Monday, December 31, 2012

GOOD NIGHT GOOD MORNING (2012)


Two strangers sharing an all-night wild phone conversation on New year’s eve in NY city. After a brief encounter at party, a random caller traveling in a car with his buddies after party calls an enigmatic and leave me alone kind of girl living alone in her hotel room. An all-night random phone call becomes sweet entertainment escape from mundane boredom for a while as both of them starts digging each others preferences about life, romance and relationships. They keep digging each other a while with topics of sex, fetish, religion or movie preferences and then slowly its getting in personal tone touching the chords of their past and haunted memories. The conversation brings something so personal hidden part out where limited validity of the adventure gives you freedom to be what you want to be without emotionally making things complicated unnecessarily. Anonymity is comforting and such situation may lead to an unlikely romance or something like that!

Writer-director Sudhish Kamath’s this experimental independent film is an interesting and sweet and minimalist rom-com to watch without fail.The film is shot in B&W split-screen naturally expressed by its two lead random callers Seema Rahmani and Manu Narayan. There’s not much happen to screen except watching the facial expressions of two callers in split-screen with a few intermittent scenes of their past and poking fun sppofing Bollywood’s Karan Johar romance. But what makes its interesting watch is the conversation itself without giving us a moment of boredom; surely a fine write up by Kamath and Shilpa Rathnam. If you like Woody Allen and ‘Before Sunrise’, surely this one is rom-com for you. 

Ratings-8/10 

MS. 45 (1981)



A shy, mute and fragile working class young girl in a garment designer’s shop was raped twice; first in Manhattan’s alley and then in her apartment. She managed to kill the second man with his own gun but the mental trauma brought bizarre paranoia to her. In order to get rid of rapist’s body, she first chops his body parts, stuffed it in plastic bags and one by one dumping it in town’s dustbin. With possession of her tormenter’s gun, she turned in a vigilante male hater and killer. The streets turned into killing spree and as the old neighborhood lady and her dog living next door to girl get suspicious; we witness the final shock in Halloween party.


Abel Ferrara’s this low budget psychological shocker reminds me two films- one is Swedish exploitation cult ‘Thriller- A Cruel Picture’ and another is De Palma’s ‘Carrie’. Ferrara’s exploitation film is furious and more violent in tone where mental trauma and paranoia of the rape victim turns into an uncontrollable blind rage-revenge. Ferrara managed to brought certain bizarre sequences with his trademark slow motion violence, eerie background score and most importantly the pace of the film with duration of less than one and half hour. There is a scene which seems like homage to ‘Taxi Driver’ before that shattering shooting spree climax. The film gained its momentum in video circuit much after its release and gained an underground cult status.
Recommend to catch the uncut version.  

Ratings-7/10  


Monday, December 24, 2012

CALL NORTHSIDE 777 (1948)


From the director who gave us some of the memorable westerns like ‘True Grit’, this is not a hardboiled noir of its time but surely an interesting watch for several reasons. Henry Hathaway’s this partial noir has touch of documentary, investigative journalism and drama and what’s make it more interesting premise is that its based on fact file of miscarriage of justice of  a wrongly convicted man who got justice after eleven years due to the efforts made by a reporter. So after eleven years a case of a cop’s murder and its legal justice is challenged by an old lady’s classified ad. A skeptical reporter of a Chicago newspaper with his ambivalent stand checking the investigation and ran an exclusive stories to help find out the evidence. The case turns emotional for him on one hand and compulsive on other hand by his editor’s insistence to sell more copies. But as the story starts gaining the momentum, it challenges the authority.  There’s lot of pressure on press by legal powers of police and judiciary. The reporter has to try hard uncovering the evidence and check out the witness who falsely identified the innocent man in court and he’s running short of time.

Jimmy Stewart plays that persistent and cynical reporter McNeal here and he’s always decent man to watch in those classic phase of American cinema; surely a reason enough for me to watch the film. It’s interesting to witness how Hollywood exploited new technical advancement of its time as props in crime/noir films. Lie detector check and blow ups here plays significant role in investigation and its detailed explanation seems dated today, but an appropriate and advanced one at the time of its release. However I hate to watch man like Lee J. Cobb used so frivolously, Stewart surely played his part well.

An average recommendation for Stewart fans and noir lovers.

Ratings-7/10 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

IN COLD BLOOD (1967)


I was so desperate to watch the film after finishing Truman Capote’s brilliant crime novel based on real and controversial Clutter family murder case of Kansas. Capote’s detailed reconstruction of the horrible motiveless homicide crime by two young men and its aftermath is a chilling and gripping account touching multiple themes of crimes, psychology and punishment unraveling relevant American nightmare that keeps shocking reality in one or another form time to time. The book is indeed a topnotch work mixing Capote’s journalistic skill and imaginative power. The film adaptation made by Richard Brook came just two years after its publication and it maintains faithfulness to the original without missing any underlying gaps in significant incident or narration until two full hours and then they compressed the novel’s other half short within fifteen minutes. Though the film used documentary like narration to give it required justice in the later half. There maybe reasons for this and most easy to guess is to maintain the cinematic pace and attention of the common audience. The film also rid away with convicts past and family life except moments of a few memory scenes of Perry. The original novel gave it the whole new dimension which the film misses terribly. But then I won’t say its injustice to the original as cinematic medium has its own exploiting limitations and power.

The film has perfectly etched out characters especially the two guys who played Perry and Dick; Robert Blake and Scott Wilson. Brooks shot the film at all original locations to give it authentic feel including the Clutter house and even actual court room and gallows. Conrad Hall’s stunning B&W camera reminds me Hollywood’s classic B&W noirs and there are number of scenes which leave the impact of man’s experimental talents of visual legacy. The last scene where prior to moving to gallows Perry summing up his life, the rain drops on window reflected on his face like tears gave it altogether poetic feel. Quincy Jones background score is an added attraction.

This is the real chapter of American nightmare and indeed a mandatory watch for all crime film fans.

Ratings- 8/10 

Monday, December 17, 2012

CAESAR MUST DIE (Italian) (2012)


One of the best films of the year is also the best drama. Just think about a theatrical play of Bard’s classic ‘Julius Caesar’ performed by long term sentenced or lifetime prisoners and convicts. Yes, this is not recreating something; this is hybrid film made with real life prisoners; all played by actual inmates and that builds the intensity of drama to different level. Shifting between flashback and present, black & white and color, Taviani Brothers’ this film’s highlight lies in the performances of those real prisoners.

The film opens and ends in color on stage performance and in the middle we see an interesting audition round, selection and rehearsal sessions in a group and individual. The cast brought stellar and passionate performances of Brutus, Cassius and Caesar and Anthony; all key players of classic play. Salvatore Striano as Brutus is surely the man to watch. The film is less than one and half hours duration and there’s not a moment of drag. The play runs more in rehearsal sessions than stage and that’s something which gives it an interesting and different feel. It ends with stage enacting of final scene and audience’s ovation but the punch comes in the film’s final moment where going back to their barrack the man utters most beautiful line of the film, you got to find it on your own to know what I mean.

