“I am an immigrant” Oscar winning director Guillermo del Toro speaks for millions

Who isn’t from a lineage of immigrants in this relatively new continent of ours ‘discovered’ just a few hundred years ago. Even the indigenous of our land are thought to have had migrated from elsewhere. In his acceptance speech for Best Director at Sunday’s 90th Academy Awards, Mexican film director, writer, and producer of The Shape of Water Guillermo del Toro conveys multiple truths. Indeed, multiplicity looks to be the trend forward.

del Toro

“I am an immigrant,” del Toro declares, these four words bold and clear, albeit humbly and thankfully.

The director continues:

“In the last 25 years I’ve been living in a country all of our own. Part of it is here, part of it in Europe, part of it everywhere.”

del Toro highlighted another truth by saying that being a part of a diaspora, home can be anywhere. While some may oppose to it, one cannot deny the effects of globalization is a breaking down of barriers, the fusing of cultures, and the forming of the world citizen.

del Toro is the third Mexican director to win the Best Picture Oscar. He follows two of his countrymen–‘The Three Amigos’ as they’re called– basking in the Oscar limelight in recent years, Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity in 2013 and Alejandro González Iñárritu in the subsequent two years for Birdman and The Revenant.

“… I think that the greatest thing that our art does and our industry does is to erase the lines in the sand. We should continue doing that when the world tells us to make them deeper.”

The making of the Oscar winning feature The Shape of Water is a testimony of border crossing. Written and helmed by a Mexican director, the film stars a London, England, born Sally Hawkins, supported by a cast of American actors. Original music written by a French film composer, Alexandre Desplat, who won his second Oscar with his water music (his first was The Grand Budapest Hotel in 2015). Director of photography is Danish cinematographer Dan Laustsen. The movie nominated for thirteen Academy Awards and winning four is shot and produced in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Toronto production designer Paul D. Austerberry and his team garners an Oscar for their creative work, bringing del Toro’s fantastic imagination to life.

del Toro sure knows what it means to erase lines in the sand.

Kazuo Ishiguro

A parallel figure can be found in the world of another art form. The 2017 Nobel Laureate in Literature Kazuo Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1954. When he was five, he followed his family to England. At first his parents thought their sojourn would be a short couple of years, but the family ended up staying there ever since. Immigrants as well. Ishiguro had not returned to visit the country of his birth until thirty years later.

His earliest novels are set in Japan confronting Japanese issues; his later works expand out to other locales and even crossing literary genres. His most well-known novel is perhaps The Remains of the Day which was adapted into film starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. It is bona fide a British novel.

Is he a Japanese writer or an English writer? Ishiguro was asked this boundary-setting question after his Nobel win. In his own words on the British Council Literature webpage: “I am a writer who wishes to write international novels. What is an ‘international’ novel? I believe it to be one, quite simply, that contains a vision of life that is of importance to people of varied backgrounds around the world. It may concern characters who jet across continents, but may just as easily be set firmly in one small locality.” Only by eliminating borders can one reach the universal.

del Toro had it right when he used the metaphor of lines in the sand. Often borders are not carved in stone but fluid and arbitrary. Surely you can make them deeper. But sand being sand, the lines can be readily washed away as the tides of change come rolling in.

***

I thank Asian American Press for allowing me to repost my article in full.

Related Posts:

The Shape of Water is All Enfolding

Don’t Just Drive Past The Three Billboards

Mudbound: From Book to Screen

 

The Salesman: A Timely Film

It’s time we get used to reading subtitles.

The Salesman is one of five nominees for Best Foreign Language Film in the upcoming 89th Academy Awards on February 26. Due to the executive order banning travellers from seven Muslim countries, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi will not be attending. The director has indicated he will not accept any exception made for his case. Co-star Taraneh Alidoosti has stated she will boycott the ceremony as a protest.

Whose loss is it that Asghar Farhadi is banned from coming to the Academy Awards?

After the untimely passing last year of Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami (Certified Copy, 2010), Farhadi continues to carry the legacy of fine Iranian filmmaking with international accolades. Starting with About Elly, which he won Best Director at Berlinale in 2009, Farhadi went on to capture both the Oscar and the César Award in France for Best Foreign Language Film with A Separation (2011). The Past (2013) brought him two Cannes prizes. His newest work The Salesman won a Best Screenplay for the writer/director and a Best Actor award for his star Shahab Hosseini at Cannes last year. Now North American viewers have a chance to see this engaging family drama.

thesalesman_poster_2764x4096-copy

The story starts off with an evacuation of an apartment building on the verge of collapsing. A couple, Emad (Shahab Hosseini, A Separation, About Elly) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti, About Elly) are among the anxious residents fleeing the building. We can see large cracks on the wall in their bedroom. Responding to the shout for help, Emad diverts to his neighbor’s unit to carry his adult, mentally ill son on his own back to go down the stairs. A seemingly spontaneous move in the rush of evacuation, Farhadi lets us see an act of kindness from his main character.

A friend offers Emad and Rana a recently vacated apartment unit to stay. Its previous tenant still has her belongings stored in one room. She has left in haste, a shady figure who has frequent male clients coming to her unit. Emad only learns of this after a violent incident that happens to his wife. Rana is alone in the unit one night. She leaves her apartment door ajar for Emad, thinking he will come home soon while she steps into the shower.

Emad returns home to see traces of blood on the stairs and soon learns that his wife has been taken to the hospital emergency by neighbors. We as viewers do not know exactly what has happened but can conjecture by the circumstance. We see a traumatized Rana with stiches on her forehead. She is released to recover at home, but refuses to let Emad call the police. Later, as Emad discovers a cell phone and a set of keys left by the intruder, he decides to investigate on his own and takes matters into his own hands.

Since the incident, husband and wife begin to drift slowly apart, Rana being reticent and Emad vigilant. Here we see Farhadi’s signature cinematic handling: incisive depiction of domestic tensions shrouded in Hitchcokian suspense. We soon forget we are watching an Iranian couple living in Tehran. As with his previous works, Farhadi is effective here in engaging his viewers and to elicit empathy for both the husband and the wife despite their very opposite response to the attack.

