Sunday, October 28, 2012

ABOUT ELLY (Iranian) (2009)


‘A bitter end is much better than a bitterness without ending.’

My second Asghar Farhadi film and I must say that the man had already made an intense and moving human drama with an equal amount of surprise and twist and introspection much before winning multiple awards for ‘A Separation’ last year. It opens with arrival of four couples and kids to spare three days holiday. They didn’t get the house committed earlier but after a bargain they managed to get an old house on seashore. What we noticed is that there’s no relationship between one of the couple. The man is divorcee and the lady named Elly is a guest convinced by the one of the lady. Its wishful thinking of her to set them as a pair but the guest lady is quite reserved with the group. We see her in few embarrassing situation or in a mood as if she’s not supposed to belong here. They played pantomime and actively played their parts with responsibility.  And then suddenly an accident occurred followed by another. They survived by the first but the later was remained an unsolved mystery. Was Elly really drowned or disappeared? What we see next is intriguing and swinging human drama shifting between situational and emotional fix and surprising twist played between characters.

It’s simple plot and yet how engagingly Farhadi built the whole intricacy of drama with its complexity that continues for almost two hours without boring or unnecessarily pulling moments! The emotional crux of drama comes in last ten minutes of that personal meeting between two protagonists, that changes the whole perspective of the film. that one close ended question and that answer of mere yes or no left the film’s ending an altogether subtle end with a guilt hard to bear. How delicately Farhadi handles the drama so naturally and it instantly connects to any viewer irrespective of his cultural roots or nationality without any extra effort just like his award winning ‘A Separation’. Most of that made possible by characters. Once again the ensemble cast of almost all Iranian actors performed so naturally their with a special mention of Golshifteh Farhani who played Sepideh, Shahab Hosseini and Payman Maadi. Infact all actors performed their characters so naturally; after watching each Iranian film, I keep wondering, ‘Are all Iranian actors born with that gift of or what!’

The film won Silver Berlin Bear at Berlin Film festival.
Must watch.

Ratings-9/10 

Friday, October 26, 2012

CHITTAGONG (2012)


‘Saans andar saans bahar
Bandook andar goli bahar’

This is the history of unwavering courage and mutiny of a group of young rebels to free Chittagong from British rule in 1930s. Thanks to NDTV and AKFPL, this long awaited Bedabrata Pain’s film seen it’s release finally and it brought to screen the glorious episodic tale with as honesty and as conviction as possible. Imagine the spirit of just fifty or so young boys without any training and with just handful of arms made a blow to British rule. They made successful raid on Police Line, Telephone Exchange, Armoury & European Club house without a single fire of their gun. Their leader a school teacher Surya Sen aka Masterda who told them not to shed blood of innocents irrespective of their Indian or British identity. Their amateur guerrilla army successfully retreat the huge army. And amid all this. the film focuses on a personal story of a young teenage boy of mere fourteen years old who dreamed about Oxford education just like his father who's working as civil servant under Brtitish patronage. But Masterda’s revolutionary flame and mission pushed his soul and spirit to join voluntarily the movement. How he led the movement from there onwards to 1945’s peasant revolution is yet another history to share and Pain tried to represent both within one and half hours duration.  

The film once again brought three terrific actors together who also made their dent in Kashyap’s ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’- Manoj Bajpayee, Nawajuddin Siddiqui & Jaideep Ahlawat (remember Shahid Khan!). Though nobody share much screen time as Pain treated the subject and characters with an equal justice and most actors performed their roles quite convincingly irrespective of short or long space. Shankar-Ehsan-Loy’s music is appropriate to the time and songs don’t create much hindrance as long they stays in narrative. But worthy to mention is the act of youngest actor Delnaz  Hiwale as Jhunku (Subodh Roy); he’s promising boy to look forward. The drama in the later half let loose the grip on narration and editing but not the spirit. After long time Indian screen get back to the glorious chapter of history and this one is surely worthy to watch.  

Ratings-7.5/10 

THE MERCENARY (1968)


“Ford has John Wayne, Leone has Clint Eastwood, I have Franco Nero.”

