Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘movies’ Category

Film
Title: Malcolm X
Director: Spike Lee
Starring: Denzel Washington

clip_image002Malcolm X is a 1992 adaptation of The Autobiography of Malcolm X (read my review) by Alex Haley and Malcolm X. The film begins with the depiction of the young Malcolm X in Boston and Harlem, along with his friend Shorty, and their involvement in burglary, drug dealing and prostitution. In flashbacks, the movie chronicles the life of Malcolm’s family before he was born and during his early childhood. His father was killed by the KKK (while it was said that he had committed suicide) and his mother was sent to a mental center. He was then separated from his siblings.

During a group robbery, Malcolm and his partners get sent to jail for 8-10 years, while his white female partners received 5 years in jail. After learning about the Nation of Islam and its teachings by one of the prisoners, Malcolm converts to the Nation of Islam while corresponding with the its minister, Elijah Mohammed. He educates himself in prison, and after leaving, becomes the main speaker of the movement, preaching Elijah Mohammed’s teachings of complete separation between whites and blacks, and that all whites were racists and enemies. However, Malcom’s feelings change after his pilgrimage to Mecca, where he was touched by seeing Muslims of all races and colors together. While preaching his new, flexible beliefs, he receives death threats and was ultimately assassinated.

Malcolm X is a very good movie, albeit being pretty long (3 and a half hours). Malcolm’s life before joining entering jail could have been shortened; I was more interested in his stint as an activist. His troubled young-adulthood was too detailed, in my opinion. We get that he was involved in all sorts of trouble. But the director, Spike Lee, who also played Shorty in the film, did a good job of showing Malcolm as an innocent young adult who just wanted to be cool, hypnotized by the “slave mind”, as Malcolm puts it. The film also depicted how Betty, Malcolm’s wife, sensed that he was in trouble even before Malcolm did. Since Malcolm revered Elijah Mohammed, it was difficult for him to imagine being betrayed by that person who changed his life.

I would recommend reading the book before watching the movie. The movie was very true to the book, and it was easy to follow. At the end of the movie, following real footage after Malcolm X’s assassination, Ossie Davis narrated Malcolm’s legacy and a scene with Nelson Mandela speaking to students about Malcolm X.

Malcolm’s story is a sad one, and showed that a person who wanted to change his/her society always suffered.

Malcolm X the film is available for rent and purchase on iTunes.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

In the latest Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the teenage protagonist must encourage the new potions teacher, Professor Slughorn (a dull but crucial new character), to give him the memory of a critical moment between he and the young Tom Riddle, who was a bright student at Hogwarts, now known as Voldemort. This is the key to destroying Voldemort.

The Harry Potter movies just keep getting darker and tenser. The gloomy mood is set in the beginning of the movie, with Death Eaters whooshing over the Muggle city. This time, the more independent and older Harry is sitting at a coffee shop, instead of being tormented by the ridiculous Dursleys. David Yates, the director, vividly captures the tension and mystery in the story which keeps the audience at the edge of their seats.

Draco Malfoy, Harry Potter’s student enemy, is now “chosen” by Voldemort and must perform the task of killing Dumbledore. He is now a very serious and focused person. Tom Felton’s role as Draco Malfoy is exceptionally good. He is a pitiable character to me. He is not just the bully who often appeared in Harry’s way in the past Harry Potters. Now his situation, although not his character, has more depth. He makes the audience feel sympathetic for him, since he is obviously a lost person trying to shape his identity. Although Malfoy tormented Harry so much in the past, he is very miserable now.

There are humorous moments in the story, but I must add that Ron’s roles were exaggerated and silly, specifically the moment when he charmed by Love Potion. Despite this and the slow developing relationships of Hermione, Ron and Harry, the movie maintains a fine balance between that and Harry’s own missions.

After watching the movie, I wasn’t very satisfied because there wasn’t much accomplishment done in the end; plus the ending wasn’t very good. Most of the movie was about newly revealed “memories” about Tom Riddle’s past and the discovery of Horcruxes, which are yet to be destroyed in the upcoming movies (two have already been destroyed), to make Voldemort mortal. At least we know what to expect in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which will be split into two movies.

This movie will not disappoint. It’s exciting and capable of completely engulfing us Muggles into the magical world of Harry Potter for two and a half hours.

My rating: 3.5 out of 5

 

Edit: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the upcoming movie, not HP and the Order of the Phoenix.

Read Full Post »

gatsbyThe Great Gatsby tells the love story of the rich Jay Gatsby and the childish, wealthy Daisy Buchannan. Set in the Jazz Age following World War One, it chronicles the attitudes of the new arising society. After five years, Gatsby finds the chance of accomplishing his dream: winning back his old lover Daisy, with the aid of the new outsider, Nick Carraway, who comes to Long Island to sell bonds but becomes deeply involved in the story. Gatsby is disappointed in the end after discovering that the notion that Daisy deeply loves him was untrue.

