Sunday 28 February 2016

Oscars 2016 [Updated]

- Best actor:
Bryan Cranston in Trumbo 
Matt Damon in The Martian 
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant
Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs 
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl 

My prediction: Leonardo DiCaprio, because of the brute force of his performance, because of his efforts throughout his career and the commitment to this role, because he's the beating heart of The Revenant, because Bryan Cranston is not as impressive, Matt Damon and Michael Fassbender, whom I haven't seen, are unlikely to be better, and Eddie Redmayne already won last year, and because if The Revenant doesn't win him an Oscar, perhaps nothing will. 
My wish: Eddie Redmayne's excellent performance in The Danish Girl proves him 1 of the best actors of his generation and he can convey the most subtle emotions in a way that Leonardo DiCaprio never can (whom I've seen in 17 films); Leonardo DiCaprio is limited when it comes to subtleties, his face isn't as sensitive and expressive as the faces of Daniel Day-Lewis, Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Philip Seymour Hoffman, etc. but there are many styles of acting as there are many kinds of actors, and in The Revenant he transforms himself, he embodies strength, endurance and a drive for life and then revenge, he gives the film a beating heart, and his performance has a force I can't quite put into words that we don't often see in cinema; Leonardo DiCaprio deserves recognition for his attitude and efforts, whilst many actors such as Johnny Depp or even Robert De Niro seem to be quite careless, he takes art seriously, works hard, pursues challenging roles, strives to go beyond himself and commits to his roles, which is admirable; this is a great and rare opportunity for him, whereas Eddie Redmayne, with such talent, will have other chances to win a 2nd Oscar. 
Result: Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant!!!!!!!!

- Best actress:
Cate Blanchett in Carol 
Brie Larson in Room
Jennifer Lawrence in Joy 
Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn

My prediction: Brie Larson. 
My wish: Brie Larson, because she's so real and so convincing and so heartbreaking as a mother, as a daughter, and as young woman bruised by the experience of being held captive in a room for 7 years, her performance in Room can be divided into 2 parts- before the escape, she tries to survive in a small room, never giving up the hope for freedom, and once free and back with her family, she has somehow been broken by the experience and has to try to live and make sense of the world; Charlotte Rampling, because 45 Years works on the subtle emotions and vague changes on her face; Cate Blanchett, because she's my favourite actress, though Carol hasn't come out in Norway; or perhaps anyone except the overrated Jennifer Lawrence. 
Result: Brie Larson in Room

- Best supporting actor:
Christian Bale in The Big Short
Tom Hardy in The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight
Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies 
Sylvester Stallone in Creed

My prediction: Sylvester Stallone or Mark Ruffalo. 
My wish: None. 
Result: Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies 

- Best supporting actress:
Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara in Carol 
Rachel McAdams in Spotlight
Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl 
Kate Winslet in Steve Jobs

My prediction: Kate Winslet or Alicia Vikander. 
My wish: None, because I've just seen 2 out of 5. 
Result: Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl 

- Best picture:
The Big Short 
Bridge of Spies 
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant 

My prediction: The Revenant or The Big Short or Spotlight. 
My wish: Room, because it's simple but well-done and touching, dealing with the psychology of a woman who is imprisoned in a room, isolated from everyone, for 7 years and who later has to struggle to get back to normal life, and of a boy born and brought up in a single room that goes out into the world for the 1st time at the age of 5, and because Room makes me think of many things in life that I have always taken for granted; I haven't seen Spotlight, The Martian and Mad Max
Result: Spotlight 

- Best director:
Adam McKay– The Big Short
George Miller– Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro G. Iñárritu– The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson– Room
Tom McCarthy– Spotlight

My prediction: Alejandro G. Iñárritu. 
My wish: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, because whilst I don't think as highly of The Revenant as of Birdman and Babel, it is a beautiful film, a daring work, and it shows his great talent as a director, and he's 1 of the best directors working today. 
Result: Alejandro G. Iñárritu– The Revenant


