Friday, May 25, 2012


My third Shane Meadows film and the man didn’t fail to impress me so far. It’s an absolutely warm and refreshing British independent film portraying days of two unlikely teens growing on their youthful friendship and a crush on a same girl amid all their hopeless disintegrated family life and rough streets of London. Within it’s nearly one hour short length, the film with fine restraint brought us the face of social scenario of metro and at the same time focus beautifully the individual attention on kinship and adolescent fancy of two boys company to each other. For both of them the city is either too rough or too hopeless, the only joy for both of them is company to each other.

Without being pretentious or unnecessarily sentimental or over the top drama, Meadows brought to screen appreciable independent film shot in beautiful B&W frames with natural act, cool soundtrack. There are moments which make you move and also the moments which make you laugh and smile. I love to watch indie like this any day; it’s refreshingly sweet, funny and satisfactory and need I tell you I’m recommending it ;)


LA CEREMONIE (French) (1995)

What seems like minimalist Hitchcock thrill in the beginning slowly turns out as striking Bunuelian bourgeoisie revenge finale. I’m ending up watching my first Claude Chabrol film; the man who pushed the envelope of French New Wave in 60s along with Godard, Truffaut, Rohmer and company.  

It opens with a slender, reticent and inscrutable dame named Sophie (Sandrine Bonnaire) hired and employed as a new house maid by rich Lelievre family. The family is consist of husband- wife and two young kids. Though slightly reserved, she seems to be a perfect maid for the family in the initial phase. Her dyslexic illiteracy led her to befriend Jeanne (Isabelle Huppert), an eccentric and errant postal clerk and that’s where tension starts rolling on her and Lilievre family’s life. Slowly it leads towards the tragic and operatic gritty finale.

What I loved about my first experience of Chabrol is the way he used sheer minimalist framing of the whole film keeping the aestheticism of the film as classic as possible. His directorial style emphasized in brilliant use of mise en scene, which is absolutely treat. Bonnaire’s act is worth mentioning but its Isabelle Huppert who’s the bitchy dame to watch without fail. Chabrol brilliantly pointed out the undermined tragic irony of poetic justice of two social classes in the striking climax where tragic opera on TV runs parallel to the life.


Sunday, May 20, 2012


This is the debut of a genius and multitalented Vijay Anand aka Godlie who brought the banner of Navketan Films to unprecedented heights for complete one decade. It’s record that Godie never missed an aim and gave one after another super hit Golden Jubilee films of that classic bygone era of classic Hindi cinema. Though it inspired from Frank Capra’s romantic ‘It Happened One Night’, Goldie brought to the film the touch of his impression in more than one technique of filmmaking. From story, screenplay, dialogue writing, editing to direction and even in cinematography one may clearly observe the touch of Goldie.

The plot of the film centers around double fold suggestions of its title; a favor of will with the same figure amount fall in the lap of a young drifter named Madan Gopal and as by its hindi idiom meaning we witness an escape of bride from his wedding procession. She joins the company of the man in disguise. After light romance and singing songs in the first half both of them visits the house claiming themselves husband and wife. It’s the second half the film becomes trademark gripping Hitchcokian flavor. As the man unfolding the secrets of old and new will as newly appointed Manager, the lady faces blackmailing from another man. Shakti Samanta had copied the whole plot of Jivan, Shashikala, Kalpana Kartik in his blockbuster ‘Kati Patang’.

Along with command on narration and writing Godlie had unparalleled panache in filming Hindi song sequences and he’s one of its only kind. Much before he directed those golden melodies of ‘Guide’, ‘Jewel Thief’ or ‘Teesri Manzil’ on Technicolor screen he honed the skill from his very first film. Watch the way he used production set with unusual camera angles, shots with his cinematographer V Ratra here. The way he used foreground and background in frames and noir like B&W shadows shows his inspirational inclination of Hollywood classics. The climactic song sequence with clock ticking thrill is something that Indian cinema has seen perhaps the first time.

The oozing charm of Dev gets a special treat when his younger brother directs the film and this is his first successful litmus test bringing long time collaboration. Then recently married youthful real life couple of Dev and Kalpana Kartik looks so refreshing on screen. The presence of some of the regular Navketan supporting cast including Lalita Pawar, Jivan, Madan Puri and Shashikala with co-dance number of Helen goes without much clutter. Needless to say S D Burman’s evergreen score of the film is absolutely treasure and it remained an asset for almost all Navketan films. It enlivens the special charm on screen when it brought magic of both Anand Brothers together. From Kishoreda’s drifting melody ever made ‘Hum hai rahi pyar ke’ to three classic teasing romantic duets ‘Kali ke roop mein’, ‘Aankhon mein kya ji’ and ‘Aaja panchhi akela hai’. It’s revealing trivia to know that Zohra Sehgal, the Indian cinema’s first lady who completed century of his age this year choreographed the songs of the film.