Emad and Rana belong to a local theatre group. They are presently rehearsing for a run of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, playing Willy and Linda Loman. Farhadi deftly intertwines the on-stage and the real-life couple with intricate parallels. In the play, we see the demise of Willy Loman and the end of a relationship; in their real life, we see Emad and Rana’s marriage deteriorate, and a demise of a different kind for Emad. The cracks on the wall above their bed at the opening scene is now an apt metaphor, their once close bond slowly crumbles.

Actually, there are two plays involved in the film. The obvious one is Miller’s. The other is easy to miss. During the day, Emad is a teacher. In one scene, we see him teaching a play called The Cow, a work written by the prolific Iranian writer Gholām-Hossein Sā’edi. Reminiscent of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, The Cow evokes much enthusiasm in his class of teenage boys. The play is an allegory about a man who owns the only cow in a village; his daily life is closely tied to the animal, his identity defined by his ownership of this unique possession. When one day he loses his cow in an accident, he ends up turning into one.

Here are two prominent lines. A student asks: “How can you turn into a cow?” Emad answers: “Gradually.” Sounds like a joke, but no student laughs. Farhadi subtly leads us to see how.

The last part of the film is the most crucial. Emad’s good detective work leads him to come face to face with the attacker. He has him locked in a room in their previous, vacated apartment. Playing to the attacker’s fear of revealing to his wife and family what he had done, Emad calls them to come over. Farhadi is brilliant in leading us to a situation where we as viewers are challenged to empathize all his characters despite their opposing sides, and to weigh in on what we would have done. He puts his viewers in the position not as a judge, but witness.

Slowly we are led to see how a man can lose the veneer of civility and change into something else as he allows revenge dominates his emotions. The kind and helpful man we see in the opening scene is now shrouded in a different sentiment. In the most nuanced and quiet manner, Farhadi lets us visualize Emad’s earlier reply to his student, how a man can gradually change into a different being. Or, is it a latent potency we all have that different circumstances would elicit a different aspect of our self?

At this juncture, Farhadi reveals to us a multi-faceted man. A helpful neighbour, loving husband, well-liked teacher, and a cultured stage actor. When put in a situation where vigilante justice takes over, and revenge molds the mind, or even when the social expectation of being a protective male head in a marriage prevails, is Emad free to act? If the accused pleads for his own release, and the victim herself is willing to forgive, should the husband carry out his reprimand? On the other hand, should the attacker just go free?

In the final shot, we see Emad and Rana sit beside each other as make-up is applied to get them ready for their parts as Willy and Linda. Their expressions in the mirrors make one haunting image to end the film.

Banned from entering the United States, what Farhadi will lose are the glitz and glam of the Oscars. By his absence at the ceremony, the Academy will lose the chance to honor an internationally acclaimed director who is a master in revealing human frailties and eliciting from viewers the very empathy we so need in this testing time.

Fortunately we can still watch his film.

~ ~ ~ ~ Ripples

***

Silence the Movie Arrives in the Most Unwelcome Time

 

Why is La La Land being embraced so readily and Silence shunned? Evidence from box office sales and nominations during this Awards Season clearly show the difference between the two. Just now, the Oscar Nominations are in. La La Land: 14  Silence: 1

Allow me to speculate.

One in glamorous primary colours, the other shrouded in misty shades of gloom. One a fantasy, romance in song and dance, the other realism of suffering, persecution, death. One is layback, relaxing entertainment, the other is 2.5 hours of intense engagement. One charms, the other disturbs. When offered at the end of a tumultuous year, and as we step into a new one when hopes and fears are renewed, the choice is easy. La La Land is an amiable feature (although I won’t get into the overrated debate here), but Silence sure doesn’t deserve the disregard it’s getting.

It’s just that Silence arrives in the most unwelcome time. But then again, there’s no suitable time for a feature like it. Isn’t it revelatory and even prophetic that this film, probably director Martin Scorsese’s most important in his oeuvre, seems to be a total outcast, a lost cause? Exactly, that’s just as it would have ended up.

It would be ironic, wouldn’t it, for a film about spirituality, other-worldly and intangible values, and challenges of faith in the face of persecution to be celebrated by this power and fame-obsessed, material world? For it to receive praise and honor would be the ultimate irony indeed.

In a society which aims at being great, where ratings, numbers, wealth and social media status define success, where loudness rules and silence shunned, it is only expected that a film entitled “Silence” will not be cheered on. It runs against the grains of popularism, for it’s a film about failure.

I have posted a book review of Silence back in December, 2016. In it is a historical note. To summarize, Christianity was introduced to Japan by Francis Xavier in 1549. It was well received then, and by 1600, there were 300,000 Christians in Japan. But the Edo Period beginning in 1603 changed everything. Ruler Tokugawa Ieyasu ordered expulsion of foreign influences and Christianity had to survive underground. Torture was used to drive Christians to disavow their faith. Stepping on the fumie, a brass plague engraved with a Christ figure, is the convenient way to show one’s apostasy, leading to instant release. During this time, the Catholic Church received the news that the stalwart leader of the Jesuits mission in Japan, Father Christovao Ferreira had disavowed his faith and became an apostate. He had since lost contact with the Church.

The film doesn’t need many words to explain these historical events, for its visuals are self-explanatory. It starts off with father Ferreira’s apostasy, apparently under duress as he sees his flock being tortured to death. Liam Neeson’s gaunt and horrified expressions speak all. That’s the power of cinema.

ln-in-silence

Back in Portugal, two young priests, Father Sebastian Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garupe (Adam Driver) appeal to their superior Father Valignano (Ciarán Hinds) to allow them to go to Japan to look for Ferreira and to seek the truth of the situation. Thus begins the story.

I’ve long learned not to judge a movie adaptation according to how loyal it is to the book, for the two are different art forms and a direct transposition may not be possible. But here is one exception. I’m glad that Scorsese’s Silence, co-written with screenwriter Jay Cock (Gangs of New York, 2002), is surprisingly faithful to Shusaku Endo’s historical novel, and that ‘faithfulness’ is both desirable and most admirable here.

