Tonight’s Movie: You Can Count on Me

 

This past week I have gone from never hearing a word about You Can Count on Me, a 2000 film starring Mark Ruffalo and Laura Linney, to hearing a lot about You Can Count of Me. I’ve heard so many good things about it that I willingly stopped watching The Wire (which is not an easy thing for anyone to do) and put this movie on top of my Netflix queue. Linney received her first Oscar nomination for her performance, so hopefully it lives up to what I’ve heard.

Review: Pather Panchali (1955)

Apu, the protagonist in Pather Panchali (1955)

I can never forget the excitement in my mind after seeing it. It is the kind of cinema that flows with the serenity and nobility of a big river.”

Akira Kurosawa on Pather Panchali

Pather Panchali, a beautiful and touching film directed by Satyajt Ray, India’s greatest director. Ray was honored by the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences in 1992.

Set in 1920s India, Pather Panchali , depicts the life of the Kumaraj family, struggling to make ends meet as modernity encroaches on their rural village life. The story mostly centers around the relationship between the young boy Apu and his sometimes rebellious older sister Durga. They often watch the trains, a symbol for hope and change, pass through their village.

The family endures an incredibly difficult period when the father, Harihar, must leave to find work. Sarbajaya struggles to keep her family together, but illness and a monsoon only add to their troubles.

Pather Panchali is a gorgeous, cinematic feat and a wonderful viewing experience. Director Ray delves into the common beliefs of family and love as well as the harsh reality and little opportunity of rural India. Pather Panchali is a minamilistic and understated picture, making twice as impactful.

I should mention how I stumbled across this movie. My friend Asha was assigned to watch it for her Modern Indian Fiction class and needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

Updated October 11, 2010

Review: Born Yesterday (1950)

Meet Billie Dawn. She’s the stunningly gorgeous yet unsophisticated girlfriend of a crooked and abusive business tycoon. Billie Dawn is also considered to be one of the greatest female characters in cinema history.

Judy Holliday expertly portrays Billie in this George Cukor directed picture, that co-stars Broderick Crawford and William Holden. As she should; Holliday starred in the Broadway production of Born Yesterday for four years.

 

Harry Brock (Broderick Crawford), is a loud mouth, cocky millionaire with bigger problems than his political crimes. Billie, his ex-chorus line girlfriend, is not exceptable for Capital Hill’s high society. Desperate he hires intelligent (and handsome) journalist, Paul Verrall (William Holden) to teach Billie proper etiquette.

 

Paul opens Billie’s eyes to a world outside of her million dollar perthouse and she discovers her full potential while realizing that Harry is nothing more than a corrupt crook.

Born Yesterday is a brilliant comedy with Judy Holliday delievering an incredible performance that won her an Oscar.

Updated October 12, 2010

Review: Marty (1955)

Ernest Borgenine in Marty
As I have previously mentioned, I host a weekly film series. It’s a great experience for me because these movies that I never got to see in theaters (like The Jazz Singer and Citizen Kane) I get to experience from a whole new perspective.

Marty is romantic, funny, sweet and touching. The film stars Ernest Borgenine as Marty Piltetti, a lonely butcher who lives with his overbearing Italian mother. As he approaches middle age, Marty is constantly getting pressure from his family, friends, and even neighbors with the deadly question, “Hey Marty. When are you gonna get married?”. Unfortunately for Marty, he has his insecurities: he talks too much and he respects women too much to mistreat them. He just wants to fall in love and sweep a girl off her feet.

One night he meets Clara (Betsy Blair), a not soattractive school teacher, who has been just as unlucky in love as he has, and Marty’s world is turned upside down. Instead of being pressured into marrying, his family and friends try talking him out of it.

Marty is a simple yet poignant story. It’s about falling in love and finding the beauty in life. There is an amazing scene where Marty, returning from his date, is so elated that he can’t wait for the bus. He hits the bus stop sign and with a huge grin, he races down the street, shouting “Taxi! Taxi!”

This is the only movie to ever win the Best Picture Academy Award and the Palme d’or at Cannes. It’s one of those special movies and a definite must-see. You will fall in love with Marty and you will be rooting for him to find the girl of his dreams.

Updated October 7, 2010

Review: A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

A Streetcar Named Desire is the kind of movie that if you haven’t seen it in forever you forget how good it is. It is film driven by the brilliance of Tennessee Williams’ play, the direction of Elia Kazan and often gutwrenchingly powerful performances of the cast. In this film, casting is everything, which is why it has stood the test of time.

Marlon Brando is spetacular, to say the least, in one of his career-defining roles as Stanley Kowalski. Vivien Leigh is equally breathtaking, mesmerizing, and infuriating as the tragic Blanche DuBois. The supporting cast of Karl Malden and Kim Hunter also do a fabulous job. (Karl Malden is by far one of the most underrated and underappreciated actors of all-time.

A Streetcar Named Desire the story of Blanche DuBois (Leigh) a Southern belle who has lost everything: her beauty, dignity, home, career, mind, and most of all, her love for a certain “young boy”. She moves in with her pregnant sister (Hunter) and her no-good husband (Brando), who live in the French Quarters of New Orleans.

Blanche obviously disapproves of her sister’s lifestyle and most of all of Stanley. There is no doubt that that feeling is mutual. And he does one thing to her that entirely changes the mood of the movie. Blanche, who finds Stanley to be no good for her sister, clashes with her brother-in-law. But underneath the extravagent cloths, the jewelry, the make-up, and a doomed relationship with Malden’s Mitch, Blanche is a woman falling apart.

Of her confrontations with Stanley, their final one proves to be the most destructive. Stanley’s rape of Blanche leaves Blanche utterly wrecked and she is committed. Stella vows never to return to Stanley and in the final scene she seeks refuge with her newborn son at a neighbors. It is a scene that was changed from the original play. Although ambiguous, the play’s ending implied that Stella, although different from her sister, would be heading down a similar destructive path because of her marriage to Stanley. The movie says otherwise.

Nevertheless, A Streetcar Named Desire has given us one of the most iconic sequences in the history of cinema. And because of it, the nature of cinematic performanc changed forever.

Updated October 6, 2010