Sergio Corbucci is cult and one of the most influential figures of Italian spaghetti western genre. After his grand success of ‘Django’ his teaming up with Franco Nero gave some of the most entertaining spaghetti western to watch without fail for all die hard fans of this genre. His western has everything on platter that we expect from genre- brilliant extreme wide shots, spectacle of blazing gun action witch stylish macho in search of bounty and climax with gun duel. But than he brings something extra too- machine gun instead of Winchester guns in western (Django), psychopathic villain & mute western hero (The Great Silence) and here a political edge stuffed in routine formula.

Sergei Kowalsky is gringo to rely for ambitious Mexican named Paco and his bunch of bounty hunters. He hired Sergei in his ambitious quest for revolution. With his company the amigos keep on robbing banks, trains, army but the gringo is too demanding man. Not the best Ennio Morricone’s score but love that particular whistling sound with Nero’s appearance. Compared to Leone, Corbucci’s spaghetti westerns tried to push the action and violence with modern ammunition whether its machinegun, tanks or an airplane dropping bombs; quite hard to imagine in western genre before. The climax here is just compelling powerhouse till the last frame.

Surely an essential spaghetti western from the man who gave us ‘Django’ & ‘The Great Silence’.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

MANDI (1983)


Unlike his serious and mature in tone earlier rural trilogy, Shyam Benegal’s ‘Mandi’ is a film that heavily feed on bawdy satirical comedy with multiple character drama of ensemble bordello set in small town brothel. The film is social satire or lampoon dipped in comic-dramatic tone aiming double standard middle class morality and life and politics of profession of prostitution. Before ‘Mandi’, there’s many films made featuring the tawaif ka kotha as key set-up where the gold hearted prostitute Chandramukhi (Devdas), Pushpa (Amar Prem) or Zohra (Muqaddar Ka Sikandar) serves as an outcast romanticized ideal woman bringing solace to the hero of hindi cinema. There’re other films like ‘Pakeezah’ and ‘Umrao Jaan’ where the key protagonist of the film portrayed romanticized portrait of those by gone era’s sacred courtesans. Benegal’s ‘Mandi’ in many fronts devoid all these conventional tags. It brought to screen the picture of small town courtesan managing to survive his unlikely menagerie of her girls amid changing time, shifting location with compassionate tone. It treats the social politics of female sexuality in bourgeoisie society with irony and humor.

Rukminibai runs a kotha which is part a professional singer-dancer performer, part a whorehouse facing its decline in shifting time. They lost their old patronage of feudal landlords and Nawabs and now have to survive on small town middle class clientele. It’s contemporary in that regard. For Rukmini, Zeenat is a special girl and she keeps her away from ugliness of her profession and site of female sexuality but unlike the parrot in the cage finally she seeks her freedom in an unlikely affair. With her elopement comes another blow of reality when the bordello shows the true colours. On one hand the film is repository of social secrets and crimes of small town and on the other hand it gives us the glimpse of individual look of each prostitutes and character sketches of social reality- a constable who constantly seeking a chance to take advantage of his duty, a photographer who secretly photographs nude prostitutes to craft his pornographic photographs.       

The film has most of regular Benegal cast- Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Amrish Puri, Neena Gupta & other ensemble cast. Though media constantly played role of competitive judge between two parellel cinema’s darling actresses, one has to watch the natural flair and chemistry between Shabana & Smita in ‘Arth’ and this one. As courtesan Rukminibai, Shabana Azmi brought to screen one of her best dramatic performance. Needless to say, it has fine support from Smita as her beloved child Zeenat and Naseeruddin Shah as Tundrus, a male servant who keeps loyal to Rukmini till the end. Om is used here as comic relief. Bengal’s long association with Vanraj Bhatia proved so vital here; personally I feel this is one of the best score Bhatia composed for Benegal. The golden urdu lyrics of Mir Taqi Mir, the last Mughal- Bahadur shah Zafar & Makhdoom Mohiuddin are so beautifully rendered of Indian classical melodies by voices of Asha Bhosale and Preeti Sagar.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

