Mediocre, oui monsieur Scorsese? –

Based on “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” a historical fiction book written and illustrated by Brian Selznick. Swooping from the sky through tumbling snowflakes, clouds of steam and crowds of travelers, Scorsese‘s camera whooshes joyfully through a labyrinth of ladders, shafts, cranks and cogs enchant our eyes into pleasure. Hugo’s exuberant opening shot glimmers at the very beginning of an adventure.

Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is an orphan who lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station where he works as a clock keeper. His father (Jude Law) inherited an automaton, a mechanical man who is supposed to write with a pen. Convinced the automaton contains a message from his father, Hugo goes to desperate lengths to fix it but he is still missing one mysterious part. Alongside came Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz) an orphan who lives with George Méliès (Ben Kingsley) an old man with a sour attitude. He runs a small toy booth in the train station.

After treated to a beautifully captivating opening, the film finally gets where it’s going. We see how Méliès took movies to the moon and back in 1902, how silent cinema’s filmmakers were magicians who can still make us smile and gasp, and how precious things are lost between the grinding gears of technology and time. But yet after the story gets deeper somehow you’ll see a gap around the story, and slowly you’ll be disappointed. While it was fine from a technical standpoint, the story was completely confounding.

The director are too focused on the visuals that the story and characters get left behind. The linkages between characters are lifeless and stiff, the dialogue are constrained to look poetic, and the plot is so slow moving that it trips over itself. It’s so superfluous that it loses it’s meaning and impact. Sadly, Scorsese aren’t quite enough to make this adaptation of Selznick’s novel as a wholly satisfying experience. Truly mediocre, what a shame.

Nevertheless, the film won the 84th Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing. In 2012 BAFTA Awards the film won Best Sound and Best Production Design. In the 69th Golden Globe Awards Scorsese won Best Director.

Clint Eastwood

Clinton “Clint” Eastwood, Jr. was born May 31, 1930 in San Francisco, California. His family relocated often as his father worked at different jobs along the West Coast, including at a pulp mill. As his family moved to different areas he held a series of jobs including lifeguard, paper carrier, grocery clerk, forest firefighter, and golf caddy.

Eastwood is an American film actor, director, producer, and composer. After beginning his acting career exclusively with small uncredited film roles and television appearances, his career has spanned more than 50 years. Eastwood started directing in 1971, and in 1982, his debut as a producer began with two films, Firefox and Honkytonk Man. Eastwood has received multiple accolades and many award nominations for his greatness work in the films Letters From Iwo Jima, UnforgivenMystic River, Changeling, White Hunter Black HeartBirdPale RiderInvictus, Flags of Our Fathers, and Million Dollar Baby.

And for the outstanding dedication to the film industry, especially as a director. These are the top 5 list of Clint Eastwood Films.

5. Invictus (2009)

The story is based on the John Carlin book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed a Nation about the events in South Africa before and during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, hosted in that country following the dismantling of apartheid.

The Plot: In 1994 Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) subsequently elected for the President of South Africa. His immediate challenge is “balancing black aspirations with white fears”, as racial tensions from the apartheid era have not completely disappeared.

While Mandela attempts to tackle the country’s largest problems, he attends a game of the Springboks, the country’s rugby union team. Mandela recognizes that the blacks in the stadium cheer against their home squad, as the Springboks represent prejudice and apartheid in their minds. Knowing that South Africa is set to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup, Mandela convinces a meeting of the newly-black-dominated South African Sports Committee to support the Springboks. He then meets with the captain of the Springboks rugby team, François Pienaar (Matt Damon), and implies that a Springboks victory in the World Cup will make a change and inspire the nation.

Despite the astonishing cast, Eastwood brings us accurate portrayal with surprising details and the solid script with tight story-line combined with great cultural impressions and strong emotion. As for that matters, Eastwood has nominated for Best Director in the 67th Golden Globe Awards.


4. Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)

The film is based on the non-fiction books “Gyokusai sōshikikan” no etegami (“Picture letters from the Commander in Chief”) by General Tadamichi Kuribayashi and So Sad To Fall In Battle: An Account of War by Kumiko Kakehashi about the Battle of Iwo Jima. While some characters such as Saigo are fictional, the overall battle as well as several of the commanders are based upon actual people and events.

The Plot: In 2005, Japanese archaeologists explore tunnels on Iwo Jima, where they find something burried in the dirt. General Tadamichi Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe) assigned in Iwo Jima to take command of the garrison and defended it from Americans. And afterwards he immediately begins an inspection of the island defenses. The next day, Kuribayashi orders the garrison to begin tunneling defenses under Mount Suribachi. He explains that the United States military will take the beaches quickly, and that only subterranean defenses have a chance for holding out.

After the defenses are completely built, the war has occurred and the American strikes them really hard and causing significant casualties for the Japanese Army. Inevitably, fears and despair affects them and also clouded their judgement.

Written by Paul Haggis, the film shows a portrayal of good and evil on both sides of the war. In addition, after released in U.S the film critics heavily praised the writing, direction, cinematography and acting. The review tallying website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 178 out of the 195 reviews they tallied were positive for a score of 91%. As the positive affirmation that achieved, the film won the 79th Academy Awards for Best Sound Editing, and won the 64th Golden Globe Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. This film is also nominated for Best Director and Best Picture in the 79th Academy Awards. And again Eastwood nominated in the 64th Golden Globe Awards for Best Director.


3. Gran Torino (2008)

The Film was directed by Eastwood and written by Nick Schenk. In the early 1990s, Schenk became acquainted with the history and culture of the Hmong while working in a factory in Minnesota. Years later, he was deciding how to develop a story involving a widowed Korean War veteran trying to handle the changes in his neighborhood when he decided to place a Hmong family next door and create a culture clash.

The film directed, produced , and played by Eastwood, the film marks Eastwood’s return to a lead acting role after several years, and yet he still unbelievably astonishing.

The Plot: Walt Kowalski (Eastwood), a grumpy, obnoxious, self centered Korean War US Army veteran, has recently been widowed. His neighborhood is now dominated by poor Asian immigrants, and gang violence. Walt’s young Hmong neighbor Thao (Bee Vang), is pressured by his cousin to steal Walt’s 1972 Gran Torino for his initiation into a gang. Walt then develops a relationship with the boy and his family after that shameful incident. The gang continues to intimidate and assault Thao. Later on, a horrifying atrocity afflicts Tao and his sister Sue (Ahney Her).

I describe it as a humble insurgent, deceptively mediocre in appearance and daring in its earnestness. Unfortunately the film didn’t work quite well with the film critics. But yet the film nominated for Best Original Song in the 66th Golden Globe Awards performed by Jamie Cullum.


2. Mystic River (2003)

The film based on novel Mystic River by Dennis Lehane. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the mysterious drama Mystic River adapted by screenwriter Brian Helgeland. Set in an Irish neighborhood in Boston, Jimmy, Sean, and Dave are three childhood friends who are reunited after a brutal murder takes place.

The Plot: Three boys, Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn), Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon) and Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins), play hockey in a Boston street in 1975. And the, terrifying moments occurred.

Twenty-five years later, Jimmy running a neighborhood store, while Dave is a middle-class worker, still haunted by his abduction. They’re still neighbors and related by marriage. Jimmy’s 19-year-old daughter Katie (Emmy Rossum) is secretly dating Brendan Harris (Tom Guiry), a boy Jimmy despises. Reformed convict Jimmy and his devoted wife Annabeth (Laura Linney) find out that their daughter Katie  has been beaten and killed. Jimmy’s old friend Sean is the homicide detective assigned to the case, along with partner Whitey Powers (Laurence Fishburne). Jimmy also gets his relatives to conduct an investigation of their own.

It’s exhilarating, to see strong acting like this, Eastwood directs it with an invigorated beauty and charms. It is important to remember that films can look and listen and attentively sympathize with their characters. With a pair of his green thumb Eastwood grow great by fertilize and cultivates, And now the seeds has growing properly with its beauty.

