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”
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.
Continue reading ““Little Women” (1994) Review”
1. “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt
Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch” is the number one international best-seller which won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2014. The story of a boy who lost his mother in a tragic event and who then clings to the only object that reminds him of her – the picture of a goldfinch is really the masterpiece (as was also called so by some critics), and Tartt was even compared to Dickens. The story is very emotionally-powerful and detailed, even though the second part is weaker than the first. What of the movie, then? The film is scheduled for 2019; will be directed by John Crowley (“Brooklyn” (2015)); and will star Ansel Elgort (“Baby Driver” (2017)) as the main character Theo. Why the film could prove to be a total disaster? There are many reasons. Though Elgort will probably look good as Theo, it will be next to impossible to capture the magic of the book. In the book, Theo battles internally with grief and trauma which are barely perceivable, and no film would really match the masterly of capturing the internal dilemmas of the main character in the book, not even considering all the philosophical references implicit in the book’s narrative structure. It does not also help that the book is around 860 pages long and spans many years. More so, the film could really tarnish the captivating narrative of the book for good. Why even try?
Continue reading “5 Forthcoming Book-to-Film Adaptations that Can Go Very Wrong”
The Beguiled (2017)
Sofia Coppola’s “The Beguiled” has probably been one of the most anticipated movies of this summer, and is based on the novel by Thomas P. Cullinan, initially titled “A Painted Devil”. In “The Beguiled” (2017), Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman) runs an all-girl boarding school in Virginia amidst the waging of the American Civil War, and among the remaining six of her pupils are highly-strung Edwina (Kirsten Dunst) and a boy-crazy girl Alicia (Elle Fanning). All is well, until one of the girls, Amy (Oona Laurence), discovers a wounded Yankee soldier (Colin Farrell) in the periphery of their school, and decides to bring him to school so that he can receive an immediate medical help. As the soldier recovers, however, he stars to pay special attention to the girls in the school, sparking fits of uncontrollable passion, and, ultimately, suspicion and jealousy. Although the film is beautifully shot, it is also a misguided attempt to produce something evocative and deep. Sofia’s “The Beguiled” has virtually no character development; the plot, which misses the dramatic point of Cullinan’s book completely; and the film’s choice of the cast is almost as bad as its adapted script.
Continue reading ““The Beguiled” Review”
All Good Things (2010)
Some say that if you have not heard of a film before and that film has been around for awhile, it cannot possibly be good. Sometimes this is true, but there are exceptions. Directed by Andrew Jarecki and starring Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst, ‘All Good Things’ is a mystery crime drama which has been notoriously criticised fiercely by critics, and which currently holds a 32% rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website, but, probably, quite unjustly. The film begins as it is so ‘in fashion’ nowadays – the main character, David Marks (Ryan Gosling), the heir to a grand real estate business, tells his tale of woe. Beginning with his traumatic childhood and then the conflict with his father and ending with the loss of a girl (Kirsten Dunst) he so dearly loved, the audience is taken through an emotionally intense account of his life events. The main appeal of ‘All Good Things’ is that it is based on a real story, which, on the face of it, is really fascinating. The eerie disappearance of young and beautiful Kathleen Durst in 1982 shook local community, and her husband Robert Durst’s statements to the police were sometimes very contradictory.
Continue reading ““All Good Things” Review”
‘Melancholia’ will either be loved or hated. There is no “in-between”. The film is certain to awaken something in the viewer, be it some inexplicable feelings of unease or awe. However, given that this film is directed by no other than Lars Von Trier (a Danish director known for its controversial films, e.g. ‘Antichrist’ (2009)) and who once said that “a film should be like a rock in the shoe”, nothing less is expected.
Continue reading ““Melancholia” Review”