By following Endo’s storyline to the dot, extracting pertinent text from the book as dialogues and voiceover, and spending time to cover the all important Epilogue, the director shows his desire to honour the author’s work, a wish that had long hidden in his heart. Indeed, it has been twenty-five years since Scorsese first read Endo’s masterpiece and was so deeply moved that he knew he needed to film it one day.

Another way we see Scorsese’s regard for Endo is his restraint when portraying the tortures of Japanese Christians. What we have, surely, is visual, graphic scenes which, while reading the book are left to the author’s descriptions and our imagination, but on screen are left to the director’s discretion. Kudos to Scorsese, those scenes are done with much restraints. This was a welcome surprise to me. I went into the theatre braced for his treatment like the ending scene of Taxi Driver (1976), or the bloody mayhem in Gangs of New York (2002). I need not have worried. But what I was hit with I had not expected.

Scorsese can definitely unleash more gore in Silence. But he chose not to. The scenes in the film are done with the utmost respect and dignity for the persecuted. Here’s a confession, I’m not one who easily succumbs to emotions, never need a Kleenex while watching a movie in the theatre. Here in Silence, as I watched the three Japanese Christians hanging on the makeshift crosses at the seashore swallowed up by the rising waves, tears slowly streamed down my face. What more, the guy sitting behind me was sniffing away, uncontrollably.

 

The main actors are powerful in taking hold of our emotions. Liam Neeson’s painful expressions both at the beginning and the end are very moving. Adam Driver lost 50 pounds for his role. His skeletal form is almost painful to watch. The Japanese actor Yôsuke Kubozuka is effective as Kichijiro, the ‘Judas character’.

The emotion of the whole film, however, is driven by two actors: Andrew Garfield as young father Rodrigues and the calculated, ruthless inquisitor Inoue played by Issei Ogata. The two form a stark foil: the hot-blooded idealist slaughtered slowly by the cold, harsh ruler. A tidbit for those who had watched Taiwanese director Edward Yang’s Yi Yi (2000), Ogata is Mr. Ota in there.

Garfield is effective in leading us to feel for Father Rodrigues’ sad and tragic journey. Martyrdom is the path to glory, and an easy way out. But no, Rodrigues isn’t given that luxury. Rather, he is faced with a most precarious test, tearing his soul and conscience, that is to apostatize or see his flock die by torture. It is unfortunate that the film has not been well received. Garfield deserves a nomination for Silence.

While it may be about the hidden church that runs underground to avoid annihilation, Silence is more about one man’s struggle with faith and doubt, and ultimately, making his choice and living with it for the rest of his life.

Here’s the rub. In this ‘either or’ society we live in, Rodrigues’s predicament is particularly distressing for us. It is often convenient and tempting to oversimplify issues and splitting them into clean-cut opposing sides, either B or W, L or R, D or R. In Silence, we’re confronted with yet another dichotomy: Devout or Apostate. What Scorsese reveals to us with his last scene is that, the line separating the two is blurry and permeable.

silence-and-beauty-free-chapter-mako-fujimura-1

In his compendium book to the movie, Silence and Beauty: Hidden Faith Born of Suffering, Japanese-American artist Makoto Fujimura, who is special adviser to the film, discusses the necessary existence of a ‘hidden’ identity to those practising Christianity in that historical era in Japan. For 250 years during the anti-foreign, ironclad Shogunate rule of the Edo Period (1603-1868), the only way to survive as Christians was to become hidden, Kakure Kirishitans as they were called in Japan. Stepping on the fumie, as the officials say, could well be only a formality, for it likely did not represent the heart. It is unfortunate that the persecuted Kakure Kirishitans had to succumb to this double life. As outsiders looking in, should we be so easy to judge them? Silence challenged us with that question. Unlike the bold declaration of Western Christianity, the Kakure Kirishitans held on to an inner faith that on the outside was wrapped with weakness and failure, total submission to the ruling authority. A painful, paradoxical existence.

The crucial, final scene in the film, which is the Epilogue of Endo’s book, holds the key to the question. I appreciate Scorsese’s closure. That is also how Fujimura explains Endo’s viewpoint. No spoiler here. Cinematically, the production is an artistic and powerful work worthy of Endo’s masterpiece. Scorsese’s quarter-century quest had not been in vain. Being recognized or not in the Awards Ceremonies just may not be as important an issue.

Of course, there’s always the bottom line. After investing so much resources, time and talents in the production, it is only natural to wish for a positive return. Could the voice that speaks to Rodrigues at that most crucial fumie moment speaks also to Scorsese as well regarding his film Silence?

“Trample! Trample! It was to be trampled on by men that I was born into this world…”

 

~ ~ ~ ~ Ripples

 

***

CLICK HERE to read my review of the book Silence by Shusaku Endo

87th Academy Awards Winners (2015)

Inconsistencies marked the awards show last night. The opening number was so fascinating that it had set a standard and expectation that could not be met for the rest of the evening, from Neil Patrick Harris’s jokes to the incredulous performance by Lady Gaga singing a medley from The Sound of Music. Was that just to open for Julie Andrew to come out to present the Best Original Score? As for NPH’s Birdman imitation game, the naked escapade was a little too desperate an attempt to shock. But his guessing game was mind boggling I must admit.

There were notable high points though, most memorable being the performance of the Oscar winning song ‘Glory’ by John Legend, Common, and a massive group of backup singers re-enacting a Selma scene. Tears rolled down the face of David Oyelowo’s who played Martin Luther King Jr. in the movie, and Chris Pine’s, who played… uh… Captain Kirk.

Speeches were heartfelt and imbued with family value. J. K. Simmons had set it off with a passionate plea for all to thank their parents, mothers, spouse, and children. Patricia Arquette brought the house down with her cry for equal work, equal pay for the females in the movie industry. Is she now considered a whistleblower? Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez almost jumped out of their seats with approval. Ironic to think that some of those applauding were the gatekeepers of the system.

Major winner was Birdman, grabbing all the most coveted prizes, albeit a let down for Michael Keaton. The Grand Budapest Hotel tied with Birdman in the number of Oscars won, the exact categories predicted in my review written in April last year. Just sayin’.

