Thursday, March 28, 2013


‘Inside every artist lurks…a madman’

Walter Paisley, an unappreciated waiter serving in a bohemian cafĂ© full of artistic crowd. He’s having an uncontrollable itch to be a creative artist. Under a frustrated circumstance one day, he encounters an accidental death of cat and this brought him an instant artistic recognition the very next day. What follows is turned out and transformed him into a macabre professional sculptor.  

Roger Corman’s this brilliant underrated film is a surprising cult treat! Oh and I can’t stop loving surprise like this! The film is a bizarre fun with ingredients sorted from multiple genres. The film is noir, horror, thriller, black humor & musical all packaged into one. It is as per its one of tagline suggests ‘comedy of errors turned into comedy of terrors.’ 

The film manages to poke fun at art in general especially aimed at sense of realism & beatnik generation. With its 65 duration, the film was shot in just 5 days and yet it brilliantly creates a kind of macabre screen thrill from beginning to end. Dick Miller is just pleasure to watch; even if nothing else he will stay in memory for his role of Walter here. And I just love the character of Maxwell and all the artistic punch line dialogues he represents on screen. Pay your ears to him when it begins. 

Recommendation of the week. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

JAWAN OF VELLIMALLA (Malayalam) (2012)

In a small Keralian village named Vellimala the dam not only serves as blessing but also becomes a symbol of pride & prosperity for its citizens. Slowly the same dam becomes an issue of alarm for its constant power shedding, rising suicide cases and above all the corrupt power mechanism that operated it from its very construction. The constant companion of the dam is its night watchman named Gopi who’s paranoiac and suffering from seeing illusory ghosts. He is no larger than life default commercial hero but a common man with a personal phobia who’s considered as petrified coward army soldier ran away from war in his hometown. Enters the scene a newly appointed executive engineer who smells a huge power deficit and corruption that becomes threat to the citizens.  

Maintaining commercial ingredients intact without going over the top either in action or emotion, director Anoopkannan brought a sumptuous visual treat from land of Kerala. Along with engaging & entertaining, it also gave a concerning message to society. I never seen any Indian films where dam becomes a character and the site of it filmed so beautifully in entire film nor any Hindi cinema enlightened me something so rare and unusual disease like CBS in such intriguing way apart of usual cancer and heart attack tearjerkers. The honest performances of superstar Mammoootty as the protagonist fighting his personal and public demons & Sreenivasan as honest officer on duty are surely commendable one. Saying all these, I don’t deny its few flaws in the later half that cease it from becoming a better film but compared to routine hindi commercial cinema, this one seems totally refreshing change for me. Why don’t current mainstream Hindi cinemas passing through really a bad phase of originality inspires from something like such sincere regional efforts!  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

BLACK RAIN (Japanese) (1989)

‘I’m interested in the relationship of the lower part of the human body and the lower part of social structure on which the reality of daily Japanese life obstinately supports itself.’  - Shohei Imamura

The pervading moral vacuum, irrationality and superstitions of Japanese social consciousness under all those boasted modernity and technological advancement remained almost a lifetime obsession and exploitation of Imamura’s cinema. However compared to his earlier experimental and path breaking films, this post war drama is more subtle and understated in tone.

Based on novel by Masuji Ibuse, the film explored the aftermath of bombing where a young girl survived with his uncle and aunt. Making their way through the ruins and horror of radiation, they settle in a small village home with a company of senile grandma and other survivors. The uncle trying hard to get his niece find prospective groom but the suspiciousness of radiation turns it into failure. The film slowly and steadily shows us the how the war and the bomb brought indelible deep psychological trauma hard to escape to its people.  A man who runs crazy hearing sound of any passing engine, a concerning uncle- aunt suffering from a radiation and the lively young girl where tragedy strikes unexpectedly.  

The film begins documenting the stark and direct horror of nuclear explosion on Hiroshima. A giant mushroom cloud, shocking burnt and charred dead bodies & black rainfall and radiation sickness affecting the survivors, the camera captures the tragedy without being over the top. Along with sense of devastation post atomic explosion, the film draws our attention to another and quite less explored theme of tragedy. It criticizes and probes the society’s moral stand at the time of post atomic explosion.

Though made in 1989, refined B&W camera work of the film immediately gives it a classic status. The interior framings remind me the cinema of Ozu. Though Imamura started his career assisting the Master, his cinema never reflected it as his cinema remained absolutely opposite from one made by his mentor. However one can regards this film as his homage as it follows elements of somber pace, subdued tone, restrained performances and tear jerking effects of his mentor Ozu. Perhaps, this is not the best of Imamura’s distinctive career but yes, it’s worth a watch as one of the moving post war document of Japanese cinema. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

THE CYCLIST (Iranian) (1987)

‘Usually People like to categorize artists. With my films I categorize people: if I know which one of my movies you like, I can tell which kind of person you are.’   
- Mohsen Makhmalbaf

There are two circular motions creating claustrophobia and vertigo effects on screen as the film begins. The first and physically visible one on screen is a motorcyclist stuntman driving a bike inside a wooden well in a local fair. The other one runs psychologically as thoughts inside the head of a middle aged man named Nasim whose wife is gravely ill  and all he need is good hospital and money to get her treated there. What better way one can start a film about a desperate cyclist man who’s fighting and challenging his physical and mental capabilities beyond limits against all odds! The beginning is just a  pointer!

The protagonist of Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s ‘The Cyclist’, Nasim is an illegal Afghani immigrant surviving in Iran digging oil wells on daily meager wages until he faced an emergency to earn an unreasonable amount of money to treat his near dying illness of his beloved wife. He’s accompanied by a son and starts hunted for different jobs but unable to raise money until finally a circus promoter recognized his skill of consecutive cycling endurance record of three days. Nasim agrees to ride a bicycle for seven days without a break. He’s supposed to eat, drink, urinate only on cycle. His act slowly starts bringing audience sharing the same fate but as Nasim going to gain a moral support against his physical strain & endeavor, his singular effort is subverted by street vendors, fortune tellers and political agitators who exploit the sideshow attraction for their own gain. Its really become brutal manipulation for Nasim when he becomes the bait (read scapegoat) between two businessman. His personal struggle becomes a cruel game of manipulation by anonymous strangers who will spare nothing to ensure their own gain.    

The narrative and pace of the film is languid and it has certain jarring editing cuts but
Makhmalbaf constantly keep shifting the narrative Point of view to show the motivations of minor characters supplying some light moments with heavy drama. The repetitive circular imagery of cycle is an imagery of banality of routine life and still it keeps moving expecting hope for better days. There are moments in ‘The Cyclist’ where emotional manipulation grew stronger and stronger days after days but Makhmalbaf added the poetic grace in its entirety. The space between an individual and society and the exploration of human despair, exploitation, resilience and final hope is deeply affecting and universal in Makhmalbaf cinema. And that is the beauty.