‘Sweet Charity’ 1969

Charity Hope Valentine always tries to look on the bright side of life, despite working in a rundown dance hall and contending with a seemingly endless run of bad dates. Determined to find love, Charity falls for suave actor Vittorio Vidal, but their romance is all too brief. However, when Charity finds herself stuck in an elevator with the reserved Oscar Lindquist, it turns out that she may have finally met her match.

Sweet Charity, full title of which is Sweet Charity: The Adventures of a Girl Who Wanted to Be Loved, is a 1969 American musical film directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse, written by Neil Simon, and with music by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields.

It stars Shirley MacLaine and features John McMartin, Sammy Davis Jr., Ricardo Montalbán, Chita Rivera, Paula Kelly and Stubby Kaye. It is based on the 1966 stage musical of the same name – which Fosse had also directed and choreographed – which in turn is based on Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano and Tullio Pinelli’s screenplay for Fellini’s film Le Notti di Cabiria (Nights of Cabiria). However, where Fellini’s black-and-white film concerns the romantic ups-and-downs of an ever-hopeful prostitute, the musical makes the central character a dancer-for-hire at a Times Square dance-hall.

The film is notable for its costumes by Edith Head and its dance sequences, notably “Rich Man’s Frug”.

 

 

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‘Memento’ 2000

A man juggles searching for his wife’s murderer and keeping his short-term memory loss from being an obstacle.

Memento chronicles two separate stories of Leonard, an ex-insurance investigator who can no longer build new memories, as he attempts to find the murderer of his wife, which is the last thing he remembers. One story line moves forward in time while the other tells the story backwards revealing more each time.

Memento is a 2000 American neo-noir psychological thriller film written and directed by Christopher Nolan, and produced by Suzanne and Jennifer Todd. The film’s script was based on a pitch by Jonathan Nolan, who later wrote the story “Memento Mori” from the concept. It stars Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Joe Pantoliano.

Pearce stars as a man who, as a result of a past trauma, has anterograde amnesia (the inability to form new memories) and has short-term memory loss approximately every five minutes. He is searching for the persons who attacked him and killed his wife, using an intricate system of Polaroid photographs and tattoos to track information he cannot remember. Memento is presented as two different sequences of scenes interspersed during the film: a series in black-and-white that is shown chronologically, and a series of color sequences shown in reverse order (simulating for the audience the mental state of the protagonist). The two sequences meet at the end of the film, producing one complete and cohesive narrative.

Critical Reception

Memento was a box office success. In the United States, during its opening weekend, it was released in only 11 theaters, but by week 11 it was distributed to more than 500 theaters. It grossed over $25 million in North America and $14 million in other countries, making the film’s total worldwide gross some $40 million as of August 2007. During its theatrical run, it did not place higher than eighth in the list of highest-grossing movies for a single weekend.

Memento was met with critical acclaim, earning a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Online film critic James Berardinelli gave the film four out of four stars, ranking it number one on his year-end Top Ten list and number sixty-three on his All-Time Top 100 films. In his review, he called it an “endlessly fascinating, wonderfully open-ended motion picture [that] will be remembered by many who see it as one of the best films of the year”. Berardinelli praised the film’s backwards narrative, saying that “what really distinguishes this film is its brilliant, innovative structure”, and noted that Guy Pearce gives an “astounding…tight, and thoroughly convincing performance”. In 2009, Berardinelli chose Memento as his #3 best movie of the decade. William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes that Memento is a “delicious one-time treat”, and emphasizes that director Christopher Nolan “not only makes Memento work as a non-linear puzzle film, but as a tense, atmospheric thriller”. Rob Blackwelder noted that “Nolan has a crackerjack command over the intricacies of this story. He makes every single element of the film a clue to the larger picture…as the story edges back toward the origins of [Leonard’s] quest”.

‘Intouchables’ 2011

After he becomes a quadriplegic from a paragliding accident, an aristocrat hires a young man from the projects to be his caregiver.

