Thursday, April 29, 2010

DUCK SOUP (1933)

‘Change the name of your town, it’s hurting our picture,’ replied the Marx Brothers when residents of city Fredonia, NY complained about additional ‘e’ in the film.

Regarded as classic comedy by the team of the Marx Brothers; Duck Soup is an absolute madcap farce full of verbal, visual, physical gags as fresh as today as in 1933. It’s also a brilliant satire on autocratic leaders, fascist and authoritarian government. I’ve read that Mussolini was so disturbed by the film that he banned it in Italy; though it adds happiness to the Marx Brothers.

Though it’s just 1 hour 8 minutes long but it has moments of some everlasting entertainment. The zany and farcical plot paved the way to various sequences setting the stage for Groucho’s puns and double entendre. Director Leo McCarey gets the most out of brothers, giving them the full liberty to be their wackiest best. Much before they made their entry into cinema, the Marx Brothers- Groucho, Chico, Harpo & Zeppo honed their pantomime skills of physical comedies on stage for years. Watch their natural flair in ‘three hat changing scene’ or classic ‘mirror sequence’ which inspired many hindi films comic sequences like Dilip Kumar starrer ‘Kohinoor’ or Big B’s megaflop ‘Mard’.

Well it’s the only Marx Bros. film that I’ve seen till day and I enjoyed it too. But at the same time my choice of classic comedy do the favor to great Buster Keaton. For me he was more original in cinematic achievements of techniques and brilliant one man show on many fronts like great Chaplin but unlike him he still remain unknown to many comedy lovers. Too early to say but for me Keaton’s ‘The General’ and ‘Sherlock Jr.’ are great entertainers than ‘Duck Soup’.

Ratings- 8/10

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


At the San Francisco Film Festival held in 1974 at which Peckinpah was honored with a retrospective of his work, he answered an inquiry about whether he ever hoped to release a "pure Peckinpah" film. Here is what Peckinpah replied- “I did it already in Alfredo Garcia, and I did it exactly the way I wanted to. Good or bad, like it or not, that was my film full of the brutal and disturbing world depicting my own paranoia of making my signature film.”

‘Alfredo Garcia’ is about the head that worth a million dollars and the lives of 21 people. El Jefe’s young daughter was impregnated by now dead Alfredo and he announced a bounty of million dollars for the man who brings him the head of Alfredo Garcia. And next we see, the chase and hunt for the head taking a different turn with the entry of black sunglass clad piano player of bar named Bennyy. The rest is over to the Master of violence Sam Peckinpah.

Peckinpah’s most nihilist and the most brutal vision of violence wouldn’t be the same without Benny, a sunglass clad piano player of bar meeting his nightmarish nemesis in Mexico with almost western treatment of seedy characters and setting. Warren Oates gave fine intense and dynamite kind of performances as Benny and it’s one of the greatly under rated American anti-hero character I’ve ever seen. His whore girlfriend played by Isla Vega too deserves praise on all accounts. Peckinpah gave full throttle to Benny’s desperation. In scenes of his talking with head under intoxication in the car, he reveals his inner burning self which later we witnessed as external fire. In the beginning the head is the ticket to start new life for him but in the end it becomes an unwanted fixation which ignited the spark of all that violence which becomes reason to kill the lives of 21 people. Watch the shattering scene before climax- Three cars on the road, bullets, bloodshed, an old man with hands up and desperate Benny with a gun and a head.

Though we don’t see a single frame showing the head of Alfredo out of that sack, Peckinpah made it almost as one of the prominent character of the film. Like Benny, we also constantly remain in the company of the head covered with sleazy sack and buzzing flies over it. Violence always breed violence and perhaps Peckinpah wanted to tell us that what starts with violence never ends with bounty prize of million dollars but with the bullets. Its not routine formulaic violent film as some critics pointed it; Peckinpah ended it quite metaphorically with redemptive theme of Benny who became a loner with guilty consciousness of sacrificing his most beloved companion of life. What is the mean of profit, if a man gains the whole world at the loss of his love? Here Benny goes to the root of the cause and finished it like a fighter paying deadly prize to sacrifice himself and his lover in the climax- all Peckinpah trademark slow motion gun fire.

