Party of Five Season 4

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We rejoin the Salinger siblings navigating through new challenges that life presents in Party of Five Season 4. It may not reach the heights of Season 3, but it still has its moments to treasure. Be warned, spoilers may well follow in my review of this fourth season of the dramatic show.

Bailey(Scott Wolf) is on the mend and getting back to himself after his crippling battle with alcohol last season. He has been supported by Sarah(Jennifer Love Hewitt), who has forgiven him for involving her in the near fatal car accident months back. But Sarah’s parents don’t see it that way, they file charges of DUI against Bailey. As the trial gets underway and seeing that everyone is willing to sacrifice things for his mistakes, Bailey accepts a plea bargain which leads to a suspended sentence for him. Yet even though he’s making amends, he still finds that the impact of his actions follows him around and won’t let go. Luckily, he does discover a job that also ties in with what will happen to Sarah. Sarah moves out from her parents, feeling that they have victimized Bailey unfairly. Finding out that life independent can be difficult, she finds a place where she enlists Bailey to help her be a manager to an apartment block. The two are now pursuing a platonic friendship as they become managers and maintenance to the tenants of the building. Around this time, Bailey meets Annie; one of the residents who is also a recovering alcoholic. Yet is Bailey ready to commit to a relationship just as his recovery is starting to go well? Charlie(Matthew Fox) is now properly head of the family, having grown up into the role he never really wanted. As the season starts, he is annoyed that he can’t find some romantic happiness. He also bumps into Kirsten(Paula Devicq), who is now remarried to a doctor and back on track following her depression. And though Charlie begins a brief relationship with someone else, he still carries a torch for her. This however takes a backseat as Charlie’s tiredness that he thinks is down to his overworking is diagnosed as Hodgkin’s Disease. he at first only confides in Kirsten. His anger and scared mind are laid bare as he undergoes treatment and the family rallies around, though it proves to be a strain. Julia(Neve Campbell) and Griffin(Jeremy London) are married, with Julia returning from travels to life as a wife. Yet while happy to be married to Griffin after all the struggles, she is still attempting to find her identity. She must also deal with the fact that she feels a bit disconnected from her family, having spent so much time with them yet wants to cut out on her own. This leads her to try new things, yet ultimately makes her get a little bit selfish. Griffin meanwhile discovers his new business is not a cakewalk as he finds a cash flow problem and makes the mistake of accepting a loan off a seemingly helpful man, who becomes something of a loan shark. This leads to money woes for the two, with Julia having to do what she can to provide and Griffin attempting to get them out if this hole. All of this puts a massive strain on their union. Claudia(Lacey Chabert) is now in high school and trying to fit in, and finding it a hard slog. She is tired of people treating her like a small child and wishes to be taken more seriously. Finding that she must grow up more herself, especially after her hopes of romance with a boy are dashed, Claudia still resentfully acts out to get her family’s attention and due to a feeling of loneliness. Can the family hold it together and weather the storm?

Coming off such a dark and engrossing last season, I think it was inevitable that Season 4 might not measure up, it still has plenty going for it. Though I found some of the stories lacked the pull of past , there is still something immensely watchable about Party of Five. The main stories that I didn’t appreciate or enjoy was the one of Bailey getting with Annie, whose many troubles only posed more or a burden for a recovering Bailey . For one, Bailey had already gone through hell and back with his alcoholism, so why did they have to include Annie? It isn’t that the story is bad, it’s just that alcoholism was dealt with so realistically and honestly in Season 3, that it feels a bit superfluous to use it again. Other little sub-plots are decent and sometimes diverting, yet some of them go nowhere and end up superfluous. I did like later on when Charlie starts a romance with Daphne, an uninhibited woman who works as a stripper. They are opposites, but I liked the unpredictable vibe they have. The saving grace here is the overall impact of Charlie’s illness that bears heaviest and most deeply on Season 4.

