Monday, August 31, 2009

EYES WIDE SHUT (2000)

It was the last film that Kubrick had made and he died as it hit the cinema halls. The movie got lots of mixed reviews initially for the explicit use of sex in the film. Besides that the movie garnered lot of publicity for the steamy scenes between Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Its not film for teenager or fresh collegian who like to see film for some erotic titillation but for the sound and mature audience who likes to explore the deep impregnable dark side of human nature.

‘Don’t you think one of the charms of marriage is that it makes deception a necessity for both the parties?’ said a stranger to Nicole Kidman in the initial party scene. What we call it ‘seven years itch’ or ‘excitement outside what is available’ but it happens with most of the married couples living Metro life. Wives like the slightest feeling of a stranger’s gaping just for charm and Husbands seek the pursuit of pleasure where the chance is available. Kubrick in his last film portrays the darker side of Human Narcissism by telling a story of happily married and economically well settled American couple. How their pursuit of desire outside their marriage either in dream or reality made their lives disillusioned is the central theme of the film.

The film is too long (two hour thirty minutes duration), too slow (stretching scenes) and missing the satirical vein of earlier Kubrick classics. On the contrary it becomes too serious and baffling one for the general audience to take the moral stand. But at the same time its film no one could treat and deal better than the genius Stanley Kubrick and it pays once you cross all the above mentioned so called flaws of film criticism and conveys the message with entirely trademark Kubrick subtlety.
Don’t watch it seeking easy pleasure for your evening.

Ratings- 8/10

Sunday, August 30, 2009

FULL METAL JACKET (1987)

It’s only Kubrick film which I watched earlier and repeated three times till day and the reason is as under.
There are very few War movies which portrays the feeling of disillusionment of soldiers and futility of War as Kubrick’s this film. Where other war films glorifies the saga of Patriotism entertaining the audience with blazing guns and tanks action sequences, this one highlighting the ‘Dark side of the Military War’. Creation of killing machines may seem necessary for modern imperialism of US but in its aftermath what is left is ‘Loss of Humanity and its Conscience.’

The basic theme of the film is divided in two parts. The whole first half of more than 45 minutes portrays the routine Marine training of the corps where we see that how the innocence of youth was transformed at general with verbal, oral, physical, mental assault by hard core trainer Sergeant Hartman (a character to watch without fail). The story focuses on the three US Marine Corps named as Joker, Cowboy and Pyle. During the last day of their military training Pyle shoots Sergeant shockingly with his rifle and than shoots himself.
The second half leads us to Vietnam War where Joker was assigned the task of military journalism and Cowboy was assigned to lead the platoon. Cowboy got killed during patrolling a sniper attack and the only man left is disillusioned conscience seeking Joker.

There are many memorable satirical scenes of the film. i.e. - a soldier told Joker to publish his brave story of killing many Vietnamese civilian women and children including buffaloes (since he can’t find the enemy soldiers). There are many ironies like this one. The juxtaposition of contrast is always there in Kubrick film and he used it quite subtly. Watch the scene where Joker was asked why he’s having a peace emblem button on his body armour when ‘Born to kill’ was the motto written on his military helmet and Joker replied that he believes in Jungian philosophy about duality of men.

The Director’s idea of this Kubrick film lies in the last scene of the film where the aggression of rest of the infantry contrast with Joker’s conflicted feeling of killing the suffering wounded female sniper. Kubrick slowed down the scene unlike others focusing Joker’s dilemma of ‘To be or not to be’. He’s asking himself that ‘If my enemy is human can he remain enemy?’ But finally he shoots her showing his human response unlike hate for the enemy who’s suffering and begging an easy death with one shot.

One more Essential Kubrick Watch.
Ratings- 9/10

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971)

“I don’t want to live in anyway. Not in a stinking world like this. It’s stinking world because there is no law and order anymore! It stinks because it lets the young get onto the old like you done. It’s no world for an old man any longer. What kind of world is it at all! Man on the moon. Men spinning around the earth. And there’s no attention paid to earthly law and order no more.” This is pleading of an old man severely beaten up by Alex and gang on the road in the initial scene.

‘A Clockwork Orange’ is Stanley Kubrick’s symbolic cautionary tale of a shocking and unidentified future chaos with completely new kind of viewing experience. Armed with the razor-sharp edge of Kubrick’s social satire and his obsessive attention to detail. Its completely overwhelming experience to your senses with its flawless design, master cinematography of Kubrick loyal John Alcott and the depiction of brutal violence and sex set to upbeat music of Beethoven. Sex and violence is striking and in abundance and that’s why many people and critics reacted to it as ‘Vulgar piece of Art’ made my Kubrick. When Kubrick heard the comment he laughed and said, “Yes, they’re right, I achieved my goal.” This may not be the easy film to digest, but it is surely a genuine classic. The use of three base colors- red, blue and yellow was quite symbolic, seeking your detail attention if interested. Visual metaphors he used are dripped with irony. For example in Beethoven’s soul soothing 9th symphony and title track of musical ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ (highlighting the emotion of ‘love) used as contrast to the diabolic violence and crude sexual aggression (instigating ‘hate’).

The casting decisions of Kubrick remained finest bet. Kubrick once said, ‘If Malcolm hadn’t been available I probably wouldn’t have made the film.’ The fresh aggressive energy of the youth nicely enacted by McDowell. If Nicholson was horror macabre in ‘The Shining’, Malcolm McDowell is greatest young maniac you ever seen on screen.

