Saturday, October 31, 2009

THE SOFT SKIN (French) (1964)

As a torchbearer of French New Wave Cinema, Francois Truffaut made so many fine films including his masterpiece ‘400 Blows’. According to scholar opinions, his films are divided in three main categories- The New Wave films (most of them are semi-autobiographical), Thrilling films (under shadow of his master Hitchcock) and Romantic films (telling tale of strong and admirable women). Soft Skin rests in the third category.

Pierre is a married man with a daughter and renowned literary critic and publisher by chance falls in love with young, sensuous air hostess. He keeps this affair secret out of family and public gaze. His wife finally smells the truth and under depression decides to take revenge in climax when husband is realizing his mistake. The film’s seemingly melodramatic incident was actually based on a real life which Truffaut read about in a newspaper. There’s not much to ponder about this story of extra marital affair except the way Truffaut directed it with his camera angles, montage and mise en scenes. He deals with vivid moods of infidelity, guilt, jealousy, anger and revenge. Truffaut was greatly inspired by Alfred Hitchcock whom he considered his master and hence in the plot as well as use of camera we see many Hitchcockian elements.

It’s not nearer to the best Truffaut had made but still one can watch it for Truffaut’s touch.
Ratings- 6.5/10

THE 400 BLOWS (French) (1959)

The film of tomorrow appears to me as even more personal than an individual and
autobiographical novel, like a confession, or a diary. Francois
Truffaut


Truffaut’s debut feature film which earned him the prize for Best Director at Cannes Film Festival in 1959. The same year released Jean Luc Goddard’s ‘Breathless’ opened a new chapter of French New Wave in the world of cinema. Truffaut was young drifter then and shared two strong passions- Cinema and Books. He cultivated key ideas while meeting Andre Bazin, the editor of ‘Cahiers de Cinema’ (famous film criticism magazine) and wrote regular articles for magazine. He dedicated this breakthrough cinema to his mentor Andre Bazin.

Juvenile age is the beginning of an innocent rebellion experimenting with its own free will by challenging the conventional codes and prohibited practices prescribed by the society. We all passed through that age.

As the film opens we meet Antoine Doinel, a juvenile boy wrongly punished in the class by his teacher. He is known as rebellion boy of the class, prefers not to do his homework, write false excuse notes on behalf of his parents and famous for doing mischievous things. One day he bunks the class along with a friend and enjoys his freedom on Paris streets and suddenly he sees his own mother kissing a stranger. The next day he declares his mother dead when teacher asks him about his excuse for yesterday’s bunk. Within moments the truth is revealed with his parent’s entry in school and the boy gets a humiliating tight slap by his father inside the classroom surrounded by his classmates.

It looks like that something wrong is destined to happen with this boy every new day. There are so many other boys doing mischief and wrong things but its only poor Doinel who gets reprimand for being caught indulging wrong practice. It’s not while stealing the type writer from his father’s office but while returning it, he gets caught red handed and sends to prison.

Throughout the film I got mixed feelings for the boy portrayed with his disturbed juvenile period showing him cheating his parents, bunking school, smoking, stealing money from home, watching sensuous films, pissing in ladies toilet etc. But Doinel is nothing but a symbolic character of French New Wave Filmmaker Truffaut himself rebelling against conventional commercialized French cinema. Infect many incidents including stealing of typewriter by the boy were part of Truffaut’s own life. The world consists around him constantly pushing him to do what are acceptable according to controlling social and moral codes and he often breaks that taboos with his own free will to do what he thinks right. And this is what Truffaut had done to the world of French Cinema, broke the conventional and made an individual film in which he believed.

The film is made with the spirit of personal film making, instead of studio the whole film was shot at real Paris locations, giving it refined beauty and grace in chiseled black and white frames. The act of 15 year old Jean-Pierre Leaud as alter ego of Truffaut clearly gave strong emotional detailing. Truffaut’s use of mise en scene, montage and moving camera shots give it thumbprint of his filmmaking. Jean Constantin’s fine background score is another strong element highlighting the mood of the film.

Masterpiece of French Cinema.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

METROPOLIS (German) (1927)

Epigram- The mediator between head and hands must be the heart!

I am speechless once again. Could anybody dare to make such a mega sci-fi in the era of silent cinema? Just sharpen your history- it was a German film made in the time when end of First World War and Versailles treaty had almost broken Germany’s economy. ‘Metropolis’ was the costliest film made in the era of silent cinema and at the same time it’s so sad to know that the film remained box office debacle when released and almost bankrupted the biggest studio of Germany. Both in its greatness of film and mammoth failure it equals with two other greatest auteur directors and their doomed films which later proclaimed greatest films of this century; Orson Welles’ ‘Citizen Kane’ and Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. But at the same time I’m so glad to read that Metropolis was Hitler’s favorite film and honestly after watching it today, I’d rank it as one of the greatest film ever made in the world of artistic cinema.

Just like ‘M’, this film was again scripted by director Fritz Lang’s wife Thea Von Harbou and along with the film; it was also published in novelized form. Metropolis is set in futuristic city of Yoshiwara, showing the crisis of class distinction between the capitalist and the workers. Master Fredersen is not only ruler but also the builder of Metropolis- his architectural dream and dazzling futuristic city with towering structures and modern working class society. The society is demarcated between Capitalist, Clerk and Workers.
We soon see ‘Down World’ only accessible to workers where they are supposed to work exhaustively for ten hours. Soon we witness the machine consuming workers, a brilliant metaphor. The only solace for the exhausted workers is angelic Maria, who gives them faith and hope. Soon we see Fredersen’s young son Freder, along with the exhausted workers driven away by the austere countenance of Maria guiding to ‘listen the heart’- the mediator between head and hands. Freder followed his heart and realized the inhuman condition of workers. He became rebel against the order set by his own father. Father comes to know about the guiding force. Next we witness Fredersen’s visit to his old friend Rotwang, the inventor who resembles more like Lucifer. He is working on his invention of machine woman. Fredersen wanted to destroy the messiah like Maria’s image which may set discord between workers and Maria and in a way destroy the belief of hope. With his directions Rotwang gives machine woman the face of Maria and soon vamp like false Maria became seductress of workers. I can still go on and on but it’s all wasted attempt to narrate such masterpiece in words.

It’s like limiting the scope and vision of Lang, if one just calls it sci-fi of silent era. Infect, personally speaking it’s more detailed and attention seeking film than ‘M’. As per my interpretation it has so many things to explore: Just like Chaplin’s classic ‘Modern Times’, it’s a fine social satire on new Industrial world order where machine also plays vital character in the story. It’s also deeply rooted with Christian/Biblical allegories and metaphors running throughout the film and it’s also fine fairy tale kind of romantic fable one loves to cherish. The giant sets, brilliant production value and technically original innovations that Lang had used in film naturally prove his auteur. Even though its silent film, Lang brilliantly interconnected parallel cuts into his narration method; one more fine example of being genius story teller.