The Salinger family repeatedly drift apart and then come back into closeness, just like any family does. And while the individual stories have their moments, the subject of family and its many facets is still the successful force of Party of Five. It’s been the main selling point and chief weapon in its arsenal and one that is still prevalent in the fourth season. The reliability and sometimes hard sacrifices are evident here, as the siblings realise how much their lives have changed and how things have turned out differently for each of them. Charlie’s battle with Hodgkin’s  and the reactions of the family to it are a manor dramatic high point, sensitively observed and credibly performed. Even though everyone has a different way of coping with the news, they all see that banding together, despite differences, is the only way to get their brother through his trying time. It feels like how a family would react; with obvious worries, trepidation and uncertainty, but all unite by a common love for their sibling. Plus, the inevitable fall out of these pressures, particularly confused Claudia’s acting out and skipping school, gives an emotional depth and honesty to it all. The Salinger’s are frequently at the brink of being pulled apart, but somehow manage to get through a hell of a lot. The writing ensures that we do care about their struggles in the long run and boy the show still knows how to get your emotions working. And special credit must be given to ‘Go Away’, the finest episode of the season. While Charlie awaits news of a crucial batch of tests, he, Bailey and Julia travel to a cabin they frequented as children. Claudia confides in Kirsten about her fears of Charlie dying, while at the cabin, the rest of siblings are dealing with their own struggles. old wounds are opened and slowly some resolution looks like it could be on its way, after much revealing conversation on how their lives have been impacted by their parent’s death. It’s one of those episodes that really allows things to be eventually expressed and for a bigger meaning to come in.

The ever dependable cast is on hand for great work that registers beautifully. Matthew Fox movingly displays the leadership Charlie has gained that is curtailed by the devastating blow of illness. He doesn’t want to admit that he is sick, but simply carry on as normal. Which is obviously going to be difficult, but you do feel bad on Charlie mainly due to the sympathetic work of Matthew Fox. Scott Wolf successfully charts Bailey’s recovery, that isn’t easy, but is worthwhile in establishing him again as a caring guy pulling his life back together. While he still has struggles, Bailey is now back to the amiable guy he was before, albeit one who has been through hell and managed to get himself sorted out. Neve Campbell is up to the task of making Julia both selfless and alternatively selfish, and yet you still can’t hate her. Julia is at the biggest crossroads of her life( wrestling with doubt and pangs of regret)  and feels that she has sacrificed enough for everyone else, making her occasional bout of self-absorption pretty reasonable. And as Campbell is adept at depicting the frequently misguided but longing Julia, you do feel for her. Lacey Chabert continues to impress as troubled Claudia, who is really having a rough time with everything that has transpired. She has for someone so young been through the wringer and Chabert is a mature performer who pulls off the melancholy confusion of Claudia. Jennifer Love Hewitt isn’t given as much to do as before, but her sweetness and sensitivity playing Sarah are still there in lovely fashion. And with regards to Jeremy London as the hopelessly unlucky Griffin, while the issue of him never amounting to anything is overplayed, London finds sympathy in there too. Paula Devicq returns more frequently here, and captures how Kirsten may be married, yet still has a love of Charlie that won’t ever go away.

So while it lacks some of the pull of past seasons, Season 4 of Party of Five has enough to recommend on the dramatic front.

What Do I Love?

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After reaching 3000 followers on here, I’m in a very caring and thankful mood to everyone. Especially because blogging has really inspired my confidence and openness. So I thought it best to share some of the things I love, which will hopefully give more of an insight into me.

I love movies. That’s pretty much a given considering my content on here, but I simply  adore the filmic world. There’s a certain magic that can’t be replicated in anything  else. You all know what I mean?

I love my family’s so much. They have been there for me no matter what and its invaluable. I wouldn’t be the man I was today without them.

I love women. Obviously I think women are beautiful, but I love women in general for their determination and their spirit. Women have been through a hell of a lot and deserve love and respect for their achievements.

I love being naked. I’m sure you all know this, but I do like being without clothes. I never used to be this confident, but as I’ve grown, the clothes have just come off.

Anything else anyone wants to know? I’m an open book.

The Evolution of the Bond Girls

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I would like to thank Maddy for asking me to take part in her 007 blogathon. James Bond is a cinematic hero of mine so this seemed like a no brainer. The movies are one of my favourites franchises that cinema has to offer. My topic of discussion is going to be about how much the Bond girls have changed over the decades that they’ve graced our screens and the strength they have gained in popular context. A quick note, I won’t be referencing every Bond girl as the post would go on forever if I did.

