Wednesday, May 26, 2010

BARAKA (Documentary) (1992)

Words seem quite hollow to explain the visual beauty of this wonderful documentary. I can say it’s a sublime journey or a visual poetry covering amazing natural landscapes to human faces and tribal life to metropolitan life. Without using any single word from beginning to end, Director and photographer Ron Fricke has accomplished a great feat in absorbing the audience in this wonderful journey without any particular destination. Credit also goes to uplifting and soothing background score featuring some of the finest elemental sounds.

The film is milestone for making its viewers feel the most heard silence breaking all conventional grammar of filmmaking; the only thing one has to do is to pay the eyes and ears to the screen and let him/herself freely flows into the currents of unique experience.
Watch those amazing parallel juxtaposed between chickens trapped in machines and urban routine lives trapped between skyscrapers and traffic raising exclamations to our mundane everyday routine. A brilliant use of fast forward!!! Some scenes will stay with me for long, i.e. - the two donkeys pulling the huge load of cart on sloppy track and the cutting of giant tree.

Shot in more than twenty four countries in 70 mm, the film would be literally a masterpiece in its own and if you haven’t seen it yet than I would recommend to grab it as soon as possible and try to watch it on big LCD screen at night to enjoy its rich experience.
Highly…Highly Recommended.

PS- A big thanks to dear friend Pratik for gifting this long due one!!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


An absolutely well made and engaging western maintaining tension and violence like Packinpah films. The film begins with an interesting proposition- a brother has to kill his own brother within nine days to save the life of his younger brother... the rest is better to watch on your own. Though the film has unusual Guy Pierce, the performance to watch here belongs to Ray Winstone and Danny Huston. Set in Godforsaken West Country with seedy and savage characters; the film has rich cinematography canvassing beautiful natural shades of sky and frontier juxtaposed with lawless violent bloodshed and ripped off bodies. Some of the lines are poetic ones, quite unusual for westerns. Director John Hillcoat truly deserves praise from all western film lovers.
Fine Western…Catch it.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

JFK (1991)

“ A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against its Government.”

No, it’s neither just routine political epic about great US president nor about knowing who killed Kennedy. It’s a film about one man’s obsessive struggle to know the truth and the whole truth. And that’s what it makes really an engrossing and intriguing experience to know the insider story behind the plot of Kennedy’s assassination. Director Oliver Stone followed the book written by whistleblower Jim Garrison and presented a film which is perhaps more controversial or chaotic than breaking news or cover stories of the real sad event. Like Garrison, Stone probed deeper into the plain truth raising many pertinent questions about the authenticity of Federal Government and Warren commission’s report. At the end of the film we absolutely convinced that it’s not only Oswald who shoot Kennedy.

Though many critics and historians claimed that Stone has taken much liberty with facts in screenplay but I do feel that its not about facts but its emotional repercussions of a time where a man named Jim Garrison went against the system, scrutinized the conventional available truth with his own counter analysis. And while watching it, we definitely feel the heat of some boiling conspiracy ran by a syndicate that hates Kennedy so terribly. It ranges from FBI, CIA to Mafias and Russian Communists. The film garnered much controversy due to this at the time of release.

Technically flawless as Stone’s many films, JFK is quite complex and unconventional in many fronts especially in editing & cinematography; the film won two Oscars in both out of 8 major nominations. It’s like visual assault or bombardment of facts, information and links carrying logical conclusions sprouting like popcorn. Cinematographer Robert Richardson showed extensive camera work in all forms- 35 mm to 8 mm, montage, still photography, color and B&W frames.

I do wonder why Stone didn’t get this worthy award as Best Director! May be because Academy already given him two trophies too earlier for ‘Platoon’ and ‘Born on the 4th of July’ or may be because ‘The Silence of Lambs’ carried more critical favor. However it was Stone almost as auteur maintained layered narration with detailing of structure within structure carrying multiple points of views of the investigation and out of all that making a gripping film despite its epical length of almost three hours.