So folks, if you done away with this year’s much lauded ‘Amour’ and ‘Holy Motors’, this is surely a must watch of the year. The film won Golden Bear at Berlin Film Festival and an entry of Italy for Best Foreign Language film in upcoming Oscar.

Ratings- 9/10    

Saturday, December 15, 2012

FRITZ THE CAT (1972)


One of the most outrageously funny animation I’ve ever seen. The film is regarded as avant garde animation and almost gained a cult status for both its experimental content and form considered controversial at the time of its release due to adult and sexually offensive X rated content. The film is the brainchild of underground comic strip artist Robert Crumb and independent screenplay writer-director Ralph Bakshi. It begins with 1960s happy time heavy time and it pokes fun at bourgeois, pulp loving, hedonist American type society of period touching contemporary topics of street life of youth, counter culture, street protests, racial crisis, rise of black power, pot smoking joints, free sex with outrageous black humor. Fritz is the anthropomorphic bachelor cat who considers himself cool running after private fun. Characters are dark, weird, nonsense and horny who constantly abusing, smoking weed, farting, and scratching their crotch. The film became one of the most successful independent animation of all-time. However Crumb didn’t like the final product for so many reasons including showing repressed horniness to sexual content. He also filed a suit to remove his name from its film credits. 


However compared to this, I enjoyed its sequel titled as ‘The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat’ which released two years after the success of its predecessor and directed by Robert Taylor. It represents seventies phase. The film is quite different in treatment since neither Crumb nor Bakshi was involved with it. Here the bachelor Fritz of earlier part is married now and has a kid. His nagging wife bashing him and he’s imagining different lives and most of them turned out as wild fun. That space shuttle sex with reporter lady and Hitler fun is just amazing. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

SUMMER WITH MONIKA (Swedish) (1953)


A mature and grounded tale of young love belongs to working class milieu of Stockholm. Two working class lovers becomes a rebel leaving their family and jobs to get in each other’s company in an idyllic summer on small boat and beaches of various destinations around the sea. The time they share is passionate, carefree and independent one but it was an escape from reality. The girl became pregnant and summer is ending. Soon they return to their conditioned social reality and passionate romance fades into oblivion facing hard reality. They married underage and with a child to rear the role of responsibility starts showing true colors. The man is playing his responsibility meddling with job, study and family responsibility but the woman is immature and expecting the early happy go lucky carefree time. She was unsatisfied with life and yearning for new excitement out of boring home life and untimely responsibility of mother. The temporary romantic escape soon shifts into biting reality and tragedy.


Bergman’s this film is surely one of the best of his earlier career and it represents the face of working class urban realism where romance is a temporary escape from their predestined social reality. Just like sparing time in films and dreaming fantasy of screen for few hours. The film is Bergman’s love letter to Harriet Anderson, his muse then and the film captures perhaps her most memorable, intimate and erotic screen presence in form of Monika. Bergman served her as the face of urban rebel model of 1950s who refuse to conform to societal and familial norms. She’s more driven by instincts and impulse rather than mundane social role and responsibility. She looks so captivating in many of frames. If ‘Summer Interlude’ is Bergman’s breakthrough in aesthetic style, ‘Summer with Monika’ is its full blooded effort with his cinematographer Gunnar Fischer.  What makes Bergman unique artist of all other contemporary is his elegant portrayal of women on screen exploring refined and sublime personas. Harriet Anderson represented here like a sensuous poetry yet her nudity is explored aesthetically. Even her fall of grace in later part evokes certain kind of ambiguity and poetic grace in that beautiful static close up. Ah and then there’s another close up which is heartbreaking one and this time it’s a man and a mirror of reality and an attempt to smile.

An absolute Bergman classic.

Ratings-8.5/10 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

SUMMER INTERLUDE (1951) (Swedish)

Exploring my second Bergman film is the one belongs to his early phase of career. With this film Bergman stamped his original impression that brought him special notice. The film is visual elegy about love and it’s lost. There’s elegance oozing in every frame in this romantic melodrama. The essence and tenderness of those bygone silent classic reflects through innocence of romance between an emotional fool and smart pretty ballerina. The story was told through flashback and present with fine poise, atmospheric tuning between sight and sound. It represents innocence and charm of romance follows up by lost youth and purged memories. The melodramatic seriousness of drama also covers some playful notes in romantic part too.



Perhaps it represents the face of youthful spirit of bloom in form of graceful Maj-Britt Nelson playing Marie. There’re myriad expressions covered in close ups with mirror reflection, quite a fine prop used a number of times in later films to serve a wall or double face between real and conceived image. Marie built a wall around her after sudden strike of personal tragedy. Having seen just two films it’s invalid to built certain amount of notion but Bergman left certain characters with ambiguity of human instinct. In ‘The Virgin spring’, it’s Ingeri, the jealous maid, in case of this one it’s Marie’s uncle who left me hard to make an opinion about intentions. However that rubbing of masked make up is quite symbolic frame, somehow I feel the happy ending part sudden and over imposed one where the character or plot doesn’t show us enough role playing of transformation.

Though Bergman loathed Godard’s experimental form, in July 1958’s Cahiers du Cinema, Godard noted such about this Bergman classic. “There are five or six films in the history of the cinema which one wants to review simply by saying, ‘it’s most beautiful of films’. Because there can be no higher praise…I love Summer Interlude.”

Ratings-7/10 

Monday, December 3, 2012

THE VIRGIN SPRING (Swedish) (1960)


'Now I want to make it plain that The Virgin Spring must be regarded as aberration. It's touristic, a lousy imitation of Kurosawa.' - Ingmar Bergman  

Let me confess the fact first that this is my first Ingmar Bergman film. Why I haven’t seen a single Bergman film (like so many other Masters) till day is an inexplicable excuse! Anyway the film becomes indeed a rich experience for me and but I'm more happy since it broke my jinx of not watching a single Bergman film. Need I say I can’t resist watching his other masterpieces soon? Anyway let's get back to the film part now.  The film is set in medieval Sweden where a charming teenage daughter sent to church to deliver candles accompanied by a pregnant maid. The jealousy of one robs the innocence of the other. Karen was raped by wanton shepherds in her lone journey. The events that follow are shocking, contemplative and dipped with multiple emotions.

