Saturday, 31 December 2011

Vesnicko ma Strediskova - My Sweet little Village

1985 by Jiri Menzel  - Czech movie

There are many movies on a little village. But this one definitely looks special.

As usual, it is a small village where every one knows every one. But this is made more interesting by one character, Pavek, the village idiot who is mentally in a backward state. Pavek is very lovable and everyone in the village has some affection for him, there are ones who make fun of him too.

It is so nice how the movie gets going with Pavek and the ones around him. To add to it, there is an adultery case around, there is a young boy who is after his sister's teacher, the nature loving doctor and his car and his crazy patient and so on. It is simple but irressistable humour that follows.

There are also couple of characters who do not have any dialogue at all, like the doctors nurse, but do impress us with the very few scenes they have. Incredible it is.

Nothing happens in a big way, through out the movie, but the movie manages to get our full attention. I thought it was brilliant, how the director managed this, with simple characters in a simple village. It could easily have been called My simple funny village.

For sure, this is a director's movie. 

Friday, 30 December 2011

Y Tu Mama Tambien - And your mum too

2001 by Alfonso Cuaron - Spanish movie from Mexico

Dont know what to say. Just feel that I would not have seen one of the best Mexican movies, if I had missed this one.

Two young intimate friends, their girl friends have gone to Italy, are really into seeking all pleasures of life and they really look like great friends. They are inspired by the beauty of an older woman and invites her for a beach trip. Soon they set on a trip, which starts of as an ultimate pleasure trip, but a woman in between two boys is enough to create heavy cracks in between the friends.

It is difficult to categorise this movie in anyways.
It could be about young friends
It could be about a woman who decides to pay back to her cheating husband
It could be a triangular love
It could be about desire and passion for sex
It could be about how intimate friendship is actually hollow and could break any moment
It could be a road movie
It could be just about pleasure and sex
Well, there is no need to categorise this movie at all, it can be enjoyed immensely as long as we keep an open mind to all what we see.

Yes, the very first scene starts with sex and there after there are so much explicit scenes and moments which might even shock some aristocratic cinema viewer. Scenes of the friends masturbating together is one such. But let me tell you, this movie is genuine to the hilt. It follows the life of two boys who are hardly teenages anymore in a realistic way. I could easily identify with many of their talks and thoughts. And this made me enjoy this movie really brilliantly. In fact, it turned out to be really really funny. And the ending, not funny, very realistic was classic.

One of the best things for me was that it really takes on more than a few moments which every man would have fantasized at a young age. That is one reason why I found it very sincere. And the performances of the three major players are just the cherry on top, especially Maribel Verdu.

A truly extra ordinary movie, which is bold and beautiful.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Moskva Slezam ne verit - Moscow does not believe in tears

1980 by Vladimir Menshov - Russian movie from erstwhile Soviet Union

From all what I have seen, I am very impressed by Russian movies. But it is really impossible to find good copies, especially with good subtitles. I had waited long to find a copy of this movie with good English subtitles, but the wait was worth it.

Three young women in Moscow in the 50's. Their dreams and aspirations on love and life and how it really works in their life as reach their middle ages in the 70's.

In no ways can I compare this movie to Le Meglio Gioventu. But in some ways this movie did give some feelings that I get when I watch Le Meglio Gioventu. That feeling of watching some characters, whom we like, growing up in life and how their life changes with years, is really special. As young people, there are different aspirations and dreams for everybody, but it does not work exactly the same way to all. To some it works, to some it is completely different.

Well, this is a beautiful movie of what life did for some friends. Their youthful dreams is quite detailed and it is really nice to look at them wondering and planning for their future. Once they are older, the script is more focussed on one of them, but still gives us enough idea about the others. And it is simply wonderful to look at their life at a later stage.

A brilliant movie in any case. Have a lot of charming moments, both in the first and last half, and offers a lot of  simple humour too. I really felt like watching a French movie, in fact. Just that, I do not understand any Russian culture, which would have helped me enjoy it even better. Having said that, I am sure I will watch this movie many more times. A real master piece on love and life.

If one loves life, one should watch this movie. A Classic on love and life. 

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Ensemble, C'est tout - Together, that's it

2007 by Claude Berri - French movie

This movie is actually known in the west as Hunting and Gathering. After watching the movie, I think it is not a fair title. Anyways, this is a Claude Berri movie, the director of one of my favourite movie - Jean de Florette, and I was very excited and I was really happy.

Camille, Phillibert and Franck, three youngsters, loners, living in the same apartment building meets and forms a friendship. Franck is very fond of his old grand mother.

This is quite different from the other Claude Berri movies I have seen. Actually it is a simple movie of three loners meeting and sharing. But what makes this movie special and make it extremely special is the grand mother. In fact the movie even begins with the grand mother, before it gets into the life of the youngsters. And the way the three treat the grand mother is really really special, something which is more like a message to the youngsters. I really believe Claude Berri wants youth to look at his three loners as models in treating old.  May be he didnt mean it at all, but whatever he has managed to make a simple and touching movie on love.

The three characters are really wonderful, especially Phillibert. He is completely different from typical young males that we come across in movies. And wonderfully played too. Audrey Tautou as Camille is brilliant as always. Sure there is no need to say how she performed. Does she ever make a bad performance? I dont think so. I simply wish, she put in some weight to cover her skeleton frame.

A wonderful cinema, it was. 

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Belle Epoque

1992 by Fernando Trueba - Spanish movie

Belle Epoque actually refers to an era in French history. This era coincides with the pre Franco era in Spain as well. Still I am not really convinced about the title for this, simple but beautiful comedy on love.

Fernando runs out of his civil war duties and meets Manolo. He then really sets out on an exploration tour of the 4 beautiful daughters of Manolo.

I am not sure if the world exploration is right or insulting. But that is exactly what happens, nearly. Manolo has a tryst with each and every daughter of Manolo and finally marries one. Simply put, this is a really wonderful comedy on sex and love. At the same time, the background is full of Spanish civil war.

It is quite an easy watch of a young man being seduced by four beautiful ladies, all sisters. May I say that it is actually a classic. I enjoyed it immensely that I would not mind watching it once again right away. There are funny moments, but there are also many moments which any man will easily identify with. I bet any man would have fantasised at least one scene in this movie, sometime in his life.

The young man and all the four daughters were incredibly charming too. The youngest of the daughters is one Penelope Cruz, who really looked very very young.

A very charming and lovable movie indeed. 

Don 2

2011 by Farhan Akhtar - Hindi movie from Bollywood

A lot of facts related to this movie, are well enough to keep me far away from the theatre. Add to it the fact that, it is in 3D. Still I ended up watching it, only because of some reviews, all of which described it as sleak, stylish, bla bla bla...

Farhan Akhtar is yet another person from Bollywood who would love to make Hollywood style movies, which was proved right away with his debut film, Dil Chahta Hai. That one was exactly like a Hollywood Romantic comedy, but it was really looking fresh, for a Hindi movie. Now Don 2, is only another attempt to make a Hollywood style movie, by Bollywood.

Watch all those famous movies from Hollywood, including the Oceans 11/12/13, Matrix's, Italian job and many others including the Mission Impossible's and various other action ones. Sure, one cannot watch all this again before watching Don 2. But if you remember anything from all these movies and then watch Don 2, you will really understand what I am saying.

I could not find anything original in this movie. Sure it looks sleek and stylish by Indian standards. But for the subject matter and rest, it is just like watching another Hollywood movie with Indian actors, mostly and occasional Hindi and Indian English, and of course, some songs.

If this trend is continued by Bollywood, I mean trying to make Indian movies which looks exactly like Hollywood, soon there will be only a couple of differentiating factors between Bollywood and Hollywood, ie for the occasional use of Hindi and a few songs in Bollywood movies.

I also dont understand why this need to make all these movies in 3D??? It is a real suffering, for hardly noticeable benefits. 

Monday, 26 December 2011

Oru Marubhoomi Kadha

2011 by Priyadarshan - Malayalam movie

What do I say. It is difficult for me to think that Priyadarshan is unable to make a really new Malayalam cinema.

His latest Malayalam cinema is a result of thousands of  requests being made by fans and cinema friends, asking for a good comedy movie in Malayalam. He had announced many times he would not make another Malayalam comedy. But he had to break that promise. I just wish, he had taken some time and effort to bring out a real new cinema.

Instead, Priyan has taken bits and bits from many of his previous movies and from even other South Indian movies. All together it looks like a hotch spotch of past movies. Sure, there are some laughs here and there, but at the end of it I only felt sorry for Priyan and his team.

Mohanlal would be doing a great favour to cinema, if he will stop acting in love scenes and song sequences depicting love. He will also do a great favour to himself and his family, if he can do something to lose his weight. With his present physique, he should only play father or grand father roles or judges or retired police officers or something like that.

It is not a secret that vast majority of our heroines have horrible body shapes. They will do a favour to themselves if they would not appear in front of the camera wearing western dresses which clearly announce how horrible of a body (devoid of any curves at the back) they have. The person in point here is Bhavana.

One good point is the re assertion of the fact that Mukesh and Mohanlal make a great pair. They still have it in them to bring brilliant comic scenes. Just that, they need to take care of their physique and the roles that are made for them. 