The uses of biblical religious symbols/metaphors in the film are just striking one. Lang has merged the character of Freder is like infant Jesus, Maria as Virgin Mother Mary and Rotwang as evil Lucifer. What underlined in the beginning epigram of the film, finally proves the fable behind magnum sci-fi. During whole film note the symbolic role played by hands, heart and brain of its characters and you pick the real theme behind the film. The role of religion (Maria) as mediator (heart) between brain (capitalist Frederson/ inventor Rotwang) and hands (human action of workers).

This is what I call ‘Real Masterpiece’. Hail German cinema…Hail Lang…

A film beyond all ratings.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

M (German) (1931)

After a long time I feel the joy of watching a masterpiece of world cinema. This is my first Fritz Lang film and I must say I just awestruck to believe that it was made in 1931. It was first talkie film of this pioneer of German Expressionism, although he made more than ten films earlier. The film remains the groundbreaking film noir till day for so many reasons. Here’s few note of my observation.

Directed by Lang and scripted by his wife Thea Von Harbou, ‘M’is a story of psychotic child murderer who’s roaming freely in the streets of Berlin. Despite an exhaustive investigation by police amid public hysteria, he remains unable to find. The hash investigation by the police gave sidekick to the world of organized crime. It becomes harder for them to operate freely under constant watch of police and public. So they decide that the only way to get rid of police is to catch the killer themselves as he’s giving them a bad name and disturbed their business. The united crime world finally nabs the murderer. But what happens to the killer when the justice lies in the court of the criminals.
It’s this moment of the film which puts the mystery of the film at the surface level and shoots so many questions to its viewers. Till this scene, most of the viewers who’s watching it for the first time wish that criminal should get caught, suddenly shift gears and gain sympathy for this compulsive killer’s character. Peter Lorre’s chilling portrayal is without doubt the first cinematic case reflecting Freudian unconscious drive of a serial killer. Lang raised the bar of ordinary crime film and gave it so many complicated psychological-sociological undertones with layers of irony which made this film finest document of German cinema. Lang himself also considered this film as his favorite one.
For Lang and this film I must say it’s an ‘Explosion of German Cinema.’

How can one rate such a groundbreaking masterpiece!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

THE RAINMAKER (1997)

“What’s the difference between a lawyer and hooker?”
-“A hooker will stop
screwing you after you’re dead.”

“Every lawyer at least once in every
case feels himself crossing a line he doesn’t really means to cross. It just
happens. And if you cross it enough times it disappears forever and then you’re
nothing but another lawyer joke; just another shark in a dirty water.”

Based on best selling novelist John Grisham’s legal drama and Directed by none other than great Francis Ford Coppola, the film tells the story of an amateur young lawyer Rudy Baylor’s honest and sincere struggle to win a humanitarian case of a mother who paid every single buck to a giant insurance company which refuse to offer insurance cover of her lost single young leukemia patient boy. He’s fighting the first case of his life against corrupt law sharks of Tennessee and it’s almost next to impossible case to win pitted with the forces that has power and money in their pocket and know how to reverse the dice.

Grisham told the insider’s story of law firms and insurance nexus. Having an insurance case is big booty for law firms since it gives them one third sum of that insurance policy after winning. Big sharks have their own Para-lawyers who used to search the targets among public hospitals and get their signs either by hook or crook. It’s world where rich and powerful lawyers have their close connections with judges doing favor to them.
Second important part of the film is the slow transformation of a young and sincere lawyer, from a struggling sincere boyish lawyer working under the shadow to a determined mature and smart lawyer fighting the case to expose the corrupt and protect the dignity and ethics of the legal profession against strongest odds.

Apart of well restrained emotional and professional act of Matt Damon, the movie also boasts of two powerful supporting performances from Danny De Vito as constantly gorging, smart & supportive hand of Rudy and Jon Voight as Leo Drummond, the expensive, shrewd and accent savvy Insurance firm lawyer. Personally it’s my favorite Jon Voight character. Apart of admirable and promising Matt Damon, he’s another reason why I watch the film after a long time.

Worth watching.

Ratings-8/10

Monday, October 26, 2009

MILLER’S CROSSING (1990)

Miller’s Crossing is dark, violent, unsettling and complex film noir from the house of Coen Bros. It is not as classic in tone as ‘The Godfather’ but surely an admirable gangster film for its brilliant screenplay penned by Joel and Ethan Coen and for its complex character portrayal of lead player, played so wonderfully by Gabriel Byrne as Tom. It’s surely one of the complicated character studies you love to probe at deeper level. Albert Finney is marvelous actor and as local Don Leo he fires the screen. Watch out his Tommy gun firing scene.

The story revolves around close bonding between Local Mafia Leo and his right hand Tom. Love for the same woman brings their professional life on hold. Rivalry and power to rule the crime world offers lucrative offers to Tom who got insulted from Leo. But Tom is really smart chap and knows damn well what to do at what time. The gangster hat is used quite symbolically throughout the film signifying ‘the honor’ of profession and Tom among darkest circumstances live up to that grace.
I must praise Coens for their class treatment and fine screenplay, the asset of this film. No exaggeration to say it’s finest and classic Coen film I ever seen.
Must watch.

Ratings-8.5/10


Sunday, October 25, 2009

THE WILD BUNCH (1969)

It’s a film which begins and ends with classic action sequences that you like to cherish in your movie watching experience. The film is Directorial breakthrough of Sam Packinpah, having some great gunshot action sequences like opening shoot out sequence between bandits and bounty hunters, famous train robbery sequence or gun trotting mass destructing bloodshed climax. Packinpah had surely made a film which gives close competition to ‘Butch Cassidy & Sundance Kid’ released same year or Sergio Leone films.

Pike & his gang are loose bandits trailed by his former amigo Thornton & hired bounty hunters. After initial bank robbery shoot out between the both gang, Pike & bunch turned towards Mexico where they meet outlaw Mapache. They got contract to rob the train loaded with ammunition. They showed smart work and get gold coins but cheating of one guy made the things lost out of their plan culminating towards final destruction.

Packinpah has used innocence of children quite symbolically in the film. From beginning scene a group of children making fight scorpions among ants and then burning the nest as bandits entered the town and then onwards we see children in every frame of the film including some of the shoot out scenes. The film breaks the ice in making of American cowboy western; giving it different setting and look with self destructing ending with some strong performances by William Holden, Ernest Borgnine and Robert Ryan.

