Posts Tagged ‘Steven Spielberg’


400,000 Men Couldn’t Get Home, So Home Came For Them


The message from hell descending from the clouds. The sea waves escorting back the dead bodies. The civilian boats rescuing the freezing fate-less soldiers. Casualties outnumbering the survivors. Hark! the bombers are approaching and releasing your death certificates. Realize! the fuel is getting low! So decide either you drop your plane to the sea or shoot your rival pilot.

There is panic everywhere, there is sonic everywhere. There is no amount of food, there is no hope for good. More than 300 thousand soldiers are trapped on the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk in an uncanny weather. France has fallen to the Germans and their troops are to reach the site anytime. But the Commander is hoping that they all will be back – Home.

Dunkirk is Christopher Nolan‘s latest project, a war film whose storyline and characters are fictional in nature but relies on the rich historical accuracy based on the historic evacuation of the Allied forces during World War II. Nolan has touched the new dimensions of the filmmaking of war films. For ages, the filmmakers have strived in convincing the audience by making ‘lengthy’ war films but Nolan’s warfare drama runs for only 106 minutes and proves that it is just a matter of speaking the story in the most formidable manner. Nolan proves that to make a successful war film, a coherent presentation plays a major part, not the length of the script.

 

 


“I’d rather fight waves than dive-bombers.”


The story is divided into three divergent segments of land, water, and air. There is a stupendous balance in all the three segments with the land story definitely being more of a blood boiler. Thousands of the soldiers standing, sitting, lying in the queue on the sands of the beach await their fate and hope for deliverance. When I say lying on the beach, few are the dead bodies.

War films are acutely loud and noisy. But here there is no massive bullet-firing in the whole film, no earth-shattering blasts or powerful destructions. The grip of the plot is kept at loose ends. Dunkirk’s script is build on intensity. More than killing, the film is about saving the lives and rendering a valuable service for the people stuck in the battle.

Yes, the nature of this war-subject is saving more than killing but like I wrote above that it is the intensity, the incredible screenplay of bringing things into either an argument or a question mark. The sequences and consequences of numerous scenes drop the emotions displaying the significance and tragic life conclusions like a boatman losing his son, a soldier dropping his helmet and walking towards the sea waves, a pilot watching his plane burnt etc.


“He’s shell-shocked, George. He’s not himself. He might never be himself again.”


Angel of death knocks the door everywhere and it is not a matter of bombs but other critical things like an oiled human body trying to wash himself in haste before it catches the fire on the water or a young soldier making an unsuccessful attempt to catch the ladder of the boat before fainting into the water.

Another impressive factor of the film is the target age-group of the troops portrayal. Mostly in the film are extremely young men. The impact is hard but I like the way the young skins are put to test in the biggest scare of their lives. There were two such scenes shot on the boys giving a fascinating look on the labor and patience during the war times. One was when the two young soldiers witness a helpless gashed soldier on the stretcher. Both heed each other’s possible signal and prepare to lift the heavy stretcher miles towards the boat running and staring the other dead bodies on the beach. The other scene is when the German troops shot at the trawler for target practice where the young soldiers are hiding and no one has the courage of volunteering to release from the boat.

The film is blessed with an ensemble cast whose characters are equally divided in all the three segments. The beauty of the screenplay is that there is no main character. All the characters support each other in their segment i.e., the character of the boatman, Mr Dawson, played by Mark Rylance is indeed the lead character on the sea but his sons, Peter and George, have decent onscreen appearance subjected towards the gallantry. Rylance piloted his character boat every day and listened to the audio recordings at the Imperial War Museum. Cillian Murphy plays the rescued soldier who suffers the psychological impact of the war. Being short in the role, his mental acting performance was exceptional. To improve his character, Murphy read about the psychological trauma the soldier endured.


“Men my age dictate this war. Why should we be allowed to send our children to fight it?”


Tom Hardy is the RAF pilot playing the major role flying in the clouds but his fellow RAF pilot, Collins played by Jack Lowden, is not to be considered underrated. On land, Kenneth Branagh is the commander, loosely based on Admiral William Tennant, but also attached to him is James D’Arcy as Colonel Winnant. But the weight of the characters is equal keeping in mind that the former’s character is verbal as compared to the latter’s character being physical.

