Tag Archives: Oscar

Film Review: The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)

STORY

Pádraic and Colm have been lifelong friends until one day Colm decides to sever the ties by considering him ‘dull’ for him. Colm is a folk musician and feels that old age is catching him. Therefore, he now wants to be remembered by people after he dies. So he concentrates on composing music. But Pádraic is unable to buy this sudden contort and repeatedly tries to break the ice which later on has heavy consequences.


INTRODUCTION

The Banshees of Inisherin‘ is an Irish black-comedy film. The film is set on the fictional isle of Inisherin located off the west coast of Ireland where the Irish Civil War is at the closing point in 1923. The film is shot on the attractive isles of Inishmore (Inis Mór) and Achill Island.


REVIEW

‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ is an emotional drama that is not skeptical about reflecting on the dynamics of companionship. It is a well-thought signature of substance that roots in the mediocrity of dysfunctional distrait in a relationship.


Let me forward you why the film is so noisy about a silent assassination of a friendship.

INCIDENT RATHER THAN A STORY

The films usually dramatize a story where the characters have to grow with time, meet their peak point and proceed toward a conclusion. But this film dramatizes an incident of a life that occurs in a small community between the two whose friendship was known to everyone there. The whole screen time is invested in the troubling impact of a sudden breakup. The film wishes to broaden the aftermath of severity.


DEPTH OF AGONY

There are always human errors on both ends that builds ice between a long-lasting friendship. Some move on and others don’t. Colm is calm about what he stands for. But Pádraic is broken. The significance lies in the attempts and every time Pádraic meets disappointments.

The writing could have been easily ridiculed in dramatizing this segment of endeavor but the annoyance is well handled by bringing arguments, applying realistic humor, and directing Colm’s silly ego leading towards shocking consequences.


ARTISTIC TRAGEDY

You have to be a very genuine storyteller if you are interested to present an emotional tragedy that occurs in friendship but not in some romanticism. The value of pain is subtle because angst of Colm is unexplainable. He warns Pádraic that he will cut his fingers if he bothers him.

This madness for me is artistic because this kind of warning is a heavy reference to Vincent van Gogh, a famous Dutch painter who mutilated his left ear to seek his painter friend Paul Gauguin‘s attention. Being aware of his state of being a folk musician and how worthy his fingers are to play his violin, he still is unmoved about his foolishness to display.


TOGETHERNESS

The British presentation of lives in the countryside has always been sublime and rich. ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ is another good example of working on aesthetics that gives you a natural feeling of togetherness. The British tone for the village and small talk settles so easily.

The characters circulating in this small part do not require an introduction at all. It grows on the audience naturally. The local Garda, a publican, a physically abused kid, a postmistress, and the old lady, all fit and settle in the film so easily.


WHAT IS ‘THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN’?

The title of the film is quite a collection of unused words and thus, sounds interesting. Inisherin is a fictional isle that is set on multiple islands. The word ‘Banshee‘ comes from Gaelic folklore it is a female spirit whose wailing is considered a dark sign for a family that one of them will die soon. The physical appearance of Mrs. McCormick perfectly qualifies as one of the ‘Banshee’ of Inisherin.


CLOSING REMARKS

The film carries technical brilliance in cinematography and direction. The film is strongly led by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as Pádraic and Colm. Their screen presence in their arguments is visibly astounding.

‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ is not a story but a moment of our life and this is why it is so heartwarming and emotional from the human point of view. If there is a tangible form of self-destruction, it exists in ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’.

RATINGS: 8.6/10



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Film Review: All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)

STORY

Young Paul Bäumer and his school friends join the Imperial German Army. They get excited when the uniforms are handed over to them and begin to romanticize their gallantry on the battlefield. Not a single clue do they have what they are about to watch as they are moved to the Western Front to fight trench warfare against the French.


BOOK

In 1928, the German novelist Erich Maria Remarque published “Im Westen nichts Neues” based on his experience when he joined the army to fight the great war. The book achieved widespread critical acclaim and sold 2.5 million copies in the first 18 months.

Two years later, the book was adapted into an American film “All Quiet on the Western Front”. The film won both the Best Picture and Best Director awards at the Oscar, the first to do so. Also, the first to win Best Picture that was based on a novel.

Unsurprisingly, the author was declared ‘unpatriotic’ by the government in the following years, and his books were banned, removed from the libraries, and burned. There had never been a film produced in any part of the world that adapted this novel until none other than a German film production decided to adapt it.