The ladies of the Bond franchise have come a long way since 1962 when Dr. No, yet the beauty and style of them is still intact. I think everyone remembers Honey Ryder emerging from the sea in that white bikini, signalling sexiness from every angle and announcing something sensual for the 60’s. Yet some people forget that Honey Ryder, while a bit naive, was not just a bit of eye candy. Sure in today’s context, she seems pretty helpless at times but she wasn’t a bimbo either. Which brings onto the point that the Bond Girls aren’t always just there for looks, even in the early days. Now I know some may think I’m trying to be controversial here, but I’m really not. I will admit there is definite sexism in many of the early films, which extends to brutal treatment and demeaning attitudes from villains and even on occasion Bond. There are a good few Bond girls who are either mistreated victims or eye candy in these early films;

The treatment of women makes you cringe today as things have changed quite a bit. And though I love the Bond movies, certain parts are pretty shocking and uncomfortable today’s standards.

But these are counteracted by strong and capable women, who know their worth and are not just defined by their looks. In essence, the Bond girls of the 60’s represent the contrasting changes in society. In the decade you had the pill being supplied allowing women to take control, the mini skirt freed them from the constraints of restrictive clothing and the Women’s Liberation Movement was in full swing. But the times of change still had people clinging to the values of old, particularly when it came to gender roles. Some of the stronger women of the 60’s in Bond are Pussy Galore from Goldfinger, a pilot who largely resists Bond and can kick ass when needed, as well as verbally duel. She’s in charge of herself and not a pushover in any way, a certifiable match for Bond. To be honest,you aren’t certain whose side she’s on for a lot of the time. Fiona Volpe is a seductive and villainous Bond Girl, who uses her attractive looks to lure men into a trap. Unlike other women who melt in Bond’s arms, she doesn’t and wickedly tells him that she isn’t going to become an angel for him. A trend of villainous Bond Girls who ensnared Bond would follow, with excellent results. Now I must mention one of the finest ladies in the series .Tracy is one of the more intriguing Bond ladies and all the better for it. She’s impulsive, combative yet also sensitive. She embodies a lot of things and is still one of the most commanding of the Bond women. Tracy did capture Bond’s heart quite differently from other woman and her influence on the series itself can’t be underestimated. She showed that Bond could be vulnerable when it came to women and was not always just a playboy. This trope would be employed in later movies to show that Bond had a chivalrous side.

On to the 70’s, where the amount of capable and strong ladies emerged slowly. Some of the damsel in distress parts where still there and the decade wasn’t the finest, but it still had some memorable women. You can forget about Tiffany Case and Mary Goodnight who were just eye candy, and focus on the alternative women of substance. The strongest lady of the decade is Anya from The Spy Who Loved Me. A Soviet agent and one of the top in her agency, Anya is an emotionally and physically strong woman, with an agenda of her own. She may collaborate with Bond, but at the same time even kill him. This sets up an interesting dynamic between the two as she isn’t going to be won over quite as easily as other woman have been. Add to this that she is basically at the same level as Bond, and Anya is a marvellous addition to the series of independent women. Holly Goodhead in Moonraker is a capable leading lady, who is already on a similar mission to Bond and has infiltrated first. In comparison with other decades, the 70’s girls are somewhat lacking, save for the ones praised above, but the impact of the interesting additions still could be found. It would be in the 80’s when it really got going for more promising and purposeful ladies were present.

The 80’s ups things and continues to feature a lot more ladies of depth, substance and strength. It was a clear reflection of cinema, that had started to feature more female heroines who could fight and handle themselves, just as well as a man. In For Your Eyes Only, Melina Havelock is not at all interested in romance with Bond. Her mission is vengeance and for the most, she wishes to work alone. Her intensity and rage can’t be contained, witnessed by her killing with a deadly crossbow. Her mission is her own and she only comes across Bond due to a connection with the Secret Service, but her personal vendetta is what really drives her in the story. The eponymous Octopussy is a very independent and shrewd businesswoman, who leads a diamond smuggling operation. Living in luxury through her hard work, she is surrounded by a large posse of women. Her living space is an island populated solely by women, enhancing her reputation as a tough and strong woman. Her interest in Bond is one of kinship as he helped her father years before. She even attempts to sway Bond to joining her business, a bold move and one that does sound tempting. Later on when fighting back against a fiendish plot, she leads a loyal group of athletic women, who display gymnastic and martial art skill when taking down the enemy. The villainous Bond Girl appears once more in A View to a Kill. This time it takes the intimidating form of May Day, a dangerously unstable and shockingly brutish woman. A powerhouse of physical strength and violent impulse, she tangles with Bond in almost every sense. She’s the kind of Bond Girl who will kiss you reluctantly and kill you, probably at the same time.