Brilliant camera work portraying fine extreme long shots and semi-slow motion action sequence of climax is the real cheese of the film. Well this is my first Packinpah film but I would love to see his others including widely acclaimed ‘Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia’.
Highly Recommended.

Ratings- 8.5/10

THE ODESSA FILE (1974)

I’m big fan of Fredrick Forsythe thrillers. This is second screen adaptation of his novel; the first one was brilliantly made thriller ‘The Day of the Jackal’ by Fred Zinnemann. The strong point about Forsythe’s thrillers is that most of them are based on well documented research and study. It is so with the plot of Nazi war crime film too. There was really a secret society called ODESSA, linking former members of Hitler’s murderous SS, among them Roschmann, ‘the butcher’ of Riga concentration camp responsible of killing 40000 Jews. The top secret plan revolves around strike of 400 rockets to wipe Israel from the world map and most of the German scientists involved belong to Hitler’s Rocket Programme. For obvious reason, names of many characters and places have been changed to avoid controversy.

Peter Miller is just a reporter nosing for a story in Hamburg, Germany and somehow it was destined for him to put his life into peril by chance to involve with ODESSA.
Although having gripping best seller as script, the film version is too flat and lacks the punch of edge on the seat kind of thrill. It is so unlikely to see Jon Voight as hero of the film. There is negligible screen presence of Maximillian Schell who won Best Actor Oscar for ‘Judgment at Nuremberg’. The fault lies in flat narration and mediocre direction. I’m expecting fine thriller here but quite disappointed. Suggest you to read Forsythe’s novel than see this film.

Ratings- 6/10

Thursday, October 22, 2009

THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1956)

The film is remake of Hitchcock’s own 1934 film by the same title and one of his personal favorite too. In this version he added Technicolor and top stars in this tale of foreign intrigue and kidnapping. Hitchcock once told his friend and admirer and indeed great French Director Francois Truffaut that the first version was done by talented amateur and the second was made by the professional.”

An American Dr. visits Morocco for the first time and they never knew that they entered into hostile troubled water where plan is boiling up the conspiracy of assassination. James Stewart plays the role of Doctor who’s in trouble for knowing a thing he shouldn’t. Doris Day plays the character of his acutely smart wife and wonderful singer and her character is equally substantial too.

Hitchcock always preoccupied to shoot the climax of his international spy thrillers at famous places. He used London’s famous Royal Albert Hall as climactic sequence here where murder was planned with the crash of cymbals. The live symphony orchestra was conducted for screen by none other than legendary collaborator of Hitchcock films- Bernard Herrmann and he himself featured on screen for the first time with the insistence of Hitchcock. A key scene to film indeed where music and lyric plays almost the key role in the screenplay with special mention to climatic live symphony and a wonderful song “Que Sera Sera”, which went on to win Academy Award for Best Song of 1956. Another technically praiseworthy credit goes to Robert Burk’s fine cinematography.

A Pure Hitchcock Entertainment.

Ratings- 7.5/10

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

FRENZY (1972)

‘Frenzy’ is special because after a long gap of 20 years the master of shock returned England to shoot this film. “When you do mystery starring Cary Grant or Stewart, everybody in the audience knows from the outset that he can’t be the villain,” said Hitchcock and so he cast rather unknown London theatre actors about whom audiences had no preconceived notions. The plot of the film revolves around a sexually psychopathic killer strangling ladies with necktie around London city. As in many of Hitchcock films the wrong man at the wrong place becomes the prime suspect and same occurred here too and further the film becomes interestingly gripping cat and mouse play.
The touch of Hitchcockian thrill is clearly visible in sequence of the dead body in a sack full of potatoes truck.

This is perhaps the first unusual Hitchcock film, where you can see explicit violence and skin show may be for the first time. To save the film for becoming dark, Hitchcock used some funny scenes too. Especially the trouble facing Inspector Oxford bearing experimental inedible delicacies by her obsessed gourmet wife. Anthony Shaffer who had written the screenplay of ‘Sleuth’, has done appreciable job here too in screen adaptation of a brutal murder mystery novel by Arthur La Barn. The film was instant box-office success of that year.

Ratings-7.5/10

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NO MAN’S LAND (Bosnian/Slovenian) (2001)

War and conflict between two countries always brings unwanted casualties in inevitable time under constantly shifting critical situation. It wouldn’t be exaggerated to say that this film is perhaps the best example to feel the pulse of that crisis. I mean it’s rare to find such a perfect movie where situational crisis is playing pivotal role in the screenplay from the beginning to end.

A group of Bosnian soldiers trying to cross the Serbian border in the night. When the mist clears at the dawn, they are spotted by Serbian army. Only one man named Chiki survives and moves in a trench between the two borders known as No Man’s Land. Two Serbian soldiers while patrolling the area install a mine under a wounded soldier’s body in the same trench. Now if a man moves the mine will blast and kill all those around the area. Chiki killed one soldier and made the other Serbian soldier a hostage. Two individual enemies are now face to face unknown about the inevitable fix full of crisis. UN Peace keeping force intervenes but they don’t have unanimous consensus to deal with this trouble spot. A famous TV coverage crew arrives to broadcast/sell their story. The greatest irony is the alive Bosnian soldier lying on deadly mine. If I go anything further from this it would spoil your film experience completely.

No Man’s land is finest modern satire and an anti-war film which strikes us thinking about so many issues which really matter to each and every country today. Even in the most complicated fix of their lives in trench two soldiers want to outsmart each other with their deep rooted vengeance. What roles army of both nations is playing? Why UN Peace Keeping force is in muddle of political pulls trying to make obstacles rather than solving them? How cyber savvy media manipulating the news reporting to convince even military? It’s revealing to know that the film is debut of Bosnian Director Danis Tanovic who brings a powerful and brilliantly made political/war satire showing the ugly reality where even the most powerful organization or human being becomes mere pawns in the hand of political powers. At the same time he also shows that not even an expert can help when situation is something like unchartered water and it clearly shows the helplessness and limitations of human progress.

The film won two prestigious awards as Best Foreign Language Film of 2001 in Oscar and Golden Globe and won more than 42 International awards all around the globe. It’s the film which won against popular Indian entry of that year ‘Lagaan’. I must say the film deserves the awards in all categories compared to our Indian entry and truly deserve the honour.

Standing Ovation.

Ratings-10/10

THE CAINE MUTINY (1954)

“Mr. Maryk, tell the crew there are four ways of doing things on board my ship - The right way, the wrong way, the navy way and my way. They do things my way, we’ll get along.”

