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The Whole Wide World (1996)
historically and biographically accurate
This is actually a very lovely movie indeed. Everybody has heard of the pulp fiction stories of Conan the Barbarian but only hard core fans do know the story behind its writer Robert E. Howard, who created this fantasy hero in 1932. Unfortunately he died at the age of only 30. In his short very productive life he enjoyed literary success but had also, though inspiring and romantic, a not quite fulfilling love affair with Novalyne Price Ellis. The movie is historically and biographically correct. Very prettily filmed and characterisations seem to be truthful with accents and all. I definitely learned something new and enjoyed the skillful and atmospheric movie-making.
You are invited to step into a Rembrandt painting and live in it for 106 minutes
Absolutely loved it! I can't fathom why movies like this are not well known to the masses. Rembrandt's life from his mid 20's to his death played by Klaus Maria Brandauer is a bulls- eye. He is one of the most talented, prolific and high caliber contemporary Austrian actors and I always loved his performances on stage and on screen. He is mesmerising and believably characterises the artist. The movie is biographically and historically totally accurate which I appreciate enormously. I loved the didactic story telling, this is how an intelligent BIOPIC ought to be. All acting is fittingly theatrical and very well cast with many very well known French actors. The cinematography is astounding; colours and lighting are sumptuous just like Rembrandt's paintings. Many everyday scenes are staged as if coordinated after the painters works which means that the 'trompe-l'oeil' dioramas are perfectly orchestrated, much to my personal ravishment. Many of Rembrandt's canvasses are depicted and some even with a 'mise-en-scène' how they came to be. Beautiful! Important historical figurers are interacting with Rembrandt and teach us about his life and his character development. We learn about his triumphs, tragedies and important female relationships through an arty movie which transfers us into the 17th century Dutch Republic accompanied with a perfectly chosen score. Highly recommended to Art-Freaks and Movie-Buffs!
El Greco (2007)
El Greco's 'Portrait of a Cardinal' is PROBABLY (and is still not confirmed as of today!!) that of Cardinal Fernando Nino de Guevara - c1600
Hailed by the Greek Film Industry as a masterpiece and having received so many prices, I was rather disappointed. Based on a biographical novel by a Greek writer of the 20th century, El Greco's life is very much fictionalised and a tad distorted. The entire plot is misleading from facts right from the beginning: it starts in a prison cell, where El Greco is writing down his life whilst awaiting a Spanish Inquisition hearing after being apparently of blasphemy.. But, this never happened. The painter has never been accused by the Tribunal of the Holy Office, but he was invited a few times as a translator to Greek prisoners. Which obviously makes sense as El Greco made Toledo, Spain, his home until his death, where he produced most part of his work, inclusive so many with religious themes. He would have never been able to do so if he would have been in conflict with the Grand Inquisitor of Spain, Nino de Guevara. This historical and biographical inaccuracy made me already so angry that I might be a bit biased in judging the rest of the movie. The movie is very slow and although I normally like voice overs, this actors intonations are blunt and dragging. We learn about El Greco's cretan origins; his fleeing from a rebellion to Venice; his meeting of Titian; some interactions with existed real life characters, and ultimately his settling down in Toledo, Spain; his relationship with Jerónima de Las Cuevas, his common law wife and the mother of his only son. It looks that these biographical facts are accurate. This is a pompous romantic costume drama with some action for sure, which was the part I liked best, but not enough paintings elaborated. The soundtrack by Greek electronic composer Vangelis creates a modern atmosphere which again, gives the movie a rather HBO-series effect than a big screen Film Festival favourite. All in all, B+ for effort only
but could have been much better. Should have been much better! What a genius of a man, with a very interesting life as it is, to make a movie about his life if they only would stick to the true story and use his colours and lights and many many of his paintings!
Anna Karenina (2012)
a stylised caricature of the book, a sort of humoristic variation on a theme
Well, to my own surprise, I actually did not think that it was bad :-P
What I liked the most is that every scene (with the exception of the shagging) was taken from the book. There were even dialogues quasi word by word from the book. So no literary distortions nor added directors' fantasies in the plot. And I honestly very much do appreciate that!!! Unfortunately the book is 800 pages and therefore many scenes were left out, that's why for someone who has not read the book, the movie seems to be randomly cut together. But it's not, it's just that important scenes and characters are missing in between the scenes from the movie (let's say about 2/3 of the book :-)) which would actually explain the character development and links. Also, there is no time to incorporate the questioning of all the social political aspects and feudalism as well as religion, ethics and the meaning of life, which are constantly reoccurring themes in the book. It was the time boiling up to the uprising. And the question about women's rights and duties, etc.
The movie is a stylised caricature of the book, a sort of humoristic variation on a theme, but in a charming way. The juxtaposing of the narrative in a theatre with the real-life shots, is clearly hinting from the very start that this movie is setting the plot 'on stage' and I thought that it was quite cleverly made. Also, costumes, sets and sound are all 21st century exaggerations of 19th century Russia, nothing authentic, but without falling into tasteless kitsch. The dancing at the ball was pretty hilarious because it did not seem to me pretentious but rather burlesque. The movie-making is obviously influenced by Baz Luhrman and MTV, etc., seems to be in fashion now...
