Monday, 25 February 2013

The 85th Annual Academy Awards

The 85th Annual Academy Awards 

Best Motion Picture of the Year

Argo (2012): Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck, George Clooney

Other Nominees:
Amour (2012): Margaret Ménégoz, Stefan Arndt, Veit Heiduschka, Michael Katz
Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012): Dan Janvey, Josh Penn, Michael Gottwald
Django Unchained (2012): Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin, Pilar Savone
Les Misérables (2012): Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Cameron Mackintosh
Life of Pi (2012): Gil Netter, Ang Lee, David Womark
Lincoln (2012): Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy
Silver Linings Playbook (2012): Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen, Jonathan Gordon
Zero Dark Thirty (2012): Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow, Megan Ellison

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln (2012)

Other Nominees:
Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables (2012)
Joaquin Phoenix for The Master (2012)
Denzel Washington for Flight (2012/I)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Other Nominees:
Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
Emmanuelle Riva for Amour (2012)
Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
Naomi Watts for The Impossible (2012)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained (2012)

Other Nominees:
Alan Arkin for Argo (2012)
Robert De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master (2012)
Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln (2012)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables (2012)

Other Nominees:
Amy Adams for The Master (2012)
Sally Field for Lincoln (2012)
Helen Hunt for The Sessions (2012)
Jacki Weaver for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Best Achievement in Directing

Ang Lee for Life of Pi (2012)

Other Nominees:
Michael Haneke for Amour (2012)
David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Steven Spielberg for Lincoln (2012)
Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

Django Unchained (2012): Quentin Tarantino

Other Nominees:
Amour (2012): Michael Haneke
Flight (2012/I): John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom (2012): Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Zero Dark Thirty (2012): Mark Boal

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

Argo (2012): Chris Terrio

Other Nominees:
Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012): Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin
Life of Pi (2012): David Magee
Lincoln (2012): Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook (2012): David O. Russell

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

Brave (2012): Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman

Other Nominees:
Frankenweenie (2012): Tim Burton
ParaNorman (2012): Sam Fell, Chris Butler
The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012): Peter Lord
Wreck-It Ralph (2012): Rich Moore

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

Amour (2012)(Austria)

Other Nominees:
War Witch (2012)(Canada)
No (2012/I)(Chile)
A Royal Affair (2012)(Denmark)
Kon-Tiki (2012)(Norway)

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Life of Pi (2012): Claudio Miranda

Other Nominees:
Anna Karenina (2012/I): Seamus McGarvey
Django Unchained (2012): Robert Richardson
Lincoln (2012): Janusz Kaminski
Skyfall (2012): Roger Deakins

Best Achievement in Editing

Argo (2012): William Goldenberg

Other Nominees:
Life of Pi (2012): Tim Squyres
Lincoln (2012): Michael Kahn
Silver Linings Playbook (2012): Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers
Zero Dark Thirty (2012): William Goldenberg, Dylan Tichenor

Best Achievement in Production Design

Lincoln (2012): Rick Carter, Jim Erickson

Other Nominees:
Anna Karenina (2012/I): Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012): Dan Hennah, Ra Vincent, Simon Bright
Les Misérables (2012): Eve Stewart, Anna Lynch-Robinson
Life of Pi (2012): David Gropman, Anna Pinnock

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Anna Karenina (2012/I): Jacqueline Durran

Other Nominees:
Les Misérables (2012): Paco Delgado
Lincoln (2012): Joanna Johnston
Mirror Mirror (2012/I): Eiko Ishioka
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012): Colleen Atwood

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

Les Misérables (2012): Lisa Westcott, Julie Dartnell

Other Nominees:
Hitchcock (2012): Howard Berger, Peter Montagna, Martin Samuel
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012): Peter King, Rick Findlater, Tami Lane

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

Life of Pi (2012): Mychael Danna

Other Nominees:
Anna Karenina (2012/I): Dario Marianelli
Argo (2012): Alexandre Desplat
Lincoln (2012): John Williams
Skyfall (2012): Thomas Newman

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

Skyfall (2012): Adele, Paul Epworth("Skyfall")