Boyhood only got one nod, a gem of a film that is the epitome of innovation, perseverance, and risk-taking. The fact that it has travelled so far all the way to Oscar night, thirteen years by now, is already an admirable success for the filmmakers and all involved, albeit I’d like to see them win a few more, especially for director Richard Linklater.

Excited to see Ida honoured as the Best Foreign Language Film of the year, and to hear director Pawel Pawlikowski’s take on the occasion: Ida was intended to be a quiet film of contemplation about withdrawing from the world, “and here we are at the epicenter of noise and attention. It’s fantastic. Life is full of surprises.”

CitizenFour won Best Documentary, deservedly. Director Laura Poitras had done an extraordinary job capturing (no pun intended; better than NPH’s ‘treason’) Edward Snowdon’s initial coming out with all the classified materials, filming his meeting with journalist Glenn Greenwald in a Hong Kong hotel room. Considering how the events unfolded later, these footage are now invaluable. The film is on my Top Ripples 2014 list.

Here are the major Oscar 2015 winners:

Birdman (4) – Best Picture, Directing, Original Screenplay, Cinematography.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (4) – Best Makeup, Costume Design, Production Design, Original Score.

Whiplash (3) – Best Supporting Actor J. K. Simmons, Film Editing, Sound Mixing

Boyhood (1) –  Best Supporting Actress Patricia Arquette.

The Imitation Game (1) – Best Adapted Screenplay

The Theory of Everything (1) – Best Actor Eddie Redmayne

Still Alice (1) – Best Actress Julianne Moore

American Snipper (1) – Best Sound Editing

Selma (1) – Best Original Song ‘Glory’

Ida – Best Foreign Language Film

CitizenFour – Best Documentary

Interstellar – Visual Effects

For a complete list, CLICK HERE.

***

Click on the links to my reviews of Oscar Movies:

The Budapest Hotel: A Grand Escape

Whiplash: What Price Perfection?

Boyhood: The Moment Seizes Us

Ida’s Choice

Interstellar and Ida: The Sound and Silence of Exploration

Leviathan: The Beast Within Us

 

Leviathan: The Beast Within Us

The Chinese have a saying – while we’re at foreign language films – ‘A tyrannical government is more ferocious than the tiger’. That Leviathan is selected as the official entry from Russia to the Oscar race baffles me. But I can also see those in power there just may not be bothered by small town corruptions which the film depicts, for they must be more focused on the larger picture that carries greater magnitude, the scenery in Crimea.

Leviathan, that monstrous beast the priest in the film quotes to the main character Kolya is from the book of Job in the Bible. While the context in the Biblical passage is about the Creator’s might over the huge creature, it is a metaphor with layered meaning in writer/director Andrey Zvyagintsev’s film: A citizen against a powerful mayor vying for his home property, and the monstrous beast inside the characters with which they all have to wrestle.

Leviathan Movie Poster

Kolya (Aleksey Serebryakov) is an apt parallel of a modern day Job in the sense of the misfortunes he encounters. The little guy is no match for a greedy and powerful mayor and a corrupt system when it comes to holding on to what he legally owns, his home on a piece of  land by the shoreline in the coastal town of Pribrezhny. Even his lawyer friend Dimitry (Vladimir Vdovichenkov), who has come all the way from Moscow to advocate for him, falls victim to the small town mayor Vadim (Roman Madyanov).

The seemingly idyllic setting of Kolya’s coastal home is apparently an illusion. The cinematography is stunning and probing at the same time, for apart from the scenic serenity, there are also broken and derelict boats discarded on the shore, as well as carcasses of sea creatures, in particular, a whale-like skeleton that we the audience would gasp upon seeing but that the local residents don’t even take a second look. Their lives are intertwined with the Leviathan, however skeletal its remains.

But Kolya is not Job. He is hotheaded and impulsive. Apart from fighting the external beast of the mayoral hostile take-over of his home property, Kolya has to keep his wife Lilya (Elena Lyadova) at bay from his lawyer friend Dimitry, as well as bring up teenaged son Roman (Sergey Pokhodaev) on a path he himself is at a loss in finding. The worst is yet to come though. We empathize with Kolya, a man so trapped, he is unable to find a way out other than drowning his misery in alcohol. The church is not helping either, why, its most powerful congregation member is the mayor himself.

Too far and remote a film to identify? The setting maybe, but not the story. Leviathan resonates with the human condition it depicts, the Leviathans within us that we have to wrestle wherever we may be. Not just Kolya, but every character is crying for a redemptive way out of his or her predicament, unless blind as the mayor who basks in his own schemes. With the nuanced performance of the cast, we have the pleasure to appreciate a production superbly crafted, and that’s what gratifies when watching a film well made, despite the subject matter.

Leviathan has won 2014 Cannes Film Festival’s Best Screenplay Award, and last month the Golden Globe’s Best Foreign Language Film. This Sunday at the Oscars, Leviathan has a good chance of grabbing the coveted prize in its category, Best Foreign Language Film of the Year.

My pick? Still rooting for Ida, for its positive choice at the end.

~ ~ ~ 1/2 Ripples

***

My Reviews of 2015 Oscar Nominated Films:

Ida

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Whiplash

Gone Girl 

Interstellar and Ida

Force Majeure (2014): Act of God or Act of Human

As I’m writing, this just popped up: Force Majerure (Sweden) is now one of nine films shortlisted for the Oscars Foreign Language Film category, advanced from the initial round with features from eighty-three countries. Soon, this list will be further shortened to make up the five nominees for the 87th Academy Awards. Nominations will be announced at 5:00 a.m. PT, January 15, 2015.

Force Majeure

I watched Force Majeure at TIFF in September, a second time again this week as it comes to our local theatre. Please note, it is impossible to discuss this film in an intelligent manner without mentioning the storyline. Therefore, consider yourself warned. Spoiler Alert. But let me assure you, this won’t lessen your enjoyment of the movie; rather, it could prepare you for a more purposeful viewing.

‘Force majeure’ in translation means ‘an overwhelming and irresistible force’. Director Ruben Östlund tells his visual story based on this notion. A young family goes on a week of skiing holiday in the French Alps, a much needed family time as the husband has been busy at work. What is intended to be a fun family vacation is turned into something totally unthought of, making this one of the most original film ideas I’ve come across in years.