Among the young soldiers, the character of Tommy played by Fionn Whitehead was impressive than Alex played by Harry Styles. In fact, Fionn’s performance was indeed the most impressive one who surely had the most minutes throughout the film. Fionn’s character Tommy was named after the slang term Tommy which was commonly used for the ordinary British soldiers. When Nolan auditioned Harry Styles, he was not acquainted with his immense popularity.

 Audience pointed Hardy’s contribution to the film as best but he was just a pilot flying the plane in the whole film. It was actually not Hardy’s performance but the character to be counted as the most valuable one.


“How hard is it to find a dead Englishman on Dunkirk beach, for God’s sake?”


Musical department? Hans Zimmer to Nolan is what John Williams to Spielberg. Easily the most powerful director-musician combo after the latter. And here Zimmer has gifted the audience with just another masterpiece in music. The sound of the watch ticking (often played at the start of the trailer) was actually Nolan’s own pocket watch synthesized by Zimmer. Also to his credit is including Edward Elgar‘s most famous variation ‘Nimrod’ from his Enigma Variations in the film’s dramatic theme. Sound mixing is excellent. The roar of a falling enemy aircraft from the sky will haunt you.

Dunkirk is supreme at almost every technical department. Nolan’s screenplay is superbly balanced with Lee Smith‘s editing. The timing of the segments’ stories kept changing ahead and behind to show from other character’s point of view and it is indeed the beauty of editing which makes Dunkirk attract the audience understand the depth of the story from different angles. Hoyte van Hoytema‘s cinematography is sublime. I loved the aerial plane attacking shots.

Christopher Nolan keeps experimenting a new genre and develops his directional methods and ways of telling the stories. His direction is frank, polar and strict to the subject. In first half an hour, the presentation of the film is concentrating on the happenings at the beach, in the air, and at the sea with very remote dialogues. With the help of a phenomenal film editing, Nolan has crafted his Nolanistic method of depicting the heightened realism and giving the viewers a chance to see his artistry like resurrecting for a reason.

Dunkirk is so superior film that in a premiere the Dunkirk veterans wept and expressed if they time traveled back in Dunkirk. The veterans approved the realism and precise presentation of the war. Many critics have declared Dunkirk to be Nolan’s best work to date. It truly is a difficult question with more arguments than announcing the conclusion. Between his Inception, The Dark Knight, Interstellar, and Dunkirk, it seems impossible to pick the best and ignore the rest.

In my opinion, Dunkirk is the greatest war film ever made and will be remembered for ages. The greatest in a sense that the subject has been addressed and crafted in the most excellent form and has to be included in an elite list of the greatest war films like Apocalypse Now and Saving Private Ryan.

Ratings: 9.5/10


“We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the fields and in the streets. We shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender. and even if this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

 

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French New Wave (FNW) is a celebrated dominating cinematic era crossed in the timeline of French film industry in which the films became equivalent to the art and literature in the state of free expressions and a break from conservative cinematic ideology. Among the peers of that golden era, François Truffaut (FT) is an ageless name who will always be remembered as one of the founding members of the historic movement and will be considered one of the greatest directors of the twentieth century.

Being a critic on my own judgment, I watched all his 21 directional works in 45 days to fathom his brain behind the camera and to dig the answer why is he a cultural and celebratory icon in arts and entertainment. I discover the answer compelling and I don’t know how to describe in the shape of the blog but will endeavor my best.

Mr. Truffaut became well-known and controversial for his acid film criticism in the pages of Mr. Bazin’s film magazine, Cahiers du cinéma, before turning his hand to filmmaking in the late 1950’s. To understand FT’s work, the viewer must understand the concept of FNW which I have defined in the very first lines. Due to his fabulous contribution to western technical and cinematic innovations, Satyajit Ray acknowledged his debt to him. His admirers had particular praise for his screen depictions of children, obsessed men, and women driven by strong passions.