Based on Pulitzer Prize winning novel and starring Humphrey Bogart as Lieutenant Captain Philip Queeg in one of the memorable role of his career, the film is fine navy account of internal mutiny. However the incidents occurred in the film are fictional one about US Navy but Directorial idea lies in showing the crisis of life faced by few men in the time of Second World War.

The most wonderful thing about the film is its changing shades of theme. I divided film in four parts. The first shows you the boarding of new young officer on junkyard ship named Caine and meeting shrewd and scornful Commanding captain. The second shows us the shifting of Captain; the shrewd is replaced with experienced and strict Captain who impresses his subordinates. The third part shows how seed of internal mutiny develops among few officers to put the appointed captain on the ground of mental disorder by few decisions he undertook during passage of time. The fourth and the most intriguing one is the courtroom trial keeping the audience cross finger with fine twists and turns.

The film certainly has a brilliant screenplay and fine supporting performances of almost all cast including legendary Bogart. The film is surely revelation for me since I don’t have any clue about its subject or theme and I honestly believe that whosoever sees it would agree with my opinion.

An Underrated Classic.

Ratings- 8/10

Monday, October 19, 2009

ROPE (1948)

“Murder is an art. And as such, the privilege of committing it should be reserved for those few who are really superior individuals and the victims, the inferior of beings whose lives are unimportant anyway.”

Rope was Alfred Hitchcock’s first movie in color and his first as an independent producer-director and perhaps the shortest in length with the duration less than one hour and thirty minutes. However the plot of the film was play adaptation, it was base on true story where two Chicago school boys committed a murder just for the sake of thrill and excitement under the misunderstanding of Nietzsche’s philosophy of the superman taught by their teacher. Even Hitler wrongly interpreted his philosophy and the horror he brought to the world is dark chapter of history.

Hitchcock personally wanted Cary Grant to play the role of Stewart and Montgomery Cliff for one of the boys but both of them refused it since the original English play had lot of homosexual undertone between two lead characters. But to present it to puritan conventional American audience Hitchcock had cleverly avoided the tone with his camera angles. James Stewart did this first film with Hitchcock and it’s quite surprising that among all of Master Hitchcock’s most popular and acclaimed films its Stewart who played the main lead. From the very entry of Stewart, the film becomes intriguing one for the culprits played quite wonderfully by Farley Ganger and John Dall.

Shooting the film was experimental and challenging one for Hitchcock as it was adaptation of play where Hitchcock linked all the film’s component into a single action inside an apartment. Hitchcock revealed that it was this film where in order to shoot even ten minutes of the film we had to move camera 25 to 30 times and have to change the furniture positioning.

It’s not suspense film as in the first scene we witness the crime and criminals but the tension lies in how they got caught. Another powerful element to watch in the film is- use of the camera giving us enough clues why Hitchcock is genius.

Ratings-8.5/10

Sunday, October 18, 2009

DAY FOR NIGHT (French) (1973)

Along with the pioneer and his mentor Jean Luc Goddard, Director Francois Truffaut is the hallmark of French New wave Cinema. Although he made this film in the later part of his career, it brought him coveted Oscar trophy of Best Foreign Language Film. It’s perhaps the best example of Film within film with having a close look inside the process of film making. Jaqueline Bisset looks exquisitely beautiful Hollywood heroine played the role of Pamela inside the film and Director and auteur Francois Truffaut himself played the role of director inside this film within film.

The story of the film that the director and crew is shooting concerning with a young man who marries a beautiful English girl and after three months he brings her to his parents’ Riviera home. The father-in-law mutually falls in love with his daughter-in-law. The film deals with the flight of this illicit relationship and as in tragedy, each character meets his inevitable destiny.

Jump cuts are natural for Truffaut film however here only few shots having hand held camera use. He used more static shots here. Keeping apart the shooting of the film, this film shows us that how hard is it to shoot a film for a French individual director who has to juggle with profit interested producer, image conscious stars, shooting difficulties and developing inter personal relationship between actors of his film. From selecting costumes to casting and from shooting to editing, the director has a heavy duty to perform multi tasks in stipulated schedule of production. There are some of scenes which show us the real face of film world. There is a shooting scene in a film where a drunken heroine failed to utter lines and crew come to her rescue with a trick of pasted papers of her dialogue lines and still at the end of each take she messed the scene so terribly. The film also shows some of the ugly but real fact of glamour world like even before heroine goes to shoot the first scene on the set, she has to present for press conference to make film publicity with insistence of producer and has to answer certain nerd questions regarding the film when she don’t read the script even.

Ratings-7.5/10

Friday, October 16, 2009

THE TIT AND THE MOON (Spanish) (1994)

It’s but natural psychology for a kid to have sibling jealousy when he witnesses that all the notice and care of his mother transferred to his new born brother. Tete is one such child who hates his infant brother because he’s having tit of his mother. The only solace for him is watching the moon and fantasizing about having tit. By chance he starts fantasizing and obsessing about having the breast of newly arrived French neighbor’s young and voluptuous wife at campsite. Here too he has a rival. In many of the scenes and plot of the film seems like Tornatore’s ‘Malena’, only the projection seems different.

The film is narrated from the point of view of fantasy seeking world of an innocent small kid using breast as symbolic moon. Just like the moon, breast is something symbolically unattainable fantasy and abstract dream for him. It’s embarrassing to see the close up of breast looming in most of the frames but most of them shot so aesthetically and it doesn’t look vulgar. The act of Tete (Biel Duran) and the beauty of Star (Mathilda May) are surely noticeable. Another fine part of the film is fine music score by Nicola Piovani.

The way European films show aesthetics in explicit love making scenes with undercurrent of funny dialogue and humor is something amazing and out of the box for Hollywood films. Only they can think about some subtle visuals like collecting tears in a glass jar for emotions and farting tricks for humor. Director Bigas Luna surely deserves credit for this. Liking and disliking of the film is subjective but making this sort of artistic film with such a subject/theme signifies that art lies in the air, the only thing required to smell it is good uncorrupt nose.

Ratings-7/10

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I LOVE TROUBLE (1994)

Nick Nolte and Julia Roberts are two popular and completely opposite to each other rival newspaper columnists pitted to solve the rigmarole of a Biochemist Company by a rail accident occasionally. What started as professional outsmarting other turns out slow romance. There’s no variety in plot or narration and what is worse is to see the odd chemistry of aged and wooden face Nick Nolte and vibrant and youthful Julia Roberts.
Above all it’s a mediocre film in all departments including performances of lead players.
I expected it as good romantic comedy but it fails to justify neither romance nor comedy.

Avoidable.