Other Nominees:
Chasing Ice (2012): J. Ralph("Before My Time")
Les Misérables (2012): Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Herbert Kretzmer("Suddenly")
Life of Pi (2012): Mychael Danna, Bombay Jayshree("Pi's Lullaby")
Ted (2012): Walter Murphy, Seth MacFarlane("Everybody Needs a Best Friend")

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Les Misérables (2012): Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson, Simon Hayes

Other Nominees:
Argo (2012): John T. Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, José Antonio García
Life of Pi (2012): Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill, Drew Kunin
Lincoln (2012): Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom, Ron Judkins
Skyfall (2012): Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell, Stuart Wilson

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

Skyfall (2012): Per Hallberg, Karen M. Baker
Zero Dark Thirty (2012): Paul N.J. Ottosson

Other Nominees:
Argo (2012): Erik Aadahl, Ethan Van der Ryn
Django Unchained (2012): Wylie Stateman
Life of Pi (2012): Eugene Gearty, Philip Stockton

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Life of Pi (2012): Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik De Boer, Donald Elliott

Other Nominees:
The Avengers (2012): Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams, Daniel Sudick
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012): Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, R. Christopher White
Prometheus (2012/I): Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley, Martin Hill
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012): Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Phil Brennan, Neil Corbould, Michael Dawson

Best Documentary, Feature

Searching for Sugar Man (2012): Malik Bendjelloul, Simon Chinn

Other Nominees:
5 Broken Cameras (2011): Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi
The Gatekeepers (2012): Dror Moreh, Philippa Kowarsky, Estelle Fialon
How to Survive a Plague (2012): David France, Howard Gertler
The Invisible War (2012): Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering

Best Documentary, Short Subject

Inocente (2012): Sean Fine, Andrea Nix

Other Nominees:
Kings Point (2012): Sari Gilman, Jedd Wider
Mondays at Racine (2012): Cynthia Wade, Robin Honan
Open Heart (2013): Kief Davidson, Cori Shepherd Stern
Redemption (2012/V): Jon Alpert, Matthew O'Neill

Best Short Film, Animated

Paperman (2012): John Kahrs

Other Nominees:
Adam and Dog (2011): Minkyu Lee
Fresh Guacamole (2012): PES
Head Over Heels (2012): Timothy Reckart, Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly
The Simpsons: The Longest Daycare (2012): David Silverman

Best Short Film, Live Action

Curfew (2012/I): Shawn Christensen

Other Nominees:
Asad (2012): Bryan Buckley, Mino Jarjoura
Buzkashi Boys (2012): Sam French, Ariel Nasr
Death of a Shadow (2012): Tom Van Avermaet, Ellen De Waele
Henry (2011/III): Yan England

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Django Unchained (2012)


Dr. King Schultz: How do you like the bounty hunting business? Django: Kill white people and get paid for it? What's not to like? 

Tarantino overwhelms me. He always had. Ever since I sat down for 'Reservoir Dogs' I thought he was one of those directors that would not let me in peace. Indeed he does not. He is the never-ending restless auteur. He writes, directs and produces most of his projects because he is so precise on what he wants to achieve. Even with 'Django Unchained' he does exactly that. He achieved, and achieved greatness.

The film is about former dentist, Dr. King Schultz, buys the freedom of a slave, Django, and trains him with the intent to make him his deputy bounty hunter. Instead, he is led to the site of Django's wife who is under the hands of Calvin Candie, a ruthless plantation owner. (

The delinquent duo from 'Inglorious Basterds', Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill) and Christoph Waltz (Water for Elephants, Carnage, The Three Musketeers) are at it again. This time with a more of a western type of story-line, which however makes sure to reference a number of types of pop culture themes. Waltz's character, Dr. King Schultz, a dentist plus bounty hunter, is surely one of the most delightful characters to watch in this film. Fast spirited, witty, excellent performing execution and as always flawless in his delivery. This is one golden duo, since Tarantino did not fail in his casting of the odd dentist/bounty hunter.

