The Pianist (2002) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Natalie of Writer Loves Movies. Thanks for the review, Natalie! 🙂 Now let’s see what she has to say about The Pianist, IMDB rank 49 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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Arriving in cinemas just nine years after Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, Roman Polanski’s Holocaust drama The Pianist had a lot to live up to.

Spielberg’s film is a sweeping historical epic but Polanski takes a different approach, narrowing his focus on Polish Jewish musician Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody). The Pianist is based on Szpilman’s real life experiences during the German occupation of Poland and takes in the first days of the Warsaw ghetto, the ghetto uprising and the subsequent Warsaw uprising made by the wider Polish resistance against the Nazis in 1944. It’s powerful subject matter handled effectively by screenwriter Ronald Harwood (Australia, The Diving Bell & The Butterfly), who took home an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Where the plight of the Jewish people can be observed in the background of Spielberg’s Schindler’s List which is centred primarily on German industrialist Oskar Schindler and concentration camp commander Amon Goeth, Polanski’s The Pianist is told directly from a Jewish perspective. It’s a huge risk, but one that pays off, enabling Polanski to take us into the very centre of the Jewish ghetto.

Polanski excels in attention to detail. Szpilman’s family and friends are the film’s main emphasis but every aspect of The Pianist’s mise-en-scene delivers the ghetto’s difficult politics and its impact on the masses forced to live there. Emaciated people scrabble for crumbs of food and corpses lie in the street virtually unnoticed: death is a familiar sight. Remarkably, these abhorrent visual details echo those described by first-hand witnesses in Claude Lanzmann’s landmark holocaust documentary, Shoah.

The dividing ghetto wall is, itself, a recurring point of focus. Polanski’s stark camera lingers on it, giving us space to reflect on its significance. Within the wall’s confines the scenes are claustrophobic. Polanski makes frequent use of the ghetto crossing (the Warsaw ghetto was divided by a main German thoroughfare), as another strong visual indicator of the segregation. Waiting in line to cross from one half of the ghetto into the other, Jewish humiliation is compounded by Nazi goading and belittlement. Much of The Pianist is centred on these simple means of degradation, observed and endured by Szpilman whose entire family share a single caramel while awaiting deportation: a symbol of their rapidly encroaching hunger and malnutrition.

Clearance of the Warsaw ghetto (deportations to the Treblinka concentration camp of which the audience but not the film’s characters are well aware) marks a division in The Pianist. From here, the pace slows and the film’s focus shifts away from Jewish persecution to the impact of war on wider Poland. The ghetto uprising is viewed from the windows of a nearby apartment, shortly followed by the Warsaw uprising. This second half of Polanski’s film hones in on Wladyslaw Szpilman’s struggle to stay alive in the increasingly devastated country. Adrien Brody manages this portion of the film almost single-handedly, observing the crippling war while searching for food and shelter. Unsurprisingly, Brody took home an Oscar for his performance here, beating Jack Nicholson (About Schmidt) and Daniel Day-Lewis (Gangs Of New York).

Why you should see it: Polanski’s The Pianist unites a muscular character study and compassionate portrayal of the human spirit with an intricate study of the politics of the Warsaw ghetto and the city’s wider uprising. While it lacks the historical scope of Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, The Pianist offers audiences a more intimate viewing experience that should not be overlooked.

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Midnight In Paris (2011) Review

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Midnight In Paris (2011)

Directed & Written by Woody Allen

Starring:
Kathy Bates
Adrien Brody
Carla Bruni
Marion Cotillard
Kurt Fuller
Rachel McAdams
Michael Sheen
Owen Wilson

Running time: 94 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in Paris, the film follows Gil Pender, a screenwriter, who is forced to confront the shortcomings of his relationship with his materialistic fiancée and their divergent goals, which become increasingly exaggerated as he travels back in time each night at midnight.

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My Opinion:

This has nothing whatsoever to do with Midnight In Paris but I just have to say this: I think I deserve a payrise for getting the word “Xenomorph” into my company’s newsletter last week.

Now, onto Midnight In Paris: a movie I watched months ago but never reviewed because I don’t really have much to say about it. But, shit – apparently a lot of you like it as it’s in third place in that poll of movies you want me to review. So, damn, I better stay true to my word! 🙂

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Here’s my big, embarrassing movie blogger confession: I’ve never watched a Woody Allen film. NONE! So Midnight In Paris was my first & only. Tell me, Woody Allen fans – was this the place to start? I assume not. But, I dunno… I really liked the sound of it plus I’m a big fan of Van Gogh so I was a sucker for that poster up there. ^ I am NOT, however, a fan of Owen Wilson. Probably because he’s been in too many of those annoying Wes Anderson movies. Plus, I’ve always hated his voice. And, you know, that nose. I’m sounding bitchy now but I’m just trying to point out how much I do NOT like Owen Wilson so that you know this may have had an effect on my enjoyment of my first Woody Allen movie. However, it’s definitely a good film & I can understand why some people really like it. It needs to be your type of “thing”, though.

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With this movie, as with Wilson’s character, it really comes alive when it’s in the past. These scenes are so much better than those set in present day with Wilson’s absolute bitch of a fiancée (Rachel McAdams). But that’s the whole point – a viewer may very well end up loving 1920’s Paris just as much as Wilson’s character does. I may not be able to fully relate to a love of 1920’s Paris but I can relate to feeling nostalgic about a certain time. I hate 2015! The world is shit now. I’d probably go back to the 1970s/early 80s. Hmm… I suppose that’s a little unoriginal. I’d probably be happy in any time that’s before the Internet but after indoor plumbing! Oh, and after women stopped being treated like shit. Wait… we’re still treated like shit! Oh cool – I think I’ve written enough now. I can finish this horrible first-ever Woody Allen review I’m making a mess of! 🙂

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Summary:

Midnight In Paris is a good film and I would assume those who love Woody Allen films loved this one too (not that I can compare it to another film of his since I’ve not seen any). I’m probably not cultured enough to have fully appreciated all the famous historical figures Wilson’s character meets in the past but I did find this a very fun part of the story as I actually didn’t know beforehand that anyone “special” was going to be in this. I also didn’t mind the romance in this although I’m not the type to usually go for that. Oh yeah! And my favorite “hey, it’s that guy!” guy was in this (Kurt Fuller – never thought to look up his name before now). I can’t say Midnight In Paris is a movie I fell in love with or that I’ll ever watch it again, though. I liked the originality & it was entertaining but I know I probably should have watched an older Woody Allen film first.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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