Saturday, December 14, 2013

JOWITA (1967) (Polish)

What a beautiful poetry and hidden gem of Polish cinema!
Janusz Morgenstern’s this masterpiece is marvelous treat to senses and soul of its viewers. The film surely an inspired one from French New Wave and almost entire film is pure ecstasy. From its very opening frames the film leads you towards aesthetic territory and mystery named Jowita. Barbara Lass is poetry on screen and this film owes as much to her as its maker. The classy jazz score and those moving pieces of violin in concert served as vibrations of mood motifs.

Marek is a promising athlete sharing affairs with more than one women. One day at masquerade ball his loafing eyes witnessed the most beautiful pair of eyes disguised in black veil of Turkish dress and instantly get him ensnared by her enigma. He follows her, she knows it. She meets him and introduced her as Jowita and told him to wait for her outside the gate. The wait ended in frustration for him and he gets himself obsessed in search of her. Finally at another ball, he meets her again but she said she is Agnieszka and not Jowita, who is her best friend. They became friends and lovers but still those eyes of Jowita remain a mystery. Who is Jowita? An unattainable object of desire or unsolved enigma of subconscious? 

Perhaps the film sums up Marek’s character and his internalizations through that advisable line he told to his coach’s wife with whom he shared another of his affair: ‘Life is a bloody Olympic games. People compete in various events and they strive to win even against themselves. One has only to decide which rules to follow. And just follow them.’ What he told her befits more to him, especially the last line. And his young co-athlete exactly knows him more than him as she towards the end shared that Peter Pan metaphor to him.

Jowita is something that I wish to watch again and its surely one of unsung gem of Polish cinema.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


“We do swear, under pain of friendship lost, to never speak of this enterprise to any adult, and to never betray its location or its participants, and from this day forthwith to boil our own water, kill our own food, build our own shelter and be our own men.”

Three boys ran away from their parental home and went to woods to explore their own freedom, their own rules and regulations about life. Nature is indifferent and so is human nature too, since betrayal and heart break plays unlikely game in the journey. It’s not so that we haven’t seen any coming of age story told with touch of youthful charm, innocence, joy, freedom and visual splendor of natural landscape. ‘The Kings of Summer’ has all that same American baggage of troubled domestic affair that runs between the rebel teen world and adult parents’ dominance and other emotional cliché of teen film.  The film has shades of ‘Into the Woods’ and yet it’s different one in its tone which is refreshingly youth centric, hilarious and heartwarming one than the contemplative former one inspired by Thoreau’s ‘Walden’. The film has cool soundtrack and yes, all three teens really played their age so well, especially the tiny, strange and yet contemplating boy who played Biaggio.

So far a fine and decent indie entertainer of this year.   

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


“The boundaries which divide life from death are best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends and the other begins?”- Edgar Allan Poe

Perhaps no other director explored the bizarre, grotesque and terrifying tales of Edgar Allan Poe than the Master of American low budget horror, Roger Corman. Beginning with ‘House of Usher’, this is Corman’s last of ‘Poe’ adaptation series, starring the legendary and irreplaceable evil Vincent Price. The film manages to bring the solid macabre and gothic horror environment to screen like Mario Bava’s some of brilliant films. There’s so much diversion and liberty taken to Poe’s original story, which is overall an idolatrous passionate romance of dead wife and alive longing husband than just usual horror. The addition of other characters, framing the countenance of Price with the pair of completely eye covering dark glasses, use of black cat as spirit in disguise and conflagration showdown at the climax is all product of screenplay writer Robert Towne and Paul Mayersberg. However they manage to implicate the idea of Poe’s tale to suit Corman’s low budget shocker.

But above all like many of well made Corman-Poe cycle, the film strongly delivers compelling sense of grotesque atmosphere with brilliant gothic setting of ruined abbey surrounded by cemetery, arresting use of colours, camera movements and above all the screen presence of Vincent Price at centre. The bizarre phantasmagoria and that hypnotism scene is just awesome highlight of the film! Recommended to all freak fanatics!


For years elegant ‘Windward’ house located on sea coast remained mysterious and unoccupied until a sibling on holidays by chance visited it and made up their mind to own it. The strange disturbances started following the nights of their occupation and it leads them to unearth a buried family past of its first owners. Lewis Allen’s ‘The Uninvited’ is one of those definite and pioneer films of haunted house supernatural horror genre. It may not stand eerie and shocking compared to CGI and technically advanced horrors of today but the film is surely based on strong plotline and characterization, a hallmark of Hollywood’s golden era.  Charles Lang’s dark B&W camerawork are sheer highlight of the film framing the gothic environment. The film is surely a classic case study, how on one hand elements exploited in this film became a common denominator of its other successor horrors and still it remain one of those rare and unique in its treatment to thrill its audience without using any of those CGI and other technical manipulation to tell a ghost story.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

5 FINGERS (1952)

Until he received his most ambitious film ‘Cleopatra’, a severe box office debacle, 1950s was the most creative and shining phase of director Joseph Mankiewicz’s career. He made nine films during the decade and that include flavors of multiple genres that ranges from drama, history, mystery, crime and musical in form of  ‘All About Eve’, ‘The Barefoot Contessa’, ‘Suddenly, Last Summer’ and surely two Brando films ‘Julius Caeser’ and ‘Guys and Dolls’. And in between all these gold, he made a fine and yet under noticed gem of espionage thriller named ‘5 Fingers’, worthy of attention to all Hollywood classic lovers. The film is based on real story of Nazi access of top secret British diplomatic documents in the volatile time of Second World War. A strange informer named Cicero, who works as regular valet of British ambassador in Turkey, secretly snaps highly confidential top secret documents and sells them to German embassy. As the British intelligence agency works as counter to nab the treachery, the things turns different turn to the informer’s affair with German Gestapo. The film keeps the tension rolling slowly and steadily, followed with engaging climax and fine twist in the end served as poetic justice. James Mason delivers one of memorable early performance of his shining career here.  Recommended classic.