I missed writing the kind of posts where I preview films to be released at some future date (I previously wrote only three such instalments, one in 2015, one in 2016, and one in 2017). Now, I am talking about three films I am excited to watch in 2021, and all three of them are based on books – Paul Greengrass’s News of the World, Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel and Adrian Lyne’s Deep Water.
News of the World (2021)
Story: Based on a novel by Paulette Jiles, this film tells the story of Captain Kidd (Tom Hanks) who, in the year of 1870, travels across the US, spreading “the news of the world” to people. When he comes across a little girl, who has recently been an Indian native and is now left abandoned and homeless, he decides to take charge of her and return her to her real family in South Texas. The issue for the Captain, though, is that Johanna still considers herself a Kiowa, an Indian native, and, as the two travel together, they soon discover many things that bond them in the increasingly hostile and threatening world around them.
It was with great sadness that I heard yesterday of the passing of Sean Connery, a Scottish actor and one of the film legends. He was a man of incomparable charisma whose acting and screen presence were always distinguishable and memorable. Possessing innate smoothness, gentleness and his very own recognisable sense of masculinity and vigour, he emanated the persona of a true gentleman and a real action hero on screen and both at the same time, inspiring warmth and a sense of awe in others. If there ever existed an actor or just a human being working in a film industry who personified the word “class”, it was Sir Sean Connery.
Sean Connery won his Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his role in The Untouchables , but most people remember him as being the world’s first ever James Bond, which was also his breakthrough role. And, Sean Connery will always be the James Bond in my eyes. Gallant and almost too nonchalant, but caring, romantically-involved, but objective, Connery was the most perfect cast for Fleming’s famous Agent 007. With his incomparable screen presence, he could get everyone following his character, no matter the location or the plot. Dr. No  and From Russia With Love  were good films, but my favourite James Bond film with Sean Connery has to be Goldfinger . I think it was Alec Baldwin who put it best in his obituary article of the great man, saying that Connery had a “trifecta dynamic” and he knew [instinctively] “where masculinity, sensitivity, and intelligence intersected“. There had been other handsome actors before and after Connery, but I think it was Connery’s delicate combination of “masculinity, sensitivity and intelligence“, as well as his skill of presenting himself and his character’s actions as immersively as possible, that helped make him into a star.
Meshes of the Afternoon is a 1943 experimental film by Maya Deren. It is known for its sense of unease, eeriness and mystery – all accomplished using a minimum number of objects and a single location. In this 14-minute film, the most commonplace and everyday objects take sinister contours as the director plays impressively with dream and reality using repetition, silence, innovative camera angles and unexplained sequences. Meshes of the Afternoon undoubtedly influenced such directors as David Lynch (Mulholland Drive(2001) and Roman Polanski (Repulsion(1965)), and was definitely a film ahead of its time.
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)”→
“Anton was a dream” (Jeremy Saulnier, director of Green Room (2015)).
This is a moving documentary that explores the life of actor Anton Yelchin (Star Trek (2009), Green Room (2015), Thoroughbreds(2017)), from his birth in Russia to the champions of figure skating to his last films made. This is an engaging and respectful feature that aims to pay tribute to a person of outstanding acting ability who was taken too soon (died on 19 June 2016 when he was crashed between the brick wall and the fence when his car rolled back on him in his own parking space at home in Los Angeles). Through his own footages, as well as the interviews conducted with his parents, close friends and co-workers, we find out what kind of a person Anton really was – extremely devoted to his loving parents, loyal to his friends, kind, generous, curious, intellectual, funny, goofy and passionate about many aspects of life. He possessed great charisma and acting skills, having started acting at a very young age and then later acting alongside such stars as Anthony Hopkins, Robin Williams, Albert Finney, Jodie Foster and Willem Dafoe, to name just a few. It is safe to say that,given his talent, he was just on the brink of “breaking through” in his career and just needed that one very successful and big movie that will escalate his career much further, a movie that, sadly, will never now come. By recognising him as an absolute star now, we can at least pay tribute to this potential, to the person who was so passionate about acting and films (trying his hand at directing too!) and whose kind, curious and sparkling personality will always be remembered. Continue reading “Recently Watched: Documentaries: Love, Antosha (2019), Tower (2016) & 13th (2016)”→
Christmas is getting nearer, and I hope everyone is excited! People are probably also excited about Disney’s Frozen II, and, for those who do not know, I want to draw attention to the plagiarism case below, concerning the Frozen (2013) teaser trailer (the first video below) and the short animation titled The Snowman by independent animators Kelly Wilson and Neil Wrischnik (the second video below – access by following the link since it is imossible to watch it on wordpress)). This case was settled out of court in 2015. I previously talked in my review of Frozen how the animation relied heavily on the conceptual story and character vision from Hans Christian Andersen’s tales (which is fine), as well as on the romance from Anastasia (1997) (which is also ok), but it seems that, from the very beginning, the Frozen franchise was off to a start that involved blatant stealing and zero acknowledgement. At the preliminary hearing, Judge Chhabria ruled that “the sequence of events in both works, from start to finish, is too parallel to conclude that no reasonable juror could find the works substantially similar“. With the world’s most creative brains at Disney/Pixar headquarters, they still could not come up with their own concept for a teaser trailer. The similarities are painfully evident, and if Disney did not think so, they would have battled it in court, rather than settling for an undisclosed sum to be paid to Wilson and Wrischnik. And, Wilson and Wrischnik were paid by Disney.