Ratings-4/10

ANATOMY OF A MURDER (1959)

The film is one of the fine courtroom dramas ever made for sure. Infect its kind of film where courtroom remains the main setting of the film for around two third time of the film. It’s damn hard to sit tightly watching such a prolonged courtroom trial but there are so many lighter moments turn out during cross examination of the witnesses to entertain the audience. The film pits the case of an accused lieutenant in the grip of irresistible impulse murdered a man who raped his beautiful wife. The first hour of the film shows the surfacing of murder case and the prima facie investigation of the committed crime. The later part belongs to court room trial, cross witness examination between two head strong lawyers fighting the case to explore the truth about the case.

James Stewart as humble heart small town defending lawyer of accused man and he is in complete command. We have seen him most in Hitchcock films but here he showed his real spark as an actor. The other equally engaging actor to watch here is George C. Scott as hard headed big city prosecutor. Produced and Directed by renowned Otto Preminger, the film features riveting court drama packed with tension, intrigue, fine background score, powerful act by lead and supportive cast and above all passion of law as profession.

The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Film and certainly cinematic masterpiece that will keep you hooked to your seat!

Ratings- 8/10

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

JENNIFER’S BODY (2009)

Nothing is hotter than Megan Fox to sell such a low grade horror product. If you have seen the trailer and crave to see more of Megan’s irresistible skin if nothing else than let me tell you very honestly that the film is a big disappointment. Don’t be duped by your testosterone. She neither shows her desirable skin (except her revealing cleavage and luscious lips) nor any flash of acting.

The plot is so mediocre one that you lose your patience from very beginning. While watching rock band in a bar Jennifer was kidnapped. From the very next day she becomes blood sucking seductress. Her close friend tries to scrutinize the matter of demonic transference and all that damn nonsense. The rest is expected climax. Director tries to make a paranormal-occult flick luring the audience with deceptive title and a sizzling heroine but ends up with B grade crap material. Besides there’s not single spooky scene which can scare even a child.

Trash.

Ratings-3.5/10

Monday, October 12, 2009

9 (2009)

It’s plain vanilla plot for Hollywood adventure thrillers but with the backdrop of beautiful and creative animation it’s worthy enough to watch at least once. 9 is cute rag doll and when he opens his eyes the humanity becomes extinct due to some apocalypse. Soon he discovers his other buddies and together they learn that it is an outcome of human folly- a machine they created to annihilate their enemies. Next is one hour fifteen minutes of pure entertainment with running thrill, action and adventure. Writer, Director Shane Acker is one of the visual effects wizards behind spectacular ‘Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’. What I would like to praise about the film the most is his creativity in presenting the world of darkness through stunning visuals. Although this is his first full length animation film, I’m surely looking forward for his next.
It won’t disappoint you if you’re not comparing it too much.

Ratings-7/10

Sunday, October 11, 2009

DEV (2004)

Director Govind Nihalani pre occupied with making definite cop films. In all three cop films- Ardh Satya in 80’s, Drohkaal in 90’s and Dev in 2000, Nihalani extends the progression of cop under the periphery of unmitigated forces and power. Both are inscrutable for him. Director Prakash Jha is the only other director who brings similar realistic cop film ‘Gangaajal’ this decade. May be its Nihalani’s intrinsic desire to contemporarise the role of Indian cop with changing and unlikely face value of the society. This time he portrays it in the backdrop of communal riots in Gujarat. He also presented another side of today’s media driven world. What accidentally happens in out of control situation by Police is presented with distorting the facts by the media. The sentiments of mass public always toss between the mixed truth presented by the dirty politics and reporting media.

It is through mutual conversation and sharing their drinks Nihalani brings fine etched out two opposite faces of Indian cop with two legendary actors together for the first time. Both officers devoted to their profession and spirit but it is their attitude and execution of law which separates them from each other. If Amitabh is law enforcer and strict follower of secular constitutional law and man of principles, Om is more extremist who believes that constitution exists because country exists and he don’t mind going any far to protect country even if he has to break the constitutional laws to shoot the traitors.

As an authoritarian extremist CM Amrish Puri reflects the role playing of Gujarat CM at the time of riots who kept the remote control of Police in his hand and push the fired sentiments of single religion. It’s shameless to see that cops present at the scene of riots not took any action to take situation under control. Later CM office and Home Department gave it the face of collateral damage. What is so disturbing is that even aftermath of riots state government labeling victimized civilians as majority and minority not innocent human beings who had nothing to do with dirty communal politics. Nihalani shows the hidden reality and that’s the reason when it released it got strong protest in Gujarat.

Nihalani repeated so many scenes of his ‘Drohkaal’here. The attitudinal differences of two cop friends -Amitabh and Om Puri is extension of ‘Drohkaal’s Nasser and Om Puri. Besides Om Puri; Amrish Puri is another common actor acted in all his three cop films and almost remained inseparable part of his films. The interrogation conversation between Amitabh- Fardeen also reminds us fine enacted scene between Om Puri-Aashish Vidyarthi. Instead of using his clich├ęd image of angry young man, Amitabh is presented as cop struggling with his own conscience. Kareena first time played deglamorised but strong role of an independent woman who shows courage to question the Police and Ministers who open handedly supported to spread the riots. The only eyesore act belongs to Fardeen Khan. Its in the second half of the film, screenplay becomes weak, repetitive and losing integrity why the film failed to garner critical or mass appreciation.

Ratings- 7/10

Saturday, October 10, 2009

WAKE UP SID! (2009)

After having heard a lot of praise about the film, finally I watch the film and agree with all those who praise it with open arms. I can’t believe its Director Ayan Mukerji’s debut film because we can see clarity in almost all aspects of direction. From his refreshing story telling to casting and from music to cinematography everything is striking the right chords.

The plot of the film gives us see it all kind of feeling. Sid is a rich, good for nothing young brat who doesn’t want to grow up. He is happy with his life as it comes and enjoying it fully burning his pa’s money. The only thing he is good at is taking some cool artistic snaps with his Nikon. And one fine moment he starts exploring his true identity and independence. The creativity isn’t lie in the plot but in its fresh narration and fine aesthetic presentation.

Ranbir surprised me with his wonderful debut in ‘Saawaria’ and this is his third film but he’s so well grounded that it’s hard to overlook this ‘watch me next’ kind of sensation and he has all the charms to rule the bollywood. He proved with this film that he has tremendous potential to look forward. The way he expresses the emotional underplay of Sid is something shows his sincerity towards his profession. Man, I’m eagerly waiting for your ‘Ajab prem ki gazab kahani’ releasing next this year. Konkona is fine actress and there’s no question about her performance in any films so far. Even all rest of actors including Anupam Kher and Supriya Pathak seems so natural.

