Thursday, June 30, 2011

FIRE IN BABYLON (Documentary) (2010)

“People said that we’re spoiling the game, aiming to kill. Aggression means aggression and that’s how I look at life. You fight, I’m gonna fight. We had a mission that we believe in ourselves and we’re just as good as anyone…EQUAL for that matter.” – Vivian Richards

All is fair in love and war…and sports!

Cricket is the game of the greatest colonizers of the world and here is the story of vengeance replacing ‘whitewash’ to ‘blackwash’. British filmmaker Steven Riley's this documentary is must watch for all cricket buffs and it’s as exciting as watching some of the finest vengeance film. The unsettling, aggressive, jaw breaking Caribbean bowling attack made them one of the most formidable team that rules in Test Cricket history for more than 15 years.

Going back to history, things was not always peaceful as today in the beautiful paradise island of West Indies. It’s long and painful history of oppression, apartheid and civil war. Sixties and seventies are revolutionary period and the new generation youth through education, music and sports showed their temper and identity to the world against the racial disparity. It all begins in their Australian test tour in 1975, where Ausies have controversial attacking and dangerous side of nasty fast bowlers in form of Thomson and Lillee. They were such ruthless bowlers that batsmen playing against them begging for mercy. They butchered West Indies side with injuries and humiliation of all sorts and won the series with 5-1. Battered West Indies hit back with killing spirit and fierce pace power after a year. They first let India surrendered the series and then let the Master of Cricket grovel with winning all three tests. It’s still undisputed fact that from Feb-March of 1980 to Feb-March 1995, West Indies did not lose a test series. Quite an unbeaten record!

The film is sessions of interviews with those shining West Indies national heroes ranging from the Wizard Viv Richards, Malcolm Marshall, Colin Croft, Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes and above all Clive Lloyd who gifted first two World cups to West Indies and the man behind that unbeatable team. It has rare television footage and classic nostalgic moments of those glorious shifting time where Windies was at its the best.

Highly Recommended watch for all…it’s as exciting as watching a vengeance thriller.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011


A worth watching British film that explores the seedy and sinister dark side of London from the eyes of an African illegal immigrant named Okwe. He works two shifts in London, driving cab in the day and working at hotel desk in the night. Both the time he has to deal with strangers of all sorts of shit from hooker to wicked bosses. One night he found a human heart blocking the lavatory in one of the hotel room. When he brought that information to his hotel manager, he replied, “Hotel business is about strangers. And strangers will always surprise you. They came to hotel in the night to do dirty things. And in the morning, it’s our job to make things look pretty again.”

Senay is the Turkish girl working at hotel as maidservant. She’s sharing the apartment with Okwe until immigration enforcement men sniff the thing. Both of them have to get exploited in order to survive in the city jungle. There only hope is getting an arranged passport to get out of this hell. But its world where one has to sell his kidney and sell her virginity to get an arranged passport. How can one stay clean in dirt hard to escape! And still Okwe managed to stick to his virtue and conscience.

The movie is dark and shows the struggling existence of illegal immigrants where fear of deportation and victim of exploitation is following them. It also portrays the fine platonic relationship between two souls who’re destined to hide their emotions. It has fine casting and well restraint performances from Chiwatel Ejifor, a fine actor and Audrey Tautou, the girl whose innocent face and expressions get me carried away every time I see her on screen.


Sunday, June 26, 2011


There’s an absolutely brilliant and experimental French short film made by Chris Marker ‘La Jetee’, that inspired Terry Gilliam to make a full length film titled as '12 Monkeys'. Marker’s that thought provoking film was made on mere B&W photographic stills, narrated by a man sent back in time to discover and avert the cause of devastating war and during the trips into the past the man got obsessed with an image of a beautiful woman. Watching that film, I must say the concept must remain ‘the source code’ for the script writer or the director of this year’s one of the most popular Hollywood entertainment.