ALBERT PINTO KO GUSSA KYON AATA HAI (1980)


Saeed Akhtar Mirza’s films have queer long titles featuring the protagonist’s name like- ‘Arvind Desai ki Ajeeb Dastan’, ‘Salim Langde pe Mat Ro’, ‘Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho’,‘Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman’ and off course this one- ‘Albert Pinto ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai’. The film was co-scripted by Kundan Shah and shows the anger of a working class young Christian of suburban Mumbai. Mirza portrayed last phase of seventies when urban middle class milieu passes through critical social-political-economical condition of jobless youth, textile strike and strong emergence of labour unions and rise of money power. An educated and upfront urban middle class working youth have three options- either he remains content and satisfies with his daily wage and dreaming big like Albert, play a directionless ruffian like his brother Dominic or going abroad for dream money and better life like Stella's brother. Albert is a face of repressed and angry youth who's angry and yet helpless to rebel against the system unlike those Big B's commercial angry young man avatars. The angry young man here is angry against the injustice, pretended society, changing class-culture-society and above all on himself who's unable to do anything that leads towards solution. He on one hand considering himself as one and only upfront garage mechanic of Mumbai able to repair imported cars knowing rich and famous people and on the other hand getting angry on his family and girlfriend.

Watching films like this, I wonder how both conservative market and Indian middle class evolve economically towards a new height in post ninety’s open economy. Five lac Rupees foreign made car was considered next to impossible for working class then (as shown in that garage song in film), today it considered as average economy model. Anything foreign and imported grabs attention immediately compared to mediocre Indian goods. The film has strong cast of Parallel cinema’s torch bearing names- Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Om Puri with some of Mirza find and regular like Sulabha Deshpande, Dilip Dhavan, Satish Shah and Avtar Gill. As per the title, it’s film of Naseer who played too many shades of Albert and he acted as per expectation level. That mirror scene is surely an inspiration from De Niro’s Taxi Driver’.

The problem with the film is its unnecessary tad slow pace and incoherent narration scattered in multiple direction and characters. What I hate is how makers like Mirza, absolutely under on unutilized the potentials of terrific actors like Smita Patil and Om Puri. The later half of film is quite stretching one looming between conventional happy end and unconventional rise of rebel workers union. Nevertheless the film is worth a watch to check Mumbai’s unglamorous, unadorned later phase of seventies. 

THE PERFECT CIRCLE (Bosnian) (1997)


“I’m dreaming, mother. Dreaming that I’m singing. You’re asking me: what are you doing, my son? What does the song in your dream say, my child? Mother, it says I once had a house. Now I have none, mother. Once I had voice and a language. Now I have no voice and no language. With the voice that I lost, in the language that I lost, I sing a song, mother, about the house that I lost.”

How can you remain untouched where a film opens with such a monologue showing us the image of a hanged middle aged man on tree in snow clad cemetery? The film is an undernoticed anti-war document from Bosnia pointing the absurdity of war through strong images, humanitarian drama and fine poetic monologues. A Bosnian drunkard poet after sending her daughter and wife away from horror of war encounters two orphan kids. There’s massacre everywhere where nobody knows when bombs or bullets from any direction end their lives. The struggle of survival draws the film towards tragic climax but before that throughout the film it raised many pertinent questions about the absurdity of war.

Some images stays with me; that injured dog with his hindlegs on wheel chair running aimlessly amid horror of ruined city, that frequently shown image of poet’s hanged self reflected the death of innocence, human sensibility of both mind and body. He performance of Mustafa Nadarevic is so natural and effective. His delusional talk with his wife and daughter and his frequent rendering monologues reflects the poet’s tormented inner soul: “If I close my eyes, I see myself hanged. What my soul couldn’t face, what my heart didn’t dare do, my body will do all by itself.”  