The film has brilliant performances by strong ensemble cast, whether it’s Kevin Costner in his great intensive role as whistleblower Attorney Jim Garrison or quite unidentifiable Tommy Lee Jones as Clay Shaw or Gary Oldman as prime suspect Lee Oswald. The film also has respective company of supporting actors like Joe Pesci (another unrecognizable face under heavy makeup…just pay attention to trademark dialogue delivery to catch him), Kevin Bacon, Jack Lemmon & Sissy Spacek to name a few and everyone added the touch of intensity in their long or short reel time. But Costner gave another powerful performance absolutely deserving Oscar which he didn’t get. Watch his intensity throughout the film and then in that climactic courtroom scene where he showed Zapruder film and speculated the real truth. “But someday, somewhere, someone may find out the damn truth.” A great courtroom speech indeed!
Masterpiece of Oliver Stone.


KITES (2010)

So here I’m out of theatre watching this year’s one of the keenly awaited film of the bollywood in Hindi version and predicting that neither the mass nor the class will like it and it would be surely box office disaster if mouth publicity will reach quite early to the audience.

Now let me tell you first why mass won’t like it: Number one it’s lifeless and without any sort of substance in story or presentation in anything conventional or non conventional. Almost 70 % of the film is in mixture of Spanish-English and the common audience hasn’t yet cultivated the habit to follow hindi subtitles throughout the film to understand a simple routine love story. Remember K. Balachander’s ‘Ek Duuje Ke Liye’ where two lovers don’t understand their regional lingo ended their lives at sea shore and we feel so sad for poor Vasu and Sapna in our first viewing. This poor version severely fails to deliver any intensity to the pairs of lovers. By the way are they lovers is still a big question. Nobody care a damn for the ill fated pair of glamorous desi-international kites even in tragic end here The film don’t have a single peppy Hrithik dance number (for which he’s quite popular) nor fine action sequence (showing car chase isn’t action sequence in my opinion esp. when it seems so ridiculous) And so its not ‘paisa vasool entertainment’ even for popcorn money, forget the ticket!!!

Now let me come to class audience who join cinema hall to watch it for Director Anurag Basu whose last film ‘Metro’ was really impressive. The screenplay, tug of tangled emotions and lifelike characters made his ‘Metro’ quite near to heart. Here Basu quite miserably fails to deliver any of these things. It’s in the second half where film starts irritating you to the limit till the end. Basu-Roshan Inc. tries to make it an international product with Spanish actress, foreign locales focusing style and nothing else. The film randomly copied the sequences of Hollywood films from ‘Casino’, ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ to ‘Road to Perdition.’ Why don’t they copied the whole films for that matter, Bhatt camp is at least doing that for common audience!! Poor Bollywood!!! Creativity and originality is questionable affair in bollywood.

The only thing worthy of attention its Hrithik and Barbara’s chemistry which looks so immensely beautiful on screen but hell they’re supposed to!!! But what about performance, well the director and producer papa don’t care much about it. I doubt Hrithik’s style and charisma won’t work this time. Though I must say its Spanish beauty Barbara Mori whose presence with all her innocent and natural expressions let you bear the film till the end. Thank god the film is just two hours affair…I’m adding one more point for that in ratings.
Highly Not Recommended.

Ratings- 4/10 (Watch it at your own risk!)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

CHAPLIN (1992)

“I would have been a total disaster if I hadn’t invented the tramp.”

Some films deserved to be made; especially if it’s on the life of the greatest phenomenon ever happened to the silent era Sir Charles Chaplin. Based on Chaplin’s own autobiography, the film is a not just a glory tale of Chaplin as a star or icon but also an honest biopic to know the dearest Charlie and his life quite closely. Its rags to riches story and the making and the breaking of the world’s most famous entertainer of all time. Was Charlie in real life as content and as happy as in his films? ‘My only enemy is time’, said Chaplin.

Narrated interestingly with flashback of his life and present where an old Charlie was interviewed by a writer played by Anthony Hopkins. We witness some of the wonderful moments of his first child act on stage, his first date, his first dressing as the tramp, his first direction, the ladies of her lives and above all a close rival and friend Douglas Fairbanks. It’s wonderful to know how the great depression era and the rise of machine age propelled him to make ‘Modern Times’ and a comment at party spurred him to make the first talkie of his career ‘The Great Dictator’. If there are women who ruined his personal life, the talkies ruined his career. Talkies did arrive but he remained adamant on his conviction that the tramp can’t talk and the rest is history who made even Albert Einstein dropping tears. Still this great humanitarian was constantly stated as communists and unofficial US citizen; then FBI director J. Edgar Hoover remained a constant eyesore who finally plotted the fake pregnancy to manipulate Chaplin’s fame and career and later made a political stunt by expelling him from the US for 20 damn years until 1972 where he only returned to get his special Academy Award for his immense contribution.