The 90’s and up until now are possibly the best representations of the Bond Girls evolution into equal to the man himself. They still had the good looks and sex appeal, but they had character and something else than just being love interest to 007. Starting with GoldenEye, where you had two very assertive ladies on either side of the law. In the heroic side, there was brainy Natalya, who was just an everyday woman thrown into a deadly string of events, but with gathering gumption and quick learning, became a formidable Bond Girl. On the side of bad there was the sadistic Xenia Onatopp, whose killer appetite for crushing victims between her thighs during sex really put the fatale in femme fatale. Both of these women are capable and contribute greatly to the changing face of the Bond universe. While on different sides of morality, the strength of both shines through. Natalya for her smarts and ability to adapt to danger and villainous Xenia for how she uses her sexuality to get the thrill, putting Bond out-of-place in more ways than one. Even the new incarnation of the ever loyal secretary Moneypenny experienced a makeover. Now rather than pining profusely over Bond, she easily matched wits with him and cut tie him in knots with her charm. And later on when she is reintroduced once more and we learn she was a field agent herself, this adds yet another layer to the character. One of the most kick ass of all the women appeared in Tomorrow Never Dies. Wai Lin worked for Chinese Intelligence and crossed paths with Bond, but being a lone wolf herself kept him at a distance. She was an expert karate student, showcased when she takes down a gang of goons with a graceful and supple ease. She could fend for herself and for the most part was not romantically entangled with Bond, though some sparks where there. Her main concern was the mission at hand.

Probably one of my favourites and one of the most fleshed out Bond Girls is Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale. Vesper is one of the most complex of the Bond girls, mainly because she represents and covers so many things. She’s confident yet terrified, loving yet forced to be deceitful and all around mysterious. Vesper makes her mark on Bond, and the viewer alike with just how different and noticeably rounded she is. Vesper is a fine example of how far the Bond Girl concept has come; while beautiful and charismatic, it’s her depth and conflicting emotions that truly make the impression.

And while not strictly a Bond Girl, the reintroduction of superior M as a woman heralded a big change in the franchise. It actually tied in with the fact that the real life head of MI6 was also a woman, supplying more social change for women in powerful positions. Now Bond was answering to a woman, who could cut him down to size with just a withering glare or put down. This allowed audiences to see that women where really changing for the better in the franchise and cut really put 007 in his place when needed. And in Skyfall, she was the main female focus in the story, even more so than the usual Bond Girls. Her arc is explored in a maternal way with Bond, who looks up to her and while not always listen, takes into account what this powerful woman says.

And so concludes my post on the changing faces of the Bond Girls. I hope you liked what I had to say about the evolution of the women and how they are a great addition to the franchise.

Ever After

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Film Title

Ever After

Director

Andy Tennant

Starring

  • Drew Barrymore as Danielle de Barbarac
  • Anjelica Huston as Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent
  • Dougray Scott as Prince Henry
  • Megan Dodds as Marguerite
  • Melanie Lynskey as Jacqueline
  • Timothy West as King Francis
  • Judy Parfitt as Queen Marie
  • Patrick Godfrey as Leonardo da Vinci
  • Jeanne Moreau as Grand Dame

The Cinderella story is given a lively and entertaining retelling, with a fresh historical fiction slant and modern view of the heroine. Ever After boasts heart and good humour, along with some unexpected touches that give the often told story a new coat of shiny paint.