Exploring the darkness of modern age, Kubrick deconstructed the very notion of Human Civilization and Scientific progress and their proclamation to transform criminals into a responsible peace keeping social citizen. One can correct the individual but not the whole society. He raised a very pertinent question about the inherent and natural basic animal instinct of human. From Homosapiens to Homoerectus, humanity has made a wide and mammoth progress establishing and institutionalizing a better civilized world but still he’s million galaxy years away removing his ‘deep rooted animal instinct’. Viddy well Kubrick… Viddy well… You just encapsulated the Monster of all animals- “The Human’. To understand more, I would like to suggest you reading the most delightful and brilliant book written by popular zoologist Desmond Morris named ‘The Naked Ape’.

It was the first film to use the Dolby Digital Noise Reduction System and the one of the only two X-rated films (the other one being ‘Midnight Cowboy’) to be nominated for Best Picture Award at Oscars. It’s also nominated for Best Direction, Best Editing and Best Screenplay, but was defeated in each category quite surprisingly by William Friedkin’s ‘The French Connection.’

Absolutely Indelible Masterpiece of Kubrick.

Ratings- 10/10

Friday, August 28, 2009

THE SHINING (1980)

‘Horror’ is the genre where more often we witness those lower budget senseless zombie films with stereotyped formulae and typecast characters to befool the poor mass audience with special effects of gory visuals and sound. But then there are certain films which uplifts the ‘Genre’ with their nerve wrenching treatment. For me Director William Friedkin’s ‘The Exorcist’ is such a classic example. Watching Stanley Kubrick’s this masterpiece also gave me the same feel.

From a script he adapted from the novel written by Stephen King, Kubrick meld finest performance of Jack Nicholson, menacing setting, nightmarish tracking shots and shocking twists. Carrying forward the tradition of Kubrick’s aggressive lead character as antagonist, Jack Nicholson here plays Jack Torrance, who comes to elegant, isolated hotel as off-season caretaker with his wife and a son. Has he ever been here or not? The answer lies in the time wrap of madness and murder.
Watching those various macabre facial expressions of Jack Nicholson (especially those slow changes that started happening to his character transforming his behavior) makes anybody agree with the view that one don’t require zombie make up or gory special effects to stage horror; the natural facial expressions are scarier than any special effects when one has Jack Nicholson kind of actor on sleeve. Late Heath Ledger who had done his immortal ‘Joker act’ may be learned thing or two from Nicholson’s brilliant idiosyncratic gestures and dialogue delivery in this film. Watch Jack Nicholson in a scene where he talks with the bartender first time in the forbidden room of the hotel or a scene where his wife read his typewritten pages and then he enters suddenly into the room and many of you will agree with me. Kudos to Nicholson as always. He delivered a performance which I would like to add in my all-time greatest villain acts.

Cinematography plays pivotal role in thriller and horror films and John Alcott has captured all the frames with his mastery. There are also fine aerial landscape shots in the beginning too. The combination of chilling background sound and haunting visuals add more horror in the screenplay. Horror creates intense mood when the characters are in isolation and that’s what Kubrick had captured in almost all scenes.

A Brilliant Horror Masterpiece.

Ratings- 8.5/10

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

FIVE MINUTES OF HEAVEN (2009)

Twenty five years ago driven by the rebellion gang a young man killed the catholic brother of a small boy. The boy witnessed the face of him even though it was covered with mask. In today’s age of reality television, the media is fixing their meeting. Yes, we all expect some great conflict in the moment when they meet but hey wait…that just happens in the climax.

It’s more drama and less thrills; so don’t watch it if you don’t have patience of watching slow narration or drama sponsoring films. Self interrogation was the theme of the film and that’s the reason why dialogues are more like internal monologues or interplay of emotions between these two characters. The movie is too lagging, out and out dialogue driven with minimal moving action and still it breathes thrill and tension in some of the compelling psychological scenes. Even though there are so many flaws, there are two reasons why you watch this film- it’s directed by German filmmaker Oliver Hirschbiegal who gave Oscar nominated ‘Downfall’. (Probably the best film ever made on the last days of Hitler) Second, there are two fine actors who gave finest topnotch performances showing their guilt and shame- Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt.
The film won two awards in ‘World Cinema’ category for Best Dramatic Direction and Screenplay writing in Sundance Film Festival this year.

Ratings- 7/10

Monday, August 24, 2009

WORLD’S GREATEST DAD (2009)

The biggest fear of Lance Clayton’s life is that he’s going to end up all alone. He’s mid age poetry teacher cum writer but so far nothing he has written till day see a publishing and still he has a dream to become a famous author resulting him to gain lots of pretty chicks and million bucks. He is writing his fifth novel and decided that if this will be rejected, he will stop writing. Besides this far fetched ambition, he’s a struggling teacher and a father of pervert jerk teenager boy who’s giving him real pain in the ass. Well it’s just the beginning of the film.

The film which started with outrageous black comedy suddenly surprises you with its tragic sentimental twist in the middle and feel good cinema as it reaches towards the end. There‘s so much in the plot/screenplay which is unbelievable or improbable but America is a crazy country full of weird people who knows how to immortalize anything or anybody.
It is quite dull experience watching this sort of cinema without fine actor like Robin Williams and he’s the sole reason why one should watch it. After a long time he is again in a role tailor-made for him.
Recommended watch of the year.

Ratings- 7/10

Sunday, August 23, 2009

KHAMOSH (1985)

It’s a quite unknown and debut full length film of Producer, Director Vidhu Vinod Chopra who gave us some of the most technically sound Hindi films like ‘Parinda’, 1942- a love story’, ‘Kareeb’, ‘Mission Kashmir’ etc. The film was made with financial help of NFDC with the limited budget and roping some of the brilliant actors of parallel cinema of 80s- Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Aazmi, Amol Palekar, Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Pankaj Kapoor, Pawan Malhotra, Avtar Gill, Ajit Vachchani and Soni Razdan to name a few. But among all these fine ensemble cast its Pankaj Kapoor who outshone all others in almost all the short scenes given to him.

