Tag Archives: Academy

Film Review: Drive My Car (2021)

After his wife’s unexpected death, theater veteran YĆ«suke Kafuku seeks to escape from the sadness of her loss and works on a new theater project. During the project, he meets new people and a young chauffeur with whom he quests for the answers that have been missing for a while.

Why a Japanese film like Drive My Car is essential for the audience? I ask the same for those who listen to podcasts. The critical reason is that many are disturbed in their lives and try to find a source of their ultimate escapism through various mediums. Some find peace in reading books, and some find their missing puzzle in listening to podcasts. In the same way, this three-hour drama captivates that particular audience who searches for answers after losing something really precious. The years pass by, but the mind and the soul doesn’t obstinate to pull new strings and ease the pain unattached.

This masterpiece runs in your veins and grows with time. Almost every point the director Ryusuke Hamaguchi chose to make was punching, accurate, and so well crafted. On so many occasions, this film hit me and I asked myself how excellent were the shots taken. Like Kafuku returning home after the flight gets canceled, or Kafuku’s supporting actors trying to continue the performance or Takatsuki’s 12-minute conversation with Kafuku in the car, or the heartbreaking moment of Watari showing Kafuku her childhood home, or the mute girl cheering the old character in the final act.

I think it is the method that keeps all this storytelling, shooting a scene and making it look beautiful, compelling performances roll into one and give a product that stops your breath for a second or makes you thoughtful. Films like this move you because Drive My Car is one of the best visual translations of human emotions.

Even if I corner the tragic parts of the film aside, there is still a tremendous depth and buildup in writing. From audition to the final product, the film constructs an accurate understanding of the theater project.

There is a reason why this film made it to the Oscars and became the first-ever Japanese to reach Best Picture. Drive My Car recently created history to become the first non-American film to win Best Picture from all three major prestigious American critics groups which are NYFCC, NSFC, and LAFCA. And I strongly feel that Drive My Car will win Best International Feature Film at the Oscars.

Everyone performed well but Hidetoshi Nishijima as Kafuku was the soul of the film. Drive My Car is a cinematic marvel. The audience must watch this masterpiece.

Ratings: 9/10

TV Review: Downton Abbey

I am not sure where to start because writing a mere formal review of a period costume drama like Downton Abbey is unjustly and undeservingly shorter to write. I have a staunch interest in classic period dramas and that is why shows like Cranford and Poldark hit my list of the shows that I like the most in this classic genre. Downton Abbey is something else.

Created and written by Oscar and Emmy-winning writer and novelist Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey is about the Crawley family who exists in the early 20th century when the world is shaping towards a difficult period in the European regions. Between 1912 and 1926, the Crawleys led by the patriarch Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham, and his wife Cora, the American heiress, struggles to tackle many domestic conflicts running in the family and the business affairs that occur in the different phases.

The plotting of the show is divided into two different classes. One is the rich Crawleys and the other is their working staff. Their stories and characters play on parallel notes and are given equal importance that successfully shows that Downton Abbey is not only about the sophisticated luxury but the human value where the rich and the working class coordinate in harmony and build strong mutual respect. Internal conflicts and characterizations are dealt with meticulous care. I liked how the three Crawley sisters were distinguished in characterization and their sisterhood was tested with time.

The presentation of their aristocracy and costume design is the zenith of the show that never disappoints. Screenwriting and dialogues are powerful, less pragmatic but also less dramatic. There is a tremendous balance of dramatizing humor to the seriousness of the subject. When it comes to dialogues, the unanimous winner amongst all the characters is matriarch Violet Crawley played by the legendary Maggie Smith. Your ears won’t fall deaf when Violet begins to speak.

Speaking of pragmatism, I was a bit skeptical about the respect the writer builds between the Crawleys and their staff; because I felt the writer was being too humble to let the Crawleys go soft on their staff that doesn’t look realistic. But see, I am a history digger but I need to be convinced with the detailing. Does the history really make the viewers believe that the daughters of the estate would show fondness for driving the tractor or work her kitchen in the maid’s quarter or allow one of the staff to leave unpunished when the voice is to be raised? Lord Grantham letting his daughter marry a man, not from their ranks is also debatable. Being so merciful, generous, and treating so well to their servants is pretty doubtful. There was a scene where the ball was organized where each of the Crawleys danced with each of the servants. In another scene, Lord Grantham himself serves a tray for a drink when working staff member Anna gives birth. Really don’t know if such things actually existed in the past and with such a level of delicacy.

Yes, Mr. Fellowes didn’t exaggerate glamorizing the royalness of the Crawleys but rather focused on the changing times where the family took time to accept change and this is where characterizing in the plot plays a major part. One impressive aspect that the show enlightened was the ladies of the estate supporting liberalism. All the three sisters Mary, Edith, and Sybil believed and advocated for the education and employment of women.

The most shocking moment of the show was the sudden death of Matthew Crawley, out of nowhere. Good to know that the character was deliberately killed because actor Dan Stevens decided to leave. Otherwise, there was no reason to kill the character that soon. My favorite character was definitely Violet Crawley, her presence was the minty alfresco. The other characters that I very much liked were Mr. Carson, Mr. Molesley, and Lord Grantham. The best character development definitely was Thomas Barrow, he was someone whom the viewers hated and loved equally.

Downton Abbey is a cult phenomenon and one of the masterpieces works on British television. One significant point about the show’s remarkable legacy is that the show comes into existence in the newest times as most of the classical masterpieces in British television history are from the previous century. After my Sons Of Anarchy addiction, if there is another show that hooked me and bought my time, it is Downton Abbey.