In Renaissance France, little Danielle de Barbarac lives with her caring father. She never knew her late mother and has been raised with kindness by her father on his farming estate. Her father marries the Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent, who comes with her two daughters Marguerite and Jacqueline. Tragedy strikes when Danielle’s father dies following a heart attack and the nastiness of the Baroness really emerges. Years later, Danielle has grown into a beautiful young woman who has been reduced to a life of servitude under her stepmother. Jacqueline is nice to Danielle, but often stays quiet as she is frightened of her mother. The estate has fallen into ruin, while most of the servants have been cruelly sold and Rodmilla frequently spends money she hasn’t got trying to afford a life of luxury she thinks she’s entitled too. Though frequently mistreated by her stepmother and spiteful Marguerite , her spirited demeanor and feisty personality provide her with the right temperament to not simply be a doormat for others. Danielle is no ones fool and is a girl who will speak her mind when she’s pushed too far. One day, she encounters a must unexpected visitor; the dashing Prince Henry. He is attempting to evade his Royal protocol of an arranged marriage and tussles with Danielle when he tries to steal her father’s horse. He offers her payment if she remains silent about seeing him. This fleeting meeting doesn’t mean much to either at first, but it sets up that they will soon meet under more different circumstances. Shortly after, using the money he gave her, Danielle attempts to buy back a servant that her stepmother sold. Dressing up in her mother’s prized dress, Danielle once again meets Henry, who slowly becomes more curious about her. Her passionate manner stirs something within Henry and Danielle too develops feelings, even though he believes she is a member of nobility. Meanwhile, Rodmilla is plotting a way back into court and hearing that Prince Henry is expected to find a wife, sees snotty Marguerite as her ticket to prominence again. As Henry and Danielle fall further into love and she wears down his snobby attitude, complications arise with Danielle feeling guilty about having to hide her true identity. Add to this the presence of wise Leonardo da Vinci, who acts as something of a guardian angel, and it’s about to get fun and adventurous.

When doing an adaptation of a well-known story, things can go either way. You can be overly traditional or go down a fresh path. Ever After takes the latter road, though it manages to still reference the original source material. Andy Tennant strikes a nice, sprightly balance with the two throughout Ever After. The magical fantasy of other versions is stripped away to focus on the budding romance and spirit of the heroine. There are still touches of tradition to be found( the masked ball and the glass slipper) but everything else discovers a fresh and vibrant take on the material and is all the better for it. framing device employed here. In it, we witness an old duchess telling the ‘real story’ of Cinderella to The Brothers Grimm. Through this usage, we get an old storybook feeling but one that is more fun and modern than a lot of other versions. The fact that it presents the story as being a legend is also a cause to like Ever After, further placing it as one of the most interesting interpretations of the tale. The romance is heightened in Ever After, finding time to develop Danielle and Henry as gradual lovers with distinct personalities. Their encounters have a charm that reminded me of an old screwball comedy, with them running into one another and not quite knowing what to make of the other in the confusion. Danielle is especially well written and defined, coming across as resourceful, kind and full of spirit. Her primary goal isn’t to discover a prince( though romance obviously does figure into things) but to help those closest to her. It is definitely the most independent and tomboyish version of Cinderella there is and for that, one of my favourites. There are languors in the pacing in patches, but the irreverent and playful events in the film more than compensate in their effectiveness. The visual style is breathtaking; largely consisting of a gilded sheen that ties in with the setting and the content on display. The location work is as sumptuous as the elegant costume design on show. And of course, the film wouldn’t be the same without its wistful and lively score to keep things generously fun and engaging.

Drew Barrymore makes for a beautifully spirited and reliable heroine in the form of Danielle. Far removed from the sometimes passive and needing a man to save her incarnations of the Cinderella, Barrymore deftly translates a feisty toughness and genuine sympathy in the part. Danielle is very much a modern woman in an old-time, a strength that the luminous Barrymore plays to and delivers on with her likable charm and clever wits. Anjelica Huston is delightfully malicious and conniving as the stepmother, who dishes out biting remarks and executes underhand sneakiness like a pro. You really can see that Huston is having a ball being so wicked and even a little seductive to. Such diva like personality and slyness is ideal and splendidly conveyed by the fine Anjelica Huston. Dougray Scott is given more to do than most with the Prince Charming part. Scott plays the snobbish yet searching Henry with just the right amount of charm, restlessness and humour that causes him to spark with Danielle. And the gentle, bristling and growing chemistry between him and Barrymore is a lovely sight to witness. Megan Dodds is a bratty and selfish presence as the quite nasty stepsister, while Melanie Lynskey sweetly plays the kinder sibling. Humour and great support comes courtesy of Timothy West and Judy Parfitt, who star as the king and queen who can’t quite seem to work out their son. And special mention must go to Patrick Godfrey’s work as Leonardo da Vinci, whose inspiring speeches and pushes for romance helps Danielle and Henry get closer. The appearance of Jeanne Moreau as the narrator adds immense class and room to reflect, as her voice is so engaging and full of deep wisdom.