Some other awards: 
Best original screenplay: Spotlight 
Best adapted screenplay: The Big Short
Best foreign language film: Son of Saul (Hungary) 
Best documentary- feature: Amy 
Best animated feature film: Inside Out
Best original song: "Writing's on the Wall" from Spectre
Best original score: The Hateful Eight
Best cinematography: The Revenant 

Sunday 21 February 2016

"The Great Pretender"- The Platters

The School of Life: Jane Austen and Lev Tolstoy

Too much about ethics, message, moral purpose and effect, too little about art- what about form and style? what about innovation? what about their genius? what about their contribution to the art of fiction, and influence on later writers? We don't come to Jane Austen purely for her teachings, and if Tolstoy hadn't been such a great storyteller and scene-setter and psychologist, nobody would put up with his long, repetitive digressions about the meaning of life and love and happiness, or about determinism and the 1 great man theory. 
But then this is The School of Life. The 1st video is nice- people often attach the word "romance" and therefore "sentimental" and "light" and "unrealistic" to Jane Austen, and don't realise how serious she was as an author. It's a good reminder. 

Friday 19 February 2016

100 latest films I've watched

From January 2015 to February 2016
Bold: films I consider good

1/ Mean Girls (2004)- again
2/ The Imitation Game (2014)
3/ The Immigrant (2013)
4/ Monsieur Hire (1989)
5/ You Were Never Lovelier (1942)
6/ City by the Sea (2002)
7/ Malice (1993)
8/ American Sniper (2014)
9/ Shakespeare in Love (1998)- again
10/ The Little Prince (1974)
11/ A Room with a View (1985)- again
12/ Charlie's Angels (2000)- again
13/ Birdman (2014)
14/ A Few Good Men (1992)- again
15/ The Diary of Anne Frank (2009)
16/ The Theory of Everything (2014)
17/ The Brave One (2007)- again
18/ Still Alice (2014)
19/ The Sessions (2012)- again
20/ Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)
21/ Inherent Vice (2014)
22/ Daniel Deronda (2002)
23/ The Name of the Rose (1986)
24/ Great Expectations (1999)
25/ Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
26/ Irma la Douce (1963)
27/ Fingersmith (2005)
28/ Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)
29/ The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)
30/ The Killers (1946)
31/ White Heat (1949)
32/ Alice in the Cities (1974)
33/ Furious 7 (2015)
34/ One, Two, Three (1961)
35/ Bringing Up Baby (1938)- again
36/ Brief Encounter (1945)
37/ 12 Angry Men (1957)
38/ Some Like It Hot (1959)- again
39/ Middlemarch (1994)
40/ Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum- Germany- 1979)
41/ A Most Violent Year (2015)
42/ The Silence of the Lambs (1991)- again
43/ The Long Goodbye (1973)
44/ Magic Mike XXL (2015)
45/ Annie Hall (1977)- twice
46/ Psycho (1960)- again
47/ The Birds (1963)
48/ The Godfather (1972)- again
49/ The Godfather Part II (1974)
50/ The Godfather Part III (1990)
51/ Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
52/ Anatomy of a Murder (1959)- again
53/ The Graduate (1967)
54/ Chinatown (1974)
55/ I Vitelloni (1953)
56/ Scarface (1983)- again
57/ Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)
58/ Mission: Impossible- Rouge Nation (2015)
59/ A Crush on You (2011)
60/ Count Dracula (1977)
61/ You Only Live Once (1937)
62/ The Fortune Cookie (1966)
63/ Agent Cody Banks (2003)- again
64/ 마더 (Mother- South Korea- 2009)- again
65/ 東京物語 (Tokyo Story- Japan- 1953)
66/ Le notti di Cabiria (Nights of Cabiria- Italy- 1957)- twice
67/ Fellini Satyricon (Italy- 1969)
68/ Amarcord (1973)
69/ Sweet Charity (1969)
70/ Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
71/ Spectre (2015)
72/ The Portrait of a Lady (1996)
73/ Family Plot (1976)
74/ Bridge of Spies (2015)
75/ Marnie (1964)
76/ Manhattan (1979)
77/ Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (2003)- again
78/ Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)- twice
79/ Bandslam (2009)
80/ Jackie Brown (1997)
81/ Nothing But The Truth (2008)
82/ Match Point (2005)- again
83/ Love and Death (1975)
84/ Footloose (1984)
85/ Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) (1972)
86/ Whiplash (2014)
87/ The Hateful Eight (2015)
88/ Cabaret (1972)
89/ Joy (2015)
90/ A Foreign Affair (1948)
91/ The Gift (2015)
92/ The Revenant (2015)
93/ 45 Years (2015)
94/ The Big Short (2015)
95/ 8 1/2 (1963)- again
96/ Festen (The Celebration- Denmark- 1998)- twice
97/ The Danish Girl (2015)
98/ The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
99/ Brooklyn (2015)
100/ Room (2015)