‘Source Code’ has intriguing beginning and it sticks to that throughout. I like Director Duncan Jones’ more impressive ‘Moon’. Like that film here too the protagonist of the film is used as a part of experimental mission and he’s in baffling existential dilemma. The plot is about last 8 minutes memory of a man used as ‘source code’ that happens to be on a commuting bombed train. He is on surveillance task to find the bomb suspect who detonated a bomb on train and killed the passengers on board and his next target is the city of Chicago. The guy has to go back and forth repetitively into the flashback of that last 8 minutes memory which they called ‘time reassignment’ or ‘parallel reality’. But the guy deviates and more intrigued by his personal existence which is kind of greater shock than the task offered to him.

There are limited characters and only a few settings in the film- the bombed train, the man locked in a strange mechanical box and the surveillance station on computer screen contact through video camera and still Jones managed to make a fine thriller out of it. It has gripping treatment that holds your attention till its end. Jake Gyllenhaal is growing as an actor and I just love Vera Farmiga as emotionally concerning Goodwin here. I liked her in ‘Up in the Air’ too.

Above all a recommended well-made gripping thriller of this year from Hollywood.



Its routine complains from many of my blog reading followers and friends that I’m avoiding latest Hollywood offerings on my post. Unfortunately both Hollywood and Bollywood runs out of creative idea or fresh script these days, the only things we witness in new releases is encashing money on sequels, where most of them lose the charm. Anyway here I’m charging my weekend entertainment on this film; following is how I ended up!

A wannabe writer suffering from creative block gets a magic pill that enhances his brain’s capacity. The pill makes him feel invincible and made the mind limitless. As you know, ‘Mind’ is the happening Hollywood commercial formula these days! Anyway so this guy pops a single pill a day and completes his book on just 4 days, learn to play piano in three days, learn most of the languages of the world and made contacts with big men…oops the unlimited possibilities! And then one fine day an idea spurs to his mind to play different game than usual writer, he’s turning his head where the big money lies. What else than the stock market? With getting loan from a hoodlum he started investment and soon making the fastest money on planet that get him favor of corporate tycoon. But soon the side effects of pills get holding of his own ghost and he has a few magic pills left to shot his brain!

Well from this points onwards the film becomes a typical chase and run action thriller. Yes, it has moments of excitement with stylish camerawork, fast edited images which occupy your mind but as it end you feel watching another mediocre Hollywood where you have to relax your brain absolutely. Bradley Cooper is tolerable but a fine talent such as Robert De Niro is once again wasted, he’s playing one more flashcard role that you forget while watching it!

Watch it if you hard core Hollywood action-thriller lover, for the rest it’s quite an average entertainer.


Thursday, June 23, 2011


‘Nobody should try to play comedy unless they have a circus going on inside.’

-Ernst Lubitsch

It is only too clear that Chico, Harpo and obviously Groucho Marx has each had quite a circus going on inside them and that reflects on screen as something so touchstone hard to imitate. The world is unconditionally funny in Marx Brothers movies. Immaterial to your age, the comedy of their films works so original and brilliant that even today watching their B&W gems is equal treat as watching masterpieces of two other geniuses- Chaplin and Buster Kaeton.

Much before it release, Warner Bros studio blamed Marx Bros. to encash their film at box -office on WB’s recent successful Bogart-Bergman starrer ‘Casablanca’. However Groucho wrote some of the funniest letters as reply. Though it’s as mad cap comedy and wonderfully executed by the most talented trio of Marx Bros, it didn’t work well at box-office when released. The plot begins like noir where an old manager died natural death or murdered at Hotel Casablanca. The Nazi conspiracy plotting and hidden treasure around in the air and here arrives the new manager Monsier Ronald Kornblow, who else than the legend Groucho! The rest is all hilarious fun till the movie ends.

There are many scenes which I love to watch repeatedly- the encounters between Groucho and coquettish Beatrice, the hide and seek of wig, closet and clothes game of trio making the things upside down for Pffermann and above all the climax where Harpo helmed the airplane. It’s always moments to laugh loud watching the brilliant chemistry between Harpo and Chico on screen. Oh, I just love watching Harpo’s deliberate silence and his crazy tomfoolery around. Watch the scene where Harpo is explaining the murder plot to Chico with his whistling and crazy body language and Harpo making sense out of it… just brilliant! The other classic moments are Chico playing polka tune on piano and Harpo playing liar strings…watch their fingers movement…there’s fun, melody and magic in their timing.