REVIEW

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ is based on the final events of the first World War dramatizing blood-boiling painstaking action sequences that reflect the mental and physical trauma the German soldiers faced and suffered.


ANTI-WAR

The most successful point about the film is that it is a period film that magnificently establishes and serves its purpose to be an anti-war film. Usually, films based on war try to glamorize the heroics of one and satanize the other. Some war films focus on basing the film on a depressive note highlighting a tragic story that suffered during the war. But the essence of this film lies in the negative nature of the war. This film successfully proves that war brings no hope but despair.


HUMANISM

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ is extremely human with a realistic approach towards the mannerism and wants. For example, a few soldiers witness some French women walking in the fields. It is such a delight for them to watch after such rough times on the field. One of the soldiers couldn’t resist and spent some time with one of them and returned with a woman’s scarf as a souvenir. When the soldier shows the scarf to his friends, each of them smells and feels it. An accurate and very understood affection the human is bound to take pleasure in after fighting on the field.

There are a few such scenes that recognize trying to establish some sense to the most powerful people in the world today. An illiterate soldier asks Paul to read his wife’s letter to him. A soldier collects the lockets of identifications and spots the one who saved him before. The one that was very compelling was when Paul repeatedly stabs a French soldier and distances himself. Seeing him dying remorses him and then he makes an unsuccessful attempt to save him but it is too late. The message was clear in this incredibly shot scene, the war brings no peace but destruction.


GAS

The significance of gas masks has been highlighted in this film. Somewhere in the first 20 minutes, the German troop is immediately alarmed by the gas attack and ordered to wear a gas mask. In the midst of the film, 60 of the missing troops are killed by the gas because they mistakenly took off their masks soon.

The use of this psychological weapon of a chemical attack was the counterattack of the French. Because it was the Germans who introduced this poison gas when they used it in the Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium in April 1915. If I am not wrong, this was the first ever poison gas attack in warfare history. How ironic to see the German Army being the victim of what they created!


UNIFORMS

One of the most critical observations about this film is at the beginning of the film. Rational and thoughtful. When the soldiers get killed in the war and buried in their coffins. Their uniforms are washed, pressed, properly starched, sewed, and made to look new and fresh product that gets reused by the new recruits who wore them excitedly.

This matter can be taken lightly or pressed in a positive or a negative matter. Fully depends if you are okay with that or if you find it rubbish. From a positive angle, it is the transfer of honor from one to the other.

From a negative and a more critical perspective, the uniforms were handed over without respecting the martyred because the uniforms could have been delivered to the families. Perhaps the film wants to show that the-then army didn’t want to invest in the new uniforms. Or maybe this is how it is in some parts of the world. I have no knowledge about it but in all honesty, I feel the uniform of the martyred either should be handed over to their family or bury the martyred in that uniform.


ARMISTICE

The film remarkably settled the balance of the noisy battles and the table-talk silence. The latter part is the people in power trying to outdo each other. I found out on the internet that the scene of the armistice is not in the novel. But I am okay with it because including the events of the armistice was extremely important as the film intended to show how the first World War actually concluded.

It is highly accurate that the armistice was signed between Germany and the Allied Governments at 5am and would take effect at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month. And the battle was intentionally fought until 11 am.

But I am not sure about the real reason behind the six-hour delay. Why the war has to end at 11am? Why not at 5am when the armistice is signed? There were nearly 11,000 casualties on the final day of the war. 3000 of those lost their lives in those six hours. A very costly delay but the film took the responsibility to dramatize the fight of those six hours that you may rather call brave and courageous or foolish and madness.


CLOSING REMARKS

I didn’t base my film review to develop a discussion about history but to inform the readers that ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ is one of the most human films based on a great war and reflected on its consequences. An anti-war film that does not allow to glamorize heroism but rather dramatizes it as the need of the hour.

The ugly sense of blindness about the harsh realities of war are well dramatized. The displaying of horrifying war action sequences in compelling cinematography is breathtaking. This film would have looked more realistic if directed in monochrome.

One of the biggest achievements of the film is that despite the fact that it is a German film based on the Imperial German Army, the audience will not distinguish it but consider it as a loss to humanity showing no concern about what side you are on.

