Sunday, January 31, 2010
A few debut films give us such a rustic feel full of colloquial Indian lingo, quirky humor set in tone with deglamorised characters full of flesh and blood. Director Abhishek Chaubey makes his presence felt with this debut film (naturally under the mentorship of Vishal Bhardwaj) and it’s a film one has to watch to feel the spicy mixture of Indian chutney. The most praiseworthy thing about Chaubey’s film is its authentic look of small town India (read Gorakhpur, UP) where intriguing, dark stories are everyday affair which we never pay enough attention sidelining with page 3/ celebrity glitterati.
In a nut shell, it’s just a tale of two con men who falls in love with a widow and that’s what makes thing complicated. The initial first half of wooing the women with light moments shifts gear in the second half with dark, tightly edited and surprising twist of the tale where the tension and envy rules between two players amid planning subplot of kidnapping. It would be better if Chaubey would wind up the end in less predictable way. All trio- Naseer as Khalujaan, Arshad as Babban & Vidya as Krishna delivered fine performances while being characters and all of them have each quality scenes packed with some striking lines. Watch Nasser when he says, “Agar main aurat hota to…” Arshad when he says his latifa. Chaubey has highlighted Arshad Warsi and he’s thing to watch here.
Chaubey is the part and parcel of Uttar Pradesh and knows damn well how to represent it on screen without shading any inhibitions. Here Vidya calls Naseer, ‘ch***m sulphate’, wears cheap 250 bucks sarees, gives one of the most passionate kiss I ever seen on any Indian film so far. The music has some ethereal tunes, apart of ‘Dil bachcha hai’, watch the soothing fusion thumri kind of “Badi dheere jale naina” sung so wonderfully by Rekha Bhardwaj. Also see the use of almost forgettable classic old melodies of Hemantda, Mannadey & Lata adding spice to the dark humor on car tape, party, radio or ring tones.
A fresh and well attempted debut film to watch this season.
But it’s rather too romantic or emotional way of looking at the problem and that’s where film seems quite improbable for me. Go back to your family and friends, love your precious lives, return to sweet home etc. We all know this, isn’t it emotional escape for easy solace! But Americans love to read self inspirational books like no other countries and that’s where film strikes with transformation of character.
Playing roles with American sophistication is George Clooney’s trademark and people love him too. It’s tailor made role for him to play Ryan Bingham and he knows how to look gentle, look natural and look intense in front of camera. Director Jason Reitman touched a fine subject here but he didn’t cross the bar much but reminds us the message we almost forget in the time of crisis.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
The film opens almost poetically where we see a man named Yefim flying in the balloon, witnessing panoramic view of Russian country life and the brilliant symbolic fall…It reminds me of Fellini’s brilliant opening sequence of 8 ½ .
The film is divided in two parts consists with eight short tales showing us the life journey of Andrei Rublev, the early 15th century Russian monk who became master of icon painting. The spiritual and historical theme of the film touches the umbilical chord between man & God, man & nature, physical world & internal world. It’s hard to chose a single part among all but my favorite one are ‘Theophanus the Greek’ and ‘The Andrei Passion’. It’s this part which invokes philosophical undertones running throughout the journey full of good Vs bad, right Vs wrong, faith Vs rationalism.
“You’ll penetrate the crux of everything if you describe it truthfully,” said Theophanus the Greek quoting Konstantin Kostechensky to disturbed Kirill. It’s scene which reminds me our Bhagvad Gita where Lord Krishna gave discourse to Arjuna. It’s Theophanus who became spiritual guide and told the bitter truths of life to Rublev & Kirill both but its Rublev who understood it gradually and we witness it in ‘The Last Judgement’ part where Rublev realized that having faith and knowledge isn’t enough, it required ‘Love’ to accomplish eternity in painting because everything fails in time and space’s boundary but not love. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.
Mesmerizing and almost mystic black & white camerawork of Vadim Yusov is indeed cinematic ode to natural landscapes and old ruined buildings and it’s a deeply moving account of images. You won’t find a single frame in the film which excludes aesthetic beauty. Anatoli Solonitsyn as Rublev and Ivan Lapikov as Kirill are some of the most touching characters I’ve ever seen or felt. Apart of characters Horse is also a significant symbol throughout the film and may be in next watch I’ll try to fathom it.