A lovingly rendered and fun take on a classic story, Ever After springs to life with both intelligence and care. It all contributes something strikingly modern film with a great protagonist who is anything but a damsel.

3000 Followers

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I’ve just had word that my blog has got 3000 followers. This achievement simply blows  my mind, and I’m simply over the moon about it. All of my followers are simply fabulous and provide me with support and friendship. I owe so much to you guys and your cool and rocking appreciation is highly amazing. So now let’s celebrate with style. And once more, thank you so much.

Who Are Your Favourite Female Directors?

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I was glancing over my review index the other day and it came to my attention that I’ve reviewed quite a number of movies directed by women. It got me pondering on the fact that even though there are many women directors, there is still a large gap in comparison with male counterparts. But this post of mine is to celebrate the excellence of women directors everywhere and give praise to their unique vision. Plus, I wish to shine a light on many of the ladies in the profession. And I will ask you all, who is your favourite female director? Which films directed by ladies would you suggest to me? Below are two videos that feature many respected female directors.

The Beguiled (2017 Film)

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Film Title

The Beguiled

Director

Sofia Coppola

Starring

  • Colin Farrell as Corporal John McBurney
  • Nicole Kidman as Miss Martha Farnsworth
  • Kirsten Dunst as Edwina Morrow
  • Elle Fanning as Alicia
  • Oona Laurence as Amy
  • Angourie Rice as Jane

Previously filmed in 1971, The Beguiled gets a reworking courtesy of Sofia Coppola and its different approach makes it one memorable movie of mounting tension and burgeoning sensuality.

It is 1864, Virginia and the Civil War is in motion. A young girl by the name of Amy from a nearby school for young girls, is out gathering mushrooms for food. She comes across Corporal John McBurney, a badly wounded Union Soldier and deserter. Helping him, Amy brings the unconscious man to her school. Here we meet the stalwart headmistress Miss Martha Farnsworth, vulnerable and melancholy teacher Edwina Morrow, and a few students, including teasing and bored teenager Alicia. There is curiosity among the girls about the man; many thinking it treason to harbor the enemy, but also a pang of sexuality as there hasn’t been a man around the isolated place for a long time. All of the ladies at the school in one way or another find themselves attracted to and curious about the handsome man in their residence. For the protective Martha, he is something that is tempting but troubling to her position of power. To shy Edwina, he is a decent man who seems to treat her with compassion. And to the precocious Alicia, he is something to project her kittenish desires on to. With the other younger girls, particularly Amy, John is something of a mysterious but friendly stranger. McBurney, while convalescing, does nothing to stop fanning the flames he has stoked and proceeds to flirt with the women. Largely, he manages to ingratiate himself into the hearts of the surrounding women, hoping to remain at the school and not return to the battlefield. Yet his trifling with their emotions in such a confined setting, will not be tolerated once fevered feelings finally get aired. The women themselves, particularly Martha, Edwina and Alicia, find themselves vying for his attentions and wrestling with romantic and lustful feelings. Soon events become complex for all the ladies, as the attraction and jealousies give way to irrevocable circumstances that tear the school to pieces in the wake of deception and anguish.