The film is a dead man’s poetry that flew away and sunk into the mud. It is one of the most honest representations of the tragic human phase of the fighting soldiers who died in the most brutal fashion with a picture of his wife and kids in their pockets.

RATING: 9.3/10



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Film Review: Elvis (2022)

Nothing extraordinary to explain what Elvis is about. It is a bio-drama about the life of the king of rock’n’roll, Elvis Presley.

Elvis is the fictional narration of Elvis’ manager Colonel Parker. Austin Butler plays Elvis and Tom Hanks plays Colonel Parker. Baz Luhrmann returned to the director chair after nine years to direct easily one of the most difficult projects to execute for a film project when it comes to a biopic.

Why do I call the project difficult? Because I opine that such iconic figures from any walk of life who had a lot of events in their lives need broad detailing and that is possible only in a limited series or a television drama divided into seasons. Due to very limited screen time, no film can come up with a story that has too much to tell in one go. And this is the exact reason why Elvis for me fails to impress me as some quality bio-drama.


MINUSES

Let me highlight a few points that disturb the edge.

1. A Road Runner Screenplay

From the start, this film is about competing in a 100m sprint race. Result? No development of any particular chronicle due to lack of breathing. The screenplay suffocates between Elvis’ childhood and fame.

2. Performances, Performances, and Performances

One after the other, Elvis performs and performs. Baz Luhrmann gives less concern to some sensitive contents that needed more intense dramatizing. Elvis’ relationship with his mother alone takes more than half a film as her character was that important. But due to limited time, Baz restricted most of the important things and focused on Elvis-Colonel chemistry. His army life, passion for karate, and two other relations with Linda Thompson and Ginger Alden are fully ignored.

3. Perplexed Aesthetics

Elvis is a confused script where the derivation and enthusiasm of the audience override. First, the film begins with the Colonel being the narrator and clearing the air to the fourth wall of why is he not to be blamed for Elvis’ demise. But in the second half, Colonel is visibly at fault with no audible commentary to reason any further. Second, Elvis is dramatized in a way that he was innocent of Colonel’s deception. So the motive of narration and the principle method of addressing the whole film in a particular way fails again.

4. Historical Inaccuracies

Too much liberty has been taken from the historical account. Neither Colonel met Elvis in the carnival nor convinced him at some mirror maze. The colonel was not even in the show where the female spectators couldn’t hold themselves watching him perform for the first time. The meeting at the Hollywood sign never happened. His famous number ‘That’s All Right’ is not depicted accurately. Elvis deceives the audience by trying to frame the screenplay as the true story of the legend.


PLUSES

Elvis doesn’t entirely suffer from lies and the points I have raised above. There are plusses that deserve to be mentioned and praised.

At the start, the young Elvis goes to the gospel church and reinvents himself. The entire sequence establishes his case where his passion for different music genres and dance moves came from.

Then the first live performance was directed really well. Even if the sequence was not inspired by any true incident, that shot was necessary liberty to describe the first shockwaves of listening and watching to Elvis. Colonel’s description of Elvis from that scene as ‘A Taste of Forbidden Fruit’ is the most perfect one-liner I can listen to about a music legend used in the film.

Tom Hanks as Colonel Parker will eat the sympathetic Elvis loyalists as the cruelty he imposed on his troubling life is painful to cause heartbreak, especially when Elvis collapses and Colonel orders to make him ready for the show. Tom Hanks displays a performance that successfully sparks hatred and annoyance. It was necessary and the legendary actor nails that.

And the biggest delight and the most positive angle of the film is Austin Butler’s performance as Elvis. Thank God Harry Styles was not finalized. I cannot imagine any actor giving his utmost effort to physically present Elvis out from the role on par or better than Austin Butler. This is an Oscar-worthy performance. This guy actually sang those tracks in the film, no singer playbacked him. The dance moves and some of Elvis’ memorable performances are so magnificently and accurately portrayed. The emotional fluctuations and breakdowns are so well-acted throughout the film. Had Baz committed a mistake in choosing his Elvis, the film would have met disaster. A huge burden of the film and Elvis’ legacy are well carried.


ELVIS
Copyright: © 2022 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo Credit: Hugh Stewart
Caption: AUSTIN BUTLER as Elvis in Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “ELVIS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

CLOSING REMARKS

Elvis rejects being an authentic biographer and chooses to captivate and entertain the young audience about how Elvis and his music defined the era. Elvis focused on what took the king to become easily the greatest music entertainer until the arrival of Michael Jackson. The film is depicted from the colonel’s angle and it would have been so meaningful if the film was depicted from Elvis’ angle.