Recommended. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (1947)


A gentle and romantic and an absolutely unscary ghost story to watch for all classic lovers. It plays beautifully with theme of souls meeting across time and the liberating power of mind’s imagination. A young widow with a kid daughter rents a haunted house on cliff top cottage and encounters a ghost of a ship captain who becomes her guide, companion and mentor. She helps him type his memoir and he helps her showing her right direction. I just love the way relationship between Mrs Muir and ghost of Captain Cook. There is so much warmth and richness in the performance and character portrayal. Must say the big reason to watch the film is fine chemistry between heavenly beauty Gene Tierney and robust and gruff Rex Harrison. It has finely written dialogues with that distilled charm of good old days.

Recommended. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I FIDANZATI (Italian) (1963)


Exploring this third Ermanno Olmi film and must say he’s the one of that director I discovered this year who’ll remain so special in my cinematic journey. Olmi’s cinema is beautiful link connecting world war torn classic melodrama of Neo-realistic films and modern industrial neo urban generation. He is one of those post war neorealist, who brought to screen contemplative images of humanity to screen. Like predecessors, for the most of his films he worked with amateur actors, chose simple subjects set in natural environment, filmed with minimalist approach and brought subtle artistic images to ponder for viewers.

What is rare about Olmi is his commitment to Italy’s regional rural heritage, a distinct feature of his films that captures the contemplative ethos of purity; I’ve witnessed it in his ‘Il Posto’ and ‘The Tree of Wooden Clogs’. In this film, a worker committed to a young lady in Milan is temporarily assigned to work in plant located at far provincial region. The film is focused on his longing for home and fiancĂ©e. Both ‘Il Posto’ and this one preoccupied with theme of an individual young working class man caught between employment and individual quest to find dignity of labour and has to face his love life in tension. Departure brings best feelings and longing the pure ones. Ah that exchange of letters between departed lovers reminds me some of the most beautiful memory of my life.


It seems like Olmi, extended something from that Christmas party scene of his ‘Il Posto’ where two lonesome young souls keep watching other dancing couples in a restaurant table. The film begins exactly with similar set up where in a restaurant an afraid couple remains all aloof from each other watching other partners and then starts dancing with strange partners. Memory keeps playing see-saw of each other’s vibrations of emotions. The intricate use of flashback narrative brilliantly alternates between images of memory (past) longing (personal) and reality (present) and the amalgamation of all these brings something so poetic in result. In how many films do we witness the subtlety of what’s happening in character’s mind when there’s some other physical action going on in his life. The classy background score with melodious harmony of piano and accordion with and aesthetic B&W camera work adds feathers to film’s uniqueness. Olmi’s minute sublime observation and detail is so rich and universally humane and aesthetically so divine and natural.

Oh I love to explore more of him…or else like to rewatch all three Olmi films I managed to watch till day.    

Saturday, October 13, 2012

MARIA FULL OF GRACE (Spanish) (2004)


‘It’s what’s inside that counts’, stating the Intel advertisement on airport, justifying so beautifully the end and theme of this worth witnessing Spanish film. The film is a beautiful debut of Catalina Sandino Moreno who gave the film the larger perspective. It’s about seventeen years pregnant Maria supporting her working class Colombian family. in order to get new job she gets involved in drug mule. She has to fly USA carrying more than sixty pellets of cocaine in her stomach. Things do not happen as plan in hostile land where her two partners are adding and worsening her already troubled choice.

Without much of routine melodrama and without being too harrowing or dark, the film managed to bring the personal tension from the moment onwards we see what Maria is supposed to do in drug trade. It fixes and sets the drama and thrill with equal tension towards it reaches the end which is beautiful but predictable. That airport check up tension instantly reminds me about ‘Midnight Express’, but it’s not the film as dark and harrowing one, rather it draws a sympathetic character driven drama with illegal trade. Above all the strongest reason to watch the film is Moreno’s brilliant and graceful Oscar nominated performance. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

BLACK CAT WHITE CAT (Serbian) (1998)


An unusual, mind-blowing and excessively outrageous farce to watch without fail. Chaos can never be as much riotous fun as watching cinema of this gifted Serbian talent. This is my second Emir Kusturica after ‘Underground’ and once again he blew my mind for his exceptional fantasy meets farce realm pushing the hyperbole with loads of black humour and wild imagination. This is absolutely laugh riot to senses. Kusturica’s command over the whole scenario of the film leads us to something out of this planet. It brought irresistible images of  wild goose and two cats runs amok throughout the film, a  band tied on tree trunk, a dead body hanged on train crossing pole, an amazing magic trick to remove nail with fat derriere, a giant pig licking the ruined car or that long crazy wedding crash is just wildest fun let loose. 

