Posted in Film Review

“The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” (2021) – film review

“The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” (2021) is the newest in the Conjuring Universe Series, a new artifact to the Museum of The Haunted All and Sundry. The legendary Ed and Lorraine Warren are as inseparable as a couple in love and benevolent as rescuers of souls afflicted with the forces of evil as ever. But the mysteriously noble and spiritually convincing atmospheric elements are barely there, albeit the mix still has the thematic Catholic flavor. They said that when fact becomes legend, publish legend. So the story of the movie may be based on an actual event that has become American folklore, a modern legend, and it is the legend that the movie published.

As with the tradition of the Conjuring World, the movie evolves from the actual event of the supernatural phenomenon beyond the reasonable explanation on what the eyes only can see. First, an insidious ambiance surrounding a family house that seems strangely alienated adumbrates a sinister force lurking behind the bathroom door, over the shower curtains, and finally inside your head. Then comes a Catholic priest, thanks to the rite of exorcism popularized by The Exorcist and the Warrens’ association with the religion as their spiritual base. But he is usually not too much of significant help, if not a trouble, so it is always the Warrens’ job to ghost-bust with a style of a medieval magician who used to reconcile esoteric paganism with Christian faith. In this installation, Lorraine proves to be a mighty Christian mystic and a white witch in crossing over the space and reading memories of the dead, all for the fighting the devil’s deputy in a tunnel that promised to capture as many human souls as possible to fill up Hell’s Circles.

The essential thematic elements of good v. evil, love v. hatred, violence v. peace are unfailingly ubiquitous in this installment. Still, more violence and hatred make up the scenes than the others, making the movie more aligned with screaming scary movies than classified as supernatural horror. Perhaps the application of Catholic elements as a credible supplementary spell on the movie’s ambiance might have slightly fared well with the director’s intention (or the producer James Wan, the original creative director) to make the film elevated to a canon of classic supernatural movies. But it doesn’t give much of the movie’s intended effect when the Warrens can do what priests can do. Besides, the characters other than the Warrens themselves are not convincingly real, sympathetic, or natural. Instead, they are either surreal or theatrical to the point of playing a masque in Elizabethan time, so to speak, which would have been excellent.

I watched the movie with high hope when it first started showing on HBO Max last Friday night. But my expectation was already turning ominous when I had trouble viewing it at first for some unknown technical reason. Once I got into the third world of Conjuring Universe, I knew it wouldn’t be what I had expected. The real Warrens have become the ghosts themselves, and I wonder what they would have thought about the movie. Judging from their celebrity status in the society of paranormal investigators, I think they would probably have been thrilled about their being the creative subject of the movie. Then maybe, it’s time for me to leave the Conjuring Universe in search of a new world of the supernatural without celebrity.

Posted in book review

“Mind Your Language” (TV Series 1977-1979)

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Have you ever tried to explain a certain colloquial expression, such as “kick the bucket,” “shoot off his mouth,” or “until the fat lady sings” to someone whose mother tongue is anything but English? You probably have been delighted to find out how meanings of words can yield multifarious feats of creative interpretations, which can also, in turn, be prospective nouveau vocabulary of the most effectively deployed Lingua Franca of our time. After all, that’s what Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare, and George Bernard Shaw did to the English language, which is still kicking and alive in keeping up with the evolution of our own cultural progress. And certainly, the students in the evening English class are a tour de force of such cultural enterprise in this hilarious original British sitcom “Mind Your Language.”

The story of Jeremy Brown, an ingenuous young academic teaching English to his slightly offbeat motley crew of foreign adult students at evening classes in an adult education college in London forms the basis of the show. Mr. Brown has to deal with his students’ creatively wily answers to his questions, while trying to instill in them the elements of the English language with his Oxford-educated academic credentials. In fact, it’s the class that gets the laugh by pushing their naive enthusiastic young teacher into an imbroglio of jocular situations all for the celebration of joviality in their evening English class after hard days of work. In bewilderment of his students’ wily but innocuous chicanery, Mr. Brown’s affection for his class grows bigger and deeper as the show continues; you see him becoming something of Jack of all trades for his students as well as the principal, Ms. Courtney. You will find Mr. Brown at the police station, in court, in hospital, on the dance floor at the school fete, and of course at the pubs with his beloved students or Sidney, the cockney school caretaker.

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The Cast of “Mind Your Language”

The delightful peals of hearty laughter, the bounty of warmth, and even remedial lessons of English embroider on these three scintillating series of the show produced by London Week Television between 1977 and 1979 for ITV in England. Each of the episodes was ingeniously written with simply brilliant feats of words and ideas on the grounds of realistic situations relating to anyone who speaks English as a foreign language or anyone who deals with such person in reality. Also, the collective efforts and performance of the cast with each actor and actress harmoniously contributing the best of the self to the respective character is the ipso facto gem of the perennial popularity of the show to this date. All in all, the setting, the topic, the storyline, and the cast of “Mind Your Language” give you the idea that in order to make a good TV comedy show that strikes the chords with a wide range of people regardless of ethnic, racial, and/or social backgrounds, all you have to do is to look into the everyday life around you and see if there is anything that transcends the subjectivity of the aforementioned backgrounds in order to reach the universal code of humor and humanity without pontificating social/political ideology. For these reasons, “Mind Your Language” is an unmissable feast of comedy of intelligence, wit, humor, and a touch of innocence that deserves of its recognition in the canons of British Classic Comedy.

Posted in Film Review

One Man’s Fighting for Justice and Honor: Film Review on The Verdict by Paul Newman

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Release dateDecember 8, 1982 (USA)

This is not a movie about a courtroom drama displayed by the verbal theatrics that we can easily see in today’s legal dramas. It’s a movie about a man’s redeeming of his honor tainted by his self-destructive resort to alcoholism and disorientation in life pursuant to the destruction of his youthful idealism as a novice lawyer. Once bitten, twice diffident, the lawyer’s god-sent chance to turn over a new leaf in his later chapters of life comes to him when he is asked by a woman to represent her sister, a young woman whose life is forever bedridden in a coma as a result of inadvertent administration of anesthetics by doctors at a Catholic hospital. As the lawyer works on the case for a trial, he regains his confidence, hope, and meaning for his own life.

Paul Newman’s excellent performance as the lawyer struggling with his own life is the gem of the movie, rendering the verisimilitude of the character that evokes the pathos. His trademarks of fierce blue eyes that seem to be the only distinct features of his weary, forlorn face symbolize a suppressed light of intelligence, bludgeoned confidence, and vanquished hope, all of which still struggle to be liberated from self-imprisonment at any moment. The viewer will never fail to notice the feelings and the emotions Newman’s character tries to subdue or express by his brilliant method acting.

“The Verdict” is indeed a thought-provoking movie about the human nature and a light of hope that we all have in our lifetime. Without any courtroom theatrics full of sensational machinations and exchanging of fiery tirades between the lawyers of the opposite parties, this movie proves how a well written script based upon a realistic subject matter that elicits universal empathy in concert with the excellent performances of fine actors could work a wonder.