Tuesday, September 29, 2009

LET’S TALK (2002)

Good News- Radhika is pregnant.
Bad News- The baby is not her husband’s.
Theme of the Film- If she tell her husband this ugly truth, how will he react?

Director Ram Madhvani is India’s most respected advertising film maker and won Bronze Lion at the 2000 Cannes Advertising Festival to his numerous awards. This is his debut film which brings totally new conceptualization of one liner theme. The film charges up the involving audience with emotions and laughter at the same time and for that all credit goes to brilliant actor Boman Irani. Shot in a common Mumbai apartment with just three characters, ‘Let’s talk’ is one of the finest original experimental Indian films I’ve seen after a long time. The action of the film is almost psychological and occurs inside the brain of wife who’s under dilemma. She imagines her husband’s possible reactions to her predicament.

How can a single actor play various moods of denial, anger, irrationality and forgiveness to the scene where he has to react to his honey’s confession of infidelity? Well, Boman you are genius actor. Many of us think that ‘Munnabhai MBBS’ was debut film of this talented actor but it’s revealing for me to know that it’s sixth film of Boman. But we can say that it’s through ‘Let’s Talk’ Boman got major role to emerge as original actor. His talent got noticed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra (since Director Ram Madhvani assisted him in ‘Mission Kashmir’) and impressed by Boman’s brilliant act of repressive anger in this film Vidhu offered him memorable role of his lifetime- Dr Asthane in ‘Munnabhai MBBS’. “Boman’s performance was one of the most inspiring I have seen in a long time. It was a huge learning experience,” said Aamir Khan after watching Boman’s act in this film. The film also has fine restrained debut performance of Maia Katrak who’s in creative advertising field for years.

The film is must watch if you want to explore more of Boman Irani.
I’m eagerly awaiting to see his act of Prof. Cherian in Rajkumar Hirani’s ‘3 Idiots’.

Ratings- 8/10

Monday, September 28, 2009


“Unlike other contemporaries of his time like Ray and Ghatak, Mrinal Sen stood alone. Unlike other spokesman of Nehruvian world view, he is not a chronicler. He does not accept the prevailing humanist view of things and weave his films around them. He is nothing if he is not critic, analyst, commentator, rebel- all rolled into one. Evident to his work is readiness to embrace plural, multicultural aspects that make for the living quality and the rich texture of Indian society.”
- Chidanand Das Gupta in ‘Seeing is Believing’

Ghinua (Mithun) is an ace hunter and a young son of tribal chief. He is upright man and never obey to any injustice. During his free time he hunts and gifts various animals to an English officer (Bada Sahib) frequently. Both of them share a common passion of hunting. Once in order to take revenge of an innocent Shalpu, he killed a human beast Gobind Sarkar, the oppressive feudal landlord who sucks tribal blood from ages. He is charged for murder in the court and hanged until death in the emotional climax. We can clearly see through the narration that Imperial Justice plays double standard in the prosecution. The illiterate, poor, selfless tribal man who killed the oppressor is regarded as heinous criminal who got capital punishment and powerful, rich and affluent official who murdered Shalpu comes out scot free and also got big award.
Sen introduced a fine actor through this film who later becomes India’s first self proclaimed disco-dancer. Mithun Chakravorty won a National Award as Best Actor in his debut film. Sen has maintained his character absolutely tribal in all minute detailing of his character. The film also has few other recognized Bengali art house actors like Mamta Shankar,the daughter of the famous dancers Uday and Amala Shanker, and is the niece of Ravi Shankar and Sadhu Meher, who started his acting career in Sen’s ‘Bhuvan Shome’ in 1969. For both Mithun Chakraborty and Mamata Shankar it was their first film. Mrinal Sen met Mithun at the Poona Film Institute, during one of his visits, when Mithun was a student there.

Apart of its tribal story and theme of protagonist’s self sacrifice in the search for freedom and life against oppression, Mrigaya is also well made documentary on Santhal tribes who became crippled under feudal landlord order and ruling colonization of British Government. Although film depicts the gloomy conditions of Tribes; it also makes us aware of significant tribal customs and processions.
Ratings- 8/10

Sunday, September 27, 2009

DROH KAAL (1994)

“A man can’t rebirth, a bullet can. It takes new birth in the course of history because hollow ruling power required it. A violent anti people’s state not only perpetrates violence, it also generates counts of violence.”

Most of the Govind Nihalani films preoccupied with theme of moral ambiguity of the honest cop in changing times. If ‘Ardh Satya’ was beginning of a young honest police inspector’s raw anger, Droh Kaal is extension of it as a family man following his duty. He has no other option left than to surrender himself to anti-social elements when his own family’s life is at the stake. It’s much hard for him to save his self image in his own eyes when he failed to protect his own family and the Senior Officer whom he adored shot himself to maintain honest impression of Police in public eye. His weakness also sacrificed life of his officer in charge and good friend. The only redemption for him is self sacrifice. The film also raises a moot point. The image of Police in the eye of layman is like hero. They don’t want to accept the reality that ultimately he’s also common family man and can make mistakes in his choice just like them.