With all its violence, melancholy and beauty, I would love to compare the film with Ernest Hemigway’s classic novels and his American macho heroes. Aren’t Alfredo’s head and Benny’s struggle to get the prize metaphorically symbolizes Hemingway’s brilliant ‘The Old Man and The Sea’ where old Santiago caught the prize of a giant fish and struggled to save it from deadly sharks returns with skeleton on shore.

It’s undoubtedly Peckinpah’s Masterpiece… Must watch on all accounts.


Thursday, April 22, 2010


“Love despite what they tell you does not conquer all nor does it even unusually last. In the end romantic aspirations of our youth are reduced to whatever works.”

Woody Allen is probably too old to play lead part in his refreshingly written, directed new comedy. Wow, he’s back again to basics what he’s really good at. Larry David as a delightful alter ego of Woody here plays bald headed limping old man named Boris with all eccentricity, mannerism and body lingo of Woody. Mind me he’s is a great revelation here. He’s narrating story in first person directly addressing to audience throughout the film making us part of his encounters with life. He’s Quantum Physics genius teaching chess t young kids but at heart of this he’s a misanthrope trying to adjust life with whatever works philosophy. He knows damn well that pretty good moments with her too young honey won’t last long.

As a writer, director Woody has stuffed lot of cliché but this time with fresh charm of narration and fine performances. Dialogues are loaded not only with gags-one liners but some of the fine meaningful intelligent lines written ever along with Woody’s passionate wanderlust tour of New York.

Its fine comedy highly recommended to all woody lovers.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Fellini made his most personal semi autobiographical film based on director’s block and it becomes masterpiece. Woody Allen is great admirer of Fellini and he gave many clues of it in his films. Perhaps his personal neurotic characteristics compelled him to make similar kind of film on writer’s block. Deconstructing Harry is his flawed attempt for many reasons. Its absolutely unlikely Woody film where there’s no space for character development like his some of the fine films based on tangled affairs i.e.- 'Manhattan', 'Annie Hall', 'Hannah and her Sisters'. It’s neither hilarious comedies like 'Sleeper', 'Play it again, Sam' nor its psychologically strong like ‘Crimes and Misdemeanors’.

The script is abrupt, too loud and full of unnatural incidents based on almost caricaturized characters. From very beginning to end it failed to impress me because neither in content nor in style it seems like Woody film. Even Woody as a main lead seems like one of stockpile characters. I literally scratch my head in the middle of the film and asked myself why on earth he made such a pathetic film hard to tolerate.

A very disappointing Woody affair.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010


How often you come across a film where all the characters belong to a family is on screen from beginning to end pushing forward the sweetest & youngest member fulfill her dream. Here is a bunch of eccentric, confused, weird characters belong to a single family. A foul mouth grandpa, a gay uncle who didn’t make out even his suicide, a brother who refused to talk from years, a father who’s brainstorming others to win but can’t help self or his own family and a working mom who lost control over her family. In short they all are losers and the only hope in their lives is a sweet little bespectacled girl named Olive who’s crazy about participating in Miss Little Sunshine Pageant. And here starts a journey in a van, count it as another character. The journey is full of many personal loss and obstacles, adding an insult to injury. It’s toughest thing to win the competition for sweet Olive. Will she win or she’ll lose?

Well, perhaps more than winning and losing; its transforming which matters most in life. The most wonderful thing about this light hearted drama is its brilliant screenplay and characters who initially seems like caricatures but not improbable. Almost all ensemble actors have performed their parts with sincerity and great restraint but the heart of the film is Olive. From their journey of road trip in a yellow van to dancing ‘The girl is Super Freak’ on stage it’s just a fine feel good film. For the family where togetherness just sucks; the journey of emotional compulsion makes them open up towards better sunshine.

If avoided verbal profanity it would be a great entertainer for kids too.

Catch it.


Monday, April 19, 2010

GRIZZLY MAN (Documentary) (2005)

Based on true facts of human ecstasy and its darkest truth, ‘Grizzly Man’ is well documented physical and personal journey of a man named Timothy Treadwell who challenging and violated Governmental boundary and treaded into the Alaskan peninsula for 13 summers to live and study grizzly bears. Both Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend paid the natural prize to interfere into the natural wild world of Alaska’s grizzly bears. Both of them were severely decapitated into bits and pieces by these wild beasts. Although it’s a personal documentary; the great reason to watch this documentary is its narrator & director Werner Herzog.