In Paris, the aristocratic and intellectual Philippe is a quadriplegic millionaire who is interviewing candidates for the position of his carer, with his red-haired secretary Magalie. Out of the blue, Driss cuts the line of candidates and brings a document from the Social Security and asks Phillipe to sign it to prove that he is seeking a job position so he can receive his unemployment benefit. Philippe challenges Driss, offering him a trial period of one month to gain experience helping him. Then Driss can decide whether he would like to stay with him or not. Driss accepts the challenge and moves to the mansion, changing the boring life of Phillipe and his employees.

The Intouchables is a 2011 French buddy comedy-drama film directed by Olivier Nakache & Éric Toledano. It stars François Cluzet and Omar Sy. Nine weeks after its release in France on 2 November 2011, it became the second biggest box office hit in France, just behind the 2008 film Welcome to the Sticks. The film was voted the cultural event of 2011 in France with 52% of votes in a poll by Fnac. The film has received several award nominations. In France, the film won the César Award for Best Actor for Omar Sy, and garnered seven further nominations for the César Awards, including the César Award for Best Film, which it lost to the Best Picturewinner The Artist.

The plot of the film is inspired by the true story of Philippe Pozzo di Borgo and his French-Algerian caregiver Abdel Sellou, discovered by the directors in À la vie, à la mort, a documentary film.

Critical Reception

The film holds a 74% approval rating at the film review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, which includes 89 positive reviews out of 120, and an average score of 6.7 out of 10. On Metacritic, the film has a score of 57 out of 100, based on 31 ratings of professional critics.

The film won the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix award given to the best film at the Tokyo International Film Festival and the Award for Best Actor to both Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy in 2011. At the César Awards 2012, the film received eight nominations. Omar Sy received the César Award for Best Actor on 24 February 2012 for the role of Driss (defeating Jean Dujardin, nominated for The Artist) and being the first French African actor to receive this honor.

In September 2012, it was announced that The Intouchables had been selected as the French entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar for the 85th Academy Awards. In December 2012, it made the January shortlist, but was ultimately not selected for inclusion among the final nominees.

 

 

‘Three Colours: Blue’ 1993

A woman struggles to find a way to live her life after the death of her husband and child.

The first part of Kieslowski’s trilogy on France’s national motto: Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. ‘Blue’ is the story of Julie who loses her husband, an acclaimed composer and her young daughter in a car accident. The film’s theme of liberty is manifested in Julie’s attempt to start life anew, free of personal commitments, belongings, grief or love. She intends to numb herself by withdrawing from the world and living completely independently, anonymously and in solitude in the Parisian metropolis. Despite her intentions, people from her former and present life intrude with their own needs. However, the reality created by the people who need and care about her, a surprising discovery and the music around which the film revolves heal Julie and draws her back to the land of the living.

Three Colours: Blue is a 1993 French drama film directed and co-written by Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieślowski. Blue is the first of three films that comprise the Three Colours trilogy, themed on the French Revolutionary ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity; it is followed by White and Red. According to Kieślowski, the subject of the film is liberty, specifically emotional liberty, rather than its social or political meaning.

Set in Paris, the film is about a woman whose husband and child are killed in a car accident. Suddenly set free from her familial bonds, she attempts to cut herself off from everything and live in isolation from her former ties, but finds that she can’t free herself from human connections.

Blue is among Kieślowski’s most celebrated works.

Critical Reception

Three Colors: Blue received wide acclaim from critics, with review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reporting a 98% and an average rating of 8.5/10. It also holds an 85/100 on Metacritic.

 

’12 Years a Slave’ 2013

In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

Based on an incredible true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty personified by a malevolent slave owner, as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist will forever alter his life.

12 Years a Slave is a 2013 period drama film and an adaptation of the 1853 slave narrative memoir Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup, a New York State-born free African-American man who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. by two conmen in 1841 and sold into slavery. Northup was put to work on plantations in the state of Louisiana for 12 years before being released. The first scholarly edition of Northup’s memoir, co-edited in 1968 by Sue Eakin and Joseph Logsdon, carefully retraced and validated the account and concluded it to be accurate. Other characters in the film were also real people, including Edwin and Mary Epps, and Patsey.

The film was directed by Steve McQueen. The screenplay was written by John Ridley. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup. Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt, and Alfre Woodard are all featured in supporting roles. Principal photography took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, from June 27 to August 13, 2012. The locations used were four historic antebellum plantations: Felicity, Bocage, Destrehan, and Magnolia. Of the four, Magnolia is nearest to the actual plantation where Northup was held.