Sofia Coppola is at the helm of this steamy tale of repression and revenge, and goes about it with a finely tuned subtlety that is its chief asset. In comparison with the Don Siegel version that was more lurid and in your face(effectively so too), Coppola’s interpretation is more on the side of suggestion and nuance. Stifled desires and flurries of jealousy are glimpsed in actions and facial expressions, finding an unspoken way to project the inevitable chaos that will ring out soon enough. The tale, under the direction of Sofia Coppola, takes shape from a woman’s point of view, featuring the female gaze as opposed to the male one that so many films favour. John is repeatedly observed and lusted after in a variety of ways, most memorably when Martha sponge baths him and has to stop as her stifled desire is beginning to surface above her ladylike visage. A surprisingly sly wit also courses through the movie’s veins, which is unexpected but most welcome in the end. Themes of isolation and female identity have been explored through Coppola’s filmography already, but The Beguiled finds it in a darker setting. The choice by Coppola to have The Beguiled focus on the women primarily is a beneficial one, that allows expansion of character but also levels of surprising ambiguity. Plus, we aren’t told what to think about these people, rather it lets us make our minds up over their actions and consequences as they slowly become unsheathed. Who is really being beguiled in the film? Both John and the group of ladies exhibit signs of it, but the grey areas are what makes it so much more compelling to watch. Sofia Coppola has focused on isolation and female loneliness in her filmography successfully, here in The Beguiled, it lends itself excellently to this darker story that displays her command over suspense. While The Beguiled is definitely a psychological drama, a thriller element as the temperature rises, emerges under Coppola’s command. She shows she’s got a dab hand at creating tension; starting in the most subtle of ways before layering it with more prominent menace as John’s stay pulls apart the fabric of the female dominated house but comes around to find him in the process. Some of it can feel a tiny bit too gentle for such a tense story, but this is a minor quibble because the overall subtlety and open to interpretation approach lends The Beguiled an immensely watchable and tightly compact air. The evocative cinematography, based on shadowy bronze and occasional smattering of natural light, heightens the intensely claustrophobic cage that is the school, both for the women and John. A lot of it takes place within the aura of candlelight and closed curtains, further reinforcing the Southern Gothic entrapment of John and the tightly wound wheels of passion that are just fit to burst. There is an element of a very dark fairy tale present in the visuals, with the shafts of light through trees both coming off as beautiful and strange. And look out for the final shot of this movie, trust me it’s one that really speaks volumes and is strikingly executed. A sparse but effective score gathers momentum as darkness creeps into the tale.

Colin Farrell has the dashing good looks but also the talent to play the catalyst of The Beguiled. He is definitely someone who is manipulative and insincere in his promises, but an added depth comes out. Farrell brings with him a vulnerability that ultimately brings about his conniving behaviour, effectively he is brought down by his own plans. While Farrell is impressive in his part, the main focus of The Beguiled is the women. And they deliver brilliant work along the way. Nicole Kidman is both steely and motherly as the headmistress, who is not immune to feelings of passion that are stirred by John’s arrival. Through her watchful yet conflicted eyes, Kidman splendidly discovers a tough will and domineering hold over all who she sees; she is both protector and something of a jailer at the same time. For me, Kirsten Dunst, who has long been one of my favourite actresses, is the standout when starring as the wounded and easily lead Edwina. Her face presents a palpable sadness and a sincere hope of something that will take her away from the life she leads, a hope she thinks John will assist in. But Dunst also manages to inhabit something unpredictable in Edwina once betrayed, that rises with the jealousy of the characters around her. It’s an understated but very memorable performance. Elle Fanning, all pouting lips and come hither glances, nicely plays the teasing seductive student whose interest in John is far from wholesome. Young Oona Laurence makes a mark with a wide-eyed portrayal of children’s innocence, while Angourie Rice also stands out as one of the students growing attracted to the man in the school.

A decidedly Gothic and arresting drama of psychological desire and it’s consequences, The Beguiled finds Sofia Coppola stepping our of her comfort zone a little and fashioning something very haunting. Strikingly composed and executed, plus boasting some fine acting from a largely female cast, The Beguiled is very worthy of the praise it has been receiving.

Lost in Translation

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Film Title

Lost in Translation

Director

Sofia Coppola

Starring

  • Bill Murray as Bob Harris
  • Scarlett Johansson as Charlotte
  • Giovanni Ribisi as John

A bittersweet and moving drama, etched with comedy and pathos from Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation makes for a beautifully crafted and thought-provoking movie of alienation and connection. Featuring two beautifully subtle and captivating performances from Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, Lost in Translation is a movie to treasure for its quiet and engaging impact.

