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Bride and Prejudice-Movie Review 06/30/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Based on a novel, Bollywood, Comedy, Indian language film, Light Drama, Movies, Musical.
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Bride and Prejudice (Indian/English) 2004

Directed by Gurinder Chadha
Starring Aishwarya Rai and Martin Henderson

In this very loose adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Lalita Bakshi (Rai) is one of four daughters; her mother is eager to see them all suitably married. When Lalita meets wealthy American businessman Will Darcy (Henderson), however, it is not love at first sight.

The movie is very funny in parts, and the plot is interspersed with Bollywood-style musical numbers and dances that are very well done. Watch for Naveen Andrews (Sayid from Lost); he is frequently smiling in this film, which took some getting used to, and he even does a break dance. Hey – it’s Bollywood!

Gurinder Chadha also directed Bend It Like Beckham.

107 min. Rated PG-13.



Love in the Time of Cholera-Movie Review 04/15/2011

Posted by Films to consider in American, Based on a novel, Emotional Drama, Movies, Romance.
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Love in the Time of Cholera (American) 2007

Based on the novel by Gabriel García Márquez, winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Directed by Mike Newell
Starring Javier Bardem, Benjamin Bratt, and Giovanna Mezzogiorno

A love story that begins in 1879, when young telegraph operator Florentino Ariza (Bardem) first sees Fermina Daza (Mezzogiorno) and falls hopelessly in love with her. Fermina at first returns his love but eventually marries the more suitable Dr. Juvenal Urbino (Bratt).

Florentino, with the soul of a poet, pines for Fermina, whose marriage is unsatisfying, and saves his love only for her. While waiting for her to come to her senses, however, Florentino keeps himself busy. While he pursues physical pleasure with hundreds of women (yes, he keeps track), in his mind his love for Fermina remains pure. After her husband’s death, a mere 53 years after they first met, the couple meets again.

An enjoyable enough movie, with good performances by all. Given a choice, however, read the novel.

139 min. Rated R. Sexual content; language.


The Reader-Movie Review 03/11/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Based on a novel, Drama, Emotional Drama, Movies.
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The Reader (British) 2008

Among other wins and nominations:
Winner, Best Actress or Supporting Actress (Winslet), Academy Awards; also BAFTA; Chicago Film Critics Association Award; European Film Awards; Golden Globes; Screen Actors Guild and several more
Nominated, Best Film; Best Director Best Cinematography; Best Screenplay
Nominated, Critics Choice Award (Best Young Actor-Kross), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award

Directed by Stephen Daldry
Adapted from the novel Der Vorleser by Bernhard Schlink
Starring Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, David Kross, and Bruno Ganz

As a teenager in Germany after World War II, Michael Berg (Kross) has a brief love affair with Hanna, an older woman (Winslet). She leaves town suddenly with no explanation. A few years later, when Michael is studying to become a lawyer, he attends a trial and discovers that Hanna is one of the defendants. She is found guilty and put in prison.

Hanna continues to have an effect on Michael’s emotional life because he is unable to be truly honest with anyone about the relationship he had with her. Eventually, Michael (with Ralph Fiennes in the adult role) learns something else about Hanna that allows him (and the viewer) some measure of understanding (if not sympathy).

The story has several difficult aspects, not least of which is the age difference between Hanna and Michael. Somehow Kate Winslet still manages to keep Hanna from being totally despicable. She won many accolades for her performance (see above). David Kross also deserves mention as the passionate young Michael, who gets caught up in the relationship, not realizing the consequences it will have.

123 min. Rated R. Sexual content and nudity; adult themes.


Brick Lane-Movie Review 01/31/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Based on a novel, Bengali/Bangladeshi language film, British, Emotional Drama, Indian language film, Movies, Romance.
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Brick Lane (Indian/Bangladeshi/British) 2007

Among other awards and nominations:
Winner, Alfred Dunhill Award for New Talent, London Film Festival
Official Selection, Telluride Film Festival; Toronto International Film Festival
Winner, CICAE Award (Gavron), San Sebastian International Film Festival

Directed by Sarah Gavron; based on the novel by Monica Ali
Starring Tannishtha Chatterjee as Nazneen, Christopher Simpson as Karim, and Satish Kaushik as Chanu

In the 1980s, Nazneen, a young Bangladeshi woman, enters into an arranged marriage with Chanu, a staid and traditional older man, and leaves her home and her sister to live in the Brick Lane section of London. Sixteen years later, Chanu wants to move back to Bangladesh for a job, but their two daughters are happy being part of the surrounding culture. Nazneen, meanwhile, has met and fallen in love with Karim, a handsome younger man who is active in local political causes. Although she does not want to marry him, Nazneen comes to realize that she is where she belongs and must tell her husband so.

An intimate look at a woman who finds her own inner strength and makes some tough decisions to live on her own. A beautiful musical score by Jocelyn Pook (I especially loved Adam’s lullaby) adds much to the film.