In its plot and theme the film interweaves multiple themes that questions morals, justice, vengeance, status of God and redemption. Though the film is moving one and loaded with religious sentiments. What makes it a timeless touch is powerful narration, spellbindingly beautiful camera work by Bergmn regular Sven Nykvist and refined acting by all lead players including towering Max von Sydow, Birgitta Valberg, Gunnel Lindblom & Birgitta Pettersson. It invokes a gamut of mixed feelings, it’s tragic, it’s spiritual, it’s brutal and yet it’s too poetic and sensible. The relevance of the film grows out of its fundamental drives of the characters within medieval framework and its so absorbing from the very first frame where we witness the inexplicable human instincts coming to play in one form or another. It is study of how strange the human nature is- the shameless brutality of shepherds, the jealous and guilt of Ingeri in contrast to innocence and purity of Karin, the urge of vengeance to redemption it’s indeed a human drama in its elemental spirit.  


Apart of Karin and his parents, the two most complex characters that seek the attention are two bystanders in front of victim-the pregnant and jealous maid of the house Ingeri and that wretched boy who becomes helpless while innocence was robbed. It was not only Karin but who lost her innocence in the forest; the boy too lost it after witnessing the cheap and shameless act driven by human instinct. Somehow I feel that Bergman made the character of Ingeri quite ambiguous one and left it’s guilt part unattended towards the climactic revenge and miracle end. 

Ratings-8.5/10 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

THUNDER ROAD (1958)


Not as dramatic as ‘Out of the Past’ and not as gritty as ‘Cape Fear’, this Robert Mitchum film has adventure, drama, thrill and romance on platter with the man to watch. It’s queer to know that Mitchum penned the screenplay based on one of real incident and the film was his home production. However Mitchum hired Arthur Ripley to direct and its interesting that his younger brother in the film played by his son James Mitchum was not original choice. Senior Mitchum wanted to have Elvis Priestly play the role but somehow things didn’t materialize due to Rock & Roll Master’s manager’s interruption for charging exorbitant sum.

The plot of the film revolves around the trade of hauling illegal non-tax paid whisky by men of Rillow valley. Luke Doolin is fast wheel transporter and smart supplier who manages to cut all hurdles. But sooner the trailing enforcement cops becomes a challenge with interruptive threat of an organized criminal named Kogan who gutted to mean business on his own terms. Luke is the one person who stands in the way and Kogan and  the ground becomes all too rough for Luke. We all await for final confrontation till the story takes different turn. Besides producing, writing the film, Mitchum has also played the lead part and the man had class of his own. His character here is hard headed & edgy on attitude who’s unstoppable by anybody. But it also shows emotional and concerning human side too, especially towards his young brother, parents and beloved. The car chase sequences seems too average from today’s standard but back then it was surely considered as edge n the seat.

Not the best of Mitchum but surely a worth watch for all his fans.

Ratings-6/10 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

END OF WATCH (2012)


It wouldn’t be exaggeration to call it one of the best cop film of recent time and it was written & directed by David Ayer, who gave us ‘Training Day’ and ‘Harsh Times’- absorbing American street crime cinema. It’s not all your hero police cop film, the two men here are working class men on traffic duty to watch the street. They are tough cops putting their own lives in peril but crimes are challenging for their mental and physical resistance and control. “One day LAPD is going to bend you over your black and white…and they are going to fuck you up the ass. Bad guys attack from up front…the department comes in from rear,” advised their anger on nose senior. They got their bravery medals, they have their normal family life but one messy affair of their routine raid puts their lives on peril. They messed with the notorious cartel and they’re after them now. 

Unlike other cop films, the film here is shot in documentary style showing us the POV of two leads where digital camera clipped on their uniforms. The plot is too episodic for film but it vehemently portrayed certain gruesome scene of crimes and represent the blunt, dark and seedy side of LA’s crime underbelly of dope, money, human trafficking and guns in ghetto of Black and Hispanic ethnicity. But the high point of the film is fine camaraderie between the lead played by Jack Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena. Excluding many stretching and emotional sequence, they’re the pair hard to resist here. There’s thin line between what they’re supposed to do and don’t but their bonding is something else. If for nothing else watch it for their stellar performances and chemistry.

Ratings-7.5/10 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

FUNERAL IN BERLIN (1966)



Along with adapting Ian Fleming’s popular and successful Bond series, the producers Harry Saltzman & Albert Broccoli approached Len Deighton to write the script for second Bond film but that encounter turned out to be birth of another spy character on screen in form of Harry Palmer based on Deighton’s novels. So came ‘The Ipcress File’, one of underrated espionage thriller starring bespectacled Michael Caine as Harry palmer. Compared to all out entertainment and stereotyped characterization of Bond franchise, Palmer films have different design and style with working class man; the films have down beat style with dark and complex feel than larger than life Bond extravaganza. ‘The Ipcress File’ was absolutely engaging espionage thriller and Caine nailed Palmer so damn brilliant. 


This second installment of Harry Palmer, funded by Bond producers is another engaging espionage thriller starring Caine back in form. The plot is set in Berlin where Palmer arrived on task to meet and check out the escape plan of Russian colonel Stok. The plot is quite contrived one entangled with war crimes, cold war and Russian-Israeli-British intelligence men. The film was made by Guy Hamilton, the man who gave us two brilliant Bond films ‘Goldfinger’ and ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ among others. I enjoyed this second installment too but the first one was so damn brilliant one. Somehow that intriguing element and darker side of ‘The Ipcress File’ is missing here. But that won’t make film a loose one. Caine is once again done it pitch perfectly and it was shot so classy reminding us many noirs.

Recommended for all espionage film fans but if you haven't seen 'The Ipcress File' then first watch that ASAP. 

Ratings-7/10   

Saturday, November 24, 2012

WINCHESTER ‘73 (1950)


From beginning to end this western is stamped as cent percent classic. The film is first collaboration between director Anthony Mann and wonderful Jimmy Stewart starring as morally upright gunslinger Lin McAdam. As per its prominent title, the film is a tale and journey of a rare Winchester rifle model of 1873, regarded as ‘The gun that won the west.’ To cowboy, outlaw, cop or Indian, the rifle was a treasured possession. It opens with rivalry to win the gun in bulls-eye and coin in air aim competition between two equally strong gunslingers- morally upright Lin McAdam and Dutch Henry Brown, who’s on other side of law. Though it’s Lin who won, the gun no longer remain under his possession. As some sort of inexplicable destined role, it keeps shifting its place to different men wither through cheating effort, gambling or chance. And along its course, it also keeps shifting the life of men who’re under its possession. Fate has stronger role playing here in form of gun and its beholder.


Perhaps Mann didn’t get his due during its time when western was regarded as forte of Master John Ford. But he has made some of the brilliant westerns that didn’t seem dated; perhaps he’s the one who changed the conventional western and added more dark, bitter and morally tentative side in his westerns. Stewart is always a man to watch in those golden American cinematic years and he proved his versatility number of times. He’s in great form here accompanied by extremely strong supporting cast played by Shelly Winters, Dan Duryea, Stephen McNally, Millard Mitchell. The film was shot so beautifully in classic B&W frames especially all those gun blazing confrontations on screen including that absolutely breathtaking climax shoot out on rock cliff between Stewart and McNally.