Although Nihalani worked under his mentor Shyam Benegal for so many years; one can clearly see his own individual touch in his films. The influence of Scorsese is clearly visible in some of the blood soaked violence scenes and the up rolling tension of its protagonist. Its shocking for the viewers to see that as the film reach to its climax almost all the main characters of the film got killed including the main protagonist Om Puri.

Violence is undercurrent of Nihalani films but he never glorified it nor suppressed it from his characters. In fact it leads the conflict of the film and self introspection of many of his characters. In the end he always emphasizes the idea that no matter how far you escape from the ugliness of violence, it becomes part and parcel of your life. The mean of violence is indifferent towards the conscience of right and wrong and at the end always destroy both the sides.

What can one doubt when you have three ace actors on the sleeve of this fine director- Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah and Amrish Puri. Om puri and Nihalani is brilliant combination and always complementary to each others fine talents. He’s par excellence here too. He is not just tough cop nabbing and torturing criminals during his investigation but humanitarian too who wants to wipe crime not criminals. A scene where he tries to be sympathetic with shooter signifies this point. Nihalani presented him more mature and three dimensional this time than raw anger exuberating cop of ‘Ardh Satya’. The film also has fine ensemble cast of rising art house talents in their restrained performances- Mita Vashisht, Annu Kapoor, Manoj Vajpayee and introducing Milind Gunaji. Apart of Om Puri, another brilliant performance to watch here is cold blooded English educated militant leader Ashish Vidyarthi who believes, “Violence is the only weapon of change and the history has demonstrated it over and over again”. I must say this is his career best act. Although the film is minimalist, there isn’t any flaw on technical level whether its cinematography or editing.

Essential watch.


WANTED (2009)

India’s most wanted Choreographer Prabhu Deva hits his debut bollywood directorial venture. Its remake of his Tamil hit ‘Pokkiri’. The film is nothing more than typical mediocre masala entertainer stuffed with South Indian style fast action, pelvic thrusting dance, mechanical one liner dialogue delivery, usual screen romance and few really good rushes of comedy.

Can we expect acting from Salman? But he is ‘the hero’. Though Salman has nothing new to offer except shooting bullets, dancing and wearing arrogant attitude, the character suits him and that’s reason which carries this film for good box office collection. Ayesha Takia is cutie pie and she has nothing much to do except accidentally meeting and romancing with his hulk hero anywhere in shopping mall, train, gym or lift. As tobacco spitting, foul mouth, lecherous corrupt cop Mahesh Manjrekar repeated himself what he knows best. Govind Namdev and Vinod Khanna is utter waste material. South India’s rising talent and this year’s National Award winning actor Prakash Raj has done the role of lead villain. In most of the scenes he seems formulaic baddy, sometimes seems caricatured but made his presence felt.

Watch if you are in mood of some popcorn entertainment.

Ratings- 5.5/10

Friday, September 25, 2009


Shobana has a rare amalgamation of natural beauty and grace of individual woman character. I saw her first in Maniratnam’s ‘Dalpati’ years ago and was haunted by her beautiful eyes and expressive facial features. To be honest, she’s the reason why I dare to see this film especially when I came to know that she got National Award for this film.

Laxmi is traditional Indian housewife living with her businessman hubby and 17 years old American born and brought up daughter. She is struggling her loneliness with an indifferent daughter who wanted to live her life like an American teenager (quite natural for her) and business obsessed hubby. She seeks solace with internet chatting and finds a stranger under alias ‘Mitr’ and newly arrived next door American teenager neighbor leading her towards the things traditional Indian woman wouldn’t want to explore.

Throughout the film Shobana maintained the grace of her character but that’s it only. She’s more seems like surrendered domesticated puppet here. Her character is convoluted and dangling one among emotional drift and so I don’t call it strong women character. At once she’s constantly nagging mother of her American bred daughter showing traditional mindset and on another she’s living an American life keeping her loneliness occupied with dance class, carpentry and intimacy with teenage boy. But among all this it’s her presence which gets me hooked to watch this domestic film till the end. We don’t see the other side of her personality. I’m not expecting this when a film is made by a fine woman actor and director like Revati.
There are few other lapses too. The pace of the film is too slow (in other words editing is shoddy). The plot and theme is more cliché and less creative. The film seems more predictable melodrama stretched too far with one liner subject. Almost all the characters including Nasir Abdullah, Preeti and other foreign actors seem so flat and single dimensional.

Similar dilemma was also captured by another women filmmaker. Mira Nair’s ‘The Namesake’ was far better film than this. Based on Jhumpa Lahiri’s fine fiction, the strong point of that film was multidimensionality of the plot etching diasporic confusion between the dichotomy of ‘Home’ and ‘Foreign’.

