Archive | October, 2011

WHERE IS THE FRIEND’S HOME? (1987) – PERSIAN

30 Oct
Simplest of the stories can be told movingly if told with a good heart. 
I never watched an Iran movie and always refrained coz they are extremely sentimental is what I read about them and that kept me away from them. 
My premonition came true with this, it moved me in every way for the kid, when he ran through the streets to find out where his friend his, when he met an old man whom gave him what he should be, when he persuaded his mother to go out and return his friend a book, I can see that but my heart was always in the boy and with the boy, I wanted him to win and return the book.
The opening and ending are strange for me, coz the boy whom I thought is the main hero comes and goes in few frames but the whole story is about his friend but I would say it’s this boy, who is seldom seen is the protagonist coz he drove the whole story while his friend was just running for him. 
Technically, this is not great coz camera is simplistic and there are no production qualities. Also, so much could have been edited out that is still a part of the movie. Like the way this boy persuades hi mother is itself 6 minutes. But it’s neither slow nor boring coz of a stronger and a curious story. The dialogues I understood through subtitles seemed apt. Acting is terrific and I would give the boy a special gift.
I heard of this film, when my FTII (film institute ) friend referred this and I must say, this is a typical FTII movie, its an easy watch but hard to digest. I am better off not watching Irani movies coz I cannot just keep wiping off my eyes, i did that 4-5 times in this 75 minute film. 
Abbas Kiarostami, the director should be credited for all that he did and in fact he is now one of the very few heart ful directors who has a heart more than a mind.
It’s 4/5 for a movie that moved me extremely.

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MALENA (2000) – ITALIAN

30 Oct
We grow up on dreams and then dream to grow.
Before reviewing this film I would share my personal account related to this. In college, adolescent movies, porn used to be discussed and when I was in one such discussion a friend told that he was fascinated by this movie. I downloaded it and privately watched it alone expecting this to be a very evocative and a sexual movie. Now it was all to my surprise, it turned out differently. A week later, I showed this movie to my friend Raghuveer.  Initially, he was interested in nude scenes (coz I got to know of this only through him) but once the film began, we both completed it. And after a week when I called him to know what he was doing, he just said, he was dreaming and thinking only of Malena. That was the impact. I got back to this 2 years later while in job but the reaction was the same by my other friend. Now today when I watched it, I was again satisfied coz this is one of the most compelling stories that stood out in time.
Hmm, to review this movie is a tough job for me coz it’s difficult to judge what you love the most. I love Monica Bellucci thoroughly in the movie and while younger, fantasized about her the same way Renato did in the movie. It’s a story of how cruel beauty is to self and how beautiful it is to the eyes of the beholder. Malena’s only curse is she is beautiful in a village filled of demons. 
It is one of the most simple stories told and still it kept me going because the way camera works and each scene be it an adolescent or a court room fight, or even a dream sequence just made me feel something if at times happy then at times sad and in fact very angry. So each scene did move me, they touched me for sure and that’s where the writing of the screenplay is a winner. Mind you, it is based on a short story and this can be anywhere and at anytime. Though based on world war 2 in Italy, the theme is universal, it’s of abuse and how beauty is used.
A kid has a dream but is still helpless and most adults are powerful but devoid of compassion. While in movies, nudity comes as an X factor or for publicity it is very precisely used here to take the story forward and rather substantiate the theme. 
The music by Ennio Morricone grips you and empathizes with the characters emotions be it a chase on a cycle or a song La Amore, they are very aptly placed and used. The way camera moves tells you what the whole village is talking and what each character is about. The art direction takes you back to the time of world war 2. So everything is done well but acting by Giuseppe Sulfaro (son of the director Giuseppe Tornatore) is terrific. I think, since the director could not romance Monica, he let his son do just like a scene where the father takes the son to brothel when he realizes his son has grown up. And Monica is quite a revelation with silence she spoke a lot.
Spare the nudity please, if that was not there this could just be another story.
Thank you Tornatore for such a compelling film and thank you for showing Monica Bellucci as the ultimate beauty whom every man should crave for.
It’s 4/5 for this one. Many may not like it but I will go with Malena any day.

SHATRANJ KE KHILARI (1977) – URDU

27 Oct
If we are engrossed in one thing then it’s good not to think of anything else.
I could have easily written that the language is Hindi, since the milieu of the story is from Lucknow and is mostly in Urdu and partly in English, I gave it accordingly. In terms of language, this fim is very unlike of any other Satyajit Ray film as most are Bengali. But in terms of authenticity it has surely Ray’s vision and is up there to match up the standards.
Set in 1856 Lucknow, the story is about the last king of Awadh, it questions the ethnicity and the political will of the then british empire. Played by Amjad Khan who brings out a fine performance and in fact all the performances are just in place even the one scene of Farooq Sheikh where he gives a blank expression is also done very well.  I loved every actor here but Amjad Khan stood out for me as the fat bumpy king who is oblivious to everything apart from his personal indulgences.
Shot exquisitely simply in comparison to any period film, the film is very strong in drama and holds you to see if war will happen and it may disappoint you if you expected it to be a movie on freedom struggle. The pathos that the movie evokes does not bring tears to eyes but brings thoughts to minds, wasn’t british so much better than such kings. 
Munshi Premchand, on whose story the movie was based is in fact one of the most sarcastic writers in hindi and his sarcasm is hidden, he laughs at a society that lives in oblivion and disowns everything but self interest. 
Coming to the title, it’s very symbolic if there are two games that will make you forget everything else and will become an addiction the they are the playing card games or chess and this is what symbolises, our two main story tellers are addicted so much that even though there is a british army walking to capture Awadh, they play chess under the tree.
It’s simple yet strong and very daunting memory of Satyajit Memory may be with you for a long time to come. 
It’s 3/5 that is good. Our master Satyajit ray made many better movies

127 HOURS (2010) – ENGLISH

26 Oct

I am surprised that I did not yet write a review of this film that is true honest and uncompromising.