Timeless Western.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

THE LONG GOODBYE (1973)


 “I have two friends in the world. One is a cat, the other is murderer.”

An edge on the seat private eye mystery thriller set in 70’s Hollywood genre revisionism by Robert Altman. It begins so brilliantly and has terrific control over the pace in the middle, where the film failed to mark its point. The only thing I hate about the film is its abrupt ending which in my opinion too improbable and unlikely. It all begins with cat and ends with cat. A chain smoking wisecrack Private eye Philip Marlowe’s pet pussy is hungry and she wakes him at 3’o clock midnight. He went out to get her favorite cat food. But she’s smart pussy and isn’t duped by different brand. An uninvited friend knocked Marlowe’s door same night and Marlowe helped him driving him from LA to Tijuana. When he turned back to his penthouse in the morning, the trouble is there awaiting him and it entraps him into mess one after another. First victim was his friends wife then his friend’s suicide followed up by an intriguing investigation case and his sudden encounter town’s notorious hoodlum. The film gets murkier and comic and times but more than a smart ass detective, Marlowe here is an outsider, almost a stranger chartering into unfamiliar water leading into one after another unpredictable affairs and circumstances.


The film surely has taut adapted screenplay of Raymond Chandler’s novel but Altman took too much creative liberty in adaptation of original novel. Altman’s version initially refers the original part exactly as per the book, but shifted many things in the progression of case. There’s lot of deviation and it got rid of many characters and introduced the characters which are not there in the novel. The gangster Augustine is absolutely an idea of Altman’s brain and not Chandler. Even the ending is quite strange and antithetic and Altman changed it from the one in the novel. Altman’s version is not as hard boiled as early Hollywood noir starring Bogart. He pushed the conventional elements, made it more contemporary social satire than fifties America and he almost made Marlowe a kind of loser instead of hero who’s unable to get himself fit into shifting seventies. He’s unable to focus amid more violent, eccentric and morally bankrupt modern world where from neighbors to a close friend everyone is either dubious or weird and so out of his known world.

But it’s really interesting to watch Altman’s version for more than one reason. It has brilliant beginning and gritty middle part. Elliott Gould is just awesome and irreplaceable as Marlowe or maybe a Marlboro man referred by Sterling Hayden in the film. And Hayden is once again done terrific act as Hemingway look-a-like beast husband Roger Wade. It surely has intriguing and bizarre twist and unpredictable characters and represented the face and phase of seventies shifting America with an eye of social criticism where all those smart private eyes of the yesteryear era seems fumbling misfits.

Worth a watch without fail.

Ratings-8/10 

Monday, November 19, 2012

YOUTH OF THE BEAST (Japanese) (1963)


My third Seijun Suzuki film is his signature masterwork. Infact Suzuki once remarked that this was one of his first truly original pictures. It begins with ambiguous case of double suicide. A stranger violent beast infiltrates with two rival yakuza gangs and messing one against the other. The man is on mission and he’s wildest badass in form of Suzuki’s frequent collaborator Jo Shishido. It’s not exaggeration to say he’s what Belmondo in Godard films.
The film is so contemporary to French New wave cinema and Suzuki’s auteur to watch as far as form is concerned. Perhaps Suzuki is lesser popular filmmaker to his other contemporaries of Japanese cinema but one has to watch his signature use of flamboyant colors, striking framing and lighting in his films. It serves stylish visuals, slick editing and upbeat production design too. The hybrid pop score with glimpse of his irreverent humor still gives it contemporary feel to its viewers. An ugly underbelly of drug and call girl cartel, sadist mobster and downbeat ending gives it absolutely noir touch.  

Ratings-7/10 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

SAMURAI SPY (Japanese) (1965)


At the end of sixteenth century, the end of war gave birth to the cold war of espionage rivalry between two main clans named Tokugawa and Toyotomi. The ronins became spy agents of various clans’ spy network. A ronin named Sasuke belongs to neutral clan suddenly caught between political power espionage between two clans. He’s drawn into the espionage affair by another spy selling information on both sides to earn bounty and now he’s in trap followed by murders.

Betrayal, multiple double crosses, intrigue, unrest of power ans suspense keep baffling the screen till last frame in Masahiro Shinoda’s this samurai espionage. It’s hard to decide motives of anybody as a friend or enemy. Breaking traditional samurai plot and narration Shinoda brought to screen avant garde elements with stylistically cryptic framing and composition with props of lighting, fog, slow motion and innovative wide and high angles to watch in samurai cinema genre.   

Ratings-7/10 

Friday, November 16, 2012

SWORD OF THE BEAST (Japanese) (1965)


‘This mountain is dwelling for beasts. I’ll turn into wolf too before long and take my share of that almighty gold.’

Watching this third Gosha film, I tried to absorb the outcast samurai characters of his films who managed to get away from system. Unlike those heroic self sacrificing samurais for their clan, they chose their own personal codes of honour when realized how they’re blindedly betrayed by hypocrite power. And so they chose their own destiny to regain their own pride. They’re the outlaws embracing rebel against distrustful authority. That happens with Nakadai’s character in ‘Goyokin’ and also in ‘Three Outlaw Samurai’. The men of Gosha films are outlaws against the corrupt power hegemony, this film too pointed out that message quite loud and clear. 

The initial impression of Samurai Gennosuke Yuuki is labeled as coward samurai, he’s fugitive ronin without code who’d killed counselor of the clan and fled to his home province. Dead Counselor’s daughter and fiancé along with other clan members are in pursuit of him. Geenosuke’s samurai pride is questionable as he said while escaping ‘To hell with name and pride…I’ll run and never stop.’ Now this instantly questions us about his pride and way of samurai. We doubt- ‘If he used to be brave earlier how could he become so coward!’ There’s bounty on his head and what we follows initially is cat and mouse play.

As movie progresses we witness his victimized past and how he turned out as rebel. How against selfish and biased leader’s unjustifiable orders he become a scapegoat of another clan leader and got cheating returns. He’s just served as fooled minion like so many others who turned out scapegoats at the end. The selfish clan leaders keep climbing their ambitious political and economical gain with their under ranked samurai’s hardships and sacrifices and in return reward them with deceit and death. As Gennusuke along with a helping stable owner plans to check out the prospect of gold on mountain, he encounters number of bandits and a deadly warrior named Jurota who’s already involved in poaching of gold and started collecting it for his clan. Just like Gennusuke, he’s trying to regain his pride by dangerous adventure and in return gets victimization.

At many moments the film keep reminds me about Huston’s masterpiece ‘The Treasure of Sierra Madre’. Like that noir, the film focused on blind ambition, greed, hatred that maligns the conscience of even upright men. But Gosha’s film portrayed the ugly face of power in form of clans and leaders and the plight of samurai facing the lonely frustration of being nobody. He’s valiant hero who in order to prove his existence  and honour to be a full fledged samurai rewarded being cheated by hypocrite leaders. The film is surely Gosha’s best and it is finely shot black & white cinematography with subtle balance in framing and composition of image. The aesthetic refinement is constantly challenged by sword action and intriguing of plot and characters.

