Monday, November 30, 2009


Director Werner Herzog is always interested in telling individual human story confronting with inscrutable nature or established society. The movie is based on true story in the backdrop is Vietnam War of 1965. US flight lieutenant Dangler crashed his plane in hostile nature of thick forest in Vietnam. Soon he got captured by Viet soldiers and ended up with unthinkable torture of Middle Ages and jungle law. In a remote forest shacks he met five other fellow American POWs who were held from more than two years. Dangler is new but he’s smart and hopeful and soon they all start planning to escape. But they have to wait for rain to turn their plan in success. But did they execute it? Well better you see the film to know this.

There are few thrilling moments in the film in the first half; the second half shows the struggle for survival. Nature plays pivotal role in Herzog films. More than enemy it’s indifferent and inscrutable nature and puzzling jungle became looming danger for Dangler and others. Cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger explored some of the unchartered remote locales of Vietnam full of lush landscape or thick lost jungle. Shedding his celebrity image, Christian Bale gave one of the well nuanced performance of his career as Dangler. He lost considerable number of weight for this role to give its authentic touch.
Please keep in mind that it’s not movie about a physical warfare but psychological/survival warfare.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009


It’s quite surprising to know that it’s one and only directed film by Director Charles Laughton. So disappointed was he by the poor reception of this film on its initial release both critically and commercially, that he vowed never to direct a film again, and he never did. The plot revolves around a killer obsessed with biblical vice and virtue and kills the seductive women who arouse men’s basic instinct. During his cell time, he came to know about hidden money of fellow jail mate who got death penalty. As soon as he released, he becomes well wisher to Ben’s widow and two orphan kids and rest is thing to watch.

With his suave charming personality and wearing tattoos of HATE and LOVE on his right & left hand fingers, Robert Mitchum successfully portrayed one of the classic cold blooded killer here and brought one of the interesting and memorable villain characters on screen. More than acting, it’s his body language which is striking. Undoubtedly one of his career best role.
Brilliant black and white cinematography of the film is something in sync with sheer visual splendor of Hitchcock or Wells films with few classic deep focus, extreme close up and long shots.

A fine watch for its combination of fable and film noire.

Ratings- 7.5/10

Sunday, November 22, 2009

KURBAAN (2009)

I have read two positive reviews about the film from two leading newspapers’ film critics; Nikhat Kazmi of Times of India & Shubhra Gupta of Indian Express. After watching the film, I feel cheated by their reviews; it would be better if I should rely somebody from our community than these so called reviewers.

The major problem with the film is it’s predictability of story penned by Karan Johar. Same can be said about Rensil De’silva’s screenplay and debut direction, Anurag Kashyap’s so clumsy dialogues. It is acceptably true that bollywood film is like a plate of all tastes and Karan exactly done that while dealing with the subject of Islmic fundamentalism driven terrorism and the role played by moderate and fanatic Muslim. We’ve seen recently ‘New York’ and it’s surely better film than this. He blended ingredients of romance to lure the audience with steamy scenes of on/off screen chemistry of Saif-Kareena, the setting of US to lure NRI audience and used almost all cliché of bollywood. But when both story & screenplay lack the strength nothing seems perfect.

Saif- Kareena tried to pull the film with whatever on their platter but you don’t identify characters when you end up the film. Vivek Oberoi failed to deliver something out of box with his helpless flat expressions and act. Om Puri is utter waste. They all seems so flat characters except Kiron Kher who saved the grace being in the skin of Afghani mother. The film neither sensibly highlighted the theme of its serious subject nor give us feel of watching some sleek thriller. I end up watching it as just a mediocre product.

Neither Hollywood nor Bollywood films focused the truth and root of Post 9/11 Muslim anger and atrocities while equally emphasizing voice of moderate Muslim. Surprisingly it comes from the most unusual country. If you have seen thought provoking pakistani film ‘Khuda Kay Liye’, directed by Shoaib Mansoor, you would know what I mean. Another recommendation is Oscar winning documentary ‘Taxi to the Dark Side’. Both of them are essentially recommended for all those who need deeper analysis of the subject.

