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YoungArthur
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Presence of Mind (1999)
27. Feb 2004 at 16:07
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Presence of Mind (1999) Spain  (aka "El Celo")
Region 1 DVD in english, no signs of dubbing

Thank you, del bosque, for mentioning this one. Smiley

Nilo Mur and Ella Jones play the children.  Also stars Sadie Frost (governess), Harvey Keitel (The Master) and Lauren Bacall (housekeeper)

Directed by Antonio Aloy

Another screen adaptation of Henry James "Turn of The Screw."  There are very few surprises for those who have seen  Jack Clayton’s "The Innocents"  but still a fine and interesting film.  The ambiguity of James’ story - are the ghosts real or only a product of the governess’ inflamed psyche - has been badly stunted by additional back-story which has the governess a victim of a recently deceased, physically abusive father.  She also likes to talk to a favorite doll she has kept from her childhood.

At almost every point,  the film suffers in comparison with "The Innocents" which I think to be almost an impossible act to follow.  Very few special effects are needed for the story,  and the main one (to me),  the apparition of Miss Jessel’s ghost on the lake, happens in bright colorful sunlight and lacks the walloping muted eeriness of Clayton’s scene.

Nilo Mur is just wonderful as Miles.  He is a strikingly handsome boy and plays the part with a mix of charming boyishness and manly allure that strongly competes with Martin Stephens’ earlier portrayal.  Unfortunately, Nilo Mur made only one other movie as a boy ("El Mar" 2000) and is now well into his late teens.

This well worth a look.  Be warned, the DVD is bare-bones with virtually no extras.  

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« Last Edit: 29. Jun 2008 at 15:10 by Zabladowski »  
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Zabladowski
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Re: Presence of Mind (1999) Spain
Reply #1 - 27. Feb 2004 at 17:09
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Thanks for alerting me to this, YA!

I've just added it to my Netflix list!
  
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Re: Presence of Mind (1999) Spain
Reply #2 - 27. Feb 2004 at 17:22
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Nilo Mur is a great-looking youngster.   Grin

I like the second pic of him in this thread, the best.

Excellent synopsis, YoungArthur, and thanks to you too, for mentioning it to him, del bosque.  Smiley

Love,
Sir J
  
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Re: Presence of Mind (1999) Spain
Reply #3 - 28. Feb 2004 at 01:33
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Actually, Sir Jacob, he mentioned it to all of us:  Wink

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I like the second pic of him in this thread, the best.

Mmm.  And doesn't he look fantastic in that costume! Smiley (yes, and in the other costume too  Grin)

You're very welcome, Zab.  I'm glad to be able to contribute something here!
  
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Re: Presence of Mind (1999) Spain
Reply #4 - 28. Feb 2004 at 23:56
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<i>Actually, Sir Jacob, he mentioned it to all of us.</i>

Well yes, he did.   Grin

I didn't realize that this was the movie he mentioned in that thread about Martin Stephens, and 'The Innocents'.  Now, of course, you know I'm gonna have to see it, someday.  Smiley

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Sir J
  
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Re: Presence of Mind (1999) Spain
Reply #5 - 02. Mar 2004 at 08:32
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I'm surprised that we didn't have a profile for this movie.  I've seen some very interesting clips from it and I'd agree wholeheartedly with YAs assessment of Nilo Mur.

I guess it's a pity the movie doesn''t measure up to The Innocents but then again very few films do.

Thanks for the well written review YA...  and if you have any more caps I'll create a gallery for the movie.
« Last Edit: 29. Jun 2008 at 15:09 by Zabladowski »  
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Re: Presence of Mind (1999) Spain
Reply #6 - 14. Mar 2004 at 15:56
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Can I take a different approach to reviewing this movie?  Okay, thanks.   Grin

I watched the movie last night, and again this morning, because I was wanting to make sure that I had my allegorical radar working right.   Wink

I do think this movie is allegorical to a lot that goes on in today's society, apart from the "ghost story" aspect.  We have a young lady who suffered an abusive childhood (evidenced by her scars), who sees men (well, some men, at least) as abusers and demons, and who is determined to purge children of the bad experiences they've suffered at the hands of their abusers (whether she knows that to be the case for certain, or not).  It doesn't matter to her if the boy looked up to the man and refuses to discuss him.  The ghost of that man is constantly present in *her* mind, and she's going to badger that boy and try to make him say that the man was a demon who did bad things to him, until she kills the child inside of the boy.  (She did the same thing to the little girl, and the former governess who was complicit in the relationship with the man and the boy, along with the girl, was the "ghost" in that case.)

Miles said it best, when he scremed to her, "You're just afraid of touch!"