Eastwood nominated for Best Director and Best Screenplay in the 76th Academy Awards, as it does Penn and Robbins who have won the Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Actor In a Supporting Role. In 2004 BAFTA Awards the film nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, and Best Screenplay – Adapted. As in the 56th Cannes Film Festival Eastwood nominated for Palme d’Or and he won the Carrosse d’Or (Golden Coach). In the 61st Golden Globe Awards Penn and Robbins again won Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Actor In a Supporting Role, as for Eastwood he nominated for Best Director and for Best Motion Picture.


1. Millon Dollar Baby (2004)

A 2004 American sports drama film directed, starring, co-produced, and scored by Eastwood. It’s the story of an under-appreciated boxing trainer, his elusive past, and his quest for atonement by helping an underdog amateur boxer achieve her dream of becoming a professional. The is based on short stories by F.X. Toole, the pen name of fight manager and “cutman” Jerry Boyd. Originally published under the title Rope Burns, the stories have since been republished under the film’s title.

The Plot: Margaret “Maggie” Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), a waitress shows up in the Hit Pit, a run-down Los Angeles gym which is owned and operated by Frankie Dunn (Eastwood), a brilliant but only marginally successful boxing trainer. Maggie asks Dunn to train her, but he angrily responds that he “doesn’t train girls.” And fortunately, after a magnanimous determination Maggie did, Frankie trains her. And together they’re unite  pursuing her ambition to become a professional boxer.

To be honest this is the best film as best as any movie Eastwood has ever directed. The film was stuck in so-called “development hell” for years before it was filmed. Several studios rejected the project even when he signed on as actor and director. This film is a portrait of the entwine stories of life braided with unfairness and uncertainty of reality, and then leaves us with million of poignancy. This is a film that does both the expected and the unexpected, that has the nerve and the will to be as pitiless as it is sentimental. A dashing proportion of poignant story.

After the unpleasant journey struck, the film is actually managed to harvesting the accolades. In 77th Academy Awards the film won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress in a Leading Role (Hilary Swank), And Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Morgan Freeman). In 62nd Golden Globe Awards the film won Best Actress (Hilary Swank), and Best Director.


Hell in Stone’s perfection –

The Vietnam War was an unpleasant experience for everyone involved. Having served in Vietnam, Oliver Stone harnessed these experiences to make Platoon, he managed to made an astonishing Vietnam war film. Everything about it is as close to perfection as we are likely to see. And he unbelievably makes our feelings oscillated and takes us deeper into the gist of humanity.

Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) is torn between the sergeants. From his point of view, war is a hell without end, he also a naive young man who believes in the American objectives in Vietnam before all his beliefs destroyed. Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger) is the battle hardened, brutal murderer, who uses the war as an excuse to tender to his sadistic pleasures. Sgt. Elias (Willem Dafoe) is the other side of the spectrum, a soldier with high moral standards. We get the sense that he has wrestled with his inner demons, but he has successfully come through to the other side. He has compassion for his fellow man, and he uses drugs as a form of escapism from this brutal war.

The film is very honestly written by Stone and it is this honesty that makes the film so great. Platoon isn’t an anti war movie and it certainly does not glorify war in anyway, it is simply how war is in its entirety. And Stone perfectly captures war in details. The sheer horror of war is captured so well in everyway. The fear of death, compatriots dying, divisions in the platoon, guilt of killing. The shooting is frantic and impossible to follow. It’s all there and Stone doesn’t try to disguise it. We follow the war at ground level, and see the brutalities first hand.

For it’s brilliance, Oliver Stone won the 59th Academy Awards for Best Director, The Silver Bear in 37th Berlin Film Festival, 44th Golden Globe Awards and he also won 1988 BAFTA Awards for Best Director. A magnificent film in the hand of astute director.

The Manchurian Candidate

A riveting political thriller –

From the Golden Globe nominated director John Framenheimer, the film sets in the demonizing and political overtones in the middle of cold war paranoia that struck all over America.