“Late Afternoon” by Louise Bagnall is this year’s Academy Awards nominee in the category of “Best Short Animation”. I somehow prefer it over other nominees, and the frontrunners for the award are considered to be Pixar-produced animation “Bao” and Pixar-related short “Weekends“. Other nominees are touching “One Small Step” and the hilarious and witty “Animal Behaviour“. Normally I enjoy intricate, detailed animations, but, in the case of “Late Afternoon“, I somehow appreciate the simplicity and like how the animation incorporates the concept of memory. Have you watched this year’s nominees yet? Do you have a favourite?
Paul at Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies hostedThe Meg Ryan Birthday Blogathon to celebrate the birthday of Meg Ryan, and this is my belated post containing some thoughts on “Prelude to a Kiss” (1992). I love so many Meg Ryan films, including her “feel-good” romantic comedies “You’ve Got Mail” (1998) and “Sleepless in Seattle” (1993), and her more “serious” movies, such as “When a Man Loves a Woman” (1994) and “In The Cut” (2003).
Prelude to a Kiss (1992)
“…Must have been my kiss(es), all I can think, drives men wild…” (Rita/Julius).
The movie is based on the 1988 play of the same name by Craig Lucas, and, although most plays-to-films do not agree with me, for example, see “Marjorie Prime“ (2017) and “Carnage” (2011), this movie seems to work, maybe because it does not have this feeling of being contained in one location. The story may appear absurd, but it is actually quite entertaining and amusing. Rita (Ryan) and Peter (Baldwin) meet at a party and instantly establish a connection. After some lovely courting (which takes the movie some 40 minutes to get right), the couple move on with their wedding, and, from then on, its a roller-coaster of delights and sorrows. During the wedding, Rita somehow manages to swap her body with that of an old grumpy man through a kiss, and Peter, noticing that something is wrong with his new wife, sets on the course to put things right. And, Rita really does not seem like the old Rita to her husband at all. If before she could not get enough sleep, now she sleeps like a baby, and, if before she drank alcohol (she worked as a barmaid), now she does not even want to try a cocktail in Jamaica. Continue reading “The Meg Ryan Birthday Blogathon: Prelude to a Kiss (1992)”→
It is 14 November 2018, which means that my blog is 7 years old today! I did not celebrate when it was 6 years last year, but because I love number 7, I thought it was worthy of mention. Thank you to all my readers who followed me, and some have done so for many a year! I know the blog has never been a consistent one in terms of the posts’ frequency, but in September 2018, the blog reached a mark of 1,000 followers and now the current number is 1,051. Film blogging is a lot of fun – one can discover so many new films, share film experiences and perfect the art of film criticism or reviewing – everyone has their own style. Perhaps,you would like to see more of some articles, lists or reviews of particulate films on my blog? Then, tell me! Thanks again for following and/or reading! 🙂
I have been informed that I have reached an incredible number of 1000 followers on this blog. I would like to express my sincere thanks to all my followers who have been so committed to following my posts over the weeks, months and even years (even despite of the fact that I am far from being consistent with my posts’ frequency). I appreciate very much that you are reading, liking and commenting on my posts. Perhaps, you have a favourite category of posts or would like me to cover any particular topic or film? Any comments or suggestions welcome. A huge thank you, again!