‘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.

 

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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.”

‘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.”

 

‘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 Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover’ 1989

The wife of an abusive criminal finds solace in the arms of a kind regular guest in her husband’s restaurant.

The wife of a barbaric crime boss engages in a secretive romance with a gentle bookseller between meals at her husband’s restaurant. Food, colour coding, sex, murder, torture and cannibalism are the exotic fare in this beautifully filmed but brutally uncompromising modern fable which has been interpreted as an allegory for Thatcherism.

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover is a 1989 British-French romantic black comedy crime drama film written and directed by Peter Greenaway, starring Richard Bohringer, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren, and Alan Howard in the titular roles. The film’s graphic scatology, violence, and nude scenes, as well as its lavish cinematography and formalism, were noted at the time of its release.

Critical Reception

The film received largely positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, it currently holds a 90% score based on 39 reviews, with an average rating of 7.4/10. The site’s consensus states: “This romantic crime drama may not be to everyone’s taste, but The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover is an audacious, powerful film.” Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four out of four stars, noting that the film’s raw emotion and violent interpersonal conflict was a departure from Greenaway’s typically cerebral and intellectual films.

‘Cinema Paradiso’ 1988

A filmmaker recalls his childhood when falling in love with the pictures at the cinema of his home village and forms a deep friendship with the cinema’s projectionist.

A boy who grew up in a native Sicilian Village returns home as a famous director after receiving news about the death of an old friend. Told in a flashback, Salvatore reminiscences about his childhood and his relationship with Alfredo, a projectionist at Cinema Paradiso. Under the fatherly influence of Alfredo, Salvatore fell in love with film making, with the duo spending many hours discussing about films and Alfredo painstakingly teaching Salvatore the skills that became a stepping stone for the young boy into the world of film making. The film brings the audience through the changes in cinema and the dying trade of traditional film making, editing and screening. It also explores a young boy’s dream of leaving his little town to foray into the world outside.

Cinema Paradiso is a 1988 Italian drama film written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. The film stars Jacques Perrin, Philippe Noiret, Leopoldo Trieste, Marco Leonardi, Agnese Nano and Salvatore Cascio, and was produced by Franco Cristaldi and Giovanna Romagnoli, while the music score was composed by Ennio Morricone along with his son, Andrea. It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 62nd Academy Awards.

CRITICAL RECEPTION

Cinema Paradiso was a critical and box-office success and is regarded by many as a classic. It is particularly renowned for the ‘kissing scenes’ montage at the film’s end. Winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1989, the film is often credited with reviving Italy’s film industry, which later produced Mediterraneo and Life Is Beautiful. Film critic Roger Ebert gave it three and a half stars out of four and four stars out of four for the extended version, declaring “Still, I’m happy to have seen it–not as an alternate version, but as the ultimate exercise in viewing deleted scenes.”

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 90% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 70 reviews, with an average score of 8/10. The film also holds a score of 80 based on 20 reviews on Metacritic. The film was ranked #27 in Empire magazine’s “The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema” in 2010. The famed “kissing scene” montage at the end of the film was used in an episode of “Stealing First Base”, an episode of The Simpsons that aired on March 21, 2010, during its twenty-first season. The scene used Morricone’s “Love Theme” and included animated clips of famous movie kisses, including scenes used in Cinema Paradiso as well as contemporary films not shown in the original film.

 

‘Another Earth’ 2011

On the night of the discovery of a duplicate Earth in the Solar system, an ambitious young student and an accomplished composer cross paths in a tragic accident.

Seventeen year-old Rhoda Williams receives an acceptance letter from MIT and she celebrates with her friends. On the same night, a planet similar and close to Earth is discovered and called Earth 2. Rhoda drives her car looking at Earth 2 and crashes with composer John Burroughs, killing his pregnant wife and his baby son. Rhoda goes to prison and four years later she is released and moves to her parents’ house. She finds a job as high-school janitor, but tries to commit suicide. She survives, however, and submits an essay to a contest where the prize is a ticket to travel to Earth 2. Meanwhile the scientists discover that Earth 2 is a mirror of Earth and the synchronicity between the dwellers was interrupted when the planets were seen by each other. One day, Rhoda decides to visit John Burroughs, whose life was destroyed after the death of his family, to admit to him that she had killed his family. However she does not have the nerve to tell him the truth. So she lies and tells him he has won a free cleaning service of his home. Rhoda wins the writing contest, but meanwhile John and she have fallen in love with each other. Rhoda has to take a decision whether she goes or stays, but she wants to tell John the truth first.

Another Earth is a 2011 American independent science fiction-drama film directed by Mike Cahill. It stars Brit Marling, William Mapother, and Robin Lord Taylor. It premiered at the 27th Sundance Film Festival in January 2011, and was distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures.

The film received generally mixed to positive reviews, and earned two nominations from the Saturn Awards for Brit Marling’s performance and for Cahill and Marling’s writing.

Critical Reception

Rotten Tomatoes gives Another Earth a rating of 64% based on reviews from 124 critics. Film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three and a half stars out of four. Ebert commented that, “Another Earth is as thought-provoking, in a less profound way, as Tarkovsky’s Solaris, another film about a sort of parallel Earth”.[14]