I just can't help loving almost all of those gypsy and weirdo characters whether its a dumb and loser Matko or wicked junkie addict Dadan, a midget sister and his forced to marry young romantic partner or those two grandpas with their wicked sense of money. And once again Srdjan Todorovic as women obsessed junkie tyrant Dadan with his unusual dancing and swinging moves is one hell of hilarious character to watch without fail. Here is Kusturica at his wackiest best. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

GUN CRAZY (1950)



“We go together, Annie, I don’t know why. Maybe like guns and ammunition go together.”

Joseph Lewis’s this exceptional low budget underrated classic deserves a cult status in the genre of film noir. One may put this film to other brilliant B genre noir like ‘Detour’. What is absolutely different and fresh about the film is its representation of two protagonists of opposite sex who’re also on opposite side of their gun fetish. It is also so different for its set up of rural love and crime on-the-run that appears to have little in common with the hard boiled nocturnal urban underworld that sums up noir canon.


The film instantly reminds me of ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ and it’s loosely based on the infamous real bandits of 1930s. It must be surely remain inspiration for Arthur Penn but what is another striking feat is much before that it would have surely inspired the breakthrough of ‘French New Wave’ films of 60s; especially Jean Luc Godard’s ‘Breathless’ or ‘Pierrot le Fou’. The aesthetic and innovative camera shots and angles and Peggy Cummins' psychotic femme fatale are things to notice without fail here. It has a brilliant beginning and shattering end with chase and run action and mad love in between. It has a big goof up looming all over the film but than its surely a noir to catch without fail for number of other inspirational classics that came after.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES (1938)


One of those first rare film of the genre where the gangster is not glorified but twisted and deglamorised towards the end for bettering the future of all those kids of lost generation dreaming to be Rocky Sullivan with guns in their hands! Much before his much celebrated ‘Casablanca’, Michael Curtiz made a gangster film that preach social responsibility and it’s a document to treasure for that strong reason. Two close pals and adolescent small time thieves grow up to be on opposite direction. Rocky becomes a notorious gangster and Jerry becomes a priest. A bunch of local teenagers starts idolizing Rocky and that’s slowly becoming an obstacle for the didactic father’s mission to reform them. The father demands something next to impossible from the man who’s facing execution.

The film represents the hard choices of charismatic rebel hoodlum and nagging moralizer priest and it serves tremendously towards that harrowing and unlikely climax with expressionistic shadows as Rocky is dragged whimpering towards electric chair; it’s powerful image that still enrage the audience who do not share the film’s stern moral point of view. It would be huge injustice if I’ll forget to mention awesome James Cagney, the benchmark to play tough big shot of al-time. All gangsters of Hollywood seems dwarf against the shortest of them all…who else than James Cagney! Nobody wears that wry smile and devil may care attitude on his sleeve even when facing the last judgment of fate or life. He’s the one and only classic gangster that stand above all. I hate to watch Cagney died like this...like those i'm also frustrated towarss the end. Whaddya hear? Whaddya say?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

IL POSTO (Italian) (1961)


After his contemplative and poetic ‘The Tree of Wooden Clogs’, this is my second Ermanno Olmi film and the man had made another simple, sublime and touching humanitarian document in the lineage of Neo-realism. What I love most about both the films is the way he kept understated message with minimalist approach without much dialogue or narration and yet created moving ripples throughout the film. The movie presents a sensitively portrayed point of view of a shy and reticent adolescent Domenico belong to countryside, came to the city of Milan to face the interview for the clerical post. The process of interview is strange and cumbersome but for the boy the day turns out as memorable one as he encounters a young girl as fellow candidate and after an introduction spare a day with each other’s company. Both of them selected for the job along with others but the work and difference in shifts starts fading the romance. What we see next is not romance but the growth of boy starts growing with life and career, and it’s sharp inside observation of strange and ugly corporate world around him.


