Friday, September 30, 2011


Wes Anderson’s this low budget independent American comedy brought lot of attention for its dry humor where characters are losers, oddballs and frustrated souls all packed in one. Though he brought out turn of the screwball fun to the screen in flashes, I don’t find it as amusing and delightful fun to watch as ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’. What I'm missing terribly here is brilliant writing of his later films and vibrant characters full of life with all whims and fancies.

Max Fischer is a geek student and he’s students’ magazine Editor, French Club President, Vice President of Stamps and Coins club, Debate team Captain, Baseball Team Manager, Astronomy Society Founder, Fencing Team Captain, Choirmaster and coveted with all other designations tags of extra curricular activities in the prestigious Rushmore Institute except being good in study. And now he wanted to explore his romantic side by having crush on his lady teacher. He got a rival too in form of Herman Blume, another oddball. After telling lies and character assassination to win the favor, he messed up so many things. Soon he expelled from the institute due to his weird new ventures and poor academic record.

Jason Schwartzman played Max and he brought the 15 years kid doomed by social skills. It has presence of wonderful Bill Murray; though I respect him as an actor, I didn’t like his character here much; the only impressive character I found is played by Olivia Williams as Miss Cross. Quite an average show for me.


Thursday, September 29, 2011


Now this is what I would love to call ‘One of the finest and cutest entertainers ever made on American family’. Oh, I love to watch anything with so refreshing humour even second time any given day! After a long time watched a film where not a single moment makes me felt bore or dragging one. It has everything you expect from a well made film- brilliantly written and narrated script based on amazing family characters. It’s a tale of disintegrated doomed Tenenbaum family reuniting to ignite the spark of relationship under one roof after 17 long years.

Wes Anderson sketched the wonderful characters with their personal traits, idiosyncrasies, and secret stories unknown to others. And its fine comic writing and timing without being too loud, too crass or too dark anywhere and yet successfully bringing the genuine humor on screen. Must say its not possible without absolutely stellar cast- Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelica Huston, Own Wilson, Bill Murray, Danny Glover and absolutely the brilliant act by Gene Hackman as Royal Tenenbaum and his worth mentioning love-hate servant Pagoda played by Kumar Pallana. Will soon catch Anderson’s two other well acclaimed earlier films- ‘Bottle Rocket’ and ‘Rushmore’ and I'm damn sure it will be worth watching and enjoying.   


DRIVE (2011)

One of the most popular and critically acclaimed film of this year and slick and intense thriller made by independent filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn, who brought notice to the world winning Best Director at Cannes this year. Refn exploited lot of commercial elements of routine Hollywood action thriller and builds the cool thriller on a pace editing, stylistic camera work and bringing suave and reticent kind of professional driver who’s part a garage workman and part a car stuntman for movies. Follows up a woman with a kid and hubby in prison living next door, conflict for money, a dummy robbery to set the things right that went astray and than one man’s finish it up job. Quite a set up for Hollywood thrill entertainer but than Refn made a sincere effort here and represent all commercial factors of Hollywood drama in more interesting and refreshing manner of film noir. One can see the shades of Tarantino influence in many of the scenes here.

It has exciting beginning that builds the drama in the middle by introducing characters of black and white and than it gives full throttle for half an hour to the thrill ride of action, violence and climax. Much of the film’s intensity brought by its main character performed with quite enigmatic intensity by Ryan Gosling. The man impressed me with his brilliant act in ‘Blue Valentine’ last year. Though i don't find the film that brilliant as IMDB popular charts or some of the critical opinions back it but nevertheless the slick thriller and entertainer to go for one watch. Won't say recommended or must watch because I’m sure most of you will going to see it immaterial of reading this review or not.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Usually I hate to watch silly teen romance or comedies but I would love to watch something refreshing and delightful like this coming of age British comedy drama about an atavistic teenager. From its very beginning it sucks you into the character of Oliver Tate. Everyone at school bullies him and teased him calling gay. He is absolutely normal though but contemplative one who prefers his own company and loves reading a dictionary He got a crush on sweet but quite unromantic Jordana. He has two missions of immediate attention- to lose his virginity and save his mother from affair with next door mystic weirdo neighbor Graham the ninja. His father is marine biologist and the noble man who neglected reflecting upon self accepted imperfection to relationship with his wife. Oliver understands this because he’s more like him.

Told brilliantly in first person narrative and smartly written and directed by Richard Ayoade, the film is finest feel good film, I’ve seen after long. Alex Turner’s soulful renditions are so refreshing and soulful that I like to download and listen OST of the film for a quite some time.

Recommended refreshment.


Monday, September 26, 2011


‘I was always trying to get lost when I was a kid. I soon found out that you can’t get lost, though.’

