Thursday, 31 December 2015

Best of Dec 15

December was excellent.  Most of the movies were good with some exceptional ones in between. So difficult to pick the best.

La danza de la realidad -The dance of Reality by Alejandro Jodorowsky - Spanish from Chile -2013

Watching this movie, I felt like, experiencing something co-directed by Fellini and Kusturica. What a beautiful creation this was. This is a must watch, believe me.

A kind of mix of surrealism and magical realism, to tell the story of a father, who goes through a sea change in his character, with assistance from his wife - who only sings her dialogues - and a son.

I must admit, there were more than few thoughts or view points (political/religious) in this movie, which I would not personally agree, but I could forget all that while watching. Such was the power of this cinema. It engages you in a magical way. A brilliant master piece.

Plemya - The Tribe by Miroslav Slaboshpitsky from Ukrain - 2014 - Russian sign language

This movie does not have any dialogues or any background music. But it is a stunning piece of cinema. The story happens in a boarding school for deaf and dumb and all the dialogues are through sign language.

One might doubt that you need to understand the sign language to see this cinema. Well, if you understand its better. But frankly, you don't have to. This movie has the beauty and magic of cinema, in abundance. I do have apprehensions about the story, but I don't care and would rate this as a master piece. Absolutely Brilliant.

Mustang by Denis Gamze Erguven - Turkish - 2015

A beautiful cinema about the life of 5 sisters in a rural family.

Wonderfully acted, Mustang is engaging to the hilt while subtly getting its message through to us. There is not a single moment in which any of these young girls give an impression that they are acting. They were so natural in front of the camera. Incredible.

The only negativity, arguably may be, is that the underlying theme of control over women, is getting quite repetitive when it comes to movies from Iran and Turkey.

It is very sad that, our women (Indian) suffer too, really terribly. But there are hardly any genuine or serious attempts to tell that in our cinema. Most of our movies, which boast as female oriented, turns out to be fake or pretentious.

Gett. Trial of Vivian Amsalem by Ronit Elkabetz, Shlomi Elkabetz - 2015 - Hebrew/French from Israel

I don't like anything about Israel, but really, they make very good movies. And Ronit Elkabetz is a real star. She is a brilliant actress and director too. What a woman. With this movie, she is telling us that life of women in Jewish society is terrible. Her French influence is quite evident in her direction, I think.

The title is nearly the brief of the movie. A woman wants her divorce. But in her religion, she is utterly under the mercy of her man and the clerics. 

This is definitely a continuation of the 2004 movie, To Take a Wife. Most of the cinema happens in a small court room. But there is not even a dull second. I felt like killing the bloody husband and the priests. Like most other movies in this list, sorry to say again, this is a must watch too!

La Giovinezza - Youth by Paolo Sorrentino - English from Italy 2015

Last year, Sorrentino charmed with his La Grande Bellezza, and this year he has another movie to remind us, what an excellent film maker he is. His consistency in bringing out 2 master pieces out in consecutive years is incredible.

There is something magical in the way Sorrentino captures his ideas onto screen. He must be among the best in today's directors who can consistently create absolutely stunning imagery on screen. He doesn't even seem to need a really great plot to do this, as it is in La Giovinezza. It seems to be all about aging, friendship, love, pain and what not. Yes, there is so much going on there. But Sorrentino can keep us engaged and hooked to the screen with his mind boggling mastery of visuals and sounds. He also gets the best out of his actors.

Manuscripts dont burn by Mohammad Rasoulof - Persian/Iran - 2013
The Government needs to prevent a certain secret being published by some intellectuals. 2 men are employed to find out the last remaining copies of the manuscripts and they have orders to kill if need be.  They too have their own personal lives, though. The movie concentrates on one of them, who is struggling to find money for his kids operation. 

Wonderfully shot, this is a stunning and brilliant political thriller. A must watch.

Eden by Mia Hansen-Love - French/France - 2014
In some ways Eden looks like a difficult movie to make. There are hundreds of thousands of young teenagers and men, through out the world, who dream about making it big as a DJ. Eden, follows one such young man and his struggles, over couple of decades.

An excellent cinema about pursuing one's dreams and what it costs for the same.

Kuttram Kadithal by Bramma G - Tamil -2015

Yet again, Tamil cinema comes up with an indigenous movie which can be up there with international cinema.

A young school teacher slaps her naughty student who falls unconscious and later into a coma. So many other ordinary lives too are affected

A wonderfully shot cinema, which is almost an edge of the seat kind for most of its run time. Tamil cinema should be proud about this movie. Except for some bits of unwanted song sequences, the movie is near perfect.

Following European tradition, most important actors are chosen from Theatre and this has lent a very high standard to the movie when it comes to the performances, not to mention the leash of fresh life it induces to the whole cinema experience. The student, the teacher, the principal and his wife, the students mother (sensational, I must say, with hardly any dialogues) and his uncle, all of them were brilliant. My salutes..

