The Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon -My Favorite Hitchcock Films

Alfred Hitchcock is one of the most famous directors in film history. His name is synonymous with the suspense genre and very few people would not recognize it. HIs artistry and mastery are legendary. I’m not here to discuss the finer details or technical aspects of his films. I will leave that to those more knowledgable. But I am a fan. While I’m still working my way through his filmography, I would like to share with you my personal favorites. Continue reading “The Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon -My Favorite Hitchcock Films”

Television Series -Father Brown (2013 -)

Loosely based on the book series written by G.K. Chesterton, this newest television reincarnation updates the setting to the village of Kembleford in the Cotswolds district during the 1950’s. One of the few thing that remains true to the books is the character of Father Brown himself.

SUMMARY

The Father is a rather unassuming character with a keenly intuitive mind. Although he is dedicated to his religious calling, he can’t help but be snagged by his sharp attention to detail along with his exceptional insights into human nature. This compels him into a secondary vocation as a self-appointed investigator whenever a crime, usually a murder, is committed in Kembleford.

In some ways, he resembles his counterpart Sydney Chambers in another period mystery series, Grantchester. Both Sydney and the Father feel a loving responsibility to those in their parish, while their curious minds and sharp observations compel them to solve the deviant actions of human nature. However, unlike Sydney, Father Brown is no friend of the local police investigator(s) who find his meddling outside of the church as a nuisance and potential threat. And while Sydney tends to use deductive reasoning, Father Brown usually discovers his perpetrators through intuition.

He is possibly the least judgmental character I have seen on the small screen, while still encouraging parishioners and criminals alike to live according to religious principles. And although he is always invested in finding the perpetrator of crime, it is not so that he can bring them to justice, but so that he can urge them to make it right themselves.

For the rest of my review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

Classic Film Review -Gone With the Wind

THE CLASSIC AMERICAN EPIC

What can be said about Gone With the Wind which hasn’t already been said? This epic novel by Margaret Mitchell was immediately popular upon its’ release and has remained so for decades. In fact, in recent years a Harris Poll declared it to be second only to the Bible as Americans’ favorite book and is still considered a best-seller. To this day, its’ characters, themes and portrayal of racism and the history of the Old South are topics of much debate.

GONE WITH THE WIND – THE STORY

For anyone unfamiliar with Gone With the Wind, it is the story of spoiled, Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara. Is is also a romanticized history of the South during the years of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Scarlett is one of the best anti-heroines in literature and film. Similar to Becky Sharp of Vanity Fair, she is willful, selfish and uses her considerable charm and intellect to achieve her desires regardless of the cost to to others. She could also be considered a feminist icon for her fierce independence. She becomes the de facto head of her family and also owns and operates her own business.

Follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review for the rest of my review for this beloved film.

 

Paris -Audrey Hepburn’s Most Romantic Co-Star

Paris is the city of everyone’s dreams. At least, it has always been the city of my dreams.  It maintains an air of mystique and magic framed in the soft light of romanticism.

The city of Paris has never had a more loving cinematic portrayal than in the films of Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn herself was a little bit of magic and as chic as the city itself. She starred oppositie many famous male costars in her films, Humphrey Bogart, Fred Astaire, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, names which are synonymous with cinema’s most romantic leading men.  But perhaps her best and most compatible co-star is the city of Paris itself.

Of course, this alternative romantic pairing was enhanced by its’ very own fairy godmother in the form of Givenchy and his fashionable film wardrobe which perfectly suited Audrey and Paris. In fact, his contribution elevated and immortalized their match.

Of Hepburn’s thirty four films, Continue reading “Paris -Audrey Hepburn’s Most Romantic Co-Star”

Foreign Film Friday -The Last Diamond (2014)

SUMMARY

Small time thief Simon has recently been released from jail when a friend introduces him to a group of criminals who request his help to steal the legendary Florentin diamond. Simon is reluctant to join up with people he knows nothing about, but the temptation is too much, so he agrees to be their front man.

Julia’s mother is a well-respected auctioneer who was supposed to have been in charge of the diamond sale but her unexpected and mysterious death has left Julia with the responsibility. The stakes are high for Julia to host a successful auction with her own job and reputation on the line.