I was just sucked into this film the moment I heard its title first time and the film sticks to my belief more than what I expected out of it. Based on short story of Allan Sillitoe, it shows the directionless rebel young man named Colin Smith. He was imprisoned to youth reformatory on charges of burglary at bakery. There he meets a Governor who seeing his prowess, pushed him to win the long distance cross country run. Intermittent flashbacks of Colin’s memory show us the glimpses of his life before he landed up to the reformatory- death of his labourer father, his youthful disillusionment and failure to be a sole breadwinner for his family, his directionless unemployed hang out with a friend and a girlfriend and theft at bakery. 

Director Tony Richardson finely captured Britain of shifting 60s when unemployed and disillusioned rebel youth though heading in mundane pleasures and moving away from familial and patriotic bonding hates  confirming to the authority. Without being melodramatic and too dark, the film kept intact the spirit of positive vibes throughout the film including its brilliant unconventional ending. Instead one can see the moments of light hearted fun runs parallel to the disillusioned young man’s struggle to defy the authority and search his own identity by channeling the aggression and emotional readjustment of his anger and mental restlessness to running.

It’s just second film of this somewhat stoic faced actor Tom Courtney and the man remains so damn natural in his expressions. “It’s not that I don’t like work, it’s that I don’t like the idea of slaving me good self so the bosses can get all the profit. It seems all wrong to me….Thing is, I don’t know where to start, though,” he told to his girlfriend. And I think that’s the story of every thinking modern generation as it was in 1960. Worth to mention is fine Black and White camerawork and that unconventional and effing brilliant end!

An absolutely worth watching nugget of British cinema.


Sunday, September 25, 2011


My heart leaps up when I behold
A Rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the man;
And I wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.  – William Wordsworth

Perhaps nothing can sum up the experience of watching this modern masterpiece than the visionary poetry of the great romantic. But first thing first. I must say I have never seen something so beautiful in my life- forget the ‘Baraka’, ‘Heima’ and whatever the most beautiful thing on screen you’ve seen. Everything seems just pale compare to this height of visual treat. It takes you to the different world and gives you unforgettable unique experience; films like these are benchmark to the magic of cinema encompassing all other arts. Though I watch it on bluray digital print, I have a huge regret of missing the film on big screen. The film is modern avante garde in terms of visuals. Every frame is eye-catching wallpaper and absolutely sumptuous food of aesthetics. It gives me goose bumps in many frames, especially the tour of genesis/evolution. Emmanuel Lubezki’s graceful camera work and Jack Fisk's production designs are the benchmark for generation to follow.

Back to visionary humanitarian auteur Terrence Malick. We all know that this is his most ambitious project and he treated it with all his soul and heart at right places. It isn’t as abstract as some claimed it since it has clearly no story or plot in his two and half hours long duration. Most of the time characters utter only internal monologues based on memory. The film is spiritual journey exploring life and to decipher its true nature from  eyes of poet. The root of the film is absolutely based on the Book of Job and Malick clearly gave clues in the very beginning. Characters or actors or plot are fragmentary and wisp in the wind here, since the film is about humanity in general rather than anything specific or particular. It begins with death of a beloved child and follows up with the recollections of childhood memory by the sibling brother who’s now a grown up mid age man reminiscing about those inseparable moments of memory of internal and physical growth in the life and shadows of his father and mother. Than on it takes you to the tour of life, its evolution and than fixing it to one particular family again to witness the course of life in its minute details of the growth of a child- reflecting the curiosity and innocence of child, encountering the different forms of life, witnessing deformed one and death, feeling abstract emotions of life with wonder and shocks of inscrutable nature and lord almighty. The film is absolutely spiritual experience not to be missed. 

The child’s shift between the strictly disciplinarian spartan father and unconditional love of mother is quite genuine lesson to learn between our struggling confrontations between the skeptical mind and graceful heart full of faith, between logic and emotions and between the evolutionary survival of the fittest and compassionate humanity at general and like many things Malick gave clue about this too in the very beginning- “A man’s heart has heard two ways through life. The way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow. Grace doesn’t try to please itself. It accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. It accepts insults and injuries. Nature only wants to please itself and get others to please it too. It likes to lord it over them to have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it and love is smiling all through it. They taught us, that no one who loves the way of grace ever comes to bad end.”  

The only drawback of the film is it's length, as in the final half an hour, the film seems too stretching one  and it won't give me something which i call 'a height of leap', what i found in cinema of Masters like Bresson and Tarkovsky and that's the only major or minor drawback. It maybe possible that i can change my opinion about this in my second viewing as I don’t think one can comprehend fully the film of this canvas with just a single viewing. No, it’s not because it’s too abstract and too symbolic but because it’s something so universal and timeless which maybe grows on you and opens up new vistas after witnessing it the second time.

The film of the year.  


Saturday, September 24, 2011


‘I will always have this penchant for what I call kamikaze women. I call them kamikazes because they, you know crash their plane, they’re self-destructive. But they crash into you, and you die along with them.’