‘Nau Do Gyarah’ is nostalgic Navketan treat to watch and revisit for more than one reason. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

THE KILLER (Cantonese) (1989)

There are two clear influences which worked as firing force to bring out the most poetic action film ever made in Hong Kong cinema. Though John Woo dedicated this film to Martin Scorsese; in style and manner it all represent Jean Pierre Melville’s brilliant French crime classic ‘Le Samourai’. Woo portrayed young and dashing Chow Yun-Fat as an enigmatic Alain Delon of Hong Kong cinema. He’s a professional, intelligent criminal and man of his own codes and principles. He’s no petty cold blooded assassin but a killer with a compassionate conscience, caring lover who loves to visit chapel just because no place in the world seems as quiet as it. After completing the assignment to kill a high profile man, he’s double crossed by his mob leader and followed by a sniffing cop played wonderfully by Danny Lee. He has a last job to perform, to get the money from now hostile boss and his syndicate to get his beloved’s lost eyes in form of redemption.

One may see many trademarks of Woo here which he continued displaying in his later cinema too; fluttering doves, over the top violence, hyperkinetic and slow motion action and stunts giving you the experience of watching a film that made the genre proud of. If mind-blowing climax action in the chapel is awesome than the end where two blind lovers seeking each other in their last meeting is something so poignant moment to witness in the same film. I found Woo at his fine story telling too; mixing elements of friendship, loyalty, romance and fate in a film which is out and out filled with action.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

HARD BOILED (Cantonese) (1992)

Much before he brought attention to mainstream Hollywood and much before his admirers like Tarantino and Rodriguez lifted his distinctive style, John Woo made some of the technically most accomplished action films of Hong Kong cinema. Hard Boiled is one of that films that established him as distinct brand name with stylish never before seen explicit action with his signature touch. Flat on his back, gun in both hands, excessive violence, astonishing stunts and slow motion, Woo made all these elements as violent poetry on screen like his Master Hollywood predecessor Sam Peckinpah.

Hard Boiled brought to screen Hong Kong cinema’s two leading stars- Tony Leung and Chow Yun-Fat as adversary in first half and dual protagonist in second half. The chemistry between two is just awesome with a plot with nexus of cop, undercover cop and triad. From bird cage restaurant shoot out to long climax, the blazing guns and mind blowing stunts speaks their own language on screen and nobody can made it with as much detailing prowess as Woo. And it’s not just mad violence, there’re moments in the film where Woo made points how violence is inevitable fate that pays heavily. We can see that in a climax where under blind blazing guns a cop killed another cop so accidentally. Whether Hollywood or Bollywood action cinema not remain same with influence of man named John Woo and this is one of his striking film with brilliant  action sequences ever choreographed, ever filmed that hold you to your seats like power packed thriller.


Sunday, May 13, 2012


It’s hard to say ‘No’ to the man like Don Logan, a lopsided dominant savage who’s mad dog hard to resist. He came from London to Spain for a retired gangster named Gal living luxurious life in Spanish villa having sun tanning, guzzling booze and enjoying company of his ex porn star partner. Don is unwanted man and an absolutely hard nut to crack and a simple ‘No’ or ‘I’m retired now’ is not easy way out for Gal. The tension starts rolling once Don enters the house of Gal. It’s a plan passes from a network of gangster- banker nexus and there’s heist in wait.

Watching Ben Kingsly as Don Logan is wilderness and terror runs crazy on your face and this is one of his absolutely devil done perfect role without an iota of doubt. The messy smoking scene in flight or shouting hysterically repetitive abuse aimed at Gal is psychological physical torture turning all no to yes. The film is quite flippant in script and demands more crackling gangster ending than easy way out with cocky heist sequence. But it’s worthy enough to watch for Kingsley who’s fire on screen as Don Logan and Ray Winstone playing Gal with a fine restrained performance. The ‘threat’ plays pivotal role in the drama and it ultimately turns Gal from one yes to another which he can’t refuse.

Watch it for the nasty dynamite called Ben Kingsley and it made you think that is he the same man who played ‘Gandhi’!!!


EXILED (Cantonese) (2006)

Two pairs of gangsters hunting for a man named Wo. One is on the assignment to settle the score as per their leader’s command, another to protect them. Together they wait, they shoot and then they eat but they didn’t settle the score! Above all they all are old friends. Time is ticking... and shifting, they got a favor from another man named Jeff who offered two lucrative deals for them, to hijack a truckload of gold and an assassination plan of a rival mob boss. Nothing happens as per the plan and the violence and the mess continue on screen playing its volatile game until their bonding and destiny reaches them towards a predestined nemesis.

After a long time I’ve watched a crime-action entertainment that proclaimed cult impression of auteurs of violence. Johnnie To’s this film has a stamp of technically brilliant Hong Kong cinema where action and violence on screen is art; whether inspired from Masters like Peckinpah and Leone or matching contemporary talents like Tarantino or John Woo. And all this with sumptuous visual style of two other geniuses- Jean Pierre Melville and Wong Kar Wai. Needless to say it’s technically top notch production, stunning slow motion camera work, sound, background score and above all awesome action. From restaurant shoot out to its following mess at underworld’s secret surgical doctor’s apartment and from shootout for gold in forest to its mind blowing climax, this is something purely crackling entertainment.