Leo DiCaprio (Titanic, The Aviator, The Departed, Revolutionary Road, Inception, Shutter Island, Catch me if you Can) and Jamie Foxx (Collateral, Ray, The Soloist). Well this is definitely a duo I was not ever expecting to see in a Tarantino film. I admit though, it works, their chemistry, their bizarre performing blockage, takes both actors into another level. Personally, DiCaprio especially, is an outstanding actor who truly transformed into something else entirely with this role. Playing a rich-ass plantation owner who is Foxx's enemy, who happens to hold his wife locked up, he manages to deliver a barbaric-type of character that will make everyone wonder on the diversity of his performance. Likewise, Award-winner Jamie Foxx is equally brilliant in his portrayal of Django. He is a solid leading man, hard on his performance, witty on his dialogue, pure in his emotions.

Needless to mention the brilliant performances also by Kerry Washington and the master of bitch-acting and many times collaborator Mr. Samuel-AWESOME-Jackson. They both give dazzling performances and their portrayal takes on a more physical challenge for these two actors, but without disappointing.

In the three hours that expire in watching this film, Quentin Tarantino manages to prevail in his new fantasy genre of western-action-pop-culture project. Also, quite worthy to mention the film's soundtrack is as always to the point and gives the film a more contemporary feeling to it.

The best thing about Tarantino is of course, as always, his dialogue. I do not think he is the best director in town, as somewhere between action and drama his skills tend to fall a bit flat, but his dialogue on the other hand is a masterpiece. He knows exactly what to write to heighten the viewer's interest, to make him engage and comprehend the plot. Of course he does deliver his personal cameo somewhere during the final hour of the film, thus giving him his own trademark as an auteur.

Personally I did enjoy this film, I think this is for everyone who likes high-packed action drama, it's got its share of gore and blood sputtering, as well as the unavoidable incessant gun-fighting, but his dialogue and the brilliant performances make up for it. Well worth the watch for the Tarantino lovers, this one is definitely a must-watch. Expect it to have a long duration, so be patient with the story-line. It will take you in quite a journey, but it is fulfilling in by the end of it.

This film, also marks the final review which I have had time to write before this year's Academy Awards 2013, but I will continue with some excellent still choices from this year's nominations.

Hope you enjoy Tarantino this time round as much as I did. See you soon, everyone!

"And may the odds be ever in their favor."

Friday, 22 February 2013

Les Miserables (2012)


Jean Valjean: To love another person is to see the face of God. 

One of my most anticipated reviews this year. This film is a musical, BASED on a musical; the West End musical in London to be exact. Many people when they went into the movies to watch 'Les Mis' (abrv) they were disappointed to find out that the film was filled with music from beginning to end. Well, let's make one thing clear, yet again...this film is BASED on the MUSICAL, not the classical novel by Victor Hugo. 

So, since we got this cleared out let's start with revewing the actual film. It was my great pleasure to go and see this film, particularly because for me this genre represents a very big part of who I am and I simply adore musicals. Especially the ones who stay true to the original stage musicals. Such is 'Les Miserables'.

The story line follows prisoner-on-parole, 24601, Jean Valjean, as he runs from the ruthless Inspector Javert on a journey beyond the barricades, at the center of the June Rebellion. Meanwhile, the life of a working class girl with a child is at turning point as she turns to prostitution to pay money to the evil innkeeper and his wife who look after her child, Cosette. Valjean promises to take care of the child, something which eventually leads to a love triangle between Cosette, Marius who is a student of the rebellion, and Eponine, a girl of the streets. The people sing of their anger and Enjolras leads the students to fight upon the barricades.(

The story itself is touching, to say the least.Personally it has always touched me in so many levels, especially now, during the times of financial adversity I think the story-line applies to most people out there. 

Let's start from director Tom Hooper (The King's Speech, The Damned United, John Adams). He is not your average English wannabe director-bloke who just happened to graduate from a film school. Hooper time and time again proved to be a master of narrative drama. This time round, he went far beyond his wildest expectations in tackling one of the greatest musicals ever to have been written. His persistence only in allowing his actors to perform musically without limitations, is proof of the freedoms he possesses as a person. His amazing gift to guide his actors and let them free to create through their musical talent was indeed a great risk he was willing to take. But it did payoff in retrospect, for his efforts did not go in vain. 