I think that Nick Carrway’s point of view was a very good way of describing the new period after World War One because it showed the attitudes of its people from another detailed perspective.

 

“That fellow had it coming to him. He through dust into our eyes just like he did in Daisy’s, but he was a tough one”.

Tom Buchannan says this after he and Daisy confront Nick for the last time; but more importantly, after the shooting of Jay Gatsby. After vainly trying to convince him otherwise, Nick loses hope of making them understand the truth. Tom doesn’t seem to know that it was Daisy who recklessly killed Myrtle, the wife of George Wilson the garage owner, with whom Tom was having an affair. Daisy, who knows that she killed Myrtle, doesn’t tell Tom the truth and follows along. In my opinion, knowing the truth wouldn’t have changed anything on the behalf of Tom. Although he doesn’t know the truth, he doesn’t want to know. He is content with living luxuriously and care-free in his ignorance.

When Gatsby becomes rich, he turns into a material man. Before the war, Daisy leaves him for the wealthy Tom Buchannan. The past five years, during which he turned himself into a millionaire, he has been thinking of fulfilling his dream of getting Daisy back, with the dreamy notion that she still loves him and had been faithful to him all those past years, like he had been. In the movie and in the book, his confusion is shown in this moment:

“Oh, you want too much!” she cried to Gatsby. “I love you now—isn’t that enough? I can’t help what’s past.” She began to sob helplessly. “I did love him once—but I loved you too.”

Gatsby’s eyes opened and closed.

“You loved me TOO?” he repeated.

“…It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…”

This is still relevant today. Tom and Daisy both have narcissist attitudes, and when they are engulfed in their own depressed worlds, they care not what they do around them, and they have no guilt over their doings.

The 1974 movie a good companion to the book. To me, it focused more on the relationship between Gatsby and Daisy. Mia Farrow performed an excellent portrayal of Daisy Buchannan. I didn’t think that she overacted. She visually showed Daisy’s character as it was. Robert Redford also very-well depicted the “cool” and mysterious character of Gatsby. However, some silent moments in the play seemed like gaps to me, they were awkward.

The people of the Jazz Age, as Fitzgerald depicted them, were fascinating:

“I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby’s house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited, they went there. They got into automobiles which bore them out to Long Island and somehow they ended up at Gatsby’s door. Sometimes they came and went without having met Gatsby at all, came for the party with a simplicity of heart that was its own ticket of admission.”

After not even having Gatsby (but some “acquaintances” of his) and even enjoying themselves at his great mansion, they accuse him of being a German spy and of killing somebody. This shows the immorality and vicious gossip in the 1920s.

I find Gatsby’s situation sad because he has always genuinely loved Daisy, perhaps something rare in that period, but he thought he could win her back and please her through material and his great house. Gatsby was so determined in achieving his dream that he thought he could repeat the past (“Why of course you can!”) He reminds me of Florentino Ariz, in Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, who waits fifty-one years, nine months, and four days for his lover’s husband to die. The difference is that Florentino achieves his dream, proving the power of enduring love and patience, unlike Gatsby, who has been patient also. Florentino did not attempt to change himself or his status; but Gatsby thought he could win back Daisy through the wrong way; millions and materialistic luxury.

Read Full Post »

A brief introduction of the book: In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet, the fussy and sometimes inappropriate mother of the Bennet sisters, aims to have her five daughters married. The novel starts with the arrival of the wealthy Mr. Bingley to town, who has newly rented a Netherfield estate. Mrs. Bennet wants him to marry her eldest and most beautiful daughter, Jane. However, the novel centers on Elizabeth, the clever and sharp-witted second oldest sister, and her relationship with, or “first impressions” of Mr. Darcy. He is the wealthy taciturn and superficially cold friend of Bingley. Issues of wealth and class are apparent in Pride and Prejudice: The Bennets live reasonably well, whereas Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley are extremely wealthy.

Pride and Prejudice also focuses on the silly, and often funny, social behaviors of people. Jane Austen displays how people, especially females, can manipulate their acquaintances and be aggressive toward others through social gestures (such as ignoring somebody or refusing to enter one’s house) and conversation.

At their first ball in Netherfield, Mr. Darcy shows total disinterest in dancing with anybody, and Jane forms an obstinate negative impression of him from that point, not even allowing him to prove otherwise. Pride and Prejudice deals a very wise issue, which is judging people by negative thoughts on them. This is displayed through Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. Elizabeth makes the grave mistake of believing everything she hears, especially when it adds to her original opinion. Through a deceiving Mr. Wickham, Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship worsens, leading to an utterly unjust and harsh judgment of Darcy from Elizabeth, and to Elizabeth’s shameful regret for harming Darcy.