Highly recommended.

Ratings-8.5/10 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

KILL! (Japanese) (1968)


An intriguing and entertaining Samurai film to watch where bullets and swords, loyalty and betrayal run parallel to dynamic plot. Two wandering strangers arrive in a town seeking food and encounter a dispute between two clans. It’s odd pair of samurai, where one is disillusioned samurai with a past, the other is wannabe noble samurai. Their constant sweeping of sides between two rebel clans keeps the film in an interesting flow. The film has violent and brutal sword action but it’s not out and out samurai action. Along with edgy action, quirky humor go hand by hand throughout the film. And yes, it has interesting characters to watch further.

The film bears so much resemblance between Leone’s ‘A Fistful of Dollars’. The title score and background of Masuro Sato sounds so much like Morricone, its opening wide shot where a stranger ronin facing lonely town amid wild storm seeking food encounters another weird samurai also seems like a scene of Leone film. The film also bears so much resemblance to Kurosawa’s ‘Sanjuro’ and it mocks the status of Samurai by making him lurking between ridiculous idiot and smart ass. Like Mifune’s interesting queer characters in ‘Yojimbo’ and ‘Sanjuro’, Tatsuya Nakadai's Gento is a smart ass samurai to watch. Kihachi Okamoto playfully pulled the genre and source borrowed from elements of conventional samurai cinema and Italian Spaghetti westerns and it almost gave me combined pleasure of western meets samurai.

Ratings- 7.5/10 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

GOYOKIN (Japanese) (1969)


Many times I find transferred reflections of two separate genres coalesce into one that made us wonder which genre influences which! ‘Western’ and ‘Samurai’ cinema is a case study in this regard. My first Hideo Gosha film so distinctly reflects this- the horses, the revenge, the return of hero, duel fight, Morricone kind of background score and a loner protagonist. And along with all this, as per its title (Goyokin: official silver and gold) it portrays the theme of greed for gold, quite a set-up for many of westerns. Infact, as per Wikipedia, in 1975, a western titled ‘The Master Gunfighter’ is influenced from this film.

It’s hypnotic and intriguing to watch crows in the opening ten minutes of the film that reminds you Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’. A young lady returns to her village home, a shack on lone island and witness severed head of his father. Tatsuya Nakadai is a reclusive ronin named Magobei Wakisaka who turned blind eyes three years ago to Sabai domain’s tyrannical kamikakushi event that murdered every last person in fishing village. Now he decides to return to finish Sabai domain but the men were ready to kill him as soon as steps his feet on land. It has emotional side too where Wakisaka’s wife’s brother is on opposite side along with a sub plot of a young girl whose family and fiancé murdered in the Kamikakushi three years ago. Along with existential and moral story between the way of samurai, it also has an interesting plot of gold greed that divert and sink the sheep full of gold bars in sea. It happens every fall during its course of journey route and it also adds thrilling adventure action in the later part of the film with grand climax.

Once again Nakadai is in brilliant form and he’s the spirit of the film. The film has well etched characters with fine support of antagonist Tatewaki (Tetsuro Tamba), Samon (Kinnosuke Nakamura), the queer helping hand of Wakisaka and beautiful Oriha (Rurika Asaoka). It has innovatively shot and brilliantly choreographed sword action and the snow clad hilly locales in color gives its chilly edge of mystery and atmospheric tension. Simultaneous action of masked devils beating drum beats and final duel between Nakadai and Tamba is surely highlight of the film.  

Absolutely love it…looking forward to more of Gosha.

Ratings-8/10 

Monday, November 5, 2012

LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN (1945)


‘Of all the seven deadly sins, jealousy is the most deadly.’

The film is a drama and it tells an absorbing story of an impulsive obsessed lover in form of Ellen Berent who couldn’t withstand anybody between her and the person whom she loves. First it was her late father and the next is the person who quite resembles with her father. She met him by chance meeting in train reading his novel. The writer instantly ensnared in her charm and starts committing. And she wouldn’t mind ditching her fiancé to marry Richard. But it’s after marriage that she starts showing her true color, where blinded by obsession and envy she not only mind killing her hubby’s crippled young brother but also her own son in womb. What’s height of her jealousy is that even while dying she tried her last attempt to pull the things as per her obsessed wish.

It’s Gene Tierney film all the way and she represents both enigmatic dual persona of impulse and grace on screen. It’s not an exaggeration if I say that she’s the sole reason to watch this drama. It’s slow drama build in resplendent colors of early Hollywood. And it’s divine to watch heavenly Tierney in colors. She was nominated for Oscar but it was the year when Joan Crawford had given her best in ‘Mildred Pierce’. However the film managed to win an Oscar for its cinematography. 

Ratings- 7/10 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

THEY LIVE (1988)



The golden rule: he who has the gold makes the rules.

How many horror films gives you food for thought in provoking and intriguing manner? John Carpenter’s ‘They Live’, is surely an underrated cult horror in that regards. Unlike zombie, ghosts or and blood gore slasher thrill of this long stamped B genre horror, this film represents an everyday horror of our existence where the face of society and its rulers are more horrifying and striking. And it's not to just for our senses but for our heads too. The film is based on a short story ‘8 O’clock in the Morning’ by Ray Nelson, the film is sci-fi horror on surface but underneath it represents the rampant ugly face of society feeds on loose and corrupt human spirit which seems almost a reality now. It unravels the mask of society driven by consumerist capital world.

The protagonist is a drifter who’s facing hard times and lost his job after economic collapse in his hometown. He came to another city in search of work and success. He is the fellow America who believes in nation and his fair chance to earn his bread and butter and rise above. As soon as he enters the city, he encounters a blind man delivering provoking speech to the passerby. Next he sees a man on road hooked to a television programme as some sort of zombie. Soon he gets a labour work on a construction site and befriends another worker who led him to a community ghetto where people like them survive. The man soon finds out a suspicious activity going on around and inside church. Much to his ambiguity a police raid grab the preacher and other men dealing with suspicious activity inside church. He visits church and find out a pair of sunglass. The man who discarded everything that giving him clue now facing the seedy reality, the moment he wears the pair of glasses. The world starts crumbling down for him; as now he’s facing the world in its stark ugliness where men are aliens and the world is big matrix puzzle. He’s now heading for quest with his awakening but how long will he survive in the world where power, money, politics and law is ready to annihilate forces like him.


It punch the audience’s head with it’s dialogues, visuals and signs that throughout the film made all of us think hard about the world and state we’re living. A man on television with bad transmission constantly keep stating-

"Our impulses are being redirected. We are living in artificially induced state of consciousness that resembles sleep. They have created a repressive society and we are their unwitting accomplices. Their intention to rule rests us with the annihilation of consciousness. We have been lulled into trance. They have made us indifferent, to ourselves, and to others. We are focused on only on our own gain. Please understand, they are safe as long as are not discovered. That is their method of survival. Keep us asleep, keep us selfish, and keep us sedated."