Shot in beautiful color cinematography, the film is technically flawless in production; another worthy achievement in the cap of Director Richard Attenborough. But it wouldn’t be made without brilliant and impressive performance of great Robert Downey Jr. at age of 27.; undoubtedly his best act. Even after dressing and makeup it’s damn difficult to carry all those trademark slapstick fun of Charlie with authentic expressions but Downey Jr. is an actor to watch. He abstained melodrama and presented lifelike figure; behind all Chaplin act he maintained the face of flawed human being just like one of us representing young to old age. Great performance indeed!

‘If you want to understand me watch my movies,’ said the great tramp. So true…’City light’ is still my number one favorite love story. Ohh I again carried out by this great artist…have to watch his all films once again.

Don’t miss it…its one of the greatest biopic I’ve ever seen.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Hollywood’s obsession with German Nazi WW II stories are unending one and so I won’t call it a brilliant thriller after watching many films based on the similar plot. Though I must say its taut and well made thriller of 80’s Hollywood made by Richard Schlesinger and a reason enough to watch for the screen presence of three fine actors Dustin Hoffman, Sir Laurence Olivier and Roy Scheider.

Disoriented events, characters and accidents keep your mind in puzzle for more than one hour and as you try to settle yourself with jigsaw puzzle kind of link between the plot and characters you’re come closer to the climax. The climax was engaging, predictable one and more to poetic justice. Its here that film fails to raise bar. Laurence Olivier as Dentist Szell is another cold blooded cruel Nazi killer much in the great Nazi villain company of Hans Landa (Inglorious Basterds) and Ralph Fiennes (Schindler’s List). Though the film has presence of a great method actor Hoffman and fine support by Scheider, Sir Olivier overshadows everyone. Watch him in the torture scene asking a single question repeatedly ‘Is it safe?’ Conrad Hall’s camerawork is striking one especially in chase sequences.
Worth watching for Laurence Olivier.


Monday, May 17, 2010

FITZCARRALDO (German) (1982)

It’s height of madness in filmmaking!!! Or else how can without any sort of tricks or special effects the director and his crew literally dragged a huge 340 tons ship on Steep Mountain in the middle of Amazon River to shoot a truthful sequence! It’s impossible task that Werner Herzog achieved as a filmmaker who often made us think hard while watching his nature of cinema. Its almost challenging film to accomplish and Herzog had took great pain for four long years to shoot the whole film on real locations of Peru and Ecuador’s jungles keeping the lives of his crew in peril.

The film is based on part real part Herzog version of story of Opera lover Fitzgerald who vows to bring opera to his remote hometown. Almost quixotically he made a plan to earn money in isolated dangerous land full of native Indians to harvest rubber and from there on fulfill his dream. The next is an obsessive journey into heart of nature. Herzog’s collaboration with actor Klaus Kinski brought some of the great German cinema and this is one of them. I just love the inscrutability of Kinski’s face and character corresponding so intimately in Herzog films. Though I like his intensity in ‘Aguirre’ better than this one; here too he brought a character full of unpredictability. Watch his expressions while playing Verdi on gramophone in the stream of river or the final scene where he returns with opera on ship and cigar on lips and you crave for more of him.

The film is undoubtedly impressive and perhaps the most popular one but at the same time it hardly come across some of the great thought provoking films that Herzog has made with Bruno S., for me ‘Stroszek’, ‘The Enigma of Kasper Hauser’ and ‘Aguirre’ are masterpieces of German Cinema. Nevertheless Herzog confessed in the book ‘Herzog on Herzog’ that it’s his too private film to appreciate as something for the public.


Sunday, May 16, 2010


“The worst part of being old is remembering when you was young.”

One can’t expect a film like this from Director David Lynch? Could he make such a heart touching tale in such a straight and simple way barring all his trademark surrealism is itself a surprising big reason to watch this film. It’s a tale of 73 years old diabetic Alvin Straight, who doesn’t stand on his own without a pair of sticks making his journey to Wisconsin driving on his lawn mower to see his brother who had got heart attack recently. They’re two brothers who hadn’t talked with each other since a decade and so it’s a journey of emotions and wish fulfillment for this old stubborn head. It takes couple of weeks to reach his destination alone on his mower running at snail’s pace. During the journey he meets strangers whether it’s a girl who ran away from her family, a bunch of cycle riders, a deer killing lady car driver or an old man in a bar with whom he shared the most intimate secret of his early life.