Although not my favorite of books, Pride and Prejudice is nevertheless very engaging, but it goes beyond that. Pride and Prejudice confronts very important social issues: prejudice and misunderstanding. Most of the novel is about Elizabeth’s misunderstanding of almost all of Darcy’s relationships, actions and intentions, and her prejudice toward him. He is a most pitiful character, in my opinion.

I think that throughout the novel, Darcy has been victimized by Elizabeth, the evil-intentioned Mr. Wickham, and all the people who dislike him, with the thought that he is proud. I never thought Darcy to be a vain or proud man. He is merely observant and solemn. First, Elizabeth despises him for breaking the relationship between her sister Jane and Mr. Bingley by advising Bingley to leave town, but after reading his long letter, she comes to face the truth that Jane never showed deep affection toward Mr. Bingley. This brings me to the conclusion that Mr. Darcy only cared for the happiness and best interests of his friend. After Jane learns more about him, she discovers that Darcy is a very sincere and kind man.

 

“Anyone who has gone along with the notion that the pride highlighted in the title of the novel in embodied in Darcy now has to contend with the discovery that both this quality and its pair are being attributed to Elizabeth.”

-Introduction in Oxford World Classics edition of Pride and Prejudice.

 

Regarding the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starring Kiera Knightley, I find it a pretty good interpretation of the book, enjoyable by readers of the book and nonreaders also. The movie wasn’t exactly accurate compared to the the book, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I think that Matthew Macfadyen excellently performed the role of Mr. Darcy, making his character even more lovable. Although set in the 18th century, I felt the movie was modern. The style of the novel is formal, and I think the movie added a touch of satisfaction and fun for viewers. But to really appreciate the story, one should read the book in addition to watching the movie. One must put in mind that the movie is short, and many important scenes, such as Mr. Darcy’s letter, had to greatly shortened.

The movie did not ignore the issue of wealth. The glib Elizabeth seemed somewhat humbled and at the same time amazed as she gazed at Mr. Darcy’s extravagant paintings and sculptures at his colossal mansion, after roughly rejecting his marriage.

I must add that Mr. Collins, the man who is to inherit the Bennets’ estate, was overly caricatured. Elizabeth was not a very likable character throughout the movie. She was very mean to Mr. Darcy, and had a tendency of sticking her eyes where they shouldn’t be; but after all, she is a proud and prejudiced woman, and wasn’t meant to be admired in the novel. But she still gets a happy ending: a man with high merit, and a lot of money.

Mattew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy

"Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us."

Pride and Prejudice

Read Full Post »

My thoughts on the Oscars

image

I was very excited during the Oscars yesterday night – and especially nervous when it came to “…and the winner is…”! I I think the ceremony was very different from last year’s Oscars. They presented the nominations creatively – especially for Best Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay. The stage was very elegant, and I loved Kate Winslet’s style.

Hugh Jackman was very funny. In my opinion, the most memorable Oscar acceptance speeches last night were Penelope Cruz’s (Vicky Cristina Barcelona: Best Supporting Actress), Dustin Lance Black’s (Milk: Best Original Screenplay), Sean Penn’s (Milk: Best Actor in a Leading Role), and Kate Winslet’s (The Reader: Best Actress)

I haven’t seen any of the nominated movies, except for The Dark Knight, and I thought that Heath Ledger totally deserved his Oscar. I am looking forward to watching SlumDog Millionaire as soon as it comes out on itunes.

Slumdog Millionaire was such a Big Win that I felt it ruled-out an intense sense of competition between the rest of the films, especially those nominated for Best Picture. David Fincher (director of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) looked uneasy when his name was mentioned along with the other nominees.

Coraline should’ve at least been nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

Since Waltz with Bashir is so popular, I expected it to win.

What I like about the Oscars is that it awards and puts the spotlight over the overlooked people whom any movie wouldn’t have been a success without, such as screen writers, sound editors and music composers.

What did you think of the Oscars? Did you think that the winners truly deserved their awards?

http://www.oscars.com/

photo credit: Oscars.com; Kate Winslet at the Red Carpet

Read Full Post »

A Thousand Splendid Suns

I just read that Khaled Hosseini’s second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, shall be adapted into a movie.

There isn’t a lot of information about the adaptation currently, but here’s what the author wrote on his blog:

A quick update. Because many of you have asked, I will quickly address the film version of A Thousand Splendid Suns.

It is being adapted to the screen by Steve Zaillian, the brilliant screenwriter behind Schindler’s List and Searching for Bobby Fisher. The film will be produced over at Sony/Columbia by Producer Scott Rudin, who just won an Oscar for No Country For Old Men. As of now, the matters of casting, location, and language have not been decided.

I am looking forward to this movie, because I’m interested in seeing how they will portray Afghanistan and who the actors will be.

Read Full Post »