Bride and Prejudice: Bollywood-style fun!

Bride and Prejudice (2004) is billed as a romantic drama. It’s directed by Gurinder Chadha, who is well-known for the highly-successful Bend it Like Beckham (2002). Chadha wrote the screen play with Paul Mayeda Berges, which is based on Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin. This Bollywood-style adaption of the novel is light-hearted fun. It opens by throwing the audience straight into Bollywood-style singing and dancing, and this sets the tone for the film.

The Bennets, the English family of Austin’s novel, become the Backshis in the film, an Indian family. The mother is desperate to have her four daughters marry respectable and rich men. The daughters have their own ideas as to whom they want to marry; especially Lalita Backshi. After some misunderstandings, Lalita marries Will Darcy, a handsome and rich American, and her older sister, Jaya, marries Balraj, an English barrister. They have a joint wedding, and ride off on elephants, to live happily ever after. This leaves everyone happy, including the parents.... [Read More]

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Do You Like Opera?

Pavarotti (2019), is a documentary based on the life and music of opera singer Luciano Pavarotti. Directed by Ron Howard, it’s not a great film, but it’s well-worth seeing.

What I liked most about it is that there was lots of music. It is made clear that the training to become an opera singer in the Italian bel canto tradition is not easy. Pavarotti’s glorious, dramatic tenor voice had to be developed and trained, and this involves a lot of hard work. It’s a lifetime project, as the film shows. The many clips taken from notable performances by Pavarotti are a joy to see and hear. Those high Cs have to be experienced to be believed.... [Read More]

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Widows, a film with a difference!

Widows (2018) is a heist film with a difference. The main characters are women. These include one of my favourite actresses, Viola Davis, who plays Veronica Rawlings, the brains behind the heist. I was reminded once again how Viola can convey so much in a glance, in an expression fleeting across her lovely face. She is a real actress in that she becomes the part she is playing, it isn’t the part being played by her. The perfect part for her hasn’t appeared yet. She does such great work, it seems to me she has so much more to give. She moves me by her performances: she needs a part with a broader depth than those she has been given up till now. Whatever film she is in, I’ll be there. In Widows, she does a wonderful job, and I thoroughly enjoyed her performance. She is the first black actor to win an Oscar, an Emmy, and a Tony Award.

My friends of my Film Group, all enjoyed the film. A very lively discussion ensued after we had viewed it. John, said he liked that it was mainly a female cast, and that they won in the end. We noticed that it is different from other movies of this genre. The story wasn’t told in a straight-forward manner, and it almost seemed as if the editing hadn’t been done too well. In a further discussion a day later in our Coffee Group, Alice explained that it is done in a post-modern style. This is realistic, and tells a story more as it would unfold in real life, rather than to a formula.... [Read More]

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All About Eve

All About Eve (1950) is an American drama, and was written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. The film was based on a short story, The Wisdom of Eve (1946), by Mary Orr. Beautifully written and directed, the film won the Academy Awards for Best Film Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for Mankiewicz.

Bette Davis as Margo Channing and Anne Baxter as Eve Harrington, both won a nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role at the Oscars: Celeste Holm as Karen Richards, and Thelma Ritter as Birdie, both won a nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. George Sanders, as Addison DeWitt, won Best Actor. The film also won Best Picture for producer Darryl F. Zanuck. The lovely music, by Alfred Newman, was nominated for Best Original Score. The film won many other awards and glowing reviews.... [Read More]

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The White Crow (2018)

The White Crow (2018) is a British film on the early life, and defection to the West from Russia, of Rudolf Nureyev, the ballet dancer. It was inspired by the book, Rudolph Nureyev: The Life, by Julie Kavanagh. I found the film interesting, and it inspired me to do a little research on Nureyev, to learn about his later life in the West.