Watch only for South India’s shining actrss Shobana.
Ratings- 6.5/10

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

ADALAT-O-EKTI MEYE (Bengali) (1982)

“Law is to ensure protection, not to hurt human dignity.”
It’s a shocking fact for our civilized society that a rape takes place in this world every five minutes. That means twelve per hour. The film is the account of one of its victim out of those twelve cases.

A young school teacher Urmila during her holiday break got ruined physically and mentally by gang rape of spoiled wealthy collegians on the beach. The culprits are soon arrested but it’s Urmila who’s treated as an outcast and shunned by her fiancé, her job, by society and even by her parents. The film starring as Tanuja in her career best role is a strong feminist statement against the humiliation and suffering of a rape victim which questions the integrity of our so called patriarchal society and judiciary system that give stigma to victim rather than punishing the criminals. Even today in most of the cases instead of fighting for justice the educated families just withdraw the case to escape themselves from murky business and social stigma.

There’s no unnecessary or obfuscating addition, introduction or role playing of any character or scene in the film. There are some memorable parts of the film. Dialogues are natural yet make us think. In one of the scene the doctor remarked, “It’s inhuman atrocity. What happened was even insulting to animals. Even they follow the law of nature.” Along with Tanuja’s fine act as protagonist, the other most noticeable character of the film is a good hearted and conscience seeking old police man named Gobind who helped Urmila in all her ups and down to seek justice. He’s more father figure to her than her own father.

Tapan Sinha is undoubtedly legendary Bengali filmmaker who made his exit this year. He is perennially rank along with Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen. His films were straight from the heart, aesthetically rich and favoring natural dialogues, least melodrama. It was really a bold theme set in ‘80s but Sinha made it so brilliantly and it seems even so contemporary to today’s time. Still the politics of power plays spoilsport behind the judiciary truth. Still ruling politicians corrupted misuse power to protect their kith and kin. Still common man doesn’t want to meddle with any stranger’s case, if the victim is not their dear and near one. The fault does not lie in the individuals but the powerless system where common citizen just don’t want to meddle with police and court. The sole fear of public lies in the very edifice of protection and justice.

Director Rajkumar Santoshi had snatched the subject of the plot, in some sequence even the dialogues to make ‘Damini’, a hard hitting film for wide popular audience with quite audience friendly optimistic ending. Though the film garnered Sunny Deol much coveted National Award for Best Suppoting Actor which he has well acted but the character was more typical bollywood hero driven typifying his natural flair for raw emotions. While Director Tapan Sinha’s this version is true to its salt showing the crude reality of our objective society and loophole of the Indian law for the rich and powerful. The film ends with optimistic and humanitarian point of view that Hope and innocence is not lost yet showing Urmila encounters the awaiting students to meet her.

In her tribute to Tapan Sinha actress Tanuja admitted that her best film is ‘Adalat O Ekti Meye’. Its surprising for me while checking the year of its release in IMDB that the film till day just got six votes with user rating of 9.2/10.
Needless to say Mandatory watch.

Ratings- 9/10

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Fact -
In 1960 there was a young man graduated from University of Michigan, did some brilliant work in mathematics specifically bounded harmonic functions. Then he went on to Berkley and become an assistant professor showing some amazing potential. He moved to Montana and blew the world competition away. It’s less revealing and more shocking to know that he’s Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber.

Its surprising revelation for MIT Professor that the man who solves the most complex puzzles on board isn’t any MIT student of his class but a self learner Maths prodigy Will Hunting who’s working under Parole Employment Programme in the institute to clean the floor. The most serious problem with this gifted young man is his uncontrolled anger and rough and rude attitude towards society excluding few of his close pals. Anyway Professor saved him from a trial with having a promise from the boy that he will help him to solve some mathematical puzzles and will regularly attend therapist. It’s quite impossible to handle this case for any therapist but than comes an experienced humanitarian professor who helped him recognize his true self in the world.

What’s role of education? What purpose it really serves to humanity? Is it means to create brilliant scientific prodigy and nurturing their talents fully equipped at MIT or Harvard? What if this skill and talent lacks direction, discipline or ethics? Instead of Ramanujan and Einstein he ends up with techno savvy terrorist or nuclear bomb maker. Because direction is one thing and manipulation is another.

More than Gus Van Sant’s direction the screenplay plays pivotal part. It’s undoubtedly a brilliant screenplay written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck who happens to be the actors of the same film. They got striking Oscar for their first screenplay directly written for the screen. Why this winning pair become one film wonder is still a question!!!
Matt Damon is promising young talent. Unlike other handsome Hollywood stars, he has quite common features. Along with this film, he also gave notable performance in Coppola’s courtroom drama ‘The Rainmaker’ in early part of his career. I don’t know why later he got lured by Hollywood’s thrill-action driven cinema while being stuck to ‘Bourne Series’. Robin Williams is naturally one of the finest gentleman actor of all-time performing some of the most serene, humanitarian and touchy acts in his wide career. I must say this is one of his memorable role as therapeutic professor and he won Oscar too as supporting actor. The film got nine nominations in 1998 Oscars, winning two as above mentioned.

Highly Recommended.

