The Power of the Dog (2021)
“Deliver my soul from the sword/My darling from the power of the dog” (Psalms, Preface to Thomas Savage’s novel The Power of the Dog (1967)).
The biggest mistake I probably made is reading the book ahead of the film. I read Thomas Savage’s novel The Power of the Dog awhile ago now and this reading experience definitely tampered with my experiencing Jane Campion’s film. The Power of the Dog centres on two very different brothers Phil and George Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch and Jesse Plemons) living on a big ranch in Montana in 1925. If Phil is the very definition of a brutal force and “no-nonsense” attitude, his brother George is more subdued and caring. When George takes notice of a lonely widow Rose (Kirsten Dunst), falls in love her, and moves her and her alienated teenage son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee) into Burbanks’ property, the gap between the brothers only grows and soon full psychological warfare is raging. Through the film’s atmosphere alone (including production, camerawork, score and setting), as well as Cumberbatch’s mesmerising-in-its-zealousness performance, The Power of the Dog is a film of uncanny beauty and subtle power, whose biggest asset is the curious interplay of contrasts of all kinds: physical power vs. powers of intellect, kindness vs. ruthlessness, refinement vs. roughness, innocence vs. corruption, hypocrisy vs. honesty, and love vs. hate.
Continue reading “BFI London Film Festival 2021: Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog”
My last review focused on a cellist who was forced to abandon his chosen profession and resort to a more undesirable one. This got me thinking about musicians in films, and I am presenting below seven great films that focus on pianists, their lives and struggles. While some pianists below are completely fictional, such as Ada in The Piano or Tom in The Talented Mr. Ripley, others are based on real-life people, including David Helfgott in Shine and Mozart in Amadeus. In no particular order:
I. The Piano (1993)
“It is one of those rare movies that is not just about a story, or some characters“, said once film critic Roger Ebert, “but about a whole universe of feeling“. Set in the 19th century, Jane Campion’s very fine film tells the story of a psychologically-mute Scottish woman Ada who travels to New Zealand with her young daughter Flora after an arranged marriage. Ada’s passion for music and for hand-crafted piano is touching in the film as she has to face strict social conventions in a foreign land while also longing for the love that is genuine and freely-chosen. The film also has one of the most beautiful soundtracks ever, composed by Michael Nyman.
II. The Pianist (2002)
This film is based on the autobiographical book The Pianist (1946) that tells the story of a Holocaust survivor, pianist and composer Władysław Szpilman. Masterful and unforgettable in every way, the film by Polanski is all about one Jewish man hiding in apartments across Warsaw as the Nazis brutal, evil regime is set to hunt down and kill every remaining Jewish person in the city. The film emphasises the sheer beauty of the piano music, and how it has the power to transcend life, bring out the best in humanity and unite it.
Continue reading “7 Great Films About Pianists”
Some of these films do not contain nudity or contain only limited nudity. The references to eroticism/erotica and sensuality may be only subtle, but powerful. Incidentally, three of the below films are by a British director Adrian Lyne (“Jacob’s Ladder” (1990)) and two by a growing Italian master of subtle and powerful erotically-charged films Luca Guadagnino (“A Bigger Splash” (2015)). In no particular order:
1.) In The Mood for Love (2000)
2.) Betty Blue (1986)
3.) Call Me By Your Name (2017)
4.) The English Patient (1996)
5.) The Handmaiden (2016)
Continue reading “20 Unmissable Erotically-Charged Films”
The Portrait of a Lady (1996)
Directed by Jane Campion (‘The Piano’ (1993)), ‘The Portrait of a Lady’ is an adaptation of Henry James’s classic novel of the same name. It tells the story of a beautiful, free-thinking and intelligent young woman, Isabel Archer (Nicole Kidman) who arrives to England from the US with her aunt, Mrs. Touchett, to “see and explore the world”. While on her quest, Miss Archer rejects promising marriage proposals coming from a wealthy American tradesman, Caspar Goodwood (Viggo Mortensen), and an immensely rich heir, Lord Warburton (Richard E. Grant). Miss Archer takes these decisions because she is devoted to the ideals of personal freedom and a ceaseless pursuit of knowledge.Through the help of her faithful, but fragile cousin, Ralph (Martin Donovan), Isabel is made rich, and is then free to pursue her dreams of independence. However, when Isabel strikes up friendship with amiable and cultured Madame Merle (Barbara Hershey), she is far from suspecting that this acquaintance will lead to her unhappy marriage to an elusive, middle-aged art collector, Gilbert Osmond (John Malkovich).
Continue reading ““The Portrait of a Lady” Review”