Ratings- 5/10


This adventure entertainment of Disney pictures is based on truly unbelievable story of eight solid sledge dogs survived on their own for around six months under the worst winter weather of Antarctica. They all are honorable selfless animals, helping humans among rough circumstances in their expedition but when time becomes worst they moved to save their existence leaving dogs on their own to survive. Only one man is desperate to get them back and it’s too struggling for him to do it. Well, the film has some usual Hollywood cliché entertainment but the thing to watch here is dogs’ struggle for survival and their smart team work. Director Frank Marshall managed to bring the emotional bonding with slice of thrill, adventure and drama.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

PICKPOCKET (French) (1959)

“The style of this film is not thriller. Using image and sound the filmmaker strive to express the nightmare of a young man whose weaknesses lead him to commit acts of theft for which nothing destined him. However this adventure, and the strange paths it takes, brings together two souls that may have otherwise never have met.”

Perhaps Bresson didn’t want to baffle the audience throughout the film to hunt for its theme and so before we see the first scene of the film, he clarified it in initial titles and that’s possibly the best to sum it up about the plot and theme. But he did it for purpose, so that the audience can concentrate on other aspects of this masterpiece.

Michel who started as obsessed pickpocket ended up as creative artist. Like ordinary pickpocket, he’s not stealing for money only but something higher than that. He believes it as higher art gifted to few chosen one.
Bresson had allowed action to tell the story rather than straight dialogues. The use of voice over is other device which explains us the motivations or internal feelings of characters. Like De Sica and Godard he also used non professional actors in the film. Initially Martin LaSalle as Michel seems expressionless to me but with innocence of face and gentleman like body language he finely managed to bring the character of naïve pickpocket in almost every frame.

I am so surprised to see the whole aesthetics of pickpocket by some smartest professional finger tricks done by these specialists. In fact some of them are so quick and baffling one that one has to rewatch the scene to understand their expertise of teamwork. Bresson’s film shows us some of the brilliant camera focus of extreme close up shots and it keeps the authenticity of his detailing. For me, watching this first Bresson film is demanding but it’s extremely satisfying and enjoyable too.
It’s ignorance to rate great classic.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

STROSZEK (German) (1977)

Watching this third Herzog film I must say that Herzog’s heroes are like directionless hermits. Herzog repeated unprofessional actor Bruno S. again after their appreciable teaming in ‘Kasper Hauser’ and teamwork again proves the magic. Bruno is again social outsider here like ‘Kasper Hauser’. In initial scene we come to witness his releasing from prison. He loves just two things in life- playing musical instruments and drinking beer. But soon he realized that life in Germany is full of hardships and brutal one, so along with his prostitute girlfriend Eva and an old neighbor they thought about starting new life in America-the land of opportunities. For them America is an unexplored mystery or a dream of freedom.

But soon disillusionment starts unsettling them in hostile land and they realized that life is severe and brutal everywhere and perhaps it’s more severe wasteland in America. Remembering the great visionary American poet T S Elliot his ‘The waste land’ here.
Bruno and Eva are physically safe in America and there is no local hoodlum who’s kicking them in their hometown but still Bruno is so unhappy. As Bruno explains to Eva in one of the scene that in Germany it was visible but here they do it so gentle way, and that’s much worse than it seems. That invisible chaos seems economical on surface but it’s deeper at mental & spiritual level. Only Bruno understands it and that’s lead us to that brutally dark ending part.

I’ve never seen final ten minutes in any movies as symbolically represented chaos of life as in this one. It is just a phenomenon. Those dancing/ piano playing birds, a shot in ropeway and circularly moving trolley will remain permanently imprinted to my senses. I became bit sleepy while watching it yesterday and miss the brilliant clue by Herzog in that final scene. I watch that scene again today prior to writing this post and it was Eureka moment. It is that line written on the backside of that ropeway vehicle in which Bruno sat last. IS IT REALLY ME! The clue signifies the futility of both driverless revolving trolley and trained performing birds. But for Bruno life itself is futile and he knew it damn well. That final scene was just something that you get from auteur like Herzog only!

Salute to this genius filmmaker.

Ratings- 10/10

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

UMBERTO D. (Italian) (1952)

Umberto D. is another masterpiece from the maker of highly inspirational Italian classic ‘Bicycle Thieves’. De Sica dedicated this film to his father.Umberto Domenico Ferrari is an upright senior citizen and good for nothing old man living last years of his life by selling few last valuables to pay the accommodation rent. He has no one to help him pay his heavy debt. No son, no brother, no relative. The only soul companion of his lonely and struggling existence is his pet dog Flike. What is the role of bicycle in ‘Bicycle Thieves’, here it is this dog. I’ve neither seen any man so desperate to get his lost dog back nor a man who loves a dog to this extent. His bonding with the dog is like two body one soul.