The characters were age-wise rightly cast, and were 'novel-conform' directed. I'm not a fan of Keira Knightly, and I have always seen Anna as someone more settled, soft, dreamy, calm, sophisticated, sensual, voluptuous, smart, witty and a tad cynical with a hint of haughtiness (and KK does not exactly fit). I preferred Sophie Marceau, but unfortunately she played in a movie-version where the entire story got changed.
Reading the book I very much liked Oblonsky despite being a philanderer, but he comes out in the movie rather as a clown, saying that I thought that Matthew Macfadyen did a brilliant job.
I can't stand Levin in the novel, but he turns out to be the 'good' guy in the movie (which is nonsense for he's very conservative, seigniorial, superior, ignorant, against invention and can't stand babies, etc. in short, a very boring man) ...but probably only if you haven't read the book.... I loved the scene when Levin is proposing to Kitty through the letter-game...exactly like in the book!
Jude Law was very good as Karenin, but here again, by having omitted some important dialogues from the book between Karenin and other people, his character does not reveal much in the movie... shame.
To cut it short, there are three different kind of marriages/love depicted in the book to observe and discuss. In the movie we get a glimpse of 2 but are predominantly focusing on Anna & Vronsky. It's not exactly what Tolstoy wanted, that's why the book is 800 pages. In the book, in the end, the question is left unanswered, for the definitions of 'love', 'loving' and the values of marriage are very individual and incomparable. The movie puts the main protagonists in a bad light and sends the message that the 'surviving' couple is the 'real' one, which in my opinion is humbug. It's none's right to judge. So that left a bitter taste in my mouth, but the movie was made for the mass-market and probably with a hidden religious message of morals to the innocent public...
this is not very elaborate... but I thought the movie was enjoyable, a one-time entertainment, but better to read the book first!
Heart Beat (1980)
Cassady would have liked Nolte's interpretation of himself!
Not exactly a biopic but rather a potpourri loosely based on Carloyn Cassady's memoires and Jack Kerouac's autobiographical novel 'OnThe Road'. A tad too neat and tidy for me, and I did miss many of the very specific jazzy references and descriptions in the book as soundtrack. And that's not pardonable! On the other hand, they added some soundtrack which was not fitting at all. Shame. Usually a great actress, Sissy Spacek was less impressive as a figure of the so called 'Beat Generation'. She seemed to me too bourgeois and not quite in character. I haven't read Caroly's memories though and in Jack's book she's one of the many important but rather peripheral characters.
However! having had cast Nick Nolte as Neal Cassady and John Heard as Jack Kerouac was a bullseye in my opinion. I imagined the two lads exactly this way whilst reading the book. Great interpretations and chemistry. Gorgeous cinematography by Laszlo Kovacs, but maybe I'm being too patriotic :-) Despite all my criticism, I definitely recommend it to those who read the book, you'll pick up the references with a smile.
Bel Ami (2012)
Events happen very fast, it's mainly fully understandable to those who have actually read, loved, discussed and grasped the novel!
Brilliant, absolutely brilliant!!! having read the book not only once, in German but also in French, I was impressed by this movie adaptation of the French classic novel by Guy de Maupassant (5 August 1850 6 July 1893) .
I must admit however, that the events happen very fast (it is very hard to pack such an intense and complex story into 160minutes) and it's mainly fully understandable to those who have actually read, loved, discussed and grasped the novel. The movie incorporates many swift innuendos and hints at passages taken directly from the novel. It is is very accurate to, and there are even scenes and dialogues straight from, the novel. The relevant essence of 19th century French society rules is obvious. And even though the director skips some of the specific historical and political details, the viewer gets indications and references to catch on. The actors/characters from the book, especially the ladies in question, couldn't be cast more perfectly Uma Thurman, the immaculate representation of Madeleine int he novel, Kristin Scott- Thomas, ditto as Virginie with her age, looks and temperament and Christina Ricci, down-to- earth, less intellectual but utterly sensual (maybe with a little exception of Ricci who played Clotilde's character perfectly, but should have been more voluptuous physically).
Robert Pattinson impersonated the poor protagonist George Duroy, without name nor heritage, however street-smart and snobbish, yet still sensitive and compassionate arriviste George Duroy, just as I imagined so many years ago upon reading the book. You might despise or pity, but you will always love him in the meantime. Beautiful authentic settings, costumes and props and the soundtrack just gets under your the skin, courtesy of . If you still question Robert Pattison as an actor (which I did, but do no more) then at least you may praise the direction of Declan Donnellan & Nick Ormerod
the movie is simply
very good, VERY Good indeed...
Historically accurate, biographically a bit amputated, but that only hardcore Joyce's fans will notice.
Ewan McGregor, at almost 30, is playing a 22 year old James Joyce (2 February 1882 13 January 1941) from the moment Joyce meets Nora in Dublin, his future companion and later in life wife and mother of his 2 children. The movie depicts only the first 5-7 years of their tumultuous, tempestuous, sexually charged, possessive and jealousy filled relationship. It is the time when Joyce was struggling to get his novel 'Dubliners' printed which eventually did happen in 1914. It is the story of the young couple's self-imposed exile to the continent: to Trieste, today in Italy. The dramatisation is influenced by Joyce's short story 'The Dead' which is a novelette about a married couple. A passionate costume drama, but at times quite melancholic which is underlined by the dim/sepia cinematography.