From indoctrination through education, consumerism catch through bombarding of advertisements all around to political brain wash through sloganeering and glorious history and psychological programming through television channels. Ah, there are number of things that I go on and on to describe the wake up call signs that the film portrays to the working middle class society of the world. THEY LIVE WE SLEEP written on a wall. And all those billboard signs on the city, the dollar note showing THIS IS YOUR GOD. This is one hell of movie of metaphors and symbols that pointing us the ugly reality that remains unchallenged by programmed mindsets. Carpenter who made some of the striking horror films like ‘The Thing’ and ‘Halloween’ made something so unusual that I won’t mind giving it Cult status. As near the end of the film, we hears the line uttered on television that partly hitting his critics and audience with a self mocking tone- “All the sex and violence on the screen has gone too far for me. I’m fed up with it, filmmakers like George Romero and John Carpenter have to show some restraint.”

Grab it as soon as possible.

Ratings- 8.5/10 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

ABOUT ELLY (Iranian) (2009)


‘A bitter end is much better than a bitterness without ending.’

My second Asghar Farhadi film and I must say that the man had already made an intense and moving human drama with an equal amount of surprise and twist and introspection much before winning multiple awards for ‘A Separation’ last year. It opens with arrival of four couples and kids to spare three days holiday. They didn’t get the house committed earlier but after a bargain they managed to get an old house on seashore. What we noticed is that there’s no relationship between one of the couple. The man is divorcee and the lady named Elly is a guest convinced by the one of the lady. Its wishful thinking of her to set them as a pair but the guest lady is quite reserved with the group. We see her in few embarrassing situation or in a mood as if she’s not supposed to belong here. They played pantomime and actively played their parts with responsibility.  And then suddenly an accident occurred followed by another. They survived by the first but the later was remained an unsolved mystery. Was Elly really drowned or disappeared? What we see next is intriguing and swinging human drama shifting between situational and emotional fix and surprising twist played between characters.

It’s simple plot and yet how engagingly Farhadi built the whole intricacy of drama with its complexity that continues for almost two hours without boring or unnecessarily pulling moments! The emotional crux of drama comes in last ten minutes of that personal meeting between two protagonists, that changes the whole perspective of the film. that one close ended question and that answer of mere yes or no left the film’s ending an altogether subtle end with a guilt hard to bear. How delicately Farhadi handles the drama so naturally and it instantly connects to any viewer irrespective of his cultural roots or nationality without any extra effort just like his award winning ‘A Separation’. Most of that made possible by characters. Once again the ensemble cast of almost all Iranian actors performed so naturally their with a special mention of Golshifteh Farhani who played Sepideh, Shahab Hosseini and Payman Maadi. Infact all actors performed their characters so naturally; after watching each Iranian film, I keep wondering, ‘Are all Iranian actors born with that gift of or what!’

The film won Silver Berlin Bear at Berlin Film festival.
Must watch.

Ratings-9/10 

Friday, October 26, 2012

CHITTAGONG (2012)


‘Saans andar saans bahar
Bandook andar goli bahar’

This is the history of unwavering courage and mutiny of a group of young rebels to free Chittagong from British rule in 1930s. Thanks to NDTV and AKFPL, this long awaited Bedabrata Pain’s film seen it’s release finally and it brought to screen the glorious episodic tale with as honesty and as conviction as possible. Imagine the spirit of just fifty or so young boys without any training and with just handful of arms made a blow to British rule. They made successful raid on Police Line, Telephone Exchange, Armoury & European Club house without a single fire of their gun. Their leader a school teacher Surya Sen aka Masterda who told them not to shed blood of innocents irrespective of their Indian or British identity. Their amateur guerrilla army successfully retreat the huge army. And amid all this. the film focuses on a personal story of a young teenage boy of mere fourteen years old who dreamed about Oxford education just like his father who's working as civil servant under Brtitish patronage. But Masterda’s revolutionary flame and mission pushed his soul and spirit to join voluntarily the movement. How he led the movement from there onwards to 1945’s peasant revolution is yet another history to share and Pain tried to represent both within one and half hours duration.  

The film once again brought three terrific actors together who also made their dent in Kashyap’s ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’- Manoj Bajpayee, Nawajuddin Siddiqui & Jaideep Ahlawat (remember Shahid Khan!). Though nobody share much screen time as Pain treated the subject and characters with an equal justice and most actors performed their roles quite convincingly irrespective of short or long space. Shankar-Ehsan-Loy’s music is appropriate to the time and songs don’t create much hindrance as long they stays in narrative. But worthy to mention is the act of youngest actor Delnaz  Hiwale as Jhunku (Subodh Roy); he’s promising boy to look forward. The drama in the later half let loose the grip on narration and editing but not the spirit. After long time Indian screen get back to the glorious chapter of history and this one is surely worthy to watch.  

Ratings-7.5/10 

THE MERCENARY (1968)


“Ford has John Wayne, Leone has Clint Eastwood, I have Franco Nero.”

Sergio Corbucci is cult and one of the most influential figures of Italian spaghetti western genre. After his grand success of ‘Django’ his teaming up with Franco Nero gave some of the most entertaining spaghetti western to watch without fail for all die hard fans of this genre. His western has everything on platter that we expect from genre- brilliant extreme wide shots, spectacle of blazing gun action witch stylish macho in search of bounty and climax with gun duel. But than he brings something extra too- machine gun instead of Winchester guns in western (Django), psychopathic villain & mute western hero (The Great Silence) and here a political edge stuffed in routine formula.

Sergei Kowalsky is gringo to rely for ambitious Mexican named Paco and his bunch of bounty hunters. He hired Sergei in his ambitious quest for revolution. With his company the amigos keep on robbing banks, trains, army but the gringo is too demanding man. Not the best Ennio Morricone’s score but love that particular whistling sound with Nero’s appearance. Compared to Leone, Corbucci’s spaghetti westerns tried to push the action and violence with modern ammunition whether its machinegun, tanks or an airplane dropping bombs; quite hard to imagine in western genre before. The climax here is just compelling powerhouse till the last frame.

