Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mourning Becomes Electra (1947)

An adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's play. As an updated Greek tragedy, the film features murder, adultery, love and revenge. All taking place after the American Civil War. [wiki]

Nominated for 2 Oscars:

Best Actor: Michael Redgrave
Best Actress: Rosalind Russell

This is the movie I've wanted to see the most for the past... I dunno 2, 3, 4 years! I didn't expect it to be bad or brilliant, I just needed to know what the fuss is all about. And I'm glad I finally found out. It's a strange movie experience, as I could give it a 6, an 8 or maybe a 5. Hard to tell if I liked it, as during its 160+ minutes (yes, I've seen the original unedited version I think) it had many good moments, but also bad ones.
You probably know the controversy of Rosalind Russell losing the Oscar! She was already standing up before they've announced the winner, as she was sure she'd got it. However, the winner was Loretta Young (must've been popularity vote) for the light comedy The Farmer's Daughter and so it became one of the (I'd say) top 5 Oscar shockers. Even though it's the only Best Actress nominee I've seen from 1947, I can say I understand what the surprise was all about. Great or just good, the role that Rosalind plays is highly dramatic and she's in charge of the entire film. I myself found her to be terrific at times and it's quite a nuanced performance.
Michael Redgrave acted a bit too much for my taste, but I understand the nomination and it's not a bad performance at all. A bit surprised that Katina Paxinou didn't receive a supporting actress nomination (it's the type of flashy that Oscar usually rewards) or the film an Original Score nom. As I read about it, Mourning... was apparently a box office flop that's why they cut it down. The screenplay is too theatrical and confusing at first. Actually, the whole film is theatrical and the direction is mostly missing. It's too long and while the 2nd chapted is most interesting, the 3rd one just goes for boring. Many to say about this one, but I'll stop here.
My rating for the film: 7/10. Again: 7 is chosen mostly randomly. I can see why some might love or totally ignore the film. Because a copy is not easy to find, I might consider posting it on youtube in the next couple of weeks.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957)

A Marine and a Nun, both shipwrecked on a Pacific Island, find solace in one another as the two wait out the war. [imdb]

Nominated for 2 Oscars:

Best Actress: Deborah Kerr
Best Adapted Screenplay

Such a small, simple film. A simple story, with beautiful cinematography and an exotic landscape. Two main characters and their interactions. Robert gives a very natural performance, very likeable. Deborah is kind, gentle, it's a subtle performance that works for the most of it.
I don't feel like saying much about this movie. In a way, it just went by me. I felt like saying: so what. But at other times, I appreciated the simplicity of it. It's a slow film, with not much going on (or nothing groundbreaking), yet NOT boring. The direction is good, but the adapted screenplay nomination is mostly a category filler.
My rating for the film: 7/10. Very soon I'll see it again. Strangely, it's like I haven't even seen it. Some might appreciate it much more.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Piano (1993) (2nd time)

A mute woman along with her young daughter, and her prized piano, are sent to 1850s New Zealand for an arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner, and she's soon lusted after by a local worker on the plantation. [imdb]

Nominated for 8 Oscars:

Best Picture
Best Director: Jane Campion
Best Actress: Holly Hunter (WINNER)
Best Supporting Actress: Anna Paquin (WINNER)
Best Original Screenplay (WINNER)
Best Cinematography
Best Editing
Best Costume Design

Yes, it's just the 2nd time I'm seeing The Piano! Can you believe it? :P Being such an essential film for bloggers and such. Really now, there are tons of worshippers around here. And I have to admit something: for a very long time I've been on the Angela Bassett team regarding the Best Actress category. Right now, I am undecided, as it's hard to compare totally different performances. But what I can say about The Piano is that is has a magnificent direction and a very good (and also very special & unique) leading performance.
If 1993 wouldn't have been all about Schindler's List, this movie would've also won Best Picture, Best Director (we would've had the first woman to win in this category!!!) and Best Cinematography (excellent! and very... careful with its showing)! I for one preferred Schindler's List, but Jane Campion really does create such a special film! The story is simple, the film is quiet, beautifully shot and depends a lot on its visuals. The screenplay is good, Oscar worthy, but not better than the film itself; this is the case for an art film, cause this is what The Piano is.
Holly Hunter does give an excellent performance and the role is tough to play, not because of how much it offers, but because it demands 100% focus & greatness by giving the actress many limitations! I don't believe in Anna Paquin's Oscar win, but it was a weak race anyway. I find it hard to love The Piano, but I'm mad about the direction. Who can forget the piano and the sea moment right before the end? Or the fantastic cinematography? But except for Holly's character I really didn't enjoy the rest of them.
My rating for the film: 8.5/10. Hard to talk about. And I would've also gone for less explicit nudity / sexuality. Yet still a great achievement.