Another amazing Marx Bros film with value of fine repeat watch…unfortunately the cinema and audience of today no longer remained as innocent in the matter of fun.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

THE SONG OF SPARROWS (Iranian) (2008)

Once again over to Iranian cinema of Majid Majidi and the man brought to screen a deep humanitarian tale where life is all about moments of small pleasures and unfixed sum of burden. The man doesn’t need complex plot, innovative concepts, stylistic devices to fill screen with covert art. His simple and deeply humanistic tales of human struggle has aesthetics of life. Needless to say the man grows on watching moving films of Masters like De Sica, Kurosawa and Satyajit Ray and it reflects in most of his cinema.

‘The song of sparrows’ is a tale of Karim and his family of three kids, the elder daughter is deaf and her hearing aid becomes dysfunctional. She needs a new pair as her exam is near and the new pair costs too dear. Karim works in ostrich farming in the village, Ramazan is near and his boss is about to witness the farm. Add insult to his injury, an ostrich escaped from the farm. His desperate search for lost ostrich turned futile and it costs him his job. The man turns to city of Tehran on his motorcycle where he earned money giving lifts to passengers in hurry. It’s quite queer to see that motorcycle works as auto rickshaw in Tehran! He earns money to survive and picks and brought to home the trash from the city to fix his TV antenna or window.

Big applause for Reza Naji, the man of honest and damn natural expressions, who works in almost many Majidi films. Like many of Majidi films he’s playing a man struggling to run his family, he is honest, sincere and god fearing person. He is the man of village lost in the hectic struggle of city; his heart lies with ostrich but its machine (motorcycle) which gives him what’s needed for survival. Majidi makes certain scenes so damn natural- i.e Karim’s checking whether his daughter is able to listen from distance, escape of ostrich, Karim’s desperate search for it on top of mountain being ostrich, Karim’s struggle in city. Majidi has brilliantly use aerial shot or wide shots to heighten the emotions and it all works like poetry on screen- Karim being an ostrich on top of mountain, His running with blue door in field and that scene where kids dream shattered on floor surrounded by fish around. The only thing seems quite cliché is the ending with an ostrich dancing; for me his ending of ‘Baran’ and ‘Chidren of Heaven’ are one of the most moving one.


Monday, June 20, 2011


Consciousness is a terrible curse. I think, I feel…I suffer.

There are certain directors who shifted the Hollywood cinema at the end of the old and beginning of new century with their different content and form, most of them played game with their audience’s traditional mindsets and expectations from the movie. They involved and intrigued the audience through their unusual plot, characters, presentation and narration; gradually they becomes the prominent and successful directors of today’s Hollywood whose every new film now grabs attention. So we have David Fincher, Darren Aronofsky, Christopher Nolan and then we have gifted writers whose impression over film permeates even the director as an auteur of the film. One of such name is Charlie Kaufman. This is the debut and first full length feature film written for screen by him and it’s brilliantly executed on screen by Director Spike Jonze.

Craig Schwartz is an unusual puppeteer who rather than entertain, irritates his audience. He indulges getting into the skin of other through puppets and seeing what they see and feeling what they feel. He lives with his wife in in an animal menagerie home. He has no job or talent except puppet. His nimble and dexterous hands are needed in an advertisement published on a newspaper. He visits Lester Corp located on mysterious 7 ½ floor low ceilinged building where he encountered weird and unusual Dr. Lester and a mysterious woman named Maxine to whom Craig got sudden attachment. But the mother of this entire intricate and complex plot lies in Craig’s accidental discovery of hidden tiny door behind his file cabinet in office. It works as a portal which takes one to the world of a celebrity actor named John Malcowich, where one can see the world through his eyes for 15 minutes and ends up into a turnpike. Maxine and Craig made a business out of it where for 200 bucks anybody can be John. The world turns upside down for all characters being John and then one fine day original John Malcovich turned up into the portal…the rest is all too complex, intriguing and bizarre cinematic journey by the one of the marked man of unusual screenplay writing about human mind.

