Just a quick post to say that I am around, but am taking advantage of the nice weather. I’m not disappearing, just might not be on as much. Hope you all understand.
The Manchurian Candidate
- Frank Sinatra as Major Bennett Marco
- Laurence Harvey as Raymond Shaw
- Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Eleanor Iselin
- Janet Leigh as Eugenie Rose Chaney
- James Gregory as Senator John Iselin
A most unusual and highly compelling slice of Cold War paranoia and trickery, The Manchurian Candidate still holds intense power today, for its winding plot, direction and acting. With various switches in tone and much food for thought, it’s a movie that definitely burns into the brain with its intricate plot and terrifying notions.
During the Korean War, a platoon of U.S. soldiers, headed by the distant Raymond Shaw and included Captain Bennett Marco, their group is ambushed. After the war, they return to life in America, but something is amiss. For starters, Raymond is given the Medal of Honor, though we later see that he was a loner in his company and that while the men all say that “Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life”, there is something not right about it. The main person who it impacts is Marco, now a captain, who experiences a recurring nightmare of his dazed platoon being observed by Chinese and Russian agents, as a cold Raymond murders two of their members. Delving deeper, Marco comes to realise that the platoon was brainwashed while in captivity, with particular attention lavished upon Raymond. Yet while he has these parts of what looks like an elaborate Communist conspiracy, it’s getting it into some semblance of reality and reason that proves difficult for him to understand. At first not helped by Army Intelligence, when a fellow member of the squad speaks of the same thing, he receives some backing. Marco isn’t going down without a fight, as he rushes to uncover sinister machinations that continue to grow more complex. Meanwhile, Raymond’s mother Eleanor Iselin begins to use her pernicious influence to further her zealous and easily led husband John Iselin’s campaign. She is linked to something dark, but to explain it would be to spoil it. With memories eventually slotting into place, Marco knows that Raymond is unwittingly being commanded and primed to do something terrible. But can Marco put the pieces together before something truly horrifying can take place?
John Frankenheimer crafts this political thriller with a considerable amount of unusual tension, layering events through a dreamlike haze, yet still making it in the realms of reality when it comes to the underhand tactics of power angle. His off kilter approach to such dynamite material is rapid and complex, trusting the audience to pay attention and follow the labyrinthine plot at play. It’s a daring high wire act keeping all the contradicting parts of irony and terror going, but Frankenheimer is up to the task and does it with intelligence. The Manchurian Candidate is a film filled with political manipulations, dastardly ploys for power and the things people are willing to do to gain a foothold in government. While it’s all shot through the eyes of the Cold War, the atmosphere of it is still very apparent and topical today. This suggests that The Manchurian Candidate was a film ahead of its time in what it depicted and how it visualized it. And talking of visuals, the surreal touches and how it bleeds into reality are strikingly evoked. Repeating motifs of Queen of Hearts playing cards, rhyming phrases and unusual tricks are all in there to tease us. A prime example of the effectiveness of The Manchurian Candidate is the dream/flashback of Marco. In it, the camera starts turning and we witness his troops sitting and listening to what seems to be a lecture on plants given by a posh lady. As the camera continues its journey, it cunningly reveals that it is a brainwashing exercise by Communist agents. Such sly precision and the overlapping cuts between the two extremes are marvellously structured and disquieting. Much can also be said about the unnerving close-ups and deep focus, which in black and white, really stay with you. This is a movie that is genuinely unpredictable from scene to scene with its ever-changing tonality. From surreal to hard-hitting, baffling to cynically up front, The Manchurian Candidate keeps you on your toes with its intricacies and corkscrew plot. Twisting and turning away is the order of the day and with unusual and intentionally mysterious parts that are scattered in there, it is a brain teaser of the highest order. One can definitely say that this is a movie that is rewarding on repeat viewings, as you’re bound to discover something you hadn’t thought of the first time. Certain areas like the unusual scene between Marco and a mysterious woman named Eugenie where they communicate almost in code, are kept ambiguous and esoteric, ensuring your rapt attention and providing the overall feeling of a complex puzzle box that the film greatly projects. If ever there was a movie that provoked thoughts, it was The Manchurian Candidate. As for the music, it has a slowly percolating menace to it that strums away in the background and uses haunting repetition to enhance the feeling of hypnosis.
A simply marvellous cast of actors flesh out this shocking and impactful movie. Frank Sinatra leads the way, projecting a tormented yet determined manner as the crusading Major. Playing against his usual persona of cool and suave, Sinatra finds an exemplary change of pace that shows of his dramatic muscles. Often times, we are perplexed as he is in all this conspiracy and web-spinning, but his unwavering desire and desperation is what truly makes Sinatra ideal in this role. Laurence Harvey’s detached and remote demeanor fit perfectly with his character of Raymond, who is brainwashed into a remorseless killer for sinister purposes. Yet Harvey finds real moments of pathos and sympathy beneath the aloofness, contributing a tragic layer to the character. Yet it’s Angela Lansbury who is the person you remember most for her startling performance as the mother from hell. At first seeming to be just overly smothering, slowly and subtly her power crazed motives and single-minded persistence come through in chilling effect. Mrs. Eleanor Iselin is a master manipulator who pulls the strings of everyone, delivered with gusto and alarming coldness by the great Lansbury. Angela Lansbury formidably plays this woman as a shocking, monstrous and calculating harridan, insistent on getting what she wants and doing everything it takes to get it. For those who mainly think of Lansbury for her motherly and sweet roles, her performance here should make you re-asses that due to its jaw dropping impact and delicious evil. Janet Leigh appears as a most enigmatic lady, who you aren’t sure what to make of. Her scenes with Sinatra have a most unusual and eerie feeling as they raise so many questions, which is part of the beauty of it. James Gregory aces it as the buffoon and bombastic Senator, manipulated like a marionette by his wife for her own gain.
Menacingly suspenseful, darkly cynical and still timely after all these years, The Manchurian Candidate is a classic piece of mounting psychological tension and political satire That triumphs, complete with supreme direction and excellent acting.
Whenever someone says the words consummate professional and staying power, I immediately think of Angela Lansbury. The Grand Dame has been acting since the 40’s and is still going in her 90’s. Now that’s what I call a killer work ethic. With her dedication to her work, she has been seen in movies, television and stage. To many people of different ages, she can be remembered for countless roles. And adulation for her is well-earned. So which role of her illustrious career is your favourite?
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.
I’ve had such fun with these kinds of posts in the past that I wanted to bring them back. So feel free to ask me anything, well almost anything as long as it isn’t horrible or offensive. Movie related or just life related, I’m open for questioning. Ask away my fellow friends.
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.
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;
- Tatiana in From Russia With Love is easily manipulated by SPECTRE to lure Bond out into a conspiracy.
- Domino in Thunderball is kept as a virtual prisoner to the main villain and brutalised by him.
- And various women are brainwashed and used in a nefarious scheme in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
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.
1990's, Andy Tennant, Anjelica Huston, Dougray Scott, Drama, Drew Barrymore, Ever After, Historical Drama, Jeanne Moreau, Judy Parfitt, Megan Dodds, Melanie Lynskey, Patrick Godfrey, Romance, Timothy West
- 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.
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.
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.