Archive | May, 2013

FLOATING WEEDS (1959) – JAPANESE

23 May
A masterpiece in terms of cinematography and introduction of characters.
For nearly 5 minutes, we just know there is a troupe coming to town to perform a play. Is this story about the play, or anything to be derived from that, does it relate to the people of the town who are there for the first few minutes, we can hardly make out anything. Yasujiro Ozu the director of this film seems to be a master of intrigue. The beginning is so very intriguing that the first 15 minutes made me sit through the whole film. 
Also, the unrelated shots that are shot geometrically with perfect symmetry. Be it of the light house, or the rain drops through windows or close ups or long shots. I was amazed by a family drama story being told with such perfection of framing 
It’s a story of a father and so, the father knows the son, but the son does not know the relationship between the mother and this man and only at the end realises that the man who often comes to his house is his father. There is a confrontation scene that’s done well. But above all actors, I loved the acting of the stepmother (don’t remember her name) who determines to undo the conspiracy and unveil the relationship between her husband and a woman, he frequently visits. 
It’s a movie, thats simple in many ways but yet the grandeur is bought to it by the intrigue and the sublime cinematography that’s done beautifully. Through the journey of this film, I have understood that Yasujiro Ozu himself was one of the finest cinematographers ever. 
I am going with 3/5 for a movie that is good, but a 5/5 must be given for cinematography alone. This one must be watched for the way camera is handled. 

SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE (1989) – ENGLISH

11 May
A stimulating and thought provoking film about relationships.
This film can be considered as a pioneer in showing relationships up close and personal and how embarassing, revelations can be. There is an emphasis of sex between husband and wife and how much sexual satisfaction means in a relationship. This is an offending film for few may be, but most for many aficionados who watch films for sheer pleasure above all else this film cater many needs of a viewer.
I love the simplicity depicted and the audacity of the issue. It’s for sure a highly important issue for a relationship even though it’s not much discussed about with others. I suppose that if a husbands impotency if discussed, the society looks at the wife as a whore and the other way if a husband speaks of wife’s inability, he is considered as a predator by women. Having said that, love making is a prime humane exercise that as humans we got to do and it’s a kind of motivator for many many activities that we do.
There is a scene in which Ann (Andie Mcdowell) confesses that she was never satisfied by her husband   John (Peter Gallagher) while her husband watches the videotape. Such revelations are never thrown light and only a few films have such effrontery and this film is certainly is a pioneer in that direction.
There are lot of infidelity films by the great Woody Allen where infidelity is made to be cynical and comical, but here it’s liberating and that’s a take way. When you tell all you have in your heart, you are liberated and that’s a good thing to do.
Steven Soderbergh made this as his first feature film and has since rose to prominence where he has made commercial films on a grand scale too. But this one seemed to be his most personal best and I love him for sticking to that, and making this film an approachable work by it’s simplistic style with an intriguing title.
Also, it’s an independent film and that makes it more meaningful to the movie buffs and wannabes coz if there is a story to tell, it can be made without the embellishments and yet be made competently well. For this film and it’s many positives I derived this morning, I am going with 4/5.
This is not a film that can be watched with friends, but it has to be made out with spouse and this can be a wonderful experience.

ACE IN THE HOLE (1951) – ENGLISH

6 May
At times, we need lethargic and nonchalance to cope with life, Billy Wilder delivers that with this masterpiece.
Throwing caution to the wind and making a movie devoid of embellishments of humour, romance, music but just with drama is an intrepid attempt. This I believe was the reason for the initial failure of this movie called Ace In The Hole. It was deprived of many formulaic things that are a part of any movie, be it Wilder’s too. Yet, this one had only a line that was made into characters, they form scenes and these scenes of enormity give us a grand picture. 
This is about a man trapped in a hole, whose story is being manifested by a selfish, ambitious journalist Chuck Tatum played flawlessly by Kirk Douglas. This tiny story, surpasses many things and makes the little known place into a tourist spot. A fair is setup, sales are picked up at the store. And what more, the wife of that poor struck guy is enticing the macho journalist who has the knack of convincing people by his charm. 
I loved Kirk Douglas in “Bad and the Beautiful” and “Paths of Glory” my love for him grew with this film and the way he played Chuck Tatum, the enigmatic journalist who has a humane side, Alas! it came a bit too late in the film. Well, the variation of emotion or modulation of voice, he seems to be doing many things on screen all at once and that too without any effort. More than anything, he made Chuck to be a next door journalist and indeed an affable one. Yet, he is rigid on terms and work with his own mindset and his own ambition. 
Coming to other actors, they have ably supported Kirk in his endeavour to rescue that poor guy who was struck in the hole.  All have done their job exceedingly well, be it the silent mother who prays or this big media tycoons who are willing to pay any money to Chuck to buy the story. 
As a story, it’s utterly cynical of how media sensationalises any petty issue and makes it headlines to attract readers. It’s not news anymore, it’s business. That’s how we are governed now by media. I am more than happy to have seen such a satire, the other media satire I fondly remember is “Peepli Live”. 
The technical departments, for this movie have done their job well, and Billy at the helm has handled direction superbly. With each film, my love for Billy Wilder grows, and he is one of my favourite directors. With simple story lines, he made huge masterpieces that are etched in the memory forever. 
I loved this film, this is what you call master storytelling and Billy precisely did that, it’s 4/5 and I thank myself for making time to watch this cinema.