Crime is the most recurring theme of most of the Vidhu Vinod Chopra films and this one is a well made murder mystery where a film unit goes to Pahalgam for shooting where a murder of rising young actress took place. The first fifteen minutes of the screenplay is very crucial for every well made film. Vidhu introduced almost all characters of the film in the beginning with keeping certain amount of ambiguity around them showing intrigues in the world of glamour, rivalries pressure, exploitation of new artist etc. which fixed all of them into suspension of doubt when murder/suicide took place. Naseer’s entry as C.I.D Inspector gives interesting twists throughout the film where you keep your heads busy pointing your doubts towards suspicious one. Cut and the next you witnessed the murder of that suspicious fellow in same dressing room with same modus operandi. Vidhu has maintained the level of exciting mystery thrills along with technically perfect and almost faultless crime thriller even in this first low budget production of his career.
There isn’t a single song in the film and its one more proof of Vidhu’s unconventional directorial decision to make a crisp and no nonsense suspense thriller.

We can clearly see the influence of Coppola and Hitchcock in Vidhu’s direction as in one of the scene Shabana’s watching those classic bathroom murder scene of ‘Psycho’ and in another she’s found reading Puzzo’s ‘The Godfather’. One more scene resembles where a blood soaked butchered hen was found when Shabana was resting on her bed just like that head of the horse was found on the bed in ‘The Godfather’.

Cinematographer Binod Pradhan has worked in almost all Vidhu Vinod Chopra directed films and personally I regard him as one of the Best cinematographer of India. He is master craft man behind all those wonderful shots of Vidhu’s films. In mystery the role of camera is very vital and there are many scenes which gives us clue about Pradhan’s mastery of his medium.
Remember the framing of almost all scenes in ‘Parinda’. Jackie’s entry, Anupam Kher’s slow motion murder scene on the road where pigeons started flying disturbed by the noise of gun, the cold blooded murder scene of newly wed Anil-Madhuri done by Nana Patekar or brilliant climax. Its my favorite Vidhu Vinod Chopra film till day and equally the credit goes to his alter ego of visuals Binod Pradhan. In which other film you find such a class and nostalgic cinematography of each and every song as in ‘1942 –A Love Story’. Even in the last Directorial film of Vidhu- ‘Eklavya’ the train sequence was shot so brilliantly. That’s the reason why Binod is the first choice of every technically perfect director like Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra who repeated him in ‘Delhi-6’ after his brilliant work in ‘Rang De Basanti.’ Sorry for dragging too much on Mr.Pradhan but I think these are the technicians who remain unknown to public attention where all the credit of well made film goes either to Director or Actors. Can ‘Parinda’, ‘Rang De Basanti’ would have been made so better without Binod Pradhan that’s the question.
The film is available on Eros VCD/DVD, even in case if you don’t get the torrent on any site.

Ratings- 7.5/10

Friday, August 21, 2009

THE CROSSING GUARD (1995)

There were two reasons why I watched this quite unknown film- It has Jack Nicholson in the lead role and it was directed by Sean Penn, who gave us modern classic ‘Into the Wild.’ After wasting 140 minutes of watching this film I do realize that that the film was destined to doom. Otherwise how can a fine actor like Nicholson play such a mediocre role!! It required hell lot of passion to watch this dragging drama where nothing is happening.
For six years a guy has waited for the man who killed his daughter accidentally. He’s out of the prison and the man wanted to even the score. I expected a thrilling film here but end up with just another emotional charged trash movie where even the redemptive ending didn’t materialize the principle of probability.
Simply a trash material. Avoid.

Ratings-4/10

PITHAMAGAN (Tamil) (2003)

Few days ago I talked with one of my close friend and he informed that he has heard lot of praise of these new breed of Tamil actors who’re replacing unchallenged territory of the Masters- Kamal and Rajni. He mentioned the special mention of Vikram and here I witnessed his one of the brilliant act which made him won National Award for Best Actor in 2004 for this film and he truly deserve it. It’s a kind of role where any other young actor looks more like a caricature than character; Vikram has acted it with all flesh and blood to portray a man named Chitthan who is more like a wild beast. Born and brought up in Hindu cemetery, he followed the little nuances of his character in look, expressions, body language. In most of the film he remains silent except those grinning and growling sounds under raw anger. The character of Suriya is equally important and supportive one and he has all the charm required to rule the South Indian cinema; infect it’s his role which gives the film light moments but in some of the scenes I felt his overact more.

Pithamagan is a film which has all the ingredients of Masala entertainment and it was the blockbuster hit of that year. But it’s not a typical Tamil film; infect its kind of film which raise the bar of regional cinema. It projects the orphan Chiththan, a man born and brought up in cemetery, unaware about civil sense or behavior. He is only guided by the senses and possesses a wild animal kind of instinct. A local Mafia hired his loyalty and soon unknown by the intensity of crime he was caught by the police for drug trafficking. In prison he encountered a street cheat, who becomes his close companion. The companionship helped him to understand the world around and made him the civilized in certain way but fate is something which plays spoilsport every time, when man is making some other plans.

The film has some flaws too and lacks full proof editing. Especially- the dragging romantic scenes between Suriya and Laila, the unnecessary long parody dance sequence by Simran etc. But at the same time it also has some quality things in it. Apart of Vikram’s brilliant act there is soothing melody of none other than maestro Illaiya Raja. I like ‘Piraye…piraye” so much, even though I don’t get the words of Tamil lyrics but I would love to hear it again and again.
The cinematography is just classic and technically sound. Haven’t seen any other films of Director Bala but I think he must have some good films on his sleeve.

