Month: December 2013

East of Eden (1955)

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I’ve been wanting to watch this for a while, because I’ve been highly interested in catching a movie by the late movie legend James Dean. The movie is also directed by Elia Kazan, the director of my personal favorite movie A Streetcar Named Desire, so I knew that it can’t be that bad.

And I’m impressed. I really am. The story is loosely based on the story of Cain and Abel, Adam and Eve’s first 2 sons. For starters, I’ve always been a sucker for films about sibling rivalry because I think it is a theme that is very difficult to explore and most films/mediums that try to do so always lean towards annoying, over-the-top melodrama *cue korean drama music*. Still, I would recommend a few brilliant films, such as Cries & Whispers (1973) by Ingmar Bergman (which also addresses the cancer sibling storyline in a realistic manner without the melodrama) and maybe Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), although I’m less enthusiastic about this one.

East of Eden depicts the rivalry between 2 brothers, Cal and Aron, and their fight to win their father’s approval. Aron is the boring and predictable goody two shoes “good” son, while Cal is the “bad” one. The story is very engaging for me, not only because the topic is of interest to me (I really want to read the book now), but because the film makes it so. You follow Cal throughout his journey to win his father’s approval, and you gradually begin to understand that he isn’t bad, just a little strange and angst-ridden, which results in his ability to fit into society and his family. But he’s not dumb by any means, in fact I think he’s actually quite resourceful and business minded!

The main problem with the film, I find, is how thinly written the Aron character was. It seems like he’s just a one note model son. This lead to the tension between the two brothers to be rather weak (it was more palpable between Cal and the father). I also don’t like how the role of the mother is being reduced to that of a ghostly presence who shows up only in need of help. Jo Van Fleet won the Oscar for her performance here, which I think is good, but I’ve read some criticisms about how the character is reduced to a much too thin part in this movie. I really can’t make comparisons now, which is why I really, really wanna get my hands on the book.

Having said all that, I still enjoyed the movie what it is, and I think it’s pretty great although it’s probably not Elia Kazan’s best (erm Streetcar?) James Dean was great, and I can understand why he is so iconic despite only starring in 3 films before his unfortunately early death. His acting style is quite over the top and quite off putting to some people (the walking, the mumbling, the way his eyes shifts around when he’s talking) but I think it works especially well in the context of this film. There’s a kind of emotional honesty behind the mannerisms, which is why I felt that the whole performance was very effective. I also think that he has an extremely strong presence, which may or may not be attributed to his good looks. I even find his performance kinda relatable and it reminds me of the weirdo phase I underwent while passing through my adolescent phase…but let’s not got there. Yeeks. I mean, the part where he was swinging and telling his father about what he did was such a “I know that feeling” moment for me.

Ok, moving on to totally unrelated stuff

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I got new headphones! $44 from challenger, original price $55. I wanted to be more adventurous and go for Beats by Dre (too fucking expensive) but I don’t know much about headphones and the reviews I’ve read for this one were pretty good, so I decided to go for it. I wanted to be cheapskate and go for the cheaper zx100 model that are currently sold at $35 but the reviews pretty much said that they’re craps o I decided against it. Excited! Look at how small my army iPod is next to it. Yes, I’m still using it because it’s working fine, and there’s sentimental value lol. There’s this huge as crack across the screen though.

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Say goodbye to earphones with mismatched ear pieces (but miraculous still working). The right earpiece has some weird shit stain, thanks for reminding me how dirty my right ear is, bitch lol.

And last but not least, HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! May 2014 be a year filled with genuine joy, happiness and fulfillment (and very importantly, good health) to all of you!

Fatal Attraction (1987) and why I love Glenn Close

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Oh boy, I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been waiting to write this review ever since I did the Leave her to heaven one. I initially wanted to wait till tomorrow to do it but having just watched this excellent thriller again, I feel like I have to do this post like now.