Kaufman is the man who loves getting into the inner reality of his characters’ minds where human consciousness and its suffering push them into unknown imbroglio. Watching Kaufman films demands certain amount of alertness for viewers as anytime his characters turns into minds, his stream of consciousness narration puzzles and add intrigue into already complicated plot. John Cusack plays Craig and I think it’s one of his memorable role, if not the best, Cameron Diaz played one of most unrecognizable act of her career as Lotte, his wife. But the man to watch his John Malkowich, who’s playing himself highlighting his public image.

Though my favorite Kaufman film remains ‘The Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind’ for so many cinematic and personal reasons; this one is again recommended watch for all those who wanted to rise out of slumber and needs a jolt from their relaxed traditional movie watching experience.


Sunday, June 19, 2011


Those who believe ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ is the best of Anthony Hopkins should watch this finest and recommended period drama from house of Merchant-Ivory productions, based on Booker Prize winning novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. It is written for screen by Ruth Prawer Jhabwala and directed by James Ivory. Playing one of his underrated and underplayed act of his career Hopkins is the man to watch here. He is Mr. Stevens, the Head Butler of the Lord Darlington’s royal mansion in 30’s England. It’s beautiful mansion surrounded in nature’s lap and remains hub of political meetings in the shifting time of the World War. Darlington’s relations with Nazi German diplomats put his own reputation at stake. Stevens is the devoted man to his master and simply irreplaceable keeping the house in perfect order amid army of butlers. Behind his devotion for duty he kept repressing his own personal emotions in the most unfavorable moments of his life.

The film shifts between flashback when the mansion was basking in its glory days of Lord Darlington, now possessed by a new owner Mr. Lewis, a retired US Congressman and Stevens is in dire need of another stalwart companion and once appointed housekeeper Miss Kenton played equally brilliantly by Emma Thompson. The chemistry between Thompson-Hopkins plays emotional hide and seek. As she’s outspoken, more open and he’s the man who avoids being emotional or indulge in idle talk at the time of duty. Moving towards climax, the film reaches emotional high reigniting the spark of two aged players reminiscing about the glorious time and cares for each other but then life has its own plans. It’s one of the most sublime end between two aged lovers who never in entire film expressed their emotions to each other and still made us feel for them. The film has moving and award deserving background score composed by Richard Robbins. Though nominated for 8 academy awards in all major categories that year, unfortunately it didn’t achieve single one. It was the year Spielberg swept the Oscars with ‘Schindler’s List’.


Saturday, June 18, 2011


My third Vittorio De Sica film and the precursor of Neo-realism had gifted another moving humanitarian document in the early years of his career which later flourished in full bloom with ‘Bicycle Thieves’ and ‘Umberto D’. It tells another simple tale in an effective way. It examines the world and affairs of adults with focus on dysfunctional family through six or seven years old boy named Prico. His mother’s affair made her left the home and the poor boy becomes the unwanted guest for every blood relative. Everybody is busy with their own mundane affairs and the boy is a new burden for them. In the first half the child shuffled like a shuttle cock from one relative’s house to other until once again her mommy dear returns. But her affair is yet not over and innocent boy kept witnessing her in compromising moments until she eloped once again leaving the boy’s innocent consciousness a permanent blow.

De Sica & his cameraman has captured the film from the point of view of Prico and it works so effectively for the audience in the entire film. There are frames where the inner reality of child’s mind runs parallel to external reality of train. Like many of his films it raises many pertinent questions about the impressions made on his psychology in the period which will keep haunting him even while becoming an adult. What will happen to the boy who’d seen his mom in a compromising position with the stranger? How he will survive in the world where the gossip mongerer about her mother lives the very next door? How he will deal with the existential unwantedness of the world around? De Sica so effectively captured Prico as the central protagonist here; his use of child characters in cinema is really blessed gift. How can we forget the Bruno in ‘Bicycle Thieves’!

