Carrie (1976)

Carrie 4
Telekinesis means the ability to move objects at a distance by mental power, or by other non-physical means. When high school girl Carrie white (Sissy Spacek)  experiences her first period in the gym at school, the other girls make fun of the young woman’s fear and ridicule her.  She lives in a gloomy ruinous house where she is dominated by her mother (Piper Laurie), a sexually repressed religious fanatic.  She has the power to move objects.  Her mother has left Carrie unprepared for a harsh world constantly being pelted with religious fanatical teachings. When Sue (Amy Irving) convinces her boyfriend Tommy Ross to take Carrie to the prom to make up for her part in the showers, disgraced popular girl Chris (Nancy Allen) and her abusive boyfriend Billy (John Travolta) take it upon themselves to teach Carrie a lesson. Sissy Spacek’s  performance is easily a standout in the cast rivaled only by Piper Laurie, but the entire cast seems eerily aware that they are in a horror film masquerading as a dark fairy tale – and it works. In this film, De Palma discovered that his destructive sense of humor could be synthesized with his graceful visual sensibilities in a manner that would highlight both. She is not allowed to go outside of the house other than to go to school, she is not allowed to date boys, and she certainly is not allowed to question anything that has to do with her coming maturation into womanhood. As is the case in most De Palma films, the technical credits are superb. The cinematography (by Mario Tosi) is extremely effective; colors and shadows have been shot effectively here. Carrie was also very creepy. The scenes with her mother was really scary.

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The man who knew too much (1956)

The man who knew too much 1956

The original “The Man Who Knew Too Much” brought Alfred Hitchcock acclaim for the first time outside of the United Kingdom.  Of course part of the reason for the acclaim was that people marveled how Hitchcock on such a medium budget as compared to lavish Hollywood products was able to provide so much on the screen.  The original film was shot inside a studio. Hitchcock now with an international reputation and a big Hollywood studio behind him (Paramount) decided to see what The Man Who Knew Too Much would be like with a lavish budget. This is shot on location in Marrakesh and London and has two big international names for box office. This was James Stewart’s third of four Hitchcock films and his only teaming with Doris Day. Day and Stewart are on vacation with their son Christopher Olsen in Morocco and they make the acquaintance of Frenchman Daniel Gelin and the aforementioned English couple, Bernard Miles and Brenda DaBanzie. Gelin is stabbed in the back at a market place and just before dying he whispers some words to Stewart about an assassination to take place in Albert Hall in London.
The original film had Peter Lorre playing the villain. This film doesn’t benefit from his presence, unfortunately, but that is made up for by performances from the amazing James Stewart, and Doris Day.  Stewart conveys all the courage, conviction and heartbreak of a man that has lost his child and would do anything to get him back brilliantly. Doris Day was as good as Jimmy Stewart.  I’m enthralled by the enthusiasm and the energy that she puts behind her performance. Hitch mounted an elaborate remake which lacks the original’s crisp pace, but makes up for it with star value, sumptuous colour and sustained suspense.

The man who knew too much (1934)

man-who-knew-too-much-1934

The Man Who Knew Too Much is a 1934 British thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Later Hitchcock remade the film after 20 years with James Stewart as male lead. Both versions have been brilliant for different reasons. The plot of both films is roughly the same: holidaying overseas, the father of a young girl stumbles upon a secret of international importance. In order to keep him quiet, some foreign agents kidnap the child and ship her back to London, where the father and his long-suffering wife pick up the trail and try to find out their child.  Edna Best and Leslie Banks star as Jill and Bob Lawrence, a couple on holiday in the Swiss Alps with their teenage daughter Betty (Nova Pilbeam). When their friend Louis Bernard (Pierre Fresnay) is shot while dancing with Jill, he tells Bob of an assassination about to take place in London. Fearing that their plot will be revealed, the assassins, led by vicious Abbott (Peter Lorre), kidnap the daughter in order to keep her father quiet. From the very start, we notice that it’s Jill who is taking the more active hero role, by virtue of the fact that she’s participating in a sharp shooting competition. Bob, on the other hand, is left to spend time with his daughter. Most of Jill’s scenes are with other men, while Bob spends the majority of the film separated from her – on the hunt for his kid or in the custody of the villains.
The performances by the actors are of high quality, with Leslie Banks leading the cast with his charming presence and very British wit. His ability to mix drama with comedy makes his character a very real and likable person. Edna Best is spectacular as tough and charming woman. But the real star of the film is the amazing Peter Lorre as the leader of the conspirators. In his first work in English, Lorre shows off his enormous talent and steals every single scene he appears in the film. The Man Who Knew Too Much” is probably the first of his movies that truly can be considered as representative Hitchcock film, as his style is finally shaped in this film. Visually, the movie is a joy, as with the excellent work by cinematographer Curt Courant, Hitchcock shows the influence of German expressionism in his work and creates wonderful images of striking contrast between light and shadows. His mastery of suspense shines in many scenes of the film, particularly in an impressive sequence that serves as climax of the film. The remake was equally brilliant with the great James Stewart as lead. I will write my next review about it.