Unlike other legendary comedians Woody Allen’s real life and reel life persona is not different one on and off screen. His public and private lives most of time converge into one. He’s no longer different from the eccentric, confused, obsessive and skeptical man he represented on screen. Here he’s playing a professor infatuated with his 20 years old young student and it was the same year Woody’s twelve years long successful relationship and marriage with Mia Farrow went into mess with revelation of fifty six years old Woody’s sexual relationship with Mia’s adopted twenty years daughter. So real on and off screen!

The film is one of most mature work of Woody in 90s. It’s less funny and more confessional one and ironic about the theme of marriage and separation between two couples. It begins with one couple’s split witnessed by another blessed one and ends with another one’s split where the first one is again reunited. The narration shifts between self confessional interviews along with their encounters with affairs, crush and infatuation based on unfulfilled desire and need. Woody represented wonderfully the idiosyncrasies of his characters and this is one of those films to watch seriously. Both Mia Farrow and Woody are so honest and natural on screen along with wonderful supported acts by Judy Davis and Sydney Pollock. Quite strange to see Woody preference to shot the film with kind of shaky handheld camera and peculiar cuts running throughout the film.

Recommended to all Woody fans.


Friday, September 23, 2011

SUNDAYS AND CYBELE (French) (1962)

Here is a cinema that transcends from screen to soul…a cinema that uplifts the spirit of humanity. I just wonder how can such a classic touchstone of French cinema remained quite under known to the world! Maybe because it didn’t reach to its due audience under New Wave of French cinema thrust by Godard-Truffaut. Compared to Truffaut’s most sought after French classic ‘The 400 Blows’ this one is far great film in my opinion. However two things are common that both of the film are beautifully photographed by the legendary man of camera- Henri Decae. 

How many time we come across a film where knowing somebody’s real name become such a surprisingly pleasant and blissful journey that is so heart stirring. The film portrays the sublime relationship between a guilt-ridden soldier and an unwanted girl in the missionary orphanage. Both of them are lost children in their own way, searching the joy and life into each other’s company. The man pretends to be his father and swears to meet her every Sunday. As their relationship starts healing their inner wounds, it bites by harsh reality of silly society that views their relations with different eyes. 

It’s a moving cinema told in simple and minimalist style by Serge Bourguignon and the man deserves big hug from my side for making such a beautiful subtle cinema.  The film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film the same year. The acts of both lead players is something so natural, especially the adolescent girl whose heart cracking cry made my eyes wet in those final frames. The film reminds me another sublime Indian film based on similar bonding ends as tragedy, though in lesser extent and even in that film the ending mime-act made me wet my eyes brilliantly enacted by Kamal Hasan.   

However exaggerating it may seem, let me say honestly that it’s a cinema beyond ratings. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

THE YELLOW SEA (Korean) (2010)

The man who made promising debut with irresistible thriller ‘The Chaser’ back with another offering. A taxi driver struggling to settle his huge gambling debt and rough guys turned up to get the money so frequently. He was offered a contract killing task by a gangster in order to settle his debt. He has to settle two tasks in Seoul within few days- to search his unreturned wife and kill the man. Before his amateur plan to kill and search his missing wife fixes the things, he led himself dragged into crime mess.

Director Na Hong-jin passed the first hour of the film so well and I was so excited to see what's next after that edge on the seat thrill experience of that messy and twisted murder scene. But it’s a disappointment, the film loses its track in the second half and it absolutely loses the spark and thrill of ‘The Chaser’. Compared to that this one seems mediocre straight action entertainer with typical car chase and car banging like Hollywood commercial films. However, Hong-jin continues his trademark chase and graphic violence with ample knives and hatchet sequences. Seriously there is so much competition among Korean filmmakers to push the limits of brutal bloodshed and unimaginable graphic violence on screen that they do not left a thing for others. Hope next time Hong-jin return with something as brilliant as his debut!

Ratings- 6/10 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


An effortlessly moving and contemplative mature cinema from independent Turkish filmmaker and artist named Nuri Bilge Ceylan. The plot of the film is nothing more than reading a modern short story about agony of untold truths. All three protagonists of the film-the father, the mother and their young son struggling with their own personal bitter truths and ill fate under one roof. They slowly chose to live their detached and disoriented existence of family against odds and slowly turning their eyes and ears closed, surviving and accepting the unwanted reality of their lives.

Ceylan introspectively reveals his cinema to us in slow pace with minimalist mood and hushed tones of his gloomy characters. Set against them lies a beautiful artistic cinematography and believe me the expressive and aesthetic frames looks like visiting photographic art gallery. He also used brilliant minute use of sounds whether it’s moving fan or moving train, thunder in the sky or ring tone of mobile everything adds something to the internal restlessness of the characters.