RATINGS: 5.5/10


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Film Review: Lady Sings The Blues (1972)

PREFACE

Lady Sings The Blues is the bio-drama of the legendary Jazz singer Billie Holiday. It is based on her autobiography with the same title. This film marked two notable debuts. One was Diana Ross‘ as an actor who played the central character and the other was Motown‘s big daddy Berry Gordy Jr. as a film producer. The film didn’t meet a mega success but got recognition with five nominations for the Academy Awards.

This film tempted me to watch it for a few important reasons. One is that I am a fan of Billie Holiday and have listened to most of her songs, including Decca Recordings. After watching The United States Vs. Billie Holiday last year, I felt that I must check this old classic to observe their take on her life. Another reason is that I never watched Diana Ross as an actress, have only listened to her music. And then Berry Gordy trying his hand at the film production made my mind further because I have huge respect for this man for giving birth to Motown Records through which many legendary singers and bands blessed us with rich music, especially in R&B and Soul.

ISSUES

The impressions I held for the film met a fatal blow for some critical reasons. Let me try to highlight a few.

The most critical error is Diana Ross herself. Despite a breathtaking performance, her selection for the role of Billie is a huge question mark. She neither reminds Billie facially nor her vocals while in character, Diana’s vocals are not even close to her. Billie had a distinguished voice that defined the Jazz music that was played in the 1930s and 40s. Those ears who have listened to the recordings of Billie will clearly complain that Diana didn’t try to give a feel of Billie in her voice at all. With such a problem in the selection, the film makes you believe more in Diana’s story instead of Billie’s.

The second issue with the film is that despite being adapted from her biography, a lot of liberty is taken from the material. Even if I keep the book aside or say that the film is not based on any book but is based directly on the legendary singer without the use of any source, the screenplay is questionable. The handsome Billy Dee Williams plays Billie’s husband, Louis McKay, and fits in the story when Billie was a rookie in the nightclub. Whereas, Louis came into Billie’s life later. Billie married three times in her life but the film mentions Louis as if he was in her life right from the start. And then the characterization of Louise is doubtful. Louise was abusive to Billie but here, he is totally opposite. So if the actual reputation of Louise really is bad then this bio-drama disrespects Billie’s sentiments by showing her cruel man with the Godly image.

Another problem is that the film ignores the dark consequences in Billie’s life like the troubles she faced with legal issues. The film missed the chance to depict how her most famous song “Strange Fruit” impacted the audience. In the film, Billie witnesses some terrifying cruelty on the African-Americans and then sings this track. And then there is no mention of it. If you make a film on Billie, you have to tell the world the political and social impact of the song.

IMPRESSIONS

My criticism about the film is based on fact that it did no justice to Billie’s legacy. I felt like the makers preferred to give Diana a platform to establish herself as an actress rather than present us with the life of a legend in those troubling times in America.

But true story aside, there is no doubt about the film’s excellence if I take a general view. Sidney J. Furie is quite a name who has been directing films for around six decades. And he did a splendid job in directing this film. There were a few intense scenes that can make the audience uncomfortable like Billie’s first performance in the nightclub when the audience breaks her confidence for not picking their money from her body despite singing so well. It was a social mockery of the public concern that portrays the horrors of singing at the nightclub.

Billie witnessing dead bodies on the trees and people around lamenting is another shot carefully directed that led to Billie’s health deterioration. Not sure if such an incident occurred but there is a scene when Billie is enjoying herself with all her white friends in the touring band when the bus is suddenly stopped to pave way for KKK demonstrators. Billie gets angry and passes angry verbal remarks leading to a bus attack and minor injuries. It was a very significant shot to spare a thought for. Even if such an event never happened with Billie, it still qualified as the need of the hour to give a glimpse of political unrest to the audience.

It is hard to believe that this was the first time Diana Ross performed in the film. The moment Diana enters the prison to be thrown into her cell at the beginning, she doesn’t remind any of us if this is a performance. Her facial expressions and body language were perfect.

CLOSING REMARK

I like the film in general. If I keep this out of my head that this is based on the true life of a legend, it is an excellent film with a fabulous performance by Diana, some good support from an impressive casting, excellent costume design, and direction. But the main purpose of the film was to watch Billie’s life in the reel and that did no justice. After all, this is why this film came into production but took a lot of liberty. So enjoy the film about her life but believe almost nothing about what most of the film showed you.