Hamraaz (1967)

Hamraaz

Hamraaz is a BR Films production and a fine example of the high entertainment value that characterises BR Chopra’s films. Meena (Vimi) married a military officer Rajesh (Raj Kumar). Rajesh is sent to China border and is declared killed.  In the meantime, Meena’s father (Manmohan Krishnan) discovers that her daughter is pregnant. Fate is at play. Popular stage actor Kumar (Sunil Dutt) from Bombay visits Darjeeling. Kumar and Meena fall in love ,get married and move to Bombay. After four years, Meena’s past returns to haunt her. Kumar gets suspicious as she begins to avoid him. During the turn of events, Meena gets killed and inspector Ashok (Balraj Sahni) suspects Kumar’s involvement. Saahir Ludhianvi has written five songs for this film and Ravi has composed music for them. I loved two songs, one of them is- “Tum Agar Saath Dene Ka Vaada Karo, Main Yun Hi Mast Naghme Lutaata Rahoon ” and the other one is “Na Munh Chhupa Ke Jiyo Aur Na Sar Jhuka Ke Jiyo”. All these five songs are over within the first hour of the film and immediately thereafter we find ourselves enveloped in a suspense thriller lasting till the end.
The white-shoes of the mysterious person whose identity is revealed just before the climax, is something unforgettable for the viewers. The style is heavily influenced by classic Hollywood films but for a Hollywood lover like me,it’s a great experience. Here is a thriller where songs don’t impede the growth of suspense as the songs take the narrative forward, a quality we miss these days. I consider Sunil Dutt an average actor at best. But in this film ,he gets most screen-time and he does justice to it. He was really convincing as an insecure husband. I guess male actors are capable of depicting insecure lover more often than not. Raj Kumar’s stylized acting fits in this film. Balraj Sahni was excellent as inspector Ashok. Unfortunately Vimi was weakest link in that film.  If u love thrillers with touch of melodrama, u will enjoy it.

Manon Des Sources

manon Des source

 

It is the sequel to Jean de Florette. It won an award in 1989 as best french film. Time has passed and Manon (Emmanuelle Beart) is now a beautiful young woman.Galinette (Auteuil) and his uncle Cesar (Montard) have greatly prospered from the fresh spring water and their carnations grow well.  Galinette begins to turn towards ideas of love and steadily falls for the distant Manon. One day, Manon overhears the conversation of two locals about the vile action of Ugolin and Cesar and she plots revenge against the two men blocking the spring of the whole town. The film is an excellent travelogue of Provence, and its slow, deliberate pacing enables you to envelop yourself in a story that unveils itself in its own sweet time. The film binds all the people in town in a wonderfully spun loop of love, hate, crime, guilt, vengeance, repentance, and the possibility of forgivenes. Both Montand and Auteuil gave unforgettable performances.  Emmanuelle Beart was stunning as Manon. When this film ends, you will be devastated – and haunted forever by it.

Jean De Florette

Gerard_Depardieu_in_Jean_de_Florette

It is a 1986 French period drama film written and directed by Claude Berri, based on a novel by Marcel Pagnol.  The film takes place in rural France, where two local farmers plot to trick a newcomer out of his newly inherited property. The socially awkward Ugolin Soubeyran (Daniel Auteuil) returns from military service to his family home halfway up a green mountainside near his uncle César’s house.
Ugolin looks to César (Yves Montand), whom he calls “Papet,” for guidance as to how to carry on the family name, particularly since he is the family’s last member. Ugolin decides to grow carnations, which he hopes will make him rich. Although initially dubious about the scheme,  Papet changes his mind when he considers purchasing a land from his neighbor.  After accidentally killing the man, Papet and Ugolin block up a spring on the property with a scheme to buy the land cheap.  However, the plot goes wrong when ownership of the land shifts to the recently deceased Florette de Berengere, whose hunchback son Jean (Gerard Depardieu) moves back to his ancestral home with his wife and young daughter Manon. A recently retired tax collector, Jean is a well-read man with a fine strategy to plant a farm and a rabbit-breeding facility that will provide for his family until his death. As the film progresses, our attention narrowly focuses on the principal characters and their evolution. We are not distracted by outside events. At the same time, we are torn between the two conflicting wishes for the success of two conflicting projects.
Director Claude Berri’s epic period-drama masterpiece of French cinema features impeccable performances by reknowned French actors- Yves Montand, Gerard Depardieu, Daniel Auteil. Their brilliant ensemble work here highlights the rich history of French Cinema. The high-budget picture elegantly captures the natural setting, social customs, and personal prejudices of French villagers whose source of spring water is manipulated at different times by manipulative individuals.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091288/

La nuit américaine (Day For Night)

Day for night

 

“Shooting a movie is like a stagecoach trip. At first you hope for a nice ride. Then you just hope to reach your destination.” Early in the film, director Ferrand, played by François Truffaut, says this in a voice-over of ‘Day for Night’. A lot of the film illustrates this point. We are on the set of ‘Meet Pamela’.  ‘Meet Pamela’ is a love and revenge story, about a man falling in love with daughter-in-law. We get to know the cast and crew of ‘Meet Pamela’.  Julie Baker(Jacqueline Bisset), a second generation Hollywood star whose nervous breakdown she’s recovering from causes insurance problems; Alphonse (Jean-Pierre Léaud),a very jealous, very neurotic French actor who’s so madly in love with a girl he organizes the job of the script for her just to have her near; Alexandre(Jean-Pierre Aumont), a veteran actor who played many lovers in his life, but is actually a closet homosexual;  Severine (Valentina Cortese), an Italian actress with an alcohol problem who used to play opposite Alexandre frequently in her career, but hasn’t talked to him in years.
It is a film about making a film. It is also one of Truffaut’s most personal films. Day for Night” is Truffaut’s fondest, most compassionate film, and although it is packed with references to films and film people (Welles, Vigo, Fellini, Buñuel, among others), it’s not a particularly inside film. Bisset as Julie gives the film a bit of real heart as the one character who has something of a life beyond movies. Cortese is a treat, with both her sweetness and her lighter moments. Jean-Pierre Léaud is outstanding as selfish, spoiled Alphonse. Truffaut himself played the role of the director with a lot of confidence. “Day for Night” is an ensemble movie, showing how the many kinds of people on a film set surmount the many minor crises inherent in film-making.