The intensity of internal turmoil is felt more with silence than futile words or dialogues and Ceylan gave us characters that don’t look like screen models or card boards. All three actors performed so damn naturally with a special mention of Hatice Aslan who played the mother; the lady has brought so much depth to her character with her priceless sublime expressions. The only minus point of the film is its bit stretching second half moving towards end, but that would be pardonable for something so introspective and intense. Love to explore more of Ceylan…


Monday, September 19, 2011

OPEN YOUR EYES (Spanish) (1997)

‘We never appreciate the good moments until they’re over.’

Are moments of good memory that gives you pleasure more significant than the harsh unacceptable reality? Here’s a story of a handsome man who disfigured his face in an accident as soon as he fell in love. He is rich and ready to pay whatever amount to get his facelift from top doctors around the world but didn’t get result. Where one science fails other leaps up and soon he starts living the life looming between the unacceptable reality and perceptional virtual reality based on memories.    

Director  Alejandro Amenabar’s this intriguing and complex film baffles and involves active participation of the audience because he brilliantly played with versions of virtual reality (dream and memory) with struggling reality of the protagonist’s deranged mind and face. Undoubtedly the film is impressive and intelligent filmmaking combining psychological thriller with sci-fi that we have experienced in the cinema of Christopher Nolan and David Fincher during last decade. Both Penelope Cruz and Eduardo Noriega played their parts so well.  I haven’t seen its Hollywood remake ‘Vanilla Sky’ starring Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz, which some of the viewers considered better one but I think watching the original always turns out as the best option.


Z (French) (1969)

‘An ideological illness is like mildew and requires preventive measures. Like mildew, it is due to septic germs and various parasitic agents. So the treatment of men with appropriate solutions is indispensable.’

‘Any similarity to actual persons or events is deliberate.’ How many films clearly proclaimed this loud and clear in its opening title? Z is not a film but a stimulating and engrossing experience to witness how brilliant a political drama and thrill can go without any sort of conventional gimmicks of filmmaking. This is my first Costa-Gavras film and I’m just overwhelmed by it. He made must one of the best political thriller film I’ve ever watched eschewing all conventional traits.

A concerning peace-activist doctor is going to make an important speech addressing the citizens amid all provocative and militant crowd and irresponsible ruling government. He is of the opinion that spending huge money on arms and military increase corruption at high places at the cost of sacrificing the basic needs of citizens. The government does not subscribe to his ideology and unsupportive towards him. Just after the speech, he is attacked by militant hooligans and soon died. The force of police stands as lame duck silent spectator at the venue and the event is declared an unwanted accident to the public. A witness to the event was found with the aid of a smart journalist photographer. A dedicated inquest judge takes up the investigation to know the crux of the assassination plot against the wishes of double faced government. He remained stick to his task amid all threats and came to disturbing conclusion that leads to conspiracy sponsored by Police and Government nexus. But here comes the unconventional and disturbing end - the well scrutinized report of judicial trial and testimony of indictment is thrown into dustbin and the judge was dismissed when a new military rule intervenes and takes the charge. It has its own priorities devoid of ethics, justice and administration.

Gavras represented the shocking chaos and volatile urgency on screen with raw and unadorned realistic action to the screen- the shifting time of revolution driven by politically motivated youth, the uncontrolled extremist mob that can fire violence on streets with slightest provocation, the hypocrisy of corrupt Government, the ruthless exercise of power to silence the voices never shown to celluloid so vehemently and effectively. It keeps shocks you and disturbs you from beginning to end with tension filed fast pace narration and editing. The film won academy award for the best foreign language film and also won jury prize at Cannes. Yves Montand is impressive in his short cameo and rest of the cast performed so well including Jean Louis Trintignanat as fearless inquest judge who don’t succumb to any political pressure and determined to go to the crux of the case. Worth to mention absolutely brilliant camerawork of Raoul Coutard; this film wouldn’t be the same without him behind the camera.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

POLICE PYTHON 357 (French) (1976)

An absorbing cop thriller with engaging cat and mouse thrill, starring and establishing Yves Montand as French Harry Callaghan. But apart of Clint Eastwood look-a-like jacket there’s no similarity between either two cops or films. The title of the film derived from the definite cop gun named ‘Colt Python’ (357 magnum) which was regarded as ‘Rolls Royce of revolver’.

Marc Ferrot is dedicated cop who is under grief of his beloved’s murder and he’s the one who’s investigating it. It is his ill fate that the poor fellow has unknowingly messed the scene of crime under drunken state and left enough evidences against him instead of real killer. And so he has to get rid of all his beloved’s memorable gifts and photographs since any of clue can prove him prime suspect. He has to investigate his own way, the police way and at the same time keep himself out of persons who witnessed him with the murdered woman.