The title of the film, the White Crow, is the nickname given to Nureyev in his childhood. It is the Russian term for an outsider, unusual, extraordinary, not like others. This does describe Nuyerev, as he is also said to have been narcissistic. This kind of personality certainly would not have been able to fit happily into the rigid Socialist system of Russia at that time.... [Read More]

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Bridge of Spies (2015)

Bridge of Spies (2015) is another excellent film from Steven Spielsberg and Tom Hanks. It was a United States and German international co-production.

My Film Group settled down with their wine, chips and chocolate, and were glued to the screen for the 141 minutes the film took to show. Afterwards, during our discussion around the film, everyone expressed their admiration for the film, and said how much they had enjoyed it.... [Read More]

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Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Saving Private Ryan (1998) is an incredible film. My Film Group were glued to the screen for the almost three hours it took to run. This was a second viewing for many of us, and we found it even more impressive twenty years later. The filming is so realistic we almost felt we were on Omaha beach as the American soldiers were being mown down by the German forces. It certainly brought home the horror of that kind of war, and the incredible bravery of the soldiers.

We could completely understand why there was such a world-wide revulsion as a reaction to this war, and why the European Union and the United Nations were established, hoping to prevent anything like this happening ever again.... [Read More]

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Would you have liked to be the Last Emperor of China?

Thanks to Carol, we viewed our film this week in her lovely suite. She could accommodate nine of us comfortably. This was just as well, as it turned out.

The Last Emperor (1987) is an epic film. In Cineplexes, it ran for 160 minutes = 2 hours 40 minutes. The version my Film Group saw ran for 218 minutes = 3 hours 7 minutes. Apparently this version was specially created for TV to run over two nights. We sat through it without anyone stirring, or even suggesting it might be too long. Afterwards, it was suggested that an intermission would have been nice. Obviously, everyone loved it and were fascinated enough to not realize that so much time had passed. It certainly was an epic!

A British-Italian biographical drama, the film is about the life of Puyi (1906-1967), the last Emperor of China. The screenplay was written by Mark Peploe and Bernardo Bertolucci, and the film was directed by Bertolucci, the well-known Italian director. John Lone was excellent as Puyi, the last Emperor, as were the rest of the cast in their roles.... [Read More]

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Would Malcolm appeal to an American Audience?

Malcolm (1986) is an Australian cult film comedy, written by the husband-and-wife team, David Parker and Nadia Tass. Nadia Tass also directed the film. Parker and Tass are a team who have won many awards in Australia. Malcolm is a film in a class of its own, and very different. It won the Australian Film Institute Award (AFI) for Best Film, and seven other AFI awards, including Best Script and Best Director. This  film shows that the Australian film industry is developing, with it’s own, unique flavour.

Colin Friels is outstanding as Malcolm, the tram (street car) enthusiast who becomes involved with a pair of would-be bank robbers. Lindy Davies and John Hargreaves are excellent as that pair.... [Read More]

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Do you like short stories?

Canadian writer, Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013, for her short-story writing. This is the first time ever it has been given for anything other than literature: never for short stories. This month Kalpna Deepak chose to have our Group read as many of Alice Munro’s short stories as we liked. Kalpna is enthusiastic in her appreciation of Munro’s work, and gave us a highly educational presentation for our session this month.

Kalpna began by discussing Alice Ann Munro’s life. She was born in 1931, in Wingham, Ontario, little more than a village at that time. Her stories are built around life in such a small community, although she does mention Toronto from time to time, as being the “big city” in a different world. Kalpna, who is from Delhi, India, said that she related to the stories because they remind her of the small Indian village of her grandparents, which she visited from time to time when she was a child. What struck Kalpna is that human nature is the same in those two small places; so far apart, so different, yet so alike on the level of human interaction.... [Read More]

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Down Memory Lane: Finding Neverland (2004)

Finding Neverland  (2004) is a historical fantasy drama, based on the play The Man Who Was Peter Pan (1998). The film is about Scottish playwright J.M. Barrie and his relationship with a friendly family which inspired him to create Peter Pan.