Vellarippraavinte Changaathi

2011 by Akku Akbar - Malayalam movie

I did not expect anything great from this movie because of the director. He showed promise with his Veruthe Oru Bharya (which I think was the first time a Malayalam movie took note of the wife's point albeit the end being routine anti women stuff) and then a terrible movie in Kanaa Kanmany. VC  also began exactly how an average Malayalam movie would, but then it looked completely different.

The story itself was quite different from routine. In fact there are three stories in one. And it definitely gave a great opportunity for Akku Akbar to make a classic but.....

Sometimes, the last bit of effort or care or that last bit of money spend would make a big difference. Watching VC, that was what I missed. A little bit more care on the script to avoid certain avoidable glitches and a bit more money to enhance the production qualities would have made a big difference in this movie. For, its story is really good and had all ingredients to make a brilliant drama. In fact, it has been long since there has been a story with a classical touch in Malayalam. All what was required was that final attention to details and a good producer. That is what I felt.

The climax could have been more better, actually the climax could have been like in a Shakespearean tragedy or even a dramatical end offering that last bit of heart felt tears of happiness. Either ways, if the script and the director had put in a bit more thought and effort, it would have been really different and better. Add to it the lack of production values, which is evident through out this movie. What a pity!

I also felt, had the movie used new faces for the 70's movie (the movie within this movie), VC would have shone even better. That would have been a master stroke which, together with the above points, would have offered a real classic to Malayalam cinema, which would have made Kerala proud.

The movie as such, is still better than 98% of modern Malayalam cinema.  I really wish, this movie will not be a failure at the box office. If at all it wins, it might inspire many other movie makers, hopefully. 


2011 by Suseenthiran - Tamil movie

A director give us movies like Naan Mahaan Allai and Vennila Kabadi kkuzhu and a master piece like Azhagar Saamiyin Kuthirai. When the same director is making a real entertainer, you would expect him to better or at least match Naan Mahaan Allai. But..

Rajapattai ends up as a typical Tamil entertainer which is just meant to give some fun, songs and action. An out and out masala movie for the masses.

Just because of the director, we wish, at least it could have been a different fare, but unfortunately it isn't. What a pity.

The only saving grace of this movie is the show by Vikram. Whatever role he may be doing, Vikram is cent percent sincere to it, that is quite obvious. He just performs for the masses here. I can understand that Vikram wanted a pure entertainer after Daivathirumakal, but at least he could have planned on bettering his best entertainer to date, Dhool. Unfortunately it is nowhere near Dhool or even Saami or Dhil. Just an ordinary No brainer. 

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Venicile Vyaapari

2011 by Shafi

Two Tamil movies which recreated 80's very well were huge hits in Kerala. I was sure then that Malayalam would follow suite. Well here it is but what a shame.

I dont even understand why this movie had to be set in the 80's at all. Even if at was in the end of 90's there would not have been any difference. Anyways, it ends as a very ordinary fare.

To be frank, the story looked quite different from routine Malayalam entertainers, at least during some parts in the first half. But later, it follows the same pattern as many other movies and is really ordinary.

I am afraid, Mammootty needs to stop accepting roles where he plays a normal hero who is around 30 or 40's. His age is not clear in this movie, but from the settings he is definitely playing somebody around 30 - 40 and he is really too old to play this. Real pity actually.

Finally I cannot stop thinking whether this movie would have chosen the 80's period, if not for the success of certain Tamil movies. 

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Hable con Ella - Talk to her

2002 by Pedro Almodovar- Spanish movie

Yet another drama from Pedro Almodovar. But he deserves a lot of praise to always pick up a theme which has something unique or wild and build a drama around it. I also like it how he finds time and space to criticize church one way or other in between.

An odd friendship between two men, made possible by  the fact that they are both looking after a woman in coma.

The above plot itself actually would make a great classic with a brilliant director. Almodovar likes drama and he brings in a shocking twist in between, which is really wild and unimaginable, but that lets the story take a very different route towards the end. I would not say I really appreciated that twist, but as a drama it does help Almodovar to make out another human drama on life, love and sex.

The two men and their women, would definitely force us to like them, but that twist is quite shocking. For the way he build up those characters, it was more than shocking and unimaginable though. Still, we do not lose interest in the movie and we carry on with it. And the end is typical of Almodovar too.

At the end of it, I think only Almodovar could get away with this kind of movie. His viewers seems to know, you can expect wierd and wild things from him and he does not disappoint.

Friday, 23 December 2011

La Teta i la Iluna - The tits and the moon

1994 by Bigas Luna - Spanish movie

I have this deep admiration for Catalunia, which is because of my love for FC Barcelona. So here is a movie which is from this region in Spain. And what a wonderful piece of entertainer it was.

A child, when he is deprived of mother's milk because of a newborn brother, wishes to have a woman for himself who can breast feed him. An older friend of his also is in love with the same woman.

This movie cannot be called a real children's movie or fantasy or surrealistic or anything like that. This is a realistic movie on pre adolescent fantasy, a kind of magical movie. It is brilliant how realistic moments are interspersed with absolutely surrealistic and fantasical thoughts.

It is incredible how women's breast is depicted in this movie. Breast is an obsession for our young hero, only because of his desire to drink tasty breast milk. And the way the story is told, with lots of images of breast but never going into any kind of eroticism is really nice. It is a simple and charming way of looking at pre adolescent thoughts on female body.

Simply put this movie is like an ode to female breasts. This may not be a classic, but it is a beautiful movie with lots of charm. 

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Dead Ringers

1988 by David Cronenberg - English movie

Some movies are successful as a cinema, but they might not be easy to watch.

The story of two twin doctors, who fall for the same woman and ultimately leading to..

Well, that is it. Within the first 15 minutes, I was sure what the end would be. But still this is quite a movie as one exploring a complex relationship, which lingers between brotherly love, sex, possession and fear of lose and what not.

But the movie turns out like a horror movie, a weird thriller, which is really dark and psychic. It was like as if we have watched a movie which glorifies the life of two bloody criminals. Yes, it is a ridiculously difficult watch which might even make the viewer sick by the end of it.

Having said that, the movie is still brilliant for its performances. And anyone with a sick or stone heart might even appreciate this as a classic.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Balada Triste de Trompeta - Sad Trumpet Ballad

2010 by Alex de la Iglesia - Spanish movie

This movie is more famous as the Last Circus. But it is one of those movie, after which one feels confused as to say if it was terrible, allright or excellent.

During Spanish civil war in 1937, a circus clown is forced into the war. Javier the son of the clown would like to be a clown, a sad clown as he never saw happiness in life. In 1973, towards the end of Franco's regime, he starts working with a circus company and falls in love with Natalia, who is brutally controlled by her husband, a happy clown, Sergio. Soon it turns out into a fight for Natalia, between the two clowns and Javier turns out brutal, just like Sergio.

This is quite a fantasical and wild movie. There are moments when it feels like a Fellini classic and moments when it is looking very amateurish. But we can bear all that and just wait for the story to unfold. But it is the final which was the worst let down for me. That final scenes can only be matched by the most stupid Holly/Bollywood action movies and is a terrible disappointment. I still dont have any clue, why the three had to run up towards the cross.

I also was quite disappointed by the performances, especially of the actress who played Natalia. I am not sure if her dramatic overplay was intentional by the director, just to accentuate the fantasical wild nature of the movie. Whatever..

There are certain aspects which was good about this movie, but mostly I was not happy. 

Monday, 19 December 2011

La Naissence des Pieuvres - The birth of the Octopuses

2007 by Celine Sciamma - French movie

What makes French cinema so unique is that they dare to go into themes, which movies from elsewhere might not even think about. I am not saying this theme was not taken up by any other movie makers. It is just that when the French do it, they are so bold and they go much deeper into it. La Naissence des Pieuvres, which is known as Water Lillies, rather than for the literal French translation, is quite an unique and different movie.

It is about 3 teenage girls who are just experiencing the calls of sexual attractions in them.

In one way this is a real teenage movie (nothing like the Hollywood ones, this is quite serious). We hardly see any adult in this movie, except for a couple of shots. It is all happening in the teenage world. Three girls and their lives around the swimming pool, where two of them practice Synchronised swimming, makes the movie. There is a teenage swimmer as well, making it like a quadrilateral love.

The eagerness for the first kiss and sex, and all the anxiety and excitement around it is very well told. And the relationship between two of these girls is really complex and is out for us to interpret in anyways. I guess, one girl really loves the other and would like to make it physical, but for the other it is all some kind of game where the silly physical things between them are just like in a rehearsal and she is really looking forwards to her first sex with a man. Or she is not sure at all about what she wants in sexuality, if she is lesbian or heterosexual.

It is also very good how these girls are connected to Synchronised swimming. Just like one of those beautiful scenes depict, this kind of sport looks so pleasing from the gallerry, but it requires an incredible amount of hardwork, under the water. The director seems to be just trying to tell us how difficult it is for women, young girls, to appear pretty when they are under so much pressure.

A very interesting film, with excellent performances by the teenage actors. Considering it is a first film, it is pretty good work from the director too. 

Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol

2011 by Brad Bird - English movie from Hollywood

I have never liked the previous MI's. So normally I would never be watching this one. But my wife is a fan of Tom Cruise and she cannot miss his movie. And I have to watch it.

I have to say, I suffered. Because this is just another version of America saves the world, nothing else. A movie without any soul, just action. But even in the action, we might feel overwhelmed by the use of technology that, honestly, I felt it was more like a latest James Bond movie, without some of the Bond stuff's.

