Entries tagged with “Simon Curtis”.

Maria Altman, the principal character wonderfully acted by Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’ is a Holocaust survivor. At some point in the film she gives a public speech where she traces the origin of the word ‘restitution’ to a Latin term which means restoration to original condition. Today’s Wikipedia further clarifies: ‘The general rule, as the principle implies, is that the amount of compensation awarded should put the successful plaintiff in the position he or she would have been had the tortuous action not been committed.’ At the top layer of the story ‘Woman in Gold’ is about the restitution of a work of art, the fabulous ‘Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer’, one of the masterpieces of Gustav Klimt and of the Austrian art to the successors of the rightful owners, Jews from whom the work was confiscated and who perished in the Holocaust. Deeper it asks the question whether the true restitution is ever possible. Returning to the original condition of the Jewish life in Europe after the Holocaust? The answer given by the film is a definite ‘No’. Restitution of art may be possible. Restitution of the broken human lives is not.


source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2404425/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2404425/


The story has many elements of docu-drama and is largely based on a true story of a legal battle held in the last years of the 20th century between a Holocaust survivor from Los Angeles helped by a young and idealistic lawyer and the government of Austria. The combination of the BBC and Hollywood production of the Weinstein studios did not leave too much room for cinematographic invention, and director Simon Curtis did not add too much on this respect. The successive sequences of the legal battle may have been close or remote from the actual truth, but they were not terribly interesting even for the fans of the courtroom movies. The schematic depiction of the Austrians as bureaucratic bad guys, as well as the idealization of the American justice system did not add too much either. The gold in the ‘Woman in Gold’ lies somewhere else.


(video source  MOVIECLIPS Trailers)


First, acting of Helen Mirren is superb. She’s one of these few actors who leave me lacking words. After each great role that she makes I declare that she is at her peak, and then in the next movie she reaches another higher one. Same here. To say that she deserves an Academy Award for this role seems too pale a compliment. Part of my family comes from that part of the world and has similar origin. She is like one of them.

Her role is however more than this. She gives a face to the Holocaust, she makes me understand the human dimension of the tragedy that the generation of my parents went through. That part of the film, the flashbacks that bring back to her mind the memories of the lost happiness, the brutality and vulgarity of the change, the tragedy of leaving the parents back, the determination to survive, the refusal to look back, the decision to end being silent – all these are very well described, and they make of ‘Woman in Gold’ one of the important movies about the Holocaust.

Ryan Reynolds is a miscast. Tatiana Maslany on the other hand is a splendid young Maria. In its good moments and there are many of them ‘Woman in Gold’ is a ‘must see’ film.



Films about film making, about famous actors and directors were very much en vogue a few years ago, and “My Week with Marilyn” belongs to this wave. About that time two (good) movies about the master of suspense were made, one came from Hollywood – Hitchcock -, the other from the BBC – The Girl. ‘My Week with Marilyn’ combines The Forces,being a coproduction of Hollywood (Weinstein) and BBC, about another Anglo-American film making experience. This time it’s not about a great English director getting to the peak of fame on the shores of the Pacific, but about the ultimate American star and sex symbol, Marylin Monroe landing in 1957 the UK to make ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’.  That was from a certain point of view a stellar encounter of the third degree, between the comet of Hollywood and the star of the English stage and screen Laurence Olivier. On the sides it was also the story of the encounter of a young ‘third’ (number is important) studios assistant with the woman of any man’s dream in the epoch. Colin Clark was the name of the character, he wrote a book of memories about the experience, and the film extends the subject to a romantic story – carrying into the film the ups and downs of adaptations of memoirs or ‘true stories’.


source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1655420/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1655420/


The question one asks himself when seeing this film is ‘was Marilyn Monroe really the awful actress that is described here?’ I probably need to watch the 1957 film (it is available for free on the Internet) to have an answer. The closing text run on screen before credits tells us that the next film of Marilyn was to be ‘Some Like It Hot’ – the most famous film she ever made. Maybe the problem was her uprooting from Hollywood to the British Pinewood studios? ‘My Week with Marilyn’ does not explore this track. Was she also the terribly insecure and unhappy human being that is described here, too beautiful to be ever loved for anything but her physical appearance? This seems more plausible, especially because we know the end of her life. Did she really get comfort and moral support in the relation with a young and anonymous assistant, one of the tens of figures in the shadows in any film production, as the script claims? Were there ever buddies of a love story in this relation? Probably only in the mind of the memoirs writer, but who really cares? The character played by Eddie Redmayne is so unconvincing that I was wondering if his lack of charisma was the result of masterful acting or directing or of lack of talent and … well .. charisma.


(video source BTSmovies)


With quite a thin story, and with a BBC style of directing that avoids too thick an intervention in the story telling, much of the film relies on acting and actors. Talking about acting let me start with the supporting roles. The list is really impressive, having on-screen Judy Dench or Emma Watson is a pleasure, although for each of them I have wished the roles were more consistent. If anybody was concerned that Kenneth Branagh will approach the role of Olivier with too much deference to make it real, he can rest quite – Branach constructs a real life Olivier, infuriated by the lack of talent and professional ethics of the American star, but also a middle aged man fascinated by the beauty and by the romance of the superb blonde with the camera. In the lead role Michelle Williams creates a Marilyn that risks to replace the real Monroe in the minds of those who see this film. Her Academy Awards nomination was highly deserved.

It’s one of those films made with love for cinema, one of the cases when superb acting overcomes the lack of consistency of the story that is being brought to screen.