Ratings- 9/10

P.S. - Its pleasure for me to learn about India’s greatest Maths wizard Ramanujan from this fine Hollywood film that he lived a tiny hut and neither got any formal education of the Maths nor had access to any scientific work. But he came across a simple old book of Maths and from that book he was able to extrapolate theories of continued fractions that had baffled mathematicians for the years. He mailed it to Hardy at Cambridge and the professor recognized the brilliance of his work and brought him to England where both of them worked together for years creating some of most exciting math theory ever done.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Written for the screen and Directed by Roman Polanski, the film is possibly one of the finest horror films ever made. The horror is not external force like any spooky trash but more psychological and internal devastation of character. Its story of young couple named Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and Guy (John Cassavates) expecting their first child in their newly tenanted house in urban town. The aged neighbors of the apartment become the part and parcel of young couple’s life and this is the beginning of the horror. Horror comes from the least expected side-your next-door caring neighbor. Soon Rosemary becomes pregnant but what she’s conceiving isn’t human; it’s the devil’s baby.

Polanski’s world is full of existential paradox that each of us is alone in the indifferent world. In this film plot is revolving around Rosemary’s greatest wish to be a first time mother. What she deals is the worst nightmare of rearing the devil’s child. The acid test for her comes when she witnesses her evil child. Just like universal mothers she accept her child or she rejects it- is the central message of the film.

Like any other Polanski film, it uniformly proves some of the finest performances from almost all star cast. Mia Farrow is angelic beauty fighting her doomed fate is just perfect choice as lead protagonist. As her next-door neighbor Ruth Gordon won an Oscar for her performance. All the supported actors have also done fine work and stick to their character detailing. The second half of the film is so gripping and I must say that in a very few films we witness such a spine chilling thrill climax.
A Classic Thriller.
Highly recommended if you haven’t seen it yet.


CAPE FEAR (1991)

“I am like God and God like me. I am as large as God. He is as small as I. He cannot above me nor I beneath him be.” – Lines quoted by psychopath Max Cady brings the philosophy of Silesius, 17th century.

When the film brings you the great Director-Actor combination, it’s worth watching experience on all accounts. Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro is such a unique combination which gives us some of the brilliant Hollywood films in both of their respective careers and ‘Cape Fear’ is the last specimen of this perfect combo. Very few people know that it’s a remake of the same titled film made in 1962 starring Gregory Peck as Sam Bowden here played by Nick Nolte. Scorsese paid homage to the early classic by having the presence of aged Gregory Peck here for a special appearance.
14 years after being in prison, Max Cady (De Niro) is out with single minded mission to seek revenge on his attorney Sam (Nick Nolte). He brings terrific presence of psychological torture for Sam and his family consists of his beautiful wife (Jessica Lange) and a teenager daughter. Cady is smart and he made Sam almost powerless to fight with him legally and so Sam has to take certain other means outside the law to trap him, leading to the last unforgettable showdown on Cape Fear.

De Niro is in great form here portraying biblical tattoo clad horrible psychopath Max Cady. Along with his earlier memorable characters in Scorsese Films Jack La Mota in Raging Bull and Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, here’s another chiseled character full of horror show named Max Cady which I want to count in my favorite De Niro movie characters. Visually stunning images and powerful performances by talented cast highlights the psychological torment through the lens of Scorsese are the USP of this film. The biggest lower point of the film is it never rises above from its common theme of personal vendetta film in the second half.
Watch it for De Niro.

Ratings- 7.5/10

Saturday, September 19, 2009

SHANE (1953)

A Classic Western, made by George Stevens, one of the most graceful filmmakers of yesteryears. Shane (Alan Ladd) is handsome young drifter by chance arrives to a farming valley and meets Starrett family and becomes a helping hand to protect their farming land from threats of ruthless Ryker and gang. After their shameful encounter with Shane, Ryker hires black outfitted gunslinger Wilson. The family’s young son starts admiring the heroics and bravery of Shane. The film ends with expected ending with a heartbreaking scene where nomadic rider sets off for his next journey leaving his young admirer kid Joey.

George Stevens is one of the respected American filmmaker and he made some of the classic Hollywood films like ‘Gunga Din’, ‘A Place in the Sun’ and ‘Giant’. Just like John Ford he brought American male character central figure in his films. Desire and Conscience most prominently embedded in most of his films’ lead characters. This film got 6 Academy nominations including Best Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actors and Best screenplay. The film won just one for its blissful countryside color cinematography.

Ratings- 8.5/10

Friday, September 18, 2009

STALAG 17 (1953)

‘Stalag’ is the German word for prison camp. There are 630 POW in camp 17, they all are Sergeants of various nationality. In the initial scene we notice that two prisoners got killed in a secret attempt to escape and it becomes quite obvious that there’s a spy among the prisoners who reversed the course of full proof plan. All doubts are unanimous about one smart chap Sergeant J.J. Sefton but is it he or somebody else?