In the Name of the Father (1993) (2nd time)

Based on the true story of Gerry Conlon, a Belfast man who - along with family members and friends - was wrongly convicted of bombing two pubs outside of London. [imdb]

Nominated for 7 Oscars:

Best Picture
Best Director: Jim Sheridan
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis
Best Supporting Actor: Pete Postlethwaite
Best Supporting Actress: Emma Thompson
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Editing

I am sometimes bothered when a true story film is not as true as it's campaigned to be. This one goes into that category, as I understand, reading some trivia, that much was changed for an easier adaptation of the subject. But beyond that, In the name... still remains an uncomfortable film and I dreaded having to see it again, because I have problems sitting through movies involving massive injustice. But surprisingly enough, the first part was much better than I remembered it to be.
This time, I had more appreciation for Jim Sheridan's sharp, clean direction and I guess the first scene justifies his Oscar nomination. Daniel Day-Lewis is also better than I remembered, and even though I'm not his biggest fan, I respect his work a lot and he really really gives a very good performance. Excellent year for Best Actor. The supporting actor nomination feels worthy and I would've wanted Emma to have more screentime. She's a nice presence, but she appears in the least interesting part of the film. Yes, the film gets boring towards the end and even the screenplay (so nicely structured in the beginning) becomes shakey, with those final trial moments hard to believe as they're shown (how can you use in a British trial a document stolen from the police files, not shown to the other side and a judge accepts it as proof?!)
My rating for the film: 7.5/10. It would've been an 8, but the ending was blah. Yet, the opening scene is really memorable.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Age of Innocence (1993) (2nd time)

Tale of 19th century New York high society in which a young lawyer falls in love with a woman separated from her husband, while he is engaged to the woman's cousin. [imdb]

Nominated for 5 Oscars:

Best Supporting Actress: Winona Ryder
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Original Score
Best Art Direction
Best Costume Design (WINNER)

There are many things not right with this movie. However, I find myself strangely appreciative of Martin Scorsese's direction, even though the shakeness in the story and tone are to his blame. Yet, the film has delicate, wonderful, sometimes excellent moments that suggest some great decision making. How about that beautiful montage with paintings narrating Newland & May's honeymoon? And the brilliant decision to have a voice-over during the entire storytelling (and what a voice! Joanne Woodward!). And some subtle screenplay elements, like the honeymoon cottage narration!
But as I said, much doesn't fit! I am undecided (or just didn't care) about Daniel Day-Lewis's performance; was it the right casting? How much did he help the character? Winona seemed just right for the innocent role, yet except for a scene towards the end there really wasn't that much for her to do! Michelle is fine, but she gets lost in the second part (probably why she didn't get an Oscar nomination) and in the end she doesn't get a punch to really give a shape to the performance! Plus: shouldn't the countess have been a bit younger? :P she felt like Winona's mom (a hot mom, but still) instead of her cousin.
I'm quite sure this was just votes short of getting both a Best Picture nomination and a Director one. The Costume Design win is much worthy and the Art Direction nomination really (really!) gave Schindler's List a run for its money! But in the end it still is an inconsistent film that I found hard to love, especially due to Daniel's (strange?) lack of charisma.
My rating for the film: 7.5/10. A film I have much respect for (oh, that voice over!), but could never love.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Wild Is the Wind (1957)

Gio marries his dead wife's sister and brings her with him to America. His obsession for the dead woman and her feisty attitude bring them trouble.

Nominated for 3 Oscars:

Best Actor: Anthony Quinn
Best Actress: Anna Magnani
Best Original Song

I am ashamed of it: this is my first Anna Magnani film! :/ Yes, I know; no The Rose Tattoo, no Rome, Open City, no Secret of Santa Vittoria. But I had heard of her huge talent and this film somehow confirmed my expectations. Yet it's also true that the role of an outspoken Italian woman fits her perfectly. The film itself starts well, with Anna in full speed drama, but the second part just can't keep up, and it was actually supposed to be the most interesting moment.
I put a bit of blame on Anthony Franciosa's lack of creativity or inspiration; he is totally boring and strange to follow in comparison with his immensely talented co-stars and their natural way of acting. So the film really gets to soapy towards the end and it's almost like you don't even have a story. What was this about?! what happened at the end... Anthony Quinn's nomination might be worthy, but the film wasn't really really about him, as Anna stole most of their scenes together.
My rating for the film: 6/10. It could be a 6.5; a simple little film, often enough too simple, but with a great pair of actors.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Firm (1993)

A young lawyer joins a prestigous law firm only to discover that it has a sinister dark side. [imdb]

Nominated for 2 Oscars:

Best Supporting Actress: Holly Hunter
Best Original Score

There are many things wrong with this movie. It's not that it's so typical for the beginning of the 90s movies; but the film is poorly constructed, naively written and acted mostly in a mediocre way. And this is the top grossing film of 1993? Ih... I don't know about the novel, but the story couldn't have been lighter. I don't wanna seem bitchier than necessary: it works at times, but has mad plot holes for the rest of it or just simple solutions hard to believe.

How could have Sydney Pollack directed such a flawed film? It's predictable (except for when it makes no sense) and the characters are poorly constructed and strangely motivated. The best part is the little action going on in the second half that gets us out of the cliche of the project. Holly Hunter gives one of the few respectable performances, but her character is so poorly treated that I actually felt sorry for Holly for getting such a shitty role & undeserved nomination. The Original Score was way too much in my face for me to enjoy. Tom Cruise gave a good speech at the end which redeemed his performance.

My rating for the film: 3.5/10. A waste of time mostly; and somehow they won tons of money with this.

Monday, September 7, 2009

To learn more about my personal message, please click here. :)
it's on the other blog.

but no worry, I'll keep seing Oscar movies, so the posting will continue here.