I. Kon-Tiki (2012)
“Kon-Tiki” is an Academy Award nominated adventure film which tells the true story of Thor Heyerdahl (Pal Hagen), a Norwegian adventurer, who sailed around 5000 miles from Peru to Polynesia on a wood raft in 1947 to prove his point that it was possible for pre-Columbian tribes to populate Polynesia from the east. Thor gathers his crew and everyone assumes that they are on a suicide mission, especially since one caveat of the journey is that they build their raft like indigenous people of the past allegedly did, using no modern equipment. What I like most in this great film is that it has a soul. This is truly an inspirational voyage film with one likeable and relatable hero at its centre, some emotionally-moving scenes (Thor also has a wife Liv), and with some absolutely stunning “ocean” cinematography and vistas. Unlike previously reviewed “The Lost City of Z“, “Kon-Tiki” largely takes place where the main action is – the ocean, in this case, and there are a number of tense scenes involving storms and sharks. Moreover, there is some humour and sarcasm thrown into this story, which make for an even more enjoyable watch. Read more
The Lost City of Z (2016)
“There is very little doubt that the forests cover traces of a lost civilisation of a most unsuspected and surprising character” (from a letter of Fawcett to the Royal Geographical Society, December 1921, Grann (2009) at 55).
Based on a great book by David Grann – “The Lost City of Z”, the film tells a true story of Colonel Percy Fawcett, an eminent explorer who believed that there was a hidden ancient civilisation to be found deep in the Amazon jungle and who vanished with his son in the jungle in 1925 while trying to prove its existence. This beautifully-shot film, directed by James Gray, tries to remain faithful to the timeline of the true story as it focuses intensely on the will and determination of Colonel Fawcett, played with dignity and zeal by Charlie Hunnam. The supporting cast is no other than Robert Pattinson as Corporal Costin and Sienna Miller as Fawcett’s wife, but the biggest appeal of the film is probably still the fascinating true story of one explorer on a mission to prove his cause. However, the film’s length is worrying (circa 140 minutes), and, although the film may shine sporadically as a “biography” film, it is largely disappointing as “a jungle adventure” movie. NB. As I will talk at length about the story, there will be spoilers.
“Coco” is a simply delightful Pixar-produced Academy Awards nominee of 2018. Taking the Mexican folklore and tradition on board, it tells the story of Miguel, a boy living with his family of zapateros or shoemakers in Santa Cecilia, Mexico. Years before, the family imposed an absolute ban on music, because a father of some previous generation left his family to pursue a music career. However, in this present time, Miguel, unbeknown to his family, dreams of becoming a musician, practices music secretly and worships his music idol Ernesto de la Cruz. On the Day of the Dead, Miguel desires to enter a local music completion to fulfil his dream of becoming a musician, but, trying to do so finds him in the secret Land of the Dead, where his adventures only begin.
The Odyssey (2016)
“No, no, no, you did not understand, no…I am not making animal documentaries. I am going to tell the story of men who are going to explore a new world” (Jacques Cousteau in “The Odyssey”).
I grew up watching Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s TV documentaries, amazed at all the underwater world, unusual sea animals and Cousteau’s adventures. Now, there is a French-language biopic starring Lambert Wilson as Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Pierre Niney as his son Philippe and Audrey Tautou as Cousteau’s wife Simone. The film explores Cousteau’s life from the late 1940s until about the 1970s, showing his journey from an underwater enthusiast to a TV celebrity, not forgetting his private life. A passionate explorer, Jacques Cousteau was indeed a pioneer in marine research and exploration, practically inventing underwater breathing equipment, and very slowly in his career moving from unethical handling of the marine world to promoting the protection of environment. Ironically, the biopic provides little insight into the personality of Jacques Cousteau, and in terms of drama, the film is stale. However, thanks to the beautiful score composed by Alexandre Desplat (“The Painted Veil” (2006)) and Matias Boucard’s rich cinematography, there are other things here to contemplate, for those interested.
The Ballad of the Salt Sea (2002)
“He’s dreaming with his eyes open, and those that dream with their eyes open are dangerous, for they do not know when their dreams come to an end” (Hugo Pratt, taking inspiration from the famous quote by T.E. Lawrence).
“When I want to relax, I read an essay by Engels. When I want something more serious to read, I read Corto Maltese” (Umberto Eco).
“La Ballade de la mer salée” or “The Ballad of the Salt Sea” (2002) is a French-language TV animation based on the Italian comics of the adventures of Corto Maltese by Hugo Pratt. Corto Maltese is a mysterious and freedom-loving adventurer and sailor who travels the world in search of excitement and fortune, and is found in the early twentieth century in such places as Southern Europe, Arabia, Africa and Russia. In “The Ballad of the Salt Sea”, Corto is found sailing in the Pacific Ocean, and is in the midst of a shady deal with Rasputin, a psychopathic pirate and a Siberian army escapee, and with a man simply called the Monk, while the World War I is about to officially begin and the ocean is full of military ships.
