‘Amadeus’ 1984

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is a remarkably talented young Viennese composer who unwittingly finds a fierce rival in the disciplined and determined Antonio Salieri. Resenting Mozart for both his hedonistic lifestyle and his undeniable talent, the highly religious Salieri is gradually consumed by his jealousy and becomes obsessed with Mozart’s downfall, leading to a devious scheme that has dire consequences for both men

Considered one of the greatest films of all time, Amadeus was nominated for 53 awards and received 40, including eight Academy Awards (as well as the Academy Award for Best Picture), four BAFTA Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, and a Directors Guild of America award. As of 2020, it is the most recent film to have more than one nomination in the Academy Award for Best Actor category. In 1998, the American Film Institute ranked it 53rd on its 100 Years… 100 Movies list. In 2019, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Amadeus is a 1984 American period biographical drama film directed by Miloš Forman and adapted by Peter Shaffer from his 1979 stage play Amadeus. The story is set in Vienna, Austria during the latter half of the 18th century, and is a fictionalized story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart from the time he left Salzburg, described by its writer as “fantasia on the theme of Mozart and Salieri”. Mozart’s music is heard extensively in the soundtrack of the film. The film follows a fictional rivalry between Mozart and Italian composer Antonio Salieri at the court of Emperor Joseph II. The film stars F. Murray Abraham as Salieri (who received the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance) and Tom Hulce as Mozart (who was also nominated for the same award as Abraham).

In his autobiography Beginning, Kenneth Branagh says that he was one of the finalists for the role of Mozart, but was dropped from consideration when Forman decided to make the film with an American cast.

Mark Hamill, who replaced Tim Curry as Mozart towards the end of the run of the stage play on Broadway, recalled in an interview that he read with many actresses auditioning for Mozart’s wife Constanze and after the reads, Forman decided to not cast him because of his association with the character of Luke Skywalker, believing that the audience would not believe him as the composer. Tom Hulce reportedly used John McEnroe’s mood swings as a source of inspiration for his portrayal of Mozart’s unpredictable genius.

Meg Tilly was cast as Mozart’s wife Constanze, but she tore a ligament in her leg the day before shooting started. She was replaced by Elizabeth Berridge. Simon Callow, who played Mozart in the original London stage production of Amadeus, was cast as Emanuel Schikaneder, the librettist of The Magic Flute.

The film was shot on location in Prague and Kroměříž. Notably, Forman was able to shoot scenes in the Count Nostitz Theatre in Prague, where Don Giovanni and La clemenza di Tito debuted two centuries before. Several other scenes were shot at the Barrandov Studios.

Forman collaborated with American choreographer Twyla Tharp.

Critical Reception

Amadeus holds a score of 93% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes based on 95 reviews, with an average rating of 8.92/10. The site’s consensus states: “A lavish, entertaining, powerful film about the life and influence, both positive and negative, of one of Western culture’s great artists.” Giving the film four-out-of-four stars, Roger Ebert acknowledged that it was one of the “riskiest gambles a filmmaker has taken in a long time,” but added “(here is the genius of the movie) there is nothing cheap or unworthy about the approach,” and ultimately concluded that it was a “magnificent film, full and tender and funny and charming”. Ebert later added the film to his Great Movies list. Peter Travers of People magazine said that “Hulce and Abraham share a dual triumph in a film that stands as a provocative and prodigious achievement.” Stanley Kauffmann of The New Republic put it on his list of films worth seeing. In one negative review, Todd McCarthy of Variety said that despite “great material and themes to work with, and such top talent involved,” the “stature and power the work possessed onstage have been noticeably diminished” in the film adaptation. The film’s many historical inaccuracies have attracted criticism from music historians.

‘Memento’ 2000

A man juggles searching for his wife’s murderer and keeping his short-term memory loss from being an obstacle.

Memento chronicles two separate stories of Leonard, an ex-insurance investigator who can no longer build new memories, as he attempts to find the murderer of his wife, which is the last thing he remembers. One story line moves forward in time while the other tells the story backwards revealing more each time.

Memento is a 2000 American neo-noir psychological thriller film written and directed by Christopher Nolan, and produced by Suzanne and Jennifer Todd. The film’s script was based on a pitch by Jonathan Nolan, who later wrote the story “Memento Mori” from the concept. It stars Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Joe Pantoliano.

Pearce stars as a man who, as a result of a past trauma, has anterograde amnesia (the inability to form new memories) and has short-term memory loss approximately every five minutes. He is searching for the persons who attacked him and killed his wife, using an intricate system of Polaroid photographs and tattoos to track information he cannot remember. Memento is presented as two different sequences of scenes interspersed during the film: a series in black-and-white that is shown chronologically, and a series of color sequences shown in reverse order (simulating for the audience the mental state of the protagonist). The two sequences meet at the end of the film, producing one complete and cohesive narrative.