The film is not typical whodunit murder mystery. We see the enigmatic woman, her affairs with two men and than we see the murder and the murderer and it was not pre planned one but from spur of the moment one. And than begins the tension between two cops- one the murderer, the other investigator. And we know who’s who that confronts each other everyday in Police HQ and still they don’t know who’s who and that’s what makes it real interesting thing to watch. Director Alain Corneau applied many twists as the film reaches towards its shattering climax. For Montand its absolutely memorable lead role of his career and his real life wife Simone Signoret played know-it-all wheel chaired old woman so impressively in her short screen presence. Recommended to all French crime/noir fans.


Saturday, September 17, 2011


In 1817 great French writer Stendhal overcame from powerful shocking emotions while watching the artistic paintings in one of Florence church. He wrote about this phenomenon in his diary. Symptoms of Stendhal syndrome are severe depression, hallucination, nausea and personality disorder. Now that’s quite a topic to explore for this Italian Hitchcock. Dario Argento explored the strange neurosis and psychosis like no other in his giallo cinema and this one is no letdown. While visiting the museum a young lady inspector named Anna felt the same and she’s followed by a rapist-murderer stalking her and soon making her captive raped her and marked her face with blade. Getting a chance she severely disfigured the murderer and fully attempted to kill her. Everything is back to normal until once again things getting in disorder around her.  

As watching many of Argento films, I must say that this is one of the most violent and disturbing blood gore that he has ever depicted on screen. many of his trademark trait of mysterious killer is missing here, instead we see the rapist/killer within few minutes of the film’s beginning but there’s reason for it and you’ll know why, when you see the film. The film has eerie sound composed by legendary Ennio Morricone and that cacophony of whispers creates really spooky feel along with brilliantly selected haunting artistic sculpture models and paintings in background and foreground. There’s no doubt that Argento is auteur horror artist in creating that mood and feel. But apart of that film seems too average and predictable affair much before climax. The other weak point of the film is again Master’s flat expressive daughter Asia Argento as lead.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

TRAUMA (1993)

Back to undisputed Slasher Master Dario Argento and though popular IMDB rated it too average, the film is not at all disappointing one for all hard core Argento fans like me. ‘A dark secret, a twisted mind and an insane desire to revenge’, said the tagline of the film. An anorexic teenager girl ran away from clinical hospital after witnessing the murders of her parents by a serial killer. She’s deeply attached to her mother and so trying to commit suicide. Enters the hero to rescue and next are more gruesome murders by a neurotic headhunter killer who prefers beheading his victims on rainy nights.

Throughout his career Argento keeps on making his signature giallo/ slasher movies exploring the variety of neurotic killer and edge-on-the-seat suspense. He filled the screen with some of the bizarre images and this one is no exception- extreme close ups of lizards, decapitation of heads with weird device, voyeuristic kid following the action of neighborhood stranger, anorexia, occult and the trauma of bad memories. Argento’s daughter Asia Argento is quite letdown in her act and expressions and it’s real pain to ears to heard her English dubbed pronunciation here but than who cares about actors in B genre cinema when the director is auteur like Argento or De Palma.


Monday, September 12, 2011


With his first sound film ‘M’and the first path breaking serial killer film ever made in the history of cinema, German Master Fritz Lang made one thing very clear that it’s not just another serial killer murder mystery but something more than it which juxtaposed the enigmatic killer with the other dark and ugly reality of the society. Here once again he remained stick to that promise. The film is brilliant and gripping noir, a kind of that you expect from makers like Lang. It begins with two deaths- the first one is murder of a young woman and the other is natural death of the senior News Media conglomerate named Kyne. His pampered and good for nothing son, Kyne Jr. is now heading the company that took years to build its name by his father. As soon he joined he introduced the chaos of competition in his office. However, Senior Kyne’s admirable reporter Edward Mobley untouched by it keeps on analyzing crime beat on television with focusing on a homicide case. He plays a bait by provoking the maniac killer on his show telecast but by doing so he puts his own and his loved one’s life in danger.

As said earlier, along with the thrilling noir, Lang unashamedly covered the changing ugly face of rat race news reporting and power struggle where everybody is searching for scoops and exclusive stories and trying hard to secure their wishful positions in the eyes of their boss. They don’t mind going any moral or immoral means to secure it. And the real and responsible, dedicated and deserving men who worked desperately to search the truth remains uncredited in the end. So the worthy journalist Mobley quits the job and the unworthy pushers rules the forth estate. He again raised a point who’s the real criminal and who’s more immoral here! It would have been much better end, if Lang had remained stick to this end but maybe to pull the mass audience or maybe on the insistence of RKO studio-producers, he turned it to the happy end with news of Mobley's appointment as editor of published in newspaper. Dana Andrews is the man to watch and he brought Mobley what he should be in a noir like this! Perhaps Lang’s most underrated film noir.