De Sica’s direction and his collaboration with writer Cesare Zavattini made post war neorealist cinema with simple and yet touchy aesthetics on screen. Like classic ‘Bicycle Thieves’ they did manage to structure the emotionally charged & compelling personal story that show the subtlety of human emotions under hopeless conditions. Shot almost at real locations and made with almost non professional actors. Carlo Battisti was a retired Professor and he played the lead role with utmost dignity of his character and he’s another great part of this film. His natural act and authentic expressions creates a permanent impression of character.

Visuals speak emotional sound in De Sica’s films and the film has so many tense and thought provoking scenes. The most heartbreaking scene is one where he mock practice to beg raising his palm and suddenly turns it down when a gentleman offering him few money; next he offered his hat to his dog’s mouth If he could beg, he can get good money to survive like so many but he don’t want to lose his self respect in his own eyes. Another where he said to his maid, “I’m tired”, and thinking about committing suicide. By all means De Sica made us felt these scenes. That’s the greatness of De Sica’s heart wrenching cinema.

Great films don’t require ratings of a novice critic. I’m too small to rate such films.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

DIKSHA (1991)

I watched the film during the golden era of DD when I was 14 or 15 years old and in the last scene I couldn’t controlled myself then, watching those emotional departure between Nana Patekar & little boy Nanni. I’m so speechless to watch it again after 15 years long gap and it proves its greatness.

Based on U R Anantmurthy’s Kannada story ‘Ghata-Shraddha’, directed by Arun Kaul and made with the financial support of N.F.D.C. & Doordarshan, the film is set in the time of early 30’s some southern village.
A Brahmin lost his five children after their birth and took a vow that if god bless him another child, he will surrender his life to God and make him true Vedpathi. It is emotionally so disturbing for eight or nine years sweet little Nanni to alienate from his parents, home and live a life in hostile new surroundings where he has to learn and unlearn something new from his strict disciplinarian Panditji (Manohar Singh) and bully classmates. Poor Nanni has to do his entire routine task himself at the tender age when he doesn’t know how to tie his own dhoti. He made two good friends here-One is Panditji’s widow young daughter and the other a lower caste orphan Koga (Nana Patekar) working as a servant to Panditji’s ashram who in return get the food remains. Working in Brahmin house, he also abstains himself from meat and alcohol unlike others of his caste. During Panditji’s absence, his young widow daughter in a weaker moment seduced by a local teacher and got pregnant. The lover is coward and not ready to accept his responsibility. Poor lady has to abort. Before Panditji back to ashram, the whole village Brahmins and folk come to know about this secret affair and forced Panditji to give a landmark decision.

Nana Patekar maintained his small but significant presence true to its salt with South Indian accent and characteristic body language. His act here is something which you won’t forget in your experience. Watch the scene where he shows his raw anger to long back Panditji. Manohar Singh, K K Raina, Vijay Kashyap and almost all other cast had acted their parts with utmost sincerity and dedication to their profession. But the most memorable character comes from the little boy.

The film portrays the conflict between a humanitarian Brahmin Vs a rigid hypocrite Brahmin. The film becomes tragic and raises so many disturbing questions, which is a sign of Anantmurthy’s powerful social reforming story & Kaul’s complete authentic adaptation. It raises many root questions in the end that social reformers have been asking from centuries- Who is ‘True Brahmin’ here? One who is Brahmin by birth that preaches religion and follows Holy Scriptures or one who is Shudra and follows the religion of humanity with all his nobility and selfless act?

Highly recommended to catch it either on torrent or original, I assure you don’t regret it.

Ratings-10/10 (…and there’s no exaggeration here, the film deserves at least this much.)

Monday, November 16, 2009


If there is any male director alive who made the authentic portrayal of Indian women focusing on all its flesh and blood of individuality it’s Shyam Benegal. . Benegal is always interested in human stories and exploring complexities in them, but not provides judgments and answers. His most of the films have a strong individual and unconventional woman who breaks patriarchal and irrational social conventions and embrace her fate with struggle of life.