'Les Mis' is heralded to be one of this year's finest accomplishments. Not so much for its variety in its genre, but because they managed to do the unimaginable. To be able to transfer a stage musical play (i am highlighting the musical part as this is the most vital thing here) into film and still be able to move and touch so many people, is something extraordinary. If someone had told me this even when they tried to film 'The Phantom of the Opera' (another iconic musical stage play), I would have said, impossible. But indeed Hooper succeed. His cinematography, his costume and production design was so flawless at hand, so precise and well executed, especially when it came down to details, that anyone cannot but applaud him in awe. Outstanding piece of filmmaking and one of this year's best, in my opinion. 

But none of this would not have been made possible if it wasn't for the casting. What an amazing cast. Of course, my only tiny hiccup would be in the choice of Russell Crowe (Gladiator, The Insider, L.A. Confidential,A Beautiful Mind), who portrayed the role of Inspector Jarvet. Not because he did not the part physically, but indeed I would not be the first not to extol his musical skills. Albeit the fact that Crowe had extensive training and was associated in the past with music, he did not convince. I shall not be cruel enough to say his efforts were totally wasted, but he was the weakest link amongst the rest of the cast.

Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway,Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Amanda Seyfriend, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit and Samantha Barks on the other hand...would it be too awful of me just to say...WOW, what a brilliant choice, what an amazing chemistry out of everyone in this cast, what a superb performance. I was completely taken aback. 

Hugh Jackman (The Prestige, X-Men, Australia), who played the lead role of Jean Valjean gave an unbelievably extraordinary performance. The stamina,the passion and the depth he managed to give to Jean Valjean was something beyond my expectations. He took this role bare-handed and made it his own, he made sure he gave him the proper poise and the ability to express the layers of this character. Glorious acting,outstanding singing and performing. 

Alongside him, the little blooming flower of Hollywood, Anne Hathaway (The Devil Wears Prad, Brokeback Mountain, One Day, Becoming JaneThe Princess Diaries, The Dark Knight Rises). We were proven in the past, that no matter how big or small a role is, as long as you manage to grasp it and make any viewer empathize so much with to the point of hysteria or tears, then you have succeed beyond any actor's dream. Hathaway did exactly that. Her close-up on her devastating performance of 'I dreamed a dream' was exactly what no actor managed to achieve so far on the musical stage; show her absolute despair and her drifting into oblivion. Hooper made sure, he let Hathaway free enough to not only become one with the role of Fantine, but also dissect her every tear, her every word, her every action.It would be a great omission on my part not to mention that for her scene in 'I dreamed a dream' was accomplished all in one take, under live recording. Spellbinding performance! 

Of course, the gem of this film is the collaboration of everyone who sung, danced and performed in this film. Having a functionable ensemble with chemistry and passion, is a key role in such films.Hooper was not a fool, and he gathered a wonderful ensemble of actors to undertake such heavy challenge and re-create the backdrop of French revolution on screen through entirely (almost) musical action. 

For those who are not keen on the musical genre, and have not been in much contact with how and what a musical is, this film should be avoided. For those who are interested in musicals, both filmic or theatrical ones, this film is just for you. A brilliant treat for the eyes and the ears equally. The Academy made sure to include it to the Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, among other 5 nominations for Best Costume, Production Design, Sound, Music and Make-up. 

A delight for anyone also who adores the story, or the musical itself. The music will take you away, and the ethical messages will spring flares of emotions so high that will be thinking about them long after the end credits roll. 

Hope you enjoy this film as much as I did, hence my great anticipation to see even the actual musical on stage. 

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Amour (2012)


Georges: Things will go on, and then one day it will all be over. 

'Amour' tells us the story of Georges and Anne, who are in their eighties. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, who is also a musician, lives abroad with her family. One day, Anne has an attack. The couple's bond of love is severely tested.(

So, I'm gonna get right to it. 

Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke (The White Ribbon, The Piano Teacher) comes to us once again with a film so subtle in its approach and treatment of the issues expressed. Besides my initial indigestion to even comprehend this film, I am inclined to admit its sublimity and its raw uniqueness. Heneke is hardly the man to tell beautiful stories, but he never lies to its viewer either. His narrative is strong, empathetic, filled with raw emotions and harsh truths. He lets the silence do most of the talking through his lense. He does not stall or play around the bush. He has something to say, he has a simple story to tell but he manages to tell it with so much raw passion, if ever that's possible, that you can't help but stay glued to the screen for the two hours of his film.

With this film, I had my reservations. Having witnessed Haneke in action in his previous films, I went into this film with half a heart, hoping that his reality this time would not be so upfront and harshly told. He did not dissapoint though either. His dialogue was scarce but to the point, the music minimal, his actors like life-like gargoyles, the story line was simple and yet so immensely powerful. 

It took me a while to be sucked into his rhythms, but eventually I did. Mostly by the engrossing performances of the two protagonists. I would like to stay on this for a while. The actors. I do praise quite often in films the actors, but with this one Haneke took things into a whole other level. The actors expressions' on any film is what makes all the difference. Here, Haneke let his actors react to each other and feed of each others' reality. Especially the role of the stricken wife. Emmanuelle Riva. Nothing but awe for this actress. Given the role of the woman who is befallen a major attack, nailing her to the bed and ultimately giving in, it was one of the hardest things to watch in a film in the past year. Her physicality and the mental state of the character she managed to portray was unbelievably horrifying, cruel enough to make you stay and watch her, raw enough to make you engage with her reality and touching enough to make you cry. Also it would be a big foul of me not to equally extol Riva's co-protagonist, Jean-Louis Tritignant, who showed a remarkable tenacity as a  thespian and was equally powerful in his portrayal of the husband, who's left behind to pick up the pieces.  

This is not a film easy to the eyes, and certainly not most people's cup of tea. I completely understand now though the 'why' the Academy chose to include this film for Best Picture and for Best Actress award. It is a very powerful and moving film. Real enough for those who dare to experience raw truth through the camera lense for a subject so fragile and above all, human

I will not say that I was immediately stricken with awe with this film, well not even by the time the end credits started rolling. However, it did leave a bittersweet feeling to my heart, it made me think about it, and come back to it with a fresher more intimate approach in my second screening. 

Outstanding piece of filmmaking, worth the while. Do not dismiss it right away and patience is a key with this one. 

Lincoln (2012)


Abraham Lincoln: Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and 
lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. 

Undoubted when one sits down to watch a Spielberg film, one should expect the very least greatness of a vast magnitude. However, every legend's glory can fade out. This does not necessarily apply in this case but objectively speaking, this film left me wanting and with a mundane expression when the end credits starting rolling. But let's take things from the beginning, shall we?

'Lincoln' is based on the true events of the life of Abraham Lincoln, the greatest, most remembered president of the United States of America. Following the real events in 1865, as the American Civil War winds inexorably toward conclusion, U.S. president Abraham Lincoln endeavors to achieve passage of the landmark constitutional amendment which will forever ban slavery from the United States. However, his task is a race against time, for peace may come at any time, and if it comes before the amendment is passed, the returning southern states will stop it before it can become law. Lincoln must, by almost any means possible, obtain enough votes from a recalcitrant Congress before peace arrives and it is too late. Yet the president is torn, as an early peace would save thousands of lives. As the nation confronts its conscience over the freedom of its entire population, 
Lincoln faces his own crisis of conscience -- end slavery or end the war.

So this film is a gigantic biopic based on one of the greatest minds that have ever walked on the USA soil, and ever since then there have been many who tried to follow in his footsteps, without the same success or glory though. This is without a doubt a one man show; without ignoring the rest of the cast, among them the astounding Sally Field, Spielberg created a filmic canvas around the figure of one man's consciousness against a nation's growing demands. The backdrop of the American Civil war was definitely a gigantic challenge for the master of war films, Steven Spielberg. Given the fact that during the past three decades, Spielberg has given us one of the most memorable war films, 'Lincoln' was particularly a challenge to him because it is very close to home, it is a film about a man that not only defined a nation and what it is today, but a film about the ethical principles of human freedom.