The film also has two other praiseworthy inseparable parts of bollywood entertainment – Songs and lyrics. With cool and soothing soundtrack of this album Shankar-Ehsaan- Loy and Jawed Akhtar again prove that they’re brilliant team of composers. I’m surely going to listen almost all tracks on my i-pod repeatedly. Ashok Mehta is cinematographer of Subhash Ghai camp who time and again gives ample proof that why he’s considered as prominent cameraman to represent visual aesthetics and in almost all frames of this film you will visualize his fine craft. Last but not least praise goes to Producer Karan Johar for bringing this fresh breeze of entertainer. Thanks for this refreshing change. Finally it’s you who wake up. Next we want to wake up is Yashraj Films.
The only low part of the film is its prolonging climax.

Ratings- 8/10

Friday, October 9, 2009

UN CHIEN ANDALOU (1928)

“Give me two hours a day of activity and I’ll take the other twenty two in
dreams- provided I can remember them.” – Luis Bunuel

This debut short film made by Bunuel in collaboration with artist Salvador Dali received wide acclaim and still continues to amaze the audience with its surrealistic visual imagery. There is no plot, no story and no connection among all shocking images and still it is considered avant-garde film ever made. Neither the title (in English- An Andalusian Dog) nor any images is intended to make sense. It’s out and out world of surrealism. As per Oxford Dictionary for Advanced Learners, Surrealism – a twentieth century movement in art and literature trying to express what is hidden in the mind by showing object and events as seen in dreams etc.

What we witness in images is distorted dreamlike irrational imagery- a classic close up shot of a razor blade slicing through the eyes, a cloud slicing the moon in half, a palm with running ants, a hairy armpit, a man trying to take sexual advancement touching boobs and butt of a lonely lady, a man dragging dead donkeys on a huge piano, an accident witnessed from the window. So what’s unique about the film!!! It’s the first short film projecting surrealistic images in its totality without using any conformist strategy of film making. It is the first handmade film made on shoestring budget without any studio financing.

Bunuel wrote in his autobiography, “We had to open all doors to the irrational and keep only those images that surprised us, without trying to explain why.” Isn’t he right? There are many things in life so abstract to explain in words. Simply we like them or hate them with no explanation at all.

Anyone for whom Cinema is passion has to watch it several times with trying not to rationalize the images. For me, it’s an experience like watching a confusing portrait in art gallery which I failed to understand what it means and still I like to watch it again.

Can’t rate something like this.

88 MINUTES (2007)

A serial killer who butchered Pacino’s juvenile sister is becoming threat again. The clock is ticking and all he has is 88 minutes to live. By its face value, the plot seems stereotype so what we expect next from the film is good thrilling treatment. But not a single thing falls to right place in this film. The whole first half is wasted showing some ridiculous caller threatening Pacino on his cell and displaying signs of ticking time everywhere he moves. Is he a killer or God who knows where Pacino would follow next!!! There are so many flaws in the film and not even actor like Pacino can save the mediocre product like this.

Director Jon Everet is the same director who combined two legends Pacino-De Niro together last year in another waste of talent pool show ‘Righteous Kill’. He is the proof that Hollywood knows how to make waste out of the best.
‘Avoid’ is the bottom line here.

Ratings-5/10

Thursday, October 8, 2009

GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (1992)

In the world of cut throat competition, every sales executive is running to reach his monthly closing sales target. What happens when bunch of real estate sales guys have a week’s duration to regain their fired jobs back. The film starts with an interesting premise of verbal abuse by a deputed higher authority giving deadline to bunch of employees. Behind all those formal branded suits, BMWs and Cartier watches lies an ugly corporate face that only care about one damn thing-‘Profit’.

Based on David Mamet’s Pulitzer prize winning play, the movie boasts of great ensemble casting- Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey. Pacino plays the character of Ricky Roma, the only guy who made it to closing. He was nominated for Oscar for Best supporting actor for his smart role playing of yuppie salesman. But more than him I like the performance of Jack Lemmon and his fine oratory to convince others. Though at old age Lemmon is fine casting desperate to get the leads by hook or crook till the dawn breaks. Spacey plays shrewd and smart guy who owns premium leads. The movie’s key figure is the premium leads of Glengarry and almost all characters try to grasp them on their own way and the next what we witness is robbery.

The movie just has around 90 minutes duration and gives you the feel of watching Lumet films; characters stuck in situation in one close space. Perhaps this is one of the film where F word is used more than hundred times by all characters. The verbal abuse scene by Alec Baldwin is the master scene of the film. Try to catch it on you tube if you haven’t seen the film.

Ratings- 7.5/10

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

NAYAKAN (Tamil) (1987)

If there’s any fine Indian adaptation of Coppola’s eternal classic ‘The Godfather’, it’s undoubtedly Maniratnam’s ‘Nayakan’. The way he layered this Tamil version with some changes in the original is still unparalleled by any other Indian film. Maniratnam has remarkably shaped the character of local Mafia with totally Indian touch recreating myth of hero/leader/star from Tutikorin in south to Mumbai’s slum. Infect from acting to the technical divisions of production including screenplay, dialogues, songs, violence, and even entertainment shows the quality of his filmmaking. With this film Maniratnam created a niche for himself as one of the standard commercial directors who know how to balance art and commerce in the same product without sacrificing the director’s idea.

Kamal Hasan made an everlasting impression as a master actor with this film and that’s the reason why he got his third National Award as Best Actor for this film. If I’m not mistaking he’s perhaps the only actor who won National Award four times. In all the phase of Vellu Nayakan’s career from youth to old age and from the rise and the fall of Mafia, Kamal brings the depth of a meticulous performance as an actor quite rare to see in Indian cinema. There are many memorable shots particularly some of the fine human gestures of this master actor. The camera has captured the tone and spirit of Mumbai alive with some of the fine shots covering Mahim and Dharavi slums, Gateway of India and suburban beaches.

Bollywood’s forever macho man and late actor-director Feroz Khan was so passionate about ‘The Godfather’ that he made two Indian adaptation of the original inn his career. The first one was his own version ‘Dharmatma’ and the second one is Hindi adaptation of this Maniratnam version named ‘Dayavan’. But neither of them brings the inter-textual depth of the plot and character, where Maniratnam’s this version leads you towards the emotional-social-political journey of a local Mafia telling a human story without glorifying the myth of underworld.

Ratings- 9/10

Monday, October 5, 2009

INSOMNIA (2002)

“A good cop can’t sleep because a piece of puzzle is missing and a bad cop can’t sleep because his conscience won’t let him,” said a cop once. What he doesn’t know is that someday the same quote becomes applicable to his own self-jurisdiction amid unwanted circumstances.