Watch it for the most happening Tamil actor - Vikram.
Ratings- 8/10

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

LA SCONOSCIUTA (Italian) (2006)

‘La Sconosciuta’ in Italian means- ‘The Unknown Women’.
There are not one but so many things you can love and admire from Giuseppe Tornatore Film. The film quite resembles with his earlier ‘Malena’, telling the heartbreaking, struggling story of a Ukrainian woman named Irena. Life is hell for her and she tries to find some hope working as a maid in the house of jeweler family. But soon her past started haunting her and it’s not easy to escape. Can a real dream exist between so many nightmares?
It’s hard to guess the character of her till the movie completes the first half and the tangled jigsaw puzzle kind of screenplay makes us ambivalent too.

The technique of narrating the flashback of Irena’s past life was handled quite uniquely with tangled screenplay. The whole past of her was revealed in nonlinear way showing just momentary footage, keeping us tense to know the further undercurrent. It was handled so carefully that it gives the space for the audience to connect psychologically with her character full of climactic physical and mental torture prevailing from past to present.
If you have read ‘stream of consciousness’ novels of Virginia Woolf or James Joyce with all your heart you will enjoy this narration technique much more than common audience.

Apart of other popular films of Tornatore, here you’ll find a nerve wrenching diabolique villain named ‘Mold’ using women for physical torture and abuse to earn money. The film has some fully frontal nudity and violent/torture sex scenes but it’s certainly part of the script. Xenia Rappoport is truly a revealing actress with all her underplay act. It’s too hard to live such a complex character on screen and gain audience empathy but she made it that possible so gracefully. The haunting background score of Ennio Morricone is quite inseperable part of Tornatore film. How can we forget this genius Italian composer who scored the greatest soundtracks of Sergio Leone’s all westerns.

I love one thing about almost every Tornatore film that after telling a deep heartbreaking tale, he signifies the end of the film positively showing the fine admirable and graceful shade of lead character. We have visualized that in ‘Cinema Paradiso’ and ‘Malena’. Remember the last scenes of both these films and same you can expect here.

Essential for all Tornatore fans.

Ratings- 8/10

Sunday, August 16, 2009

ANBE SIVAM (Tamil) (2003)


At Bhubaneshwar Airport two strangers due to flight delay encountered each other. Well these both fellows totally paradoxical in nature are destined to stay with each other in all situational fix. While watching the first half and hour of the film I was convinced that it would be a light comedy but as film progressed further reaching its culmination point of the journey I come to realize its one of the finest humanitarian Indian film that I’ve seen in a long run. It literally touched me. Especially in the scene where Madhavan comes to Kamal’s Union office and knows about him and than meets Kamal with his transformed perspective. My God what an expression on Kamal’s face!!! He possess the power of act that can break even strongest heart. How can I resist my tears!!!

This is ultimate Kamal Hasan Film. Whether it’s his nuanced mid age act or romantic moments of young age or umbrella fight or Marxist street play he is just extraordinary. Its character I would love to add in my favorite list. Along with Madhavan I also keep in mind those golden words uttered by Mr.Shivam-
“Appearances are deceptive. There is no need for a good man to look handsome.”
“The heart that shed tears for the stranger is the God.”
It’s the film having everything on platter- comedy, romance, action, drama, emotions and fine music and a fine journey that we all called ‘Life’.
Sub titles are indispensable when you don’t know Tamil but it’s really painful to carry them while watching those million dollar expressions of Sir Kamal Hasan.
The best Tamil film ever seen by me.

Ratings-9/10

THE FINAL CUT (2004)

What happens to a person when he knows that his life is recorded with implanted microchip from birth which records his every good-bad moments of life? What if the person is having a conscious guilt accidentally occurred during his childhood?

Written and Directed by Omar Naim ‘The Final Cut’ is outstandingly different than other conventional science fiction films. Its world where an implanted microchip records all the moments of an individual’s life from birth to death. After the death of the person memories are removed and edited by ‘Professional Cutter’ highlighting significant moments of the departed, known as ‘Rememory’. There’s also other organization opposing this technological development and removes the implant memory recorded data in case anybody need.

The film is intriguing one from the very beginning. The whole premise of the plot is interesting one and it is strongly supported by the finest actor Robin Williams who once again in his well nuanced performance acted brilliantly as ‘Cutter’, Alan Hackman who accidentally fell into a personal trap while dealing with his one of the client file footage. Jim Caviezel also supported strongly in opposite role. Its one of the fine and intelligent sci-fi script nicely handled with equally intelligent and well constructed direction.

Highly Recommended.

Ratings-8/10

DONNIE DARKO (2001)

It is not possible to fathom the human brain in all its totality. It is more shocking than surprising. Well there are very limited psychological thrillers made with such a fine projection of intriguing and involving the audience to participate and ‘Donnie Darko’ definitely rests in that category.

‘Donnie Darko’ is a cult psychological thriller which didn’t get much box office success but gets a strong fan following after the release of its DVD in Director’s Cut version.
Though I haven’t seen Director’s cut consists of 133 minutes (20 minutes more than the original cut). It’s too complex film to understand Director Richard Kelly’s interpretation of the film where Darko’s world fixed between hallucination and reality.

Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead role is full of weird, moody and idiosyncratic expressions scored one of the finest acts of his career. More than anything its screenplay, direction and involving atmosphere of Donnie’s dark world which makes you stick to your seats while watching it. It would be spoiler if I write any single line about the story or plot because this is the film which demands your active participation.
Highly recommended if you love weird, complex and engaging thrillers.