Friday, September 9, 2011


As per the title, it’s absolutely entertainer than anything else and quite a cult hindi musical entertainer ahead of it’s time with adult certificate. The film was directorial debut of Yahoo a.k.a. Shammi Kapoor. Many common misconceptions considered the film as a plagiarized version of Billy Wilder’s ‘Irma la Douce’, however that’s a partial truth. As a matter of fact, both Billy Wilder and Shammi saw the original French play on the West end. Here is what Shammi said about his directorial debut- ‘Both Billy Wilder and I had watched the play in London and both of us were inspired by it. And both of us came out and decided that we would make a movie on the play. Billy made ‘Irma la Douce’ and I made ‘Manoranjan’. The movie was not a success as it was ahead of its time to our Hindi cinema. Heroines as prostitutes were not acceptable in those days…but I enjoyed making the movie.’

Sanjeev Kumar played Constable Ratan who’s seedha-sada chaddiwala hawaldaar joined his new duty on red light area known as Manoranjan Street. During the raid on hotel he unknowingly caught his senior officer and soon suspended by him. He joined the company of Dhup-Chaon played by Shammi, the owner of Dhup Chaon Café and started working as pimp of number one hooker played by sensuous and sultry Zeenat Aman. He soon fell in love with her and wanted to marry her but the hooker is so happy to be what she is. Poor lovelorn constable has to play disguised Nawab to win her heart to reform.

The film is complete mindless hilarious farce filled with some adult innuendoes and adult dark humor; nothing shocking or objectionable from today’s standards. Unlike other films of its time, it doesn’t represent the oldest profession of the world as unacceptable but romanticized it where hookers are enjoying their lives for what they’re and love to remain so. The film avoided any sort of serious moral or social statement.  Most of the fun comes from that Nawab act played so wonderfully by Sanjeev Kumar and it has whacky dialogues in Urdu penned by brilliant Abrar Alvi (the man who scripted many of Guru Dutt masterpieces) and the language was never used so farcically funny in Hindi cinema with words like dil-e-bhitari, ghanta-e-chaubish, jawani-e-haribhari, jism-e-dilkash.

Sanjeev was remarkable actor and he’s the man to watch here displaying his comical timing, however the camaraderie between Shammi and him is treat to watch compared to today’s Bollywood baffoonary. Must say Zeenat was much more than all Mallikas of today and undoubtedly she’s the first urban pin-up hindi actress with her erotic screen appeal.  There’s quite four songs in the film and Panchamda composed them up to the expectations. Out of all, two were quite brilliant Junior Burman compositions. The duet number of Kishore Kumar- Asha Bhosle ‘Aaya hun main tujhko le jaoonga’ is an absolute RD style rhythmic number where variations of flamenco meets upbeat percussion and creates magic with that 32 bits thumba intro. Another melodious track of the film us ‘Chori Chori solah shringar’ and Asha’s vocal perfectly matches with Zeenie baby’s urban sensuousness flavor of those days.


Thursday, September 8, 2011


Razzle them. Dazzle them. Razzle dazzle them.’
That’s what Werner Herzog has been doing on screen since the day he started film-making.  Inspired on true story this is another unexceptional under noticed Herzog film that he has made recently. Complex and unusual character and chaos are Herzog’s panache. The protagonist of the film is complex and unusual young man who stabbed and killed his own mother and than held two unknown hostages in a barricaded house to keep the cops out of his home. The mother was too caring and over protective one and he loved her too. So than what went wrong with the man or what made him turned to this madness. One does not expect the direct and easy answer to that from Herzog film! Through several flashbacks and situational incidents of his life told by his fiancée and a play director, we see the enigma of this inscrutable man who loves flamingoes and who claimed to have seen god. He started getting strange, they said, either after his river rafting expedition trip to Peru with friends or that passionate role playing of classical Greek tragedy that drawn him to brooding crime.

‘Some people act a role, others play a part’ said Michael Shannon and at other point he said, ‘I’m not going to discover my boundaries. I am going to stunt my inner growth.’ And he played his character so brilliantly. There’s not much to deliver as Herzog deliberately skipped explaining him directly in the most part of the film and still through his body language and expressions Shannon makes an impressive act. There is one absolute Herzog moment in the film which I loved so much. Watch the moment where Shannon ridiculously try that futile act of moving down on escalating stairs running upside and watching those unending round frames he said that it’s tunnel of time and perfect stage for cosmic melodrama. What a brilliant punch!

Only one complain-can’t it end better than this! As some of Herzog masterpieces are just irreplaceable for its striking end-part.  


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

OPERA (1987)

Another mind-blowing film that proves why Argento is called the unavoidable Master of Italian Horror cinema. He left no stones unturned to make is one of the most engrossing thrilling experience for his audience and used all his signature giallo elements in abundance and I must say this is one of the fast paced, taut and gripping horror that he has ever made. The film opens with ravens watching, disturbing the lead singer singing the opera of Verdi’s Macbeth. As soon as she left the stage, she met with an accident and died. The Macbeth opera becomes cursed affair even with replacing a new young girl and we witness the murders and slicing of throats in signature Argento psycopath.