Movies Silently is hosting the Swashathon or the Swashbuckler Blogathon, and I could not pass this opportunity by to review Randall Wallace’s “The Man In the Iron Mask” (1998). As many of you would know, today is also Bastille Day or la Fête nationale in France, which provides for another excuse to delve into a film portraying France. Here, despite many critics’ allegations that “The Man In the Iron Mask” is laughable, flimsy and disrespects the novel by Alexandre Dumas it is based on, the film is actually an enjoyable ride from start to finish. If the audience does not take this film too seriously, and allow themselves to be carried away by the plot, action and the humour, they are in for a treat. The visuals are delightful, the music composed by Nick Glennie-Smith is great, and the film has a cast many directors would “die for”: Leonardo DiCaprio (“Revolutionary Road” (2008)), John Malkovich (“The Portrait of a Lady” (1996)), Jeremy Irons (“The Correspondence” (2016)), Gabriel Byrne (“I, Anna” (2012)) and Gerard Depardieu.
“This is not the sort of film you “like” or “don’t like”. It’s a film that you experience – and then live with” (Matt Zoller Seitz).
“…wandering here over the desolate mountains – what an absurd situation!…I knew well, of course, that the greatest sin against God was despair; but the silence of God was something I could not fathom” (Rodrigues [Endo: 90]).
Martin Scorsese’s 28-years’ “passion” project culminated in the film “Silence“, based on the acclaimed novel by Shusaku Endo. The film is about two 17th century Portuguese Catholic priests, Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garupe (Adam Driver) who decide to travel to Japan in search of their former mentor, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson), who, most believe, betrayed his holy cause in the foreign land. Touching delicate moral and religious issues, the film is powerful both in its vision and in its message, achieving its desired cinematographic goal to awe, thanks to Scorsese’s dedicated and masterful direction, breath-taking cinematography and inspiring original material. Although the plot is uncomplicated and could even be considered “thin”, underneath every action and thought of the main character lies (and could be sensed) a myriad of contradictory emotions; culturally-divisive inner turmoil; and dormant causes for the later spiritual/religious re-awakening.
“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.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
Directed by David Yates and written by J.K. Rowling, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is a new film telling the story of Newt Scamander, the famous writer of the Hogwarts’ s textbook “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” in the magical world of Harry Potter. The film follows Newt as he arrives to New York City, U.S. with a suitcase full of magical creatures. When he inadvertently loses these same creatures, he incurs the wrath of the US Magical Congress, but, as it turns out, it becomes just one of his worries, as he partners with a Non-Maj (Muggle) Kowalsky and (ex)-Auror Tina to find his missing creatures. Especially stunning in an IMAX 3D, the movie is spell-binding, gorgeously portraying the wizarding world of the United States in the 1920s, and all the unimaginable creatures in existence. Recently, it has also become known that there will be four other movies in the “Fantastic Beast” franchise, all directed by David Yates.
A new film based on a short booklet titled “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” by J.K. Rowling is scheduled to come out later this year, but is it a good idea to re-visit the Harry Potter world once again on screen?
Here are five reasons why it may not be:
I. Re-visiting: although Rowling is confirmed as a scriptwriter for the upcoming movie, who would really ensure that the Harry Potter world would not be “meddled with” or changed unnecessarily in the film? Even the author herself could not provide that assurance. Every re-visiting of the Harry Potter world has its consequences, and, due to the nature of the film, there will be many additions introduced to the Harry Potter world. For example, it has been confirmed that there will be additions to the wizarding world language and culture as it is presented in the U.S. The bottom line is that the Harry Potter books may not be read the same anymore, whether the change is welcoming or not.
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).
For those who are unfamiliar with Sam Mendes’ work and its quality, ‘Skyfall’ may appear just like another action flick of some average quality, just another James Bond film full of the same old tricks recycled once again. However, this is the film of Sam Mendes, which means that this first impression is false. ‘Skyfall’ is a delightful surprise, which has the potential to exceed everyone’s expectations. The film is intelligent, stylish, funny and very well-acted. It is certainly better than the previous two films in the James Bond series. In this film, James Bond (Daniel Craig), badly wounded on the mission to Turkey and unfit for service, embarks on yet another mission to stop a former ‘00…’ MI6 agent from completing his evil plan.
The Bounty (1984)
Based on real events and adapted from the book by Richard Hough, ‘The Bounty’ tells the story of an expedition voyage of a British ship HMS Bounty to the island of Tahiti, the Pacific. Led by Captain William Bligh (Anthony Hopkins) and Master’s mate, Fletcher Christian (Mel Gibson), the ship soon crosses the most dangerous waters in search of an island full of bread plants. However, the harsh discipline of the Captain on board and the attractions of the tropical paradise soon become too irresistible for the crew. The eventual mutiny on the ship, headed by Christian, is only the beginning of the adventure in which the levels of maritime skill and endurance become the ultimate factors of survival.