‘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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‘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.”

‘A Little Romance’ 1979

A French boy (Daniel) and an American girl (Lauren), who goes to school in Paris, meet and begin a little romance. They befriend Julius who enchants them with his storytelling. In an attempt to ensure the teens’ love forever, the three journey to Venice.

A Little Romance is a 1979 American Technicolor and Panavision romantic comedy film directed by George Roy Hill and starring Laurence Olivier, Thelonious Bernard, and Diane Lane in her film debut. The screenplay was written by Allan Burns and George Roy Hill, based on the novel E=mc2Mon Amour by Patrick Cauvin. The original music score was composed by Georges Delerue. The film follows a French boy and an American girl who meet in Paris and begin a romance that leads to a journey to Venice where they hope to seal their love forever with a kiss beneath the Bridge of Sighs at sunset.

The film won the 1979 Academy Award for Best Original Score for Georges Delerue and received an additional nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for Allan Burns. It also received two Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor for Laurence Olivier and Best Original Score for Delerue. As the film’s young leads, Thelonious Bernard and Diane Lane both received Young Artist Award nominations as Best Actor and Best Actress respectively, as well as earning the film a win as Best Motion Picture Featuring Youth. It was the first film released by Orion Pictures.

Critical Reception

Following its initial release in 1979, the film received mixed reviews, with some being quite negative. Though the reviews have gone on to become generally positive over time. In his review in The New York Times, Vincent Canby described the film as “so ponderous it seems almost mean spirited. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a movie about boorish American tourists and felt sorry for the tourists—which is one of Mr. Hill’s achievements here. I’m sure nothing mean-spirited was intended, but such is the film’s effect. This may be the main hazard when one sets out to make a film so relentlessly sweet-tempered that it winds up—like Pollyana—alienating everyone not similarly affected.”

In his review in the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert gave the film only two stars, writing that the film “gives us two movie kids in a story so unlikely I assume it was intended as a fantasy. And it gives us dialog and situations so relentlessly cute we want to squirm.”

‘The Holy Mountain’ 1973

In a corrupt, greed-fueled world, a powerful alchemist leads a Christ-like character and seven materialistic figures to the Holy Mountain, where they hope to achieve enlightenment.

A Christlike figure wanders through bizarre, grotesque scenarios filled with religious and sacrilegious imagery. He meets a mystical guide who introduces him to seven wealthy and powerful people, each representing a planet in the Solar system. These seven, along with the protagonist, the guide and the guide’s assistant, divest themselves of their worldly goods and form a group of nine who will seek the Holy Mountain, in order to displace the gods who live there and become immortal.

The Holy Mountain, reissued as The Sacred Mountain, is a 1973 Mexican surrealist fantasy film directed, written, produced, co-scored, co-edited by and starring Alejandro Jodorowsky, who also participated as a set designer and costume designer on the film. The film was produced by Beatles manager Allen Klein of ABKCO Music and Records, after Jodorowsky scored an underground phenomenon with El Topo and the acclaim of both John Lennon and George Harrison (Lennon and Yoko Ono put up production money). It was shown at various international film festivals in 1973, including Cannes, and limited screenings in New York and San Francisco.

Inspiration

The film is based on Ascent of Mount Carmel by John of the Cross and Mount Analogue by René Daumal, who was a student of George Gurdjieff. In this film, much of Jodorowsky’s visually psychedelic story follows the metaphysical thrust of Mount Analogue. This is revealed in such events as the climb to the alchemist, the assembly of individuals with specific skills, the discovery of the mountain that unites Heaven and Earth “that cannot not exist”, and symbolic challenges along the mountain ascent. Daumal died before finishing his allegorical novel, and Jodorowsky’s improvised ending provides a way of completing the work (both symbolically and otherwise).