Critical Reception

Memento was a box office success. In the United States, during its opening weekend, it was released in only 11 theaters, but by week 11 it was distributed to more than 500 theaters. It grossed over $25 million in North America and $14 million in other countries, making the film’s total worldwide gross some $40 million as of August 2007. During its theatrical run, it did not place higher than eighth in the list of highest-grossing movies for a single weekend.

Memento was met with critical acclaim, earning a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Online film critic James Berardinelli gave the film four out of four stars, ranking it number one on his year-end Top Ten list and number sixty-three on his All-Time Top 100 films. In his review, he called it an “endlessly fascinating, wonderfully open-ended motion picture [that] will be remembered by many who see it as one of the best films of the year”. Berardinelli praised the film’s backwards narrative, saying that “what really distinguishes this film is its brilliant, innovative structure”, and noted that Guy Pearce gives an “astounding…tight, and thoroughly convincing performance”. In 2009, Berardinelli chose Memento as his #3 best movie of the decade. William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes that Memento is a “delicious one-time treat”, and emphasizes that director Christopher Nolan “not only makes Memento work as a non-linear puzzle film, but as a tense, atmospheric thriller”. Rob Blackwelder noted that “Nolan has a crackerjack command over the intricacies of this story. He makes every single element of the film a clue to the larger picture…as the story edges back toward the origins of [Leonard’s] quest”.

’12 Years a Slave’ 2013

In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

Based on an incredible true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty personified by a malevolent slave owner, as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist will forever alter his life.

12 Years a Slave is a 2013 period drama film and an adaptation of the 1853 slave narrative memoir Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup, a New York State-born free African-American man who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. by two conmen in 1841 and sold into slavery. Northup was put to work on plantations in the state of Louisiana for 12 years before being released. The first scholarly edition of Northup’s memoir, co-edited in 1968 by Sue Eakin and Joseph Logsdon, carefully retraced and validated the account and concluded it to be accurate. Other characters in the film were also real people, including Edwin and Mary Epps, and Patsey.

The film was directed by Steve McQueen. The screenplay was written by John Ridley. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup. Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt, and Alfre Woodard are all featured in supporting roles. Principal photography took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, from June 27 to August 13, 2012. The locations used were four historic antebellum plantations: Felicity, Bocage, Destrehan, and Magnolia. Of the four, Magnolia is nearest to the actual plantation where Northup was held.

Critical Reception

12 Years a Slave was praised for its acting (particularly Ejiofor, Fassbender, Nyong’o and Paulson), Steve McQueen’s direction, John Ridley’s screenplay, its production values, and its faithfulness to Solomon Northup’s account. Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 95% of critics gave the film a positive rating, based on 327 reviews with an average score of 8.9/10, with the site’s consensus stating, “It’s far from comfortable viewing, but 12 Years a Slaves unflinchingly brutal look at American slavery is also brilliant — and quite possibly essential — cinema.” Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 96 out of 100 based on 56 reviews from mainstream critics, considered to be “universal acclaim”. It is currently one of the site’s highest-rated films, as well as the best-reviewed film of 2013. CinemaScore reported that audiences gave the film an “A” grade.

‘Call Me by Your Name’ 2017

In 1980s Italy, a romance blossoms between a seventeen year-old student and the older man hired as his father’s research assistant.

In early-1980s northern Italy, amid the lush Mediterranean landscapes of a serene and golden summer, 17-year-old, Elio, visits the family’s summer villa to spend his vacation with his father and Greco-Roman culture professor, Mr Perlman, his translator mother, Annella, and the American doctoral student who works there as an intern, Oliver. But, little by little, over the course of six fleeting weeks, a timid friendship between Elio and Oliver will prepare the ground for an unexpected bond, as the unexplored emotions of first love start boiling over. Could this sun-kissed romance in Lombardy be the prelude to maturity?

Call Me by Your Name is a 2017 coming-of-age romantic drama film written by James Ivory and directed by Luca Guadagnino. It is based on the 2007 novel of the same name by André Aciman, and is the final installment in Guadagnino’s thematic “Desire” trilogy, after I Am Love (2009) and A Bigger Splash (2015). Set in northern Italy in 1983, Call Me by Your Name chronicles a romantic relationship between 17-year-old Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet) and his professor father’s 24-year-old graduate-student assistant, Oliver (Armie Hammer). The film also stars Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, and Victoire Du Bois

The film began development in 2007 when producers Peter Spears and Howard Rosenman optioned the screen rights to Aciman’s novel. James Ivory was initially set to co-direct the film but became the screenwriter and co-producer. Guadagnino joined the project as a location consultant and eventually became director and co-producer. The film was financed by several international companies, and principal photography mainly took place in Crema, Italy, in May and June 2016. Cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom shot the film on 35-mm film.

