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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...
The Sheltering Sky (1990)
Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro's love letter to Morocco
Not exactly a Biopic in the proper sense of the word, but an adaption of the autobiographical and massively dramatised novel by the American author, composer and translator Paul Frederic Bowles (December 30, 1910 November 18, 1999). In 1947 Bowles settled in Morocco, with his wife, Jane Bowles (February 22, 1917 May 4, 1973) who was an American writer and playwright in her own right. Not having read the book, it's too difficult to me to comment on its truthfulness, however we know that Paul Bowles was cooperating with the screenwriters, it is he who is narrating the film and even appears in a cameo role. It's the story about a couple's search for stimulation not only within their fading passion and closeness but also for their creativity and productivity. Ultimately, from the personal point of view, this turns out to be a sad enterprise, thinking that the constant traveling and external visual changes would rekindle their evaporated love and disconnection; it's a shortsighted forced-upon chase after illusions.
John Malkovich and Debra Winger are not the usual Hollywood-like physically attractive love couple 'a la Barbie and Ken' nevertheless it was beautifully exciting to watch them perpetually connect and disconnect mentally and physically. As soon as the protagonist dies, that's when the biopic turns into fiction, as Bowles kept on living till 1999. I was wondering if he wrote this scenario as a sort of a metaphor reflecting on his own life and dismantling relationship.
From the famous and truly extraordinary Italian cinematographer, Vittorio Storaro's view, this is a declaration of love to Morocco and its impressive and breathtaking landscapes, culture and nomadic life; a magnificent visual feast and one may even smell all the spices, swatting flies, feel the grit of sand between the teeth, start sweating and get one's blood boiling, not only due to the local heat but also to the carnal sultriness, whilst watching the screen!
Full frontal nudity and a few sensual yet tasteful very erotic scenes and therefore I rate it 16+.
The gorgeous main-theme of the soundtrack is a total tearjerker to me...for sentimentalists only!
Noticed that they drink a lot of MUMM Champagne, oh! how French, and that Eric Vu-An, famous Ballet dancer and ex Etoile de L'Opera de Paris had a secondary very seductive role in this typical Bertolucci epic.
historically accurate, biographically a tad chopped yet insightful
Pretty good indeed! It's the first time that Gwyneth Paltrow really impressed me; she interprets wonderfully Sylvia Plath (October 27, 1932 February 11, 1963) in this historically accurate biopic of the clinically depressed and bipolar poetess who committed suicide at the early age of 30.
Even though the story starts in Cambridge, at the University where the 20 something year old Sylvia was studying, right when she meets the poet and writer Ted Hughes, there are enough hints to learn about her previous tormented life as well.
The movie depicts how the two like-minded, Sylvia and Ted Hughes (a very good Daniel Craig), fall in love, encouraging and inspiring each other passionately in the same literary field. Ultimately though, the submitted woman, dutiful wife and naturally responsible mother of two is hindered to fully let herself flourish artistically and becomes a shadow to her internationally successful, admired and philandering husband. The movie is focusing mainly on this part and I regret a bit that were not more literary hints of her own haunting and heartfelt work for besides of being a neat and conscientious housewife and caretaker, for she did write during this time. Therefore, biographically a tad chopped to my taste.
Later many feminists accused Ted Hughes of having had jeopardised Sylvia's creativity and even boycotted her to be successful out of fear of competition, I guess a little bit in the same way as August Rodin stepped on Camille Claudel.
Beautifully filmed with the colours and shades of a 50's movie and the touching soundtrack suits perfectly, setting the right mood to the individual frames and some recited poems.
Some nudity but not too repulsively graphic sex scenes, consequently watchable to the interested Teenager who's not afraid of some desolate melancholia and gloominess; my 14 year old daughter loves Gwyneth and watched this movie not only once.
Immortal Beloved (1994)
historically and biographically inaccurate
Not at all convinced. Why? Because this movie has numerous historical inaccuracies aka no chronological order: Ludwig van Beethoven's (17 December 1770 26 March 1827) total deafness occurs far too early, LvB is conducting personally works he actually never did, composing works in the wrong time order, etc. In addition to that, the movie takes too many liberties, to my taste, about the biographical facts, and to imply that that famous love-letter, written by LvB to his 'Immortal Beloved', would be ultimately his sister-in-law is just utterly preposterous. That letter was written and could have been addressed to several very well known ladies, we meet some of them during the movie, nevertheless no absolute certainty was proved until today. But it's most certainly not his sister-in-law, with whom he had so many conflicts and legal battles over years. The idea that LvB composed the 9th for his sister- in-law as a-forgive-me-for-making-your-life-a-hell is the director's personal fabrication and so is the feeble ending.
Also, there is much more to LvB than his 5th, 9th and the Pathetique and it's a shame that even these were cut into bits and pieces and added here and there without any musicality to the frames, but rather as background music.
There is short scene when a white pianist is accompanied by a black violinist playing the Kreutzer Sonata; it did ring a bell but I had to look it up. The 'mulatto' violinist was supposed to be George Bridgetower (11 October 177829 February 1860) an Afro-Polish-born virtuoso who had a quite tempestuous professional relationship with LvB. Such a shame that this was not more elaborately depicted in the movie. That could have been a great instructive scene.
LvB is quite distorted here and even the great actor Gary Oldman can't save his dignity nor the voluptuous and expensive production. Actually Mr Oldman is over the top but I blame it on the pathetic direction.
Watchable for the young, but not very instructive.
p.s. Hearing the gorgeous Isabella Rossellini speak a couple of sentences in Hungarian made me smile :-)