The Pianist (2002) Review

Synopsis

In this adaptation of the autobiography “The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945,” Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody), a Polish Jewish radio station pianist, sees Warsaw change gradually as World War II begins. Szpilman is forced into the Warsaw Ghetto, but is later separated from his family during Operation Reinhard. From this time until the concentration camp prisoners are released, Szpilman hides in various locations among the ruins of Warsaw.

Release date: December 4, 2002

(USA)Director: Roman Polanski

Featured song: Nocturne in C-sharp minor, Op. posth.

Screenplay: Ronald Harwood

My Review

I’m ashamed to say that it took me so long to a watch this film. The Pianist gives its audience an entirely fresh perspective of what Jews faced during the Holocaust. This film touched my soul uniquely. If you have not seen this film, do yourself a favor and go watch it!

Most movies with a Jewish protagonist during WWII showcase what life was like inside of the concentration camps. However, in this film the audience gains knowledge of what life in the Ghetto was like and what life looked like for the Jews that worked outside of Concentration Camps. I loved getting a new outlook on historically accurate events, especially since this film is based on a true story.

Szpilman in his hiding place

The film centers on Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Jewish pianist living in Poland. As his family is being loaded up on trains headed for Concentration Camps, a Jewish friend of Szpilman’s who became a German Solder pulls him out of the crowd saving his life. The rest of the film follows Szpilman trying to survive in an empty ghetto, getting a construction job working for the Germans, and finally hiding out until the end of the war.

This is not a movie for those faint of heart. There is a reason they rate this film R. It’s emotionally jarring and hard to watch at times. However, for that reason I think it’s crucial for us to watch. The acting in this movie is beyond incredible. Adrien Brody, portrays the protagonist film, and his acting is one of the most believable performances I have seen in a very long time. Whatever emotion his character was feeling, I physically felt in my gut. In fact, there were several times I teared up alongside him. The acting along with the lifelike sets made me feel like I was watching a documentary on the actual family versus actors re-creating the historical events.

Szpilman wanders around an empty Jewish Ghetto after being separated from his entire family

I’ve heard people criticizing this film for having too slow of a pace. However, for me this just added to its realist feel. It felt like the film was occurring in real time, which added to its life like feel. I have nothing bad to say about this film. Have you seen this film? Leave your thoughts in the comments down below.

My Rating

5 out of 5

I would definitely watch this film again, and I highly recommend everyone watch it at least once in their lifetime. This film is available for streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime as of the time I am posting this.

Wladyslaw Szpilman In Real Life

If you enjoy Holocaust centered films, check out my review on Life Is Beautiful. Another film centered on a Jewish family with a unique storyline and perspective.

https://cinematicgeekster.com/2020/04/26/life-is-beautiful-1997-film-review/


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FireFly lane (2021) review

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Alien(s) (1986) Review

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Alien (1979) Review

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Life is Beautiful (1997) Film Review

Synopsis

A gentle Jewish-Italian waiter, Guido Orefice (Roberto Benigni), meets Dora (Nicoletta Braschi), a pretty schoolteacher, and wins her over with his charm and humor. Eventually they marry and have a son, Giosue (Giorgio Cantarini). Their happiness is abruptly halted, however, when Guido and Giosue are separated from Dora and taken to a concentration camp. Determined to shelter his son from the horrors of his surroundings, Guido convinces Giosue that their time in the camp is merely a game.

Release date: October 23, 1998

(USA)Director: Roberto Benigni

Featured song: La vita è bella

Awards: Academy Award for Best Actor

My Review

I have seen this film over five times now, and yet it remains in the list of my top ten favorite films. This film follows Guido, a Jewish Italian with a very whimsical and carefree attitude towards life. I like to consider this film being split into two acts- the first act follows Guido winning the girl and growing a family together and the second act follows Guido’s family in a Nazi concentration camp.

My favorite thing about this film is that the audience watches it through the eyes of Guido’s son in a way. Throughout their stay at the concentration camp, Guido makes it his goal to shield his son from the surrounding horrors. Therefore, Guido tells his son Joshua that it is all a game to win points, and that the first person to reach 1,000 points receives an actual tank. This allows Joshua to hold on to his childhood innocence, which is the strongest gift his father could give him.

Because of this, the audience is spared from seeing an excessive amount of the horrors going on in the camp. However, a lot of the horrors are suggested and as an audience member who knows the history of WWII and concentration camps, it’s easy to be aware of what is really going on. Even though the son remains clueless to the reality of his situation.

This is such a wholesome and incredible film that will truly tug at your heartstrings. Watching the love Guido shows to his wife and son is inspirational and moving to watch. The only negative thing I have to say about this film is that it starts off a little slow. However, once you get past the first twenty minutes it’s worth it. I love that this film takes on a different spin on telling a story about the Holocaust, and unlike most movies centered on concentration camps, it isn’t extremely gut wrenching to watch.

My Rating

5 out of 5

If you have not seen this film, I highly suggest finding it and giving it a watch. This is the film that will leave a positive impact on you forever.


