Archive | June, 2013

MONSIEUR VERDOUX (1947) – ENGLISH

29 Jun
When Chaplin walked, the world stood and took notice of his distinct walk, when he cried, the world smiled, now in this Film Chaplin spoke some serious stuff, and the world though rejected him first, later applauded him. 
Monsieur Verdoux is a black comedy film that has an undercurrent satire put in a drama. As the poster rightly says, Chaplin has changed from the well known Tramp to a serial killer, who kills married widows for business. Also, his name seems to have changed from Charlie Chaplin to Charles Chaplin. He made this film in Paris unlike many of his earlier american films.
This film is about how he immaculately murders and still escapes the ordeal for the better of the film is what makes it thrilling.
The dialogues are those that shall be remembered long after the film is over. The lines like 

“Despair is a narcotic. It lulls the mind into indifference”. 

“Wars, conflict – it’s all business. One murder makes a villain; millions, a hero. Numbers sanctify, my good fellow!”

Wow, such wonderful lines from a genius Charles Chaplin. This film is full of such surprises that I better not reveal here. It’s worth the time we watch. Just leave out the prejudices you have of Chaplin and see it as a film, then I can assure you more often than not you will be enjoying it.
The music without showing us anything, speaks so much. The one scene where Chaplin goes inside and the night becomes day and in the backdrop we have a loud suspenseful music scores that gives us a sense of what happened inside the room. Wow, this Chaplin was some kind of a man, and for this scene, he would have taken a cue from the great Hitchcock who does use such things. 
Now, the idea of the film itself was given by another genius called Orson Welles and what an idea this is, making murders as business, And how well it was interpreted by Chaplin should be taken a note. Now, of all the films we know of Chaplin, we can identify him to the Tramp so much that to make him a murderer in this seems to be a sin. Yet, Chaplin convinces us in the climax providing us not just with a reason of his act, but also a reason for the very existence of most. 
A 4/5 would be just apt I believe. Thanks Chaplin once again. I am happy to have seen the movie now.

HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940) – ENGLISH

29 Jun
A fine comedy that’s engaging and has some wonderful lines.
Though most of the dialogue revolves around the relationship or how this young man Walter Burns (Cary Grant) tries to woo his girlfriend Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) back, it makes a satire through the underlying journalism that’s so very well embedded in the film. Howard Hawks who directed this was a great director who has made some fine movies, even great movies and this is a great movie.
Interesting is the setup and it’s a relationship between an editor and journalist, and how they converse. Now this journalist Hildy is engaged to her fiancé Bruce Baldwin (ralph Bellamy) and editor Walter wants her back. To be right, Hildy is the ex-wife of Walter. 
Noteworthy is the audio graph of the film, I have seen through this film that right in 1940 people were having such an overlapping tone and the conversations were so free flowing. The sound was so realistic that at times I was amazed considering that in 1940 there was such technology put into use. Hats off for this, to the makers and to Hawks specifically who got every note of the dialogue pitch perfect. I am say that most of the dialogue was mellifluous.
Also admirable is the pace of the film, in 90 odd minutes, so much was happening in an editor’s office. And each time I heard them speak, I was mostly smiling. It brings smiles to us, and that’s what this very film did. Most of the time, I was happy and I love it coz it made me happy. 
The art direction, the cinematography just seem to be complementing the vision of the director, the expression and dialogue of actor so well that I was struck to it in admiration. I so very wish that we make more such movies in Hollywood than some crap action and comedy pieces. If today’s comedy is either sleazy or slapstick, this genre was called screwball comedy because a few balls of the audience were screwed by the laughter it brought out. It did not make me laugh out loud though but made so very happy. 
Thanks to Hawks for taking this up and making a fine film from a wonderful premise. The acting by each one is apt, in-fact the enunciation, the body language, the expression all are in sync with what is needed for the scene. And that’s the hallmark of great director, who can extract some great performances. Hawks certainly did extract some memorable performances. I am going with 4/5 for this wonderful fine gem. 