The film is an autobiographical account of once famous now extinct thumri singer named Sardari Begum. The film shares a lot of similarity with Benegal’s earlier masterpiece ‘Bhumika in its subject of professional performer woman. Benegal remains experimental in his narration techniques. The film shows us the accidental death of Sardari in first scene which is its end part and than we witness the journalist’s various encounters with the people associated with her life. Narration of Sardari’s early life portrayed in certain non linear flashbacks told by the people who remained part of her life as thumri singer from her early days in Agra to later life in Delhi. The second half becomes too dark and melodramatic one and that’s makes it less preferred one compared to Benegal’s early refined cinema.

Like most of his films, it is a film relatively with new cast and made on a tight budget.
The film had remarkably strong performance from Smriti Mishra and Kiron Kher, who played the younger and older protagonist in the film. Mishra received the National Award for Best Supporting Actress.
May be Benegal knew right from the beginning of his career that the root of Indian acting is theatre and not cinema and that’s why his films almost have flair casting as actors. Look at the list of these actors whom he theatre actors he ensemble for supporting casting of the film- Amrish Puri, Rajit Kapoor, Rajeshwari Sachdev, S. M. Zaheer, Jawed Khan, Shrivallabh Vyas, Ravi Jhankal, Surekha Sikri (fine natural actress who is currently showing her talent on television as Dadisa in “Balikavadhu’).

Only few directors of India gave such an authenticity to the prevalent cultural part in his films and this film is again shows the detailing. Northern Muslim culture, characterization, dressing and over all outlook of the film is so specific about time and space. The film also got the Best Urdu film of the year. The Indian semi- classical music is the heart of this film for the connoisseurs of purist who loves thumri, ghazal, dhrupad or dadra. Vanraj Bhatia almost remained long term composer of Benegal and it’s definitely has tunes whom you love to listen if you like soundtrack of ‘Umrao Jaan’ & ‘Bazaar’. The film bears so many fine artistic elements of expressions of Hindi cinema now almost extinct.
Recommended to all Benegal fans like me.


Sunday, November 15, 2009


Seventies was an era when unemployment crisis was so palpable and corruption and favors of politicians ruled in job interviews. All those hopeless lost generation of jobless educated youth took solace as socialist rebel. They just smoke, do whatever is available and kill their time.

Written & Directed by K Balachander, the film portrays the life three jobless bachelors living strugglers’ life in Delhi's rented apatment. The film is woven with satirical humor and captures delicately the everyday reality of unemployed educated youth of that era. Some of the dialogues penned by none other than Gulzar are really so ironic and striking one to the scenes depicting reality. For example every time a man tries to post his application/postal order into the postbox, he heard sarcastic laughter sound inside the postbox. In another scene all three guys were sitting on road pavement with hunger in stomach and struggling for money and above them we see the huge signboard saying ‘Have you paid your Income Tax?’ Wow what a contrast!!! These are just few examples, there are many such brilliant sarcasm running throughout the film. Watch fake lunch scene full of overacting.

Where most of the Directors often highlighted or emphasized either the melodrama or light comedy while dealing with such a subject, K Balachander had kept the spirit of both of them alive in right proportions and that’s make the film a fine sensible and sensitive watch. Perhaps he would have made some more such films in Hindi!!!

Kamal Hasan has done a few films in Hindi and this one is hardly remembered by anyone but as a jobless struggler poet and hater of hypocrisy, he once again gave his well nuanced performance here. Perhaps a few people of today’s generation know about Marathi actor Nilu Phule who almost did the negative roles of street gambler, drunkard inhis career. Watch him here as for nothing scornful father and I bet that any other actor could do justice to it. Actress Anita Raj ruled in 80’s B grade revenge flicks of Dharmendra- Mithunda but here she too seems so natural and balanced. The only unfortunate parts of the film are its last half an hour which is quite stereotype and dragging one and the other is music. LP failed to score the magic of memorable melodies they composed in Balachander-Kamal’s blockbuster hit ‘Ek Duje Ke Liye’.

Recommended to all sensible cinelovers.

Ratings- 8/10
PS- Those who like to watch it can get the original vcd available in moser baer @ just 30 bucks!!!


Sometime I think that Jack Nicholson is better and more versatile actor than Pacino and De Niro. It’s unpredictability of character with all his myriad expressions that Nicholson knows better than both of them. Watch him here for example in his Oscar winning act of Melvin Udall, a real prick and a meanest mouth whom you love and hate at the same time. He’s obsessive compulsive novelist living lonely and unsocial existence. His next-door neighbor is hospitalized and he has to baby-sit his dog. His silent crush on Carol, a waitress got challenged and he keeps ruining every possible chance to be a normal decent guy until he realized what he really wants from life.