It has some of the most innovative horror and torture traits- eyes kept open with needles to make the girl feel the horror, the affair with gold bracelet, a bullet through keyhole, a nightmare, poetic justice of ravens, POV shots and surrealistic images too. The idea of pins-under-the eyes torture device came from a joke of Argento himself. He said it would annoy him when people look away during the scary scenes in his films. He would jokingly suggest taping pins under people’s eyes so they couldn’t look away from his films. 

Besides this is one of the most gore and gross Argento where some of the frames are too heavy for common audience. The soul stirring opera is turned and ripped apart upside down to your ears and eyes to give you chilling and eerie horror. There are two things which are irritating in the film- the use of heavy metal background juxtaposed with western classical opera soundtrack and the absurd ending.

Must say one of his best works I’ve seen so far…highly recommended to horror/thriller or rather simply any Argento fans.


Sunday, September 4, 2011


Director John Dahl made one of the most compelling femme fatale thriller ‘The Last Seduction’ with awesome performance of Linda Florentino as a bitch hard to forget. This is his early film to that and it’s fine stirred cocktail of noir thriller with enough thrilling jolts to get you entertain in company of Nicolas Cage, Lara Flynn Boyle and the real old badass of all-time Mr. Dennis Hopper.

In search of money and a clean job, a drifter moved on his car towards western small town of Red Rock. Call it a chance or accident, he got misunderstood for a hired killer by a bar owner. He was offered money and job to kill his wife and he accepted it. He landed up next to his wife and revealed the plot and got the double offer to kill his hubby. The man just needed money so he made a plan to run away with it from town but fate made a different plan to bring back him to the town and now he has to face the real hired killer, the man, his wife and cops. 

Nicolas Cage plays that drifter, who’s a nice guy stuck in a mess and still trying to stay as clean as possible, Dennis Hopper as hired killer is once again in crackling form and it would have been better if there’s more of him in the film. Director John Dahl hooked our attention in interesting and engaging twists and turns and engaging action in the later half.



Once asked about being called the ‘Italian Hitchcock’, Dario Argento said, “Maybe I have inherited Hitchcock’s audience, but certainly not his themes. Between me and Hitchcock there are differences of morality and neurosis. Hitchcock is a puritan while I am an anarchist, even too anarchist for my own good.”

The film is one of the early Argento thriller before he made his much acclaimed ‘Suspiria’ or ‘Deep Red’ and though it’s not his best, the man never failed to entertain me! It begins with an old blind man accompanied by a small girl walking on road at night and hears some strange talk in the car. The following day the news of theft in laboratory makes him nosey to know the truth. He encounters a young journalist and as soon as both of their company gets the clue or lead, the murders keep happening around and there comes a moment when the danger starts looming on their face.

Argento kept the gripping pace and made us hooked to signature giallo, he maintained the tension and suspense throughout this whodunit but near to the climax, the film starts losing it’s hold and the unraveling of suspense seems so frivolous one amid all puzzling drama. Though its not as shocking Argento, I must say there are certain scenes which proved as macabre and neurotic as Edgar Allen Poe’s work, especially the cemetery scene where the reporter and blind man tried to get the clue from a woman’s grave.


Saturday, September 3, 2011


Rarely do we see the combination of unusual thrilling adventure journey based on true story set in arresting and captivating natural landscape. This chinese/tibetan film is absolutely visual treat to senses and at the same time striking journey of heroic Tibetan men of indomitable spirit. On 4700 meters high wilderness mountain plain of a snow-clad Kekexili, the machinegun clad poachers every year hunt nearly thousands of antelopes to trade their wool skins in international market. To protect the remaining extinct species and to combat the poachers a voluntary civil Tibetan patrol was formed in 1995 helmed by a retired Tibetan army man named Retai.  To cover the story of killing between poachers and patrol men, a news reporter from Beijing becomes part of the patrol men’s journey.

The film is absolutely stimulating and struggling journey to senses where situational ups and down of patrolmen are dominated by indifferent fate and inscrutable nature where human decisions are favorable or unfavorable at times with their paid price. Throughout the film we don’t find action of any unnecessary bloodshed or violence and at the same time it maintained the spirit of Tibetan culture intact. Director Chuan Lu deserves praise for bringing this riveting, impressive and yet detached real human drama and the cinematography is something which can challenge any well shot westerns.
Highly recommended.


