technologies and with the demonstrations of a competitive side of today’s Hollywood business. In “La La Land”, Damien Chazelle (director) shows that, in the 21st century, it is still possible not only to make a financially successful old-school musical-comedy, but also to produce a real gem of a movie capable of leaving the audience breathless with its heart strings’ pulling and sheer inventiveness.
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Your Name. (2016)
Makoto Shinkai’s latest animation feature “Your Name” is rapidly gaining international recognition, and has already grossed over 10 billion yen ($98 million), becoming the first ever anime film not produced by Studio Ghibli/Miyazaki to gross this sum at the Japanese box office. This critical acclaim is unsurprising. “Your Name” is as close to perfection as any anime can get. Showcasing Shinkai’s talent for presenting emotional connections, fully-fledged characters and breathtakingly beautiful, detailed animation, “Your Name” is a romantic story of an accidental body-swap between a country girl Mitsuha and a city boy Taki, who, in reality, have never met. Both are high-school students who experience the usual teenagers’ problems and daily ups and downs. However, one day they start to switch bodies back and forth between each other through dreams. Through this experience, Mitsuha and Taki learn many interesting things about themselves, the opposite sex and human, emotional connections.
Continue reading “Makoto Shinkai: “Your Name.” (2016) and “5 Centimetres per Second” (2007)”
La Corrispondenza (2016)
“La Corrispondenza” or “The Correspondence” is a new film by renowned director Giuseppe Tornatore, the mastermind behind cleverly crafted “La Migliore Offerta” (2014), beautiful “Malena” (2000) and critically-acclaimed “Cinema Paradiso” (1988). The movie, with music from Ennio Morricone, is about an astrophysics student, Amy Ryan (Olga Kurylenko) and her infatuation with an older professor of astrophysics, Ed Phoerum (Jeremy Irons). When circumstances put a distance between them, the couple is determined to resort to any channel of communication to continue being “in touch”.
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Queen of Katwe (2016)
“…in chess, the small one can become the big one…” (from the trailer “Queen of Katwe”).
Story: The movie is the upcoming Disney-produced drama based on the real story of Phiona Mutesi (played by newcomer Madina Nalwanga), a 10-year old Ugandan chess prodigy, who, against all odds, becomes a Woman Candidate Master after the World Chess Olympiads. Brought up in the slums of Katwe, an area in the city of Kampala, Uganda, young Phiona endures a daily routine of trying to survive when she discovers a game named “chess”, which turns her life upside down. Encouraged and supported by her mother (Lupita Nyong’o) and couch (David Oyelowo), Phiona quickly becomes a young chess sensation in her country, participating in international competitions abroad.
Continue reading “Previews: “Queen of Katwe”, “Sully” and “The Light between Oceans””
Tale of Tales (2015)
Directed by Matteo Garrone, best known for his raw crime drama Gomorrah (2008), “Tale of Tales” or “Il Racconto dei Racconti” is a fantasy horror film which comprises three main stories seemingly running in parallel. The first story starts with the Queen (Salma Hayek) and King (John C. Reilly) of the kingdom Longtrellis, desperately wanting a child but who are unable to have one, thereby resorting to extreme clandestine measures of killing a sea monster and consuming its heart to have a son, whose identical twin is also the son of a servant woman. Another story tells of the King of the kingdom Highhills (Toby Jones) arranging a tournament to wed his only daughter Violet (Bebe Cave) by making participants guess the large creature whose skin is on the display – the skin is that of a flea. The third story centers on two elderly sisters who live calmly away from the public eye only for their peace to be shuttered when one of the sisters becomes bewitched and transformed into a young beauty (Stacy Martin) who, in turn, becomes the centre of affection for the lustful King of the kingdom Strongcliff (Vincent Cassel).
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Chinese Puzzle (2013)
‘Chinese Puzzle’ is the final film in Cédric Klapisch’s travel trilogy (other films are ‘L’Auberge Espagnole’ (2001) and ‘Russian Dolls’ (2004)). The film presents Xavier (Romain Duris (‘Populaire’ (2012)), a French writer who leads a confused and stressful life in Paris. When his girlfriend of 10 years, Wendy (Kelly Reilly (‘Flight’ (2012)) leaves him for another man and moves to New York, Xavier follows her to the Big Apple to be closer to his children. In New York, Xavier’s adventures begin as he rekindles romance with his ex-girlfriend, Martine ( Audrey Tautou (‘Amélie’ (2001)), marries a Chinese-American to get a US green card and becomes a surrogate father to his lesbian friend, Isabelle (Cecile De France).
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