A good majority of the scenes are definitely from the studio and even the outdoors are not really convincing. They say Mumbai and show Hyderabad, I think so I could be wrong. They are in India, but the car number plates have unIndian numbers and many many more stupid things.

Tom Cruise look really old for this kind of action, if I may say. Simon Pegg is a saving grace though.

I couldn't believe that many youngsters in the theatre were screaming, that's fucking geat man, not once but so many times!!!!!!!

Saturday, 17 December 2011


2011 by Imtiaz Ali - Hindi movie from Bollywood

Going through media, almost all seemed to have very good impressions of this movie was the only reason I decided to see it. Yes, this inspite of having A R Rahman's music. But..

Understanding Hindi is not easy for me. If it is quite, it is allright I can understand 99%. But as is common now, in Kerala theatres are the venue for the youth to speak out loud their fantasies and to shout on mobile phones (latter not just youth, almost everybody). So frankly, it was not very quite and I might have missed a lot of dialogues. Simply put, I did not understand most of this movie. But even if I had managed to understand the full dialogues, I am not sure if I would have liked it. I have seen more than a few foreign language movies, without any subtitles, and was still able to appreciate the cinema behind few of them.

Rockstar simply speaking is not fluent. It looks like a collage of different scenes taken from the love life of a rockstar. Some could say that it is fast paced, with brilliant editing, and it requires an amount of intelligence from the audience to understand it and so on. I am afraid, I dont think so. There are many things happening in the screen, which is typical of Bollywood and Indian cinema, which are just there to make sure the audience have it simple. So.

Above all, I failed to understand the love between the man and the woman and also why this man behaves like a Rebel.

I can only feel that, this movie might be representing the heights of Bollywood trying to ape the west. There are so many so many things, from the story to the behaviour patterns of the characters, which are just not Indian and which are just an attempt to ape Hollywood.

A R Rahman's music was the only saving grace. But even as an A R Rahman fan, I wish to listen a new album from AR Rahman, which can better his early Tamil works. 

Friday, 16 December 2011

Paris, Texas

1984 by Wim Wenders - English movie from America

I feel lucky to have seen this movie. I never heard about it before. But within a few minutes I knew I was watching one of the best American movies I have ever seen.

A man wandering in the desert is located and brought back to his brother's home. The brother and his wife are acting as parents for the wanderer's boy for the last 4 years, who is now past 7. The man painstakingly tries to bond with his child and slowly the past and the future comes clear.

This movie deserves to be among the best piece of art from American cinema. It is purely a piece of art in cinema. There is a kind of curiosity the movie holds, almost until the end, which makes it as engaging as a thriller. As we meet Travis and his brother, we are simply curious why Travis is so quite, why he doesn't speak and will he speak at all (for the first 20 - 30 minutes the central character doesnt utter a single word!!!). And then as he starts speaking we feel curious about what had happened to him and his wife and we are also worried will he manage to convince his boy as a father and finally we wish for him to find his wife and so on. Whatever, till the very final shot, this movie keeps our heart and mind engaged.

Brilliant scenes follow one after the other in this wonderful tale of a man who turned his back to everything dear to him, but wants to face life back after 4 years. And there are really heart touching scenes as well, but told in a sublime way without any tear jerkers.

Brilliant performance by Harry Dean Stanton as Travis and the child actor was also really brilliant.

The background score, which is almost made only of Guitar (it seems) is incredibly brilliant.

Finally, it is incredible to know that such a movie, which has a real American soul, is directed by a German.

A true master piece. 

Thursday, 15 December 2011

La Mala Education - Bad Education

2004 by Pedro Almodovar - Spanish movie

I didnt really read the synopsis, when I saw that this was an Almodovar film. May be I should have.

A child who was sexually abused in his religious school, comes back to the priest for revenge, quite a different kind of revenge.

First of all, Pedro Almodovar is more than brave to make a movie on this theme. And his style is quite there everywhere... But...

I did not enjoy watching this movie at all. I am not into homo sexuality or bisexuality, I am not against it though. But it is very difficult for me to watch through a movie were all the relations on screen always happens between two men.  And there are expilcit scenes of men in love too. Not even a single major female character is there, would suffice my point.

For sure the movie is very sincere to its theme, just that it is a bit more melo dramatic or exaggerated than a normal Almodovar movie.

It is of course not a bad movie, but I could not enjoy it. 

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Lucia Y el sexo - Sex and Lucia

2001 by Julio Medem - Spanish movie

If I was watching this movie during my teenage days, I would have immediately interpreted this as a porn film and would have just fast forwarded the whole movie only to watch any skin show. If I was watching this movie sometime later, I would have stopped watching it after 30 minutes and then fast forwarded it only to watch any skin show. Lucky that this one came across me only now. What a movie. My CD friend at first, didn't present this one to me as he thought it was a porn film. Then another friend of his hired it, as a porn film, and gave it back with lots of abuse. That is when he told me that may be there is a movie that I will like.

Sure, the title can mis lead anyone. And the beginning first 30 minutes, I really thought, oh this looks like a pretentious movie, by some director who wants to look artistic. To be frank, I had to force myselves to continue watching and slowly, but not clearly the movie got into me. I said not clearly because, the movie has a very intelligent and brilliant script, and it requires some serious rational thinking to make out what exactly is happening. By the end, I almost knew what all it was, but I watched the last 70 or 80 minutes once again today. And I could not help giving an applause at the end of it.

This movie has a very complex looking plot. Well, the basic story line if given to a typical Hollywood/Bollywood writer, would have made a run of the mill romantic, triangular love story (no, actually there is two men and 4 women) with some family saga and suspense and what not. But Julio Medem has scripted out a master peice from a complex subject. The script is bloody bloody brilliant. I would say this is the height of script writing at its best, with the intention of expecting a kind of intelligent involvement from the viewer. A second viewing would be must for an ordinary man like me. But the best part about this is that, even an ordinary man will know by the end of his first watch that the movie deserves a second view to really appreciate it.

And please my readers (if there's any), this is not a porn film. There is heart felt romance, there is despair, lust, beautiful love making scenes, wild sex, incredible juxtaposition of nature and life, suspense and above all real cinematic brilliance. There is everything except action and porn in this film. The settings of the movie, so brilliantly and beautifully captured by a truly brilliant cameraman, make this quite an unique film. Add to it a very seductive back ground score with some truly beautiful acting, this movies gave me one of the best cinematic experiences in recent times

I can only term this movie as a master piece. The one factor that does not do justice to it, is may be its title. 

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Sorcerer and the White Snake

2011 by Ching Siu-Tung Ching - Mandarin movie from China.

I am not a fan of these kind of ultra fantasy movies but one wrong review pushed me to get this dvd. And it turned out to be exactly that kind of a movie that I didnt want to watch.

A movie on the Chinese myth of a snake woman who falls in love with a human. There is a sorcerer who is trying to capture demons and is after the snake woman.

When there is too much of CG, than important cinematic aspects, it is quite difficult to watch a movie. I doubt, if this movie was made trying to reach the levels attained by Avatar. May be.

Whatever, I didnt like it, even if there are some amazing CG work, not consistent though. However, an element of love is quite good. 

Monday, 12 December 2011

The Ides of March

2011 by George Clooney - English movie from Hollywood

I like George Clooney a lot, even if he always looks like George Clooney on screen, irrespective of his character. He is a brilliant actor, but his macho charm is too much that I always tend to see him on the screen rather than the character. And when he is seriously involved in a Hollywood movie, it is a near guarantee that the movie is going to be different and above average. I have so many examples for this like Oh Brother where art thou, Welcome to Collingwood, Good night and Good Luck, Syriana and few more. He likes to be part of off beat Hollywood movies and he is one of the very few bold movie makers who do not mind taking a poke at America's foreign policies.

In Ides of March, George Clooney is looking at the Presidential campaign of US, following a major staffer of his campaign. And he establishes how politics is dirty and it will even make a principled human being to play dirty.

The message Mr. Clooney wanted to convey, is so nicely conveyed, without ever using cinematic cliched exaggerations, is the high point of this movie. There is a kind of subtle way of handling this high pressure moments. And like he wish to, George Clooney has created a chance to really comment on some of the foreign and internal policy blunders of his Government and he boldy does that. Kudos to Mr. Clooney as the part writer and director. I am almost assured Mr. Clooney will be labelled a leftist or Communist or extremist for some of his comments in this movie.

Ryan Gosling, I think, is going to be next George Clooney of Hollywood. He have had two movies, Drive and this one (I dont know which one came out first) and he has really excelled in both. It is interesting how both the characters had a kind of calm, which is exemplified by the persona of Ryan Gosling. Just that, like Clooney, I could still see Ryan Gosling on screen. I eagerly wait for his future characters to know will he exactly turn out in the Clooney way or make out his own path to being a legendary actor.

Overall a bold film from Clooney and co. I doubt if an ordinary American would accept it though.

For me, I would have enjoyed it much more, have I had more knowledge about the American Presidential election procedures. 


2006 by Alejandro Monteverde - English movie

After watching certain movies, inspite of all its brilliance, beauty and warmth, one can remain a bit confused or dis connected. Bella did that for me.

A football player turned chef, tries to convince a girl against abortion.