The whole movie doesn’t try to be artistic or deep – it serves it purpose as a thriller about infidelity and obsession, and it delivers. There are a lot of very well directed scenes (thanks to director Adrian Lyne) that are very intense and frightening, such as the suicide scene (the way the blood was smeared across his face really caught me off guard), the kidnapping scene (it could have been silly with the roller coasters, but thanks to the actors and especially Anne Archer’s performance it worked) and yes, the sex scenes. There was nothing romantic or passionate about them if you ask me, it’s like there’s a kind of lingering tension in the air which tells you that whatever this two people are doing, it is not going to end up well. I especially liked how both parties were depicted as the ones at fault, how both parties are flawed, and yet you can sympathize with their plight. Michael Douglas’ Dan seems like a good father and husband, but thanks to Douglas’ portrayal, we sorta understand and can see why he made this incredibly stupid mistake of committing this affair. On one hand, he is a loving and caring family man, but at the same time he is a coward, shirking from his responsibilities and even making outrageous assumptions that Alex wants to abort the baby. That scene was really one of the best parts imo, the way Dan said he’ll pay for the abortion without even asking for her opinion – and her reaction. Creepy.

That being said, the movie doesn’t work with a perfect script, and yet the main problem that I had with this script is probably my favorite part of the movie. It is widely known that Glenn Close had put in an incredible amount of effort in researching for this role (she even consulted psychiatrists), and she herself said that she never saw the character as a villain but a victim. And Close’s acting really shows it. You can see that Alex is a really lonely woman who wants a bit of a passion and love in her life, but ends up being treated like a “slut you can bang a couple of times and throw in the garbage”. And because of this, you sympathize with her, despite knowing that what she did was wrong and inappropriate. What I didn’t like was how the script tried to portray Dan as a hero, while Alex was being treated as a murderous stalking psycho. I can understand why Glenn was so against the ending we all know, instead of the original ending where she kills herself and frame Dan. Yet, Close’s gives her 100% in this role, making the crazy shit the character does frightening and believable. And yes, I thought she was sexy and seductive. It annoys me when people say she is ugly. You think all those people who have affairs end up looking like those SNSD girls!? Look at all the sex scandals in Singapore of late, and you tell me whether those mistresses are conventionally beautiful or not. I feel like my friends will judge me for saying this but I don’t care, I’m saying it anyhow. Maybe I’m saying this because because Glenn Close is one of my favorite actresses, but by the way, she beat many beautiful actresses to this role, so it speaks volumes about her talent. I’d rather take her portrayal over some beautiful but overacting, talentless “actress” (NOT saying that beautiful women cannot act). Ok, it’s all a matter of opinion so I need to calm down. But Glenn Close made this movie in my opinion.

“I’m going to be the mother of your child. I want a little respect.”

I think it’s a bit sad that the people of my generation know Glenn Close as Cruella Deville from 101 Dalmations (which she rocked as). If you look at her body of work, you can see that she is really a terrific Actress with a capital A. People nowadays say that she’s only good at playing scheming women but I wholeheartedly disagree. In fact, she’s just as good, if not better, at playing good characters/victims of the circumstances they’re in. When I watch her unhappy wife portrayal in The Reversal of Fortune, or her suppressed character in Albert Knobbs, I always have no qualms in saying that we are watching one of the greatest screen actresses at work.

The case with Glenn Close is the reason why I find the oscars a bit of a joke and hard to take seriously nowadays (and yet the movie fanatic in me still follows them, sighs). The woman has not 1, but 6 Oscar nominations and no wins till date. I know it’s a very subjective thing, and I thought that Cher was wonderful in Moonstruck, but Glenn’s work here has become so iconic and unforgettable because of how chillingly perfect it is that it just seems like such an obvious choice. I think she was equally deserving for Dangerous Liaisons as well (the whole monologue on how she invented herself is damn chilling). Having said that, I haven’t watched Jodie Foster in The Accused so I can’t judge.