Critical Reception

12 Years a Slave was praised for its acting (particularly Ejiofor, Fassbender, Nyong’o and Paulson), Steve McQueen’s direction, John Ridley’s screenplay, its production values, and its faithfulness to Solomon Northup’s account. Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 95% of critics gave the film a positive rating, based on 327 reviews with an average score of 8.9/10, with the site’s consensus stating, “It’s far from comfortable viewing, but 12 Years a Slaves unflinchingly brutal look at American slavery is also brilliant — and quite possibly essential — cinema.” Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 96 out of 100 based on 56 reviews from mainstream critics, considered to be “universal acclaim”. It is currently one of the site’s highest-rated films, as well as the best-reviewed film of 2013. CinemaScore reported that audiences gave the film an “A” grade.

‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ 2004

When an unconfident young woman is cursed with an old body by a spiteful witch, her only chance of breaking the spell lies with a self-indulgent yet insecure young wizard and his companions in his legged, walking castle.

A love story between an 18-year-old girl named Sophie, cursed by a witch into an old woman’s body, and a magician named Howl. Under the curse, Sophie sets out to seek her fortune, which takes her to Howl’s strange moving castle. In the castle, Sophie meets Howl’s fire demon, named Karishifâ. Seeing that she is under a curse, the demon makes a deal with Sophie–if she breaks the contract he is under with Howl, then Karushifâ will lift the curse that Sophie is under, and she will return to her 18-year-old shape.

Howl’s Moving Castle is a 2004 Japanese animated fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The film is loosely based on the novel of the same name by British author Diana Wynne Jones. The film was produced by Toshio Suzuki, animated by Studio Ghibli and distributed by Toho. The Japanese voice cast featured Chieko Baisho and Takuya Kimura, while the version dubbed in English starred Emily Mortimer, Jean Simmons, Lauren Bacall and Christian Bale.

The story is set in a fictional kingdom where both magic and early 20th century technology are prevalent, against the backdrop of a war with another kingdom. The film tells the story of a young hatter named Sophie after she is turned into an old woman by a witch’s curse. She encounters a wizard named Howl, and gets caught up in his resistance to fighting for the king.

Influenced by Miyazaki’s opposition to the United States’ invasion of Iraq in 2003, the film contains strongly anti-war themes. Miyazaki stated that he “had a great deal of rage about [the Iraq war],” which led him to make a film which he felt would be poorly received in the US. It also explores the theme of old age, depicting age positively as something which grants the protagonist freedom. The film contains feminist elements as well, and carries messages about the value of compassion.

Critical Reception

Howl’s Moving Castle was praised by critics. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports an 87% approval rating based on 175 reviews, with an average rating of 7.5/10. The website’s critical consensus reads, “Exquisitely illustrated by master animator Miyazaki, Howl’s Moving Castle will delight children with its fantastical story and touch the hearts and minds of older viewers as well.” The film also holds an 80/100 average on Metacritic, based on 40 reviews, indicating “generally favorable reviews”.

USA Today critic Claudia Puig gave the film a positive review, praising it for its ability to blend “a childlike sense of wonder with sophisticated emotions and motives”. Helen McCarthy in 500 Essential Anime Movies said that the natural world was “beautifully represented”, with “some absolutely breathtaking mountains and lakeside landscapes”. She also praised the design of the Castle and added that Miyazaki added his own themes to the film: “man’s relationship to nature, the futility of war, and the joy of flight”. Joel Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal called the film “a moveable feast of delights”. Richard Corliss of TIME magazine wrote, “Palaces and shimmering lakes, warplanes and fire sprites all come to life at the breath of Miyazaki’s graphic genius.” Writing for The Boston Globe, Ty Burr said, “At its best, ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ offers a rich fantasy of adolescent escape, of romance in the old and epic sense. At its worst, it’s the most amazing 12-course meal you can’t bring yourself to finish.” A.O. Scott of The New York Times wrote, “Admirers of [Hayao Miyazaki’s] work, which is wildly imaginative, emotionally intense and surpassingly gentle, will find much to appreciate in this film because it demonstrates, once again, his visual ingenuity and his sensitivity as a storyteller. For newcomers to his world, “Howl’s Moving Castle” is a fitting introduction to one of modern cinema’s great enchanters.”