There is a real good message in this movie. The man has a loving family behind him because of which he is very sensitive to family, children and all. The woman had a terrible family life and especially since she is not settled yet and have to find a good job, she doesnt have any option but to abort.

The background of how a millionaire football player had to become a chef is nice and touching. So are most of the scenes in this movie, which has a genuine feeling about it and is really warm. But honestly, it disappointed towards the end. May be because it was edited out, there is a blunt cut to the final scene. And we are left to believe that the lady finally did not abort, but the man simply adopted the child. Ah, this man is just a friend and he is not the person responsible for the lady's pregnancy. Owing to his family back ground and because of what happened to him in the past, he tries his best against abortion and might have decided to adopt.

All it was fine. Just that, that very sharp cut was too blunt. I am sure many people might have been confused about it. And to believe that inspite of all what happened, the lady left her baby  (only to come back, but after the infancy period) with an adopted father was not nice for a female character. That was too harsh.

Brilliant performances. Most of the actors in this movie seems to be from Mexico and there is lot of Spanish too in it. A good film, still.

Friday, 9 December 2011


2005 by Gavin Hood - Afrikaans movie from South Africa

In 2008, there was a Malayalam movie Mulla, which inspite of having a brilliant thread to begin with, ended up as a pretty average movie. I was told by somebody then that it looked like an inspiration of some foreign movie. He could not recollect the name then.

Watching Tsotsi, everything is quite clear. Mulla had picked up the basic thread of the story, a small time criminal   having to parent a baby. In Tsotsi, it is a small time criminal who has to look after the baby, after finding the baby in the back seat of a car, he just stealed. Mulla, picked up the thread and built a whole lot of typical Indian masala around it.

Tsotsi simply is about a bad guy having to take care of the baby and slowly realising the importance of parenting.

It is told very beautifully. How this bad guy turns out to be a caring father is so nicely communicated to the viewer and cinematically it is excellent. I would also say it was really nice that the end didnt had any serious blood shed. It stops quite differently, when we start to guess a routine end to such a character. 

Thursday, 8 December 2011


1996 by Jan Sverak - Czech movie

There are so many movies about a single man or woman who is forced to take care of a child and finally bonds with the child. This is yet another movie on the same theme, but I am not sure if this movie was like a predecessor to all other movies on this subject, or not.

The interesting aspect here is the 50 something single man, who is so much against marriage and is so much after women. He can easily seduce women much younger than him and is having a care free single life as a musician when he comes across the child.

There after, the movie is funny in a very different way. It isnt like there are hilarious moments or so. But we will want to smile for most of the scenes involving the man and the child. Add to it the charm of that young 5 year old boy.

A simple nice movie. 

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


1991 by Gabriele Salvatores - Italian movie

There has been so many movies on World war. But this one is quite different from all in that, it does not show any war, any blood bath or any seviour suffering or torturing or anything like that.

An Italian ship leaves some soldiers in a remote Greek island. Soon they lose their radio and even if only a few miles away from Italy, they are like hundreds of years away from any mainland life.

This is may be the most feel good movie on World War, I have ever seen. In fact, I cant remember seeing any other feel good movie on war yet. There might be, but I haven't seen any.

There are so many funny moments in this movie, especially in the first half, which are very lovely. All the soldiers are quite different and the way they try to manage their life in this war less island, is excellent. The subtle treatment given even to some hilarious situations is really brilliant. And all the more there is a clear anti war message of friendship which is easily getting through.

The best feel good movie on War. That's it. And what a simple movie it is.

And in many ways it is nice that this movie was conceived and made in Europe. Had this been a Hollywood movie, this would have been definitely quite different. 

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The Dirty Picture

2011 by Milan Luthria - Hindi movie from Bollywood

One major change that happened in Indian entertainment industry, after globalisation , was that Bollywood literally started aping Hollywood by all means, from language to dresses and even the conservative 'fortunate' viewers started to change their view point on how our female actresses should dress. Modern Indian heroines, may it be Aishwarya Rai or whoever, appearing in skirts even shorter than mini skirts or bikinis or making ultra vulgour expressions, gestures and body movements during song sequences are all part of regular 'family' cinema and the actresses who do that are BOLD. Only a couple of decades ago, there were some actresses in each Indian language movies, who were supposed to make some sexy dances, then called 'cabaret' which are now rechristened as item numbers, and once in a while vamp roles. These actresses across India were looked down by the whole society. In fact, if these dances appeared on TV, while watching movies at home in VCR, parents would fast forward the dance. The blunt truth is that those dances or cabarets of 80's exposed much much less than today's normal song sequences, forget the item numbers. And those unfortunate actresses should have lead a terrible life.

One of those leading ladies of 80's was Silk Smitha. I would still consider her as having one of the most beautiful and expressive eyes ever witnessed in Indian cinema. I still remember her very well from Moonram Pira and her dance numbers in various other movies. But women hated her then. And there was a void for some time after which she came back strongly with Layanam, a kind of soft porn movie. Even in that movie, she didnt show anything more than what today's super actresses do. But still, poor lady, she was looked at like an out cast and the lonely life was too much for her I guess, she ended her life.

When I knew that Bollywood was making a movie on Silk Smitha, I was sure they just wanted to make some money out of skin show. And that is exactly what Dirty Picture is about. They have just used the name of Smitha, picked up her beginning and end, and decided to do a movie from hear say it seems. I wonder if they did even talk to any body close to Smitha about her character. Such a pity.

From all what I read from the film magazines of 80's and 90's, I always felt sorry for Smitha. There were few actresses and others who spoke nicely about her, about her dancing talents, eyes and all. And there were also some rare write ups about how Smitha was always used by directors and producers but ignored after the use. Smitha was really a lonely woman. But she was not a bitch, not from what appeared in the magazines. Watching Dirty Picture, if anybody feels that Smitha just wanted to ruin family life of super stars, you cant blame them. This is almost like a caricaturised presentation of an actress who did not care for others at all, who looks almost like a vamp even in real life. I really believe this is wrong and unfair.

So are the few male characters in this movie, all looking like caricatures. The contempt Bollywood have for South Indian movies is well known. But I thought the way the super hero is picturised, played by Nasirudeen Shah, they are definitely taking a peak at a South Indian hero, who to my knowledge, didnt had anything to do with Smitha. Whatever, they are just trying to make money.

But even otherways, presenting Shakeela as another sexy heroine who was like a competitor to Smitha is absolutely idiotic. Shakeela rose to fame with the soft porn movie, Kinnaarathumbikal, which released sometime around the beginning of 2000. Smitha died in mid 90's. So this is quite absurd. And there are many such things in this movie which I found in poor light and hence for me this is just a poor average movie, which might only give some more bad name for a dead actress. If only there was a sincere writer and director, Smitha's life is worth a classic movie. Smitha deserved much more than This Dirty Picture, I think.

The plus point to some extent is Divya Balan. Ever since I saw Lage Raho Munnbhai, I like her a lot. Here is an Indian actress, who looks quite Indian and doesnt care at all about looking the western designer way, skinny (I call this skeleton). She has the gorgeous looks, with beautiful curves, which India adored before Bollywood started imitating Hollywood, and she can act too. And she would appear in Sari in public,  to which Bollywood media reacted by awarding her the term-  the worst dressed actor. Is anything more required to show the hypocrisy of Bollywood. Anyways, Vidya have tried her best to do justice to what was offered to her. But not anything great. Not her fault, because the script does not offer anything great. The script only offers more and more scenes for cleavage show actually. Vidya already had a gorgeous figure and it is told she managed extra pounds to have some similarity with Smitha. All North Indian reviewers are gleaming about her 'bold'ness in revealing her fleshy abdomen. I only felt, as far as the beauty of abdomen is concerned Vidya Balan still have miles to go to reach the beauty of Smitha. Just like her eyes, Smitha had a gorgeous abdomen, except for the very last part of her career. Those days we used to discuss about the beauty of Smitha, her eyes, her curves and her abdomen and navels.

The use of Naaku Mukka song, and the Oolaala Oolaala song in the backgrounds was very entertaining. There are also some good dialogues here and there, plus excellent cinematography. If Bollywood have reached the level of Hollywood in anything, it is in their lighting and related technical factors. It looks like they have taken time and good effort to use soft lighting and the frames have a really good feel. They also seems to have spend good money on DI.

If Smitha had started her career now, I wonder what would have happened to many item number artistes of today. Definitely she would not have been looked down at. What was vulgour then is just the norm for an ordinary Indian heroine now. So definitely, she would not have been lonely now.

And may I repeat, Smitha deserved a much better movie than this. 

Monday, 5 December 2011


2011 by Samuthirakani- Tamil movie

I heard couple of opinions, read few reviews before going for this movie and all were not that positive. Nobody said it was a bad movie, but they all seemed to say this is not what we expected from Samuthirakani who made a brilliant movie in Nadodigal. Only one reviewer mentioned that it is actually nice, but it looks a bit more like a typical entertainer, with a funny first half and an action packed second half, which is quite routine stuff for entertainers.

So may be I didnt expect that much as I walked into the movie hall. And it is true, the first half is quite typical of ordinary entertainers with super star heroes, inspite of its wonderful opening scene. A very good hero who is an ideal man and bla bla. And there is a bus station song too to cherry it up. But except for that song and some comic scenes, I thought there was still a lot of excellence in the first half, for the way it was shot. Not exactly routine entertainment stuff. And all the characters we are introduced in here, are really wonderful.