Among all his films, one thread is common. In almost every film, FT is a keen observer of life and reaches towards the smallest details no matter if it is related to the story or not. Either you watch his quintuple set of Antoine Doinel (AD) series, or the skirt-chasing film L’homme qui aimait les femmes (The Man Who Loved Women) or child-behavior centered L’argent de poche (Small Change); FT fetches minor but rich details like the classroom environment, parents’ behavior towards their child, line pickings by a womanizer etc.

Every film has an attention seeking subject which compiles the viewers to watch. AD was a fictional character created by Truffaut himself and made five films in two decades. Being a realism-loyal, FT borrowed the time of Jean-Pierre Léaud to gift him the career highlight of his life, who played the character in all the films from childhood to adulthood. The character is often called FT’s own alter ego. It is about a disturbed and misunderstood boy in Paris who was sick of his parents and teachers, domestic and school life; and one day he ran away and his story continued in the next four installments.

The first part Les Quatre Cents Coups (The 400 Blows) is considered among the greatest films of the last century and a gateway to the FNW movement. The film earned awards and nominations at many recognized awards functions like Cannes and Academy. Truffaut was so convinced with the character that his brilliance can be watched in next films of his series. The next installment was a short film Antoine et Colette (Antoine and Colette) which described his failed love affair with Colette in his teenhood. Baisers volés (Stolen Kisses) dramatized the building of Doinel’s character by struggling in the young hood and trying to settle in one job. Domicile Conjugal (Bed & Board) spoke about his marital life with Christine and superb depiction of society. L’amour en fuite (Love on the Run) showed Doinel in his thirties who is divorcing Christine but also in an affair with a record-seller, Sabine.

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As FT is widely recognized for the films on AD but his directional artistry is stretched and dilated to his other notable works on different subjects. Truffaut was sensitive and tactful to child behavior due to his own disturbed childhood. He lived with his parents for the first time when he was eight years old after being passed to various nannies and his grandmother who instilled a love for books and films in him. His love for books can easily be seen in his films like Doinel reading Balzac in The 400 Blows, or Ferrard opening the package of books he ordered in La nuit américaine (Day For Night).

Even his only English-language film Fahrenheit 451 was based on the books. The film shows a fictional world where some totalitarian government controls general people’s life by dissuading them from the books. For this purpose, the government employs a group of firemen who detect books from every corner and burn to ashes. Fahrenheit 451 and Small Change were among Truffaut’s best works after The 400 Blows.

Small Change is one of a kind when it comes to child behavior. It is about the kids from different backgrounds mostly lower and middle class, their social life, and behavior towards people from different ages. There is a sketch when a man catches a boy to send his letter to one of the buildings to a married woman for five francs. Then in another sketch, the boy’s manners in eating dinner are brought to our attention. My favorite aspect of the film is the depiction of children’s fascination and excitement in sexual behavior. It is a natural phenomenon but the cinematic presentation demands bold details on which the acting of child artists are subjected to sensitivity on their shoulders. It is easily one of the best coming-of-age films I have watched.

The same case is the film L’enfant Sauvage (The Wild Child) produced in 1970 based on a true and very tragic story of an unfortunate individual, Victor of Aveyron, who spent his childhood with no human contact and was caught by hunters in a nearby village. Although it looks like a documentary more than a feature film but Truffaut gives a remarkable insider of the boy’s development from the delayed general human behavior.

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Besides child-centered subjects, one of the FT’s biggest accomplishments was presenting a guide towards the making of a film and the complications of shooting it. He was so caught up in the technical as well as the artistic aspects of filmmaking that he made a film about filmmaking, Day for Night.

Truffaut leaves no space to reveal the smallest of filming issues like a love affair between the two artists, producer/director dealing with insurance company, forgetting dialogues, using the animal in a scene, hiring people on the spot, re-takes and rehearsals etc. It shows a further reality that sometimes due to some reasons, the dialogues and the scenes are changed or the artists are convinced to do a scene so and so. These are small but very important and interesting details.  

In 1974, the film won BAFTA for Best Film and Oscar for Best Foreign Film. In addition to winning the Academy Award, it was named the best film of 1973 by the National Society of Film Critics in the United States, which also voted him the year’s top director. Easily one of the best films in filmmaking docudrama.