There are many signature De Sica moments came in the second half. One of the most emotionally heartbreaking one where the father is asking the boy about her mother; it’s an unwanted truth the child wanted to hide and the father wanted to know. De Sica had summed it up all with the close-ups and moving facial expressions. The other in one where the child on scaffolding stairs kept shouting his non-responding father during separation after his boarding admission. But the most effective and unforgettable one comes as full stop of the film and it works as ellipsis that made my eyes wet. I would rather prefer not explain it to spoil this touchstone. The Neo-Realist eyes mirrored the heartbreaking world where all adults love pursuing hollow mundane pleasures keeping the values and morality on back stage.

Before sum it up, must to say that with this film began the formation one of the legendary director-screenplay writer combinations in the History of Cinema and it ignited a flame of Neo-Realist cinema that brought some of the most powerful and unparalleled human documents to the world of cinema. Vittorio De Sica and Cesare Zavattini are complimentary to each other who gifted us some of the most moving films ever made and it will keep moving the audience till eternity of humanity.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


‘Love’ and ‘Death’; isn’t all philosophy of the world sums up and baffles us in these two unfathomable void of mystery. So what’s the sermon by this self-proclaimed paranoiac, cynic, narcissist and one of the beloved screen legends? The man has innumerable clichés to poke fun at humanity and its infinite absurdity than anything else! Here is how he sum it up about God, Death & Love:

‘The worst thing you can say about God is that he is underachiever.’

‘There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman?’

‘Sex without love is an empty experience, but as empty experience goes it’s one of the best.’

What you expect from Woody film? Here is one more proof of his brilliant early writing and creativity where humor pops up in every line. He is playing Boris, a skeptical Russian from birth about God and Nature, the world is absurd for him and mystery about death obsessed him like ghost. He is incredible pacifist even while waging war against Napoleon. The exact opposite of him is Sonia, who believes Love is everything; she wants to meet a man who embodies three great aspects of love-intellectual, spiritual n sensual. And yet she believes ‘Morality is subjective’. It’s always treat to watch Woody’s matchless chemistry with his muse Diane Keaton and she is equally crazy as Woody here. Let’s digest this one from her side-

“To love is to suffer, to avoid suffering one miss not love, but than one suffers from not loving therefore to love is to suffer, not to love is to suffer, to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love, to be happy than is to suffer but suffering makes one unhappy therefore to be unhappy one must love or love to suffer or suffer from too much happiness. I hope you’re getting this down.”

Must watch for all Woody devotees J


Sunday, June 12, 2011


‘Life is all sound and fury signifying nothing’, said the Bard. So how do we get through life’s pain and unpredictability? Well Woody Allen has an answer to it- ‘sometimes illusion works better than medicine.’ The illusion here is universal and you know what it means when watching a Woody film.

Like many of his romantic comedies, it has interesting playground of characters, this time in a single family. All of them are seduced by the pipedreams of meeting a beautiful stranger. So here is an old age divorced hubby who hates accepting his age and behaves young, dating a cheap young tart and his paranoiac divorced old wife taking solace in sitting sessions with her fortune teller. Their daughter married to a good for nothing one book fluke writer. The desire drives both of them to different directions; the hubby tantalized by a young chick of opposite building window and the honey gets crush over her new art gallery boss.

Common Woody traits of break ups, extra marital affairs and complications repeated here too but it was too average drama. The punch and force is missing terribly in the second half; quite an average writes up by Woody. Anthony Hopkins who’s otherwise a terrific actor seems too aged and miscast here, it would be much better if Woody himself had played this character. Banderas and Frieda Pinto are letdown, wonder to see what Anupam Kher in doing Woody film! (Thank God, he didn’t have much screen time); the only impressive players are Josh Brolin and Naomi Watts.

Too predictable and average Woody film in my opinion... I have read rave reviews about his new film ‘Midnight in Paris’, hope he has surely made a good film.



‘Silence is of the gods; only monkeys chatter.’