Richard Farnsworth is just irreplaceable casting as Alvin, finely supported by Sissy Spacek as his stammering daughter who gave another fine performance. It’s slow film expecting patience but if you can tolerate that one thing I guarantee you the end which can’t resist tears in your eyes. The final scene of reuniting brothers is one of the sublime emotional scenes I have ever seen. Beautiful cinematography and a fine violin background sound uplifts the mood of the film. The film reminds me another beautiful film ‘The World’s fastest Indian’ having a brilliant act of Anthony Hopkins; the difference lies in fastest vs. slowest.
A Simple and yet moving film.


F FOR FAKE (Documentary) (1973)

“Art is a lie. A lie that makes us realize the truth.”

- Pablo Picasso

This is a film about trickery, fraud and lies and the world of deception in art market…all comes with signature impression of Master Orson Welles. Told in multiple narratives including enigmatic Welles himself in the garb of magician; its an honest attempt based on solid proofs to scrutinize the real truth behind the world of art forgery. It has brilliant fast paced editing ahead of its time, another signature style of Welles films.

Welles encounters us with the world’s biggest art forger of 20th century, Elmyr de Horay, a failed artist whom the world didn’t take seriously later proved as the master art forger. He was ready to accept the challenge to have expert opinions about his fake paintings of all great post-impressionist painters ranging from Modigliani to Matisse. We also meet his biographer Clifford Irving. Then its Welles himself, who made confession about his role of the faking in art showing us early years of his struggling career from a painter to stage and radio and at finally as an auteur of world cinema who made classic ‘Citizen Kane’ turning a real tycoon Howarrd Hughes into a newspaper giant Kane. In the final last part we meet Oja Kodar, a beautiful girlfreind of Welles with a scoop of Picasso and his 22 inspired paintings, its complex mystery showing us the nexus between beauty of woman and creation of art. Until like magician Welles appeared on screen and revealed us the reality of what you’re watching. What a brilliant end!!!

F for Fake is lesser known but again a master work and it raised many pertinent questions about the art and the very notion of art’s expertise. Who’s more expert here? Is it an expert or is it a faker who is an expert making even experts in delusion? Can art forgery admire as an art itself? If we believe a painting to be good, aesthetically, is it any less good aesthetically when we later learn that it is "merely" a copy of a Matisse, or a fake Picasso? The work itself didn't change, only our background knowledge has changed. Is our background knowledge part of the art object that we're judging?
Another less appreciated masterpiece from Master…Highly recommended to all Welles fans.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

HEIMA (Documentary) (2007)

One of the most beautiful Rock concert film I have ever seen. It’s an audiovisual meditation in all its abstract and natural shades of beauty. Back to their roots on Iceland in summer 2006, the band of Sigur Ros performed some of the ecstatic tracks on tour. I confess that I don’t understand even a bit of what Sigur Ros sang and yet I just drawn into music and images which treading me into enigmatic visceral experience. The big reason of this sweeping journey is synchronized interplay between the elemental sound produced by the band and beautifully shot and edited eye candy natural images of Iceland. The fine surprise for me is the experiments of producing different natural sounds from selected rocks and woods and with every fading song we follow an unknown natural territory.

For all those alternative rock lovers ranging from U2 to John Mayer its must watch material in all musical sense. Out of all performed tracks I like ‘Seydisfjordur’- a fine composition having some great piano chords and the final concert song which sweeps us with some great drum beats rhythm.
An absolute watch worthy poetry of Rock.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

UNDERGROUND (Serbian/Croatian) (1995)

Satiric, farcical, absurd, outrageously funny and almost excess on everything; ‘Underground’ is cinematic hyperbole about Yugoslavia from past to present in three parts, begins with Second World War and ends with post communist present. We meet two lunatic communist comrades Marko and Blacky as messengers of chaos in war stricken Belgrade in the first part. They were drinking, looting trains, banks to support the party and took shelter with other comrades in an underground cellar. The second part shows us Marko’s crooked version of history in the cold war era. He married with his Blacky’s actress girlfriend declaring him a martyr in the public eye. He’s filming a tribute film for great martyr Blacky out there. On the other hand poor Blacky and the bunch of comrades even after two decades of time are still alive under the cellar of Marko’s own house believing that outside the fascists of Second World War are still in power.