A former Korean War POW Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey) returns with the Congressional Medal of Honour, to his domineering mother Eleanor Shaw Iselin (Angela Lansbury), who he tries to distance himself from. Lt. Raymond Shaw is not a person you would like. The Vietnam veteran and son of the conservative Senator John Iselin (James Gregory) should be in bad memory for his fellow war comrads as a sulky, self-opinionated character. That’s why it seems quite odd that they praise Shaw after they have returned home. His commanding officer Maj. Bennett Marco (Frank Sinatra) has been having nightmares where he is seeing the troops were kidnapped and brainwashed by the enemy, while war hero Shaw killed two of his own men under hypnosis. Soon, Marco finds out that Shaw is converted into a will-less, deadly instrument without knowing of the actions of his alter ego.

I can’t think of another movie that induces paranoiac feeling in the audience as well. It is a grim, daunting film which imparts an irritating coerciveness of its happening on the screen with perfectly arranged and meticulously shots. The architecture of the images seems to be precisely sophisticated in various perspectives which are mutually commenting, contradicting and completing – as if the events on the screen are following a secret dramaturgy.

As in acting, you’d be surprised with the uniformly excellent acting. And Sinatra proves himself a great actor for the lead. The possible doubtful casting of Laurence Harvey as Raymond Shaw pays off, even with his accent but nonetheless he is wonderfully creepy as the controlled assassin. His account of his love affair is very moving. And Lansbury as his mother is amazingly good and very sinister, she has played unsympathetic roles but never like this. She is unforgettable, and scary. a very riveting conspiracy drama and psychological thriller.

The film was nominated the Oscar for Best Film Editing, and it was nominated the BAFTA for Best Film from any Source. And Angela Lansbury Won the 20th Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress. If you’re looking for something to blow you away, something completely unlike anything you’ve seen before. It has aged well, still providing the same amount of suspense and drama that it did then.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Requiem of the mole –

The film is based on John le Carré espionage-novel “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”. John le Carré (also known as David Cornwell) writes the novel based on experiences during his time as a member of the British Intelligence service sectors MI5 and MI6 during the 1950s and 1960s. After directing a distinctive vampire-drama “Let The Right One In”, Swedish director Tomas Alfredson sculpted a fine, absorbing picture which engrosses from beginning to end, and it’s absolutely brilliant.

Sets in British post World War II, precisely during the Cold War. Control (John Hurt), the leader of an unknown sector of the British Intelligence service, is ousted along with his long-standing companion George Smiley (Gary Oldman) due to a botched operation in Budapest, Hungary which saw the officer Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) murdered in public. Control had senses that there was a mole among the top ranking members of the service, referred to as the Circus by the other top ranking members due to its location in Cambridge Circus, London. Fortunately, a British agent, Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy) discovers that there may be a high ranking Soviet mole within the Circus. And for obvious reason Smiley is drawn out of retirement to pinpoint the culprit after Control passes away, Aided by Peter Guillam (Bendedict Cumberbatch) the young Intelligence officer who is Tarr’s handler. Smiley has four primary candidates to focus his investigation upon, which they are the last remaining members of the Circus, Bill Haydon (Colin Firth), Percy Alleline (Toby Jones), Roy Bland (Ciarán Hinds) and Toby Esterhase (David Dencik).

For your consideration, this is a slow-burn film, full of meaningful looks, crafty dialogue and one that hints at deeper and more complex plot strands but it has an authentic air and it is a fascinating to observe a build-up of tension and Alfredson never rushes any moment, instead he allows for the audience to become accustomed to their surroundings and appreciate the beauty. If you’re expecting fast-paced-full of action and flying cars, then put your expectation aside for the summer. Because I’m sure that this will not suited for many mainstream movie-goer’s tastes, it is one for those who are looking for a film of a different type, time and pace.

Hitting all the right notes in its performances, script, and direction, the film triumphantly infuses a challenging narrative with a deeper humanity, and questioning devotion to duty affects all aspects of our lives.