Ratings-8/10

Saturday, August 15, 2009

KAMINEY (2009)

Often it happens that when a movie belongs to some cult filmmaker gathers a lot of hype doesn’t stand up to higher expectations. For me, it happened this year with ‘Delhi 6’ and ‘Dev D’. The aestheticism of every good film is divided between form and content. Both of the above mentioned films were classic in their style and presentation (form) but not in substance (content). ‘Kaminey’ is not exceptional in this. Let me tell you very frankly that after reading all the praise for the film from so called film critics and after watching the whole film today, I would like to conclude my mixed feelings for it.

If we look at the CV of Director Vishal Bhardwaj quite closely, we notice that his almost all films till day are exceptional, whether its Indian version of dark Shakespearean tragedies (Maqbool, Omkaara) or innocent and touching children films (Makdee, The Blue Umbrella) he always brings his signature style and substance. It does reflect here too- dark characters, seedy and realistic(deglamorised) look, raw emotions etc. In his earlier films his presentation never overlaps the plot/script and theme and that’s what lacking quite terribly in ‘Kaminey’. The balance is missing somewhere.

There are many praiseworthy things about the film too. The plot is quite tangled and has lot of unpredictable situations so I don’t want to ruin it because I am damn sure all of you will surely gonna watch it. Along with Shahid in his double roles and Priyanka in deglamorised role, he explores so many new actors and almost all of these characters are really worth noticeable. The most striking thing of the film is its situational dark humor and colloquial mixture of Bengali- Marathi speaking characters. Shahid has performed far better than my expectations- especially in his ‘Charlie’ avatar. He will surely get some good offers from industry after this. Priyanka is just average. Amol Gupte as Bhope Bhau and Chandan Roy Sanyal as Mikhail are really noticeable. The cinematography is innovative especially the climax shootout scenes shot so creatively.

‘Dhan Ten Nan’ rocks but not as I expected.

Ratings- 6.5/10

Friday, August 14, 2009

KANDAHAR (Iranian) (2001)

This is my first Mohsin Makhmalbaf film. He is the Iranian Director whose most of the films won international recognition all around the world. He is the classic case proving that “Art can transform anyone.” He got imprisoned for his underground Islamic militia activities when he was 17. After the release, he stayed away from politics and took great interest in cultural field. He has written books, directed films and wrote screenplay for others too.

Shot and narrated almost in a minimalist documentary style, Kandahar is a journey of an Afghani Journalist lady residing in Canada. She is going to Kandahar to save her oppressed sister who has lost both her legs in a land mine explosion and wants to commit suicide after the eclipse. She doesn’t get Visa, so she makes her way by crossing Iranian border. She witnesses harsher lives of Afghanis under Taliban regime during her journey full of every danger. A boy and a Doctor help her in her to accomplish her mission.

The film has so many moments which upset you to know about inhuman and rigid fundamentalist practices prevailing in Taliban ruled Afghanistan. In one of the scene a black American Doctor who is examining the lady behind the curtain through a small hole keeps a gun for self protection said, “Weapon is the only modern thing in Afghanistan.” In one more touching and disturbing scene one legged Afghanis are running in the direction of a Red Cross helicopter dropping artificial legs by parachutes.
In one of the most disturbing scene amid all poverty, hunger and severe health crisis, the kids were being taught only two things in a fanatic school- recite the Koran and shoot the gun. Poor boys resemble more like scapegoats.

After watching most of Majid Majidi films, I think I have to start searching other Makhmalbaf films. If anybody has watched other significant film of this Director please let me know. I have also heard a lot of praise of another Iranian Director Abbas Kiarostami from one of my close friend. Enlighten me if anybody has seen any of his films.

Iranian Cinema Rocks for their simple and yet brilliant humanitarian films.

Ratings- 8.5/10

WALL STREET (1987)

“Greed is good.”
“Every battle is won before it’s ever fought.”
“Public throws darts at a board, I bet on sure things.”
“Smart earned money is better than sex.”
“Don’t get emotional about stock. It clouds the judgment.”
“Money itself isn’t lost or made; it’s simply transferred from one perception to another, like magic.”
“All warfare is based on deception. If your enemy is superior, evade him. If angry, irritate him. If equally matched, fight. And if not, split, Reevaluate.”

I simply can’t resist quoting some wonderful lines uttered by Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas) the elephant broker of Wall Street who loves quoting lines of Sun Tzu, the writer of ‘The Art of War’. My two thumbs up for Michael Douglas who gave completely mind blowing performance as Gekko for which he won Best Actor Oscar Award. Watch his ‘Greed is Good’ speech from You Tube and you know he truly deserved the Academy honour. Charlie Sheen more looks like a young Tom Cruise. He also shared screen with his real and reel life father Martin Sheen in this film and the natural chemistry strikes the chord perfectly.

Writer, Director Oliver Stone’s comes with the insider story of stock market. This morality tale set on Wall Street targets the value system that places profit above any other things. How an ambitious young man, Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) learns hard truths about life in his zest to earn quick money. He’s conflicted figure dangling between two extremes- his airline working class father who believes in hard earned money and a millionaire broker with no limits to his greed or willingness to bend principles to earn money. Ultimately he realizes that the price of success is harder than he expects. Money is the biggest illusion that mankind has ever created.

So ultimately the bottom-line of the film is the piece of advice comes from the boss of Bud Fox played by Hal Holbrook- “Remember there are no shortcuts, son. Quick bucks artists come and go with every bull market. The steady players make it through the bear market….The main thing about the money, Bud…It makes you do things you don’t wanna do.”