Call Me by Your Name was chosen for distribution by Sony Pictures Classics before its world premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2017. It began a limited release in the United States on November 24, 2017, and went to general release on January 19, 2018. The film received numerous accolades and praise for its performances, screenplay, direction, and music. At the 90th Academy Awards it won the category Best Adapted Screenplay and was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Chalamet), and Best Original Song (“Mystery of Love”). Ivory won awards for his screenplay at the 23rd Critics’ Choice Awards, the 70th Writers Guild of America Awards, and the 71st British Academy Film Awards. Chalamet was nominated for a British Academy Film Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Actor.

Critical Reception

At its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, Call Me by Your Name received a standing ovation, followed by a ten-minute ovation at its New York Film Festival screening at the Alice Tully Hall, the longest recorded in the festival’s history. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 95% based on 278 reviews, with an average rating of 8.7/10. The website’s critical consensus reads, “Call Me by Your Name offers a melancholy, powerfully affecting portrait of first love, empathetically acted by Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer.” It was the best-reviewed limited release and second best-reviewed romance film of 2017 on the site. On Metacritic, the film has an average weighted score of 93 out of 100, based on 51 critics, indicating “universal acclaim”. It was the year’s fifth-best rated film on Metacritic.

Luca Guadagnino’s direction was praised by critics. Writing in The Hollywood Reporter, Boyd van Hoeij described Call Me by Your Name as an “extremely sensual, intimate and piercingly honest” adaptation of Aciman’s novel. He further called Chalamet’s performance “the true breakout of the film”. Peter Debruge of Variety said the film “advances the canon of gay cinema” by portraying “a story of first love that transcends the same-sex dynamic of its central couple.” He compared Guadagnino’s “sensual” direction to the films of Pedro Almodóvar and François Ozon, while putting the film “on par with the best of their work.” David Ehrlich of IndieWire also praised his direction, which helps the film in “match[ing] the artistry and empathy” of Carol (2015) and Moonlight (2016). Sam Adams of BBC stated that Stuhlbarg’s performance “puts a frame around the movie’s painting and opens up avenues we may not have thought to explore,” and called it “one of his finest” to date. He extolled the film as one of “many movies that have so successfully appealed to both the intellectual and the erotic since the heydays of Patrice Chéreau and André Téchiné.”

 

‘Cinema Paradiso’ 1988

A filmmaker recalls his childhood when falling in love with the pictures at the cinema of his home village and forms a deep friendship with the cinema’s projectionist.

A boy who grew up in a native Sicilian Village returns home as a famous director after receiving news about the death of an old friend. Told in a flashback, Salvatore reminiscences about his childhood and his relationship with Alfredo, a projectionist at Cinema Paradiso. Under the fatherly influence of Alfredo, Salvatore fell in love with film making, with the duo spending many hours discussing about films and Alfredo painstakingly teaching Salvatore the skills that became a stepping stone for the young boy into the world of film making. The film brings the audience through the changes in cinema and the dying trade of traditional film making, editing and screening. It also explores a young boy’s dream of leaving his little town to foray into the world outside.

Cinema Paradiso is a 1988 Italian drama film written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. The film stars Jacques Perrin, Philippe Noiret, Leopoldo Trieste, Marco Leonardi, Agnese Nano and Salvatore Cascio, and was produced by Franco Cristaldi and Giovanna Romagnoli, while the music score was composed by Ennio Morricone along with his son, Andrea. It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 62nd Academy Awards.

CRITICAL RECEPTION

Cinema Paradiso was a critical and box-office success and is regarded by many as a classic. It is particularly renowned for the ‘kissing scenes’ montage at the film’s end. Winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1989, the film is often credited with reviving Italy’s film industry, which later produced Mediterraneo and Life Is Beautiful. Film critic Roger Ebert gave it three and a half stars out of four and four stars out of four for the extended version, declaring “Still, I’m happy to have seen it–not as an alternate version, but as the ultimate exercise in viewing deleted scenes.”

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 90% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 70 reviews, with an average score of 8/10. The film also holds a score of 80 based on 20 reviews on Metacritic. The film was ranked #27 in Empire magazine’s “The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema” in 2010. The famed “kissing scene” montage at the end of the film was used in an episode of “Stealing First Base”, an episode of The Simpsons that aired on March 21, 2010, during its twenty-first season. The scene used Morricone’s “Love Theme” and included animated clips of famous movie kisses, including scenes used in Cinema Paradiso as well as contemporary films not shown in the original film.