Surely an essential spaghetti western from the man who gave us ‘Django’ & ‘The Great Silence’.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

MANDI (1983)


Unlike his serious and mature in tone earlier rural trilogy, Shyam Benegal’s ‘Mandi’ is a film that heavily feed on bawdy satirical comedy with multiple character drama of ensemble bordello set in small town brothel. The film is social satire or lampoon dipped in comic-dramatic tone aiming double standard middle class morality and life and politics of profession of prostitution. Before ‘Mandi’, there’s many films made featuring the tawaif ka kotha as key set-up where the gold hearted prostitute Chandramukhi (Devdas), Pushpa (Amar Prem) or Zohra (Muqaddar Ka Sikandar) serves as an outcast romanticized ideal woman bringing solace to the hero of hindi cinema. There’re other films like ‘Pakeezah’ and ‘Umrao Jaan’ where the key protagonist of the film portrayed romanticized portrait of those by gone era’s sacred courtesans. Benegal’s ‘Mandi’ in many fronts devoid all these conventional tags. It brought to screen the picture of small town courtesan managing to survive his unlikely menagerie of her girls amid changing time, shifting location with compassionate tone. It treats the social politics of female sexuality in bourgeoisie society with irony and humor.

Rukminibai runs a kotha which is part a professional singer-dancer performer, part a whorehouse facing its decline in shifting time. They lost their old patronage of feudal landlords and Nawabs and now have to survive on small town middle class clientele. It’s contemporary in that regard. For Rukmini, Zeenat is a special girl and she keeps her away from ugliness of her profession and site of female sexuality but unlike the parrot in the cage finally she seeks her freedom in an unlikely affair. With her elopement comes another blow of reality when the bordello shows the true colours. On one hand the film is repository of social secrets and crimes of small town and on the other hand it gives us the glimpse of individual look of each prostitutes and character sketches of social reality- a constable who constantly seeking a chance to take advantage of his duty, a photographer who secretly photographs nude prostitutes to craft his pornographic photographs.       

The film has most of regular Benegal cast- Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Amrish Puri, Neena Gupta & other ensemble cast. Though media constantly played role of competitive judge between two parellel cinema’s darling actresses, one has to watch the natural flair and chemistry between Shabana & Smita in ‘Arth’ and this one. As courtesan Rukminibai, Shabana Azmi brought to screen one of her best dramatic performance. Needless to say, it has fine support from Smita as her beloved child Zeenat and Naseeruddin Shah as Tundrus, a male servant who keeps loyal to Rukmini till the end. Om is used here as comic relief. Bengal’s long association with Vanraj Bhatia proved so vital here; personally I feel this is one of the best score Bhatia composed for Benegal. The golden urdu lyrics of Mir Taqi Mir, the last Mughal- Bahadur shah Zafar & Makhdoom Mohiuddin are so beautifully rendered of Indian classical melodies by voices of Asha Bhosale and Preeti Sagar.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

ALBERT PINTO KO GUSSA KYON AATA HAI (1980)


Saeed Akhtar Mirza’s films have queer long titles featuring the protagonist’s name like- ‘Arvind Desai ki Ajeeb Dastan’, ‘Salim Langde pe Mat Ro’, ‘Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho’,‘Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman’ and off course this one- ‘Albert Pinto ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai’. The film was co-scripted by Kundan Shah and shows the anger of a working class young Christian of suburban Mumbai. Mirza portrayed last phase of seventies when urban middle class milieu passes through critical social-political-economical condition of jobless youth, textile strike and strong emergence of labour unions and rise of money power. An educated and upfront urban middle class working youth have three options- either he remains content and satisfies with his daily wage and dreaming big like Albert, play a directionless ruffian like his brother Dominic or going abroad for dream money and better life like Stella's brother. Albert is a face of repressed and angry youth who's angry and yet helpless to rebel against the system unlike those Big B's commercial angry young man avatars. The angry young man here is angry against the injustice, pretended society, changing class-culture-society and above all on himself who's unable to do anything that leads towards solution. He on one hand considering himself as one and only upfront garage mechanic of Mumbai able to repair imported cars knowing rich and famous people and on the other hand getting angry on his family and girlfriend.

Watching films like this, I wonder how both conservative market and Indian middle class evolve economically towards a new height in post ninety’s open economy. Five lac Rupees foreign made car was considered next to impossible for working class then (as shown in that garage song in film), today it considered as average economy model. Anything foreign and imported grabs attention immediately compared to mediocre Indian goods. The film has strong cast of Parallel cinema’s torch bearing names- Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Om Puri with some of Mirza find and regular like Sulabha Deshpande, Dilip Dhavan, Satish Shah and Avtar Gill. As per the title, it’s film of Naseer who played too many shades of Albert and he acted as per expectation level. That mirror scene is surely an inspiration from De Niro’s Taxi Driver’.

The problem with the film is its unnecessary tad slow pace and incoherent narration scattered in multiple direction and characters. What I hate is how makers like Mirza, absolutely under on unutilized the potentials of terrific actors like Smita Patil and Om Puri. The later half of film is quite stretching one looming between conventional happy end and unconventional rise of rebel workers union. Nevertheless the film is worth a watch to check Mumbai’s unglamorous, unadorned later phase of seventies. 

THE PERFECT CIRCLE (Bosnian) (1997)


“I’m dreaming, mother. Dreaming that I’m singing. You’re asking me: what are you doing, my son? What does the song in your dream say, my child? Mother, it says I once had a house. Now I have none, mother. Once I had voice and a language. Now I have no voice and no language. With the voice that I lost, in the language that I lost, I sing a song, mother, about the house that I lost.”

How can you remain untouched where a film opens with such a monologue showing us the image of a hanged middle aged man on tree in snow clad cemetery? The film is an undernoticed anti-war document from Bosnia pointing the absurdity of war through strong images, humanitarian drama and fine poetic monologues. A Bosnian drunkard poet after sending her daughter and wife away from horror of war encounters two orphan kids. There’s massacre everywhere where nobody knows when bombs or bullets from any direction end their lives. The struggle of survival draws the film towards tragic climax but before that throughout the film it raised many pertinent questions about the absurdity of war.

Some images stays with me; that injured dog with his hindlegs on wheel chair running aimlessly amid horror of ruined city, that frequently shown image of poet’s hanged self reflected the death of innocence, human sensibility of both mind and body. He performance of Mustafa Nadarevic is so natural and effective. His delusional talk with his wife and daughter and his frequent rendering monologues reflects the poet’s tormented inner soul: “If I close my eyes, I see myself hanged. What my soul couldn’t face, what my heart didn’t dare do, my body will do all by itself.”  

Recommended. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (1947)


A gentle and romantic and an absolutely unscary ghost story to watch for all classic lovers. It plays beautifully with theme of souls meeting across time and the liberating power of mind’s imagination. A young widow with a kid daughter rents a haunted house on cliff top cottage and encounters a ghost of a ship captain who becomes her guide, companion and mentor. She helps him type his memoir and he helps her showing her right direction. I just love the way relationship between Mrs Muir and ghost of Captain Cook. There is so much warmth and richness in the performance and character portrayal. Must say the big reason to watch the film is fine chemistry between heavenly beauty Gene Tierney and robust and gruff Rex Harrison. It has finely written dialogues with that distilled charm of good old days.