The slick and stylish camerawork begins with a close-knit family. Mom and Dad Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) and Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke) look like a well-matched couple; their pair of school-aged children Vera (Clara Wettergren) and Harry (Vincent Wettergren) are smart and charming. All four of them sleep together on one King-sized bed in the resort hotel, wear the same style of underwear, brush their teeth in one accord, do everything together, until one split-second their view of each other is shaken to the core.

Family photo

The ski resort conducts controlled avalanches to maintain the ski slopes. At lunch on the second day, the family sits at a table in the outside terrace, taking in the spectacular scenery. Suddenly a controlled avalanche is launched. At first, everyone is curious and excited, marvelling at the sight. But soon the avalanche appears too close for comfort. Panic begins to send people scattering away from their tables.

Ebba grabs her children, but with two of them, she looks for Tomas to help. Tomas in the mean time is nowhere to be found, for he is the first one to run away from their table. Sounds hilarious? The scenario can be quite comical actually, but that only sets the stage for a critical look at a marriage relationship, and with that, the duties, roles, and expectations of a husband and a father.

Director Östlund aptly presents to us a situation worthy of discussion. What deserves praise is the way he does it: with deadpan humour, slick editing, stylish cinematography and clever dialogues. The music motif captures the mood perfectly with excerpt from Vivaldi’s Four Season, where the intensifying summer storm brewing, and soon wreaks havoc on what could have been a perfect family holiday.

As Ebba relays the embarrassing episode to friends Mats and Fanny, superbly played by supporting actors Kristofer Hivju and Fanni Metelius, the scenario soon divides the two couples along gender lines, and divergent and conflicting views regarding male and female roles and dispositions ensue. Suppressed chuckles in the theatre could well be the intended effects by the director, but I couldn’t help but LOL at certain shots.

Tomas’s earlier denial is later dissolved into concession as he declares himself ‘a victim of his own instincts’. What an intriguing claim. Are we autonomous agents fully responsible for our own actions, or victims of our personality? I first thought the term Force Majuere refers to the avalanche, but as the story unfolds, I begin to see it as the force within, our innate nature, as Tomas puts it, the impulse that drives him to act a certain way. The term ‘controlled avalanche’ is perhaps the most intriguing oxymoron inferring to the nature of our behaviour.

The final act may look a little incompatible with the rest of the film. However, I feel it is a sensitive and nuanced depiction of this thing we can call ‘humanness.’ What’s joining us all is our frailty. A quote from another movie suddenly comes to mind: “The things that people in love do to each other they remember, and if they stay together it’s not because they forget, it’s because they forgive.”

An interesting scenario presented in a visually captivating and delightful cinematic offering. I hope Force Majeure will make it to the final cut in the Oscar race. And, my instinct tells me it just might.

~ ~ ~ 1/2 Ripples

***

Other Related Posts on Ripple Effects:

Ida’s Choice: Thoughts on Pawlikowski’s Ida

Tuffing it out at TIFF14

Top Ripples 2014

86th Academy Awards Made History

Oscar Selfie

The following is a partial list of last night’s 86th Academy Awards winners. I’ve included Production Budget from Box Office Mojo, just for comparison:

Gravity: 7 Wins

Best Directing, Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects, Music (Original Score).

Production Budget: $100 Million

12 Years A Slave: 3 Wins

Best Picture, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay

Production Budget: $20 Million

Dallas Buyers Club: 3 Wins

Best Actor, Supporting Actor, Make-up and Hairstyling

Production Budget: $5 Million

The Great Gatsby: 2 Wins

Best Costume Design, Production Design

Production Budget: $105 Million

Blue Jasmine: 1 Win

Best Actress

Production Budget: N/A

Her: 1 Win

Best Original Screenplay

Production Budget: $23 Million

12 Years A Slave Poster copy

The Oscars last night made history in two categories… and I don’t mean Ellen Degeneres’ star-studded group selfie setting retweeting record. First, there was Gravity’s director Alfonso Cuarón as the first Latin American to win the Best Directing Oscar. Gravity seemed to be the major winner last night with seven Oscars. Basically the 3D, sic-fi movie had snatched all technical wins, as predicted by many.

But in every Academy Awards, the top prize is Best Picture, here we see 12 Years A Slave make history with Steve McQueen becoming the first black director to garner the Best Picture Oscar honour. Lupita Lyong’o also came out victorious as this is her first feature film. I’m happy to see too that John Ridley win the Best Adapted Screenplay, the second black winner to fetch a writing Oscar, after Geoffrey Fletcher for Precious in 2009. Ridley has turned Solomon Northup’s poignant memoir into a script for an impressive visual testament. Because of the film, this eye-witness narrative of Solomon Northup hopefully will find its way into school curricula soon. This is the power of cinema in transforming society.

Cate Blanchet‘s win for her role in Blue Jasmine gives her a chance to counter a misconception: “… and perhaps, those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films, with women at the centre, are niche experiences. They are not. Audiences want to see them, and in fact, they earn money.”

Hopefully after all the ‘history’ being made, one day we won’t have to identify the colour, ethnicity, or gender of winners in saying so-and-so is the first black, or hispanic, or woman to win this or do that.

**

The reason I’ve included the Production Budget in the above list is that I remember the ‘implosion’ of the movie industry‘ Steven Spielberg had predicted a year ago as he cited productions getting more and more costly, aiming at mega, iron-man effects to please the general public. While Gravity might fit that category with its 3D, high-tech, CGI-driven grandiosity and out-of-this-world spectacle, there are also worthy, smaller productions that cost only a fraction of a colossal budget, but still can move audiences and touch the human heart.

**

Related Posts on Ripple Effects:

History Made At The Oscars: Kathryn Bigelow Wins Best Director

Our Mega Culture

12 Years A Slave: Beauty and Sadness (Movie Review)

Narrative of Solomon Northup: A Voice that Must Be Heard (Book Review)

Nebraska: Color is Superfluous (Movie Review)

The Great Gatsby Movie Review

Blue Jasmine: Homage & Re-imagining

***

This Fall: Read the Book Before you See the Film

UPDATE: This list will be updated whenever there’s new info. So, bookmark it if you like. Just added Lincoln (Team of Rivals), The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. CLICK ON THE TITLES to read my book and film reviews. For others, the link will lead you to info of the production.