Cinematography for Spielberg always plays a key role, and this film was no exception. The gloominess and the rapture of the war-zone that loomed even from the first scene through our screen is reason enough to draw anyone's attention. The "bombartic" challenges of the interchanging shots between parliamentary negotiations and the battlefield, never gave out as they lured you in, first into Lincoln's presidential decision-making space and then into his own private space at home. Spielberg is clever enough never to miss out the opportunity of reminding us that his war figures as also simple people, with conflicts and personal crisis going on. This also applies here. 

However, one must look at the bigger picture and objectively critique; this film is long. Not in the meaning of running time, but in the meaning of stalling. Looking at this with an entire fresh view, from someone who does not know a lot about Lincoln's life or the American Civil war, it is my personal feeling that this film was dragging out, hopelessly waiting for the end. Gotta admit that there was a big emotional gap somewhere in the middle which left me indifferent towards the character's personal drama, thus making me lose an interest at the visual narrative action. Up until the last few scenes of the final negotiations, I found myself drifting at times. My reasons for that is in the execution; how was the average viewer supposed to be engaged in the drama, personal or otherwise, when I did not have the faintest idea whether I liked the main character or not, whether I wanted him to forgo the abolishment of slavery or forgo with all the bloodshed that the war was causing. All these feelings made me feel dull and bored, thus not being able to glorify the greatness of Spielberg's latest war masterpiece. Personally I do not comprehend the Academy's decision in opting Spielberg for a Best Director award as I believe with this one he was lacking in his skills and narrative story telling. 

Putting aside the directorial executions, I do have to whole-heartdely admit the greatness of choosing such an amazing cast to undertake such a big challenge. The leader of the cast, Lincoln himself, was appointed to none other but the mètre of excellence, Mr. Daniel Day Lewis (In the Name of the Father, My Left Foot, Last of the Mohicans, There will be Blood,Gangs of New York, The Ballad of Jack and Rose, The Age of Innocence, The Crucible). Even saying this man's name, boosts your confidence. I have decided that they should give this actor the title of the Midas Actor, because in whatever film I have ever seen him in he is golden and made me shudder. Lincoln was no exception. What a titanic role to portray and yet by what a grandiosity he managed to re-create the excellence of such a historical figure. Day Lewis, oozed brilliance throughout, whether script or directing wise the film was found lacking, Lewis literally salvages every single moment in the film with his performing discipline and his profound engagement to the character. Let alone the fact that he lures you into his world, into his vast consciousness of choosing between right and wrong for so many other people, he also makes sure you take a second and consider his personal drama, his own demons he was facing and ultimately leaving you the space to look at him with clarity and objectivity. That for me is a remarkable thing for any actor to pull through as it needs an excruciating amount of dedication and depth given to such a role.

Likewise, the same opinion applies for the superb performances of acting giants Sally Field (Norma Rae, Forrest Gump, Brothers & Sisters, Not Without my Daughter, Mrs. Doubtfire, Steel Magnolias) and Tommy Lee Jones (No Country for Old Men, In the Valley of Elah, Men in Black, The Fugitive). Both of them ooze virtuosity and thespian stamina, able to support and equally perform next to Day Lewis. A special thumbs up for Field, who portrays Linconl's wife. Her unwavering passion and focus for this role is another proof of what a remarkable actress she is. Not to mention the rest of the astounding cast with actors such as Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, David Strathairn, Hal Holbrook, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Halye, Lee Pace etc. 

As always, the glorious music score was composed by world famous composer John WilliamsNeedless to say of how brilliant his score is. His music investment aides the editing perfectly and smoothly to fit precisely into the narrative.

In all, and to finally be done with reviewing this film, I believe this is not one of Spielberg's greatests, but that however does not imply it is not a fantastic film. Even if it is just for the acting, this film excels in its own right. Whether over-appreciated or not, the themes alone stand for a unique two and a half hours in dissecting the life of the greatest president of the United States ever had. 