Must watch for everyone who’s heading in investment their hard earned money to get quick returns from free market.

Ratings- 9/10

THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS (1996)

After a long time I watched an exciting adventure thriller set in Africa with the backdrop of what Africa is famous for- ‘the wild lions’. Many years ago I watched a wild lion film named ‘Savage Harvest’ when I was a kid and terrified by it; I must say this one is way better than it and more exciting and particular one in setting the tone of haunting myth/reality about African lions.

In 19th century a courageous English Engineer John Patterson (Val Kilmer) was sent to East Africa to build a railway bridge. He has a deadline looming over his head with large workforce of Africans and Indians to get job done in time. On his first day to duty he won the hearts of slave workers by killing a lion with first shot but it didn’t last very long. Soon two new lions started their men eating mission. The film is based on true event and locals named these lions as ‘the ghost’ and ‘the darkness’. After losing so many innocent victims, a hunter best for his duty named Remington (Michael Douglas) was hired but even his reputation remained at stake while unable to prevent the dead toll.

Both leading men- Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas acted what’s expected from them and their chemistry works. African actor John Kani as Samuel, the helping guide of Kilmer also shared noticeable presence in his supporting role. Surprisingly India’s one of the finest actor Om Puri also had a small role here too but the character he played is so ridiculous, irritating and quite insignificant. I wonder why he had done this role!!!
Director Stephen Hopkins has successfully maintained the fear factor with many thrilling moments of hunting scenes. If you interpret film from the laws of nature, the lions seem to be symbols of wild and indifferent nature and the engineer who’s building the bridge in the African jungle as human race blinded by progressive exploration constantly trying to defy natural setting of forest by building railroad. One more reason why I like the film is that it didn’t glorified the adventure against natural law like common Hollywood entertainers.
The film won single Oscar for its sound effects.

Ratings- 7.5/10

A big thanks to buddy Vikram aka Athiradee for the recommendation.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

SORRY BHAI ! (2008)

It is possible that one can fall in love with his brother’s fiancĂ©e but it is highly improbable that it happens in just four days before the decided wedding or the way Director Onir showed in this film. Even though I heard some mixed reviews about the film at the time of its release, I dared to watch this film since it has talented actress Chitrangada Singh who showed her brilliant act in her debut ‘Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi’ and the Director Onir who made a fine sentimental film ‘My Brother Nikhil’. I like the way Onir portrays natural uncontrolled human emotions and bonding of love/hate relationship with fine sensitive touch in his films but somehow this film doesn’t click me even though all actors performed quite naturally.

Most of the film was focused on capturing Mauritius locales with stretching the story in light and serious moments between the characters. Even characters are more one dimensional and inconsistent and there’s lot of flaw in the story too. To give more room to Chitrangada- Sharman romance, he exclusively sidelined the character of Sanjay Suri. I simply can’t digest Sharman’s nonsense ‘Maa kasam’ obsession. The thing I like about the film is that it doesn’t become too serious, instead it has few light moments but just few good passages can’t make the whole novel interesting. Among all cast I like only Boman Irani’s natural act as modern papa.

Ratings-5.5/10

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

SWAPNER DIN (Bengali) (2004)

Multiple Awards winning Bengali Director Buddhadeb Dasgupta won National Award as Best Director in 2004 for this dark human drama of three human beings chasing their dreams in eternal flux of life. The film is screened in various Film Festivals around the globe and won critical appraisal everywhere.

The film is woven round the dreams of three different persons and their journeys in search of their dreams.
Paresh (Prosenjit Chatterjee), the central character, travels by a government jeep with a 16mm film projector. As he goes from one place to another screening government education films he falls in love with the image of girl in one of the films he captured and dreams of finding her one day.
Chapal (Rajesh Sharma), the substitute driver of the jeep, dreams of making it rich in Dubai by sneaking in a forged passport.
Amina (Rimi Sen), a pregnant Bangladeshi Muslim woman whose husband was killed in riot after they migrated to India dreams of returning to her own land to give her unborn child a definite, unquestionable identity.
The magical mosaic of their dreams constantly has to face the realistic conflicts of situational shocks like murder, the theft of the projector and ultimately the theft of jeep.

To watch this film you required hell lot of patience. I’ve seen ‘Kaalpurush’ and expecting some depth from this film but highly disappointed from the film. Even though its an honest attempt of Director, the whole film seems too pretentious and deliberate attempt to tell the sentimental story without much internalization. It fails to sympathize with any of three characters and that’s the biggest flaw of the film. It’s nice to see Rimi Sen in a completely deglamorized role but neither she nor the other two actors leave the memorable impression once the film is over.

I still remember that many years ago I watched a moving film on Doordarshan named ‘BaghBahadur’ where the hero entertains the village audience painting himself in tiger attire and with the coming of circus in the village people flocked to watch the real tiger leaving his disguised street show. To claim his audience back, he challenged to fight real tiger. It was much later I came to know that it is film Written and Directed by Budhdhadeb Dasgupta. I searched that Budhdhadeb Dasgupta in this film but disappointed.

Ratings- 6/10

Monday, August 10, 2009

HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER (1973)

“It’s what people know about themselves inside that make them afraid of any fear.”

Is there any better entertainment than watching Clint Eastwood Western on Sunday afternoon! You don’t have to muddle your head much into plot or narration and just witness the slow ongoing brooding action from the man who still carries his own persona in his eighties. He’s still respectfully regarded as ‘Style Icon’ of Westerns and the Director who still today marks his own impression on any films. If anyone feels exaggeration in whatever I say better watch his latest ‘Gran Torino’.
The plot is just simple- the town is looking for a hired gunfighter to protect their interests from villainous Carlin Boys who just released from prison and then comes a man with no name to rescue the town. In the past the same town witnessed whipping death of young Marshall Duncan by the same dangerous goons and failed to save Marshall’s life under their short supply of Guts. After lot of speculation he backed up the town, making them volunteers for themselves with his own fancy terms and conditions and the rest is what audience expects from well made Eastwood western. The last moment revelation is purely surprising element of the story for the audience.