**

Some highly anticipated film adaptations from literary sources will be coming out this fall. Released in this latter part of the year, to be premiered at major film festivals, some of them are poised for the Awards Season next spring.

Here’s an update of these great expectations. The Great Gatsby for some reasons has delayed its release until next summer, so one less book to read if you’re to finish them before the movies come out.  These titles also make good selections for book groups:

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

To premiere in the UK and at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on the same date, September 7. You still have time to read this masterpiece before the film comes out as a general release in November. You may need to read a bit more than 10 pages a day if you start now. But still doable. Update: The Read-Along has just been completed. The film is now screening in selective cities. Read my book reviews here for first half and here for the last parts.

.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

To premiere at TIFF on Sept. 8. Legendary filmmakers Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run), Andy and Lana Wachowski (The Matrix) join hands to make this ‘unfilmable’ acclaimed literary work. Tom Hank, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent…

Update: The film has been released and has received mixed reviews. 

Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

How about this… The French notorious literary classic Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, published in 1782, adapted into film in the 21st C. with a setting in 1930’s Shanghai, China, helmed by Korean director Hur Jin-Ho, cast with Chinese and Korean actors. I’ve seen two adaptations in the past, Michelle Pheiffer/John Malkovich’s Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and Annette Bening/Colin Firth’s Valmont (1989), but this one strikes me as something totally different.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

In time to mark this bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens, a showcase of British talents: screenplay by David Nicholls (Tess of the D’Urbervilles, When Did You Last See Your Father) directed by Mike Newell (Four Weddings and A Funeral, Harry Potter), Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient), Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech), Jeremy Irvine (War Horse)…

.

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

World premiere Nov. 28, 2012 in New Zealand for Part 1 of the Trilogy, ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’, ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ in Dec. 2013, and ‘The Hobbit: There and Back Again’ in July, 2014. Peter Jackson attempts to reprise his Rings magic with cast from previous Rings Trilogy Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom… Again, we’ll get to see beautiful New Zealand as setting.

.

Les Misérables by VIctor Hugo

A film version of the stage musical to be released in December. Directed by Oscar winner Tom Hooper of The King’s Speech. If you want to hear them sing, here’s the chance… Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Helena Bonham Carter, Amanda Seyfried…  The trailer is mesmerizing. Update: The production has just been shown in industry screenings and received euphoric reception. Major contender for 2013 Oscars.

.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

To open the 50th NY Film Festival on Sept. 28 with its world premiere. I’m glad this 2003 Booker Prize winning novel by Canadian author Yann Martel finds its film adaptation in the hands of Oscar winning director Ang Lee. From the trailer, I have the feeling that Lee has masterfully grasped the magical realism of the book. Lee’s versatility ranges from Jane Austen (Sense and Sensibility) to martial art (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). I highly anticipate this one, albeit as someone prone to motion sickness, I’m apprehensive about seeing the rough ocean journey in 3D.

.

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. Film Review

To premiere at the Gala Presentation at TIFF Sept. 9. Salman Rushdie turns his Best of the Booker, epic novel into screenplay, working closely with Canadian director Deepa Mehta on the film production. I’m interested to see how magic realism transposes from the literary to the visual, albeit I know full well the two are different forms of artistic medium. For the few of us who had spent four months reading along, I think the only regret we have might be that we can’t go to see the film together.

.

Mr. Pip by Lloyd Jones

Winner of the 2007 Commonwealth Prize, Lloyd Jones’s character Pop Eye Mr. Watts brings to the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville during the civil war in the 1990s not just Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations, but friendship to a 13 year-old girl Matilda. Film adaptation directed by Chronicles of Narnia‘s Andrew Adamson. And for all you fans of ‘House’, Mr. Pip is none other than Hugh Laurie.

.

On The Road by Jack Kerouac

First screened at Cannes Film Festival in May and later in Europe, producer Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of this beat generation classic finally comes to North American at TIFF this Sept. Directed by Walter Salles (Motorcycle Diaries) and with a cast including Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst.

.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

Published in 2007, the book was included in Guardian‘s list of 50 books that defined the decade and shortlisted for the Booker Prize. The story of a young Pakistani working in NYC, graduated top of his class from Princeton, finding love in an American girl, and success on Wall Street, has his world turned upside down after 9/11. The film just opened the 69th Venice Film Festival last night. Directed by the acclaimed, India-born Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, The Namesake), the film and the book should stimulate lively discussions in your book group. Stars Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland, Liev Schreiber.

Teams of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Film Review.

It has been noted that Steven Spielberg ensured the film rights to Goodwin’s book even before she wrote it. His film Lincoln is partly based on it, an epic production that reportedly involves more than 140 speaking parts. Acclaimed as a strong Oscar 2013 contender, the film portrays Lincoln’s tenacious fight for the passage of the 13th Amendment.

.

What Maisie Knew by Henry James

James’s novel published in 1897 has its film adaptation set in modern day New York City. It depicts a family break down from the point of view of a six-year-old girl as she is torn between her parents going through a divorce. Film directed by Bee Season and The Deep End’s Scott McGehee and David Siegel, Julianne Moore and Alexander Skarsgård star.

.

***

Posts you may like:

Lincoln (2012): Some Alternative Views

Anna Karenina Read-Along: Parts 1-4, Parts 5-8

Midnight’s Children Read-Along

Midnight’s Children Film Adaptation: Movie Review

Life of Pi by Yann Martel: Read the book Before the 3D Experience

CLICK on the following links to my previous posts for lists of film adaptations from other literary titles in development or with film rights sold:

Great Film Expectations

Upcoming Books Into Movies — List 3

More Upcoming Books Into Movies

***

The Artist (2011)

I like to start the year with something bright and cheerful. Glad I found it in The Artist. It’s a colourful and spirited romance comedy, kicking off the new year with style. The Artist is a black and white silent film made in 2011.

Directed by Michel Hazanavicius, it premiered at Cannes and was nominated for the Palme d’Or. The French actor Jean Dujardin won Best Actor at the Festival. The Artist is now gathering momentum for an Oscar Best Picture nom.