The world is going upside down but the euphoria continues until a chimp fired a tank accidentally and next we see letting loose canons Blacky and his young son Jovan encountering the external world after a period encountering a film shooting. Well, Jovan is another addition to laughter package who was born and brought up in underworld hasn’t seen the sun, the moon or anything that belongs to external world showing his natural curiosity. Even in the third part the war is still on, now between Croats and Serbs. It’s Yugoslavia of 1992 and Marko is still alive baking his bread on warfare and Blacky became revolutionary. This the bleakest part where all fun stops suddenly making us realize the horror of war on one country.

Director Emir Kusturica certainly deserves honor for making such a brilliant political satire on communism and ill fate of country’s history. Sarcasm and laughter go hand in hand here and mad hilarious riot flows throughout the film. Black comedy never achieved such a height! It’s revealing to know that the Director’s cut was 320 minutes long but to cater larger audience it was edited with 167 minutes. Watching it for first hour and enjoying every bit of it, I keep asking myself why the hell such a madcap political satire won Palm d’or at Cannes. But it’s the ending part which changes the gear, making it less outrageous and more serious & concerning fact file of once upon a time there was a country!!!

An underrated nugget of black humor.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES (Japanese) (1988)

How can an animation film short list as one of the Great War films ever made?
Well that’s a stupid question I asked myself before watching this Japanese film. Now, if you are animation film lover and still haven’t watched it than you’re missing the gem of animation. Why gem? Because during my staple diet of watching single film a day I never seen any powerful animation film like this’s as thought provoking and as sentimental as watching one of De Sica’s Neo Realistic cinema; and its not exaggeration. Ask anybody who has watched it. Unlike usual war films it doesn’t portray military tyranny but questions the silent innocent victims of war, showing inevitability of human conflict by human. We won’t wonder why O Henry’s ‘The Gift of Magi’ moved even the president!!!

It’s heart wrenching story set up in the aftermath of Second world war showing us the bonding of a mature brother Seita and her doll like little innocent sister Setsuko. It’s a hopeless situation for Japan as US jets frequently air raiding and destroying villages and towns. The country is passing through great crisis and here’s an orphan brother trying to protect her sister without letting her know about her mother’s death. He’s trying to please her in some of the most frustrating situations. Though he’s not even young enough, he’s behaving like a responsible elder. They shared their moments of crisis, selling and trading every available object for food. They shared their moments of fun, catching fireflies at night or enjoying at beach.

Unlike Hollywood’s larger than life animation, characters here breathe just like human. They look so natural, lifelike and expressive with all little nuances in detail. Attention to craft and design is something which mainstream Hollywood animation is missing so terribly. It’s child centred animation which proclaims Japanese creativity surpassing even live films full of megastars. Visually it’s so rich and aesthetic…the scene where many fireflies illuminating the bed in darkness is something which lingers for long. I’ve to add cute little Setsuko as one of my favorite animation character and she has fine voice over too. Hail to Japanese animation and Director Isao Takahata and his crew for accomplishing such a classic animation cinema.

And I mean it when I’m referring De Sica. Watch the final twenty minutes of the film. It’s a scene where Seita is caught for stealing apples and Setsuko is shouting for her brother. It’s a scene where Setsuko is making fake rice balls in her last stage of illness, and it’s a scene where finally I can’t resist my tears watching Seita offering final rites to her sweet beloved sister. Isn’t that ‘fruit drops tin box’ is brilliant symbol uplifting the whole film from beginning to end like De Sica’s ‘bicycle’.

Need I say ‘Must Watch’?

Ratings- 10/10

Monday, May 10, 2010


A beautiful film about the journey of a retired postman father, his young son and a dog tracking mountain villages on foot and delivering mails to longing ones. It was the last one for father and first one for the son and a difficult and strenuous one in hilly rocky tracks of mountains covering distance of more than 150 km. During the course of journey both of them become more intimate and understand each other more closely shedding all their difference.