The intriguing part of this Christopher Nolan film is its setting of chilly Alaska where sun never sets for 24 hours. Amid rough unpredictable weather with snow-clad foggy atmosphere a cop is investigating homicide mystery. He’s struggling with insomnia and alien weather. Along with investigating case he’s also dealing with the guilt of mistake which makes it the most challenging case of his entire career. He’s facing himself in trouble and his reputation is at the stake because what he’s dealing with is a smart murderer who knows how to play game in his favor. It’s tough role to play for cop and who else is better than legendary Al Pacino to do justice.

It’s rare to witness a fine thriller where we know the criminal half the way through the film and still it keeps us guessing about what’s next. Along with Pacino, here we have another master actor Robin Williams too and most of the film belongs to these two great actors pitted against each other. Hilary Swank doesn’t have many scenes except exciting climax but she delivers what’s expected from her.

A fine chilling thriller.

Ratings- 8/10

Sunday, October 4, 2009

BATMAN BEGINS (2005)

“We always fear what we don’t understand.”
As we all know it’s prequel to ‘The Dark Knight’. What is fantastic about watching any Christopher Nolan film is its intriguing quality of plot and brilliant screenplay. Above the legend of Batman, its Nolan’s mastery over his medium which made his superhero films extraordinarily different.

The plot is divided between the becoming of Batman and his first encounter with seedy and morally corrupt city of Gotham. Bruce Wayne is struggling with his inherent fear, guilt of his parent’s death and vengeance in mind. He leaves his father’s empire in Gotham to scrutinize his true self and trains himself to overcome his deep rooted fear and attained mastery over his senses in the first half of the film. The second half features his return to corrupt Gotham. With help of Sergeant Gordon and his personal loyal assistants he becomes vigilante of Gotham’s dark world. It makes him learn a strong lesson- Justice is more than revenge.

The climax of the film has more thrilling action than ‘The Dark Knight’ but as far as treatment is concerned ‘The Dark Knight’ is classic example in superhero/legend film making. Christian Bale is really impressive as Bruce Wayne/Batman. The next best part here is fine supporting act by Liam Neeson. The film also has noticeable presence of Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman and beautiful Katie Holmes.

Ratings- 8.5/10

BHAVNI BHAVAI (Gujarati) (1980)

“If Ketan Mehta has chosen to retire from filmmaking after Bhavni Bhavai, he would still have been remembered for long as a major director, such was the strength, skill and subtlety of his first film. Bhavni Bhavai left the audience speechless with its then 28 year old director Ketan Mehta's daring innovative style, its formal experimentation, its visual richness, the hilarious, energetic performances of its leading players, and its deeply moving story which could be easily followed despite its disinterest in linearity. The film is radical as much in form as in its politics.”
- Vidyarthy Chatterjee

Bhavni Bhavai will remain special film for me forever for two reasons. One, its first Gujarati film I’ve seen after may be twenty years long gap. Since most of the Gujarati films bears age old and outdated escapist themes of mythology, religious, legendary even today with actor, director and technicians which don’t know even ABC of filmmaking. There are may be handful of meaningful creative Gujarati films made till day. Although Gujarati literature and theatre is so rich that it’s possible to make some of the quality cinema with their screen adaptations. In fact, of the 150 films made in Gujaarati till 1975, only a handful were based on well known literary texts, notably Kanku, written by Pannalal Patel, Prithvi Ballabh by K.M. Munshi and Gunasundari No Ghar Sansar by Goverdandas Tripathi. With utter regret I must say that today the condition of Gujarati films is in the worst stage as far as creativity is concerned. The second reason is quite personal one. The climax of the film was shot at historically significant site of Rani-ki Vav (Queen’s Step well) of my hometown Patan.

Bhavni Bhavai is Director Ketan Mehta’s debut and the only Gujarati film made by him until he was lured to address larger audience in Hindi. It’s a fine adaptation of folk art of ‘Bhavai’ into cinema which in today’s Gujarat becoming extinct art. Along with Bertolt Brecht the film is dedicated to the inventor of the Bhavai art Ashait Thakore, who was a Brahmin outcast and lived among the lower caste communities. His descendants, the Targalas are the traditional Gujarati performers of the plays he wrote. The film is in the form of a story told by a group of migrating Harijans to a city pausing for a night. The plot involves a king who wants his vav (step well) to be filled with water. To get the water, a batrish lakshano (person with 32 qualities) need to be sacrificed. Unfortunately, the young scapegoat belongs to Harijan (lower cast) community sacrificed his life who by chance happens to be King’s own son.

Untouchability may not have the same severe character in Gandhiji's Gujarat today as it existed in earlier times, but it is still there, just as in other parts of the country. The untouchable had to tie a broom behind him which would erase his ‘offensive footprints', wear a third sleeve as a mark of submission, wear only unwoven yarn as headgear, and carry a spittoon round his neck. Bhavni Bhavai narrates how for many centuries the untouchables endured in silence these cruel, humiliating practices. Ketan had made the film with shoestring budget with the help of Government aided NFDC and Ahmedabad based Co-Operative society named ‘Sanchar’ bringing authentic settings of North Gujarat village.

It’s indeed a outstanding feel as being Gujarati to see wonderful performances of Indian Parallel cinema’s doyen actors. Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri and Smita Patil not only paid their acts but voice in Gujarati and it sounds so natural like their own mother tongue. As imbecile, madcap king Naseer remains brilliant bringing his theatrical actor. Ditto to Benjameen Gilani, who still remains Naseer’s loyal partner in his Motley theatre in Mumbai. Om Puri’s act is the most natural among all and his brilliant act as lower cast father is another proof of his geniusness. Smita looks anything than her traditional character. Same can be said about some other supporting actors like Suhasini Mulay, Mohan Gokhale, Dina Pathak and certain other local artists of Gujarati cinema.

"In Indian films the alienation of the rural poor from the urban way of life has become clich├ętic. What we require is some kind of synthesis of the two with our past and heritage. The purpose of a film should not be to alienate people. I have chosen a popular form (the Bhavai) so that the people for whom film is made can understand it. My film traces the history of the social evil of untouchability in Gujarat and what it means today,” quoted Ketan Mehta when his first film got so much critical recognition. How rich would have been Gujarati films if Ketan Mehta or likes of him had made some more Gujarati films!!!!