RATINGS: 5/10

Film Review: The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021)

Tammy Faye (Jessica Chastain) and Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield) discover each other in the college and find the ultimate purpose to live together – spreading the message of God. With time, they become one of America’s biggest showrunners in the history of evangelical television shows. But with immense success comes challenges and personal conflicts that jeopardize their holy rank as America’s most influential and beloved televangelists.

Faye and Bakker led two of the biggest and most popular evangelical television shows, The PTL Club and The 700 Club. The Eyes of Tammy Faye is mostly based on the 2000 documentary with the same name. Most of the sources have been taken from this documentary.

Based on the true story and events, the film guarantees higher historical accuracy. Most of the thick points in the film are correct like Tammy Faye’s permanent makeup, her affair with the record producer Gary Paxton, her segment on penile implants, and interviewing AIDS activist Steve Pieters, etc.

The intensity is built in the middle of the film when Tammy and Jim suffer personal conflicts. I think during all the crises that begin to occur in the middle, the director missed dramatizing Jim Bakker’s affair that shattered their lives and reputation. That was a very critical incident and deserved minutes. The angle of the story bending towards their crisis should have been directed towards the affair.

More than the film’s entire making, average direction, and not-so-tightly-gripped screenwriting, the film earns respect from the audience through spectacular performances by the leading actors, Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield. Also, I must not forget to mention the film’s significant plus in brilliant makeup and hairstyling. I have read about Jessica’s makeup that it was prepared to clock around five hours along with prosthetics.

Garfield is in superb form but Jessica recently went on to win the Oscar for Best Actress for this role. She deserves it and I must say that it was really a tough call between her, Kristen, and Kidman for the roles they were nominated for. All the three ladies gave extraordinary performances. But I think Jessica may have won this contest for her incredible performance under very heavy makeup and she also sang some numbers herself. Plus, her portrayal was so spot on. You can clearly listen to the voice of Tammy Faye coming from Jessica’s mouth. If you observe Faye’s real videos on YouTube especially conducting an interview with Steve, you will realize that Jessica gave a very splendid performance.

The winner of two Academy Awards, The Eyes of Tammy Faye is an average drama that should only be watched to see Jessica and Garfield.

Ratings: 6.5/10

Film Review: Drive My Car (2021)

After his wife’s unexpected death, theater veteran Yūsuke 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

Film Review: Lunana – A Yak in the Classroom (2019)

While I was doing a wiki on the recently released nominations for the Oscars, I observed this film, Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, in the Best International Feature Film category. What surprised me was the fact that this film came all over from Bhutan. I had never watched a Bhutanese film before and Lunana created history to represent Bhutan for the first time in the Oscars. After further research, the film’s reputation impressed me that this film has reached various film festivals for screening and won a couple of biggies like Palm Springs International Film Festival and had a World Premiere at the BFI London Film Festival.

Lunana is a beautiful remote valley of Bhutan. With a few houses and an extremely limited population, people here make their living from yaks and sheep. The film is about young Ugyen who is enrolled for training in teaching. But his heart is in becoming a singer and moving to Australia for a better living. The institute moves him to Lunana for a temporary period to teach small kids. Meeting some new social challenges and way of living getting tougher, Ugyen experiences life like never before.

This film heavily reminded me of Ashutosh Gowariker‘s Swades and Greg Mortenson‘s famous book Three Cups of Tea because Lunana excitingly had elements of both. Like rural simplicities, hospitality, and generosity from both, Himalayan mountain climbing to teaching in a least-facilitated school from the book, reluctant of adapting rural methods but going 360 for the betterment from the film. Lunana is a hybrid sense of finesse for a film and a book.

Watching a Bhutanese film for the first time, I actually am impressed with the filmmaking as obviously there has to be the reason why this film came to international fame. The first forty minutes have quite a slow and steady buildup to the story. Ugyen’s character development is the clear winner. His character complexity in traveling Lunana to enthusiasm for children are the best parts of screenwriting. The audience goes with the flow; the audience travels to Lunana with him and feels his jeopardy.