Its simple story and simple film, probably contains not more than one line to sum up all but its visuals which speaks volumes than words. The panoramic view of natural landscapes covering mountains, lush green hills, rivers and isolated villages make it rich cinematic experience. The pace of the film is too slow and demands patience for routine film lovers. The father is represented here as a strict disciplinarian, responsible and dedicated to his duty and passing the message to his young son. Looking it broader cultural perspective, it connotes older generation’s passing flame of values to new modern generation. The film has many sentimental scenes. Like one where the young postman is reading a letter to a blind old granny living alone. Another is one where son crosses the river lifting his father.

Another classic film making with a beautiful visual journey…


Sunday, May 9, 2010

THE CAVE OF THE YELLOW DOG (Mongolian) (2005)

What a sweet, simple and beautiful film!!!
The film is about sweet little Nansal and her nomad family. She finds a baby dog Zocher in the cave who becomes her best friend. The parents are not happy about the straw dog but soon the dog proves his loyalty saving the life of the youngest sibling and becomes the part of family till life.

Director Byambasuren Davaa is fine revelation for me and he has maintained a little girl’s point of view throughout the film reminding me of the Iranian Majidi films. It’s a film portraying innocent world of little Nansal and her two siblings- finding shapes of animals in clouds, playing with dung cakes, listen after-life story from a strange grandma…the moments will cherish long forever. Though different in theme its as soothing, as healing, as beautifully portrayed picturesque film as Kim Ki duk’s ‘Spring, Summer, Fall, winter…and Spring’.

Breathtaking visuals drag us into the lap of heavenly nature with very simple and touching tale to tell. A Mongolian couple struggling with their nomadic life and still enjoying and managing to rear their three children well. They are living under a round tent in the natural setting with a flock of sheep. Mother who’s handling home chores with whatever available resources and father who’s remain out to sell ship skins. It’s in the ending titles we come to know that its real Batchuluun family and that’s another strong reason why it looks so natural, effortless in their act throughout the film.

Must watch for all.

PS- A special thanks to GOGO aka Bhushan Kolte for this beautiful recommendation.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

REVANCHE (Austrian) (2009)

‘Whose fault is life doesn’t go your ways?’

An Oscar nominee for the best foreign language film in 2009, Revanche (means Revenge) is dark, disturbing and brooding drama absorbed with elements of crime, accident, guilt and revenge. It’s a film where uncontrolled fate and chance plays pivotal role changing all protagonists’ lives.

Tamara is Ukrainian illegally living call girl in Germany and she’s under the debt of thirty thousand dollars and her bouncer boyfriend Alex needs eighty thousand euros to be a partner of his friend’s bar at Ibiza. She’s too special for local brothel and so her pimp offered her big money and a flat to sell her beauty and curves to higher clients who don’t want to tarnish their public image by visiting local brothel. She refused his offer but he goes on keep insisting. On the other hand Alex made a plan to rob the bank and escape to Spain. But when man is making a plan, fate also starts playing its part too. Alex escapes to his lone grandpa’s countryside home but the vigilante is in the neighborhood. There’s also a subplot of a childless couple and the cop. It would be great spoiler for the film, if I say anything further about the well conceived tense plot and gripping treatment.

Director Gotz Spielmann shifted the dark, seedy and fast paced city life with lots of skin show and boiling tension into an absolutely slow and different environment of countryside within an half an hour and its here where films becomes different from Hollywood crime potboilers. The world of contrast between lives of city and countryside which is highlighted here in almost positive open ending of the film. As Alex’s grandpa says in one of his line- ‘In a city you end up as arrogant or scoundrel.’ Guilt and remorse find their ways only when one is quiet and calm with self and that’s possible at countryside and not in hectic money ruled life of city. Guilt is rooted there already where Alex is incessantly cutting woods like a freak, and the cop keeps jogging and regretting on a bench near the pond. Both for the same woman.

Along with almost flawless direction and performances, the film is worthy to watch for its brilliant cinematography too.


Thursday, May 6, 2010


Not so often we come across a film where emotional undertones of eyes and the secret of mystery case meets their tangled course in the film corresponding to each other and if it happens it won’t be so subtle…so touching like this one. The plot shifts back and forth between the past and present, uniting Benjamin and Irene after 25 years long gap. She was a lawyer then and he was a crime investigator dealing with a mystery case of inhuman rape and murder of a young woman. The case made them attached to a wonderful relationship and a secret they always know but don’t reveal to each other till the case which was almost as old as their relationship reaches its denouement of suspense in the climax.

