Posts Tagged ‘post-war’

Set in 1921, this film stars Rebecca Hall as a sceptic named Florence Cathcart, who makes her living exposing con artists who pose as mediums, or who claim to have witnessed ghosts.  When she is approached by history professor Robert Mallory (Dominic West), who believes that there is a ghost haunting the school where he teaches, and that the ghost is responsible for the death of a student, she travels to the school with the intention of proving that the ghost does not exist.  However, strange happenings start to make her question her own beliefs.

I’m not a huge fan of horror or ghost films – I only watched this because Dominic West, of whom I am a big fan, was in it – but this movie was actually very enjoyable, even if it did get a bit muddled towards the end.  It certainly isn’t a scary film, and there are no bloody or gory scenes, although it is very atmospheric.  There were, as you might expect, a number of ‘red herrings’ to make you question what was happening, and I particularly liked the very end, which provoked some discussion (I’m giving nothing away though!)  The characters each have their own inner struggles to deal with and overcome – Mallory for example, punishes himself for surviving the war in which he fought, while many of his friends died.  Florence has issues stemming from her childhood, and it becomes clear that they are not the only ones with secrets.

Above all, it was worth watching for the excellent performances of the entire cast.  West, Hall, together with Imelda Staunton and Isaac Hempstead Wright are all outstanding, and if you are a fan of any of these actors, I would recommend watching this film.

Year of release: 2011

Director: Nick Murphy

Producers: Jenny Borgars, Will Clarke, Olivier Courson, Robin Guise, Peter Hampden, Norman Merry, Joe Oppenheimer, Peter Raven, Carole Sheridan, Joanie Blaikie, Sarah Curtis, Ed Rubin, Julia Stannard, David M. Thompson

Writers: Stephen Volk, Nick Murphy

Main cast: Dominic West, Rebecca Hall, Imelda Staunton, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Joseph Mawle


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After returning home from World War II and having a less-than-successful reunion with his wife, soldier Paul Sutton (Keanu Reeves) meets a young pregnant Mexican woman named Victoria Aragon (Aitana Sanchez Gijon) who is going to see her family at their vineyard at Napa Valley.  When she tells him that she’s terrified of letting her very traditional father know that she’s pregnant – and her boyfriend has deserted her – Paul offers to pretend to be her husband.  But then the pair find themselves drawn to each other…

There are reasons why this movie shouldn’t be enjoyable – for starters, the storyline is very predictable – it’s fairly obvious what’s going to happen right from the beginning – but nonetheless the journey from beginning to end of the film is very watchable.  Keanu Reeves really isn’t a great actor, but it somehow doesn’t matter because he is just so likeable.  And this film is also just so likeable.  No sex, no violence, no swearing even – just a very sweet, heartwarming film.

The movie was shot in Napa Valley, where it is set, and there is some truly beautiful and luscious scenery – it’s almost worth watching for that alone.  There are some gentle comedic moments, and some touching moments.  It certainly left me with a smile on my face!

(Trivia: This movie is based on the 1942 Italian film ‘Quattro Passi Fra Le Nuvole’ (Four Steps In The Clouds); however, there are some some slight differences in the plot.)

Year of release: 1995

Director: Alfonso Arau

Writers: Robert Mark Kamen, Mark Miller, Harvey Weitzman, Piero Tellini, Cesare Zavattini, Vittorio de Benedetti

Main cast: Keanu Reeves, Aitana Sanchez Gijon, Anthony Quinn, Giancarlo Giannini, Angelica Aragon, Evangelina Elizondo

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This classic tells the story of a weekend in the life of disaffected post-war teenager, Holden Caulfield.  Told in the first person, Holden describes how having been expelled from his 4th school, he decided to leave early and go to New York, where he spends some time before going to visit his younger sister Phoebe.

The book is fairly light on plot – not a huge deal happens, but that is not a criticism.  The pleasure in reading comes from delving into Holden’s character, and his disillusionment with the world and most people in it.  He believes that most people are “phonies” (the ultimate insult), and he doesn’t seem to feel that he really belongs anywhere.

Holden was a much more sympathetic character than I expected him to be. Rather than being cruel and cynical, as I had expected initially, the portrayal of his character shows him to be an innocent in many ways, clearly struggling with isolation and loneliness.  Clearly he has the ability to care for people (in particular he seems very fold of his siblings, especially  his younger brother Allie, who died fairly recently before the story starts, and Phoebe).  At one point he also reveals his desire to become a protector of children and reveals himself to be a caring young man who just needs to find something worth caring for.

It is clear from the outset that the main character is now held in a hospital of some sort, from which he tells the events in the book, in a ‘stream of consciousness’ style.  The character is brought to life by some brilliant writing, which really reads as though it has been written by a confused sixteen year old boy.

I was pleasantly surprised by how ‘readable’ the book was – I had expected it to be drier, but I found myself turning the pages really quickly, because I did come to care about Holden Caulfield.  The other characters in the book were harder to know, with the exception of Phoebe.  This is perhaps because we only see them from Holden’s point of view, and he doesn’t think much of most people he meets.

Overall, this is a book I am glad I finally got around to reading.  It’s also a very quick story, and well worth the few hours it took to read it.

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