We know very well that more than the plot it’s the atmosphere of pure stylistic western that matters in Clint Eastwood film. From the beginning slow motion walk scene to the climax Eastwood gave powerful, gritty performance for which he’s famous. The film is earlier directorial venture of Eastwood when he loved to furnish his cowboy image. Bruce Surtees’ cinematography remained inseparable part of Eastwood’s Malpaso Productions and he’s another reason to watch this film. He’s best known for his camera shots in natural darkness. Watch the whipping murder scene or almost all action sequences of the film including the climax shot marvelously in the stark darkness of night with some brilliant angles.

Recommended for all Clint Eastwood fans.

Ratings- 8/10

Sunday, August 9, 2009

EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990)

Tim Burton is the director who gave us some of the finest fable on screen. I don’t consider this film as his finest work but it’s too dear for me because I watched it first time when I was school kid and overwhelmed with Johnny Depp’s performance as Edward. Well I can say that compared to his most mature fable like ‘Big Fish’ the film is more children/teen centered movie.

Burton’s long time collaboration with Johnny Depp always brings fine imaginative characters to screen in films like- ‘Sleepy Hollow’, ‘Ed Wood’, ‘Sweeny Todd’ and even upcoming ‘Alice in Wonderland’ where Depp is going to play Mad Hatter. If I am not mistaking, this is the first film of their long lasting teamwork. It’s not only his sheer talent to play weirdo, imaginary and complex characters but also his chameleon face and charm of personality which works wonder for Depp. We all know that Depp is unique actor but this film does not portray the myriad expressions of his fine talents; in fact his character in this is sort of one dimensional sensitive outsider unknown by selfish world of humans.

Burton shows the contrast between the world of suburban town and Edward- gifted with scissor hands. His art of shaping trees into fantastic figures or bringing funky hairstyles shows his gifted skills which transformed the lives of small town neighborhood. On the contrary what he gets from human world is utter selfishness and misunderstanding. Only sweet teenager Kim understands him who becomes Edward’s love interest.
Recommended for Burton-Depp combo.

Ratings-7/10

MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001)

There are very few films which seek the minute audience attention and involvement in the plot to unlock the enigma and ‘Mulholland Drive’ is a classic modern example of intriguing plot/story nexus case studies like ‘Memento’, ‘Fight Club’ or ‘The Usual Suspects’. It’s one of the most puzzling and complicated film that I’ve ever seen after a long time. I must confess that as soon as I have completed the film, I’ve read the analysis of the plot from wikipedia to understand it properly and decided to repeat it as soon as possible. Many fans consider it as the best work of Director David Lynch.

After a brutal car accident in Los Angeles, a sole surviving woman named as Rita (Laura Elena Herring) lost her memory. She accidentally lands up in a stranger’s apartment where she meets Betty (Naomi Watts) a wannabe Hollywood star. Surprised and intrigued by the strange woman’s situation of identity crisis, Betty starts helping her to solve the mystery and soon both the women discovers that nothing is as it seems in the city of dreams. The plot takes a brilliant twist showing sudden non linear progression in the last thirty minutes and it teases your brain towards the surreal world.

Lynch finely tangled the perfect combination of drama, crime, mystery and thriller in his Bona fide masterpiece coiled with complex structure between the story and plot. He got nominated for Oscar for this flawless direction and won great critical appraisal which earned him Best Director Award at Cannes.

I can’t resist giving once again full marks for the brilliant creative execution of Master David Lynch.

Ratings-10/10

Saturday, August 8, 2009

THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980)

“I am not an animal! I am a human being. I…am…a man.”

He is known as greatest freak in the world. He’s another man’s profit at the cost of his own suffering and misery. Meet Joseph Merrick, a 19th century Englishman born with extremely deformed congenital disease and known as ‘The Elephant Man’ in the local sideshow Carnival opened for public entertainment.

The film is adapted version of true story that how a kind hearted surgeon Dr Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins) rescues Joseph Merrick, the local sideshow freak named as ‘Elephant Man’ (born with grotesque physical disfigurement) from his evil master and treats him at hospital with utmost humanity. Even though Dr Treves knows that he’s incurable, he kept the flame of humanity alive by his attempts to regain the lost dignity of acceptable human being in the society. Gradually he turns out as educated gentleman but still the ghost of his monstrous conception keeps haunting him in his nightmarish visions.

Director David Lynch has maintained the serious humanitarian viewpoint from the very beginning of the film to convey the message that it’s not only the film about the human miracle but on the contrary to it. i.e. - During the first encounter with an elephant man, the camera slowly zoomed the extreme close up of Dr. Treves and his sentimental expressions rather than showing what we are expecting. The scene where Joseph surprisingly tries to utter the psalms from of Book of common prayers on his own after the Dr left the room or the dining tea scene with Dr and his beautiful wife where Joseph felt the clear resemblance of Dr’s wife with his own mother are so sentimental ones that I felt goose bumps while watching them. Infect the most surprising aspect of this Lynch film is its undercurrent melodrama showing its penultimate heightened tone in climax scene.