Friday, September 2, 2011

THE STRANGER (Italian) (1967)

‘Lying is not only saying what isn’t true. It is also, in fact especially, saying more than is true and, in the case of the human heart, saying more than one feels. We all do it, every day, to make life simpler. But, contrary to appearances, Meursault doesn’t want to make life simpler. He says what he is, he refuses to hide his feelings and society immediately feel threatened.’ – Albert Camus

Perhaps no other book made as striking impact on me as Albert Camus’ ‘The Stranger’ a.k.a. ‘The Outsider’. I read it first time almost twelve years ago and it shocked me. I read it again few years back and it stimulated me and made an indelible impression on my mind. Director Luchino Visconti’s this screen version is line by line authentic adaptation of Camus’ existential masterpiece and its moving and striking one. Visconti remained stick to the original book without adding anything of his own and it’s hard to decide whether it’s required in this otherwise so complete and compact book of mere hundred or so pages. But still I feel that it would be great film if made by either Bresson or Tarkovsky- the Masters of cinema about indomitable spirit of human soul.   

It is the striking and existential tale of a solitary man who doesn’t know how to pretend what he feels, what he thinks unlike all others of society. He refused to lie to others and to himself. They’re shocked to see the  atheist who didn’t express grief at his mother’s funeral... the day after her funeral he enjoyed the company of his girlfriend on beach and on bed and still confessed that he doesn’t love her... his boss gave him a lucrative job offer to Paris that could change his life and he replied he doesn’t really care simply because it’s impossible to change one’s life. And then under scorching heat and blinding sunlight one afternoon he committed an extenuating act of error by shooting a man on beach. He’s convicted and when lawyer asked him ‘would you explain to me the motive or reason of your act?’, he replied, ‘I think it was the sun.’ The courtroom trial and proceeding raised many existential questions about him but above all it’s his refusal to satisfy the feelings of others that played pivotal role that increase his guilt in the eyes of law.

Is he being tried simply for his crime or for his personal emotions? His hard truth is something which is unacceptable in pretentious fake society that claimed him the stranger…the outsider and give him death penalty. The lawyer called him a vile soul, monster and Mr. Anti Christ but he’s exactly the opposite of all that! The climax is full of ideological friction and struggle between existentialism and Christianity shared  between the convict and the priest. Marcello Mastroianni who impressed me in Fellini’s two masterpieces gave his consummate best with his well restrained and well expressed performance. He honestly attempted to be in the skin and mind of Meursault on screen. He’s finely supported by Godard’s muse Anna Karina and all other satisfactory cast. Visconti maintained the spirit of Camus with minimalist approach with authentic setting and production. The only thing seems heightened is the courtroom trial sequence with loud oratory of lawyer…perhaps the end part could be made better!  


BORSALINO & CO. (French) (1974)

The film is a sequel to ‘Borsalino’ made by the same director. It begins with funeral of Francois Capella (the character played by Belmondo in ‘Borsalino’). He’s the close associate of Roch Sifferedi’s and remained almost like his brother. Sifferedi soon found the man responsible for his murder. He’s Italian mobster named Francesco Volpone and threw him from moving train but the very next station his elder brother Giovanni Volpone, the stiff rival gangster waiting for his brother and he sniffed the matter. Soon Senior Volpone made life straight downfall for Sifferedi; and the rest is bloody vendetta, rivalry, lawless town and volatile hard time.

The brilliant camaraderie between Belmondo-Delon is absent here, as Belmondo died in the first part and so Delon is the solo man here and besides its quite serious gangster film unlike entertaining and playful first half of the earlier one. However Derey maintained high points of the film even though its theme is out and out vendetta film. Alain Delon’s enigmatic screen presence, authentic period detailing and setting and production of shifting thirties, classic background score and fine camera work, action, thrill and shocking violence and unimaginable climax on the train! It has everything what we may expect from chiseled noir or classic gangster flick.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

BORSALINO (French) (1970)

French cinema’s two matinee idols Alain Delon (as Roch Sifferedi) and Jean Paul Belmondo (as Francois Capella) stars as two conmen brawling with each other for a dame and than making a pair of gangsters in period setting of 30’s Marseilles, directed by Jacques Deray. They play small time crime sharing their cut in racing, boxing, fish market but an attempt to play big game with city’s shark becomes an open invitation to danger and friction between them. Soon things settled and they become the unchallenged kings until another man rise in power by breaking the pair permanently.  

The title of the film is misnomer as it has nothing to do with the plot or story except that the main characters wear fedora hats generally made famous on screen by gangster cinema and manufactured by the company of the same name during 1920-40. Undoubtedly the chemistry between suave and sophisticated Delon and rustic and precarious Belmondo is absolute highlight of the film and they as memorable one as Newman-Redford in ‘Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid’. The other high points of the film are brilliant period production design, awesome camerawork; Claude Bolling’s rocking score and Deray’s stylistic direction surely wishful things to watch. Maybe I would not exaggerate to say that the film like this surely remained inspiration for  big Hollywood directors who brought new dimensions to crime and gangster films in 70’s ranging from Coppola, Scorsese and De Palma but there are ample clues of it if one watch it carefully.

Must say one of the one of the underrated gangster film of it’s time and surely a treat for me and for all those cinephiles who remain unsatisfied no mater how many crime/gangster films they’ve seen and still look forward to explore something classic of that genre.