GHANCHAKKAR (2013) – HINDI

29 Jun
A wonderful starter had a sour dessert that made the whole dinner bad. 
It had a wonderful premise and in fact a terrific robbery scene that I must acknowledge as a great one with the use of those really funny and original props. Come on, we have a mask of Utpal Dutt, it can’t be funnier than that. But after the first half, the director seemed to have lost it all. The way first half ends and the whole movie ends are completely radical and irrational to say the least. The writes seems to have lost all ideas in the deliberation to make it a really engaging film. 
All the good ideas were plotted so early that the ones that come in the later part of the film seemed very dull and indeed boring. You cannot have ridiculous things happen and repeat them time and over again just to make it look funny. When you overdo something, it becomes unlikable more often than not and that’s what happens even to few delicious dinner table dialogues and those original costumes of Vidya Balan.
About the casting, I was happy with Rajesh Sharma (Pandit) and Namit Das (Idris) and even Emraan Hashmi (Sanjay) managed to pull off a good deal but it was Vidya Balan (Neetu) who was completely miscast. She defied my logic of going to a movie for her by selecting a very low-key role and her Punjabi accent seemed so fake. Utterly disappointed by Vidya Balan and I will be cautious next time in watching her movie. 
The cinematography was good and even the background music. But editing undid all the good work by others, this movie seemed too long and too repetitive, are those too many dinner scenes and too many references to the fashion magazines necessary? I really doubt.  Also, the art direction was commendable as the whole apartment was setup very realistically and even the locales were real. 
Yet, good things turn bad when they are overdone. This film is an example of a good premise written so very lazily and deliberated into a film that it makes us run away from it after a while. Except for 45 minutes, all remaining time is lost and can never be bought back. Only because I have my own discipline of reviewing each film I watch, I am posting it. I may save 3 hours of someone’s valuable time too by sharing a bad review. A 1/5 for this, nothing more. 

GUNDAMMA KATHA (1962) – TELUGU

27 Jun
A gem of a film thats worth to be in treasure forever
Indeed its a classic, and more so its a cult family film that has enhanced the quality of family films in telugu. yet, no other film has yet surmounted or toppled this in the family film genre. even 50 years later this film continues to stand out for various reasons. the prime most being the subject in itself. and next being the cast and their performances.
NTR, ANR & SVR come together while Suryakantam, Savitri and Jamuna complement the men superbly. The fluidity with which Suryakantam acts and what she depicts is one that stands out forever in telugu films. If there is a female artist whom I miss the most then its Suryakantam. coz after her there were replicas of little magnitude but none was able to fill in the shoes of Suryakantam and I dare say even 100 years later no one shall be able to. The film itself is titled after GUNDAMMA who is played by none other than Suryakantam.
NTR and ANR were big stars by the time this film released and they owe a lot to their earlier success, and this film made them even bigger. How, they were made greater by this film is by addressing a few social issues. Be it dowry, female oppression or even making a woman realise the values of living. More so, ANR was a given a little weight-age in character over NTR. 
Not to forget the side characters of Harinath, Rajanala, Ramana Reddy and a host of others. Acting wise, they have done an exceptional job. The credit to the whole film though must be given to the director Kamalakara Kameswara Rao who extracted such subtle performances from the stalwarts. 
A big thanks to the producers Nagireddi and Chakrapani who had great taste in making films on varied subjects and make really good engaging films. They have made some exceptional films and this stands out as one their great projects. Also noteworthy is the cinematography by Marcus Bartley.
A 4/5 for one of the finest films made in Telugu, never got bored of it till date. 

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY (2013) – ENGLISH

24 Jun
To live is the rarest thing of all, most people exist that is all.
Some friendships start strangely and get stronger as time goes by thats the case of Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan. They both together make a difference and prove again that school drop outs need not worry, there is a great life ahead only if you live. Now, this is a PIXAR film as many other PIXAR films this was made with a bottom line. The bottom line is even though you give your best, work the hardest, you may still fail and heroes are those who cope with failure. Mike Wozawski the monster was supposed to be scary and after trying too hard, he turns out to be still funny. Yet, he does so many things that makes him a fine monster. 
Now, PIXAR’s earlier two films CARS 2 and BRAVE were not seen by me coz I did not like the trailer. The last PIXAR film I saw was UP and I was so happy till then. Monsters University is not in the league of UP or the earlier PIXAR films, yet is so nice and happening. The last 15 minutes is the actual PIXAR quality while the remaining is just 85 minutes is a comforting animated film. 
The last 15 minutes has lines like “You are not scary, you are fearless” or “Don’t try to be a Sullivan, just try to be you” are the ones that elevate this to a PIXAR level. 
The animation quality is top notch but this need not necessarily be a 3D as it did not justify the technology much. The departments of art, cinematography, animation design have done an exceptional job and indeed, the detailing has much to appreciate here.
This is the first feature of Don Scanlon and he has done a pretty good job in making Mike a hero. Look at the climax escapade of Mike and James and I was saying WOW coz that’s the kind of thing we go to see in a PIXAR movie. I just loved that and the built up to that was commendable.
Not that this is a prequel to the mighty awesome and the original film called MONSTER’s INC, it takes a few characters from that film and creates some new characters. Of all these, new characters I was impressed by the design and the charisma of Dean Hardscrabble. Wow, she’s scary and the same time  humane. There was a fine balance in this character specifically and I real liked that.
John Goodman as James Sullivan is 61 and Billy Crystal as Mike is 65 today. They could not have played kids and students in any of the regular films but this being and animated one, they have done more than impressive job. I am going with 3/5 for a good animated film. But only a 3 coz it’s from PIXAR and we expect much more each time when it’s PIXAR.
Also, please watch it in theatre’s coz there is a wonderful short film called The Blue Umbrella before this film. That shows how love can be made amid chaos and even against everything. Simply put, love being made between Blue Umbrella and Red Umbrella.