Tamil new generation movie makers need to be commented for their boldness in non-conformist casting. Brilliant!!!

Beasts of No Nation by Cary Fukunaga - 2015 - English - American

This is one of those movies which I would call American than Hollywood.

A very young boy is forced to be a soldier in a bloody civil war in some African country

A beautiful cinema, but a painful watch. We would not wish such a fate for any child from anywhere in the world. Must watch, I would say.

The performance by Idris Elba, as a commandant, leading the army of children and teenagers, is exceptional.

Sicario by Denis Villeneuve - 2015 - English/Hollywood

This is what Hollywood can do best, when they really want to, ie to make a genuine movie.
I had 3 reasons why I wanted to watch Sicario - Denis Villeneuve, director of one of my favourite movie - Incendies, the lovely Emily Blunt - whom I adore since I saw Young Victoria, and the majestic Benicio Del Torro.

The movie brief is quite misleading, as it sounds like a typical Hollywood action project. It hardly is. I mean there is action in this movie, but it is devoid of any Hollywood cliches. Wonderfully directed, Sicario is an excellent thriller with a soul.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Best of Nov 15

Victoria by Sebastian Schipper - German - 2015

There are few movies out there, which have been completed in a single shot. Making of a cinema is always like creating harmony out of various creative departments, and to make this happen in a single shot requires great vision, planning and pinpoint execution and hence such movies are special. However, with all the past single take movies, one factor was always missing, a la thrill. Most of them were also shot in a single or in a couple of locations.

Victoria is a Spanish girl who has just moved into Berlin for work. After some fun in a night club she comes across a group of boys and develops some feelings for one of them. However, the boys are stuck up in a very dangerous situation and Victoria too gets trapped into it.

The dangerous situation is a bank robbery. And from the above brief itself you would see that this movie cant take place in a couple of locations, right? I think there are more than, at least, a dozen locations in this cinema. Though, the first half is all about getting a bit romantic the second half takes a sudden deviation into pure thrill. Now think about it, all this is shot in a single take. Frankly, it is unbelievable and absolutely brilliant.

I must say, Victoria is not brilliant just because it is a single shot movie. It is an excellent cinema. There are some believable characters too, who are all payed brilliantly. Special mention to Laia Costa who plays Victoria. To think that most scenes must have involved a lot of on the spot improvisations and all.., it is incredible. The second half is as thrilling as any good thriller. It would be a sin to not mention the heroics of the cinematographer, who had to shoot the whole movie in one take, 2 hours plus of a single shot, half of it during night and the rest during dawn. Brilliant.

I cant imagine, how could they conceive and execute this so well. My salutes to all behind this one. Thank You.

La Isla Minima (Minimal Island) Marshland by Alberto Rodriguez - Spanish - 2014

A double murder in a remote Spanish village is investigated by two detectives.

A well taken investigation cinema, with some stunning cinematography.

Diplomacy by Volker Schlondroff - French/German - 2014

Whenever Hollywood wants to talk about atrocities on humanity or human sufferings or historical wrongs, they always go to Europe and the World war. And its always the Jews who suffer. This is another example of how European cinema seem to create master pieces out of world war situations, without Hollywood cliches.

Germany occupied Paris. The allies are closing in on the city and they can capture Paris any moment. Hitler have ordered his General - now acting mayor of Paris - to raze out the city of lights. The Swedish consul is trying his best to prevent the General from doing so.

This cinema takes us into a historic moment, happening in a room, the General's office, and let us witness their whole discussion, which starts sometime very early in the morning and goes on for hours. We see the versions of both sides and why both are so intent on doing their job. 95% of this cinema happens in this room and yet, it feels like a thriller is no mean achievement. Absolutely brilliant performances by the two veteran actors Neils Arestrup and Andre Dussollier. With all my love for the city of Paris, I may be forgiven for looking at this movie as a thriller.

Love - read here

Les Combattants - Love at First fight by Thomas Cailley and Andy Goddard - French 2014

A young man has to fight a fierce young woman in a silly beach competition and falls for her. He is now ready to go to any lengths to impress her. This girl is quite a concrete block though. 

Well, that brief would make a typical Hollywood Romantic Comedy and this cinema too is a kind of Romantic Comedy, but very Frenchish with lot of cinematic touches. So do not expect all the fun and grief  and twists that you would expect in a normal Rom comedy. Excellent performances, especially by Adele Haenel.

Turist - Force Majeure by Ruben Ostlund - Swedish - 2014

A Swedish family is on a skiing holiday in the French Alps. They face an Avalanche and the mother and children are stunned to see their father running away without any worry for the family. 

This is one of those, quite different from rest, intelligent and novel idea for a movie. There are no fatalities from the avalanche and things are back to normal. But how would a family react to a father after such a thing. A really good watch, except that the end was a bit predictable. Some of the frames, embedded in thick white snow, were so beautiful and artistic.

The movie really made me think about how I might react in a similar dangerous situation. Would I put a brave face or would I behave like a coward. Our mind is a strange thing. We never know.