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Romance has always been a prestigious and distinguished subject in the French cinema and Truffaut’s directional excellence shares same artistic heritage. Les Deux Anglaises et le continent (Two English Girls) and Jules et Jim (Jules and Jim) were the films focused on love triangle both based on Henri-Pierre Roché‘s novels of the same titles. Two English Girls is a sublime blend of fluctuations of romantic affairs, exchange of emotions, description of capriciousness and very jeopardized harmony. Whereas Jules And Jim is a cinematic innovation to be always remembered for Truffaut’s marvelous efforts in bringing the best outcome in the film’s cinematography. Such qualities of camera work like panning shots, newsreel footage, photography stills or freeze frame were not common in cinematic business those days. Freeze frame was also done at the end of The 400 Blows.

The other romantic film which comes in my mind is the true story based on Victor Hugo‘s daughter, Adèle. A British army officer loved and proposed her which she refused. Later she had a change of heart and traveled Halifax during American Civil War to declare but the soldier loved her no more after the refusal. That drove her insane and made failed attempts to win him. Her obsession increased and began showing signs of mental illness.

L’histoire d’Adèle H. (The Story of Adele H.) brought the actress Isabelle Adjani in the limelight and earned a nomination for Best Actress in the Academy Awards. Truffaut’s direction was again hard to ignore. It was his remarkable presentation of dropping of emotions by Adele Hugo picturized on Adjani. The translation of mental collapse was very defining and tragic as overall FT produced a profoundly beautiful, tragic and dark film.

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After watching all his films, one of my most important observations is that his films were more centered/inclined towards the story than the character. Through his films, he brought subjects to the attention of the viewers and didn’t focus a lot on the overall performances of the actors and their characters who mostly displayed average performance.

 Almost all the films were based on literary works of many famous novelists but the message precise among all his films was the subject. La peau douce (The Soft Skin) and La femme d’à côté (The Woman Next Door) were subjected on an extramarital affair, Fahrenheit 451 was on books burning, Small Change on child abuse, Day for Night on filmmaking, The Man Who Loved Women on skirt-chaser and Vivement Dimanche! (Confidentially Yours) a murder-mystery. It is no hiding to the fact that character-centered films also made a huge name in French cinema like Léaud as AD and Isabelle as Adele.

In the smallest of details, the viewer will notice Truffaut’s love for animals especially cats. Two of his films had identical shots of cat nosing a lunch tray outside the door. Truffaut in Day For Night did show his fascination with cats by shooting the same cat-eat-lunch scene and went on describing how hard is it to convince a cat to eat the food during the shot.

Among other details, we will often witness one common scene in many of his films depicting the domestic life of couple i.e., the couples reading books together in bed before sleeping. Repeating the same scene might give us a clue of Truffaut’s personal life and some portion of his relationship with his wife and partner.

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Out of his 21 full-length directional works, my five personal favorite films are The 400 Blows, Small Change, Day For Night, Jules And Jim, and The Wild Child.

In 1963, FT was approached to direct famous American film, Bonnie And Clyde. Truffaut showed his interest only in script development but later declined. FT admired the works of Alfred Hitchcock and two of his films, La mariée était en noir (The Bride Wore Black) and Confidentially Yours were a tribute to him. In 1981, Vincent Canby of The New York Times called Truffaut ”one of the most continuously surprising and accomplished directors of his day.”

His headquarters for years was the Paris office of his production company, Les Films du Carrosse, which he named after La Carrosse d’Or (The Golden Coach), a film by the French director Jean Renoir. As an actor, he played roles only in his own films. Later in his career, he went on to play the role of a French scientist in Steven Spielberg‘s Close Encounters of the Third Kind which was his only outing as an actor.

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Truffaut was married to Madeleine Morgenstern from 1957 to 1965, and they had two daughters. He had affairs with many of his leading ladies. In 1968 he was engaged to actress Claude Jade who starred in AD series. He and leading actress of his last two films Fanny Ardant lived together for three years. During his relationship with Ardant, he had a stroke and was later diagnosed with brain tumor. On 21 October 1984, Truffaut passed away at the age of 52.