It’s just strange how Julia Roberts has an Oscar (over Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a dream) and Reese Witherspoon (over Felicity Huffman in Transamerica) and how this superior actress has none. Don’t get me wrong, I do think that those actresses were good in their respective roles though. Look, I’m fine with an average actress wins if her performance is a knockout (I personally loved Natalie Portman’s Black Swan and Halle Berry’s Monster’s Ball) but with Glenn Close’s case it just feels outrageous. I do hope they give her an honorary one though. If you ask me, her 6 nominations without a win speaks volumes over those one hit wonders.

I love how gracious she is when it comes to not winning any oscars though. I also love her real life personality, how classy and intelligent she it, and how she does all these brilliant roles but also know when to have fun (Mars attacks!, 101 Dalmations). This movie legend needs to be talked about more often.

P.s. I’m thinking of doing East of Eden (1955) tomorrow. First movie by the legendary James Dean that I’ve watched and yes, I’m impressed (not blown away though). I’m also very interested in reading the book now.

Born Yesterday (1950)

Born Yesterday tells the story of how a corrupt millionaire tycoon Harry Brock hires a journalist Paul Verrall to educate his seemingly dumb showgirl mistress, Emma “Billie” Dawn. But things don’t go accordingly, as Billie turns out to be a faster learner and smarter woman than expected, resulting in Brock’s plan backfiring as Billie slowly uncovers and exposes his crimes. Or something to that extent, with the help of Verrall.

I was pleasantly surprised by this charming little comedy because I have heard a lot of negative comments about it, especially on the IMDB boards (You really need to take what you read there with a pinch of salt). It seems like most of the hate stems from the fact that Judy Holliday, the actress playing Billie Dawn, won the Academy Award over Gloria Swanson for Sunset Blvd. and Bette Davis in All About Eve. I’ll get to her later, but I have to admit that the movie was very enjoyable for me and it’s really rare that I actually find myself laughing out loud at comedies from that era. The lines were so deliciously witty that I can easily compile a whole list of my favourites if you were to ask me to name them.

“If there’s a fire and I call the engines, who am I double-crossing? THE FIRE!?”

“You and your big numbers! You know what, you’ll be wearing one of those across your chest!”

The scene where Billie decided to troll Harry by dancing while the guests were around was hilarious too. Seriously, I have never laughed so much in a movie since The Awful Truth (It’s a very good 1937 screwball comedy that is currently on Youtube, I’d highly recommend it). Another scene that comes to mind would be the one where Harry and Billie were interrupted twice by the maid while quarrelling. The timing is damn perfect, the way they paused and waited for her to get out of the room before continuing to yell at each other.

Actually, the famous gin rummy scene didn’t leave much of an impression for me, but it was great anyhow. Somehow I sensed a sadness in Billie when he left her playing alone there,  it was as if she was deliberately hiding her unhappiness of living with Harry by singing to herself and shuffling the cards.

Anyway, I started with zero expectations but ended being very pleasantly surprised. And now, I’ll get to Holliday’s performance: Fantastic. I don’t get the hate, I’m not saying that Swanson and  Davis were not better (I think Swanson should have won the Oscar too) but Holliday’s performance was very worthy. I have never seen such a fine balance between comedy and drama being achieved by any actress in one performance. Besides the numerous comedic scenes, the dramatic ones are equally, if not better. The slapping scene was very unpleasant, but there a lot of quieter ones too, such as the scene where she talked about her father. I could almost sense the embarrassment when she asked what the supreme court was, I thought it was very subtle but brilliantly done by Judy.

I can understand why some people find the voice grating, but it was ok for me. In fact, I thought it made her even more endearing.

The rest of the acting is fine: I felt that Broderick Crawford was a bit too over the top in his characterization, and he got quite annoying but it wasn’t bad by any means cause the character’s an idiot. William Holden is very good as the reporter too, and I’m kinda surprised at how good-looking he was when he was young. The first movie I watched him in was Network (1976).