The film is combination of Treadwell’s personal camera footage and Herzog’s intense interviewing sessions with his near and dear ones post Treadwell’s death. Treadwell was sentimental, agnostic man filled with contempt for civilized world unconcerned about the other natural world where civilization is still a remote concept. He believed that he was more needed there to protect these animals and aware the public. Here’s a man who crossed the invisible line which separates human from animal in his zeal and passionate love for bears.

However Herzog differs with Timothy’s concept of harmonious natural balance and stated that the common denominator of the universe is not harmony but chaos, hostility and murder. The territory of savage is different from civilized one and both are hostile intruder in each other’s territory. Treadwell was a crazy man who challenged this natural set up and treaded in prohibited region without even a single weapon. For world he’s insane man guided by his instinct but Herzog’s deeper analysis and Treadwell’s some of the personal footage make us feel Treadwell’s internal passion. For him its transcendental and quite out worldly experience. It’s difficult for us to grasp Treadwell’s madness. As he claimed in one of his footage that he’s an outsider for whom life and death doesn’t mean much than this experience.

It’s something beyond normal…an experience to feel.

Ratings- 8.5/10

Sunday, April 18, 2010


It’s an unexpected and unlikely surprise from the director whose fort is violence. Psychological thriller is the least thing one can expect from Director Martin Scorsese. Here’s his honest attempt to make one compelling mind thriller and it’s the closest to some of the finest one I’ve ever seen. Shutter Island is like a complicated puzzle where viewers are baffled and lost in the convoluted rigmarole of illusion and reality of the protagonist played by Leonardo Di’Caprio. Like David Lynch and Roman Polanski’s some of the great psychological thrillers, it involves us in the intriguing way maintaining jigsaw puzzle like structure of narration trapped between reality and hallucination.

Here’s a man who’s investigating a case of a man disappeared from psychiatric hospital at remote island where he mixed up with personal psychological trauma led him losing control of his mind. It’s murdering a film if you read anything further prior to watch the film so I’d avoid spoiler here. Watch the characters closely to grasp it fully; the least I can suggest to those who haven’t explored much of psychologically delusive cinema. Scorsese-De’Caprio have already proven their great combination and here again they delivered flawless film in direction and acting. Supporting cast is too strong with actors like Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley and Max Von Sydow. Technically too the film remains as impressive as Scorsese’s earlier films.

Undoubtedly impressive film of the year.


Saturday, April 17, 2010


There’s an old proverb which says: Don’t try to do two things at once and expect to do justice to both. This is the story of a projector operator in theatre pursuing the detective skills. In 44 minutes length of this silent comedy, you won’t feel bore for a single second. Known as ‘the great stone face’ of silent era, Buster Keaton’s this shortest film is a great refreshing treat for any cinebuff irrespective of age or choice.

Keaton’s situational comic timing is different from slapstick humor of Chaplin; unlike great tramp he’s often played a working man found in trouble either with his girl friend or a job. His good intentions always put him into peril but he’s brave man. Though physically he’s short and wafer thin, his guts to do all challenging physical stunts on his own broke his bones so many times. Needless to say inspirational stuff for even Jackie Chan. Watch his ‘The General’ which I regarded as one of the best silent comedy I’ve ever seen.

There are few remarkable technical achievements too; whether it’s tightly integrated plot, unbelievable athletic stunts by Keaton himself, an avant garde treatment playing reality versus illusion, brilliant editing using optical effects, montage and mise-en-scene. If you watch it closely, you’ll find many copied comic flashes of films like ‘Sholay’, ‘Pushpak’ or even ‘Andaz Apna Apna’; worth to know its inspirational classic for many films. Chaplin is most dear to me but now after watching Keaton’s two films I must admit that he too deserves similar space.
Love to avoid ratings.

Friday, April 16, 2010

KANCHIVARAM (Tamil) (2008)

As per an ancient Hindu myth, wearing silk regarded pious in two Hindu customs. One is at occasion of marriage, another at death. But it’s ugly fact of early history that a silk weaver can only weave silk, not wear it in his lifetime. The film begins focusing on a middle aged handcuffed man in a police van. The movie shifts in flash back and flash in and told the struggling life story of Vedangam to get a piece of silk cloth to fulfill his promise. His father wove silk all his life, yet when he died he didn’t get even small piece of silk. Vedangam followed his patriarchal skill and promised his wife and his first born daughter a silk dress on the occasion of her marriage. Everybody laughed at him for making such a ridiculous promise which he can’t fulfill. He went through many blows one by one. Leftist ideology drew him initially but as soon as his selfish need becomes dominant, he became traitor for other fellow comrades. The last scene is simultaneously so edgy in satire and so dark and poignant that it makes us compel to think- Can life be so cruel?