Directed masterfully by Marc Forster, the screenplay is well-adapted by David Magee from the play. The music score is delightful, and the cinematography is lovely, evoking the Edwardian era into which the story is set. Johnny Depp well deserved the Best Actor Award he won for his portrayal of J.M. Barrie. I particularly appreciated his educated Scottish accent, which was not overdone as it so easily can be. As a fan of Johnny Depp, my admiration of his work increased with his sensitive treatment of J.M. Barrie. He captured the gentle personality, and imaginative mind of Barrie perfectly, and appreciated that Barrie was a unique character. All this he showed with a master’s delicate touch. Kate Winslet played Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, the mother of the boys of the friendly family, well. I enjoyed Dustin Hoffman as Charles Frohman and Julie Christie as Mrs. Emma du Maurier, Sylvia’s mother.... [Read More]

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What did you think of The Great Gatsby?

The Great Gatsby (1974) is based on the book by the same name (1925) by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The book is set in Long Island, in 1922, and is considered a masterpiece: beautiful use of the English language; strong characterizations; evocative creation of the place and times of the Roaring Twenties; strong messages full of symbolism. The story is around obsession with an image of the “good life”, the “American Dream”, and how that image is so flawed, and in the end so destructive. Gatsby is obsessed by his image of Daisy, who tells him that rich girls don’t marry poor boys. His obsession drives him to become materially rich, although emotionally so poor, and in the end his obsession leads to his death.

This film recreation of the book can be said to look beautiful. The direction by Jack Clayton is professional ; the screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola is true to the voice of Fitzgerald; the cinematography conveys the mood of those times; the costumes are perfect; the music is lovely: altogether a gripping experience. My Film Group and I sat through the almost two and a half hours enthralled.... [Read More]

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Did you think Like Water for Chocolate (1992) is Art

Like Water for Chocolate (1992) is a Mexican film directed by Alfonso Arau. The screenplay was written by Laura Esquivel, the author of the book on which the film is based (1989).

The style of the film is termed magic realism. This is often used to convey ideas about changes that should be made to traditions and social structures within a society. It contains magical happenings that are treated as if they are a normal part of real life. Even without knowing this, the film is beautiful in its own right. Magic Realism is often considered an art form, and this film is Art.... [Read More]

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Did you see Tea With Mussolini?

Tea with Mussolini (1999) is a semi-autobiographical film directed by Franco Zeffirelli, telling the story of a young Italian boy’s upbringing by a group of British women before and during the Second World War. Zeffirelli’s own story began in a similar manner. He created the story for the film, and the screenplay was written by John Mortimer.

A young boy, Luca, is adopted by a group of British ladies in Florence. The atmosphere in Florence in 1935 is recreated. We experience the fear felt by the expatriate community when the Fascists attack the restaurant where they are having afternoon tea. Lady Hester Random, the snobbish widow of the former British ambassador to Italy, believes she has the favour of Benito Mussolini, and visits him. She receives his assurances that the ladies are in no danger. Naively, she believes him, and talks proudly of her “tea with Mussolini.” In spite of her confidence, when Italy declares war on Britain, the ladies are rounded up and taken off to Gimignano, Tuscany, as enemies.... [Read More]

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Do you remember Goodbye Girl?

The Goodbye Girl (1977) is an American romantic comedy, written by Neil Simon. It’s a fun movie, with witty dialogue. My Film Group enjoyed the film.

Directed by Herbert Ross, the film is highly professional in every way. Richard Dreyfuss is delightful as Elliot Garfield, Marsha Mason is fairly attractive as Paula McFadden, the Goodbye Girl whom her husband divorced and her latest man friend has just abandoned. She seems such a shrew at the beginning of the movie, it hardly seemed surprising that men were saying goodbye to her. She was allowed to improve as the plot developed. Quinn Cummings deserves a mention as Lucy McFadden, Paula’s daughter.... [Read More]

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