BOMBAY TALKIES (2013) – HINDI

5 May

A tribute that says, we have come a long way.

It was May 3, 1913 when Dadasaheb Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra was released. A 100 years later we have been through so much and come to a point where so much has been done and there is still so much to do.
Bombay Talkies is a kind of tribute that has only one connection, it is about people who are affected by films, by music, by their actors, by dance and by acting. Apart from this one fine line, there is nothing similar or connecting these stories and thats a great thing. 
We have four directors telling four stories, this kind of experiment was done long back in Hollywood, where Scorsese, Coppola and Woody Allen came together and made their NEW YORK STORIES and now in India, we have BOMBAY TALKIES. 
Now, let me begin with each story
KARAN JOHAR
We have the Indian Version of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and Karan stuck to the safe zone and made what he is good at making. I always had a problem with this guy and even in this, he cannot show us anything different apart from the obvious. He has never risen above the script as a director and sticks to his ground so very firmly that it may ache others who have watched his films. He seemed to be a complete misfit in the lot as others have surely done some brave films while he stuck to films that are typical for Indian diaspora. But here, we have a Karan who can also make a hard hitting film and showing us a very taboo issue in the face devoid of the very typical Karan Johar trappings. Simply, we have a different Karan whom I did not see before. In this segment, we have great acting from Rani and Saqib Salim as Avinash and that little girl who sung those Madan Mohan songs of “Lag Jaa Gale” and “Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh” so beautifully that I have fallen in love with this girl. 
As a story it’s hard hitting coz it’s rarer to such thing in the milieu that we have grown and Gay is still a taboo issue to our society and this is unveiled in a brave way by Karan and just kudos for his bravery and even the outcome. So that’s a story that has Hindi Film Music as an underlying theme.
DIBAKAR BANERJEE
His story, inspired from a Satyajit Ray short story (I read about this inspiration in other reviews after I watched this movie) of how an encounter with a superstar changes his day and brings back hope to a man.
Nawazuddin Siddique brings life to a mundane character. In fact Nawaz brings more than life to this character and makes him the hero in us, the hero we root for. A passion so exuberantly portrayed that we rarely find such infectious enthusiasm on the screen. Nawaz, I must say is infectious and I am having a fresh memory of the innuendos he did. From repeating famous lines from the old films in preparation to just a single letter word dialogue to feeding his turkey. He does every small nuance well and it’s a performance that’s flawless. There is a long shot amidst big buildings where he repeats those lines and I loved Dibakar’s vision of that. Dibakar avoided close ups and gave me a real life personality. And more, this has a surrealism too and there is a surprise package there. It’s an epiphany that I loved so much and wished it was longer and longer.
This is the most personal, relatable and my favourite story of the lot and am so happy for what Dibakar did. Also, a big thanks to Nawaz. This a short film with acting as it’s underlying theme.
ZOYA AKHTAR
I can say, that is either inspired from BILLY ELLIOT even if ZOYA AKHTAR denies so. This is a story of a kid, who wants to become a Bollywood dancer, that’s OK. But, this boy, wants to become Sheila of Sheila Ki Jawani. Ah, that’s kind of weird and there in lies the beauty of the film. It’s OK to chase a dream however weird it is as long as one pursues it. Also, it’s OK to hide a dream from those who are uninterested in one. And who said, dreams do not payback, they surely do and therein lies the essence of life. Living a dream is tough, we have to overcome too many obstacles and living a weird is next to impossible. But, when there is a will, there is way and that’s what this short film clearly shows. 
Naman Jain as 12 year old kid rises above and becomes a hero for his sister and I love the way he danced to Sheila Ki Jawani. Also, Katrina Kaif plays a cameo, how much ever one may debate about he acting prowess, she is indeed beautiful. This is a fine short film that reminded me of going for a dream is worth than living a mundane average life. Dance, is the inspiration for this and in a great way.
ANURAG KASHYAP
IF every one got some good actors or even superb actors, this film stars Amitabh Bachhan, the quintessential hero, the superstar himself. Anurag indeed has bagged the most important actor of the century for this. Yet, the protagonist is not Bachhan but a “Murabba” which is just tasted by Bachhan. It’s the story of a fan who comes all the way from Benaras to Bombay just to give Bachhan, a bit of his moms Murabba as per his fathers wishes. He struggles, waits, hopes and finally achieves. Vineet Kumar as Vijay seemed so very fluent on screen. This one has subtle humour and it’s in a way good coz that helps a lot to this nearly routine kind of fable. The climax comes with twist and indeed a moral that Murabba should never be kept in the bottle used for pickles. Wow, Anurag does have a sense of humour thats so very native to us. I can say this is Indian Humour at its best.
I liked the story, but though others were a bit better shown. The music too played a bigger role in this as there were couple of original numbers and they went well. This is the story of the magic of cinema and the magic of stars.
Now, I am going with 4/5 for one of the finest amalgamation or compilation I have seen of short films. 
Having said that this is not for the general cinema audience who goes for nothing but some masala and entertainment. It’s for the aficionados and connoisseurs  It’s not provocative either but yes evocative in a way. It’s not deeply affecting but it will move a few chords in heart for sure. Go watch it.