Not a perfect film, but a good 7.5/10 for me. Actually, 1950 is considered a legendary year for movies and acting, and I can really see why. I wouldn’t have voted for this movie for best picture, but All about Eve and Sunset Blvd. are masterpieces.

p.s. I need to lose weight. Saw my Vietnam photos and how fat my face looked. FML

2013 Reflections

Holy crap I feel like crap. It’s funny how I kept telling myself in Vietnam to exercise when I return home because being hit by this horrible flu has pretty much killed my appetite for everything. It was so bad that I skipped lunch yesterday and last night’s Sushi Tei tasted so bland . Oh yeah, I’m so miserable.

I guess I should be resting instead of blogging but seriously, I have had enough of wrapping myself up in the blanket and trying to get better the whole day. Sure, I’m still feeling giddy and all but I don’t feel half as bad as I did yesterday…at the moment. 

So right now, it feels kinda appropriate to do a bit of self-reflecting since 2013 is ending. I initially wanted to do a movie review (Either The Grapes of Wrath or Prisoners) but I feel so terrible at the moment that analysing these movies may end up with me convulsing and frothing at the mouth. Sighs. Anyway, I’ll just cover them briefly before they fade from memory.

The Grapes of Wrath is a WONDERFUL movie featuring some great performances by Henry Fonda and especially Jane Darwell. The direction by John Ford is remarkable, even by today’s standard. It paints a very harrowing and realistic picture of life during the great depression, but at the same time there’s something uplifting about the story. The cinematography is great, especially for its time. Henry Fonda was very good, but it was Jane Darwell who really blew me away as Ma Joad, the firm, strong and kind-hearted matriarch of the family. 

Prisoners is overrated. It’s a good thriller, but I really don’t get the overwhelming priase. The slow pace didn’t bother me because it did build up suspense, but I really felt that the story is so overdone and predictable. I’ve heard so many good things about the acting but I felt that Hugh Jackman was the only one who turned in a really great performance (Let’s just say that I liked him here much better than his oscar nominated role). Jake Gyllenhaal was good but I don’t get the awards hype that people are bringing up. The talented Viola Davis is so underused here that I feel almost offended, although she did shine in her brief scene with Paul Dano. Other than that, I didn’t really care about the rest of the cast. Paul Dano does his Paul Dano mannerisms, but he was ok. Not a Melissa Leo fan, and over here I found her underwhelming, rather than frightening, but I still think she’s a good actress! Anyway, at the end of the day I still enjoyed the movie, which was my main source of entertainment during a torturous 4 hour bus ride from Halong bay to Hanoi. (Just the thought of being cramped in that OVERLOADED bus makes me feel like puking)

2013

This year really flew by, and while it’s a clichéd to say this, I really believe that time flies as you grow older. I don’t know why it’s so, but it could be because of the realities of life that you begin to face which makes adopt a “don’t think too much, it’ll end very soon” mentality that you use to deal with problems. I guess every time you go “it’ll pass very soon”, you forget that a considerable portion of the year has just gone by too. 

1) ORD

For any Singaporean male, ORD is probably the best gift ever and yet I ended up feeling pretty neutral. It’s strange, it’s not that I enjoy being in the army (far from it), but on the actual day itself I was just pretty much like…yeah. I guess being uncertain about life and the future made the process of obtaining my pink IC underwhelming. 

2) Working in CPF

Working is about as interesting as watching paint dry, but I feel like I’m born to be an office worker. Sighs. It’s the kind of mind numbing administrative job that I can easily get accustomed to, unlike my more adventurous and sociable friends. I think there was a point where I was even looking forward to photocopying the cheques and documents, which is a little disturbing now that I think of it. Having said that, I did make some cash to satisfy my lui bin, and I have some new friends too!

3) Failed driving…twice

I need to stop dicking around and take my lessons seriously LOL

4) School

I guess starting school in SMU marks a new journey in my life but I honestly don’t really feel much for it. Being in Vietnam made me feel grateful for the situation I’m in but I find it hard to really find meaning in it. Still, I don’t want to complain too much because many would kill to be where I am. It’s just hard to find the drive to excel in everything (leadership positions, excellent grades, camps), maybe because I’m easily contented. I’m stuck with this mentality that money is not everything, something which EVERYBODY tells me is unrealistic in Singapore’s context so I guess I’m doomed. My results are fine. My GPA is 3.53, and yes I am happy. I feel like it’s going to be a crime to say this in SMU because of those “My GPA is 3.6 but everyone around me is 3.8” fuckers around but you know what, I’m VERY HAPPY.  Ok I’m disappointed with my MFE results (How did I drop from 87/100 to 53 omg LOL) but I’m happy with the rest. I never expected myself to do so well for AW, Stats and TWC (IT’S A MIRACLE!).