It made me fan of Johnnie To cinema...will definitely dig more of him soon.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012


‘I think your first film is always your best film. It may not be your most successful or technically most accomplished one, whatever. It is your best film in a way because you never, ever get close to that feeling of not knowing what you’re doing again. And that feeling of not knowing what you’re doing is just amazing piece of film making. It’s guesswork, inventiveness and freshness that you never get again. To prove it, watch ‘Blood Simple’ again. Coens are geniuses, but they never made a film as good as that one.’  – Danny Boyle

What I love about Danny Boyle film is it opens with certain level of energetic audio-visual sensory spark and like a cracker that went from spark to blast, it gives enough thrill to its audience’s senses. 'Shallow Grave' opens with rotating close up of a man confessing something about his friends. Quickly we turned out to the life of three roommates seeking another partner. They held weird interviews to select the one as per their tastes. Finally they find one stranger close enough to suit their needs. The fellow commits suicide in the locked room but left a lucrative bagful of dollars. What follows is just thrill ride of entertainment.

The film is not only directorial debut of Danny Boyle and actor Ewan McGregor but also debut film of its screen writer John Hodge who wrote few other Boyle films including brilliant ‘Trainspotting’ and up-coming ‘Trance’. The film was shot within thirty days duration with innumerable budgetary constraints and yet Boyle left his impression that extended in all his further films. It’s not we first time seeing something like this in film where people go greedy and turns towards unthinkable crime or get disposing the dead body  for the lucrative bagful of money; yes, we’ve seen enough of Coens films but than Boyle has a style and much of that reflects on form with its impressive camerawork and editing. That voyeuristic high angle shot from the loft, the flashy colors of objects and the way he portray the room is something which marks Boyle’s directorial touch. There’s difference between security and insanity and the film captures it so brilliantly with heightening the psychological tension from more than one side.

Recommended to all thrill lovers.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

LE PROFESSIONNEL (French) (1981)

A French secret agent Joss Beaumont was assigned to kill African President and with turn of volatile political stand, the authority turned the table and surrendered him to African government. After rigorous imprisonment of two years he’s back in Paris to teach a hard lesson to his officials. As explained on screen by French cinema’s most admired brute Jeal Paul Belmondo, he is espionage and ass kicking. It’s absolutely commercial action entertainer than earlier Belmondo films where apart of his star appeal, the films under New Wave or Noir gave French cinema its real artistic edge. Inspite of its less on style or form and more on action and though Belmondo seems quite aged, the film made its mark on box office and regarded as one of the most top grossing Belmondo flick.

Don’t look for thrilling spy movie tension here, as it’s film fully backed on crowd pulling elements of Belmondo’s charm and Ennio Morricone’s score with comedy and action runs in abundance. Worthy to watch if you’re Belmondo fan and like watching him thrashing men with hands or a gun and clashing with car chase on real Parisian locations.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A GENERATION (Polish) (1954)

What a profound and wide impact two world war made in shaping the art, literature and cinema of the world. The war gave a distinct new voice to cinema where the motion picture no longer remained just an illusory escapist entertainment in dark but become a contemplative reality window the world avoids to see. It’s just not suffice to label this films as either anti-war and Neorealist cinema because ultimately they show us the grim and tragic reality of humanity in general proclaiming that tragedy is birth of all original arts.

“Once there was a wise bearded man by the name of Karl Marx. He once wrote that workers were paid just barely enough to renew their strength. These days we don’t even get that, we have to scrounge to survive,” said an exploited Polish apprentice to another newly appointed one while working together for making wooden furniture for their enemy. The time was 1942, the place was Warsaw and the loss was ‘A Generation’ struggled and sacrificed under a false hope to live liberated happy life. A young idealist protagonist named Stach slowly drawn in Nazi occupied Poland towards uprising against oppressive regime. First by that shockingly lost a friend by a German gun while playing mischief to steal coal on transport train, then by meeting an old communist apprentice and finally by accidentally discovering a gun in wastage garbage at job and joining a union of young polish liberation fighters. He forms his own group and finally shot a German Gestapo in a bar.  

With his first breakthrough film of famous war trilogy Andrzej Wajda portrayed the stark chronicle of disillusionment where a bunch of young idealist men drawn towards fight for motherland. He sets the youthful romance and idealist enthusiasm confronted with forces of war. The romance with gun, woman and motherland finally proved too hard illusion to bear. Along with Wajda, the film is a debut feature of two polish men hard to resist- one is Wajda’s personal favorite actor Cybulski in a forgettable role and the other is amateurish and boyish Roman Polanski as actor. However the part of main protagonist Stach is played so naturally by Tedeusz Lomnicki.

 In the entire war trilogy Wajda heroes remained young men juxtaposed their romance with gun and woman and both turned out as illusions in tragedy of world war. All three films maintain striking visuals showing us the uncompromising stark images instantly sets you towards the feel of mood and atmosphere of war clad Poland. Watch that train sequence, hanging dead bodies lined up on electric poles or spiral staircase shootout and you’ll know what I mean.