The credit goes to Truffaut who redefined the ‘Auteur Theory‘ and criticized the quality of French cinema by further hitting with the statement that the worst of Jean Renoir’s films would always be more interesting than the best of the films of Jean Delannoy. Truffaut aimed to retire from direction after completing 30 films and write books later but he wasn’t destined to what he planned. But still left the world with a global recognition in filmmaking. He is a huge cinematic inspiration and alive in the hearts of cinephile, sensible filmgoers, and the film critics of the highest quality. I regard and consider him among the greatest filmmakers of the twentieth century and personally one of my favorites. I wish if we would have seen more of his work instead of knowing his passing away so early.

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Ok first gold diggings in Grasberg!

Did grizzly bear folked Mr. Hugh DiCaprio???

 A big NO. The real event propels you that Hugh Glass, the leading character of the movie played by Leonardo DiCaprio, was attacked by a female bear.

Now why did I begin my review this way??? Because many of us were actually concerned that we will watch sex-scene between Baloo and Mowgli but the rumor was awful.

Now what makes the movie special? I would rather replace the word ‘special’ with superior. The answer is EVERYTHING!!! Consider DiCaprio/Hardy performances, AGI’s direction, fighting sequences, cinematography, costume designing, bear attack, Frontiers vs Native Americans and many more. The movie is superlative.

The only concern pushing towards minus is its accuracy, the accuracy of Hugh Glass’ legacy, the accuracy of bear attack, the accuracy of Glass’ survival, the accuracy of attack by Native Americans on the expeditions team. There has been a lot of confusion over the legacy of the story. There are not a lot of authentic sources to prove what part of story is true or false. Most specifically the tragic bear attack which was witnessed by no buddy but the victim himself.

Let me reflect and justify my very first line of this review. A huge focus in the movie has been on antagonist John Fitzgerald played by Tom Hardy killing Hugh Glass’ son Hawk, which leads him to revenge upon survival attempt. The whole movie grows on his miracle survival from a likely death so that he finishes him. Sadly the core of the story is pure fiction. Forget Fitz killing his son, there is no proof that Hugh Glass had any child. Hawk being of mixed-race is an invalid question or typing error. Glass’ marriage with Native-American woman also has doubts because historic details are still unsure if Hugh Glass really was once captured by Pawnees where he found her, loved and married.

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So if there is no evidence of Hawk being Hugh Glass’ son then with simple understanding there is no revenge on Fitz for killing his son. In fact the legacy is that when Glass received mortal wounds after bear attacks, expedition leader Captain Andrew Henry, played by Domhnall Gleeson in movie, pays two men to stay behind the soon-to-be-dead body of Hugh Glass until his death to give him a Christian burial. To add the spice, movie further shows Hawk volunteering the payee leading to his murder by agitated Fitz.

Some scenes agreeable with the facts are;

  • Hugh Glass was a fur trapper and the bear attack occurred near the banks of the Grand River of South Dakota. He did come across two bear cubs until big momma had her say. The female grizzly bear did break his leg and punctured his throat.
  • Hugh Glass was indeed dropped behind to die by the two men, Fitz and young Jim Bridger, played by Will Poulter due to the harsh fact that he wasn’t breathing his last for several days. Further confirmation is that both guys placed him in a grave, collected his weapons and off they go.

Further diggings confirm that the Native Americans depicted in the movie are the tribe of North Dakota, Arikara who suffered a high rate of fatalities from smallpox epidemics resulting in drastic fall in their population back in 18th century. Years later they moved between South and North of Dakota.

Enough of history!!! Now let me strive to focus on the movie….

What makes Hollywood cinematic industry so special than the others??? No not that Hollywood belongs to the United States. Actually, Hollywood introduces you to people from different diversities and backgrounds that cook and bring their ingredients in their kitchens to display a delicious food and bring a change in taste for the consumers. Now ‘The Revenant’ shows United States of the early 19th century and the story is based on a frontier legend who met his sorry fate after attack launched by Native Americans. And this movie is directed by a guy who has lived all his life in Mexico. Some great minds present great movies in great ways.