AR is a grand epic and almost three hours long in duration but believe me its worth true to its salt. Watch this film with all your senses and yeah even if you don’t watch it at the stretch, try to introspect more… feeling this film requires it more than anything else.
PS- Again I crossed the bar for writing this long review but epic film of this scale demands epic review too, isn’t it?
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
It’s horribly hopeless future where you don’t know time, day or date, no survival of animal, no growth of plants, trees are falling and people are hiding as refugees in chaotic suburban town where cannibalistic gangs with weapons butchering them and searching food is biggest survival question. A struggling father and son duo is roaming alone on the road with a cart, a map, a gun with two bullets and a backpack of food. Amid all this nightmarish chaos father is trying hard to convince his son’s conscience that “we’re still good guys”. And it is this emotional bonding between two which keeps the novel/ film a fine treat of hopeful future.
Excluding certain emotional subplots and undertones of the novel, Director John Hillcoat has finely documented the images of McCarthy’s prose and encapsulated both the chaos and emotions so wonderfully. I’m so eager to watch this cinematic adaptation since long and another reason for it is Viggo Mortensen in a lead. Viggo always remain creditable cast in unusual and delivered fine underplay in many films and again this is one more addition into it. The film also has guest appearance kind of presence of Robert Duvall, Charlize Theron and Guy Pierce but as I said its father-son story and along with Viggo’s restrained act, Kodi Smit-McPhee as the boy is something we rarely see in routine Hollywood. The father-son theme resembles more with Sam Mendes’ ‘Road to Perdition’.
Absolutely worthy to give your one hour twenty minutes.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Yeah, cinema is faking the reality but one can’t use the medium in such a heinous way to depict almost inhuman sadistic, masochistic or pervert pleasure seeking characters that disturbs the psyche of any sound audience and this is what my honest opinion without any bias. I like Miike’s ‘Audition’ much than this since its negligible in violence compared to this and more complex. Perhaps Miike has deconstructed his own film by Kakihara’s those wonderful line- “Put some feeling into it! Giving pain is a serious business.”
Caution- Please stay away of it…it may disturb your sanity or innocence of psyche too…
Friday, January 22, 2010
Carol is sulking, repulsive; introvert & Cinderella kind of young, beautiful girl working at the beauty parlor and living with her elder sister in a flat. She slowly starts hating men. Why? Because her elder sister is having an affair with a married man and their company left her sulking alone and restless at home? Or because she’s suffering from unfulfilled sexual frustration in her subconscious especially when her own sister is enjoying company of her boyfriend’s body in her bed in the other room? Or because it’s just due to disturbed childhood as indicated in the last frame? Polanski has left it all open for the viewers to speculate and fill in the gaps. There’re many intriguing things like Carol’s watching of nuns in neighborhood, the childhood photograph in her room etc.
Polanski's excellent direction, beautiful black and white photography and Catherine Deneuve as Carol are brilliant example of great psychological filmmaking. Polanski amply used certain natural & mechanical sounds throughout the film whether its loud telephone ring, tolling of bell, ticking of the clock, thudding of the door or buzzing of the fly. He builds the plot with the movement of the camera rather than the script and his framing of shots and clever visual effects all paint a convincing representation of Carole's neuroses.
If still its long due for you than you are seriously missing a gem of Polanski.
It’s an average woman oriented film aiming at aging crisis but the story is narrated with sophistication & much simplicity. The chemistry between players is fine and that’s the sole good reason to watch it till end.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
The movie is one of the well adapted gripping thrillers based on Stephen King’s best seller. Unlike other Cronenberg films it doesn’t have graphic violent images or shocking blood gore. Christopher Walken once again gave wonderfully restrained act in main lead. Female characters always remain helpless supportive agents in Cronenberg films and its same here in form of Brooke Adams. The only misfit character in my opinion is Martin Sheen, who tried to copy Pacino’s hysterics which seems too shallow and mediocre one.
