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.
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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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Story: Based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith “The Price of Salt“, “Carol” is a romantic drama set in the 1950s in New York. It is about a young department-store clerk, Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), and her “forbidden” relationship with a much older affluent woman, Carol (Cate Blanchett), who goes through a bitter divorce.
Director: Todd Haynes.
Leads: Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.
Analysis: The film has to be outstanding regarding its directing and acting merits. “Carol” competed for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival 2015, where Mara won the Best Actress Award (shared), and the film also topped the Golden Globe nominations. Highsmith’s novels enjoyed quite a success on screen, for example, both Anthony Minghella’s “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999) and Hossein Amini’s “The Two Faces of January” (2014) were reviewed positively by critics; and the in-depth exploration of same-sex relationships on screen is becoming quite a trend, for example, see “Blue is the Warmest Color” (2013) and “Clouds of Sils Maria” (2014). Overall, no fault found so far.
Conclusion: “Carol” promises to be a touching film, full of inexplicable emotion and depth. A definite must-watch.
Predicted score: 10/10 Continue reading Previews: “Carol”, “Experimenter” and “By the Sea”
Black Swan (2010)
Directed by Darren Aronofsky (‘Requiem for a Dream’ (2000)), ‘Black Swan’ is an ambitious psychological horror film promising to submerge the viewer into the world of classical ballet, game of sexual seduction and pure psychological delirium, but has it delivered?
In ‘Black Swan’, Natalie Portman plays Nina, a ballet dancer in a respected dance company headed by Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel). Leroy is to stage a new production of ‘Swan Lake’, and chooses Nina as his Swan Queen. Although Leroy is sure that Nina can dance the beautiful, fragile and innocent White Swan, he is not convinced that she can dance the Black Swan, who is a confident, strong, seductive and lustful ‘twin’ of the White Swan. There is also another ballerina in the company, named Lily (Mila Kunis), who seems to fit the Black Swan image perfectly. She is more in-tune with her sensual nature and is more relaxed on stage than Nina. There is also Beth Macintyre (Winona Ryder), a retiring ballerina, who is both the source of Nina’s inspiration and a warning for her. As Nina’s debut in ‘Swan Lake’ approaches, Nina’s domineering mother (Barbara Hershey) exert more and more pressure on her, and Nina’s acquaintance with Lily produces some unexpected results, leading to Nina’s rapid physical and psychological breakdown/metamorphosis.
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