I was totally captivated by the film, an homage to the silent era of Hollywood movie-making. In the style and tradition of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, The Artist is a comedy with a heart. It’s not a deep exploration of true love, or what makes an artist, but a light, fun and melodramatic genre piece, gratifying without demanding much.

The story is about a silent movie star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), who is the rave of the time. His presence is cheered by live audiences at the cinema and on the streets, greeted by swarms of women screaming and swooning. One of them is Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), an aspiring actress. Miller’s dance steps and perky personality soon open doors for her into Hollywood. She can now get close to George, who in turn is mesmerized by her.

But the torrents of change are callous and indifferent. The year is 1927, the pioneering of talking movies. Sound quickly replaces silence. George soon finds himself swept from the top of the world into oblivion. He’s dumped by his producer Al Zimmer (John Goodman), for George is now a nobody from yesterday. Reduced to poverty, he has to let go of his last supporter, his faithful butler Clifton (James Cromwell).

Now folks, this is 1927… not unlike what we’re seeing today. All trends are ephemeral. And uh… I hate to say this, but it was mentioned by my college son who saw the movie with me, sound ~ 3D of today?

Seeing George Valentin’s plight, Peppy Miller cautiously comes to the rescue. Now a popular Hollywood star, she knows how proud he is of his career as a silent film actor, an artist, a purist who refuses to be lured into what he perceives as the gimmick of sound productions. So ultimately, the story is about change, and how one can still seek to accommodate without compromising.

The Artist is a genre romance comedy, silent style. That’s when acting and outward expressions of thoughts and emotions take over in the absence of dialogues. I was impressed by how effective it is. I remember in a screenwriting course, I was told to leave the dialogues to the last. Since film is a visual medium, the actions should tell the story even without any words spoken.

How true it is. I can see vividly this axiom in action by watching The Artist. Sure there are prompters for us, like the old silent films where short descriptions of words are inserted on occasions, more for comedic effects I feel. But I can follow the story, totally immersed in the circumstance of the characters, their highs, their lows, purely from watching them act without saying a word. That is a wonderful experience.

It’s not totally silent though… there’s music of course, and it’s an important part of the movie, generating the mood and momentum. I was totally engaged through it.

And last but not least, I must mention this. All ye dog lovers, even if you aren’t, this is a film for you. If there’s an Oscar for the Best Dog Actor, Uggie should definitely get the honor.

A new year bang. Let the silence speak for itself. Uggie never has to say a word.

~ ~ ~ 1/2 Ripples

Forget About Tiger Mothering, Try Inspirational Parenting

One of the most memorable lines in last week’s Academy Awards is Tom Hooper’s: “The moral of the story is: Listen to your mother.”

What more satisfaction can a mom get than to hear her son utter these words in front of a billion viewers worldwide.

Here’s the excerpt of his speech leading to this final conclusion:

“My mum was invited to a fringe theater play-reading of an unproduced, unrehearsed play called The King’s Speech in 2007She came home, rang me up and said, ‘Tom, I think I found your next film.’

I followed The New York Times reporter/blogger Melena Ryzik’s The Carpetbagger on Twitter through the Awards Season. Of all the Oscar interview write-ups I’ve read, and there are numerous, Ryzik’s “A Chat With The Mother Who Knows Best” has left the most lasting impression on me. And it was in that article that I found these two words, “inspirational parenting”. They were nothing short of an epiphany for me, striking a chord instantly.

Photo Credit: Matt Sayles/Associated Press

Ryzik talked to “The King’s Speech” director Tom Hooper’s mother after her son’s Oscar win, calling her “an exemplar of inspirational parenting”. Meredith Hooper is an academic and author of over 60 fiction and non-fiction works for children. Here are some excerpts from Ryzik’s article:

Did she realize she’d caused worldwide guilt among children for not listening to their mothers?

“I did not!” Ms. Hooper protested. “I didn’t say it. My advice is exactly the opposite — that we should all listen to our children.”

Now isn’t that the kind of talk that can make Amy Chua cringe? The kind of parenting style that prompted her to write about her own school of tough love parenting in her memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, now 7 weeks so far on the NYT Bestsellers List. It’s all that debate about teacher-fronted or child-centred learning all over again.

I’ve left comments on others’ blogs about my view of this current hot topic of the “Tiger Mom”, but have not posted about it here on Ripple Effects. The main reason is that I have not read the book, so I should not say too much when I haven’t heard all that Amy Chua has to say, albeit I can understand her perspective since I share similar ethnic and cultural roots.

Nevertheless, I’d rather write about ‘inspirational parenting’. It just sounds… more uplifting. Just savor the two words… aren’t they sublime? I think I just might adopt the first word as a personal axiom, ‘inspirational’ anything… in speaking, thinking, writing, being… mmm, something to aspire to.

Ok, back to “The King’s Speech”. After seeing the play, Meredith Hooper saw a great potential for a film in this story so full of human interest, irony and humor. As an Australian herself, she was bemused by Logue’s task to teach an English royal to speak:

Logue came as an Australian, and taught the king to speak. How incredible! Because we colonials — it’s assumed that the English would teach us how to speak. So I loved this reversal of roles, that this Australian would arrive in England with his democratic attitude, and no assumptions about class and society and status, all of which I’ve experienced.

Now this just might work for parenting as well. A practice of role reversal could bring about more empathy for both parents and children. Only when we listen and try to understand can we begin to deepen a relationship. I know, only as a therapy session, for kids would be more than willing to take back their role after momentary reversal. Who would want a more arduous job than they need to?

A story, a film, real life, it all boils down to…

So here it was, this simple need to communicate, in a play or in a film. Brilliant! Because it’s all about communicating, every piece of dramatic writing is all about communicating, and this was about someone who couldn’t.”

It’s interesting that Tom did not take up his mother’s enthusiasm right away. Convinced of the latent power in the story, Meredith explained to her son how the elements of effective storytelling fall naturally in place. They shared ideas. It was five months later that the initial notion began to take shape as a film project.

I must add too that the inspirational parenting ends where the creative spark ignites. A wise mother knows when to stop and allow the seed to grow into a life of its own. That’s what Meredith Hooper did… and the rest is Oscar history.