Simon introduces himself to Julia as her mother’s private security consultant, slowly winning her trust and the inside information his gang of thieves need. But when they start Continue reading “Foreign Film Friday -The Last Diamond (2014)”

Film Review -Lion (2016)

If you haven’t at least heard of this film, you may have been living under a rock. Lion is the Oscar nominated film based on the true story of a young Indian boy who becomes separated from his family.

SUMMARY

Little Saroo finds himself in Calcutta over 1200 miles away from his small village in western India. Unable to speak the regional language and not knowing his mother’s name or the correct name of his village, Saroo eventually finds himself adopted by an Australian couple and adapting to a completely new way of life.

As an adult he experiences a strong desire to locate his family and his home in spite of being hindered by his lack of pertinent details and the decades which stretch his childhood memories. Continue reading “Film Review -Lion (2016)”

Foreign Film Friday -Lovebird (2013)

Çalikuşu is a historical romantic drama based on a novel of the same name set in Istanbul at the beginning of the twentieth century. Although the more accurate translation for Çalikuşu is wren, its’ English title is Lovebird which is a nickname for Feride, the main female character.

SET UP FOR LOVEBIRD

As a young child, Feride is orphaned and sent to live with her maternal aunt’s family. Her arrival upsets the delicate emotional balance of the household, particularly with her female cousin Necmiye, who resents the attention her mother devotes to the new member of their household. Feride also has a combative relationship with her older male cousin Kamran which originates from a mutual attraction and distrust between them.

Thanks to her father’s wishes for her to receive an education, Feride is enrolled at a local French convent boarding school, where she lives when not staying with her aunt and uncle. Her biggest wish is to fulfill her promise to her dead father to finish school and to become a teacher. But as she comes close to the end of her schooling her relationship with Kamran begins to change and pose a threat to her goal and her heart.

For my full review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

Classic Film Review -Camille (1936)

Based on the  novel La Dame aux Camélias by Alexander Dumas the younger, Camille is a familiar tale which also inspired the opera La Traviata and the musical film Moulin Rouge, which has brought the story to modern audiences.

STORY SUMMARY

Regardless, of its interpretation on stage or film the foundation of the story remains the same. An innocent young man with little to his name falls in love with a popular, charming, Parisian courtesan. His earnest and sincere wooing of the worldly woman breaks through her defenses tempting her to risk her heart and livelihood. It is a love story with a sad ending and one of the most popular and well-loved romances in literature.

When tragedy interrupts a good romance
MY THOUGHTS ON CAMILLE

This particular interpretation stars the great Greta Garbo who quickly rose to acclaim as a silent film actress. I have watched many of her films and cannot claim to be a fan,  in spite of her talent, because I often find her characters cold and emotionally unapproachable. However, her version of Camille is the opposite. Garbo as the ill-fated Marguerite Gautier who wears camellias, is warm, whimsical, and emotionally vulnerable. Marguerite is a gold-digger, but one with a heart of gold who freely shares with those she loves. And when it comes down to it, she is not so attached to wealth and the accompanying lifestyle that she cannot see that its’ value falls far below that of love.

The battle of the ruffles, who wore it better?

In one of her later films, Ninotchka (which is a beloved comedy classic that I could barely finish) Garbo’s participation was marketed with the line, “Garbo laughs” indicating that this was a highly unusual occurrence in her films. However, Camille pre-dates that film by three years and Garbo’s smiles and laughter are much more natural and charming here.

Her co-star is a young Robert Taylor a popular and loyal MGM actor who plays the naive suitor Armand Duval. As in other versions of this story, they meet due to a misunderstanding over his identity with Marguerite thinking he is the man who will become her new benefactor. His honest emotions and affection contrast with her guarded gaiety which hides her cynicism.

Scoping out the next Sugar Daddy, as girlfriends do

In some ways Camille echoes the story of The Gift of the Magi, where both characters deeply love and make painful sacrifices only to find  their sacrifices become unnecessary. But it is the devotion and commitment behind those painful choices which grab our hearts and whittle the stories down to the plain, bare truth -that love is all.I do love a good love story even when it is tragic and this is one of the best. Perhaps it is the tragedy of their romance which makes it so memorable and moving. Of course Camille is greatly enhanced by the benefits of being filmed at MGM, the creme de la creme of movie studios at that time. The production aspects are stellar, the sets and costumes gorgeous. It also doesn’t hurt that this film boasts George Cukor as a director and Lionel Barrymore, Laura Hope Crews, Elizabeth Allen, Jessie Ralph and Henry Daniell in supporting parts. All are actors who will be familiar to classic film fans.

