Holodomor is a word which translated literally means death by starvation. The word comes from the Ukrainian words holod, ‘hunger’, and mor, ‘plague’ possibly from the expression moryty holodom, ‘to inflict death by hunger’ (Source: Wikipedia). The Ukrainians use it more commonly to refer to a literal event which occurred in the early 1930’s when Stalin’s government created a famine. The intentional policies of his government led to the death of millions of Ukrainians from starvation and subsequent disease. Although the final tally of deaths varies, it ranks with the Holocaust as one of the worst tragedies of this century. Bitter Harvest is the first Western feature film to portray this historical event onscreen.
Yuri and Natalka are childhood sweethearts who have grown up together in a small Ukranian village. They have come of age in a time where the ruling Russian monarchy has been ousted and Communism has become a popular governing concept. It is a chaotic time, particularly as the Ukraine has taken advantage of Russia’s political instability to assert their own claim to national identity and independence…and failed.
Yuri and Natalka lives remain relatively untouched by the turmoil. Their biggest concerns are more personal. Yuri (Max Irons) is an artist who struggles to live up to the reputation of his famous warrior grandfather. Natalka (Samantha Barks) worries that her illegitimate birth will taint Yuri’s reputation if they marry. But the outside world soon crashes in on their simple life. Orders from Moscow have sent Russian soldiers to the Ukrainian heartland to confiscate the wealth and property of this area. These soldiers are cruel and violent as they force collectivization on formerly free landowners and peasants. But Stalin needs the grain from this Eastern breadbasket to fuel his army.
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I vividly remember my first exposure to The Phantom of the Opera. My family was in New York and my father took us all to see the show on Broadway. We also watched the equally famous Les Miserable that same trip. But as much as I loved the message, it was not Les Miserable which stuck with me. For weeks, I was haunted by the story of the Phantom. The music replayed continuously in my mind and I couldn’t let go of all the questions that the stage production left open ended. Most importantly, what happened to the Phantom?!
Based on the French novel by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera has been adapted many times. But it is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage and film musical which is arguably the most familiar to audiences.
The Phantom of the Opera Summary
In Webber’s version, the orphaned Christine Daae has been raised in a Parisian opera house where she also works as a dancer. But she has secretly been taking voice lessons from a tutor she only knows as the Angel of Music. When an accident occurs during rehearsal Carlotta, the resident soprano, refuses to sing for opening night. This serves as Christine’s big break. She is a big success. This also brings her to the attention of the new patron of the opera house and her former childhood sweetheart, Raoul the Vicomte de Chagny.
Her public success and meeting with the Vicomte motivate her mysterious tutor to finally reveal himself to her as the Phantom of the Opera. He is not the ghost that the company thinks he is, but a highly disfigured man (both physically and emotionally) who lives beneath the opera house. But in spite of his kindness to Christine the Phantom is a man to be feared. He will stop at nothing both to dictate the management of the opera house itself and to possess the lovely and innocent Christine.
For my full summary and review, please head over to The Silver Petticoat Review.
Gifted is the story of Frank and his niece Mary. Mary is a math prodigy much like her deceased mother. Frank’s sister asked him to take care of Mary before she killed herself. Frank has done his best to raise Mary as his sister would have wanted and much differently than she herself was raised by their own mother. Instead of capitalizing on Mary’s genius, Frank has tried to provide Mary with a normal childhood. Well, as normal as possible with Frank’s sporadic employment. Mary’s best (and only) friend is their next door neighbor Roberta. Despite the fact that Roberta is old enough to be Mary’s mother, the two have a special connection.
When Frank decides to put Mary in public school, against Roberta’s advice, it is a surprisingly catalytic event. Though Mary has had no formal schooling it is clear she is more advanced than even her teacher. However, her social skills leave much to be desired. Against the recommendation of Mary’s principal and teacher, Frank declines to put her in a school for the gifted. He opts to leave her where he believes she will be allowed to have a normal childhood. However, this decision manages to reach the ears of his uptight, brilliant mother who wishes Mary to continue the work that her own daughter never completed. Thus a legal battle for custody of Mary ensues, with both Frank and his mother Evelyn believing they know what is best for Mary. But, who is right? And will anyone in this family come out a winner when Mary is the prize? Continue reading “Film Review -Gifted (2017)”
In Much Ado About Nothing Prince Don Pedro and his men are returning from battle. On their way home they stop at the home of Leonato.
Claudio is enamored of Leonato’s beautiful, innocent daughter Hero and desires to marry her. His compatriot Benedick has sworn off marriage. He becomes engaged instead in a battle of wit and will against Hero’s cousin Beatrice. Don Pedro manages to arrange a wedding between Claudio and Hero. Feeling confident of his skills he proclaims to his men that he will play matchmaker for the combative Benedick and Beatrice.
