INSIDE EVERY MAN THERE ARE TWO PEOPLE – ONE GOOD, ONE BEAST.
Publishing editor Will Randall (Jack Nicholson) is bitten by a wolf in Vermont; in the following days, as he falls victim to workplace intrigue, Will realizes that he’s going through strange changes… Jim Harrison, who came up with the story, wasn’t happy about the final results, but this is nevertheless an adult, romantic, urban and intriguing horror movie that takes clever advantage of the werewolf myth. Takes on the shape of a dream at times; not really scary, but Rick Baker’s effects are excellent. Nicholson is the perfect choice to play the editor who finds his transformation a chance to assert himself at work – and with women. James Spader is superb as his ingratiating competitor.
1994-U.S. 122 min. Color. Produced by Douglas Wick. Directed by Mike Nichols. Screenplay: Jim Harrison, Wesley Strick. Makeup: Rick Baker, and others. Cast: Jack Nicholson (Will Randall), Michelle Pfeiffer (Laura Alden), James Spader (Stewart Swinton), Kate Nelligan, Christopher Plummer, Richard Jenkins… Eileen Atkins, David Hyde Pierce, Om Puri, David Schwimmer, Allison Janney.
Trivia: Mia Farrow and Sharon Stone were allegedly considered for a part.
Last word: “The difference between [Nicholson] and other actors is that Jack’s underneath is on the surface. He’s kind of a walking id, wild and sophisticated at the same time. The wolf that he becomes is one of delicacy and sensibility, not a mad creature roaming the night and tearing throats out.” (Nichols, EmanuelLevy.com)
After arriving in France, an Indian family start a restaurant across the street from a posh eatery run by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren) – who doesn’t appreciate the competition. Lasse Hallström returns to the same kind of pleasantries that made his Chocolat (2000) enjoyable – romance, a few laughs, lovely locations and tasty treats. Every conflict here, between cultures and generations, are predictable. But the scenery looks as appetizing as the cast, conveying a sense of fairy tale rather than realism; Mirren and Om Puri are terrific as the bullheaded competitors, but Manish Dayal is also good as the young chef-in-waiting.
2014-U.S. 122 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Juliet Blake. Directed by Lasse Hallström. Novel: Richard C. Morais. Cinematography: Linus Sandgren. Cast: Helen Mirren (Madame Mallory), Om Puri (Papa Kadam), Manish Dayal (Hassan Kadam), Charlotte Le Bon, Amith Shah, Farzana Dua Elahe.
Richard Attenborough knows his epics and I bet he’s watched Lawrence of Arabia (1962) more than once. In similar fashion, this film opens with Mahatma Gandhi’s untimely death in 1948 and then goes on to tell his story from the beginning – not his birth but the moment when his journey to greatness started. What follows is a grandly shot three-hour long experience that would make David Lean proud. After the premiere of the film, Attenborough would be better known as a filmmaker than an actor.
We first meet Mohandas K. Gandhi (Ben Kingsley) on the day of his assassination. As he’s hit by several bullets he utters the words “Oh, God”. His funeral is attended by dignitaries from all over the world, including Britain, the country he spent so much time fighting. We are subsequently transported to 1893 when the young Gandhi, then an attorney working in South Africa, is thrown off a train for refusing to remove himself from the first-class compartment. He has a ticket, but not the right skin color. The incident infuriates the well-educated, soft-spoken Indian who begins a non-violent campaign for the rights of Indians in South Africa. He is beaten and arrested on several occasions. However, the crux of his resistance, to let the police be responsible for any violence, is beginning to have an effect and the South African government eventually grants Indians their rights.
Gandhi returns to India in 1915 and is persuaded to try the same strategy on the British rulers. At first, they dismiss him but are stunned to see Gandhi and his new-found allies in the country build an effective and sensible opposition, with one major priority: Liberate India from colonial rule.
An explosive breakthrough The second half of the film follows a similar path to Lawrence of Arabia; the protagonist is horrified to watch the masses turn on each other, igniting violence between Muslims and Hindus. Unlike the case with Lawrence, Attenborough and writer John Briley have a hard time finding controversy in Gandhi’s life (perhaps his views tend to dominate the lives of his loved ones too much, but that’s it), but the man’s achievements and the success of his philosophy are overwhelming. However, Briley emphasizes the many disastrous, arrogant mistakes of the British leadership that made Gandhi’s victory inevitable, such as the horrible 1919 Amritsar Massacre.