***

Click Here to read Melena Ryzik’s NYT article “A Chat With The Mother Who Knows Best”.

Related Posts on Ripple Effects:

Oscar Winners 2011

The King’s Speech (2010): Movie Review

The King’s Speech: Fact And Fiction

Oscar Winners 2011

The beginning clip was an interesting opening, with Anne Hathaway and James Franco appearing in all the nominated Best Pictures. After that, what was promoted as an Oscars with the youngest co-hosts to bring about a youthful makeover had shown to be one of the most uneventful, ok, boring, in years. The preview videos of James Franco and Anne Hathaway rehearsing were much livelier than their actual act. Franco looked like he had a term paper due the next day… or was the deadpan, sleepy look a part of the performance. If it was, then he had chosen the wrong mask. I must give credits to Hathaway for trying to compensate with so much enthusiasm. When Kirk Douglas, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law came up to present, and later, previous Oscar host Billy Crystal made his appearance, I could see some wisdom in ‘age before beauty’. Hopefully a lesson learned: Avoid the trap of ageism.

(Photo Source: Toronto Sun)

So here are the major results. For a full list CLICK HERE to the Oscars Official Site.

The King’s Speech: Best Picture, Best Director Tom Hooper, Best Actor Colin Firth, Best Original Screenplay David Seidler.

The Social Network: Best Adapted Screenplay Aaron Sorkin, Best editing, Best Original Score.

Black Swan: Best Actress Natalie Portman

The Fighter: Best Supporting Actor Christian Bale, Best Supporting Actress Melissa Leo

Inception: Best Cinematography, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Visual Effects

Toy Story 3: Best Animated Feature

Inside Job: Best Documentary Feature

(Photo Credit: Reuters/Gary Hershom)

All the best speeches came from The King’s Speech gang.

David Seidler At 73, Seidler’s win is an inspiration:

“I say this on behalf of all the stutterers in the world. We have a voice. We have been heard… My father always said to me I’d be a late bloomer. I believe I’m the oldest person to win this award. I hope that record is broken quickly and often.”
Definitely a boost to all would-be late bloomers in the world… just gives us hope.

CLICK HERE to view David Seidler’s Oscar Acceptance Speech.

Tom Hooper

“My mum was invited to a fringe theater play reading of an unproduced, unrehearsed play called The King’s Speech in 2007. She almost didn’t go. But thank God she did, because she came home, rang me up and said, ‘Tom, I think I found your next movie.’ So with this tonight, I honour you. And the moral of the story is: listen to your mother.”

.

Colin Firth

“I have a feeling my career’s just peaked.”

That’s the beginning of a speech expressing gratitude to many, all from memory, no cheat sheet. Those mentioned included:

“… Harvey (Weinstein, producer) who first took me on 20 years ago when I was a mere child sensation … and Livia, for putting up with my fleeting delusions as royalty…”

You must see it if you’ve missed it. For those of us who were glued to the TV screen the last 10 minutes of the Awards Show last night,  CLICK HERE to watch Colin Firth’s Oscar Acceptance Speech again.

***

Related Posts on Ripple Effects:

Forget About Tiger Mothering, Try Inspirational Parenting

The King’s Speech (2010): Movie Review

The King’s Speech: Fact And Fiction

 

Remembering John Barry this Valentine’s Day

To me, John Barry (Nov. 3, 1933 – Jan. 30, 2011) would always be the romantic of screen music.

As a youngster, I was thrilled by the iconic theme and melodies from all the James Bond movies, unaware of the name John Barry, the composer. I had seen them all, beginning with “Dr. No”, “From Russia With Love”, “Goldfinger”, “Thunderball”, “You Only Live Twice”…  knowing only one name: Sean Connery.  I did not care to find out more about the creator behind the music which had invigorated a youngster’s fantasy, that of the urbane spy hero, gadget-savvy, resourceful, adroit and indomitable, the romance of a childhood.

And then there was the wild world of nature, and the romance against its backdrop to run free and uninhibited. Again, John Barry’s screen score and Don Black’s lyrics had enriched a young heart with the ideal of freedom and beauty, and instilled the notion that “life is worth living, but only worth living ’cause you’re born free”.  I was oblivious to John Barry’s winning two Oscars with his music for “Born Free” (1966).  To me, what was important was to see the lion Elsa being set free into the wild to go back to her real home.

Years later, as the child grew up to become the ever steadfast romantic, I was again mesmerized by John Barry’s melodies set to some most memorable cinematic renderings, utterly enthralled by the simple melodic lines from “Somewhere In Time” (1980). Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour brought out the most heart-wrenching scenario of unrequited love. CLICK HERE to listen and watch on YouTube.

Again a few years later, there emerged the deep yearning and expansive orchestral score from “Out Of Africa” (1985). Another pair of star-crossed lovers entered the romantic landscape. Robert Redford and Meryl Streep poignantly portrayed the auto-biographical sketch of Danish writer Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen). John Barry won another Oscar.  CLICK HERE to watch and listen on YouTube.

Fast forward some more, the sweeping orchestration of “Dances With Wolves” (1990) with Kevin Costner’s epic cinematic depiction of the Sioux nation presented another frame of romantic offering: a people striving to defend their raison d’être, and a man clinging to his own ideals.  John Barry’s musical creation had done it again, capturing another Oscar.  CLICK HERE to watch and listen on YouTube.

There are many more works by Barry, who at the end of a career that spanned almost 50 years, had garnered 5 Oscars and many other accolades.  Some other acclaimed film scores include Best Music Oscar for “The Lion In Winter” (1968), Best Music Oscar nomination for “Chaplin” (1992) and “Mary Queen of Scots” (1971). Still others include “Zulu” (1964), “Midnight Cowboy” (1969), “Walkabout” (1971), “King Kong” (1976), “Body Heat” (1981), “Jagged Edge” (1985)…

This Valentine, I remember John Barry as a romantic. I lament the passing of another figure among a generation of artists who worked with genuine talents and old-school creativity without massive hi-tech glamour. This Valentine, I remember also Sydney Pollack (1934-2008) and Anthony Minghella (1954-2008).

***