With a delicate sense of detailing, the director Pawo Choyning Dorji has shot the film with meticulous care. A lot of small portions are taken care of that means a lot. There is a thoughtful moment when in Lunana, Ugyen observes the old villager without shoes. He reasons that he doesn’t have money to fill his feet. In the next scene, his child shows up to his bare feet in her shoes. Very touching. The scene had nothing to do with the plot but these are the segments where the director gives value to the sub-detailing that builds the characters and gives the audience their part of the theory.

There is a scene where Ugyen teaches ‘C for Car’ but the kids do not recognize what a car is. So he replaces the car with a cow because they are familiar with that. In the world of automobiles, the director gives the audience their chance to realize that there are remote places where a thing called a car can neither exist nor humankind can imagine such a thing to exist.

I keep writing about the film being Bhutanese but I am compelled due to the filmmaking brilliance that I wasn’t expecting to be that good. Yes, it is a predictable story with the script nowhere meeting its tragic anti-climax or any sign of negative energy about an outsider influencing people of a certain place; but the productional aesthetics and the screenplay are just marvelous.

Lunana successfully conveys the message that the simplest ways of life can transform a human into happiness. Reaching the Oscar is a historic moment in their history and the film deserves its piece of the limelight. Lunana is a beautiful drama and highly recommended to all the viewers.

Ratings: 8.3/10

Film Review: Passing (2021)

I swear I never knew the word ‘Passing‘ has a racial meaning and that is unsurprisingly connected to American history. Passing is a term that is used for light-skinned Black Americans who can assimilate into the White majority or in other words, they are accepted or perceived as ‘White’.

This film is based on Nella Larsen‘s 1929 novel ‘Passing‘ about two light-skinned Black American friends who meet each other after a long time in the Harlem neighborhood of New York in the 1920s. Irene (Tessa Thompson) is married to a Black doctor while her friend Clare (Ruth Negga) has passed as ‘White’ and is married to a wealthy white man John (Alexander Skarsgård) who ranks and regards Black people low. Clare rediscovers the truthfulness of life in Irene and tries to gather more with her friend until she ‘pass’ out.

The film is slow-burn but the emotional application is more burning on Clare’s side. The revelation and denial are shocking as it looks disturbing when Clare agrees with John that she is white. Although it is dramatic, the story is executed in the right direction so that the audience gets to feel how difficult it was for a Black to be accepted in a society most of the Whites more than a hundred years ago.

Passing is a technical brilliance with a delicate sense of crafting of the screenplay and direction. The subject was given its piece of thoughtful tribute to that generation who were divided in color concentration. Thompson and Negga were brilliant, especially the latter made us feel heartbroken with her remarkable body language. I am surprised Passing got not a single Oscar nomination. At least Negga deserved the nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Ratings: 7.5/10

Film Review: House of Gucci (2021)

As the title gives the precise indication, Ridley Scott‘s House of Gucci is about the legacy and incidents that occurred in this rich family that led to the downfall and disgrace to their name. With the ensemble cast of Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino, Jack Huston, and Salma Hayek, the film with a fair portion of historical accuracy indicates that the film was set for a definite showdown.

What marvels with the film is the consistent pace at which the screenplay holds firmness and makes the actors mesmerize with their quality performances. They all were exceptional. Their roles were well adjusted in their given screentime according to their weight and importance of them in the story.

As many major incidents were directed in the right tone, there do are some issues where I felt that Ridley Scott lost the edge or preferred theatrical license. The most critical concern was Jared Leto as Paolo Gucci. Couldn’t understand why Leto was chosen for the role and all this hard work on prosthetics transformation. Only Ridley can explain the vision behind believing that Leto will do justice. Leto’s Paolo Gucci is a strange comic relief who is like a fool or a jester in the Middle-Age royal court. I could not take him seriously. I felt as if this was some parody or his imitation of Paolo’s foolishness. Not sure if this was disrespect but I had to question myself if Paolo Gucci really was a nincompoop. There is no doubt about Leto’s performance as a funny Gucci being entertainment for the audience, he did act well. But, did Paolo carry the same traits, or was he deliberately put to insult?

Another concern is the film’s length. Because the pace of the story was consistent, a lengthy film made the watch on the wrist tickly-ticking. To my understanding, a story like House of Gucci perfectly fits for a limited series format rather than a 158-minute saga. I think FX‘s American Crime Story would have done a favor to its audience way more than this film. Despite being a quality film, a school of thought may construct to theorize that the dramatizing of around three decades with these characters in a single film would not develop that much storytelling.