Not many literary references of his published work however insight into the lovers erotic correspondence, the epistolary 'love-making' they had when ever they were separated. I thought that was extremely stimulating! Therefore, I decided to read Joyce's love-letters-to- Nora, rather than re-trying for the Xth time 'Ulysses' which I somehow never manage to finish.
Ewan McGregor is sincerely a brilliant actor, and as a Scotsman he pretty much fooled me with his strong Irish accent, but then again, there were moments, I would have loved to have English subtitles for my own untrained ears.
Historically accurate, biographically a bit amputated, but that only hardcore Joyce's fans will notice.
Verbally and visually the movie is sexually explicit, so for me it's 18+.
This is a movie for anyone who read Joyce or is into emotionally charged period dramas.
Very tender port railer by Stephen Fry
A very tender portrayal of Oscar Wilde (16 October 1854 30 November 1900) by Stephen Fry; Stephen literally seems to be Oscars reincarnation and Jude Law as Bosie is just perfect casting.Great chemistry between the two.
Concentrating rather on the 'drama',and mainly on the incriminating homosexuality in the playwrights life, of which one ought to be familiarised a little before watching. Some mild but explicit fornication scenes weren't necessary and could have been omitted in my opinion (as well as a couple of scenes with the hysterical father of Bosie) and replaced these with more instructive clips in reference to Oscars plays and poetry. We were being taking through 'The Selfish Giant', as well as some of his most famous epigrams (slipped into conversations), however I was missing a few more literary references.
But all in all, a fine film, brilliant acting and biographically and historically accurate, although somewhat shortened.
Henry & June (1990)
unfortunately totally overlooked by the public what a shame...
This film was originally not intended as a biopic in the historical sense of the word but it captures wonderfully the ambiance of the creative, artistic, and debauched Paris in the 1930's.
It is narrated by Anais Nin (February 21, 1903 January 14, 1977) and depicts her meeting with Henry Valentine Miller (December 26, 1891 June 7, 1980) and his wife June. Their encounter provoked and inspired many literary works of the two today well known writers. The cast is admirably fitting for every intriguing late real-life character. The exquisite cinematography, which reminds us of early sepia photographs, takes us into a marvelously smoky and sultry atmosphere, and the perfectly accurate period costumes and props, as well as the stylishly chosen soundtrack (a must buy CD!), are all flawlessly foregrounded by the slow- paced, yet captivating story line.
The plot is a blend of biographical and fictional facts, Anais' later published sensual diaries and Henry's bawdy 'Tropic of Cancer'. I'm not quite sure how much liberty was taken by the director of the historical facts, though it seemed pretty accurate to me, and having have read Henry's and Anais' books, I was very happy to see that my visual imagery is very close to this movie. Even though heavily dramatized, we do learn about the real life characters' inner turmoils, interactions and inspirations. Some literary quotes, monologues and dialogs references both their works. The movie also contains other hints of other contemporary, today well known, artists like painters, photographers and movie-makers.
The movie is artsy, very sensual, at times verbally and visually blunt in a sexually explicit, though always aesthetically stylized way. Despite of that, it is NOT about sexual obsession, as so many insensitive critics wrote, but rather an uninhibited and bold sensual exploration, mentally as well as carnally (definitely not for the young, 18+!).
The luscious eroticism, melancholic exoticism and mental stimulation makes one's blood rouse and titillates all the senses
and I repeat ALL the senses
Brilliant! One of my favourite movies
unfortunately totally overlooked by the public
what a shame...
no 'no-shame' but rather clinical depression
I went to see the notorious 'Shame' and... was not shocked at all, not as all the hyper media excitedly predicted.
The title SHAME is a clever marketing trick to lure all the voyeurs in us into the cinema, for the protagonist has no 'no shame' but is clinically depressed, which is ultimately a medical illness. It's about a guy, who ought to see the doc, swallow a few pills to balance his hormones out and look for therapy.
It is an interesting movie, very nicely filmed and engagingly acted, and to see Michael Fassbender walking around naked was rather titillating. He's a very good looking and appetizing 30 something lad, but I could do without watching him pee. Even though visually very explicit, there is no violence, rape, vulgarity, ephebophilia, pedophilia, SM, fetish, etc. It's just about a guy who is shagging, without any kinkiness, the ones who go for it without any emotional attachment and dispatches the Ladies in question right after. If he gets personally involved, he can't perform, so he goes back to mechanical, random, anonymous, sometimes even paid, sex again. A very lonely guy who either picks up women or watches porn in his spare-time (whilst being successful in his job!).
Carey Mulligan's talent is completely wasted here with the exception of her singing performance...that was very touching and engaging...
Nothing new nor outrageous in this movie and in the 21st century, we all know, that there are thousands and thousands of men like the protagonist out there....rather sad...
now, they ought to film the female version of it...for that exists as well...