The way director Juan Josse Campanella has synchronized subtle love story with criminal case and in both of the stories kept tangled unsolved strings for period of long gap is something which deserves all praise for writing and direction and deserved an academy award for this year’s best foreign language film. Its masterly crafted film with fine camera work and gripping editing. Camera plays keen role throughout the film and remains focused with close ups on almost all characters.

And above all, it’s absolutely worth watching thing for the brilliant screen chemistry between Ricardo Darin and Soledad Villamil. They really look like reunited lovers in all flesh and blood than mere cardboard players. Ricardo in his D H Lawrence kind of beard plays the man who’s intelligent, confident and emotionally restraint and he’s great to watch here with equally wonderful Soledad. My god, she’s woman with the most wonderful pair of sparkling eyes full of irresistible emotions inside and you won’t avoid it. The emotions reflects in her eyes and facial expressions so naturally, so effortlessly…it’s the moment where she’s expecting Benjamin to confess something and in return her crystal heart was broken with his favoring of the case. The same scene meets it sublimity in the end. The other beautiful crafted moment is departure scene at railway station and it’s one of the finest touching romantic scenes I’ve seen in a long run.

Mandatory watch for all.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010


“There’s only one real problem with a man and a woman. When one of them is in love and the other isn’t. After that it’s all mechanics.”

There are very few musicals that made a history at Oscars winning 6 trophies including the Best Picture trophy. Well, considering my mind’s opinion its Tennessee Williams’ classic screen adaptation of play ‘A Streetcar named Desire’ that deserved the best film trophy that year but it’s the heart that always rules at popular opinions. With spectacular set designs, lighting, costumes and great Grace Kelly the film charmed the audience and critics equally for all time.

Jerry is an American painter falls in love first with Paris and then with Parisian dame with several routine emotional obstructions. Heartache follows but not singing and dancing. Though the plot is all romantic cliché, the wonderful music by George Gershwin and amazing dance moves performed and choreographed by Gene Kelly overshadows every thing and cast a spell on any film lovers. It’s out and out his movie than anything.

So the big reason to watch this classic musical is the legendary and versatile one man show of Gene Kelly. With all his athletic self choreographed dance moves, he just enthralls the audience and rules on screen. Watch it just for him if not for anything; and yes if you sneer your nose at musicals, watch this too. It will become a reason enough to fall in love with them. Watch Kelly performing foot tapping song-dance act amid street kids mimicking choo choo train to Chaplin and you’ll also sing with him ‘who ask for anything more.’ The final ‘dream ballet’ sequence costs half million dollars to studio then and mind it it’s one of the brilliant uninterrupted dance sequence ever filmed in Hollywood entertainer. I wonder why Director Vincente Minneli casted him as a painter and not as a ballet dancer!!!

Ratings- 8/10

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

COCO BEFORE CHANEL (French) (2009)

Gabrielle known as Coco is an orphan girl destined to suffer in the world full of selfish men gifted with fame and money. The long phase of struggle from singing-dancing public girl act to being mistress of Baron Balsan is all her smart way to deal with question of survival without money. It was not at all destined for her to be a fashion icon but she’s smart woman who observed, experienced and learned whatever comes her way until her creations defines modern women for more than sixty years, the era’s greatest celebrities adopted her style and becoming the first woman to break into man’s world.

One has to watch this film to know the personal human story of Coco, later known as the legendary fashion icon Chanel. She’s really a strong, proud and mature women pulled herself to remain single; preferred being mistress than wife and made her own fortune independently without being the shadow of somebody’s life forever. More than personal biography, its film celebrating the triumph of an independent woman who stick to her individual freedom above everything…whether it’s love, loyalty or relations.

Her sense of fashion is plain and simple and yet elegant and descent one. She hated too tight, too resplendent and too fashionable kind of Victorian dressing and hate corsets which were quite happening stuff during that time. In a scene, a lady asked him to dress her with revealing thighs and breasts, she responded that let them remain exciting to imaginations.The final scene is almost like celebration concocted with sweet revenge. The models are going for ramp walk, Coco is watching the crowd applaud reminiscing about the embarrassing moments at party where people ridiculed her and her dressing.

Watch it for Audrey Toutou’s fine act, she’s not in her routine bubbly, sweet girl image, it’s tough role to maintain but she’s gifted with one of the most expressive face of French cinema and that has done half the work for her.