It’s always treat watching Buster Keaton’s silent comedies. This is my third Keaton film after ‘The General’ and ‘Sherlock Jr.’ and equally enjoyable as both of them…‘the great stone face’ is equally genius and legend like Chaplin and Groucho. However both of these legends continued their success and fame even after arrival of talkies, the stoic Keaton got most disturb with it and never reached the status of them. Though I must say his situational comic timing, self-done athletic stunts and props are just unparalleled in the silent classics. There are many absolute Keaton moments here too- i.e.-breaking dime box for dating his girl, his bus ride outside window, swimming pool fun or the scene not to miss is the one where he’s shedding clothes with a fatso in closed dressing cubicle. This is what only Keaton can do!

His common trait for impressing his girlfriend continues here too. She’s working desk girl in MGM News Reel and he’s amateur street cameraman. The man messed up every chance offered by her until ultimately he captured the Chinese shootout amid street procession followed up by saving damsel in the distress. Now we have seen animals doing all sorts of things but the monkey in this Keaton film performed something so extraordinary stuff on screen; watch it to find out how. Arthur Barrow’s pleasant score in 2004 digitally mastered print deserves appreciation. Classic cinebuffs will love to watch that early elevator crane shot where Keaton repeatedly runs up and down for receiving a phone call. Once on the differences between his and Charles Chaplin's characters, he remarked, ‘Charlie's tramp was a bum with a bum's philosophy. Lovable as he was, he would steal if he got the chance. My little fellow was a working man and honest.’

Hate to rate this silent single malt.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


‘The best thing I could have done in my life is to sit crossed legged on the floor at equal height, or even lower than my life-altering bandwagon of children friends. I have been up-close for long, observing and absorbing their characteristics, natures and behaviour and so it was inevitable that I walk the path with them, for them.’ - Amol Gupte

How many of you have still not watched this gem of the year? I want to give a big hug to Amol Gupte for writing, directing, producing and acting in this simple, non-preachy and yet touching breeze of fresh air film of the year amid all nonsensical crap releases of the Bollywood this year. The creative man and original brain behind ‘Taare Zameen Ke’ brought another heartwarming film about children by the children but not only for the children. It not only brings the innocent and selfless joy, fun and friendship of our school days but also ignite a spark of concerning message which we avoid and neglect in our daily lives.

Amid all joy and fun of sharing lunch boxes in recess at school, there are two fellows without their lunch boxes; their appetite rely on others lunch boxes. One is the Stanley, the other is his ‘Khadus’ food obsessed Hindi teacher Ba.Bu.Verma. The chase and hide and seek of lunch boxes…aah Gupte literally made Aman Mehra & Party’s four compartments big steel tiffin box as the character of the film. As grown up kids we already know about Stanley and his lies from very beginning but when we spare his Sunday return at home, his after hours, his tiffin box, his felt absence in class, it makes us think and ponder about millions of Stanleys in India. Stanley is not only the feel good film about a young protagonist, it’s truly a story of that proverbial lotus that rises above all mud and filth around and stays beautiful.

As mentioned in the end, the film is the result of theatre and cinema sessions conducted by Gupte & company on Saturdays and vacation days over a year and half, without a single day of school missed by those wonderful non actor kids acting effortlessly natural. Partho as Stanley is just natural and irreplaceable here, he deserves awards than all so called ruling superstars of Bollywood. Amol Gupte knows damn well what suits him here and he’s too matchless as ‘the Khadus’ Hindi teacher entering into class with betelnut in mouth guided by his gluttony. Watch his body language and it reminds you at least one of your teacher at school whom you love to hate those days. Divya Dutta is always pleasure to watch and she’s fine actress who’s growing with her each screen presence, here as sweet English teacher Miss Rosy, she reminds me the kind of teacher whom the school kids have first crush.

Unfortunately the film is not released in theatres in my hometown, and so I’ve ended up watching theatrical pirated digital version challenging my already bespectacled eyesight and still I must say it deserves that by all accounts. Will surely purchase original DVD when release…this film deserves that too.

One of the best Hindi film of this year for sure.


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