‘As Good As It Gets’ is special because it’s not routine romantic comedy but finely enhanced film which make you smile/laugh so naturally without being dark. The most wonderful part of the film is the chemistry between Nicholson & Helen Hunt and it is a thing to watch here. Both of them got Best Actor and Actress Academy Awards for this same film. Nicholson is sheer delight here and he’s the strongest reason why you shouldn’t miss it.

Ratings- 7.5/10

Saturday, November 14, 2009


“Don’t you hear all that horrible screaming all around you? That screaming men call silence?”

Meet a young man who was abandoned from birth and grew up locked in a dark cellar without any human contact or external world. He can barely do simple things: speak, walk, eat or dress himself. He knows nothing about what we called human civilization. One fine day he was left abandoned in a town; with a letter in a hand he was standing like a statue unaware about his innocent role playing in the world full of smart, civilized people. I won’t ruin the charm of this classic by saying more about the plot.

In my experimental search of world cinema’s auteur film makers, I would like to add the proud name of Werner Herzog and I must say I become fan of him after watching this gut wrenching film. It’s such a unique humanitarian and adorable film and Herzog without sermonizing told the story through the eyes of innocent Kasper. Unlike many films dealing with such enigmatic mysteries, it does not even attempt to explain the central mystery, but rather to see the world through the point of view of its protagonist and we come to know what a cruel but beautiful world it is!!!

Its revealing thing to know that the actor playing Kaspar Hauser, by almost a non professional actor named as Bruno S. was beaten by his prostitute mother when he was three in his real life, leaving him deaf and leading to his institutionalization, as a mental case, for a quarter-century. But Bruno S. is just striking one with all nuances and it’s the finest natural act I’ve seen in a long run, and I doubt whether any trained actor could do justice to it. Even there is so touchy part about Kasper’s being, his whole existence that frequently challenges the established social notions. Outwardly he may look like a savage or village idiot, but inside he is a soulful man of great tenderness and for us he’s still big enigma and Herzog left it to audience’s own interpretation like Reader Response Theory suggested by Allen Tate. Any fine day I would like to watch it again…and again…and again…

For those who’ve enjoyed David Lynch’s masterpiece ‘The Elephant Man’, it’s mandatory watch. It’s must for all who loves sensible, subtle cinema which introspects and boils many questions than feeds easy solutions or answers of enigma called humanity.

Ratings- 10/10

Friday, November 13, 2009


Below the title, which more looks like a disaster movie, lies a wonderful documentary about the enigma of South Pole called Antarctica. Directed, written and narrated by Werner Herzog and shot by Cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger the documentary is just other worldly experience not to miss. I come to know from wikipedia that the entire film crew consisted of just two people- Herzog, who recorded all production sound, and cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger. The two went to Antarctica without any opportunity to plan filming locations or interview subjects, and had only seven weeks to conceive and shoot their footage.

It’s revealing to know that icebergs are not larger than the Titanic but it was even larger than the country which built the Titanic. There are monolithic icebergs with 150 feet cliff on surface and more than 1000 feet of ice just below the water line. It’s so huge that melting water can run the Nile River for 75 years. In this exploring journey we meet certain professional dreamers living a vagabond life we haven’t even imagined and they are enjoying every bit of it.

The mysterious sound of Seals under the ice water, the white landscapes, beautiful underwater visuals of frozen ocean and its aquatic life, a loner penguin, Mt Erebus volcano and the interviews of people who are really the dreamers living it in reality… the film has so many blissful visuals to remember. Some of them seem like unfathomable surreal dream.
Don’t miss.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

CARRIE (1976)

Based on Stephen King’s best seller and Directed by Brian De Palma, the film is part teen movie- part horror show. Its supernatural revenge teen fantasy and at the centre of it is Carrie. She’s tortured low profile high school misfit with no confidence, no friends and nagging mother. In semi porn like very first scene Carrie while bathing realized her first period and knows about her secret power of telekinesis. If she can concentrate on something she can move it. When her psychotic mom and sadistic friends finally go too far, the vengeance strikes back with her special gift, cause frenzy of blood and fire on prom night.