‘Call Me by Your Name’ 2017

In 1980s Italy, a romance blossoms between a seventeen year-old student and the older man hired as his father’s research assistant.

In early-1980s northern Italy, amid the lush Mediterranean landscapes of a serene and golden summer, 17-year-old, Elio, visits the family’s summer villa to spend his vacation with his father and Greco-Roman culture professor, Mr Perlman, his translator mother, Annella, and the American doctoral student who works there as an intern, Oliver. But, little by little, over the course of six fleeting weeks, a timid friendship between Elio and Oliver will prepare the ground for an unexpected bond, as the unexplored emotions of first love start boiling over. Could this sun-kissed romance in Lombardy be the prelude to maturity?

Call Me by Your Name is a 2017 coming-of-age romantic drama film written by James Ivory and directed by Luca Guadagnino. It is based on the 2007 novel of the same name by André Aciman, and is the final installment in Guadagnino’s thematic “Desire” trilogy, after I Am Love (2009) and A Bigger Splash (2015). Set in northern Italy in 1983, Call Me by Your Name chronicles a romantic relationship between 17-year-old Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet) and his professor father’s 24-year-old graduate-student assistant, Oliver (Armie Hammer). The film also stars Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, and Victoire Du Bois

The film began development in 2007 when producers Peter Spears and Howard Rosenman optioned the screen rights to Aciman’s novel. James Ivory was initially set to co-direct the film but became the screenwriter and co-producer. Guadagnino joined the project as a location consultant and eventually became director and co-producer. The film was financed by several international companies, and principal photography mainly took place in Crema, Italy, in May and June 2016. Cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom shot the film on 35-mm film.

Call Me by Your Name was chosen for distribution by Sony Pictures Classics before its world premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2017. It began a limited release in the United States on November 24, 2017, and went to general release on January 19, 2018. The film received numerous accolades and praise for its performances, screenplay, direction, and music. At the 90th Academy Awards it won the category Best Adapted Screenplay and was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Chalamet), and Best Original Song (“Mystery of Love”). Ivory won awards for his screenplay at the 23rd Critics’ Choice Awards, the 70th Writers Guild of America Awards, and the 71st British Academy Film Awards. Chalamet was nominated for a British Academy Film Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Actor.

Critical Reception

At its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, Call Me by Your Name received a standing ovation, followed by a ten-minute ovation at its New York Film Festival screening at the Alice Tully Hall, the longest recorded in the festival’s history. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 95% based on 278 reviews, with an average rating of 8.7/10. The website’s critical consensus reads, “Call Me by Your Name offers a melancholy, powerfully affecting portrait of first love, empathetically acted by Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer.” It was the best-reviewed limited release and second best-reviewed romance film of 2017 on the site. On Metacritic, the film has an average weighted score of 93 out of 100, based on 51 critics, indicating “universal acclaim”. It was the year’s fifth-best rated film on Metacritic.

Luca Guadagnino’s direction was praised by critics. Writing in The Hollywood Reporter, Boyd van Hoeij described Call Me by Your Name as an “extremely sensual, intimate and piercingly honest” adaptation of Aciman’s novel. He further called Chalamet’s performance “the true breakout of the film”. Peter Debruge of Variety said the film “advances the canon of gay cinema” by portraying “a story of first love that transcends the same-sex dynamic of its central couple.” He compared Guadagnino’s “sensual” direction to the films of Pedro Almodóvar and François Ozon, while putting the film “on par with the best of their work.” David Ehrlich of IndieWire also praised his direction, which helps the film in “match[ing] the artistry and empathy” of Carol (2015) and Moonlight (2016). Sam Adams of BBC stated that Stuhlbarg’s performance “puts a frame around the movie’s painting and opens up avenues we may not have thought to explore,” and called it “one of his finest” to date. He extolled the film as one of “many movies that have so successfully appealed to both the intellectual and the erotic since the heydays of Patrice Chéreau and André Téchiné.”