Wednesday 3 February 2016

Tolstoy's embodiment of a kind of universal physical existence

In Tolstoy and the Novel, John Bayley writes:
“... Indeed we might make a distinction, in the context of Russian and Western literature, between the author who writes about himself and his experiences, and the author who exists. Gide writes about himself: Tolstoy writes about himself: but with the former we feel the will to create and impose upon us the idea of a unique and significant person; with the latter, only the transparent statement of an existence. It is the same with the comparison, made by Thomas Mann and others, between Goethe and Tolstoy. Both are supreme egotists. But Goethe is absorbed by himself because he is a national genius, a god-like apparition; Tolstoy, because he finds himself experiencing what all other human beings experience. Goethe’s self-preoccupation strikes us as perpetually narcissistic, incapable of disturbing its own image; Tolstoy’s is the egotism of a man like any other, but immensely more so.
[…] For surely the collapse of the sense of existence in Tolstoy is the surest proof both of how superb and how universal it had been? All of us are subject to such a temporary collapse: Tolstoy experienced it on an overwhelming scale. Tolstoy’s embodiment of a kind of universal physical existence would be nothing if it had not been so continually haunted and obsessed by the question of what there was, what there might be, outside himself. A Tolstoy who continued to write novels of the same kind would be an intolerable phenomenon, for his egotism seems to encompass all physical existence. But what grows with it, haunts it, and finally dominates it, is the admission of its limitations, the confrontation of self with what is not self, of life with death. Tolstoy is not ill, not perverse; he plays out in himself, and on his scale, the most universal and inevitable of human dramas. He is the state of our existence: he does not, like Goethe, attempt to conquer it and to put himself above it. Ultimately, as Thomas Mann comes near to admitting, Goethe cared for nothing but himself. Tolstoy was nothing but himself, and his sense of what awaited him, and what was outside him, is correspondingly more intimate to us all, and more moving...”
At the same time, I’ve been reading The Cossacks, because of War and Peace and Anna Karenina, which I think applies to most readers. It is very much a Tolstoy novel (I would not use the word “Tolstoyan”, which refers more to Tolstoy's philosophical and religious ideas and the social movement): cold description and hot interiority, an obsession with death and the meaning of life and happiness and love. Dmitri Andreich Olenin is a complex, susceptible, self-contradictory young man torn between pleasures and his own idealism, a socially awkward man fed up with the artificiality and hypocrisy of his own class but unable to cut himself off from that world because he belongs nowhere else even while feeling that he doesn’t quite fit in with people of his class. His struggle to find meaning and to give his life meaning makes him feel even more alienated, because his motives are unknown and his efforts are therefore misunderstood, and because he’s uncertain. Like Pierre in War and Peace. Like Levin in Anna Karenina. Like Tolstoy himself. And in a way, like us, in our musings about life and struggle to make life meaningful and pursuit of happiness—just “larger”, more complex, more self-contradictory.