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Alejandro González Iñárritu was the first Mexican-born director to have won Best Director in Cannes Films Festival for Babel. Years later he became only third director after John Ford (The Grapes of Wrath 1940, How Green Was My Valley 1941) and Joseph L. Mankiewicz (A Letter to Three Wives 1949, All About Eve 1950) to win back to back Academy Awards (Birdman 2014, The Revenant 2015), and the first since 1950.

AGI had a splendid vision to present The Revenant and is obvious in his powerful direction. Many scenes are eye-opener like I am repeatedly mentioning attack on the expeditions team by Native Americans and Hugh Glass many phases of survival. But the best among all is the bear attack which will easily shut you up. This scene is built on your nerves. The human abuse is shot in a way that you would feel if the beast is skinning you.

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I must say the VFX team has done magnificent choreography of this attack. It is not only that the viewer has a look at this brutal beating; the whole animal behavior is carefully read. Watch step by step, the way cubs are made feel unprotected, the way momma bear responds and attacks the gunman, the way the beatings begin i.e., stepping over and throwing all mighty weight on Glass, grabbing by mouth and swinging, then throwing on ground and gashing him. This shows the bear-behavior was carefully studied by all the involved makers.

The ‘sympathy’ factor for both human and animal is challenged because the attack scene has two consecutive parts connected in one-shot frame. First the mother bear attacks with understanding that gunman will kill the cubs and leaves later. But then the gunman tries to survive by shooting at mother bear and turning the other face of coin with sympathy where mother bear and gunman becomes villainous in their ways concluding with animal killing while trying to save her cubs. One of the best dramatic scenes I have watched in recent years!!!

One of the most remarkable aspects of the movie is that the whole movie is shot in natural light without the use of CGI which made the life of working crew worse than hell as some parts of shooting in Canada met unexpected fall in temperature to -25C. During the times when Canada met shortage of snow, the whole shooting was in fact shifted to Argentina. This showed life-and-death commitment to present ‘REALISM’ in the picture for which they crossed most of the limits.

The director himself stated in one interview to prefer natural light over CGI this way, “Everybody was frozen, the equipment was breaking; to get the camera from one place to another was a nightmare. If we ended up in green screen with coffee and everybody having a good time, everybody will be happy, but most likely the film would be a piece of shit.”

There is no dispute after hard sacrifice in the beauty of making this movie. When the viewers watch this in one frame, the presentation is natural and folking brilliant. Like Birdman, we will again watch some spectacular lengthy one-shot scenes confirming AGI directional class.

Besides deserving award-winning direction, the whole movie is also build on two powerful performances. Tom Hardy’s character of Fitzgerald is foxy and full of rage who opposes Glass’ advice to abandon the vessel and march on foot after Native Americans’ attack. He digs reasons to oppose him and watch for a better moment to kill him. I would say Glass/Fitz are the bestest combination of plus and minus whose characters are made to oppose each other. Despite many inaccuracies in the movie, Hardy’s character gives reasons of bringing balance between the two. Being in limelight of his career, Tom Hardy has another well-reputed performance in his CV. Due to much change in locations and shooting dates, Tom Hardy left a well-fitted Suicide Squad role of Rick Flag character to complete The Revenant without delay.

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Leonardo DiCaprio ended his long-curse in Oscar functions by finally winning an Academy Award for Best Actor for his leading role in the movie. He has many marvelous performances to his acting credits and easily is one of the greatest actors of his generation to have worked with many great directors like Scorsese, Spielberg, Tarantino, Nolan, Eastwood, Mendes, Scott, Allen, Boyle and Cameron which is quite rare in any filmography.

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Keeping his whole acting career under scrutiny, it is easy to pick this role as the toughest of all the roles he has done in the past. The portrayal is highly physical than his dialogues. All judgment is based on his survival mode where he drops himself into icy water, eating raw bison liver (LDC is vegetarian btw) and sleeping in horse carcass. He even wore that bear skin in most of the scenes which was real and brought from a park department in Canada. More to a misery, the skin weighted over 100 pounds. And while attempting all such dares, he maintained his acting stance. Full marks to his performance.

The Revenant is the answer to the finest filmmaking. Decades later, critics will easily pick this movie among the best things happened in cinematic industry. I would like to congrats the whole crew for the perfect and deserving outcome. Also I would like to pay my special thanks to the readers who reached here reading a whole lengthy review till the conclusion. Perhaps some special movies deserve a lot of writing.