Many critics regard it as one of the all-time great horror classic. Well I don’t much agree with it, though some scary parts and good performances it’s very predictable B grade film, except the last fifteen minutes of Brian De Palma’s tour de force. The last chilling shot is really so scary that anybody can miss the heart beat for the few seconds. That’s the real surprise of the film.
Both Sissy Spacek as Carrie and Piper Laurie as her mother were nominated for Best Actress and supporting actress. But more than both of them I like the act of Betty Buckley as Miss Collins, the PT teacher in her short role.

No harm in watching once though.
Ratings- 6.5/10

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


It’s not an easy film to digest for those who love plain vanilla entertainment. There are several reasons for it. One it’s an odd story of two identical twins diverse in their nature happens to be successful infertility specialists doctors. One is reticent, introvert and shy, the other is extrovert, seductive, professional. One is not good with serious ones; the other is not good with frivolous ones. They share everything internally and externally in their lives. It’s not straight thing since both of them sometime playing parts of each other and viewing it first time it’s quite harder to clarify who’s who? The most contriving part of the film is their identity of twin brother- Is it Beverly playing Eliott or vice versa? Trouble starts when a celebrity woman patient becomes a bed partner for both of them. One enjoys the company, the other fall in love. Soon Beverly starts losing his sanity and Eliott has to take things in his hands to save his brother. But he soon discovers that brothers who share everything also share madness and this leads us to twisted ties hard to fathom.

Director David Cronenberg’s ‘Dead Ringers’ is hard and bizarre psychological thriller. Although this personal chaos film didn’t win any Oscar, it won 17 International Awards & wide appreciation all around the globe. I haven’t watched much of Jeremy Irons films but his double role is really crackling one here. In both acts he just gave his consummate best. We have seen many double roles but here it’s too baffling case and credit naturally goes to screenplay, cinematography & direction. Another highlight of the film is weird instruments of surgery which constantly gives you horror feel.

I would recommend it for all who love to watch original, out of the box, disturbing psychological films. By the way Dead Ringers mean ‘an exact duplicate’.

Ratings- 8/10

Monday, November 9, 2009

LE SAMOURAI (French) (1967)

“There is no greater solitude than that of Samurai, unless it is that of the tiger in the jungle…perhaps…” – Bushido (Book of Samurai)

Its duping title for the film since it has nothing to do with Kurosawa kind of Samurai films. It’s a stylishly shot film, telling the story of thirty something loner, handsome hit man named Jeff Castello who murdered an aristocrat in a hotel and soon held as one of the prime suspect. He has managed airtight alibi and soon he relieved himself from police. But he’s on trail by two opposite forces- police and his contract syndicate guys. You have to watch the film to see what happens next. Well, the film is product of French New Wave and its kind of film where form rules over content.
Director Jean-Pierre Melville’s this Eastman color film looks like stylish visual treat with lesser dialogues and an eye for detailing camera work. It’s abstract, mythic, timeless and breathtakingly stylish material depicting few days of lone hit man’s life. Melville gave it ‘film noire’ kind of touch in every frame right from beginning to end. Cops here function like Fritz Lang classic ‘M’, leaving no stones unturned in the investigation and city surveillance. Melville’s attention to details, Alain Delon’s suave classy presence as hit man Costello, fine background score and stylish visual cinematography are some of the awesome strong points about the film.
Without making much fuss about plot one has to just enjoy the minimalist approach of Melville's direction to deal with this crime thriller.

Recommended to all classy World Cinema Lovers.

Ratings- 8/10

Sunday, November 8, 2009

THE WAGES OF FEAR (French) (1953)

I watched this film without any preconceived notions and it churns out as a brilliant and highly tense and engaging thriller which blows my mind for complete two hour thirty minutes. I am still wondering with surprise that such a technically flawless; tension filled and minutely detailing film was made more than fifty years ago. All praise goes to Director Henri-Georges Clouzot and he’s blissful revelation for me and I’m so desperate to watch his ‘Les Diaboliques’.

The first hour of the film focuses on neorealist kind of realistic and film noire kind of dark, seedy setting of a village where bunch of jobless laborers living with their cement rotten lungs and mosquitoes stricken Malaria. It sets the paradoxical class distinction between the world of Working and Capital Class with introduction of lead characters and their temperamental mindsets. The brilliant second part makes a highly arresting thrill ride with tension filled with Four players divided in two rival teams competing against each other transport two trucks full of deadly Nitroglycerine cans along three hundred miles hilly and bumpy mountain pass to the site of oil refinery. Its highly explosive material which blows anything to bits and pieces. The tension lies in what they have on trucks but it’s the road which is mother of all obstacles and tensions. They have to be damn careful since every single pebble, pothole, bump, hairpin turn or a wooden platform plays a great risk on the road and slightest amount of jerk can blow them to bits.