102 min. Rated PG-13.


About A Boy-Movie Review 01/20/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Based on a novel, British, Comedy, Drama, Movies, Romance.

About a Boy (British) 2002

Among other awards and nominations:
Nominated, Best Writing-Adapted Screenplay, Academy Awards
Nominated, Best Motion Picture; Best Actor-Comedy (Grant), Golden Globes
Winner, Best British Actor (Grant), Empire Awards (UK)
Nominated, Best Supporting Actress (Collette), BAFTA Awards

Adapted from the bestselling novel by Nick Hornby
Directed by Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz
Starring Hugh Grant, Toni Collette, Nicholas Hoult and Rachel Weisz

A Hugh Grant movie that I really liked. His performance went beyond his usual charmingly amusing and seemed natural and genuine. The addition of Toni Collette and Nicholas Hoult to the cast also had something to do with it.

Will Freeman (Grant) is a single guy who’s living on the royalties from his father’s one-hit Christmas song. All of his friends have settled down and are urging him to do the same but Will still wants to play the field. Coming up with a devious new scheme to meet women, he joins SPAT (Single Parents Alone Together) where he pretends to have a two-year-old son. He inadvertently meets Marcus (Hoult), a 12-year-old boy who is always getting bullied at school. When Marcus’s mother (Collette) tries to commit suicide, Will gets more involved than he wants to.

I would definitely watch this film a second time, which is unusual for a romantic comedy. This film has some more serious moments with the storyline of Marcus and his mother, but along with that there are plenty of very funny scenes.

102 min. Rated PG-13.


The Night of the Hunter-Movie Review*** 01/05/2011

Posted by Films to consider in American, Based on a novel, Black & white, Classic film, Thriller.

The Night of the Hunter (American) 1955

Adapted from Davis Grubb’s novel, based on the true story of Harry Powers
Directed by Charles Laughton (the only film he directed)
Starring Robert Mitchum, Lillian Gish, Shelley Winters, Billy Chapin, and Sally Jane Bruce

A classic film in black and white with a deliciously terrifying story, renowned for its use of stark symbolism to signify the battle of good versus evil. Reverend Powell (Mitchum) is a fake preacher who travels across the countryside looking for widows to charm, marry, and kill for their money. His next victim is Willa Harper (Winters) and he dispatches her easily enough. Now, as for her children – John (Chapin) and Pearl (Bruce) – those two he has to keep around until he gets them to reveal where their hanged thief of a father hid that $10,000 he stole. The children escape and become the hunted.

Robert Mitchum plays one of the most frightening psychopath villains I’ve seen (for me, a modern counterpoint is Javier Bardem’s Cigurh in No Country for Old Men). I also found the singing of the little girl Pearl scary because it seemed too adult for her age. Later I found out that it was dubbed.

The film, which has been selected for the National Film Registry, is often discussed as influenced by German Expressionism, with its use of symbolism and atmosphere to show the dark side of human nature. The photography and the lighting definitely played integral roles in creating the suspense in this story.

My quote from the movie is from a hymn the “preacher” is fond of singing: “Leaning . . . leaning . . . leaning on the everlasting arms.” <Shiver.>

93 min. Not rated. Definitely too scary for little ones!

Check out these links about the novel and the film
For more info about the film


Notes On A Scandal-Movie Review 12/28/2010

Posted by Films to consider in Based on a novel, British, Movies, Psychological Suspense.
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Notes on a Scandal (British) 2006

Directed by Richard Eyre
Starring Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett, and Bill Nighy
Based on a novel by Zoe Heller

Among other wins and nominations:
Nominated, Best Score; Best Lead Actress (Dench); Best Supporting Actress (Blanchett); Best Adapted Screenplay, Academy Awards
Nominated, Best Lead Actress (Dench); Best Supporting Actress (Blanchett); Best Screenplay, Golden Globes
Nominated, Best Thriller Film; Best Actress (Dench); Best supporting Actress (Blanchett), Saturn Award, Academy of Scuience Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films, USA
Winner, Teddy Audience Award (Eyre), Berlin International Festival

Two of my favorite actresses play off each other very well in this suspenseful psychological thriller. Dame Judi Dench plays Barbara Covett, a spinster teacher nearing the age of retirement. Her main pastime outside the classroom is writing what she thinks about other people in a daily journal. She becomes fascinated with the new art teacher, Sheba Hart (Blanchett), a young woman she thinks might be too vulnerable to survive the tough school setting. Barbara befriends Sheba, then becomes obsessed with her. Eventually she discovers something about Sheba that she can use against her.

Each woman is living in her own dream world, with no thought for the consequences their actions will have on others. An outstandingly creepy performance by Dench and an equally creepy (but for a different reason) performance by Blanchett. And Bill Nighy suits the role of Blanchett’s laidback husband very well.

Favorite line: Barbara, about to make events take a turn, serves tea while saying, “I think the kettle’s boiled.”