This is said to be Garbo’s personal favorite of all her roles and is commonly regarded as her best performance, a role which won her an Oscar.  Camille regularly appears on best movie lists, with very good reason. Some films are called classics because of their age, others are named so because they deserve to be watched and remembered. Camille falls into the latter category and is one I will always love to re-visit.

Watch -Available to stream on Amazon and on DVD. It occasionally airs on television on TCM.

Patriotic Films to Celebrate the Fourth of July

Hollywood is very fond of making patriotic films, many of which are set during times of war. Many of these films are highly regarded and praised by critics, reviewers and fans alike.

Since the Fourth of July is tomorrow I decided to share a list of some of my favorite patriotic films and/or television shows to help you get ready to celebrate America’s Day of Independence.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

I’m not ranking this list but if I were this would be my top pick not only for patriotic films but also one of my favorite movies ever. I’m always inspired by the story of how one man willing to stand up for what he believes is right regardless of the cost, can make a difference. It’s also a good reminder that the  fight against government corruption has been going on for a long time. We need a lot more Mr. Smiths in Washington. Streaming on Amazon.

 

Pollyanna

Although technically not a patriotically themed movie, it is a nice glimpse of Americana and does feature a Fourth of July celebration and a young Hayley Mills singing America the Beautiful. Streaming on Amazon.

 

 

 

Turn: Washington’s Spies

I love this AMC series based on the Culper spy ring which helped contribute to America’s battle for independence.  Many of the characters are based on actual historical figures even if their story lines veer from historical fact occasionally. Plus, I really love spy stories and the depiction of General Washington. The last season is currently airing on AMC with prior seasons available on Netflix.

 

 

The More the Merrier

In a time of war, everyone must learn to sacrifice. This comedy is a good look at the effects of war time on the civilians of Washington DC when living quarters were scarce and people worked long hours in jobs supporting the government war effort. But that’s not why I watch it. Nope, I’m a fan of the devious old Cupid who tricks two strangers of the opposite sex into living together. Streaming on Amazon.

 

 

The Hasty Heart

Set in a foreign field hospital this film shows the boredom and anxiety of wounded soldiers eager to return home. Plus, it stars Ronald Reagan one of our nation’s Presidents, so how much more patriotic can you get?

 

 

 

Soldier in the Rain

A Steve McQueen film which totally surprised me and which quickly became one of my favorite films ever. Soldier in the Rain shows the friendship of two unlikely men but also the regular daily lives of soldiers living on an Army base during peace time.

 

 

 

Sons of Liberty

I love this television mini-series which tells the stories of some of our nation’s earliest patriots such as Sam Adams, John Adams, Paul Revere,  John Hancock and more. Although some license is taken with historical facts it’s still a good look at the days prior to the Revolutionary War as well as the personal and financial costs to those fighting for freedom. Occasionally airs on The History Channel.

 

 

Romance in Manhattan

A more obscure film starring Ginger Rogers, this film shows the plight of an illegal immigrant desperate to stay in America. Although it does have moments of drama, it is more of a romantic comedy. It is such a beautiful sweet story which you can stream on Amazon.

 

 

 

The Clock

The only Judy Garland film in which she doesn’t sing, The Clock is a beautiful depiction of a wartime romance and marriage between two strangers who meet and have only one weekend together.

 

 

 

 

Keep Your Powder Dry

Another rather obscure film, I loved this story about three women who enlist in the Womens Army Corp. It’s a story of friendship and rivalry but also what women were doing for the war effort during WWII.

 

 

 

 

Hail the Conquering Hero

The hero of this film enlists in the army to honor the memory of his soldier father only to be discharged for health reasons. He can’t return home to face the disappointment of his mother and the town so a group of soldiers travel with him to corroborate his story that he was wounded in battle. Absolutely hysterical! Available to stream on Amazon.

 

 

Little Women

What could be more patriotic than the story of four sisters lives during the Civil War written by a beloved American author? I’ve seen every version of this film and they are all great. Several version streaming on Amazon.