New Year’s Resolution? I’m keeping it simple nowadays, and that’s to be more positive and happy about life. and pass driving LOL.

R.I.P

R.I.P Peter O’Toole. You were a fantastic actor. Your performances in The Lion in Winter and Lawrence of Arabia were a true testament to your brilliance.

and I’ve also learnt that we lost the great Joan Fontaine today. She was a magnificent actress who gave an an especially wonderful performance in the Hitchcock thriller Rebecca (1940). R.I.P

 

Kinda sad that all these movie legends are leaving one by one…First Eleanor Parker, then followed by these two.

And Mandela, who is not a movie star of course, but I feel like I have to mention him out of respect.

Anyway I’m flying off to Vietnam tomorrow and coming back on Monday! I don’t know much about Vietnam and I guess I should have done a bit of reading up LOL But it has been a while since the last time I went overseas, so I am pretty excited! Two years, to be exact, when I went to New Zealand with my family. And no, I am not counting my Malaysia trips. I hope that this is gong to be a good break for me before that monstrosity called school returns!

OH GOD MY CHEEBYE COMPUTER IS SO FUCKING LAGGY I AM SO ANNOYED

First Look: Leave Her to Heaven (1945) and The King and I (1956)

Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

I have been on this classical movies chase lately (all thanks to their ready availability on Youtube) and to be honest, I don’t think they are as bad as some say. As a matter of fact, I do think that some of them are brilliantly made and worthy of their iconic statuses. I’m not ashamed to admit that I actually enjoy them heheh :p

Leave Her to Heaven is basically a crazy-girlfriend movie from the 40s. I used to think that Fatal Attraction was THE crazy-girlfriend movie of all time until I came across this one. I have to admit though, I do have a soft spot for these wacky movies. Yeah, they’re pretty insane at times (to put it mildly), but I find them so damn entertaining that i am willing to just overlook their flaws. I mean, won’t you be like “Hell yeah!” when the girl gets her revenge? Maybe it’s just me. Anyway, the actors are usually great as well, especially the actresses playing the crazy girlfriends.

And this movie is no exception by itself. Hell, I was surprised when I discovered that this was one of Martin Scorsese’s favourites. Some people have passed if off as being incredibly silly, which may be true, but I wouldn’t be so quick as to say that the movie is totally unrealistic. Is it entirely impossible for someone to love too much? Is excessive love, to the point that it becomes a dangerous obsession, a concept too far off from reality? Are we really unfamiliar with the stories of murderous lovers and their determination to wreck everything that stands in their way? It’s up to you to decide. I found the story gripping and entertaining, even at the unlikely parts. Yes, there are flaws but it didn’t bother me too much because I found the whole thing slightly campy but engaging. The acting was decent and there was little to fault but it’s kinda obvious who got the best part.

The ridiculously beautiful Gene Tierney plays Ellen Berent, a psycho socialite who simply “loves too much!”. I feel that Tierney’s beauty did help her make the most out of this part, even though one can argue that this has little to do with acting. But honestly speaking, when I look at her cold and beautiful face, I have no qualms in believing that this woman is capable of commiting those cruel crimes just purely out of love. In fact, Tierney’s performance is actually very subtle and natural, something that is rare among actresses from that era. I can go on and on about how chilling her “Afterall, he’s a cripple!”, “I hate the little beast” and “What are you running away from?” lines were delivered. You can imagine someone like, say Ingrid Bergman, announcing these lines in a super dramatic way, but Tierney managed to avoid these traps and spoke them as though they were already a part of the character’s subconscious. She said them in such a natural manner that I felt as if the darker side to this woman was bursting out of her minute by minute in a very insidious manner, so much so that it made the character’s actions understandable and believable. At some points you might even feel for her. Magnificent. Some may find it stiff but the performance worked for me on a whole.