It’s a bore, un engaging, we saw this many times, yeah he is triumphant but we lost our time. These were the words I heard most from those who saw it coz that’s not what it is for me.

It is one of the honest stories I have seen all through last year and even as I saw it now, I could not hold myself from scratching my cheeks hard when the amputation scene came. It’s one of the best voyages undertook and our hero Aron has not actually won it but he had to lose something to win life. And that something is priceless.

Aron is an adventurer who frequently ventures into the national parks of UTAH(that’s one state of USA I missed last visit and in fact the state that has most national parks.) UTAH is known for it’s very Red Indian life style, it’s very lively people. But here, most of the movie is shot in canyon, the whole movie is shot in landscapes and specifically only one cliff in the Blue John Canyon.

The way it is shot is so very thrilling that I got everything for minuscule to a macro, just by camera movement.
The camera is everywhere, coz we get to know of the tape moving in the video recorder and the drops sprinkling inside the water bottle. Man, the camera work is a lesson to learn and will let us know how to make a simple movie interesting with such great work. Also, the shot has to be placed perfectly placed so I credit the editor for this for he had a very sharp scissor.

Major Credit must be given to James Franco who played the role of the real life star Aron Ralston. The scene in which Aron reaches for the sun light when he is stuck is so terrific and the emotions are so very well portrayed. I can see the pain and the joy at once.

Now, this is one of the very best Blu-rays I have and it’s because all the landscapes, the slot canyons, the water jumps, the background music are made so terrific by two things. 1) Cinematography 2) Audiography.

Now, Danny Boyle who perceived this film and made it with conviction has to be praised for bringing out a triumphant story and triumph is actually what we crave for in every story we watch. If the whole of the movie did anything, it just touched me and moved me. Thank you Danny for bringing to light a story worth telling yet again to screen. Thank you very much.

It’s 4/5 for a movie that’s a must watch without a pause or a break.

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (2011) – ENGLISH

26 Oct

Travelling on streets is good but travelling in time is marvelous.

I have heard of time travel in the film Shining but saw it happen one time after another in this film. Aptly titled, this film is about the mysterious life in paris that revels in nostalgia. It still has the fragrance of those great artists that adored this great city from a Picasso to Hemingway to so many.

Now there is our protagonist Gil Pender who loves the 1920’s  and very fluidly travels to 1920 and makes connections with the artists. Actually, there is not much of a story, but everything pops up in between, there is an artistis desire, there is infidelity there is an envy about another man and there is love for multiple woman. But all of that said, it’s a journey of an artist.

Oh, did I mention that this is a Woody Allen film, yes it is and its very Allenish. Now there can’t be a movie without Allen so our hero Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) is the Allen of the film who is very subconsciously driven and speaks out long sentences that make little meaning to others (but I could make out what he meant). He dreams, and when he realizes he seems so very lost, he does not know what to do and again gets lost. He just knows, he wants to stay in Paris. His every move evokes love for the great city.

The art direction if anything is superficial and I envy every bit of it coz the hollywood for every story have superb technicians and the way they use technology is simply superb. The cinematography is simple for few scenes like a chat between the characters and terrific when it has to bring paris alive. Yes, certainly Paris is a character of the movie and right in the first few frames I realized this and in fact those first shots were the best of the movie in terms of showing paris. Did I tell there is infidelity as common theme as in an Allen movie.

All through, I can see Allen and his hope for bringing out yet another film that says Art for Art’s sake and he succeeds yet again and he cannot fail coz there is a protagonist so strong in him that we can vie for and woo for. We surely want him to simply follow his dreams.

It’s a charming and an enchanting film nevertheless but it’s not a story that we shall for long remember I believe. It did not engage me much in terms of screenplay or characterization to say so except for the enticement caused by the camera.

Hail Allen, I give it 3/5. A good one to go for sure.

FALL IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

15 Oct
Please click on the photo to view the album

CITY OF GOD (2002) – PORTUGESE

14 Oct
A very very terrific brazilian film that is completely raw in characters, language and depiction.
This is a crime movie about the hoodlums in Brazil and the drug mafia and the background of each case. How gangs form, how they get lost, are killed, what fate do they give to future and all that you cannot even imagine at times. This is the most raw film I ever saw and I can smell everything from the streets stinking to the perfume of the girl to the drugs taken. It’s so very well taken that I even forgot all this was done by a camera. So fluid is the movie and hats off to the cinematographer, the art director and the director.
Written extremely tightly and completely driven by various characters and is narrated by Rocket, our protagonist who is an observer, yes he is a cameraman in the movie and captures all he could about the mafia. Each character takes the story forward and each scene just keeps you as engrossed as the earlier one. There is no one frame that could have been cut in this extremely well edited movie. 
It’s a rarity to see all things knit well up in this movie and I appreciate and would yearn for more such movies. The milieu, the slang, the topography all are so well compiled and choreographed.  And to bring all this together, I would hail the director Fernando Meirelles who has brought raw energy into a film and makes it extremely powerful and in fact the most powerful movie for generations to come.
This is a movie that one must quickly watch it. I cannot exactly tell what I liked coz I liked everything and this again is a must experience movie.
Thanks Fernando extremely grateful for giving such a great movie.
It’s 5/5 and is a must see movie.