But what was shocking was the second half, which was a brilliant action packed thriller. Except for the very final scene, the anti climax, this was a true master class of a thriller (I would have liked a different climax too). Most of this second half is 'flash back' of the main characters which involves some really brilliant scenes. So nicely planned, executed, shot and edited with brilliant support from the acting crew. I was really on the edge of the seat for most of these scenes. Thrilling action it was. Brilliant performance by Sasikumar and his friends. And the show stealer was a female character, the village girl Maari who is brave like a warrior princess, brilliantly played by Vasundhara. What a great show by this young actress. Just only a couple of scenes, but she will stay in the minds of every body walking out of the theatre.

If only the movie was told in a very straight forward fashion, then it would have looked quite different (as against the complainers that the first half is fun and second half is for action). But then, this would have been very different. I liked it as it is, even if both the halves are so much different. If only the first half was more short, without that first song and some comic scenes, and the climax was a little bit more planned and different, this would have been a brilliant classic entertainer. That is true, for all its thrilling second half, the climax lacks some real punch.

Samuthirakani is really an excellent director. He manages without any hero-heroine duets or item numbers, but it is perplexing why he went for the initial bus stand song. And he deserves a salute to shoot all those action scenes so nicely and to get such a brilliant performance from almost all his actors. He also manage to get couple of messages across through this entertainer, which has a routine theme, but told in a very different way. 


2011 by V K Prakash - Malayalam movie

Yes this is a norm in Malayalam cinema now, our movies should have English names to be successful. How sad. Waiting to get inside the theatre, I heard more than a few people saying that this too is remade from some English movie. And there was a heated debate going on within a group of youngsters whether this is ok or not. Couple of guys were saying that except for Traffic, all the noted Malayalam films of 2011 have been copies/inspirations or what not. And his friend was arguing that since most Malayalees havent seen this foreign films, it is ok. Anyways. I was a bit disappointed to hear that. Anoop Menon had made an excellent copy with his previous writing creation. So he can probably do it again. And VK Prakash too, inspite of making a very good movie in Mullavalliyum Thenmaavum, had tried to copy with his Gulumal. So there is a probability of this being a copy too. And since I knew that Jayasuriya is playing a paraplegic, like in Mar Adentro, the Spanish movie in which Javier Bardem played a similar character, I was thinking , ok, may be this is that one. But it is definitely not Mar Adentro, and nor did it look like any movie which I have seen. But the character has shades of few characters which we have seen in few other movies. I guess Anoop Menon created a very good character from many others. Whatever..

For V K Prakash, this is definitely a very good step. Though the plot, of relatives trying to get the assets of a weak man, has been told many times, the way it is told in this movie is very interesting. There is a touch of freshness in it for which all credit should be given to  V K Prakash. He has made a very different entertainer, which looks absolutely nice, compared to the horrible stuff we are dumped with these days in Malayalam cinema.

Jayasuriya as the paraplegic has done a good job. Just wish the camera, which is also excellent compared to typical Malayalam standards, had chosen to concentrate on his straight face on few occasions when the character was supposed to give some really challenging emotions. But in all such moments, the camera instead opted for a profile frame, which was surprising. Jayasuriya might regret it I am afraid. Because with a camera on his straight face, those moments could have got him real recognition. He still has come out with a really nice and endearing performance.  Anoop Menon, was all right just like his character. Here is yet another routine sympathy seeking Malayalam hero character and he did exactly what it was meant for. If only there was something different with this character, Mr. Menon too could have had a top notch performance. I really thought, the way he sang some of those songs were quite poor.

My favourite part of this movie involved three female characters. One is a doctor who makes a talk on extra martial affairs, with our hero. The other is the maid played by Tesni Khan. And the last is the leading lady, Anjali, played by Meghna Raj. The first one is a cameo role, but it is nice to see a Malayalam female character talk frankly. The second one again speaks out, without the typical Keralan hypocritic moral senses, and possibly is making a break with female characters in Malayalam mainstream cinema. The third one for its feminity. It has been really long that a female character looked so beautiful, feminine and unintentionally seductive. For me, these three characters require a brilliant rating. However, the climax does raise certain questions on the nature of Anjali and on the whole plot. Anyways, this is only meant to be an entertainer. So let it be. The movie is still very enjoyable. And Meghna Raj has bloody beautiful eyes.

People seem to love this movie and there was a real applause at the end of it, which happens very rarely. However, I still heard someone saying that this is an English movie, as the crowd was rushing out of the theatre. I would really like to know which one it is, if at all this indeed is inspired or copied from a single movie.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Ma Femme est une actrice - My wife is an actress

2001 by Yvan Attal - French movie

How would a husband feel, when his actress wife is looking nude on the screen or when she is doing a sensitive love making scene? This is a very brilliant plot for a movie. And Yvan makes a movie on this topic, with his own wife Charlotte Gainsubourg playing the lead role as his wife Charlotte in the movie. This is Mr. Attal's first full fledged feature film as a director. So here is a man with experience on the topic, writing, directing and acting. That ought to be brilliant right? To make it more interesting the husband is just an ordinary guy, a sports writer, but definitely not a celebrity like his wife.

Most husbands naturally would be annoyed by this and even if they try to be normal they will be easily annoyed if some stupid man wants to discuss with him on this topic. Our husband hardly seem to care about what his wife did in the movies. He was more worried about the lack of peace in their personal life as he had to manage with autograph hunters and photographers all the time. How he starts having problems, after being confronted by a stupid man, with weird questions only the French wont mind asking, is really nicely captured. And his wife has to go to London to act with an old and hot hero.

To a good extent, this movie is really brilliant. We have seen little bits of life behind celebrities in movies like Notting Hill, America's sweethearts. But all those movies did not go really into this topic and was on the periphery mostly. But here Attal does go seriously into many issues that can arise between a husband and wife, when the husband is not a celebrity and the wife is. Add to it the moments when wife has to act in intimate scenes. But I wonder if that was the first time, Charlotte had to act that kind of a scene in her acting life, other than for the kissing scenes about which she explains to him that it was not easy. Because often the husband has to bear people talking about how hot Charlotte is etc, which might not happen if this London movie was the first instance for such a scene. Something was missing clearly in the script, I felt.

For a good 3/4th of this movie, I thought it handled the theme very well. But then, towards the end it just took the path what we would expect of ordinary romantic comedies and it looked pretty ordinary for me. When I say this, I really do not have any idea, what other options Attal had, since he wanted this to have a happy ending. But we know that celebrity marriages always are short lived and he could have lead the movie differently. But may be, he is taking moments from his own life and he must be a happy husband with a celebrity wife. So. But still, some thing was lost in transition in the script.

However, I have to say a good part of the movie is really nice and entertaining too. It can even provoke many questions on the ordinary viewer about what would happen if they were in these kind of situations. And there are some real funny scenes too.

Good performances and Attal deserves a lot of credit for making this movie. If only the end was better.


1995 by Marleen Gorris - Dutch movie

Many movies use the technique of narration when they have an epic kind of story or when there is a complex plot. Many a times, poor narration alone can defigure a movie. There are some movies which handled an epic story without any narration and there are many which used narration in a beautiful way. Antonia or Antonia's Line is a beautiful movie in which the narration is wonderful. But it is not just about the narration. It is such a lovely movie.

After the war, a woman arrives back in her village with her young daughter. The village is quite a male dominated one, but Antonia sets on a life which will make her a strong matriarch and would see through four generations.

The above plot line is quite insufficient to describe this movie. It is simply the story of a strong woman who lead her life as she wanted, not being controlled by any one, but saw through her daughter, her grand daughter and her great grand daughter and made friends around with her kindness and courage.

At least for the first half of the movie, it is also about the village which have many strange and wonderful characters. In the second half the movie goes through the generation lines of Antonia, quite fast though. The first half is so beautiful, simple and lovely with some really nice fun in between, the second half is more about the life, raising so many questions about life, through the characters, but of course reaching the viewer.

It is definitely a female oriented movie, but it is not anti male, never. It just concentrates on women who find happiness without worriying about the societal and moral roles and rules. I found it really nice. It was so beautiful how the movie looked at love, love between people of different capabilities, ages and what not. One of the most amazing factors was how the actress who played Antonia aged in the movie. It was brilliant. The main character, and the villagers who are as old as her, how they aged together with the village, was really brilliant.

And a truly brilliant piece of Cinematography and music too.

A maochist man or even a conservative religious woman might not find Antonia very lovely, because of all what is happening in this movie or because of all the questions it raises. But for me, it was simply a wonderful movie. If not for its hurried pace in the second half it would have ended as a really brilliant master piece. Actually, if it had taken a more detailed look at all the generations, even if the movie got longer like it happened with Le Meglio Gioventu, it might have been even better. But may be for the director, Antonia was more interesting than her daughter or grand daughter.

A must watch movie, I would say. A movie on life, how everybody should live it, peacefully, following ones own heart and ignoring what the society would think. 