The film maintains the grotesque suspense horror while running parallel humanitarian story between Doctor and patient. Lynch deliberately evaded showing the elephant man’s face and feature initially and that’s make the film more intriguing and involving one for viewers. John Hurt’s performance as Elephant Man is full of minute nuances- whether its showing complex expressions on his disfigured face or his struggle to utter sound under nervousness, it’s very complex character to carry. Hopkins rests in my all-time favorite actor list and he’s just brilliant here too as always. The film is shot in classic Black and White frames fully maintaining Directorial oeuvre and vision of David Lynch.

Truly a masterpiece of David Lynch.

Ratings- 10/10

Friday, August 7, 2009

BLUE VELVET (1986)

“Little known secret is dangerous…initially it pulls you to know the other half and slowly draws you and absorbs you more into the crime itself.”

The film is possibly the most influential erotic thriller American film of 1980’s. It’s Director David Lynch’s bizarre erotic mystery with portrayal of the dark criminal underside of small town life. Critics and audiences responded to Lynch’s original and startling images of sex and violence with its thrilling and involving current of protagonist and made the film a box-office smash hit.

The film begins with captivating opening with the finding of severely cut off ear found in the field. Jeffrey who came to pay visit to his sick father suddenly got involved while witnessing the chopped off ear and started investigating on his own with neighborhood Detective’s smart daughter which lead to a dangerous game and lethal liaisons with an erotic night club singer Dorothy and raving psychopath Frank who kidnapped Dorothy’s son to seek sadomasochist sexual pleasures from her. During his innocent attempt to help Dorothy, Jeffrey torn his own world with his own psychological involvement into the heart of crime.

Hate it or love it but Lynch has masterfully created a film signifying the darker side of crime and passionate love. Almost all the actors have performed their acts wonderfully whether its femme fatal Isabelle Rossellini as Dorothy or Kyle Mac Lachlan (resembles like young Aamir Khan) as Jeffrey or Laura Dern as Sandy. Dennis Hopper’s villain act as psychopath ‘Frank’ is surely one of the great villain character but his act is full of loud hysterics.

Background score composed by Angelo Badalamenti powerfully captured the mood of the film with title song and thrilling score running throughout the film. Same can be said about innovative cinematography. But above all its David Lynch’s electrifying screenplay and Direction which is the ace of this film.

Must Watch.

Ratings- 8.5/10

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

WATCHMEN (2009)

Watchmen isn’t just another superhero film; its more unconventional and complex like ‘The Dark Knight’ where even superheroes fall short in the world governed by chaos everywhere. If watchmen are watching the world as vigilantes; who’s watching the watchmen? Because above all the superheroes are human beings covered in the masks. Like us, superheroes are also contrived part of visceral world where instincts plays pivotal role in their making or breaking. The film isn’t as brilliant cinema as TDN but it’s an engaging entertainment with contrived plot and contradictory and difficult to construe characters.

Director Zack Snyder has surely given a better film than his earlier imagery epic ‘300’. He again came with the film where visual imagery, sound and characters gave you the feel of reading a fine graphic novel. Instead of usual single superhero films, here its fine blending of variety- Dr Manhattan, Ozymandis, Rorshach, Silk Spectre and Comedian. The film opens with the secret murder of Comedian which further led to reunion of all Watchmen to save the planet from annihilation.

After ‘TDN’ and ‘Watchmen’, it’s really refreshing to see the current trend of Hollywood experimenting and redefining the genre of superhero films. I’m looking forward for more of it…

Ratings-8/10

Sunday, August 2, 2009

TORA! TORA! TORA! (1970)

A definite film to witness the Japanese attack on US Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbour which led US to enter into World War II. There’s many films made on Pearl Harbor attack but this one stands out as the most authentic one portraying the real picture of the history. The presentation of the film remains neutral to the both sides of Japan and US and represents the story from both sides. Almost all the characters and events depicted in the film signify the authenticity of research done by the team of three directors and six screenwriters including legendary Akira Kurosawa.

It’s an epic war film and Two hour twenty minutes long in duration which required lot of patience. The first half of the film was focused on Wartime Diplomacy of both sides highlighting meticulous Japanese secret plan to attack Pearl Harbor. The second showed the Kamikazhi attack of Japanese air force on Pearl Harbor and how US army found sleeping and unprepared for the Japanese hostility. However Japanese Admiral Yamamoto knew after the attacks that they have awaken the sleeping giant in the world war and rest is still history for Japan and world.

Ratings- 7/10

LUCK (2009)

Does ‘Luck’ means playing blind betting on human lives all the time? What nonsense crap is this!!! When you have zero script and absolutely no brainer, absurd and illogical plot on platter, the whole decoration of strong assembled cast, thrilling sequences or even high production design can’t save the Luck of the film.

Director Soham Shah (Does anybody remember ‘Kaal’!!!) without applying his own creativity in the story or screenplay made a totally C grade film with some fine underdog actors like Danny, Mithunda and Sanju Baba and used their earlier clichĂ© typecast images to screen. After a long time a fine actor like Danny is back and I’m expecting fire on screen. But there’s nothing he can add in such an inferior product. Same can be said about repeat typecasting of Mithun and Sanjay Dutt. Is there any Director who can bring some topnotch charactrers for such aging fine actors??? Imran is promising in ‘JTYJN’ but he’s chocolate collegeboy image does not match with action/thrill cinema. Shruti hasan should first learn dialogue delivery and next the acting from her proud papa who’s the university of acting. Ravi Kishan should remain content with his Bhojpuri stardom. He acts less and irritate most here.
The dialogues sucks!!! All characters whenever utter anything the line starts or ends with ‘Luck’ word. How can Rensil De Silva (RDB fame) write such bakwaas lines!!!

Don’t gamble your two hours of entertainment.

Ratings- 3/10