Prakash Raj is discovery for me and for many Non South Indian film lovers. I didn’t know anything about him till he won National Award as Best Actor for this film. He’s known as one of the finest method actor of Telugu and Tamil cinema. I’ve read that his versatility is so natural that he can do equal justice to comedy as well as negative or any sort of character roles. I watched flashes of it in Salman starrer ‘Wanted’ where he played Gani bhai. But watching him here I must confess that he truly deserves National honors. The only other actor I can replace him here is Kamal Sir. I’m eager to watch his ‘Iruvar’ where he worked with Mohanlal and both of them won Best Actor and supporting actors trophies for it. Hope I get the torrent with subtitles files.

Though the subject is quite melodramatic in tone; Writer-Director Priyadarshan brings the lighter moments of life along with natural lifelike performances of supporting cast in the film. Like some of his well made films, the characters and settings seem so relevant and natural. His detailing to bring authenticity of 50’s South Indian village seems so conspicuous in all frames; a pat on back goes to Thiru’s DOP. Priyadarshan made some of the fine films before he drew into popular comedy entertainers with ‘Herapheri’ enterprise in Hindi cinema but here he’s back with his forte; making a film which puts him in the rank with India’s shining directors.

Mandatory watch for all those who haven’t explored Prakash Raj.


Thursday, April 15, 2010


The husband, the wife and the intruder; it’s a cliché formula of many social dramas that bollywood had produced till day but Chandan Arora’s this film is refreshing experience due to its central character Mithilesh and his inherent inferiority complex and flaw that constantly made him felt that he’s undeserving hubby who got fair, taller and smarter wife. The rest is his psychological struggle to pamper his own ego and urges dominated by the presence of tough intruder in his happily married life.

Everything from story telling to characterization seems so natural and convincing here. I am just awestruck watching Rajpal Yadav’s act here, who’s generally plays funny sidekick in routine bollywood films. His performance here is one of the most natural and unexpected non star act I’ve seen in a long run. Mind me that not in a single frame of the film it seems that he’s acting. It’s a role perfectly tailored for him. There’s always no question about Kay Kay Menon’s acting. Another fair part of the film is Bengali actress Rituparna Sengupta and she’s another reason enough to watch this film. Not so often we meet such a small town educated, refine, mature and lively better half in our routine escape entertainers.

Director Chandan Arora’s film is treat and it reminds me Hrishida and Basuda kind of filmmaking. His last ‘Striker’ was one well attempted try lost with messy second half. Hope he’ll make more films like MMPAW.

Watch it for refreshing natural flair of all three main characters.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010


“I met a wonderful man. He’s imaginary but who cares? You can’t have everything you wanted.”

In my opinion, Woody Allen’s one of the best scripted, directed film and still it’s completely different from his other two best works- ‘Manhattan’ and ‘Annie Hall’. It avoids Allen’s routine formula of goofy people having relationship problem and affairs. Even Woody as an actor with his entire philosophical and absurd world with quirky one-liners are missing here and still light moments come from the brilliant theme where world of fiction and reality plays hide and seek.

Its story of great depression era where Cecilia (Mia Farrow), a poor waitress is struggling to earn and deal with his good for nothing rude hubby. The only pleasure of her life is watching B&W musicals at local theatre and daydreaming about those wonderful characters in reality. Woody breaks the boundary between screen and reality here and an imaginary screen character comes off the screen to romance with Cecilia. Fictional character is exploring real world and filling up Cecilia’s unhappily married life like a charmer sharing enough romantic and embarrassing moments. But life is reality and so woody brings real star that plays that character too in the film which breaks the two hearts. Perhaps Woody want to convey us that love is beautiful illusion of our reality. It’s so sentimental scene where Cecilia says adieu and the character returns to screen. What a touchy scene mixing emotions tangled between the real and imaginary.

Woody has brilliantly scripted and directed the whole film touching sentimental chords. The film is celebrating illusion of fiction world in common man’s life. Like poor Cecilia in the film, these imaginary characters become inspiration for many of us. We idolizing them and want to be like them- more courageous, more heroic, more funny and more romantic in our complicated real life. Screen can save us, thanks Lumiere Brothers for inventing this most wonderful magical world of escape.

