Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Engrenages - Spiral

Engrenages is a French TV serial. I just watched the first season (2006), which had 8 episodes.

Obviously, it was my interest in Nordic Noir, which led me to Engrenages. It had got excellent reviews from European critics.

Frankly, Engrenages did not look very interesting in the beginning. I really started thinking, ok the French are masters of cinema, but may be not for TV thrillers. Now, that I have got this bad habit of comparing every crime story to the Danish or Scandinavian standards, I argued with Corinne that Engrenages is not really top class. She too agreed.

But then, slowly, by the 4th episode, I realised something. Even with the Danish crime stories, the whole investigation is just after that major crime. If something else happens, they are all some how connected to the initial crime. The excellent Rejseholdet too, which is based on true crime stories, this was the pattern.

Would it be like that in a real life Police department? This is what makes Engrenages different and incredible.

There is the original crime, which is being investigated. But this doesn't mean other crimes dont happen, right?, so, the same officers also have to take care of other matters around them. There is a murder, which is giving head ache to the investigating team, but they are also stressed out by other crimes, another murder by young drug traffickers, a mother under suspicion for killing her baby, a father accused of raping his daughters and so on.

Sure did it take some time for my tube light to get into the same wave length. But therein, everything looked absolutely different.

When you think about it, Engrenages should be the closest to reality of how the justice system work.  It is brilliant, to be frank. Crime CID's, Judges, Forensic doctors, Public prosecutors, Perpetrators, victims and witnesses and media (interestingly, media presence is very limited), a whole web of people around crime. None of these characters are black or white. All are normal people with lots of grey matter. Like the Nordic stories, it too goes into the private lives of some of them.

At one point, I even thought, the serial might end stating that the whole system is corrupt. But no, it is not about that. It does say, there is grey every where. But it also tell us how law is helpless sometimes. How the insistence on solid proof prevents the law keepers from ensuring justice. Law may not be absolute.

Engrenages should change our view of how crime stories are told.

If you try to watch, allow some time, please. Inspite of bits of knowledge about the French, it was slow for me. Also, please keep in mind that the French justice system is quite different from ours or the US. So we might find certain aspects strange.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Best movies from Sep '15

Ich Seh Ich Seh - Goodnight Mommy by Severin Fiola, Veronica Franz - 2014- German from Austria
A mother comes back home, after a cosmetic surgery to her face, to her waiting young twins in a beautiful countryside villa. Her face is all bandaged and she also behaves strange that the boys doubt if she is their mother at all.
An excellent example for the beauty of the art of cinema. The movie starts slowly but gets tense and tenser. Am sure towards the last 10 or 20 minutes my mouth was bit open, kind of awe struck. The cinematography is absolutely sensational, with most of the scenes happening inside the villa.

Kis Uykusu - The Winter Sleep by Nuri Blige Ceylan - 2014 - Turkish
A not so successful theatre artist of the past, now enjoying some local fame as a writer, lives with his young wife and divorced sister, in a quite popular homestead. One or two friends, a kind of assistant and his tenants in the village makes up the rest of the characters.
The movie, proceeds through some scenes with long discussions between the couple or some of these characters. These discussions, sometimes, brings out the deep discontent within some of these characters but other times are about 'kind' of philosophical topics. It is very long, a bit more than 3 hours, yet, this is very engaging, speaks volumes about how well it has been made. Often the camera has little to do, but still I found it was a brilliant work. It was incredible that, many a times, I felt, the director was letting us watch some of the hypocrisies of the rich.

A brilliant cinema which make one feel like reading an epic novel.

Gui Lai - Coming home by Yimou Chang - 2014 - Mandarin/China
A couple who got separated because of Cultural revolution. By the time the husband is back from prison, wife has memory issues and do not recognise him. She keeps on waiting for her husband and the husband tries his best to get back to her memory. 

Well that story gives the feeling that it could be another cliched Hollywood epic. But not with Yimou Chang. He has made a kind of epic poem out of this story without making it overtly emotional or too much sentimental or not even going into too much of politics, which is omnipresent around. In fact the movie is quite slow, very engaging, with beautiful cinematography. Many of the scenes are very detailed and still have a kind of subtlety to it. However, most of those scenes will touch our heart. The ending is another class act.
Li Gong, what an actress. What a pity that most people, who know about Meryl Streep, do not know about this wonderful actor. 

5 to 7 by Victor Levin - 2014 - English/Hollywood

This cinema, in some ways, might look typical of many Hollywood romantic comedies. But there are two remarkable points about the movie.
- that someone is telling how conservative or closed Americans are in private life, when compared to the French or Europeans, barr the British.
- I dont know another Hollywood movie which even mentions the French 'system' of 5 to 7, a technical term for 'legitimate' extra marital affairs. This is the thread behind the movie.

Above all, I would say watch it simply for the stunning, beautiful French actress Berenice Marlohe. She has lovely curves and posture, but her smile takes it all to another level. Her smile lives on, even few seconds after the camera has moved on from her!

I am, again, gotten back into watching 'Nordic Noir' serials.

Den Som Draeber (Those who Kill)

Ornen: En Krime Odysse (Eagle : A Crime Odyssey)

Rejseholdet (Unit One)

All were good. But none felt like Forbrydelsen though. Its funny to know that all the above serials have been remade in America!