Recommended to all thriller lovers.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Starring Franco Nero as Django, a drifter with a coffin visits a Mexican country town suffering from on going rivalry between Hugo and his Mexican rebel gang and Major Jackson who extorts the town men. Jackson has a great force of 48 men which was quite unbeatable but our hero is one man army and he finished them all. Well movie takes different trajectory from here on and we witness some fine edge on the seat thrill adventure. Corbucci retained the tension of fine western and Franco Nero gave performance full of attitude and confidence which made it gripping watch for all western and action lovers. Perhaps Corbucci first time surprisingly introduced a western hero with firing machinegun and experimented different western action.
Ultimately we all love western for this only; a hero who speaks more with his trigger than tongue.
P.S.- After watching Corbucci's Django, I watched Django strikes again (1987), an absolutely pathetic version. Franco Nero returned as Django but Corbucci’s touch is missing this time. Story was humbug, Nero seems aged, action sequences are average and above all it less appears like western and more like those Steven Seagle kind of B grader action pack. There’s neither gripping thrill nor great action, characters are too flat. In a nutshell absolutely crap material on all accounts. Director Nello Rossati made mockery of the Django and murdered the original well made film by Corbucci.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Witness the height of political stupidity with visionary touch of Kubrick! The movie was a cautionary tale made in the backdrop of cynical cold war period between US & Russia when both of them threatening and challenging each other with ultimate nuclear weapon made for doomsday for irreparable annihilation. Political satire has never been so full of wit where dimwitted and whimsical commanding officers passing half instructions; Kubrick mocked US military’s blind run to raise upper hand. How crazy, wild and lunatic one becomes under ill conditioning is explained by General Jack Ripper here and it’s indeed a great mockery of human absurdity. It’s fine satire gaping at the critical side of the blind rat race in the name of progress between two countries, whether its space race, arms race or so called peace race.
“Deterrence is the art of producing in the mind of enemy the fear to attack. Top secrets are made to share with the world in all possible loud announcements,” claimed Dr.Strangelove. What bigger irony is required when soldiers of same country are shooting bullets under a great blunder especially in a place where big hoarding shouts with bold letters- ‘Peace is our profession’? Irony also suffused at all critical moments in the film such as when Mandrake insisting the officer to shoot the lock of Coca cola machine to have loose coins while contacting President from phone booth and that’s where gun was shot purposefully for the first time in entire film.
There comes a situation where man becomes paralyzed by his own invented science. Nuclear bomb is one of them. Overdependence on science lead us again back to animal stage. Kubrick highlighted same point in 2001 too. In this film Kubrick highlighted ‘human failure to communicate’ in all possible extremes whether its US president’s monologue to convince Russian one, between Mandrake and Ripper or the crew on bombing plane. Men have invented path breaking means of communication from cell phones to internet today and yet we still have to learn the basics of meaningful communication!
A superb dark comedy stuffed with fine satire and timeless performances.
Friday, January 15, 2010
It was somehow destined for Master Stanley Kubrick to direct this film, since the executive producer and star actor Kirk Douglas fired the first director, Anthony Mann not long after shooting began & movie fell into the lap of Kubrick. Perhaps, that’s the reason why Kubrick had to exclude his satirical touch witnessed in his other films. Shot beautifully in Technicolor the film is again at par in all technical divisions including Alex North’s fine music score, magnificent production design and settings, make up in grand scale; the only regret is its epical length and avarage editing. It’s more than three hours long film and naturally demands more patience unlike usual Kubrick films.
The movie was nominated at Oscar in 6 categories and won 4 trophies in cinematography, art direction, costume and best supporting actor to Peter Ustinov. Indeed one of the must watch epic of all time that gave birth to another great film like 'Gladiator'.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
I’m back to one of my dearest Hollywood director- Stanley Kubrick. There are very few anti-war movies which throws light to the hypocrisy of the battle as this one. Satire is Kubrick’s forte and he didn’t let any stone unturned in showing blinded military succession of power and rank race to win favors in World War by sacrificing innocent soldiers when they already knew that operation Ant hill was absolutely impossible mission. At one point of time even the Colonel Dax uttered line to his commanding officer upon unjustifiable charge of regiment’s cowardice in trench- “Why not shoot the entire regiment?” The three blameless soldiers became scapegoat and have to face court martial and execution without giving justifiable chance of self defense.