In both parts playing their characteristics, Jeff Daniels performance is just amazing one but the Cinderella of the film is Mia Farrow. Without her expression and act film isn’t same anymore. Apart from Keaton, she’s just fine revelation that Woody brings to his films. Woody’s point of making this film comes in a line uttered by fictional Tom Baxter- “I don’t wanna talk more about what’s real and what’s illusion. Life’s too short to spend time thinking about life. Let’s just love it.”

In a nutshell, it’s a film cent percent mandatory watch for anyone who loves and adores cinema.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

SLEEPER (1973)

‘Sleeper’ is Woody Allen’s absolutely mindless comedy that you love to avoid minding at all. It’s one of his early funny film. Unlike his philosophical and tangled relationship based humor post ‘Annie Hall’, this one aims at plain comedy trip mocking the skewed future from mental deprogramming to giant shaped bananas.

A clarinet player in 1973 went into hospital for lousy operation and wake up 200 years later in the future full of paranoia. Woody’s futuristic world is full of scientific mockery where anything is possible. Sex is like having daily bath in an electronic chamber machine and politics is a field for mindless revolutions. Woody had done lot of Chaplin sort of slapstick humor along with his self attached neurotic image mocking everything that comes to his mind whether its revolutionary Che Guera or classic ‘A streetcar named desire’ where his muse Diane Keaton played Brando part and he played Vivien Leigh.

In the last scene Keaton asked Woody- “You don’t believe in science and you also don’t believe in political systems work and you don’t believe in God…so then what do you believe in?” And here comes Woody’s fine reply-“Sex and death… two things that come in lifetime.” I think it’s possibly two things he’s obsessed with on and off the screen throughout his life.

Watch the madcap laughter Woody way…


Monday, April 12, 2010


“Life and money both behave like loose quicksilver in a nest of cracks. When they gone you can’t tell where or what the devil you did with them.”

It’s a great revelation to know that Orson Welles was just 26 years old when he made this film after his acclaimed great classic ‘Citizen Kane’ a year prior to this. The Magnificent Ambersons is a sweeping saga of an aristocratic family slowly fading its glory with time and tide. The centre of the film is heir George Amberson, a spoilt, arrogant and untamed child and son obsessed with his mother reaching his final comeuppance in the last moments of the film. But besides George, it’s a refined story of love and it’s longing, strings of relations and fading bourgeois culture.

The film remains memorable for its great casting of all actors. Tim Holt throughout remains alter ego of Welles here in all his arrogance and false dominance. But the most natural acts come from all supporting players- Joseph Cotton as Eugene Morgan, Delores Costello as Isabel, Agnes Moorehead as Aunt Fanny or young Anne Baxter as Lucy; they all are irreplaceable characters.

Welles remained on backstage in the film. Besides scripting and direction, he is the narrator of the whole story here and also done voice over for the end credits of all his cast and crew in the film instead of rolling titles; another experiment here too. It’s a question why instead of Greg Tolland; Welles hired Stanley Cortez for camera work. Though here too, we see the touch of Welles’ impressions in some of the nice framings of deep focus photography, inventive camera angles and fine use of light and shade. The film is quite dragging, melodramatic from today’s standard but in treatment its cent percent touchstone. But the last fifteen minutes captures the whole essence of the film. Its heartbreaking and an unnoticed tragedy of the lost glory. The only film I would like to compare here is Guru Dutt’s equally brilliant ‘Kaagaz ke Phool’ and I do believe sincerely that Dutt is India’s version of Welles.

Maybe it’s not a kind of film which strikes you like ‘Citizen Kane’ but in repeat viewing it gives you many different dimensions and clues of its greatness. Most of the Welles films including ‘Kane’ bear this sad truth. They weren’t proved successful at box office or appreciated when released but as the time takes a turn they stamped as great classics by one of the most inspirational and iconic auteur.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


“Hate is baggage. Life is too short to be pissed off all the time; it’s just not worth it.”

Derek Vinyard is scholar literature honors student and his fireman father was killed in nigger neighborhood by black men. Influenced and fired by the racist Hitler literature and reviews of Cameron Alexander he became a rebel face of white power, formed a gang of white young men harassed by niggers. One night under rage he killed black guys who came to steal his car and get arrested. After spending three years in jail, Derek is back with sea change transformation but what he sees returning his own home is unwanted picture. Now his gullible younger brother becomes the mouthpiece of Cameron’s racial army gang.