I am disappointed with the Oscars, how come Lady Gaga is not nominated for the Best Actress? This has to be her best performance. The role of Patrizia Reggiani in the house of Gucci was a bomb that exploded with many consequences. And Lady Gaga’s execution was so well-crafted that the viewers will get irritated with her for everything she stood for. In the second half, she will be on everyone’s nerve, and would love to see her die. And this is what performance is about. Play a good or bad character in a way that the audience treats the actor in the same manner as the character himself/herself.

The other major actors did well. Adam Driver continues his form. Jeremy Irons had his moments when his character gets extremely sick. Al Pacino’s prowess in his artistry was reflected when he returned from prison to lose his mind over the incidents he never came to be aware of.

House of Gucci is a favor to the fashion enthusiast and the history-digging audience who are interested to know how the mighty fell and lost control of one of the greatest luxury brands.

Ratings: 7.5/10

Film Review: Being The Ricardos (2021)

Before I begin writing my points about Aaron Sorkin‘s latest, let me tell you about the sitcom ‘I Love Lucy‘ on which this film is based. I Love Lucy was an American sitcom of the 1950s that starred real-life couples Desi Arnaz and one of the biggest television stars Lucille Ball. They were the first interracial couple to be depicted in the American sitcom. During the run, the couples were expecting a baby and after convincing the show’s big bosses, Ball appeared pregnant and gave the audience real-feel as she became the first-ever woman to appear pregnant on television. I Love Lucy was also the first to be shot on 35mm. The show was also the trendsetter of holiday specials when it released the Christmas episode. All I am trying to inform the readers is that I Love Lucy was way ahead of its time and set many records. By records, it makes me realize that I Love Lucy was also the first sitcom to top the Nielsen ratings.

So this show has its significance but more than that, there were issues, controversies, and incidents that occurred during the progress of this show. There were personal and professional relations that were jeopardized during the production. The wave of McCarthyism reached their shores and found a communist in Lucille Ball. So Aaron Sorkin’s Being The Ricardos highlights those moments during the shooting of the sitcom. The film highlights behind-the-scenes and excessive heated and verbal confrontations behind writing a sitcom America was ever super crazy about.

Being historically accurate on most of the occasions, the film’s unusual lie throughout the screentime is that all those events occurred in one week. Sorkin did admit but I am not sure why he decided to present the story this way and that too by mentioning the days. Lucille Ball’s children, Desi Arnaz Jr. and Lucie Arnaz, who are the executive producers, admitted that there were a few fabricated scenes but overall the director did justice with their mother.

NICOLE KIDMAN and JAVIER BARDEM star in BEING THE RICARDOS Photo: GLEN WILSON © AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC

I think Being The Ricardos is more character-driven than excellent screenwriting. Due to very limited writing on a run for more than two hours, Aaron Sorkin made use of the talented actors to play their quality part. And there are many scenes that buy the attention of the audience and help us understand how difficult it is to go through the process of writing and making the scenes funny. Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz doesn’t really look like a match but is a little older. But in any capacity, can Javier Bardem play a role that will not make us praise? JK Simmons is such a terrific actor and those who have observed him can clearly get my point that he executes his roles quite differently. His physical and facial performance in this supporting role distinguishes him from the past performances and maybe there is a chance he can get nominated for the Best Supporting Actor. And I wonder what took Aaron Sorkin so long to consider sitting on the director’s chair? Why was he never directing for so many decades?

Being The Ricardos is majorly about Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball and my oh my, what a powerful performance she has displayed. I feel she is in hot contention for winning the Best Actress award in the Oscar. There are so many scenes where the audience will contemplate her acting. An absolute blend of physical, facial, and verbal performance to remember. Notice when she runs 500 yards to Desi and gives her the breaking news in her raspy voice. Or when she breaks down in the producer’s office when he suggests voicing for the radio, you can feel a lump in your neck. Those were close to perfection. A few minutes later, she has an argument over a scene with the executive producer, the scene intensifies when they are in disagreement about the flower scene and you can observe the spark of physical and facial brilliance in Nicole the way she begins to convince him. Nicole Kidman in this film is stupendously incredible. She was a terrific choice and the outstanding makeup made her resemble her.

Being The Ricardos is a magnificent remembrance about the making of one of the greatest American television shows that have compelling screenwriting and imposing performances.

Ratings: 8.7/10