Kubrick films are always critic of human progress whether it’s social, political or scientific and if you closely watch the film it always gives you lot of clues to ponder deeply. Infact that’s the real signature of Kubrick film. Here in one of the dialogue he metaphorically compared human existential struggle with cockroach and guess what cockroach is luckier than soldiers. Where do we see the unconscious man executed with firing bullets on stature else where than Kubrick! Even after the execution was over what about that brilliant irony of whole affair in the end which started in the first scene of the film. And yet there’s a moving scene left before the movie ends. Viddy well Kubrick Viddy well!!!
It was made in 1957; but technically it’s almost flawless and way ahead of its time. The battleground sequence is brilliant example of tracking shots by George Krause, finely adapted screenplay of Cobb’s novel and lines, even the editing part is crisp and tight and for Kirk Douglas it’s a role of lifetime. If I’m not mistaking he’s the only lead actor Kubrick repeated in his films apart of Peter Sellers.
Another Kubrick Gem.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Usually watching torture horror was not my kind of cinema but Takashi Miike’s this film completely blows my mind in shattering way even after film is over. No horror flick disturbs me so much and I must say psychological horror/ Torture films are never as sadistic or disgusting as this one and yet it’s so unusual in deeper sense. I already watch it two times and the experience will always stay with me. It’s not just greatest Japanese horror only; behind all these blood and gore, Miike has projected a brilliant complex perspective of love and death like two parallel tracks where the pain or abuse is synonymous to real love and where dream and reality interplay in perplexing way. Hell yeah, it always makes me think twice before saying those three most wonderful words to anyone without commitment.
A mid age widower Aoyama, insisted by his teenage son and his video producer friend held a fake audition to select his future wife under disguise of selecting a heroine for a film. A teenage girl Asami holds Aoyama’s attention and becomes so subjective about her. Initially looking shy, feeble, soft spoken and tragic soul, slowly we come to know about her real gory face in the climactic later part. Though only one third of film is psychic horror and yet it makes you completely numb, Miike has maintained the early part with slow but involving way to the final chaos.
An absolute masterpiece of Takashi Miike and an unforgettable experience.
Monday, January 11, 2010
- Satyajit Ray in ‘Our Films, Their Films’
‘Diary of a country priest’ is a breakthrough film of Bresson where he proved his distinctly intense and personal style of filmmaking. The most striking part of Bresson film lies in its detachment of emotions without glamour with absolute minimalist approach. The whole story is told through sublime silence of young priest, his diary record and internal monologues.
Claude Laydu is a kind of indifferent graceful priest whom I love to bow my head even though I’m not much into God or spirituality. He’s one of the great non professional casting of Breson. There’s lot of underplay, restraint in his intense act and its damn hard to carry that confronting Bressonian focused long close up shots. He is living isolated life and surviving on bread and wine with mental and physical trauma. Everything around him is so depressing. What’s the only moment of his soul confession for the man who heard the confessions of others is his daily scribbling on diary where he record his observation of life.
The sequence with the countess is the heart of the film where Bresson has juxtaposed binary opposition of faithless Vs faithful to God. Its here we witness the unshakable faith of the priest. Infact it’s the only positive transformation he brought in the indifferent country. It’s my humble request to all escapist Hollywood cinema lovers to stay away from this film simply because it's not made for entertainment purpose.
This is my second Bresson film after ‘Pickpocket’ and I’m so desperate to see his more. He is a one of those avant garde filmmaker who made cinema the best visual medium of artistic expressions.
A Masterpiece of French Cinema.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Just two characters-a couple in a house, a single setting of house and a hand held camera recording. Debutant director Oren Peli has created something off the hook and made a fine haunting creepy film with whatever available resources proving his talent. The film looks damn real like watching real news footage. Even both Micah and Katie acted their parts so naturally without being screen conscious anywhere. They look absolutely real and convincing as couple. What’s a breakthrough is that the camera here isn’t handled by any third person but by one of the partner which makes it so believable and real and that’s make it spooky signifier.