Friday, 2 December 2011

Los Colores de la Montana - The colours of the mountain

2010 by Carolos Cesar Arbelaez - Spanish movie from Colombia

A large majority of the best movies from around the world have come out of regions or plots which was facing seviour struggles or pains. Just like the saying that good literature happens only when the writer has gone through serious pain, I think it is true with cinema too. India is a struggle ridden land. There are problems through out the country, except for a minority region like Kerala. Inspite of a vast majority of people, between 70 - 80% actually, living under constant struggles of livelihood, a huge majority of Indian movies are about the lives of the rich or the middle class. It is quite a topic that why it is so in India. It is seldom that our movie makers think about and make movies about those people who are always at the receiving end or who has to suffer.

Somewhere in remote Colombia, villagers are locked in the war between the guerrillas and the Government forces. Families have started fleeing the village for life. Manuel, a young boy is crazy about football. He is also passionate about painting. His father presents him a new football and his friend has kicked the ball to a field which has mines. Manuel is desperate to get his ball back. 

It is impossible to believe that this movie is made by a debutant director. It is such a brilliant movie.

A good length of the movie is told from the eyes of the child and we can even take it for a movie concentrating on children. However, towards the end, it is almost like a thriller. I felt like I was on the edge of the seat wishing for peace with Manuel, his family, his friends and his teacher. I think that says my thoughts on this beautiful movie.

A superbly brilliant performance by the child actor who played Manuel. He will make us fall in love with him. In fact the script is so good that the moments with the children seems to be penned by some adult with a child's mind. Wonderful it was. Except for a couple of hiccups here and there, which are actually small details which the director could have taken care of, this is brilliantly written and executed movie.

A couple of times it did remind me of Santosh Sivan's Tahaan. But it is quite a different movie, which uses the old trick of looking at serious issues from children's point of view. But the director has managed to give quite a fresh look to it. I think the beautiful setting of the hilly Colombian country side and of course, Football, has played a big part. It is simple, serious, shocking and thought provoking.

I was pondering seriously about my thoughts, after the movie. Why is it that Indian movie makers never talking about people who suffer in our country. Why is it that only once in a blue moon we get movies like this. And once in a blue moon, when there is a movie like Parzania or Slumdog millionaire,(not Indian of course) they are accused of minority appeasement or poverty porn.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

El Secreto de sus Ojos - The secret in their eyes

2009 by Juan Jose Campanella - Spanish movie from Argentina

I am not sure is it just about Argentine movies or about Mr. Campanella or about Ricardo Darin. I have only seen few Argentine movies and both these were behind most of them. So may be I am just seeing the best of Argentina, which is played out of the country or what not, I am so bloody impressed by Argentine movies. May be the Italian connection has something do with why they are excellent in movie making. I say this with full respects to the native Argentinian people. Whatever, cinema from Argentina, just like their football, is special, to my knowledge.

Basically this is a revenge story. A husband who takes revenge on the man who raped and killed his beautiful wife. 

However, it is presented in a very different way. Esposito, a retired officer wants to write a novel and picks the case of Liliana Colato. This takes him back to his young days, when he was also in a kind of blind love with his superior. He goes back to his office, meets her superior who is now happily married and takes her help in completing his novel.

I thought the movie had two stories, one about the love of a man, Morales, who want to revenge the murder of his wife, who is assisted by the legal officer Esposito. The second is about Esposito himself who is amazed by the love of Morales and is agonisingly attracted towards his boss, the beautiful Irene. The way all this is told is incredibly brilliant. The script has a brilliant structure going forth and back between the past and present, but not in a conventional way, but in a unique way which keeps us engaged, believing and still guessing. Such a master work on a cinematic script, I would say.

There is so much in this movie, which could make it feel like a thriller. But actually it is Romance that holds the whole movie behind the guise of investigation and revenge. I loved it. And my hearty salute to Campanella. What a director. The same to Ricardo Darin too, who played Esposito brilliantly. I have only seen 5 or 6 movies with him. I would say he deserves a place among the world's best. Soledad Villamil, who played Irene, is so charming. Her charm is something that can be compared to Catherine zeta jones.

A Brilliant cinema, an absolute stunner, from Argentina. It is not often we get a crime based movie in which love plays such a prominent and classy role. A real classic and must watch. 

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

He liu - The River

1997 by Ming Liang Tsai - Chinese movie from Taiwan

This is a much acclaimed movie, one which came out during the golden age of Taiwanese art cinema. However, let me be honest and speak out that, it is painfully slow and is on the verge of making one bohred. In fact, I watched it first time, day before yesterday night and I felt asleep. Tried to watch the last 20 minutes yesterday, before my office hours, and I was quite impressed by some of that imagery. So I tried to watch it once again.

A young man, his father and mother, who are all quite lonely in their lives. The young man hurts his neck during a bike accident.

The plot is quite simple and so is the movie. But if one can manage to keep yourself engaged with the very slow pace and eventless procedures of the movie, it is impossible to not feel the pain of the young man. You will start feeling the pain of this young man, which is inevitable. Frankly, it took a second watch for me to appreciate it, though.

But towards the end of the second watch, I couldn't help salute this director to make such a blunt and realistic cinema. It is really a painful movie to watch. There are things for which life does not have any solutions and the young man in this movie just has to suffer.

Absolutely a master piece work in cinematography. There is a scene of homo sexuality towards the end which is stunning. What a brilliant shot it is, even if it is quite shocking.

A real brilliant movie, but I am afraid most people might not watch this completely because of its pure art house style and the dragging slow pace. Better to watch it during day time. 

Monday, 28 November 2011


2011 by Jayaraj - Malayalam movie

A director who debuted with a very simple movie like Vidyarambham and later gave some excellent movies like Kaliyaattom and Makalkku, and one who has more than 2 decades of history behind him, when such a director decides to make a movie dedicated to the heroines of yester years, it is normal to have hope. But watching this movie, I doubt, what this movie was meant for.

More than a couple of South Indian heroines had committed suicide in the past and there are many stories related to these deaths. However there were a couple of movies in the 80's which dealt on these theme, most notably Lekhayude Maranam oru Flashback by K G George. So it is natural for me to think that if Jayaraj wanted to make a movie on the cause of deaths of yester year heroine's he should have planned one which would have bettered or at least matched Lekhayude... However, watching this movie the death of an actress does not look an issue for a good majority of the film. It rather looks at the relationship between an yester year heroine and a girl who is making a documentary on her. At the same time it is also like a great struggle to get into the past of a heroine.

Whatever it may be Naayika is a poor cinema. It rather looks a very amateurish movie, which is sad considering the fact that it was made by an established director. There is no intensity on the scene and it will be a surprise if any viewer would be able to find any kind of intense feelings anywhere in this movie. I wonder the whole unit were lackadaisical in their attitude during the making of this. From the basic story to the script to the director to the technical aspects and even in simple make up, the movie is so amateurish.

And I strongly deplore the fact that the story is designed by creating couple of characters using extracts from the lives of many heroines and heroes of yester years, which was quite pathetic. After mentioning about the legendary Prem Nazir many times here and there, to make a hero, with a different name, to mimic the style and persona of Prem Nazir was a childish act. I simply do not understand this.

Compare this movie with the subtle scenes of Mayakkam Enna and I am reassured, Malayalam cinema is really in a terrible state. 

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Mayakkam Enna

2011 by Selvaraghavan - Tamil movie

Selvaraghavan, with his story for Thulluvatho Ilamai, can boast about being one of the fore runners in leading Tamil movies to its new wave films of today. It was in this movie that his brother Dhanush was introduced as a teenage hero. Later he directed Dhanush in the path breaking cult movie Kaadhal Kondein. After few years he is now teaming up with Dhanush again and I am sure their parents will be very proud of them. As a movie, this is not as great as Aadukalam. But Dhanush's performance in Mayakkam Enna, I believe, is even better than in Aadukalam. M E, is still a very different entertainer from a Tamil pop movie team, which has the subtleties that we would expect only from art films and can be rightly called a parallel movie.

A budding photographer, who owes his life to his rich friends and parents, has great aspirations for his future. He finds that there is some kind of a feeling between him and his friends girlfriend. 

With just the above plot line, ME would hold good as an ordinary romantic comedy. But it is not. Romance makes only half of the movie and there is more to it, I mean the life after marriage which is affected because of the heroes dreams, makes the other half of the movie. I will not call it a romantic comedy. It is about the life of a young man and more surprisingly about his wife too. Very seldom does this happen in India. The heroine in ME is anything than what we would expect from a typical Indian heroine. Especially in the second half, that is when the movie looks at the tough side of life, the heroine is even more important than the hero. The last time something like this occured, if my memory serves right, was in another Tamil movie, Mirugam, which had brilliant performances by Padmapriya.

The hero in ME, is anything but a hero. He is just an ordinary man with some talent in Photography. He behaves quite ordinarily throughout the movie. He does not have any fights to do, nor does he even slap any one. In fact it is the heroine who slaps the hero, more than once, with no reaction from the hero. How often we see something like that in an Indian movie. Even when there is an occassion for the hero to react macho, our hero just behaves like an ordinary guy who is unable to get angry or harm any one. But the heroine for all that matter is really strong. She even have only few scenes wherein we find her smiling. Especially in the second half, there are hardly any smiles from the heroine and she is just a powerful woman who takes care of her husband. I am surprised that Tamil cinema managed to give yet another strong heroine, immediately after the role of Anjaly in Engeyum Eppothum.