Hope you enjoy it, if you decide to sit for a viewing. Let me know your thoughts!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)


Tiffany: I was a slut. There will always be a part of me that is dirty and sloppy, but I like that, just like all the other parts of myself. I can forgive. Can you say the same for yourself, fucker?
Can you forgive? Are you capable of that? 

Five minutes in watching the 'Silver Linings Playbook' and this film had me guessing what it was all about. Given the very unique cast, I've decided to keep an open mind about this 'social drama'-look alike film and give it a go. After all, that is what a true film lover does.

The story tells us about Pat Solatano, a young man who lost everything - his house, his job, and his wife. He now finds himself living back with his mother and father after spending eight months in a state institution on a plea bargain. Pat is determined to rebuild his life, remain positive and reunite with his wife, despite the challenging circumstances of their separation. All Pat's parents want is for him to get back on his feet - and to share their 
family's obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles football team. When Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own, things get complicated. Tiffany offers to help Pat reconnect with his wife, but only if he'll do something very important for her in return. As their deal plays out, an unexpected bond begins to form between them, and silver linings appear in both of their lives. (

What intrigued me about the story first and foremost was the delicate approach of how the creative team decided to treat and pass on a story about people who suffer from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) or Bipolar Disorder or even Sex addiction. Very sensitive matters to deal with on screen and to try to make people understand or even sympathize with the characters, unstable at times, emotional journey. Yet, screen writer/director David 
O. Russell managed not only to create a stabilized chemistry between his actors but guide them through this process steadily and with an open mind on what they were trying to get across. 

David O. Russell made sure to give his characters multiple sides to them, both good and bad, without though eliminating any ethical emotional ups and and downs out of the right-wrong equation. This served well in the atonement of the two main protagonists most of all; is Pat really ready to rebuild his life with his ex wife, do we side with him in this obsessive journey of rekindling his marriage, do we criticize Tiffany for her addiction, how do we see her approach towards Pat and do we really condone with their odd, yet profound, 
bond between them. But hear lies the rub; David O. Russell manoeuvres carefully the plot so that we can digest first the problems of each character, absorb them and then sets us free to distinguish our emotions, whether that is pure abhorrence or pure wholesomeness. 

Onto the actors now; quite admittedly I was not too enthused to see Bradley Cooper (Limitless, The Words, The Hangover, He's Just Not That Into You) as he predominately comes from more of a comedic background. With this one I had my reservations. I am glad to say I was happily surprised that not only he manages to make me sympathize such an sardonic character but also develop an emotional bond with his character. He is an odd character to play, but his struggles become sort of his personal confessions to the viewer.He leaves you the space and the time to understand him, hence empathize with his actions as well.

Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games, Winter's Bones, X-Men: First Class) on the other hand comes up abruptly, like a hurricane, and blows your mind. She is the twister in the story but also the cherry on top. She does not want you to like her, well at least not right away. But she intrigues you. She lures you in, to question where is she going, what does she want and how deep her wounds are. She portrays a very dynamic character, full of zest and pain, but does not let any viewer linger from her side. She demands attention, with her bizarre actions and her very secretive sensitive nature. Once again, she is up for an Academy Award nod for Best Actress. Quite deservedly, as she does a superb job in her portrayal of Tiffany.

Needless to mention the astounding performances of Robert DeNiro and Chris Tucker. They both bring vibrant and exuberant performances to the whole story line, as they enhance the main protagonists' with layers to their personal drama but also a more humane aspect of their daily lives. 

Technical aspects of the film are smooth paced, cinematography registers the events in shaky rhythms and more steady tones whenever needed. Music composition offers a beautiful combination to the story line. All in all I believe this film is very sensitive. It touches and delves with very precise matters, trying to make people who are even unaware of how to distinguish people that are going through such issues and make them more sensitive and
understanding towards them. All I know is that, alone the fact that David O.Russell drew from his personal experiences to create this film, makes you choke more than once throughout the film. 

Well worth the time to sit down to watch. Sweet little story with multiple messages.