Saturday, July 30, 2011

Almost Famous Fanny and Alexander's Vertigo on Sunset Blvd i.e. Movies I saw Recently

Summer is heating up outside and is kind of forcing me to stay in. There have been days in last few weeks when it was in higher 90s. It even touched 100 once. It took me almost an hour to settle down in full AC after getting inside my house. It was Ridiculous. Rather on the flip side, I am getting a chance to clear up my backlog for long time. Though I do watch quite many movies, I saw these movies because of my desire to clear up the backlog during this confinement.
Here They Go.....

Fanny and Alexander(1982): Ingmar Bergman's last feature film and third movie I have seen recently. I am making a conscious effort to see some of Bergman's films. I saw it after Wild Strawberries(1957) and Smiles of Summer Night(1955). However, the last two were forced more by Netflix than by Summer - they were available only for one more week. Though I am not really excited about Smiles, Fanny and Alexander definitely was worth watching. Ingmar Bergman, Probably the most accomplished and influential director of all time and known for handling themes like death, betrayal, illness, insanity, all these themes are very much at display in this movie. It is a story of two children Fanny and Alexander of Ekdahl family whose father dies of a stroke and then mother gets married again rather early to local bishop. Bishop asks their mother and children to move into the house by leaving everything in their previous life behind which in very little time makes them virtual prisoners in their eccentric new house. This causes friction between children and their father, especially with Alexander. Film ends mostly on happy terms though it shows that they will never get rid of their past completely.

Rating(out of 5):

Almost Famous(2000): Uncontrollable urge to see this movie originated from one of the blogs which listed this as the best movie of year 2000. I had it on me for quite some time now, but for some reason keep on procrastinating it. It might also interest you that I have Magnolia(1999) and Moulin Rogue(2001) over a year and I still haven’t seen them as well. Anyways, so I finally saw Almost Famous this week. Personally, I will not rate this as best movie of the year. There were better choices like Memento(2000) and Chocolat(2000) for me but this is definitely a good movie. Decent story of young man following an up and coming rock band as a journalist for Rolling Stone, noting down their struggle to keep up with the recent stardom, decent acting except Kate Hudson – who is remarkable in role of Penny Lane, as a band-aid as they are called in movie and deservedly got an Oscar Nomination for it, good music throughout – I believe music buffs especially Rock Music lovers will love this movie much more because of this and also because of the honest portrayal of Rock-Band Life. All in all, I may not watch this again and again but I definitely was satisfied that I finally saw this well-crafted, warm-hearted and a very personal movie.

Rating(out of 5):

Sunset Blvd.(1950): Billy Wilder is a kind of director that I always thought I would like ever since I saw his first film Sabrina(1954). Off course, the reason I saw Sabrina was Audrey Hepburn and didn't even know that it's Billy Wilder's movie. However, since then I always thought I will love his movies and after watching some 6-7 movies, I can say that he hasn't disappointed me yet. And reason I wanted to watch Sunset Blvd was along with Some Like It Hot(1959), it is considered by many as his Best Film though personally I like The Apartment(1960) more than this and I haven't yet seen Some Like It Hot(1959). It can be because The Apartment(1960) is rather happy movie and also I didn't know Shirley MacClaine can look so lovely - I never had doubt about her acting prowess. Anyways, I had a lot of expectations from Sunset Blvd before watching it and it definitely stood up to them. Basically, this classic dark comedy is a story of a failing writer unable to pay his debts and fading silent movie actress. She was the greatest actress of her time and even though she hates dialogues, she is writing a script to plot her comeback which she thinks will make her as successful. It completely relies on the basic elements of film to achieve its greatness - Great Story, well written screenplay, amazing acting and superb direction. What more can you ask for? Basic acting encore of movie deserves a lot of credit for this movie. It has got Gloria Swanson as eccentric, almost crazy Norma Desmond, William Holden as her boy-toy oe Giddis, legendary filmmaker Erich von Stroheim as an interesting character of her protective chauffer and beatific Nancy Olson as Betty Schaefer is just the cherry on top. It is kinda creepy that Joe Giddis is seen dead in very first scene of movie and still he narrates the whole movie to us maybe from heaven but it definitely got me hooked almost immediately. Probably the best Hollywood movie made about Hollywood itself.

Rating(out of 5):

Vertigo(1958): I realised quite late that I haven't seen a single Hitchcock movie, probably that was after the "Introduction to Hitchcock" post on Riku Writes. Just like Bergman, I am making similar progress on Hitchcock as well. Out of what I have seen and I have seen around 5 movies, Vertigo is right at the top with Notorious(1946). However, I give more credit to Hitchcock for this than Notorious(1946). Though Hitchcock and his camera play very important role in Notorious, , He had Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant to do wonders for him. Don't get me wrong, James Stewart and Kim Novak are equally beautiful couple but they aren't Bergman and Grant, most definitely not the Bergman and Grant from Notorious - it almost hurts to see them together in one frame in Notorious. Vertigo is a story of a Police Detective who is retired because of fear of heights, because of his Vertigo. After he is retired, one of his college friend asks him to watch his wife for him. While keeping watch on her, he starts falling for her. It was just an above-average film for me till last one minute and then--BOOM--it became AMAZING!! That is basically why I feel that Hitchcock deserves more credit for this than Notorious - because of ending. You are almost settling down in your seat, feeling rather relax anticipating the end, and one knock on the door, changes the story before you even realise it and credits start rolling, leaving you flabbergasted.

Rating(out of 5): 

And yes, I saw Harry Potter and Deathly Hollows Part 2 and as any Harry Potter fan who has read those books with real passion must have been, was disappointed by it. David Yates needs to understand that why something happens is much more important than it just happening. That is what made Harry Potter such an iconic franchise.

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