The beauty of the film also lies in those myriad natural expressions that Olmi managed to obtain from its two non professional debut actors- Sandro Panseri and beautiful Loredana Detto with whom Olmi married.. It’s refreshing to watch both of them and the film finely captures the emotional ripples and vibrations without being heavy anywhere. That Christmas party scene where couples’ dancing is so refined manner juxtaposed with loneliness of two single individuals of opposite gender. Olmi brought something so simple and yet so complex on screen which happens to most of us, how the reality shatters the adolescent charm of promising man slowly and steadily as he’s becoming the part of system. That final image  is something which stays with its audience where the boy got his position on table and chair paying attention to the petty issue of his senior colleagues and that cluttering mechanical sound of copier machine…perhaps he’s noticing the strange world around him where he has to settle himself being another routine man of ugly system.

Highly recommended. 

KING OF NEW YORK (1990)


My second Abel Ferrara film after ‘Bad Lieutenant’ and it seems like he’s Martin Scorsese of low budget cinema. That wouldn’t be right, since he’s more raw, darker, shocking and disturbing than Scorsese’s much lauded screen violence. Both Scorsese and Ferrara persistently shown the strong emphasis towards theme of crime and redemption in their films. Ferrara’s ‘King of New York’ released in the same year of ‘Goodfellas’. Unlike Scorsese’s that much mass appreciated underworld epic that shows the rise and fall of gangster, Ferrara’s film focused on vehement chronicle of the mob boss Frank White, who after years of illegal activity decide to transform and decides to build a hospital for community. But this raise strong repercussion from rival gangs, cops and partners in crime. This encounter hostile resistance from every side and his futile efforts triggered a new chapter of violence in the city with bloody showdown.

As I said the film is violent, shocking and portrays darker side of city full of ethnic and racial confrontation in the world of crime. And amid all this Ferrara highlighted the theme of one man’s introspective phase towards redemption, which he took to the next level in his ‘Bad Lieutenant’. Christopher Walken gave one of his tour de force performance in lead and Laurence Fishburne as his henchman Jimmy Jump contribute something to frantic energy of the film. The film grew more and more intense in the second half with brewing tension and on your face violence and it’s indeed as brilliant as one expect from films belong to genre like this.  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

TARGETS (1968)

‘No one’s afraid of painted monster.’
Here is cent percent brilliant Hollywood counterpart of French New wave cinema. Just like ‘Bonnie and Clyde’, its one of those alarming call films of violent and shocking 'shifting seventies' of New Hollywood ruled by Coppola, Scorsese and Peckinpah. Two stories crosscut and juxtaposed with each other from beginning to the end and showing us the personification of real and reel life monsters. The retiring announcement of a veteran reel life monster (played by Boris Karloff) is the beginning of real life monster played by American boy next door Tim O’Kelly. He is a young man fascinated by guns who just after shooting his parents embarks on shooting spree with his sniper rifle on a huge water tank overlooking the highway and than from behind the screen at a drive-in cinema where the retired actor is going to make his final public appearance.

Peter Bogdanovich’s this debut film is violent shocker; the way ahead of it’s time. The idea and theme is about the threshold of New Hollywood where the audience is being pushed from known horror to the shocking reality of unknown horror.The canvas of this new horror is shifted from private and screen to public and street. Here the target can be anybody; its not faceless crime but motiveless crime that works out as real shocker. ‘My kind of horror isn't horror anymore’, laments aging and retiring screen-star  In one of the key scene of the film, Boris Karloff who once known as the Boogie Man to make the audience scream, throws the newspaper headline horror ‘A youth killed six in supermarket’ to the young script writer who’s convincing him to do him favor by doing his film. The climax is just brilliant where the veteran screen evil is being overshadowed by the terror of a stranger. Ah and that climactic high scene where the killer confronts the delusion at critical juncture facing the illusion and reality. There’re quite an observation of a wise old man to check the modern urban age where Karloff remarks while sitting in a car and watching long queue of parked cars and congested electric hoardings of the city, ‘God, what an ugly town this has become!’