The movie is shot realistically. Almost 90% of the scenes have a subtle feel about it, which is commendable. Add to it the factor that the director treats the subject with a preconception that his audience is intelligent. This is not a movie meant for multiplex audiences. A Dhanush movie can never be one. The makers needs to be praised to do it this way hoping the audience will understand what they meant, even if it is subtle and intelligently told. It has come out good and it will only do good for the future of Tamil cinema. How this act saves the movie is by avoiding lot of unwanted explanations and dialogues. In fact they have understood and treated it as a clear visual medium and many important facts are just conveyed through visuals alone. Brilliant it was.

Few other brilliant factors, were the performance of Dhanush and the new heroine, Richa, brilliant cinematography, background scores and the settings. Some moments, like the one in which Dhanush begs to a great photographer to be an assistant, when he is struck by the beauty of nature and forgets to take his shot, when he realises that his best comes out when he works with available light with people and nature and not in studios and all were really brilliant.

However, the movie is not fault free. For all the brilliance, the climax of the story was not that great. I do not mean the final schot, wich was excellent, but the final turn of events. It was only at this point that movie went for routine. The director could have sticked with his subtle treatment through out, instead of losing it in some points. And no excuses at all for using the video and photographs of African Elephants, when the locations meant were Indian. And above all, the way the senior photographer treats the hero is quite stupid. Of course a senior photographer can use the photographs of a budding photographer and take the name, but in my experience I have never seen a senior still photographer behaving rudly with anyone approaching them. This is one good thing I found about Still Photography. Any photographer is normally glad to look at the efforts of budding photographers and to discuss with  them about the subject. Even if they are not glad, they never behave rude. I have met many senior photographers and even when they were terribly busy they were nice and attentive. And even if I never became a big photographer, I was also receptive to anybody who came to me to talk about photography, later when I was seriously into it. So this character of the senior photographer was a bit over done. Anyways, what do I know, may be there is somebody like that.

I was really glad to watch this movie and will be glad to watch it again, even if I did not like the way it ended. I could easily connect with the hero too as I had gone through few moments like his character in my own photographic days. I was not comfortable with flash and indoor systems and always opted for available light. I also felt hurt when my photographs were used by few, may be its many not few, without any knowledge of mine and without any acknowledgements. Anyways.

Finally about the crowd in the theatre. It was embarassing the way the Malayaalee youth behaved inside the theatre. Sure, they might have expected a typical Tamil entertainer, but it was not. That does not mean they should behave in a way, which make watching movies a tedious procedure for anybody in the theatre. What a pity? I felt like killing those people, who were abusing and shouting inside the theatre.

Friday, 25 November 2011

En la cama - In Bed

2005 by Matias Bize - Spanish movie from Chile

The very first sound of this movie, even before any clear frame, is that of a woman who is approaching orgasm. So, unless you know what the movie is about, one could wonder if its a porn movie. But after the sex, the two persons start talking, they are asking the names of each other, that moment I realised I am going to witness a very different movie. And it was. What an unique and brilliant movie.

Two strangers meet for just sex in a motel room. After their sex they start talking casually and in between they make love.

This movie is completely shot inside a motel room. The camera does not have to go outside the walls of this room, I mean there is  not a single frame which has sun light actually. And there are only these two characters, the man and the woman who met for casual sex and get to know each other only after the sex. When I say this was simply brilliant, I am sure most people would doubt it. But, this is a classic example of exploring a unique theme and making a different movie.

After sex, the man and woman start talking about everything under sun, from war to movies to orgasm and what not and slowly they realise there is something between them, though it is too late. But their relationship is portrayed so brilliantly. Some of those moments, especially when each does not dare to look straight into the eyes of the other, but feels something, is so captivating.

Wonderful performances by both actors. And more than anything this is a directors movie, with excellent support by the cinematographer. As mentioned above, there is not a single frame with sunlight. There is not more than 2 faces, but still the camera work is one of the best features of this movie.

I would say this is a must watch for anybody who is seriously interested in cinema. For any student of cinema, may it be an aspiring script writer or director or cinematographer this movie is an inevitable lesson.

For clear reasons, this movie might not be shown even in any film festivals in India. What a pity.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Adjustment Bureau

2011 by George Nolfi - English movie from Hollywood

Sometimes Hollywood presents some unique ideas through their movies. Doesnt mean the movie turns out as a brilliant one. But the novelty of the idea and the brains behind is definitely special, even if the movie turns out as just another one..

A young politician who is a probable future Senator meets a Ballet dancer and feels like he has met the love of his life. But then he finds out that officers of an adjustment bureau wants to make sure that nothing happens between him and the lady. 

I have never seen a movie, which has given this kind of a visual and physical presence to the idea of fate.  And that basic idea I would say is brilliant. Fate is presented here as a group of officers who works to make sure that everybody has a penned out story to follow and the same has to be ensured. So little things like missing a bus is just part of the procedures by the Bureau to ensure that a persons life follows the path of the fate.

I liked this presentation, even if I am not a believer. But this is a unique idea for a movie. So the movie has a good beginning. The moments between the hero and heroine, even if they are quite few, is really warm and can compete with the best of romantic comedy moments from Hollywood. But when the hero is explained about the fate, by one officer himself, and he decides to fight to change his fate, the movie turns out to be a typical Hollywood movie, full of routine cliches which will help a character. From here, the movie turned out as quite ordinary and stupid.

Those moments between the man and the woman, played by two charming actors, Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, was the only worth moments in this movie.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


2006 by John Carney - English movie from Ireland

I am not very fond of Hollywood musicals. There are ones I liked and ones I found bohring. It is funny, I say this as an Indian, where almost all our movies are musical, strange musicals though. For us, music is just a way to make a movie more entertaining and popular, some ways to explain a situation in an extravagant way when the writer or director do not have other ways to show the intimacy or emotionality of a moment. And mostly just for pure fun. Western musicals, in that ways, is very different from ours. Anyways... this is quite a very different musical and it is simply brilliant.

A man meets a girl. Both are into music and they work together to record the man's own songs. 

The plot is as simple as that and unlike most musicals, there are not even so many characters. In fact in Once, there are only these two people, an unnamed man and woman who simply love music. Of course, when such people interact, love is on the edge and movie just look at it in the realistic way. But still for some parts, this movie felt as much as a romantic movie as much as it is a musical.

Now the most interesting and brilliant part of this music - unlike almost all musical movies I have seen, the man and the woman in this movie are real musicians. Yes, they are musicians first who just acted for this movie. And almost all the music in this movie are their own creations. Yet, they have achieved what a seasoned actor would struggle to achieve. They have acted brilliantly. And add to it the touch of professionalism during the performing scenes, they are cent percent genuine. Of course, that is inevitable I think. Two persons who can create their own music act the part as two persons who are into music, how can it not be sincere and genuine.

And since almost everything happens only between these two characters, all the music are genuine music moments, unlike in many musicals where characters interact through songs. In Once, music occurs only when the characters are performing or practising or creating music. So it is bloody realistic too. And what a beautiful musical score! I have already made up mind to find the sound track of this movie.

I loved both our actors. They were so realistic. And the lady especially, what a charming girl she is. Brilliant.

I cannot stop this without giving a big salute to the director. He is a maestro to make such a beautiful, simple and subtle movie. There were a couple of moments when I almost felt goose bumps. That final shot, when the camera slowly pans out of the window of our heroine, was brilliant. What an end!!!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Visitor

2007 by Thomas McCarthy - English movie from Hollywood

An extremely different movie from Hollywood.

A college professor from Connecticut travels to New York for work and finds that a couple (from Africa) is living in his apartment. He feels sorry for their state, as illegal immigrants, and lets them stay and slowly gets involved in their life. 

The movie begins nicely and proceeds in a simple and nice way. The way the professor gets friendly with Tarek and his girl friend is nice. I especially liked their drumming lesson and their time at the park. And even after Tarek gets arrested it is really good. But once Tarek's mother arrives, I am afraid the movie is a bit different. It takes a path which is often used by typical romantic comedies actually. It does not use it completely, but it is nearly like walking on the edge.

Finally, as the movie ends, it is still a good movie, but I felt somewhere on the way the movie lost its heart. Some more thoughts and efforts would have made this an absolute classic, but it ends up as a lost opportunity.

However, it is heartening to see an American movie thinking from the side of the illegal's whom America do not like at all. The message towards this is quite clear and the movie succeeds in conveying it, but otherwise as a movie, it ends up as one which could have been much much better.

Good performance by Richard Jenkins as the professor. I liked Haaz Sleiman, as Tarek, even better though. What a charming actor. 

Saturday, 19 November 2011


2011 by Nicolas Winding Refn - English from Hollywood

Sometimes, Hollywood too try to make a really different parallel (I am sure they dont have anything called parallel movies) movie and like in India, they are almost successful. I mean its just like breaking the pot, right when you reach the door step. What a pity.

A movie stunt guy, ends up in trouble, just trying to help out the husband of a young and beautiful neighbour. 

For more than half of this movie, it is nearly like a subtle art movie. And I was sure I am watching a very different movie from Hollywood and was glad about it. But then towards the last half, it just turns out like just another Hollywood flick, devoid of all the extravaganzia, but still with the same gory violence.

I am not against violence actually. I think the lives of most unfortunate people witness more violence than any movie have ever picturised. But with Drive, a movie which gave lots of hope with the way it treated the central character, when it ends up almost typical of most action films, it is a bit disappointing.