The King and I (1956)

Oh boy. I’m not going to lie, but I did not like The King and I (1956). I don’t care if some people are going to consider this as an indication of my ignorance towards movies, especially seeing as to how this movie is widely considered a classic, but if I’m being perfectly honest, the whole thing just feels dated and too shallow for me. And it’s not as if I hate musical films like some people do , because I’m actually quite an admirer of the true classics like A Star is Born. Heck, even The Sound of Music (1965) worked brilliantly for me because I felt that the story actually had depth and meaning to it, and despite the excessive sugar-coating, it actually managed to sufficiently deal with the more serious issues such as the terrors of escaping the war. I also greatly enjoyed My Fair Lady (1964) too by the way.

And yet, despite my partiality towards film musicals,  I found The King and I’s plot was way too ridiculous to take seriously. I don’t wish to offend the fans, but the ending especially bugged me for some reason. It also addressed the theme about the clash/exchange of cultures in a rather shallow and superficial way, although I’ll admit that the “Getting to know you” song was nice. And yes, I felt that the whole romance portion featuring Rita Moreno (who looks nothing like a burmese) was really bad and out of place. I mean, they were supposed to be this pair of clandestine lovers, and yet there they were, SINGING to each other at the top of their voices in the garden. Not to mention that the acting was pretty bad and the two lacked chemistry. I guess the fact that this movie is supposed to be a musical meant that I was supposed to suspend logic but even this one was too much for me to swallow. Well, maybe the palace guards didn’t patrol the gardens? I don’t know. The whole part was just to show the darker side of the king towards the ending and yet I felt that the ending itself lacking in intensity because everyone jumped into some melodrama mood.

The set isn’t that fantastic too, by the way. Maybe it was considered great back then, but right now I found that it looked rather fake and cheap. I do admit that there was probably a lot of effort being put into building and decorating it but I just didn’t believe that the place was a palace. The fountains in the garden were too much for me also.

And the acting! I already talked about Rita Moreno, so right now I’ll go to Yul Brynner. Yes, I found out that he won the Oscar for his performance, and this was his most famous role as an actor, but the whole thing was just way too comical for me to take seriously. My sister actually liked his performance, as she kept making comments like “haha, so funny/cute” when he displayed his extremely bizarre mannerisms and his weird way of talking (“eat! eat! eat”). I would say that he was extremely entertaining and I guess to a certain extent likeable but that was pretty much it. His performance basically suffered because the character was written as a caricature and I think that really affected the credibility of his performance. I just didn’t even believe that he was a king for one second. Hell, it’s not as though the issues that he had to deal with were really serious. The Buddha praying scene was kinda dumb as well. Was it meant to be funny? I don’t know. And I honestly did not believe that he was dying in the end. I SERIOUSLY expected him to jump up from the bed and declared that he was just pretending to die so that he could get her to stay. Yeah, maybe I am being ridiculous, but when you watch the movie, you’ll find the character written in such a ridiculous manner that my suggested ending may not be too much of a surprise anyway. And what was he dying from? Huh? He was still fine and jumping around and being silly when he suddenly decided to fall ill and die just because of his fall out with Anna? Wtf??

Of course, I’ll acknowledge that there were some good things about the film, so that I won’t be labelled as a mere hater. In my opinion, the movie’s shining light was Deborah Kerr. I felt that she was the best part of the whole mess, which isn’t saying much. Yes her character suffers at times because of some weirdly written scenes, but I think she did the best that she could out of a thinly written part and even added a whole touch of realism to it. You could see that this character was not just some mere goody two shoes, but she was a woman who is willing to fight for what she wants. Thanks to Kerr’s portrayal, we got to see that Anna was a loving mother, a caring teacher and also a brave woman who is willing to challenge the norms. She was easily the best part of the weird (and abrupt) scene where Tuptim was about to get whipped. The fierce way she insisted that she was going to stay and watch, as well as her “You have NO HEART!” declaration was very well done. So yes, I can understand the overwhelming praise for Kerr, who is not one of my favourite actresses, but at the same time I wouldn’t call her performance here the greatest ever by an actress.  I just think that this role fitted Kerr’s subtle and dignified acting style very well, so the whole thing worked, although she was affected by the melodrama and rather unfunny humour of the script at times. 