Ratings: 9.2/10

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Bridge Of Spies is one of the most terrific historical drama I have seen in last few years. Directed by Steven Spielberg and written by the Coen brothers, the movie is somehow based on James B.Donovan’s book “Strangers on a Bridge“. James B.Donovan was an American insurance lawyer, who after his experience of Nuremberg Trials in 1945 (also mentioned in the movie) was asked by US Govt to defend Soviet spy Rudolf Abel.

Now who was Rudolf Abel? Shortly speaking, Abel was born in UK to Russian émigré parents, which means born to the couples living in political exile. He served Soviet military and fought against Nazis in WWII. After the war, he lived as spy in US where years later he was caught by FBI. The director began his part in the movie from here and I think that was a good decision.

The movie has two phases blended splendidly. One is Donovan/Abel phase and the other is Powers/Pryor phase. The other phase is story of two Americans. Francis Gary Powers was American pilot whose CIA spy plane was shot down by the Soviets in 1960 and Frederic Pryor, a graduate student, was caught by East German police without any charge a year later, who was studying there since 1959.

Spielberg offers sharp visual historic presentation of the famous exchange occurred in Glienicke Bridge. The famous exchange scene has been shot at very same historic site. The dare and gallantry of James B.Donovan is well explained, his wit saved Abel’s hugely expected hanging sentence into a 30-year imprisonment which turned into nationwide massive shock.

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When it comes to tell history, the most important aspect to the viewers and readers is ‘deep intensity’. Spielberg successfully sketches deep realistic intensity hitting your head hard, specially at two different scenes. One is the court scene when the judge declares Abel’s punishment to 30 years instead of hanging, next 5 minutes are the peak of boiling points. The other scene is Donovan witnessing Berlin Wall shooting, facial expressions of Tom Hanks who plays Donovan here are priceless.

Bridge of Spies is committed with 90% historical accuracy with slight alterations i.e., all critical points under the incidents happened and presented in the movie are true. Spielberg’s frequent collaborator John Williams did join to compose movie’s score but left for Thomas Newman due to health issues but Newman justified his musical presence and didn’t make us miss John’s score. Production and costume designs were super-excellent, one simply cannot expect an error in these two departments as Speilberg has been veteran of many many historic movies.

Pace is slow but adaptable. Mark Rylance as Rudolf Abel is a showstopper who deservingly won Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for this role. Overall, Bridge of Spies is a decent history digging movie from a very important time-zone of the 20th century.

Ratings: 8.8/10

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The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people _ Martin Luther King, Jr.

An evil was motivated inside the human to discourage them, uproot and suffer them. But some steps were decided to cross the bridge with this community deprived of voting rights. Leader is the one who stands for his people, who fights for their right, who faces the hurricane but crosses the path of glory. Yes the path of glory, those footsteps which crossed Edmund Pettus Bridge from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. The man who raised the voice for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was American nonviolent activist Martin Luther King, Jr.

Selma is produced by Brad Pitt and Oprah Winfrey, and is directed by Ava DuVernay (who won the Best Director award in Sundance Film Festival for Middle of Nowhere in 2012). To my huge surprise, an American historical drama has not one but all four leading characters played by British actors. Few well-known actors played their part in this movie like Tom Wilkinson, Tim Roth, Oprah Winfrey, Martin Sheen, Cuba Gooding Jr.

When it comes to talk about a historical drama, it becomes obvious to date the timeline and events precisely. To give a dramatic effect, some scenes are fictionalized but above all, the most important historical events in the movie are all true.

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In the beginning phase of the movie, Annie Lee Cooper (Oprah Winfrey) who was African-American civil rights activist in 1965 Selma Voting Rights Movement, is denied the right to vote when asked to name all 67 judges of Alabama. Would you believe it?? Names of 67 judges!! Yeah sadly it is true not that the judges were 67, I mean that was one of the requirements from the Black voters to fulfill.

In 1964, literacy test for the black voters in Louisiana State was nothing but mental contortion. This might pave way for me to construct a new blog over the documents and bills of the sixties from the American political history. So it is better to click here. This is the page of Civil Rights Movement Veterans website in which you will find all the original documents created/distributed by Freedom Movement organization.