However, the way the central character is conceived, is really brilliant. And Ryan Gosling as the unnamed driver was so good and charming. Sure, we have seen Hollywood heroes before, men of few words, but there is some difference between the driver and the heroes of the past. It is difficult for me to explain that with my limited writing skills.

I would really reccommend this movie to anyone, inspite of my above comments though. It starts very well and is a very different watch. And sure, one will be charmed by the hero.

It just could have been much better. 

Friday, 18 November 2011

Xin Shao lin Si - Shaolin

2011 by Benny Chan

I am becoming more and more like a fan of East Asian movies. Some of the Chinese, Korean and Japanese movies I saw in the recent past were more than a revelation. They can match and compete with the best from around the world. Watching Shaolin, I desperately wished for an Indian release for movies from China, Korea and Japan.

There are many feuding war lords in China. One such war lord faces a surprise defeat, he takes refuge in Budhism and its non violence. 

In many ways, this block buster from China is preaching non violence through violence.

It is an excellent action film actually and many of the action sequences can match or beat many Hollywood flicks. But why this movie is special is due to the underlying message, which is propagated through its main character. General Hou turns a monk at Shaolin and he still has to face some duels and hence there is lots of action even after the major character turns Budhist. But it is still compelling as a movie on non violence. The movie is an epic drama with brilliant action sequences. But couple of the scenes were stunning and stood out really. I am not saying these were the only brilliant scenes. But they were special.

- there is a shot which looked like many wooden statues of men practising kungfu - standing/balancing on one leg, with the other raised towards the shoulders, on wooden poles. I thought oh thats an amazing peice of art. And then the camera goes into details and I was shocked. That isnt any statue, but real men, the characters we know as Kungu practising monks from Shaolin, who are balancing themselves on the wooden poles. I will give a 10/10 for that single initial shot. Moments when you really feel like falling at the legs of a Photographer, to make such sur-realistic imagery in this modern day of digital photography, when photography is no more an art, is truly brilliant.

- The villain has a body guard who is like an absolute warrior. Nobody seem to match him in any duel. In a final fight with a Shaolin monk, monk goes in for a very special sacrifice (he is already fatally injured) in a momentary brilliant action, which was truly brilliant.

A very important point in this action drama is that the villain lives, not even hurt actually. But his defeat is ensured by his understanding of the devastating results of his decision making. That final scene was really excellent.

And finally I saw Jackie Chan once again in a completely different role from what we expect of him. He is a cook who does not know any Kung fu and I must say, Jackie Chan is a real good actor.

This is a really good action drama, with an excellent message. It does have some faults here and there, but I wont mind ignoring them at all. 

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Ladies in Lavender

2004 by Charles Dance

Ageing is a real issue. I wonder how I would behave, for specific situations, once I am old and lonely. At the end of this movie, I spend quite a few minutes wondering about my future. This movie is not a classic to make me ponder about the future. But it does look at ageing, in a simple and funny way.

Two old sisters, living in a coastal village, have to welcome a very young Polish man to their villa. There is a subtle war between the sisters, trying to gather the affection of the young man. 

The movie is very simple and there is nothing in this movie, which cannot be easily predicted, including the climax. But what makes it a very special watch is the performances by the two leading ladies, Judie Dench and Maggie Smith. The former especially, for me, was brilliant. For, it is her character who really falls in for the young man, that she reaches a very special state, which is difficult to explain.

And what a brilliant performance. This movie is worth watching again, just to look at these two brilliant veteran actresses. It is like a text book of under playing emotions. More than anything, they perform it in such a way that we wonder the young man has arrived into the house of two young sisters.

Add to the performances, the brilliant music, which falls in through for almost the whole length of the movie, and Ladies in Lavender is an excellent watch. 

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Partir - Leaving

2009 by Catherine Corsini - French movie

There has been umpteen number of movies on infidelity, especially in French. But for many reasons, Partir is not just ordinary.

A mother of two adolescents is attracted to a man who came to work at her home and gets too passionate about their relationship that she is ready to leave everything for him. 

From that plot line, it does not look anything special, for sure. But this movie is made different by a few factors.

- The performance of Kristin Scott Thomas, which is simply brilliant. In many moments, especially when she seems to be awaiting her lover, the passionate expectations, she is incredible.

- The way the female character proceeds, forgetting everything and ready to do anything for the passion. The script does not try to reason with her much, but her passions leads. I found it very interesting

The movie, for sure, is cliche ridden in the beginning. But then, it gets different with the blunt ways of its heroine, who would not mind doing anything, even stealing, for her love life.

But still, I would find it difficult to concur with her deeds, especially because of her climax act, on the effects it will have on her children. But looking at it just as a movie, it is quite a different one.  

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Midnight in Paris

2011 by Woody Allen - English movie

Woody Allen is quite a different director from America. His Vicky Christina Barcelona is one of my favourites, though he does have some other nice movies. Midnight in Paris is his latest movie, and once again Woody Allen goes to Europe.

An American family is in Paris for business. The fiancee of the daughter is an established Hollywood writer, who would like to write a novel and feels Paris is the best place for doing this. He is in love with the city and its great past.

I would say this is quite a different attempt from Woody Allen. I never expected him to make a movie which is almost fantasical in its plot. His hero is able to travel to the 1920's meet great personalities of those period and travel back to the present. He even enters into a kind of relationship with a woman he met in that era. All this only to realise that he has the wrong person as his fiancee. At the same time through this movie, Woody Allen also mentions that people would always want to think about a different period in history, than the present, as the best.

At first, I didnt understand why there was a highly saturated and fluroscent yellowish tone for the frames. But as the 20's Paris scenes came in, it made sense. Many of the 1920's scenes are so lovely and brilliant.

Gil, Woody's  young writer, is a nice man with the heart of an artist. His fiancee and her family is anything but somebody who can appreciate such a genuine guy. It is perplexing how they got engaged though. Anyways, Gil's life in Paris is quite interesting and funny, moving between the 1920's and the present. One other thing I noticed is that how similar Owen Wilson and Woody Allen are. If this movie was made some years ago, Mr. Allen would have definitely played Gil. And when Owen Wilson plays this role, I almost felt like it was Woody Allen. There is a striking similarity between the mannerisms and dialogue delivery of the two. Owen Wilson, anyways, is really excellent. Marion Cotillard as Adriana, was brilliant and beautiful too. I really did not like Woody Allen using Gad Elmaleh in a small role, with nothing to do. What a waste of talent.

I would hesitate to call it a a romantic comedy, it begins and ends like one though. But it is quite a fantasical movie in between.
Nor is it a perfect blend of fantasy and present like in the El Laberinto del Fauno.
But still it is a good one, which requires a different mind set to watch, understand and appreciate.
For sure, it is a different movie from Woody Allen and I will be glad to watch it a few more time. Just like the hero in the movie, I am also in love with Paris, the most romantic city in the world for sure. And many scenes in this movie took me to the few days I spend there, and I felt nostalgic. Am sure Woody Allen loves Paris too.

Elle s'appaleit Sarah - She is Sarah

2010 by Gilles Paquet-Brenner - French movie, with lots of English too

Sometimes I wonder, what would have the movie makers done if there was no Hitler. Hitler's atrocities, against the Jews, looks like the favourite theme for movie makers from the west. I am not holding anything against the Jews or their suffering during Hitlers reign. But it does not look fair when movie makers ignore equally horrible sufferings by other communities or group of people across the world. Or in other words, there are only very very few attempts at portraying the sufferings of people elsewhere, like the Battle of Algiers or Hotel Rwanda, to name a couple. In fact, when a movie was made in Turkey immediately after the American invasion of Iraq, about the fate of Iraqis, the west did everything possible to ensure that the movie will not be seen by the outside world. Using the dream of Turkey to enter into the European union, they even managed to ban that movie in Turkey.

It is may be the second movie in 2010, which is based on the same incident, the infamous Vel dHiv roundups of 1942. And may be there are many more movies, in 2010/11 itself, about which I dont know at all. In fact I saw La Rafle only few weeks before.

An American journalist married to a French man has to make an article on the Vel dHiv roundup and she accidentally realises that the apartment which her husband has inherited and into which they are just about to move, belonged to a Jewish family who suffered in 1942. She starts tracing the story through a little girl Sarah, who managed to escape the Nazi camp.

For sure, the movie has lots of touching moments, which shows the suffering of the innocent people during the round up. Sarah the little girl, who managed to escape the Nazi camp and Julia, the American journalist, are the two leading characters, the latter searching for the former, the movie take us through two different periods in time. Julia's life has its own problems as she is pregnant and her French husband does not want to be an old father.

Basically, it is like there are three stories here. The story of Sarah, immediately after the round ups in 1942, the search for Sarah by Julia and Julia's personal story involving her husband and daughter. And I am not sure if the script really managed to hold all this together. Even during the first half, when the movie looks much better, the scenes of 1942 and the present criss cross a lot in a rapid way that it is almost annoying. But towards the second half, it turns even poor and does not look really professional at all. Too much melodrama, which is even amateurish at times with terrible performances, too much cliches and all. In fact, it looks more like an ordinary Hollywood movie than a French movie. It does not have the charm of even average French movies I would say. The performance of couple of actors, especially the son of Sarah, was really poor. If not for Kristin Scott Thomas, who plays Julia, the second half would have been really bohring, I am afraid.

On the same issue, La Rafle looks a much better movie.