‘The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus’ 2009

In London, the sideshow troupe of Doctor Parnassus promises the audience a journey to the “Imaginarium”, an imaginary world commanded by the mind of Doctor Parnassus, where dreams come true. In the stories that Doctor Parnassus tells to his daughter Valentina, the midget Percy, and his assistant Anton, he claims to have lived for more than one thousand years; However, when he fell in love with a mortal woman, he made a deal with the devil (Mr. Nick), trading his immortality for youth. As part of the bargain, he promised his son or daughter to Mr. Nick on their sixteenth birthday. Valentina is now almost to the doomed age and Doctor Parnassus makes a new bet with Mr. Nick, whoever seduces five souls in the Imaginarium will have Valentina as a prize. Meanwhile the troupe rescues Tony, a young man that was hanged on a bridge by the Russians. Tony was chased until he finds and joins the group. Tony and Valentina fall in love with each other and the jealous Anton discovers that his competition may be a liar.

Effects of Heath Ledger’s death

Production was disrupted by the death of Heath Ledger in New York City on 22 January 2008. Ledger’s involvement had been a “key factor” in the film’s financing. Gilliam was presiding over concept art when he was informed by a phone call that Ledger had died. His initial thought about the production was: “The film’s over, it’s as simple as that.”  Although production was suspended indefinitely by 24 January, Gilliam initially wanted to “salvage” the film by using computer-generated imagery to make Ledger’s character magically change his appearance, perhaps into another character. He also wanted to dedicate the film to Ledger. The imagery would have been similar to transformation techniques seen on Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and those employed on Roy Scheider’s performance in his posthumous release Iron Cross. Continue reading “‘The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus’ 2009”

‘Quoi?’ ‘Che?’ ‘What?’ 1972

A young American woman (Sydne Rome) traveling through Italy finds herself in a strange Mediterranean villa where nothing seems right. Her visit becomes an absurd, decadent, oversexed version of “Alice in Wonderland”, with Marcello Mastroianni as the maddest of mad hatters and Roman Polanski a kinky March hare.

What? (Che?, also variously titled Quoi?, Was?, and Diary of Forbidden Dreams) is a 1972 comedy film written and directed by Roman Polanski, starring Marcello Mastroianni, Sydne Rome and Hugh Griffith. Set in an unnamed coastal city in Italy, the film tells a story of an American girl, Nancy (Sydne Rome) who,takes shelter in a villa filled with strange guests. There, she gets into a relationship with a retired pimp, Alex (Marcello Mastroianni). The film was shot on location in Amalfi, Italy, in a villa owned by the producer, Carlo Ponti. Some of the action was improvised.

Critical Reception

According to Roger Ebert’s adroit half-star review, What?’s title came from Ponti’s enraged response to being shown the film for the first time. It’s easy to see where Ponti was coming from. “What?” is the only sane reaction to Polanski’s film. It’s the rare title that doubles as a review. Ebert goes on to note that in spite of Mastroianni, Polanski’s presence as director and actor, and gratuitous nudity of considerable quantity and quality, it took years for the film to find a distributor in the United States. A big drawback: distributors’ maddening insistence on actually seeing the film before agreeing to release it.

 

‘Mortdecai’ 2015

Juggling some angry Russians, the British Mi5, his impossibly leggy wife and an international terrorist, debonair art dealer and part time rogue Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) must traverse the globe armed only with his good looks and special charm in a race to recover a stolen painting rumored to contain the code to a lost bank account filled with Nazi gold.


Even after reading many bad reviews, I still think this film is a charm. My guess is that many old-head movie buffs might feel a bit offended by his more recent eccentric characters. Although I do agree that most of his characters from older films are some of his best; Johnny Depp is something like a chameleon, he transforms into his characters gracefully it seems and forms new life within them. So to me Johnny Depp can play both a serious and or nutty character. Or really whatever he wishes to play because he is indeed Johnny Depp. He plays all his characters well as he is an amazing actor and deserves credit. Where ever you are Johnny I’m on your side.

About this film, its an adventure and a comedy (among a few other genres), which to me stirs up the perfect cup of coffee; or movie in this case, ha! The movie poster itself put a smile on my face and left me eager to watch what ‘Mortdecai’ was all about.

A hilarious film that had me laughing from the moment I saw Charlie Mortdecai’s ostentatious mustache flaring and his humorous stride. I couldn’t keep my eyes off. There are many funny scenes within this film and of course couldn’t have been funny without Charlie Mortedcai’s gestures, mannerisms and mustache.

Say what you will, but I love this film because its weird, funny and takes me on an adventure with an eccentric character.