Kingsley delivers a performance that became an explosive breakthrough; his appearance is almost eerie due to the physical similarity to Gandhi. Attenborough has gathered an impressive supporting cast, but the focus lies entirely on the protagonist; everyone else gets a few scenes with Kingsley, but no one is allowed to steal scenes. The filmmakers make the most out of the Indian locations, with beautiful views of the country accompanied by Ravi Shankar’s music.
Authenticity is an important part of the film; the story stays largely true to Gandhi’s life. But it is clear that Attenborough also wanted to deliver a film that would remind audiences of the old-fashioned epics of yesteryear. This is a spectacle meant to enthrall viewers for an entire evening; there’s even an intermission.
What lies at the heart of Gandhi, except for Kingsley’s performance, is the humanity of Richard Attenborough. He addressed racism in Cry Freedom (1987), but it’s easy to forget that Gandhi itself was also an attack on the South African apartheid regime. Some might say that Attenborough was far too conventional a filmmaker… but his passion shone through.
Gandhi 1982-Britain-India. 188 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced and directed by Richard Attenborough. Screenplay: John Briley. Cinematography: Billy Williams, Ronnie Taylor. Editing: John Bloom. Music: George Fenton, Ravi Shankar. Cast: Ben Kingsley (Mohandas K. Gandhi), Candice Bergen (Margaret Bourke-White), Edward Fox (Reginald Dyer), John Gielgud, Trevor Howard, John Mills… Martin Sheen, Nigel Hawthorne, Om Puri, Daniel Day-Lewis.
Trivia:Alec Guinness, John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins were allegedly considered for the part of Gandhi.
Oscars: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Kingsley), Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing, Art Direction-Set Decoration, Costume Design. BAFTA: Best Film, Direction, Actor (Kingsley), Supporting Actress (Rohini Hattangadi). Golden Globes: Best Foreign Film, Director, Actor (Kingsley), Screenplay.
Last word: “I don’t like the technical advances in cinema. I always find that with CGI there’s something lacking because the eye actually takes in the repetition. The truth of the fact is that we used 400,000 people in [the funeral scene], and I do think it had an extraordinary impact on the screen. I don’t enjoy people saying to me, ‘Oh you can now do it this way now’. I want it to be real. […] I was brought up in the David Lean era. I haven’t altered my style over the years. I haven’t moved greatly forward with the impact of television editing and such. Perhaps I should have. Composition is very important to me. Time spent on a piece of composition, as it was with David Lean, is one of the things that gives me joy.” (Attenborough, Time Out)
WHEN THE WORLD WASN’T WATCHING, THEY CHANGED IT FOREVER.
In 1980, wealthy and deeply conservative Houston socialite Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts) sets up a meeting between her old buddy, Congressman Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) and Zia-ul-Haq (Om Puri), the military ruler of Pakistan; Herring wants to see something done about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. One hell of a story, too good to be true (but it is), well directed by the man who gave us Primary Colors (1998). The characters remain shallow, but Hanks is wonderful as the carefree Congressman who even has his own “Charlie’s angels”, Roberts is good as the manipulative socialite, and Philip Seymour Hoffman gets all the big laughs as the hot-tempered spy who is sick and tired of his incompetent bosses.
2007-U.S. 97 min. Color. Produced by Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman. Directed by Mike Nichols. Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin. Novel: George Crile. Cast: Tom Hanks (Charlie Wilson), Julia Roberts (Joanne Herring), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Gust Avrakotos), Amy Adams, Ned Beatty, Emily Blunt… Om Puri.
Trivia: Nichols’s last film.
Quote: “You know you’ve reached rock bottom when you’re told you have character flaws by a man who hanged his predecessor in a military coup.” (Hanks to his assistant after talking with Zia-ul-Haq)
Last word: “[Charlie Wilson] was there a lot. We had experts for everything, but the real expert was Charlie, and when he wasn’t on the set I would call him and ask him about stuff and he would write me emails all the time. He was very much part of this film. Only last night, Bill Bradley who was our senator and who had run for president, he called my wife after he had seen the movie and said ‘I was there, I was there! I was Charlie’s friend through all of this, that’s really how it was!’, and that was the best praise we have received so far.” (Nichols, Time Out)