Bob Harris is a middle-aged, washed-up actor who has journeyed to Tokyo, Japan to shoot a whiskey commercial. Completely alienated as he doesn’t understand the language and blue because of his directionless existence( that includes estrangement from his wife and kids), Bob is lost in a sea of uncertainty and slowly drowning. Meanwhile, a young woman named Charlotte, fresh out of Yale and newly married, is also in Tokyo and the same hotel. She too feels ignored and questioning of herself, as her inattentive photographer husband John seems to care more about his career than her. Charlotte is left to her own devices, yet can’t shake the instability and indecision of her life. Both jet lagged and struggling with insomnia, Bob and Charlotte meet one night in the hotel bar. Despite them being different in more ways than one, they begin to forge a friendship that opens their eyes to something more positive and worthwhile. Through their encounters, both of the humorous and heartfelt variety, and the deep bond that they form, Bob and Charlotte are able to face the challenges of life and consider that it actually be something wonderful if they look closer.

Sofia Coppola strikingly yet subtly directs and writes this wonderful movie, capturing an honesty and heartfelt story of two unlikely soul mates finding solace in each other’s company. Her rendering of their existences as troubled and searching is nicely complimented by a good dose of humour. It straddles the line between comedy and drama, without sacrificing any of the poignant or bittersweet angles of the tale. Coppola displays a quiet confidence and her measured approach with both her directing and script is notably transfixing. Loneliness and a feeling of not belonging are heightened by the culture shock of the Japanese setting and the visuals of large buildings that dwarf Bob and Charlotte. And talking of visuals, they are simply sublime and have real substance in framing the central duo as isolated and fish out of water. The lighting scheme, gold hues and often a certain blue, highlights both the melancholia of their situations and the often nighttime confessions that each shares along the way of their bond. A certain shimmer is found in the cinematography too, hinting at their may be a chance of hope for both the listless souls in Lost in Translation. And the way that Japan is used is gorgeous, utilizing the beauty and scope of the country to its advantage. Crucially and one of the instruments that really made me appreciate Lost in Translation, was that although an emotional feeling is generated between Bob and Charlotte, it doesn’t lead to a love affair. So many Hollywood films go for the obvious and expected when you have a film about two people unintentionally connecting, thankfully Lost in Translation doesn’t fall into that trap. An atmospheric and ambient soundtrack is the ideal companion to the film, soaking it in a layer of hope, escape and pathos.

The acting in Lost in Translation is a definite high point of an already impressive movie. Bill Murray turns in a restrained yet subtly expressive portrayal of tired loneliness and the want to experience something. Moving from deadpan comedy to sensitive depth, Murray is at some of his best as the sympathetic Bob, searching for something hopeful to come along. All it takes is just the slightest movement of his eyes and face, and you know all there is to know about the character, down to the fact that Murray plays him so stunningly. Equally as good is Scarlett Johansson, who despite only being 17 at the time of filming, contributed a mature and exquisitely subtle performance. Finding nuance, humour and melancholy in Charlotte, Johansson holds her own and is mesmerising to watch. What makes their portrayals so beautiful is the little moments of quietly suggesting thoughts and dreams, achieved with the most simple yet meaningful ways. The two boast a believable rapport with each other, discovering a platonic yet still caring need for the companionship to combat the alienation of their respective lives. Giovanni Ribisi, who previously narrated The Virgin Suicides, appears as Charlotte’s busy husband, whose hipster attitude and blatant lack of concern have you seeing why she wants to find something close to connection.

Evocative, soulful and charming, Lost in Translation is a triumph for both Sofia Coppola and main actors, Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. Together, they create a touching film about unexpectedly finding someone to relate too and escaping from the pressures of life while facing up to some of them.

What Do You Think of Sofia Coppola?

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My answer to the question I pose is that I find her to be an extremely gifted and beautiful director. The way she creates a mood and feeling through visuals and music is gorgeous. Her movies tap into real emotions of alienation and loneliness, while still having something of a quirky humour. You’ve heard what I think, now I want to know what you make of Sofia Coppola?