Ok another aspect of the movie is the speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyelowo). The question is the accuracy of the speech if the words are MLK’s? NO. Director Ava DuVernay rewrite the speeches because there was no approval from the King’s estate to use the correct speeches. In fact the King’s estate had licensed the speeches to the DreamWorks Pictures and Warner Bros. for an untitled project to be produced by Steven Spielberg.

Death of Jimmie Lee Jackson in the movie is one of the intensifying moments which leads to the historical decision to march from Selma to Montgomery. Some 500 people organized by Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) attempt a peaceful walk to the Perry County Jail but police take it wrong and the beatings begin. Jimmie takes his grandpa and mum and rushes towards the nearby cafe to avoid further beatings. But police reach and has its say. Jimmie is shot by the police from a distance and dies in his mother’s arm. The only difference in accuracy is that in reality, Jimmie dies a week later in hospital.

SELMA

Bloody Sunday of 1965 is one of the sorry incident in American political history. John Lewis and Hosea Williams lead 600 protestors on a 54-Mile march from Selma to Montgomery through that Edmund Pettus Bridge. This was the first of three attempts to cross the bridge for the voting rights act. What Ava showed in the movie related to this incident is remarkably true. On that Bloody Sunday, the state troopers on the horseback attacked the peace protestors, used tear gas, brutally assaulted John Lewis and Amelia Boynton (who is still alive and 103 now), and this is what the movies shows and justifies. Both Lewis and Boynton beatings got a specific seconds of screening of their beating. ‘Twill make the viewer feel if they are watching the real footage. 

From this march, the importance of movie grows on you as the sorry state of Bloody Sunday melts your emotion as MLK makes a nationwide call to unite against the mischief and march against injustice and inhumanity. Further on things make look more complicated when Judge Frank Minis Johnson (Martin Sheen) issues a restraining order instead of approving the march. The picturising of second attempt of march is charismatic which is famous to be know Turnaround Tuesday. James Reeb‘s murder to the judge’s approval for the march has all its say to make a fascinating last phase of the movie reaching towards the historic march.

Selma is a global message in a very disturbed 21st century against racism, freedom and social/political rights. It is an inspiration for different generations to see the happenings of the sixties and cries of the struggles translated in cinematic venture. Those were the times when America and America’s other GMTs were radically changing. MLK’s voice for the negro communities wasn’t blocked or limited within the boundaries of America but was heard everywhere specially in Europe and specifically in Africa. Non-violence political and peaceful campaigns have always been remembered in the history. 

selma-cast

I am very disappointed the way this year’s Academy Awards have ignored this wonderful drama. Tom Wilkinson as Lyndon B. Johnson or Tim Roth as George Wallace could have been easy pick for nominations of Best Supporting Actors, Ava DuVernay for Best Director, and of course David Oyelowo for Best Actor which precisely is one of the biggest blunder in Academy Awards’ recent history. Despite being British, Oyelowo’s MLK voice was pitch-perfect. His speeching style remind MLK’s. His passion and commitment remind MLK’s strong leadership.

Selma is easily one of the best movies of 2014. You make the best out of movie as almost all the aspects of movie are excellent. Fantastic screenplay and editing work, the ensemble cast have successfully fulfilled their duty to justify the services of the characters they played. It is one of the best tributes anyone can dedicate to MLK & his fellow peace activists & his tweeters.

“I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because “truth crushed to earth will rise again.”

How long? Not long, because “no lie can live forever.”

How long? Not long, because “you shall reap what you sow.”

How long? Not long:

Truth forever on the scaffold,

Wrong forever on the throne,

Yet that scaffold sways the future,

And, behind the dim unknown,

Standeth God within the shadow,

Keeping watch above his own.

How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

How long? Not long, because:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; 

He has loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword;

His truth is marching on. 

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;

He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat.

O, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant my feet!

Our God is marching on.

Glory, hallelujah! Glory, hallelujah!

Glory, hallelujah! Glory, hallelujah!

His truth is marching on.”

Rating: 8.9/10

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