Anyway, I could say a lot more, but it would take a dissertation to discuss it properly.  I just wanted to throw out the alternative idea, that maybe this isn't really a "ghost story" at all.  Roll Eyes

Nilo Mur is all that I thought he would be. I am smitten, as usual.   Grin

Love,
Sir J
  
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Re: Presence of Mind (1999) Spain
Reply #7 - 15. Mar 2004 at 01:22
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Wow Sir J,
I think this summary could be the start of your dissertation to get into Mensa!  Wink

You make some very good points and highlight why this movie may be better enjoyed by those who have never seen the Innocents. My initial reaction to the film was that I should send Deborah Kerr a thank you letter as I've underestimated how important she was to my enjoyment of the first film.
As YA mentioned, a lot of the subtlety and ambiguity which made the Innocents so interesting was eliminated in the first 5 minutes here to set up the conclusions which you drew in your review. With the suspense ruined, the only thing to look forward to was the performance of the children. While Ella Jones was a little uneven, Nilo Mur did shine throughout. His performance is well worth watching and brought my rating up to a 6.

One other thing... as YA brought up, this film was made in Spain, though with Brits and Americans in the speaking roles, so did anyone else notice that Agustin Villaronga played Fosc? He's the guy responsible for bringing us In A Glass Cage and Moon Child. He also directed Nilo's other childhood film The Sea, something which I believe has yet to see an American release of any kind. I wonder if he had any influence on the way the story was told?
  
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Re: Presence of Mind (1999) Spain
Reply #8 - 15. Mar 2004 at 12:30
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Hmmm. I don't know if it will get you into Mensa, but that kind of reasoning will earn you an English degree. It worked for me, anyway. Smiley

We studied James' Turn of the Screw in at least one or two courses I took at University, and your analysis, Sir Jacob, would have been right on the mark according to at least one of my professors. He did not at all present the novel as a ghost story, but rather a story told by a mentally unstable woman obsessed with sexuality. The novel makes it that much more interesting because of the "unreliable narrator" factor. In other words, you can't tell whether what the narrator tells you actually happened or if she just dreamed it up in her sick, twisted mind.

We also touched briefly on the nature of the relationship between Miles and Peter Quint (I think that's his name) and the possibility that Quint was a pedophile. Again, because of the unreliability of the narrator, it's impossible to determine, but that certainly seems to be what she is hinting at. Now as to whether it's just her own delusional repressed fantasy or if it really happened......?

By the way, the only adaptation I've seen of James' story was The Innocents. I was totally unfamiliar with this version, but it looks like one that is worth checking out.
  
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Re: Presence of Mind (1999) Spain
Reply #9 - 15. Mar 2004 at 22:47
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Well, Zab and josephk, thank you both very much for not slamming my interpretation, and for even taking to it kindly and responding with even more insight into what's been said before about this movie.  Smiley

I'm not that smart, though. hehe  It was YoungArthur's mention of <i>the ambiguity of James’ story - are the ghosts real or only a product of the governess’ inflamed psyche?</i>, that made me look for what he was talking about.  I know of Martin Stephens and his presence in 'The Innocents', but I don't actually remember too much about it, having only seen it in my childhood.  I certainly didn't understand it on any level other than as a horror story, at that time.  So, I really had no idea what the <i>ambiguity</i> might have been that he mentioned.  I think maybe he's the one who deserves the accolades for being smart enough for Mensa.  Or not!   Grin

Oh, guess what?  I have another version of this story in my dvd collection here that I've never watched!  'The Turn of the Screw' (1974), starring Lynn Redgrave as Jane Cubberly, and a boy named Jasper Jacob as Miles (said to be played by an "older boy" in this one). This version didn't get too good of a review at IMDb (because the governess was portrayed as a heroine of sorts, and Miles was supposedly "bad"  Angry ), but I think I'll have to watch it now, anyway. Smiley

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Love,
Sir J
  
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Re: Presence of Mind (1999) Spain
Reply #10 - 16. Mar 2004 at 07:30
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One could start a sizeable collection of the different versions of  "Turn of the Screw"...

Henry James' profile on IMBd lists between a dozen and 20...

I'd like to compare all the various Miles.


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Re: Presence of Mind (1999) Spain
Reply #11 - 16. Mar 2004 at 17:10
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Sir Jacob, I know you mean well and are being playful, but this is getting embarassing. If I had to measure my IQ by the amount of information I have I would be a real dummy.  Tongue

For the record, I was a kid of average intelligence who entered college under parental pressure, endured most of it and, like many students, found  many bits of information that interested me. One of these was James' 'Turn of The Screw' and an article I found by Edmund Wilson, 'The Ambiguity of Henry James.'  I have a packrat memory containing shiny items that are lodged there regardless of any value or importance.

Now I'm embarassing myself with this off-topic ramble in my own thread.  Excuse me, please.
  
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