Recommended. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I FIDANZATI (Italian) (1963)


Exploring this third Ermanno Olmi film and must say he’s the one of that director I discovered this year who’ll remain so special in my cinematic journey. Olmi’s cinema is beautiful link connecting world war torn classic melodrama of Neo-realistic films and modern industrial neo urban generation. He is one of those post war neorealist, who brought to screen contemplative images of humanity to screen. Like predecessors, for the most of his films he worked with amateur actors, chose simple subjects set in natural environment, filmed with minimalist approach and brought subtle artistic images to ponder for viewers.

What is rare about Olmi is his commitment to Italy’s regional rural heritage, a distinct feature of his films that captures the contemplative ethos of purity; I’ve witnessed it in his ‘Il Posto’ and ‘The Tree of Wooden Clogs’. In this film, a worker committed to a young lady in Milan is temporarily assigned to work in plant located at far provincial region. The film is focused on his longing for home and fiancée. Both ‘Il Posto’ and this one preoccupied with theme of an individual young working class man caught between employment and individual quest to find dignity of labour and has to face his love life in tension. Departure brings best feelings and longing the pure ones. Ah that exchange of letters between departed lovers reminds me some of the most beautiful memory of my life.


It seems like Olmi, extended something from that Christmas party scene of his ‘Il Posto’ where two lonesome young souls keep watching other dancing couples in a restaurant table. The film begins exactly with similar set up where in a restaurant an afraid couple remains all aloof from each other watching other partners and then starts dancing with strange partners. Memory keeps playing see-saw of each other’s vibrations of emotions. The intricate use of flashback narrative brilliantly alternates between images of memory (past) longing (personal) and reality (present) and the amalgamation of all these brings something so poetic in result. In how many films do we witness the subtlety of what’s happening in character’s mind when there’s some other physical action going on in his life. The classy background score with melodious harmony of piano and accordion with and aesthetic B&W camera work adds feathers to film’s uniqueness. Olmi’s minute sublime observation and detail is so rich and universally humane and aesthetically so divine and natural.

Oh I love to explore more of him…or else like to rewatch all three Olmi films I managed to watch till day.    

Saturday, October 13, 2012

MARIA FULL OF GRACE (Spanish) (2004)


‘It’s what’s inside that counts’, stating the Intel advertisement on airport, justifying so beautifully the end and theme of this worth witnessing Spanish film. The film is a beautiful debut of Catalina Sandino Moreno who gave the film the larger perspective. It’s about seventeen years pregnant Maria supporting her working class Colombian family. in order to get new job she gets involved in drug mule. She has to fly USA carrying more than sixty pellets of cocaine in her stomach. Things do not happen as plan in hostile land where her two partners are adding and worsening her already troubled choice.

Without much of routine melodrama and without being too harrowing or dark, the film managed to bring the personal tension from the moment onwards we see what Maria is supposed to do in drug trade. It fixes and sets the drama and thrill with equal tension towards it reaches the end which is beautiful but predictable. That airport check up tension instantly reminds me about ‘Midnight Express’, but it’s not the film as dark and harrowing one, rather it draws a sympathetic character driven drama with illegal trade. Above all the strongest reason to watch the film is Moreno’s brilliant and graceful Oscar nominated performance. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

BLACK CAT WHITE CAT (Serbian) (1998)


An unusual, mind-blowing and excessively outrageous farce to watch without fail. Chaos can never be as much riotous fun as watching cinema of this gifted Serbian talent. This is my second Emir Kusturica after ‘Underground’ and once again he blew my mind for his exceptional fantasy meets farce realm pushing the hyperbole with loads of black humour and wild imagination. This is absolutely laugh riot to senses. Kusturica’s command over the whole scenario of the film leads us to something out of this planet. It brought irresistible images of  wild goose and two cats runs amok throughout the film, a  band tied on tree trunk, a dead body hanged on train crossing pole, an amazing magic trick to remove nail with fat derriere, a giant pig licking the ruined car or that long crazy wedding crash is just wildest fun let loose. 

I just can't help loving almost all of those gypsy and weirdo characters whether its a dumb and loser Matko or wicked junkie addict Dadan, a midget sister and his forced to marry young romantic partner or those two grandpas with their wicked sense of money. And once again Srdjan Todorovic as women obsessed junkie tyrant Dadan with his unusual dancing and swinging moves is one hell of hilarious character to watch without fail. Here is Kusturica at his wackiest best. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

GUN CRAZY (1950)



“We go together, Annie, I don’t know why. Maybe like guns and ammunition go together.”

Joseph Lewis’s this exceptional low budget underrated classic deserves a cult status in the genre of film noir. One may put this film to other brilliant B genre noir like ‘Detour’. What is absolutely different and fresh about the film is its representation of two protagonists of opposite sex who’re also on opposite side of their gun fetish. It is also so different for its set up of rural love and crime on-the-run that appears to have little in common with the hard boiled nocturnal urban underworld that sums up noir canon.


The film instantly reminds me of ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ and it’s loosely based on the infamous real bandits of 1930s. It must be surely remain inspiration for Arthur Penn but what is another striking feat is much before that it would have surely inspired the breakthrough of ‘French New Wave’ films of 60s; especially Jean Luc Godard’s ‘Breathless’ or ‘Pierrot le Fou’. The aesthetic and innovative camera shots and angles and Peggy Cummins' psychotic femme fatale are things to notice without fail here. It has a brilliant beginning and shattering end with chase and run action and mad love in between. It has a big goof up looming all over the film but than its surely a noir to catch without fail for number of other inspirational classics that came after.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES (1938)


One of those first rare film of the genre where the gangster is not glorified but twisted and deglamorised towards the end for bettering the future of all those kids of lost generation dreaming to be Rocky Sullivan with guns in their hands! Much before his much celebrated ‘Casablanca’, Michael Curtiz made a gangster film that preach social responsibility and it’s a document to treasure for that strong reason. Two close pals and adolescent small time thieves grow up to be on opposite direction. Rocky becomes a notorious gangster and Jerry becomes a priest. A bunch of local teenagers starts idolizing Rocky and that’s slowly becoming an obstacle for the didactic father’s mission to reform them. The father demands something next to impossible from the man who’s facing execution.

The film represents the hard choices of charismatic rebel hoodlum and nagging moralizer priest and it serves tremendously towards that harrowing and unlikely climax with expressionistic shadows as Rocky is dragged whimpering towards electric chair; it’s powerful image that still enrage the audience who do not share the film’s stern moral point of view. It would be huge injustice if I’ll forget to mention awesome James Cagney, the benchmark to play tough big shot of al-time. All gangsters of Hollywood seems dwarf against the shortest of them all…who else than James Cagney! Nobody wears that wry smile and devil may care attitude on his sleeve even when facing the last judgment of fate or life. He’s the one and only classic gangster that stand above all. I hate to watch Cagney died like this...like those i'm also frustrated towarss the end. Whaddya hear? Whaddya say?