Ratings- 7/10

Monday, May 3, 2010

NOSTALGHIA (Italian) (1983)

For me ‘Andrei Rublev’ is the great spiritual experience that I ever felt from the world of cinema and personally I regarded it as one of the greatest film ever made. Without comparing I must say that ‘Nostalghia' is a very personal Tarkovsky film which demands a great deal of patience and focused effort to fathom it quite deeply. It’s a kind of cinema which either you must watch and re-watch to explore its cerebral, aesthetic depth to comprehend it fully or discard it fully by leaving it in first fifteen minutes saying its not my cup of tea. Those who watch films for extraordinary plot, story telling, great characters, tight editing and other audience friendly technicalities of cinema please stay away from this; they will simply curse this review and the film.

On the surface ‘Nostalghia’ is a film about a Russian poet named Andrei came to visit the countryside of Italy along with a translator young girl named Eugenia to research the life of an 18th century Russian composer named Sosnovsky. Andrei is suffering from home sickness; missing his wife and children in Russia and its reason why he’s always seems lost in pervasive longing to go his motherland. Eugenia’s crush on him failed and so she left him in lurch. Andrei meets Domenico, whom the villagers considered as mad man who once tried to cross the pond with ignited candle. The rest is another cinematic journey which is like personal poetry very solitary, melancholic, surreal and self scrutinizing one culminating towards the enlightenment of soul and its redemption. It’s like reading visual metaphors of Donne’s metaphysical poetry.

Tarkovsky has achieved a commendable status for bringing some of the haunting and beautiful natural images of the Russian filmmaking. Like Bresson he was unique director and staunch believer in cinema as visual art than anything else where images rule the experience than vague words. Few other similarities I found in both of their cinema are the depth of naturally aesthetic cinema without being pretentious anywhere maintaining complete minimalist approach and the slow spiritual undercurrent running through the film heightened while reaching its climax. Most part of the film is shot under rain, heavy mist and fog. One has to watch it for the use of doors and windows of ruined buildings, they all seems like frames of abstract paintings.

Both Andrei and mad man Domenico shared a parallel personal quest to search the higher truths of life and in the climax Tarkovsky let us felt it quite clearly keeping both of their ends followed one by one. Here’s what my futile attempt to put it in words:
A madman is standing on a statue delivering speech about the higher truth of life. He is addressing to the ashamed saner men standing almost like live statues. Suddenly a man gave him a tin of fuel. The mad man takes it and pours it on himself. He ignited the lighter and set himself on blaze. People are still standing like statues witnessing free drama except one or two and a barking dog. What we witness is yet another crucifixation witnessed by the world with their preconceived sanity. Next we witness a brilliant uninterrupted shot of Andrei repeatedly trying to cross the pond with ignited candle in his hand...each time the flame extinguished by wind in the middle until... What a healing cinema!!!

Undoubtedly its makers and films like these which made cinema a higher motive and serving a purpose of visually powerful and stirring spiritual experience circumpassing all routine escapist entertainment.


Sunday, May 2, 2010


Widely considered as the breakthrough classic of ‘film noire’ genre where we meet tough, dark, antihero kind of lead characters, dark cinematography and plot intriguing us to murder, infidelity and crimes to chase ‘the stuff that dreams are made of’. Sam Spade is a hard boiled and almost unpredictable detective gets his new glamorous client. What is initial trail treads him into troubled waters full of double crossing gang ready to search bejeweled million dollar statue of falcon. Staying within the line of law, Spade tries to map the hard truth.

Based on Dashiell Hammett’s novel, the film is Director John Huston’s brilliant directorial debut and his combination with legendary Humphrey Bogart is something great Hollywood chemistry which later worked some career defining films for both of them i.e.- ‘The African Queen’ and ‘The Treasure of Sierra Madre’. Though it is based on novel, the screenplay of the film is written so meticulously by Huston that it doesn’t give us the time to know what is the truth and what is the lie. It certainly full of impeccably topnotch performances by all cast. Whether it’s finest screen chemistry between Bogart and Mary Astor or from supporting cast like Peter Lorre as suave Cairo or Sidney Greenstreet as Gutman; all of they’re almost as immortal as the film. But it’s special film for Bogart, and he literally made Sam Spade an icon along with Rick of ‘Casablanca’ which was released the very next year and made a history.

A do not miss classic ‘film noire’ and a mandatory watch for all Bogart fans.

Ratings- 9/10