92 min. Rated R. Rough language and sexual content.


Profumo di Donna (Scent of a Woman)-Movie Review 12/09/2010

Posted by Films to consider in Based on a novel, Dark Comedy, Drama, Italian language film, Movies.
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Profumo di donna (Italian) 1974
The original Scent of a Woman
Based on the novel, Il buio e il miele (Darkness and Honey) by Giovanni Arpino

Among other awards and nominations:
Winner, Best Actor (Gassman); Best Director, David di Donatello (Italian equivalent of Academy Awards)
Winner, César Award for Best Foreign Film
Winner, Best Actor Award (Gassman), Cannes Film Festival
Nominated, Best Foreign Film; Best Adapted Screenplay, Academy Awards

Directed by Dino Risi
Starring Vittorio Gassman, Alessandro Momo, Agostina Belli

I came across the original version of this film and was curious to see how it compared to Scent of a Woman with Al Pacino. Although I liked both versions very much, I’m glad I saw the other one first (see below for info about the 1992 version).

Fausto Consolo (Gassman), a tyrannical former army captain who was blinded and maimed by mishandled explosives, has a plan that requires a journey through Italy. He needs assistance on the trip, and Giovanni Bertazzi (Momo), a young and inexperienced army private, is assigned to be his companion for one week.

The captain’s demanding personality and physical disabilities provide many opportunities for dark humor as the pair make their way through seedy sections of the cities they visit. As Fausto follows the scents of women, indulging his carnal desires, Giovanni (whom Fausto calls Ciccio) provides just the right touch of naiveté and suspicion. Some visits to family and friends are also on the agenda, and finally it is up to Sarah (Belli), a beautiful young woman, to convince Fausto that life is still worthwhile.

A sad side note is that the young Alessandro Momo died in a motorcycle accident shortly after the filming of Profumo. His short career included the Salvatore Samperi films Malizia (Malicious) and Peccato Veniale (Venial Sin).

103 min. Rated R

For more about Italian film star Vittorio Gassman

The 1992 version of Scent of a Woman was directed by Martin Brest and stars Al Pacino as retired Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade. It contains much more of a subplot concerning Charles (Chris O’Donnell), a prep school student who accompanies Slade on a Thanksgiving weekend visit to New York.

This movie is about one hour longer than the original, allowing time for a bond to develop between Slade and Charles. There is also time for tango dancing and a harrowing Ferrari ride through conveniently deserted NYC streets. Al Pacino’s performance, like that of his predecessor, was extraordinary; it won him an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Actor.

157 min. Rated R.


The Other Side of Sunday-Movie Review 11/01/2010

Posted by Films to consider in Based on a novel, Dark Comedy, Drama, Norwegian language film.
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The Other Side of Sunday (Norwegian) 1996
Søndagsengler (Sunday Angels)

Winner, Best Actress (Marie Theisen) Tokyo International Film Festival
Nominated, Best Foreign Language Film, Academy Awards

Based on the novel Sunday by Reidun Nortvedt
Directed by Berit Nesheim
Starring Marie Theisen and Bjørn Sundquist

A darkly comic tale about Maria (Theisen), a teenage girl growing up in Norway in the late 1950s. Maria lives in a repressive household strictly governed by her vicar-father. Since her mother is sickly and often absent, Maria strikes up a friendship with Mrs. Tunheim, a volunteer at the church.

Maria is dealing with growing doubts about the existence of God as well as her desire to fit in with the cool kids. Mrs. Tunheim secretly encourages Maria’s developing sexuality and sense of freedom by giving her a pair of earrings and showing her how to wear lipstick. Unfortunately, as Maria finds out, Mrs. Tunheim is not happy and free in her own life.

My favorite quote from the subtitles is Maria’s expletive: “Dog darn it!” which doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue in English, but does reflect Maria’s personality.

103 min. Rated PG-13.

The Porcelain Doll-Movie Review 10/15/2010

Posted by Films to consider in Based on a novel, Dark Drama, Drama, Hungarian language film, Movies.
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The Porcelain Doll (Hungarian) 2005

Adapted from the novel Star Farm by Ervin Lazar
Directed by Péter Gárdos

A trio of brief, mystical, and slightly macabre stories, seemingly with a common theme of examining the possibilities of life after death.

Although I found the opening credits amusing, with the actors silently doing chores and other mundane activities, the stories are not lighthearted or humorous.

In the first a young boy is shot and killed because he performed better than a soldier on some physical skills. His aunt attempts to heal the wounds.

Next, a government official convinces a community that he can bring dead children back to life. When they emerge they look as if they were just sleeping.

Last, an elderly couple defies the order to relocate and are eventually caught.

I won’t tell the outcomes of the stories, and leave it for you to decide whether they are thought-provoking or perplexing. I experienced an agreeable mix of reactions that leads me to recommend this film. Please let me know what you think.

75 min. Not rated. Violence.