 

 

 

It Happened to Jane

The David and Goliath battle between a small business and large corporation makes this feel pretty patriotic since American’s love to support the underdog. Not to mention the small town election that is a side story line. Jack Lemmon gives a rousing political speech to the town about the duties of every citizen and the importance of the election process. Plus, it’s a comedy with Doris Day so you can’t lose. Streaming on Amazon.

 

The Best Years of Our Lives

There is a reason this film won Oscars and is always on a list of best films…because it is that good. It follows the lives of three service men returning home from war and their readjustment to civilian life. Available to stream on Amazon.

 

 

 

What are some of your favorite patriotic films?

Foreign Film Friday -Ensemble C’est Tout (2007)

Audrey Tatou gained international prominence in the 2001 French film Amelie. Despite hearing about her gamine charm and comparisons to another Audrey (Hepburn), this is the first film of Tatou’s films that I have seen.

The French title is Ensemble, c’est tout and is based on a novel of the same name which translated to English means, together, that’s everything. But for some strange, inexplicable reason the English title is Hunting and Gathering.

SUMMARY

This romantic comedy is the story of three very different individuals, Camille, Franck (anyone else getting visions of Martin Short’s version in Father of the Bride?), and Philibert. Camille is living a dead end life, working in a minimum wage job, coping with her perpetually complaining mother, living in a barely habitable apartment and wasting away from lack of nourishment.

Philibert and Franck are roommates in the same building as Camille, temporarily sharing a luxury apartment owned by Philibert’s family. Philibert is shy and stutters, but is also intelligent, refined and kind. Franck is his complete opposite, angry, abrasive, overworked and underappreciated as a sous chef in a local restaurant.  On his only day off each week, he goes to visit his unhappy grandmother at the nursing home where she resides.

After a chance encounter one evening as they enter the building, Philibert and Camille become friends and after Camille becomes sick, Philibert moves her into the apartment he shares with Franck.  This does not sit well with Franck and upsets the balance in the apartment creating friction among the characters, particularly between Franck and Camille.

Despite Franck’s rudeness, he eventually recognizes the positive influence Camille has on Philibert and grudgingly convinces her to stay. This situation comes to be of great benefit for all three characters and acts as a catalyst for their personal growth. As their relationships develop and deepen they form their own family of sorts which eventually reaches out to include Franck’s grandmother.

MY THOUGHTS

I definitely think that the French title accurately describes the film. Individually, Franck, Philibert and Camille are lonely people, drifting through life, not living up to their full potential. It is only when they come together, that their lives begin to take on direction and meaning. In today’s world of busyness and hyper digital connection, it seems even more important not to lose the personal human connection which we struggle to maintain. I read a report recently which highlighted the toll that loneliness and social isolation can take. Studies showed that chronic loneliness puts us at higher risk for certain diseases and that lonely adults are 25 percent more likely to die prematurely. It’s interesting to note that so many people today are searching for connection and community, a place to belong.

Although, Ensemble c’est tout does touch on this phenomenon, it is not meant to be a sociological study of the issue. It is not a film of great importance or depth, but one that charmingly entertains. In branching out into foreign films, I find I have a preference for those of French origin, mainly because I have always been in love with France and it’s culture. One thing I am starting to notice is the casual attitude the French have towards nudity. In the few films I have seen so far, the scenes where nudity is on display have nothing to do sex or enticement, but simply come about as a natural part of life. In this film, the Camille is an artist who loves to draw portraits. In one scene she is sketching Franck’s grandmother who is mostly covered, but has one breast exposed.

The French also seem to display an attitude of laissez faire in the romantic relationships depicted on screens whereas in American films, it is much more intentional and even intensely depicted.

This being the first Audrey Tatou film I’ve seen, I can predict I will most likely become a fan. She was not overtly feminine in this role and yet I can see why she has drawn comparisons to Audrey Hepburn. I have actually seen Guillaume Canet, the actor who plays Franck, in another foreign film I love, Joyeux Noel (which also stars Diane Kruger), in which he plays a French Lieutenant during WWI, so I can say that he ably played two very different roles and made them believable.

While this isn’t a particularly inspiring or fascinating film, I found it very watchable and entertaining. The acting is solid, the story is interesting and relatable and it has a happy ending which I always appreciate. This film is currently available on Amazon.  As for me,  I will be checking out more Audrey Tatou films.