Das weiße Band (The White Ribbon)

A dashing storytelling in an unimaginable conundrum –

Marinated in anguish, sexual humiliation, animal cruelty and death, Michael Haneke returns with his most challenging film, after US version Funny Games.Haneke shot this film in crisp black and white and set in a small village in northern Germany, 1913-1914.

Filmed like a miraculously preserved aging photograph and superbly acted, Haneke delivered the film despite the formality and thematic precision. He also serve it with rigorous compositions, measured pacing and potent symbolism. Although the pace is slow but the film density will endures you into the craves of curiosity.

Narrated by an old man recalling his days as the village schoolteacher (Christian Friedel), the story begins with a doctor (Rainer Bock) crashing from his horse by a tripwire. Then the baron’s (Ulrich Tukur) son Sigi (Fion Mutert) is missing and then founded hang upside down with bruises. Pets are killed. Cabbages are beheaded. Women are humiliated. And again, children are abused while being forced to wear a white ribbon of “purity”.

Haneke is here in his element, applying meticulously controlled technique to heated hostilities. The coldness burns, the smarts dialogue, and the regulated violence half-glimpsed. A scalpel slash to the mind’s eye. One subplot even offers a very modest romance betwen the schooltheacher and the young nanny Eva (Leonie Benesch). While the thoughtful and stark voiceover, shimmering visuals suggest dream and allegory. Lessons can be learned from this strange community cocooned in the mists of time and memory.

So it’s hard to fault this remarkable movie from Europe’s most revered modern director, a film that feels too superior to be called anything other than a masterpiece. Then again, superior is the word. The only thing that makes The White Ribbon gleam a little coldly is that you sometimes get the feeling that’s exactly what its maker thinks it is, too.

Haneke’s The White Ribbon finally won Palme d’Or in the 62nd Cannes Film Festival and won the best foreign language at 67th Golden Globe Awards. He marks the ascendance of a major filmmaker to the rank of greatness.

La Vita è Bella (Life Is Beautiful)

Life is inevitably beautiful in its way –

In 1930s Italy, Guido (Roberto Benigni) a Jewish waiter who also opens a bookstore starts a fairy tale life by marrying a lovely woman Dora (Nicoletta Braschi) from a nearby city. Eventually Guido and his wife have a son named Giosué (Giorgio Cantarini)and live happily together until the occupation of Italy by Nazi-German forces. In an attempt to hold his family together and help his son cope with the horrors situation of a Jewish Concentration Camp.

In general it is very highly regarded, there have been those who have said it is overrated and some say Holocaust’s trivialize or whatever. It is uneven, its instead a film about how love survives in an impossible situation. And how there can be hope in even the worst situations.

The second half of the film was better than the first. I didn’t hate the first half. Some of it is very funny, but some of the slapstick humour didn’t work as well as it should. It also works very hard, to provide charm. That is perfectly acceptable, but because there was a lot of charm in the performances and the production values it felt slightly overdone. Though I will say that Benigni’s tribute to comedy greats like Charlie Chaplin and Groucho Marx was inspired.

There are a lot of truly good things about Life is Beautiful. It is sumptuously filmed. The costumes look amazing and the Italian landscapes look breathtaking. The story is an effective and affectionate one, about a Jewish man who falls in love with the help of his humour, but has to do the same to protect his son in the Nazi concentration camp. The quality of the script is thoroughly decent, and hits more than it misses.

The film changes into a more poignant and lot of poignancy, compelling and harrowing in the second half. While the character of Guido “amusingly” tries to convince Giosué that life in the concentration isn’t so bad. In sort, the film portrait a simply beautiful family and lead us into the deepest human emotions in a way of sweetness, yet bitter.

The performances are excellent in general. Benigni, one of Italy’s favourite funny men, gives admirable performance. And I also thought he did a better job acting than he did directing. His direction once or twice in this film was a little bit stodgy. Nicoletta Braschi is just stunning as Dora, she looked amazing and solid in this movie.

All in all, beautiful to watch, and a very nice story. It is very pleasant to watch with a compelling and poignant story, a worth watching film with accolades.