Director Billy Wilder and Actor William Holden once again combined after 1950’s ‘Sunset Boulevard’ for this gripping World War II POW film. The result was another Best Director nomination for Wilder (his forth), and Best Actor Oscar for Holden. Holden plays Sergeant Sefton, the leader of notorious prisoners. Wilder smartly blends drama and comedy with the surprising element of suspense running through the film. Not only the prisoners but audience also eager to know who is the informer rat in a barrack making their every plan another debacle. Famous critic Leonard Martin called it ‘the granddaddy of all World War POW films’.
Recommended for B& W classic Hollywood lovers.

Ratings- 8/10

Thursday, September 17, 2009


The European curiosity about the myth of Africa gives some wonderful literary accounts. Director John Huston’s this film is based on an adventurous novel written by C S Forrester. I haven’t seen much of Humphrey Bogart except his signature classic ‘Casablanca’. Unlike his stylish and attitude driven famous character of Rick, its complete 180 degree opposite role for him. He plays Mr.Allnut, an uncouth drifter boatman who helps missionary socially polished Rosie played by Katherine Hepburn to get out of Africa after the death of her missionary brother when German army invaded jungle during First World War time.

It’s quite difficult to push the film when there’s no other character except the lead pair in the film but the odd chemistry of Bogart and Hepburn is complimentary to each other and its one of the strong reason to see this film. Although most of the film takes place on a boat floating on river with two people overcoming all their physical hazards and psychological barrier to fall in love to make journey interesting one for viewers.
The film was nominated in four categories in Oscar, with Bogart being the only winner with Best actor trophy. Although it was a popular opinion that the award was probably a consolation prize for his performance in same director’s ‘The Treasure of Sierra Madre’ made in 1948. But for me Rick of ‘Casablanca’ is still his best and he definitely deserved it but didn’t get it then.

The film is quite fun if you like the old fashioned movie adventure and romance.
A fine vintage wine.

Ratings- 8/10

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Sometime spark of chance happening in life ignites the fire and turns the ordinary man into an extraordinary human being. May be a racial discrimination in South Africa was that spark for Gandhi. This film is not a usual gypsy journey or travelogue. What initially seems like an adventure journey for two young Doctors culminates towards a humanitarian exploration for one and transformation for the other. It is this journey which transformed a young doctor who’s pursuing his MD and struggling with frequent asthma attacks into Commander Che Guevara – the influential leader of Cuban revolution.

Written by Che himself, its true story of younger Che and what made him change his course of life.The first half of the film full of surprising adventure ride, the second one is projecting serious travelogue featuring historical significance of Latin American natives and their struggle for settlement. The second half slowly transferred the tone of the film and makes it more humanitarian tale. There’s taste of true salt in his blunt but honest opinion giving character of Fuser (a young Che) acted wonderfully by Gael Garcia Marquez. The film has fine cinematography and equally brilliant background score. It may make you feel bore if you expect the typical ‘Road Film’ from it but if you watch it without any expectation, surrendering your senses to the film, it won’t disappoint you.

Ratings- 8/10

Monday, September 14, 2009


“I love you because you are ‘You’ and you love me because I am ‘I’. But marriage will make us ‘We’,” a lover is trying to convince her beloved in one of the scene of the film.
What happens to their love post-marriage is the story quite relevant to most of the married couples- After initial few years the mirror images to impress the other ceased and the charm of romance lost its touch in mundane routine and inconvenient reality and all of sudden this ‘We’ lost its unification and becomes separated ‘I’ and ‘You’ and the relationship starts eroding the mutual life and consent.

Unlike his other films this is very personal, intrinsic and minimalist film made by Basu Bhattacharya. He used long camera shots portraying so many abstract things under the impression of ‘Visual Expressionism’ in the lineage of Ray. Sometimes film seems totally poetic and sometimes too boring to bear. What carried me to watch this film is Basuda’s fine whisper to all married couples who haven’t discovered the delight of their mutual life under the harsh reality of urban life, pressure of workforce and relationship that sucks. The film has just two actors in lead- Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore and both of them gave fine performance. In few of the scenes Khanna shows his trademark dramatics but if you keep them by side, Basuda kept him quite restrained. Sharmila Tagore once again proves that why she was called ‘darling’ by Satyajit Ray. She got the most beautiful and expressive eyes and her portrayal of ‘Manasi’ is one of her most intense one may be still unnoticed by many.

Its not usual entertainment but quite serious artistic film demanding hell lot of patience and passion for cinema.

Ratings- 7/10

Sunday, September 13, 2009

DOWNFALL (German) (2004)

It’s quite disheartening to witness a document which shows you the fall of great historical legend who ignited the Second World War and responsible to cost more than 50 million lives of Germans. Downfall is not just film but brilliant authentic portrayal of Adolf Hitler’s last few days inside the bunker.

Director Oliver Hirschbiegel’s meticulous film is not usual world war film glorifying either war or iconize Hitler but made a living, breathing historical authentic recreation of Hitler’s downfall. It is set in war-torn Berlin of 1945 where Germany is about to lose the war as Russian troops surrounded Berlin and Hitler remained in protected bunker became incapable to fulfill his vision. He didn’t glorify the character of Hitler here, instead portrayed him in all flesh and blood. Here he seems weak, disillusioned dictator who lost the control and hope and suffering with his old age and Parkinson’s disease.