It’s a powerful film on the issue of racism focusing the emerging white power triggered by a fanatic ideology and followed up by bunch of frustrated, insecure young students joining the bandwagon. The film is questioning very pertinent contemporary problems of illegal immigrants and bunch of criminals threatening American society culture and economy. We read everyday facts in newspaper and it’s affecting every country in some or other way. It’s dark, unhealthy but a harder reality. Minority and majority of colors, creed or race are all bullshit because when you’re alone its you in minority and not any damn political ideology. The real truth is what the teacher told Derek in cell, “Your anger is shutting down the brain God gave you…you have to ask right questions like- Has anything you have done make your life better?”

In a skinhead, swastika tattoo clad chest Edward Norton delivered a performance of life time. Surely one of the great Hollywood acting I’ve seen in last decade. In both shades of his character he’s just matchless here. The rest of the cast i.e. Edward Furlong as Derek’s younger brother Danny or Beverly D’Angelo as Derek’s mother or any small or big character all acted their parts so convincingly.

Tightly scripted and brilliantly narrated in non-linear shifting black & white and color cinematography by cinematographer-director Tony Kaye, it’s a film which hits your head high with a message of universal brotherhood cutting lose to all our bias towards racism.

Ratings- 9/10

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Absolutely different from his stylized gun slinging violent classic ‘The Wild Bunch’, Sam Peckinpah’s ‘Straw Dogs’ is brilliant tense film where violence is slowly heightening its tension towards intense and awesome climax. Dustin Hoffman plays a mathematician too mild for her demanding hot young wife Susan George. Their arrival to town starts unhealthy sexually and psychologically boiling tension throughout the film. A bunch of street ruffians become part of their private life, becoming vigilante of the couple making both of them uncomfortable. The wife was terribly gang raped and the hubby is pushed to the limit and the rest is all Sam Peckinpah style shattering authentic portrayal of rough slow motion violence.

Hoffman is fine again but what I love the most is the way Peckinpah built the tension with young and ravishing character of Susan. She is very ambiguous character guided by her sexual urges often demanding attention with her skin projection provoking strangers. But as soon as we watch that terrible rape scene, she gains all our sympathy. Rape is more psychological torture than physical and Peckinpah made us felt that too. More than half an hour long climax inside Hoffman’s home is something only we can expect from Peckinpah. He’s original and master auteur as far as rough cinematic violence is concerned.
Strongly recommended to all violence suckers.

Ratings- 8.5/10

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


The film version of Khaled Hosseini’s critically acclaimed and popular novel retained the original lines, narration and theme. Having read the novel I must say that director Mark Forster has almost faithfully adapted it on screen retaining most of the authenticity of original work with almost touching approach but still reading the book is more effective tracing the characters in our minds than on screen.

The film is about seeking redemption of one’s past mistake due to cowardice and the irremovable guilt attached with it. The devotion of friendship by an illiterate, slave Afghani minority boy Hassan with rich, affluent and reticent Amir is something so deeper in Hosseini’s this moving novel. Though most of the cast is relatively new, all of them gave balanced acts. I want to praise Mark for the perfect casting of child Hassan and shooting the key sequence of Hassan’s self sacrifice for his friend such a moving way. Both the characters bear huge dichotomy in terns of inherent characteristics as well as economic and social positions. The only area where the film fumbles is editing.



Every Herzog film is an absorbing experience and this one is no exception. The most striking elements are the way he portrays nature and his lead character in his films. Unlike usual films nature is not just beautiful and soothing canvas in Herzog films but mystery and absolutely indifferent one towards humanity. Herzog shot his films as raw as nature itself. Perhaps, it’s these impressive qualities which separate his cinema from rest of the auteurs of the World Cinema.

Men keep trying to fathom, exploit and challenge the nature from the very day he became part of this planet and till day nature remains an unsolved mystery to them. In Aguirre, Herzog takes us to the mid sixteenth century in the heart of jungle where a large group of Spanish explorers trying to search El Dorado, a land of gold located in depth of Amazon tributaries. The journey is full of misfortune as changing climate is taking toll, food ration is short and the terrain is difficult and hostile Indian territory. But still it’s not nature but human avarice and obsession which brought the biggest tragedy.