So yes, I apologise to the fans of this movie. It was entertaining though…

First look: Anastasia (1956)

Anastasia (1956) is probably known as the movie in which the legendary Ingrid Bergman won her second Academy Award and the forgiveness of the public after her infamous affair with Roberto Rossellini. Many people have claimed that Begman’s performance here is overrated, and that the reason for her second Oscar win is because of the scandal she was involved in. So having watched this piece of work, is it really the case?

The movie, in my opinion, is a decent one. It’s no masterpiece by any means but there are a lot of positive things to talk about. The acting by the main casts is decent all around, especially by Helen Hayes, who really stood out among them all. The set is lavish, the costumes are beautiful, the story is simple and easy to follow. So yea, I did enjoy it to a certain extent, although I can understand why some find it boring. There isn’t much to the story, other than it being about this mysterious (amnesiac) woman trying to pass off as the Grand Duchess Anastasia after being discovered by this charming general played by Yul Brynner. But honestly, who can deny that this movie is ultimately a vehicle to showcase the talents of this famous swedish actress?

Ingrid Bergman does what she does best here: Being charming, and throwing a whole range of emotions at your face. Ok, that sounded really awkward, but I actually respect her a lot. I wouldn’t say that she’s my favourite classical actress (Vivien Leigh? Bette Davis?) but her presence was immense. She was PHENOMENAL in Autumn Sonata, great in Cactus Flower, and I even enjoyed her rather disliked performance in For Whom The Bell Tolls. I wish I could say the same about that movie though. If there’s one thing that Bergman could play to perfection, it would be fragility, innocence and pureness. I’m serious, you really can’t help but feel sorry for her when you watch her characters on screen.

That being said, she did have this tendency for that kind of melodramatic overacting from the classical era which becomes very annoying at times. Like I said before, I’m never particular about the way actresses act (it’s not like I’m a professional critic or anything), but it does become rather distracting when I see her displaying her usual on-screen histrionics whenever her character is going through some breakdown. I’m sorry, but to me it’s kinda fake. Maybe that’s the reason why I could never really enjoy her performance in Gaslight (“Elizabeth! Eliiiizabeth!!!!!”). I think I have a really weird taste, because everyone loved her there. But whatever. Maybe I’ll rewatch that movie someday and have a revelation, like the one I had with Vivien Leigh’s (haunting, tragic, beautiful, heartbreaking…) Blanche Dubois. All in all, I think that Bergman’s later performances in the 60s and 70s were the ones that really showcased her acting talents and skills.

So…what about Anastasia? Well, I can safely say that Bergman was pretty great. Not phenomenal by any means, but it is the kind of very good Ingrid Bergman performance that is very watchable. Like I said before, her presence is very strong, and you simply can’t take your eyes off her. However, I don’t think that the script does her justice because the character isn’t very well-written, especially in the second half, where all she does is to be charming and lie her way through. I felt like there could have been more depth in this portrayal but I didn’t really see it. But having said that, she does display the initial helplessness, doubts and confusion of the character very well.

I have to mention that her chemistry with Yul Brynner isn’t very strong. Maybe it’s just me, but I found it hard to believe that they were even interested in one another. I just thought that they were annoyed. Yes, there were subtle hints here and there but it wasn’t very convincing. That kind of affected the credibility of the ending.

Ultimately, while this was a good performance by Ingrid Bergman. I don’t know whether she deserved the Oscar or not, and frankly, I don’t care. She’s always a delight to watch on screen.