I don’t care if it seems too exaggerated but I haven’t seen any better road movies than this masterpiece. In how many films we see ‘wheel’ as character!!! In no other film you find tension comes from two basic things while driving- ‘the track’ and ‘the wheel’. The breath taking tension was depicted with some brilliant minute detailing and precision that you love to watch it second time. The depiction of four working class guys who have guts on their sleeves played wonderfully by all actors but it’s a French lead actor Yves Montand as Mario who steals the show. Initially what drives them as glory of cash slowly turning them towards victim of human greed. In the culminating climax the film explores the theme to different level where financial reward comes at the cost of moral and spiritual ruin. Watch how far all of them go in their pursuit of wages of fear!!!

I become a big fan of Director Clouzot with this single film. Its technically such a flawless that even today one can call it reference material to make tension filled thriller. There are two involving scenes which stay in my memory for a long time. The first one is one that shows the sequence of that rotten wooden platform to reverse the truck and the second blowing that 50 tonne huge rock on the road. Brilliant camera works focusing on every possible wheel movement on the challenging road is something phenomenon about this film.

I would like to shout- ‘WATCH IT ASAP.”

Masterpieces can’t be rated.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I CONFESS (1953)

It’s not usual thrilling Hitchcock film but quite serious and dark one in its tone. We witness a murder, murderer and his confession as the film opens. The rest is a story of an upright catholic priest who keeps the secret of confession to his soul even though he knows that by revealing it, he can save himself from murder charges. Unlike usual Hitchcock films, there’s no bulging suspense or thrilling excitement as we know from very beginning who’s the real murderer and almost movie seems flat and predictable one.

But at the same time, it’s more a story of strong, upright humanitarian priest who’s personal and public life got tarnished but till the end he strictly followed his moral vows of priest. Here’s a character deeply involved with God and Montgomery Clift gave almost devoted, consummate performance as young priest Father Logan and he looks so young, dashing handsome man which might give competition to Brando or Bogart during that era. He’s predecessor of method acting much before Brando. Watch his brilliant expressions in all close up shots. The act of rest of the crew including Anne Baxter and Karl Malden is also praiseworthy.

The most striking feature of the film is fine Black & White camera work by Robert Burks framing brilliant light and shadow focusing Hitchcokian trademark angles. I strongly recommend it to all those who love to see powerful visuals.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

APPOLO 13 (1995)

Director Ron Howard gave some of memorable films and most of them are human story. Although its sci-fi film, at the core of it lies a human adventure story of strong conviction and fighting against odds in outer space mission on moon. Based on the real story of moon mission, the film is a story of three astronomers who fought a brave battle in outer space to control their defective space ship and how they came back to planet earth successfully.

Its not just routine Hollywood entertainer but a film showing detailing of authentic space voyage. The highlight of the film is its strong casting- Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Ed Harris & Kathleen Quinlan. Gripping editing in the second half is another fine reason to see this film. The film was nominated in Oscar for multiple categories and won two trophies for Best Editing & Best Sound.

One time watch recommended.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

BREATHLESS (French) (1960)

“Modern movies begin here. With Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless in 1960. No debut film since Citizen Kane in 1942 has been as influential.”
-Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times

Penelope Houston, the doyen of English critics and ex-editor of Sight & Sound compared Godard’s this film to “throwing a hand grenade into the audience.” It was Orson Welles ‘Touch of Evil’ which Godard saw in 1958, influenced him to make ‘Breathless’, a seminal work of French New Wave. The film was co-written by Truffaut. Both Truffaut’s ‘The 400 Blows’ and Godard’s ‘Breathless’ regarded as two pillars of French New wave filmmaking and ushered a background for another decade of New Wave of individualistic personal cinema. Where Truffaut’s ‘400 Blows’ is more a product made by heart of an artist, Godard’s ‘Breathless’ was purely experimental head product made by innovative artist.