Director has played creative role with weird sound at night which I think the mother of all fear. It happens to all of us when we hear some normal things at abnormal time of midnight i.e.-creaking of door, somebody’s footsteps, rattling pipes or sometimes a strange refrigerator sound at night, unheard in broad day’s routine life. Undoubtedly it’s a bedroom set up of camera recording which gives us scary moments but apart of it there’s so much intriguing part lies in audio-visual investigation and tricks by Micah. Oren has given credit to ‘The Blair Witch Project’ and ‘Open Water’ in an interview but he made it original and single handedly handled the whole project with direction, editing and audio mixing.
What is it? A ghost, a demon, a witchcraft or just genuine manipulation of your senses with subconscious?
Better experience on your own strictly on multiplex to feel the chill…
Saturday, January 9, 2010
If we follow the above quote and see Melville’s few films, we just grasp what he means by ‘cinematic baggage.’ It’s his individualist style where we see some strong personal characters which keep us perplexing, the unique use of camera and atmospheric crime setting which gives us impression of watching classic crime saga.
The film revolves around a bunch of secret French resistance officers playing hide and seek with Nazi Gestapo during Second World War. The characters have their weakness and strength which played turns of events. Lino Ventura as Gerbier is a man to watch here as shrewd, intelligent, unpredictable middle age leading character. Rest of the actors too played their parts quite well with special mention to Simone Signoret who played Mathilde.
This is my second Melville film and personally I like ‘Le Samourai’ better than this as it’s more gripping one and meticulous in its treatment. But watching this film I would like to conclude that camera hardly moves in Melville films, it remains focused on character for long time with occasional zoom in and zoom out and then it slowly moves towards point of view. Throughout the film Melville maintained this personal trait here and I fully corroborate Shuddha’s observation that it resembles with Bresson. It naturally gives us inclination that Melville believes in visuals and actions of his characters rather than conventional dialogue driven drama. It requires patience to watch Melville films for common audience due to his minimalist style & slow camera movements but here lies some fine POV shots that he had gifted to the world of crime films.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
One more Hollywood disappointment of the last year.
Monday, January 4, 2010
Director Kaneto Shindo told the story with almost minimalist approach, lesser dialogues, and raw visuals shot in natural light with single atmospheric setting of field and a shack. If I reveal anything about the plot it would be horrible crime so here’s just few random description of setting. An unfathomable vast field of grass, a dark killing hole, two women struggling with survival, a demon masked man, lust, myth and unthinkable horror. Conflict between three lead players plays crucial role once they introduced to one another in the film and that’s classic psychological role play of the film.
A brilliant & not to miss film for all those who love world cinema.
Friday, January 1, 2010
Science brings a new power to human and power brings the supreme air of trust in every new invention directed either to emulate or control the life. But at the same time ‘No science invented by human is ever become full proof’. One can’t alter the natural laws without being its own victim and that’s the brilliant motive of this film. A scientist named Brundle working on teleportation experiment successfully teleports inanimate objects from one telepod to another. Slowly he attempts it on ape and last on himself. Unfortunately a fly became a part of process and computer got confused about what to do with two different genetic patterns which resulted as fusion of Brundle and Fly at molecular genetic level and next we see the slow transformation of genetic split disorder in him. His ill fate is witnessed by her journalist girlfriend Veronica, whose curiosity slowly shifted to love. Here horror is blended with tragic love story where a lover in terrible mutilated abstract shape requesting beloved to release him with soulful eyes. Great Cronenberg moment!
Nobody can show body-psychic mutation scenes better than Cronenberg and here too we see the slow disintegration of Brunden from human to housefly. Another fine characteristic of Cronenberg films are that he never uses stuffed or stockpile characters in any of his films. Even if a character is there for a single scene, it serves its significant purpose in plot or narration. Here there are just three characters and he maintained and justified fine balance between them. He didn’t need great actors or big budget to prove his auteur. Even special effects and make up were used to bring the required intensity of the plot rather than glorify the visuals for which Hollywood is famous. The use of visual effects and make up brilliantly portrayed the slow degeneration of Brendonfly.
Brilliant director, brilliant film.