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Saving Private Ryan (1998) Film Review

Synopsis

Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) takes his men behind enemy lines to find Private James Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed in combat. Surrounded by the brutal realties of war, while searching for Ryan, each man embarks upon a personal journey and discovers their own strength to triumph over an uncertain future with honor, decency and courage.
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Release dateJuly 24, 1998 (USA)
Budget70 million USD

My Review 

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By far this is one of the best war movies of all time. It’s hard and tear jerking to watch because of how accurate and life like the war scenes are. Something that really adds to the uncomfortable realistic feel of the film is the lack of music. It’s hard to notice when first watching the movie because as an audience member you are so sucked into the action. But if you pay attention during any battle scene, there is absolutely no music playing in the background. In fact, music is used sparingly and only when it adds to the overall emotional impact on the audience. During the bloody war scenes all the audience hears are bullets shooting, men screaming, blood gushing, and orders being given. This makes the audience feel as if they themselves are on the front lines with all the actor’s.

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Another powerful element of this film is the camera work. The cinematography is innovative and creative. However, it’s kept subtle to where you don’t remember your watching a movie on a screen. It feels as if your watching war history in person. A lot of the camera angles are kept eye level, or close to the ground, which adds to this effect. There are very little bird eye shots or hero shots in this film. Which would have only lost the audience’s personal connection into the film. This was a really impactful decision made by the cinematographer of this film.

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This film showcases the darker side of humanity. It allows audience members who have never been on a battle front a chance to experience the realistic horror and intense action. It allows us a look into a world not all of us are familiar with. That makes watching this film such a memorable experience.

My Rating

4.8 out of 5

I recommend everybody watch this film at least once in their life.

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) Film Review

Synopsis

Writer and notorious marriage detractor Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) falls for girl-next-door Elaine Harper (Priscilla Lane), and they tie the knot on Halloween. When the newlyweds return to their respective family homes to deliver the news, Brewster finds a corpse hidden in a window seat. With his eccentric aunts (Josephine Hull, Jean Adair), disturbed uncle (John Alexander), and homicidal brother (Raymond Massey), he realizes that his family is even crazier than he thought.
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Release dateSeptember 1, 1944 (USA)

My Review 

If you have not seen this film… Go Watch It Now! This movie has been on my top 10 list of films for years now.

My favorite thing about this film is the plot structure. They based this film off on a play and that shows. This play follows the old style of comedy with dramatic irony. The audience is fully aware of what is going on in the movie, however a lot of the actors are left in the dark. Which leads to a lot of confusion among the characters within the film and adds to the comedic element for the audience.

Something I love about this film that I think more plays and films need to be inspired by is all the comedic timing and use of facial expressions. Image result for arsenic and old laceCary Grant’s facial expressions throughout this film makes for some of the best comedic moments. This is also something that is known to be one of Cary Grant’s signature strengths.

The plot of this film is quick paced, and there are several stories lines going on all at the same time. Newly wed Mortimer Brewster is trying to leave on his honeymoon, his aunts are murdering elderly gentleman, his uncle thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, and his crazy brother Jonathon shows up  on the run from the police. While the overall feel of the movie is left very light and comedic, the action within the play is insane and the audience gets to watch along on the journey.

I absolutely adore the acting in this film. Besides Cary Grant’s amazing performance, everyone else does a fantastic job. There is not a bad acting performance in this entire film. Image result for arsenic and old laceJosephine Hull and Jean Adair as the two aunts is my favorite. These two women do not disappoint in this film, and their characterization is amazing. They are nothing short of being sweet elderly women in this film, which makes it even more of a comedic shock to find they have single-handedly poisoned and buried several men in their cellar. 

Lastly, the camera work and lighting of this film are unique and appealing. Much like the play, this film takes place solely inside the Brewster’s living room. While we see action take place in a few other locations, most of the film is set in one area of the house. However, the film does not get boring and as an audience member it’s hard to notice that the camera has not left the one room. The camera work is very innovative and creative.

My Rating 

4.5 out of 5

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The Shawshank Redemption Review (1994)

Synopsis

Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison for the murders of his wife and her lover and is sentenced to a tough prison. However, only Andy knows he didn’t commit the crimes. While there, he forms a friendship with Red (Morgan Freeman), experiences brutality of prison life, adapts, helps the warden, etc., all in 19 years.
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Release dateSeptember 22, 1994 (Beverly Hills)

My Review

I do not understand why it took me so long to see this film, but I am thrilled I did. This film blew me away. It’s a powerful story, with incredible acting and amazing plot action. I was immediately drawn into this film from the very beginning and only became more captivated in the story the more it went on.

My favorite thing about this film was the powerful acting performances. I was not as familiar with Tim Robbins as I was with Morgan Freeman before watching this movie. However, unlike most movies, neither actor over-shined the other. Image result for the shawshank redemptionBoth of them did such an incredible job, and as an audience member it truly felt like the two actors were feeding off of each other’s performances and energy which only strengthened their acting. The other actors in this film were incredible. There was such distinct and committed character development, which added a lot to the film and made it seem even more lifelike.

This film had a very natural flow to it. The plot points moved effortlessly from one to the other. I never noticed a moment where this film seemed to drag on and lose my attention. I think something that aided in that was Morgan Freeman’s character narrating the film and guiding the audience through the story. As an audience member, this also made me feel more involved within the world of the film and helped me get invested into the story of the film.

Probably the most powerful and affective element of this film is the writing. With it being adapted from a Steven King novel, I knew that the writing would have a strong foundation to base off of. Image result for the shawshank redemptionHowever, the writing of this movie entirely blew me away. The movie is very intense and leaves a huge emotional impact on the audience. Since the audience gets so emotionally invested in the main characters, there are many parts of this story that make you mad. Even after watching this film, the emotional impact will stick with you, and you will think about it long after watching the film.

My Rating

4.5 out of 5

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