With a little help from his men and Beatrice’s family the two are tricked into believing they both truly love each other. In the meantime Don Pedro’s malicious brother Don John plots to stop the marriage between Claudio and Hero as a means of revenge. Continue reading “Film Review -Much Ado About Nothing (1993)”
Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote stories familiar and beloved to many, including Little Lord Fauntleroy, A Little Princess and The Secret Garden. All of these have been adapted for the screen. Not nearly as many are familiar with Burnett’s novel The Making of a Marchioness and its’ sequel The Methods of Lady Walderhurst. The former was adapted as a television film by ITV under the name The Making of a Lady.
The Making of a Lady stars Lydia Wilson as the impoverished but genteel Emily Fox-Seton. Orphaned at a young age, she has been forced to make her own way in the world. Gifted an education by her relatives, her options remain few. She has a difficult time maintaining steady employment to pay her rooming fare at a run-down but respectable boarding house. After being let go from her temporary job as a secretary to Lady Maria Byrne, she receives an unexpected offer from the Lady’s nephew, Lord Walderhurst.
In need of an heir, the older Marquess proposes a marriage of convenience. With very few options and despite wanting to marry for love, Emily accepts his proposal. Walderhurst soon introduces her as the mistress of his country home, where she is met by a less than hospitable staff.
Just as Emily and Walderhurst begin to grow closer, he decides to re-enlist in his old regiment and return to India. He instructs his dour but trusted butler, Mr Litton to look out for his new wife.
Shortly after his departure, Walderhurst’s cousin Alec Osborne and his Indian born wife Hester arrive with a letter from the Marquess requesting they also keep keep an eye on Emily. Despite prior inferences from both her husband and Lady Byrne about Alec’s character, Emily is thrilled to have some pleasant, young relatives around to keep her company and moves them into the house. But strange things begin occurring and Alec’s behavior becomes erratic. Is he a threat or is Emily imagining things?
To read my full review, please head over to The Silver Petticoat Review.
History is a treasure trove full of inspirational stories of real life people and I love seeing these stories brought to wider attention on the screen.
Tommy’ s Honour is the tale of the father and son who are considered the founders of modern golf and is based on a book by Kevin Cook. Old Tom Morris’ is a champion golfer whose glory days are passing but he’s still well respected as the greens keeper and professional at St. Andrews. He and his son Tommy Jr. act as caddies to the local gentlemen golfers of the St. Andrews club while also running their shop selling golf equipment.
As a teenager, Tommy soon begins to surpass his father’s fame with his own advanced skills earning him respect. This leads to Tommy being chosen in place of his father in challenger games. These games are set up by the titled and wealthy who put up the money to stake the game, betting their choice of a player against a challenger from another course. The winner receives whatever profits the organizers decide to share with him.
Of course, Tommy wins many of these matches and then begins winning professional golf tournaments. But Tommy’s modern ideas both in how to play the game and also his belief in his own equality with the upper class who sponsor him, clash with his father’s more traditional views. And when he falls in love with an older woman with a tainted past, he alienates his mother.
To read my full review of this underrated film, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.
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.
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)”
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.
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. Continue reading “Foreign Film Friday -Ensemble C’est Tout (2007)”
I have so many favorite films (and books for that matter) that the word favorite seems in danger of losing it’s impact and meaning. But I can’t help that I genuinely love so many of the stories I watch and read that I want to re-visit them over and over again.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is one of my many film loves. I never get tired of watching it and often use it as a cheery tonic when I am having a bad day. It’s just so much fun. Instead of doing a review, I thought I would mix things up a bit and tell you why I adore it so much.
- HENRY CAVILL – This is one of the few movies Cavill is in that I love. And it’s not because he can’t act, but for some reason he is cast in films which I just don’t think are very good. Still, even when he played Superman in Man of Steel, a film which was so convoluted that I didn’t know what was going on half of the time, I enjoyed watching him during its long running time. Honestly, I would watch him paint a wall. And yes, I’m just shallow enough to admit, that sometimes a movie can be saved by its’ eye candy. Of course, that is not necessary in this film. And thankfully, Cavill for once, ends up with a really fun role as American former thief turned playboy spy Napoleon Solo.
Continue reading “Eight Reasons I Adore The Man From U.N.C.L.E (2015)”
The Promise is set in the last days of the Ottoman Empire, now Turkey, during the early years of World War I. Young Mikael Boghosian comes from a family of apothecaries, but his real dream is to leave his mountain village to attend medical school in Constantinople so that he can return to doctor his people. This dream has always been out of reach. That is until he betroths himself to a local girl in order to gain her dowry for the school fees. He plans to complete a three-year medical degree in two, and then return home to marry her. He believes he will learn to love her eventually.
In Constantinople, Mikael boards with a wealthy relative. Then he meets Ana a fellow Armenian raised in Paris who has returned to her home country with her American reporter boyfriend Chris Myers. Although an immediate attraction between Mikael and Ana stirs…
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