Based on a notorious true story, this film takes a muted approach that matches the Victorian period and attitudes, which somewhat undermines the vivid emotions of the characters. It's a fascinating story about a woman caught in her society's harshly restrictive rules about women, and the script by Emma Thompson captures some strong observations, interaction and personal feelings, but the film is so dark and repressed that it ultimately feels a bit dull.
In the mid 19th century, Effie Gray (Dakota Fanning) has been courted by noted art critic John Ruskin (Greg Wise) since she was only 12 years old, and he has waited for her to come of age to marry her. But as she moves in with his suffocating parents (Julie Walters and David Suchet) in London, Effie soon realises that she's trapped in a hopeless situation. While he's loving, John simply refuses to touch her, which makes her doubt her own intellect and femininity. She's befriended by Lady Eastlake (Thompson), who knows a thing or two about cold marriages and helps her make a plan. Then Effie and John travel to Scotland with John's protege, the painter Everett Millais (Tom Sturridge), and Effie begins to understand that there might be other possibilities out there.
Since the film is made in Victorian style, it leaves all of the heaving passion far beneath the surface. It's obvious that Effie (and the audience) are craving a bit of lusty bodice-ripping, but any action remains behind closed doors, only hinted at in the clever dialogue. This makes the film realistic and intriguing, but difficult to get a grip on. And instead of the scandalous love triangle of historical record, the film plays out more as a drama about a young woman working out a complex escape from male-dominated society. Even so, it's a compelling journey, with some remarkable twists and turns along the way, and the complex characters add plenty of detail.
Continue reading: Effie Gray Review
When young Effie Grey (Dakota Fanning) is married to John Ruskin (Greg Wise), a man ten years older than her, she feels no pleasure whatsoever. She is soon whisked away from her native Scotland and follows her husband as he travels to Venice in order to work on his book, 'The Stones of Venice'. People often notice that there is no love between the pair, and they drift apart during their time in Italy, with Effie spending her time walking the streets of Venice and spending more and more time with her husband's protégée John Everett Millais (Tom Sturridge). With the two steadily falling in love, the struggle between right and wrong rages within Effie, as she is forced to make the choice between what she is told, and what she wants.
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Claudia Cardinale - 23/2/2013, Paris. France Claudia Cardinale arrive au Fouquets apres la ceremonie des cesars Claudia Cardinale © Jonathan Rebboah/1st Views - Paris, Fouquets Restaurant, France - Saturday 23rd February 2013
You can guess from the title what's up here: Clouseau is long gone, and Maria Gambrelli (from A Shot in the Dark) has moved on with her life. Add in a kidnapped princess and police commissioner Dreyfus (Herbert Lom, impossibly still alive) who stumble into Maria's world. Then throw in Clouseau's long-lost son, the idiotic Jacques Cambrelli, who is, yes, Maria's offspring.
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My hope is that Criterion's marvelous new three-DVD edition will change that. Unlike many special editions, there's no superfluous material here: The set includes the original, 187-minute Italian version of The Leopard, the U.S. theatrical release (because Burt Lancaster starred, 20th Century Fox had American rights to the film; not knowing what to do with it, they trimmed 16 minutes, dubbed it into English, and distorted - in the interests of "accessibility" - Giuseppe Rotunno's gorgeous widescreen cinematography), enlightening commentary by film historian Peter Cowie, and video essays that provide important historical context for the action alongside new interviews with surviving cast and crew members.
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She's a jazz singer depressed by the weight of her past.
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That said, Fitzcarraldo is strikingly unique in the history of film, and the story behind it is one worth hearing a little more about. It all started haltingly -- with Jason Robards and Mick Jagger, believe it or not, starring in the movie about a crazed rubber baron who wants to build an opera house deep in the Amazon rain forest. But after Robards gets sick and Jagger drops out, the film starts over, with Klaus Kinski in the famous lead role as Fitzcarraldo. Fitzcarraldo isn't just regular-crazy, he's totally nuts: Part of his plan involves dragging an enormous barge over a mile of land in order to reach an otherwise shut-off river, and director Werner Herzog staged this -- for real -- during the making of Fitzcarraldo.
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Strangely, because of Nobile's renown in working with Amundsen on his 1926 flight to the Pole, no one said this was a bad idea. One day after daparting, heavy wind ripped the blimp apart, stranding the crew on the Arctic ice, where they holed up in a makeshift red tent, waiting for aid to arrive. For a month they were presumed dead, until an amateur radio operator picked up a transmission. A massive rescue operation commenced, with Amundsen himself even getting in on the deal.
Continue reading: The Red Tent Review