The topnotch casting is essential when you are dealing with authentic history and Swiss Actor Bruno Ganz sets a standard with his accurate portrayal of Hitler’s character. In supporting roles Juliane Kohler as Hitler’s girlfriend/wife Eva Brown is just so integrated. Infect the only survivor and the most significant character who’s witnessing the downfall is Hitler’s young secretary Traudl Junge performed so naturally by Alexandra Maria Lara. She is the only character projecting the flame of Hope and positive about the life from beginning to end.

The film has approximately two hour thirty minutes length and the last one hour is terribly dark and tragic showing the horror of war with Hitler’s suicide in bunker and its aftermath where the Generals and soldiers remained stick to the promise they made to Hitler. They chose shooting selves than surrender to Russian army. The chilling cold blooded poisoning of kids in their sleep inside the bunker is one of the most horrible scene to bear. There are many striking scenes like this- showing crude paradox of belief of German army where the protection is provided to Hitler and his loyalists and their family when common civilians of Berlin were under severe attack. In one of the scene Eva Brown is enjoying dance party inside the bunker when simultaneously bombs are exploding outside and killing innocent civilians.

The film was nominated for Oscar in Best Foreign Language Film and won many awards all over the world and surely one of the finest German cinema conveying technical finesse and sensitivity of the enigma named Hitler.

Ratings- 9.5/10


Arnold Schwarzenegger, Breathtaking visual effects and mind-blowing action that’s what we expect from any Terminator films. Arnold is absent here but there’s no compromise in the rest of the expected CGI visual entertainment backed up with some of the brilliant and best action sequences I’ve seen this year. What it lacks is acceptable replacement of towering tough savior hero and those spectacular visual effects of late Stan Winston which led me to watch T2 maximum number of times in cinema hall when I was in higher secondary school. Yes, I missed Arnold here quite terribly.

Time is 2018. Future of humanity is again at peril. An infiltration prototype programmed part man-part machine named Marcus is resurrected to save the human race from extinction under the looming danger of Skynet machines and army of Terminators. Connor is on resistance mission and Marcus helps him to reach his destiny. There’s nothing of new conception or creatively experimental in the plot or structure which uplifts this sequel. Its more ‘damn the story, show the kickass action’ kind of entertainment. Director McG, who earlier directed Charlie’s Angels, has not applied much of his head on scripting board but only on mega production project keenly awaited.

Watch only if you don’t want to muddle much of your head in story but just to enjoy awesome action entertainer.

Ratings- 6/10

Friday, September 11, 2009

DISTRICT 9 (2009)

‘Experimental cinema’ is making is presence felt this year both in Hollywood and Bollywood. If Indian directors are experimenting with cliché themes of eternal loser and twin brothers in new perspectives and presentation with ‘Dev D’ and ‘Kaminey’; Hollywood Directors are trying to redefine their cliché of various genres. Director Katherine Bigelow broke the mould the way war films were made and showed how the individual fear and chaos plays pivotal role in her career best film- ‘The Hurt Locker’ and now this altogether different but creatively original alien sci-fi film made by debut director Neill Blomkamp. I’m sure it will surely redefine the way new alien films will be made in Hollywood.

D-9 is the place of South Africa where aliens are surviving as refugees from more than two decades. A private company MNU is assigned the task of controlling the aliens. MNU is less interested in alien look after and more interested in their advanced bio-weapon technology unable to operate or fathom by humans. A man got infected by alien, and as he becomes the first human to probe alien weapons, everything is bet on him-the human world as well as non human world.

So what new things does this Hollywood blockbuster offer and how different it is from other run on the mill Hollywood alien obsession? The production of the film is quite low budget one but creatively its far superior than many visually escapist no brainer alien films. Shot and narrated in almost documentary style and assembling almost unknown/new actors, the film is not just CGI show of mind-blowing visual effects but instead quite realistic representation of panic created by these non-humans to the world of humans and vice versa.

The film is gaining momentum right now but I must admit that it truly deserves it and live up to our expectations.

Ratings- 8/10

Thursday, September 10, 2009

REDBELT (2008)

It’s all of sudden revealing twist for the audience in the second half that what seems straight and flat circumstantial ordinary chance story in the case of Marshall Art ‘jiu-jitsu’ trainer Mike Terry in the first half, is just preplanned smart trap to fix him.
If you are expecting some quick Marshall Arts action than it will disappoint you, instead it’s more thrilling drama supported by engaging screenplay by writer-Director David Mamet. Its not easy game, instead the luck of your game is decided just before the game begin by one black marble and two white marble. If fate has secured a black marble for the fighter than he has to fight with his opponent quite blindfolded keeping his one of the hand handicap. It’s more discouraging for Terry to know just before the minute of his game that the match is fixed by bookies. How can Terry fight under this trapped cage?
The climax is just pin drop silent game.

Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance as Terry certainly demands appreciation maintaining the attitude of his character displaying repressed anger. I haven’t seen Mamet’s earlier films, noticeably appreciated by few of the renowned film critics but after watching this I will surely try to catch his ‘The House of the Game’ and ‘The Spanish Prisoner’.
Worthy to watch once.

Ratings- 7/10

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

NIGHTS OF CABIRIA (Italian) (1957)

What should I say about this Italian Writer- Director whose four films won Best Foreign Language Film Oscar Awards and a year ago his death; he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1992 Academy Awards. Italy has given some of the most artistic directors and their masterpiece cinemas during the rise of Neo Realistic Movement and Federico Fellini was the last precursor of that era. I start my exploration of Fellini with this masterpiece which brought him the first Academy honor of Best Film.

It is humanistic idea that people are innately good, but their circumstances makes them what they act and it’s the concurrent theme of almost all Neorealist films and as a result we got some fine, simple humanitarian cinema that last long forever.
‘Nights of Cabiria’ is a touching sentimental journey of an innocent, romantic road side call girl expecting miracle in form of true love. In the initial scene we come to notice that how she was duped by her lover and lost her hard earned money. Still she continued her hope intact and soon one fine night a famous actor brought her to his palace like home when his girlfriend departed him. But soon the happiness turned into an embarrassment very next morning. She also begs God for a miracle to change her life. Within a short time she meets a noble man who’s willing to marry her. She is at the height of her happiness. But it was no longer destined for her.

With her lean body, tiny height and almost ordinary looks the character of poor and orphan working class optimistic young girl ‘Cabiria’ is wonderfully performed by Giulietta Masina ( the real life wife of Fellini). Her insatiable desire and dream of searching true love and happiness got disillusioned by the harsh reality of the selfish society. She made the audience felt the grace and dignity of her character in all her raw emotional intensity, charm and innocence and that’s why she won Best Actress Award in Cannes Film Festival for this film.

Fellini maintained the subtlety of class conflict in many of the scenes- an unavoidable everyday reality of our life. Many critics believed that it was the last neorealist film that Fellini has made. What he made after this is more surreal, fantasy and a kind of autobiographical cinema.

Pure Classic.

Ratings- 9/10

Sunday, September 6, 2009


‘Somewhere in the universe there has to be something better than man’. - Charlton Heston as Astronaut Taylor.

Two fine sci-fi films clashed in 1968; one becomes an instant box office hit, the other didn’t get same response instead it confused and bored the audience to the limit. The later one is Kubrick’s masterpiece ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ (which I already discussed on same place few days ago) and the successful one of that year is ‘Planet of the Apes’. What Charlton Heston said directly while traveling in his space ship in the first scene of the film- “Seen from out here everything seems different. Time bends. Space is…boundless. It squashes the man’s ego. I feel lonely.” Kubrick left the same message to audience’s interpretation in 2001. Like other critics, I don’t want to scratch any further comparison between two since there is no reason nor rhyme to compare Kubrick with anyone. So I better enjoyed the film in its own way without much fuss and like to claim that this one too is one of the well made sci-fi classic of the bygone era.

Astronaut Taylor (Heston) along with two other astronauts crash lands on an unknown planet ruled by highly evolved apes that use primitive herbivorous mute human race for experimentation and sport. Soon Taylor finds himself among the hunted, his life in the hand of benevolent chimpanzee scientist Dr Zira trying to prove that the man can be domesticated. With her help Taylor escapes. Only to make startling discovery.
“Some apes are created more equal than others”, said Heston in one of the scene and it gives clue of Orwellian satire in his brilliant fable ‘Animal Farm’ (a must read for all literature lover). Some of the dialogues are sharp and thought provoking with irony pitted against the theory of evolution. Apart of usual entertainment, it raises many ideas regarding- science, religion and human evolution. When ‘Origin of Species’ was published it was regarded as heresy and Darwin was called Satan for challenging biblical faith of Christianity by the religious authority and that point is nicely interwoven in the film. The ending is really eye opener and unusual, mandatory material to think hard about being human.

Although the film was produced with meager budget compared to other studio back up epics, the set design, make up remained noticeable material for the contemporary filmmakers of that era. I do agree that the make up of the apes looks quite amusing and ridiculous compared to today’s CGI back up ones used by Tim Burton to recreate this classic in 2001, but mind well that it’s a film made 40 years ago and that’s why it was well appreciated with honorary Oscar for Best Make up Award that year.

Ratings- 8/10

Saturday, September 5, 2009

SNATCH (2000)

The movie is a long due for me but today I watch it and agree with the popular opinion that it’s a finest sleek and spicy entertainer made by writer-director Guy Ritchie. From the beginning intro of all ensemble cast/characters to the unusual end it gives me enough “Ohh My Gawd” kind of feeling. The movie is just off the hook with idiosyncratic con characters blended by fine ensemble cast- Brad Pitt, Benicio Del Toro, Jason Statham and others. Loony situations- fixing- betting- con- black humor- crackling punch line dialogues- witty narration- kickass camera work – skillful editing, the film has all the essential ingredients in right proportions.