The film is like reading crazy intermingling of romantic Balzac meeting existential Camus. After shooting a cop, a small time crook and drifter who loves to sleep with beautiful dames escapes to Paris. He meets an American dame and soon she becomes his girlfriend. He convinces her to go Rome with him until cops trail him and discovered his true identity….It is not plot/story/screenplay which is important in Godard’s this film. It’s his experimental style of telling a story with whatever available collage and the way of presentation that made it avant garde film. It’s more a film about visual depth and study. Tarantino is a modern and almost successful cult example in this respect.

The look of the film was defined by breaking away from the conventional of film making of it’s time and made on a shoestring budget, using innovative jump cuts, overlapping dialogues, handheld camera work and shot at actual locations instead of studio sets. Infect I read that to give more detached, spontaneous and natural quality, Godard fed the actors their lines as scenes were being filmed.

There is huge contrast between the two lovers but if one looks closely it’s more like modern day lovers who treat love as a game, a drift or having nice time without being serious like traditional lovers portrayed in most of the films. Belmondo’s act is really absorbing and he looks more like a real stylish rogue in his slang mouth, cigarette dangling look. But more than him I like character of Patricia played so gracefully by Jean Seberg. She’s beauty with smart independent woman. Unlike street urchin and drifter sort of her boyfreind, her is the character more inclined towards refine and artistic taste about life. Like Faulkner, she’s lady loves to chose grief, if one has to choose grief and nothing. One of her line quite defines her- “I don’t know if I’m unhappy because I’m not free or I’m not free because I’m unhappy.”

By the early 60’s Godard was probably the most talk about director in the world and influenced filmmakers as diverse as Scorsese, Jarmusch, Satyajit Ray, Soderbergh, Tarantino and Wong Kar Wai. Godard was one of the prolific filmmaker who often made two or three films every year. In fact it’s revealing for most of us that he made total more than 80 feature films till 2006.

Mandatory for all the connoisseurs of cinema.

Monday, November 2, 2009


“If you’re part of a crew, nobody ever tells you they’re going to kill you. It doesn’t happen that way. There aren’t any arguments or curses like in the movies. Your murderers come with smiles. They come as your friends. People who cared for you all your life, they always seem to come when you’re weakest and most in need of their help.”

Certainly it’s a long due Martin Scorsese film for me. Here’s a gangster film talks about a bunch of wise guys ruling the underworld like nobody else as united in their good times. But every crime has its own time; once that lucky time is over you’re just another street urchin playing rough smartness. Scorsese’s this film juggles around fair and foul plays of personal and public life of gangsters. It’s finely crafted, brilliantly directed and acted film showing making and breaking of gangster life with all its pretty and ugly sides. Without moralizing, the film manages to convey the dead end horrors of crime life once the happy time is over it’s the hardest to control beyond anybody’s reach. One can fairly put it in the finest films ever made on gangster.

The entire trio of De Niro, Liotta and Pesci had done mind-blowing act here. But above all of three its Joe Pesci who set the fire on screen with his weird, fire mouth, unpredictable, anger on the nose kind of gangster Tonny in all flesh and blood. Undoubtedly he is real monster here and he got Best Supporting Actor Award that year deservingly. Since De Niro and Pesci are fine actors and as far as acting is concerned Ray Liotta is like a kid to them but he had done terrific job here as pissed off gangster Henry.



“You’re dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up,
-Walt Disney

Just looking at the year of its making and we realize why Walt Disney is called the father of animation. Yes, it was Hollywood’s first full length animation film with Technicolor and sound. From generations Disney’s this animation classic remains a fine fantasy tale and family entertainment to audience with its magical tale, wonderful characters and sweet music. Grimm’s fairytale never seems so wonderful before. Unlike today’s animation here animals are speaking their own natural language than voice over. The film had many songs, as it was a time when Hollywood basked in the glory of its musicals. But comic relief comes from wonderful seven dwarfs and their voice over. The smallest mute dwarf named Dopey is so lovable character among all. We all know its story right from our childhood so let me talk about other important aspects.

More than 500 creative people employed in its production with astronomical budget of $1.5 million at that time. During the time of its release, Hollywood labeled it as ‘Disney’s folly’, certain that it would fail. It was an overwhelming success and the rest is history. Although film had some wonderful songs like ‘Heigh Ho’, ‘Whistle while you work’, Academy did not consider it worthy to nominate being first animation film of history. However Disney was awarded with honorary Oscar considering a new screen innovation which charmed millions and pioneered a great new window of cartoon entertainment in the world of cinema.

Disney’s all-time classic.