Highly Recommended is the final verdict.  

Monday, October 1, 2012

JUDEX (French) (1963)


Not as brilliant as his ‘Eyes Without a Face’ but surely something as exciting and impressive thrill-ride and as overwhelmingly classy and poetic as his earlier masterpiece. Combining the elements of fantasy and realism, lyricism and brutality, haunting thrill and bizarre surrealism, George Franju’s ‘Judex’ is visual masterpiece for many reasons. It begins with a rich baker receiving a threatening note from a stranger named Judex who’s demanding to payback people he has swindled over the years. even though the arrangement, the very next day Judex appeared in disguise and the banker died. But things were not as we assumed as there’s lot of intrigue about who’s who that follows with many twists and turns to give you edge on the seat thrill ride.

The film is homage to Louis Feuillade’s 1914 silent film by the same name and also Fantomas, a series of popular French crime fiction also filmed in serial forms by Feuillade. There’s so much technical richness in Franju’s work, most notable is his impressive use of German Expressionism & Gothic set up in frames. The entry scene of Judex with bird head was influenced by remarkable French caricaturist and illustrator J J Grandville, who perhaps was the first surreal artist belong to pre-Freuadian era and precursor of Surrealist Movement led by Andre Breton & popularized by Dali.

Though he claimed once that since he didn’t have story writing gift in him, what he focused on is putting novelty into form. There’s no doubt that he brilliantly executed and narrated the film with gripping thrill and pace but at the same time he crafted it with strong Black & White visuals that makes the film compelling watch. From start to finish he maintained brilliant twists and turns with intriguing identity, representing multiple action going on simultaneously featuring secret getaways, escape windows and secret chamber inside walls. It’s quite disheartening to know that the man who pioneered ‘French Cinematheque’ and gave us two unforgettable films didn’t receive much support from his peers and public in the later part of his career.

EYES WITHOUT A FACE (French) (1959)


It’s rarest of rare to find a film which touches multiple genres in its individuality without doing any redundant harm to its overall subject or dominant theme. I’m ending up watching a French masterpiece made by Georges Franju, a film that sets a benchmark standard of horror genre without any popular gimmicks. However Franju didn’t anticipate it as horror film but “anguish…in quieter mood than horror; more internal and more penetrating one.” The proficient surgeon experimenting with face transplantation and hunting for a face to replace his young daughter disfigured in a car accident. He has fame, money and respect but also a mad desire challenging nature but than Nature has its own answers.  

Franju with great depth and detail portrays the sensitivity and complexity of plot with his aplomb direction. Here grotesque and bizarre are not the words used in its lame popular gimmick term There are number of unforgettable shocking scenes and sequences heightening the tension and drama with almost poetic Black and White visuals. Cinematography here in ‘Nightmare in Poetry’ and it deserves standing ovation for Eugen Schufftan here. I never been so desperate to see a face of an individual in any of films that I managed to watch till day.  From the very beginning to it’s shocking and questioning revelation and even after that Christiane’s mask made indeliable impression to any viewers visual sense. That tension on operation operation table runs as high and gripping as watching those truck tyres on rough roads in ‘The Wages of Fear’ or the pin drop silent heist sequence of ‘Rififi’ (both masterpiece of French Cinema). If that haunting huge mansion is for your eyes, that constantly barking dogs in cages keep yours ears occupied for all those nocturnal trap, medical horror that ending all roads to cemetery. There’s both tragedy and poetic justice in that brilliant climax where Doctor is torned into pieces by the wild beasts let loose. Worth to mention Maurice Jarr’s background score, brilliant act by Alida Valli and offcourse Pierre Brasseur as Doctor you’ve never seen.

This is ‘masterpiece’ in its true sense and a cinematic experience to witness without fail.