The whole movie and all the characters revolve around the plot of snatching the precious diamond. It’s less to say and much to watch and enjoy the rollercoaster ride Guy Ritchie style. Brad Pitt has may be the smallest screen presence here (if I exclude ‘Burn After Reading’) but he’s the character not to miss in his one punch box machine- ‘Mickey’. It’s quite difficult to get his gypsy lingo but more than that it’s his attitude that steals the show.
It’s not on the rocks single malt for purists but tequila shot enough to drive you rough for a while.

Ratings- 7.5/10

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I’ve got mixed views about this film from many community members but they all agree that Jack Nicholson’s performance is just impeccable. How can I deny when it’s one of my all time favorite!!! Anyway, there’s another good reason to watch this film. He is Director Alexander Payne. Much before seeing this, I watched his Academy nominated ‘Sideways’, a refined comedy about connoisseurs of wine, women and friendship and the situational flux of life and it is really a lingering experience.

‘About Schmidt’ was made prior to ‘Sideways’ but it still bears some good comic punches of Mr. Warren Schmidt’s character, a recently retired insurance man. Soon after his retirement, he lost his irritating old wife. Life is not happening playground when you cross your sixties. His only reclaim of my life is his young daughter Jennie but his inner grudge towards his son-in law and his mother stared giving him enough embarrassment for his free old age life. Jack Nicholson perfectly blends a certain amount of inherent anger in behind his façade of cool and harmless old man and that’s the thing to watch here. What is unique about Nicholson is as you watch his films one after another you just start liking his refreshing acting and vivid characters more and more. It does not happen with every good actor; some of the very good actors ended up being fixed or typecast and often seen repeating themselves.

Although there’s nothing much to ponder about the film in length but Director Payne and co-writer Taylor conveyed cold hearted dry humor with deep rooted human characteristics not easy to modify until Mr. Schmidt finds meaning and some small reward in a quite gesture of good will.
Love it or hate it but you can’t ignore Mr. Schmidt.

Ratings- 7/10

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” – T. S. Eliot

Call it a visual illusion or reality, the trip of watching this film is quite unlike any other film journey in nature or length. Its just otherworldly experience one has to feel on his own.
Based on one of the finest Science Fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke’s short story, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ is the most ambitious grand film of Kubrick’s career and it’s the classic sci-fi film ever made and the best ever seen by me. Sorry to Lucas, Spielberg and Ridley Scott but Kubrick’s this film is the father of all sci-fis. Pushing forward more the visual narrative and mind blowing special effects it begins at ‘the dawn of humanity’ and ventures into future; completing the full circle of human exploration. Backed by stunning sets and western classical background music, it reminds us the vastness of space and our place in it.

Perhaps there’s no other scene as brilliant as the evolutionary ape throws the bone weapon into the air in the beginning of ‘The Dawn of Man’ scene. After which camera takes a brilliant jump cut to a space station in the outer space, continuing the movement of human progress and exploration millions of years later. This is the greatest visual metaphor Kubrick created with his signature irony. From the pre-historic ape that triumphs discovering the bone (the first weapon) to the space exploration, the focal point here is man’s struggle for mastery over weapon/technology and the mysteries of spiritual. Intelligence, learning and desire of possession are all inherent part of primate (read-human ape), today we are all covered apes and after millions of years of history evolved as the supreme species and progressed in leaps and bounds compared to all rest of the animals but even today no manmade machine remains entirely fool proof. The curiosity of progress is becoming an invention of threat now. Human Control is a big illusion and all tools of science are fallible. Master of earth is still child in space.

Kubrick conveyed an idea which I would again like to relate with Desmond Morris’ two brilliant and must read books named ‘The Naked Ape’ and ‘The Human Zoo’. The idea highlighted very significant point that, although progress has been made, the arrogance or ego produced by progress corrupts man more than anything. This corrupt mind has made the man nature’s victim rather than its master. Man is still in Stone Age, so what if he wears Versace designed clothes or using gizmo friendly existence. Remove the tool whether its evolutionary ‘bone’ or the advance science of ‘HAL’ spacecraft and we are again nothing more than impotent monkey. In his blind exploration of ‘progress’ the man forgets the basic that it’s ‘wisdom’ which will save him in a long run, not ‘knowledge’.

Kubrick earned two Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay writer co-authored with Clarke but the film won only single Oscar for its stunning Special Effects. It is quite shocking that the Director who achieved an Olympian height with his brilliant and some of the most thought provoking films in almost all genres didn’t get a single academy award in his entire career.
It’s the favorite film of the following legends- Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Martin Scorsese and David Fincher.

Ratings- 10/10

P.S- Those who have seen the film and missed the points just watch brief animated analysis of the film on- www.kubrick2001.com
I watched the whole film once again after visiting this site and enjoyed and understood it better.