El Dorado is represented as an illusion, almost like mirage in desert. Aguirre is rebellion who became traitor and the precursor of tragedy making all others innocent victims. Herzog’s favorite Klaus Kinski’s presence is dominant all over the film as maniacal tormentor. It’s no easy film but disturbing parable of human vices. Striking visuals encapsulated the whole journey part from very opening long shot to its shattering end. The scene where Aguirre addresses, “I’m wrath of God’ in monologue with only presence of monkeys on raft is brilliant moment of irony. Human is back to his primate stage addressing primates.

Only Herzog can do this. While reading the book ‘Herzog on Herzog’, I come to know that his own life is almost as mysterious and natural as his films. It’s one more masterpiece of New German cinema. I would love to avoid rating it.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


‘What you doing on Saturday night?’
-‘Committing suicide.’
‘What about Friday night?’

The film is Woody Allen’s finest & funniest tribute to great Hollywood legend Humphrey Bogart and classic ‘Casablanca’. The film was based on Allen’s self scripted play, directed on screen by Herbert Ross. More than idolizing he used Bogart as a guiding sidekick to upstart his already doomed pathetic life. Woody is at his wackiest best here!!! He plays insecure eternal neurotic loser obsessed with Bogart and having mental company of him. He’s messing up all available dates and ended up with his best friend’s wife. Watch the scene how get closest to the most romantic moment of his life with Diane Keaton and the early chemistry looks so young and refreshing one.

It’s a film where Woody treated the whole film with light and funny notes and less philosophizing. It’s raw Woody before he smelled the success of his bittersweet romance ‘Annie Hall’ or classy ‘Manhattan.’ Allen strikingly compared his uncommon weird persona which brings original self style much like Bogart. Watch the last scene where Bogart look-alike delivered that great line to disillusioned Woody - ‘Here’s looking at you kid.”

Another strong recommendation of great fun for all Woody Allen lovers.

Ratings- 8/10

Friday, April 2, 2010


A very unlikely dark tragedy from Woody Allen resembles much with Sydney Lumet’s underrated family crime tragedy ‘Before the Devil Knows you’re Dead’. Two brothers running short of hard cash, one is compulsive gambler & drunkard; the other too ambitious and madly in love with a dame. Their rich uncle came to help them but in return he needs their favor to settle a score of his rival. Initially they refuse it; but soon their need wins over their conscience. The rest film follows their struggle to commit the first crime of their life and its aftermath.

The film has lagging first half, besides there is no light moments at all what we usually expect from any Woody films. It’s more like those dark Greek or Shakespearean tragedies where blind ambition, guilt, dilemma plays pivotal role in making or breaking of the protagonist. Both Colin Farrell and Ewan Mcgregor acted their parts with utmost sincerity. Watch how one crime lead to another in the final fifteen minutes full of twist and tension, ended up with unfortunate family tragedy.


Thursday, April 1, 2010


“Instincts are wonderful things, isn’t it…its pity it can’t be

A brilliant psychological thriller made by British filmmaker Michael Powell where a camera obsessed voyeur- psychopath killer capturing the last moments of his victims on handheld camera. It certainly stands next to any of classic psychological thriller whether it’s Polanski or Master Hitchcock’s best films, including ‘Psycho’ which was released in the same year.

The great thing about the film is Powell’s treatment; its almost told and shot from the point of view of voyeur named Mark who’s suffering from neurological disorder. Keeping Mike always focused as peeping Tom from various spaces, he’s compulsive voyeur who’s watching and filming everything about his subjects even after things were over. You can say that camera is his alter-ego and also an Achilles heel why cops sniff him. The dark past experience of his life was also told through the screening moments on projector where we witness his sadistic biologist father throwing lights or dropping lizards on his child’s bed to experiment reactions of the nervous system to the fear in young child.

The film also bears some interesting characters like the blind women whose sixth sense is more powerful than normal ones. There’re some lighter moments too where an old man hesitates to ask for erotic magazines; perhaps another social voyeur who’s seeking pleasure! It was shot almost in classic vibrant colors by Otto Heller keeping the thrilling atmosphere and tone throughout. The other film I would like to compare is Antonioni’s déjà vu classic ‘Blow Up’.

Director Sam Mandes paid homage to Powell’s this masterpiece in his ‘Road to Perdition’ where Jude Law’s psychopathic character is derived from Mike.

Need I write ‘Must Watch’!