Ratings- 9/10

Acnowledgement- Some of the quoted reference in above post is taken from Vidyarthy Chatterjee’s brilliant scholarly article on Dear Cinema. Here’s link for you if you’re interested in reading- http://dearcinema.com/recalling-an-event-called-bhavni-bhavai/



Saturday, October 3, 2009

AHISTA AHISTA (2006)

A fine romantic film left unnoticed by many. At standard fixed rate of two hundred Rs. Ankush (Abhay Deol) agrees to sign as witness at Delhi’s Marriage Registration Office. He is the man who brings smile on many couples faces and lives his life happy and content. Here comes damsel in distress. By chance he meets a girl run away from her house to marry his dream boy who somehow ditches her. Initially what seems handkerchief help slowly and gradually turns into having soft corner. At the same time Abhay’s luck changed and from unknown witness tout he becomes assistant sales manager of private bank. Soon he proposed her and started making plan to marry her. But as John Lennon says- “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Her dream boy returns with concerning excuse and poor Ankush has to sign the most painful signature of his career.
The end is heartbreaking but when you have screenplay writer like Imtiaz Ali( the movie isn’t directed by him), we expect a practical and light treatment of the love story and here movie ends with fine and practical message of ‘rise in love’. And that’s the reason why his love stories seem so believable unlike bollywood’s eternal romance factory of Yashraj.

The movie shares some resemblance with Imtiaz Ali’s ‘Jab We Met’. Abhay Deol is truly fine revelation that happens to current bollywood. With his fine character picking every little nuances of Smart Street chap of Delhi who knows how to do ‘jhugad’ with unwanted situations Abhay’s natural act is truly praiseworthy. I must say he’s breathe of fresh air doing choicest films unlike those self proclaimed bollywood stars who loves to repeat their typecast charm at commercial box office hits. As damsel in distress and confused love Soha Ali has also contributed a fine performance. Rest of the cast bears lot of unknown actors but all of them maintained their parts so naturally without being hammering nonsense in the film.

A Recommended Love Story.

Ratings- 7.5/10

EK CHALIS KI LAST LOCAL (2007)

The plot of the film revolves around two and half hours of midnight that change the fate of a young call centre employee and made him earn jackpot of two and half Crore. He missed the last local of one forty and meets a strange beautiful damsel. Next they encounter the seedy night life of beer bar, call girls, teen patti game and underworld cross connections.

Situational black humor and funny one-liner dialogues running throughout the film keep you hooked like chilled lager beer. The major flaw of the film lies in long and stretching second half of the story with so many unnecessary characters making spoof of Nana and Rajni and ridiculous underworld association culminating with mass killings to churn out happy ending in favor of hero-heroine romance in the end.

Pairing of Abhay-Neha is the main strong point of the film. Director Sanjay Khanduri maintained lighter and dark humor in this lower budget film but he tried to connect abrupt underworld subplot in the second half and that’s the reason why smart talent like Abhay left fully unexplored in the second half. Neha Dhupia completely fits in the role as call girl and this is the first time I’ve seen some fine flashes of her acting.
No harm in watching once for refreshing Abhay-Neha.

Ratings-6.5/10

Friday, October 2, 2009

KOSHISH (1972)

I can’t resist my tears every time I watched Gulzar films. There is something so pure and subtle about purgation of emotions he portrayed in his films. Along with his writing and directing artistic expression, the actors he used and explored portray the refreshing natural acts highlighting simple yet moving cinema.

Sanjeev Kumar was an actor of brilliant caliber and no other Director explored his versatile acting talents as Gulzar. Like Smita Patil, he also died at very early age but what he had done in that limited duration is learning lessons for rising actors. The timeless classics like ‘Aandhi’, ‘Mausam’, ‘Angoor’ and “Namkeen’ are worth proof of this fine director-actor combination. ‘Koshish’ is one step ahead among all above mentioned acts of Sanjeev Kumar and as per my opinion the career best act of Sanjeev Kumar.

Sanjeev and Jaya Bhaduri played deaf-mute couple in this touching tale of Gulzar fighting against their ill fated odds of life and rise as everyday hero left unnoticed in commercial Hindi cinema. Sanjeev captures the essence and depth of his role the way no other actor can justify. Hari Charan Mathur is a gentleman character we rarely see in Hindi films, who knows that he never lose hope of better life for his family in spite of his disability. Playing deaf-mute character limits the acting skills for any actor and so it’s challenging task to carry. But the way Sanjeev Kumar had used his eyes and facial expressions to convey every possible emotion just requires standing ovation. His pairing with Jaya is most natural one and she was really a gifted natural actress much before she married to Amitabh and lost in oblivion. Asrani is product of Pune’s Film Institute and has done some fine supporting roles in meaningful cinemas of Gulzar and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. As good for nothing ticket blacker brother of mute sister, his act here is one you would like to notice. Same can be said about Dina Pathak.

Compared to other films there are few flaws in this Gulzar film. The second half of the film is too stretching and tedious with two unnecessary songs and abrupt screenplay. Father’s emotional blackmailing or compulsion to let his son marry mute girl even when son is not handicap seems most improbable part of the film. The end of the film is too idealistic and far removed from reality. Even the progression of Sanjeev’s life from boot-polishwala to print supervisor also portrayed with smooth execution without much conflict. Even the pace and grip of the film become quite ordinary. It’s hard to bear the last half an hour if Sanjeev was not there. Yet sidelining these faults if we think that- How many directors can even think about a visual metaphorical scene where a deaf-mute lady helps a blind man to cross the road and communicate with each other? And we all agree that there is sensible yet subtle and poetic emotion running in Gulzar films which uplifts the humanity in all of us.

Ratings-7/10

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A MIGHTY HEART (2007)

Most of us have watched that jihad horror video clip of Al-Qaeda where a promising American journalist Daniel Pearl beheaded with fountain of blood gushing out from head while Al Qaeda men were shouting ‘Allah O Akbar’. Nobody dare to watch that ugly reality scene again. In fact it’s the most horrible scene I’ve ever seen. How many of us would dare to see that scene even once if the victim is one of our most near and dear one. Just remind that scene once again and think about the Marianne, the wife of Daniel Pearl. She was on her last pregnancy stage when she received this news. It reminds us that the fundamentalist terrorism we’re facing today will make shame even Satan.

Watching the scene in the film where Marianne (played so brilliantly by Angelina Jolie) comes to know about her husband’s inhuman death just made me numb. The film was based on Marianne Pearl’s own account and Director Michael Winterbottom has absolutely maintained the reality of what happened without emphasizing any side. The film was shot almost in documentary and news footage style capturing the pulse of Pakistani city life amid all absolutely unfathomable chaos running in dirty diplomatic nexus of ISI, Pakistan Army and Al Qaeda.

As a strong women fighting to seek truth behind her husband’s death, Angelina Jolie has really entered into the shoes of Marianne Pearl. She again proved that she’s not just glamour doll. In short but significant supporting roles, Irrfan Khan and Archie Punjabi make their present felt. What is fine thing about watching the film is that even though dealing with sensitive subject matter it isn’t seems just tearjerker film. It explores the theme of redemption and hope prevalent among all religions of the world.

Ratings-7.5/10