LOVE IN INDIA (2009) – BENGALI

18 Jun
Love In India is one of the boldest and outrageous films that explicitly deals with love making and the hypocrisy our country called India has with respect to lovemaking. I am not sure yet, if the language is Bengali or can I have English, but since most parts were in Bengali, so put that. 
It is a documentary film that has people themselves as characters and they share their opinions and experiences . Q is one of the boldest directors to have took up a subject that most Indians are not comforted to and then goes back ages to surface where did it all began and how is love being celebrated now. Religious abuses to Gods to celebration of women and the creation of 64 arts, this has so much more than mere love making. 
With this film, I rank Q as a quintessential director who is very much needed to show things as they are and not as they were meant to be or not how they ought to be. A theatre owner spills out hypocrisy of indian audience, a girlfriend explains why others don’t like love being made public,  a wife and husband confess her perspective on lovemaking, a divorced woman speaks out, an artist recalls his fantasy and a philosopher comes up with how women becomes man for some few days. Now, what more do I have to learn about the root of existence. It’s like a much needed lesson to the youth of the nation and more so to the adamant elders who just do not see things as they and are completely hypocritical. 
This film is symbolic in may ways and it questions a lot many things that even I myself was not aware of. Qaushiq Mukhergee has rightly named himself as Q coz that means a question and he questions the way of life in india, he questions the mindset. Having said that, it does not preach or say there is a better way to do or live than what we are today, it only feels appalled at the system and the culture we have subscribed and how it has derided and where has it led us to. 
It’s commendable in many ways, it demystifies the mystic and the myth and surfaces a whole new world, a whole new India rather most of us are unaware of. It’s so very tempting for me to put them all across as most reviewer do and just help you encapsulate the essence. But I would not do that coz I am just putting what I liked about this and not putting across what this really is about. I encourage everyone who has read this blogpost to have a go at this wonderful documentary that speaks so much more in so less time. 
It’s tough to rate such films coz I fall for them and I don’t know how shall I deconstruct and analyse and put the rating across. From, a 5/5 I subtract 1 and make it 4/5 just for the production values. Yet, it’s shot by handy cam and that’s as it is a wonderful job done by Q and my salute for the brave man. 

BLACK SWAN (2010) – ENGLISH

4 Jun
An engrossing tale of an artist’s pain, in pursuit of passion.
Darren Aronofosky is a filmmaker whose films are a real pain to watch. One cannot watch films like Requiem for a Dream or Wrestler or even this film more than once. Even if they do, they must endure a lot of pain and it’s a great challenge to be seeing these movies again. If the performer goes through pain, Darren makes it so visible and physical that it’s tough for the audience to sit through that. And that’s why I respect Darren Aronofosky more than many contemporary directors. One must have a gut to show the pain as it is being shown, also must have the balance not to make it satirical coz it’s genuine pain. Darren Aronofosky achieved that in his endeavours thus far and hope so he does that in future.
See my review of WRESTLER HERE 
So that was my appreciation of Darren Aronofosky and his work, now let me talk specifically about this film that’s about a Ballad Dancer performer. BLACK SWAN is wicked twin of the WHITE SWAN in the Ballad of SWAN LAKE of the 18th century and the tradition has been continuing since. 
Now, over and above the form of art, it’s the way the art is pursued with enormous passion. It’s the passion of an artist and when one is too very engrossed in art, he may have delusions of grandeur and that’s what happiness with Nina (Natalie Portman). She starts to see her other side, as she tries to transform herself to a Black Swan and the transformation is in itself so very insightful. There can be symbolism drawn between the the state of mind of the artist and so many things that we have learnt thus far. Be it a Fyodor Doestovosky’s THE DOUBLE or Roman Polanski’s ROSEMARY’s BABY or TENANT or David Cronenberg’s THE FLY. It’s the psyche that delves into delusions and makes her physically tiring and even gruesome as there is blood coming out.That’s a really interesting take as she keeps seeing herself in such forms as they as she is too passionate about the transformation. 
Coming to performances, Natalie Portman as Nina, the white swan and the black swan has given a performance of her lifetime and she certainly deserved to win so many accolades. Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis have complemented Nina well and have given us something that’s arty and yet so real.
The best part, apart from the subject, the direction, the acting of Portman is the background music by CLint Mansell. It haunts us even after the film is done log ago, though it doesn’t have a great longevity as Clint Mansell’s other work, Requiem For a Dream, it surely has an impact that can be felt for sometime even after the film.
I am going with 4/5 for a movie that resonates the pain of an artist, rather a passionate artist and what one has to go through to accomplish their dream.