Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Best movies from August '15

There were so many Barca matches in August. It almost felt like April or May when, usually, Barca has a game every 3rd day. So unusual for the beginning of football season. Watching and re watching those games, I saw fewer movies in August. There were a few gems though.

1. LA FAMILLE BELIER - The Belier Family  by Eric Lartigau - 2014 - French
Charming, Cute, Funny, Heartwarming.. I could use many more words to describe this adorable movie.

The Belier's are quite an unique family. Both the father and mother, typical French farmers who sell their cheese in the weekly market, and their young son, all three are dumb and deaf. Only their daughter Paula can speak and is literally the PR person of the family. In school, she realises that she has a talent for singing. Her teacher wants her to apply for the big music school in Paris. But then, what about her family.

This is so stunningly shot on screen, with heart touching performances. Nearly every next scene will touch your heart, make you smile and will let you part with some tears. It goes into certain details, which other movies on dumb and deaf have never tried - for eg. the parents make all the noise, while making love, without realising it. It is though, quite normal for the daughter,  the healthy member of the family, to accept it and deal with it.. It is also so nice to listen to all the songs. How beautiful it is, when the characters sing their songs on the screen.

Louane Emera, who plays Paula, was definitely cast for her singing skills, however, at one point I did ask my wife if she was singing for herself, I mean, she was living Paula on the screen. Towards the climax, when she uses sign language, while singing, so that her parents can understand, is so beautiful and really really heart touching. For me, that was one of the most heart warming moments ever in cinema. We should be grateful that such cinema exists.

Also the song, My dear parents, am not running, am flying, is a song from the 70's. At the end of the movie, we wonder if this song was written specifically for this movie. Was the movie built around this song, or they researched around and found this song?

2. Mommy by Xavier Dolan - French from Canada - 2014

Story of a widowed mother, struggling to manage life, and son, who is hyperactive/unpredictable/violent and a woman from the neighborhood who wants to help them. This movie is about parental love, of course. But it can be described simply as violent or unpleasant or heart breaking or what not. Most scenes, even if you disagree with the content, are so intense, really really intense. The son's character and even the movie, especially during its first half, brought back memories of Starred Up. In some ways these two movies are cousins.

3. Ba Wang Bie Ji - Farewell my Concubine by Kaige Chen Mandarin - 1993
Story about 2 friends who meet during their (grueling) training in the Peking Opera. Their friendship continued for 52 years with lots of drama in between.
An absolute period classic from China. I find it hard to believe that every Chinese period movie I have watched, nearly all were excellent. They seem to really have that 'thing' to make wonderful period dramas. This movie is wonderful in its grandeur, but as an epic drama, it does not touch your soul as much as, say, Aftershock. Still a classic.

4. Sunshine on Leith by Dexter Fletcher - British - 2013
A movie about a close knit family told in a musical way. Every time I have watched a western musical, I have had moments when I found myself getting bored, when characters went about singing. But in Sunshine on Leith, every time they sung, it was pleasant and brought a smile on. It was such a pleasing experience. 

5. La Fille Du 14 Juillet - The Rendezvous of Deja Vu  by Antonin Paretjatko - French - 2014
The English title is quite weird.
This is one more example to prove that the French are masters of exploiting Cinema in the most unexpected or different ways. This movie is old at times and modern at other times. It is incredibly funny, inspite of being weird, is more than sarcastic and still created some feeling for couple of characters, in between. It could even be a meeting of Goddard, Fellini and Kusturica, and this coming from a debutant director, its brilliant.

6. Wild Bill by Dextor Fletcher - Irish - 2012
A father is out from prison on parole and find that his two sons are struggling to live by themselves. Their mother had left them. Being a good father was not his priority at all, but he seem to slowly realise what he was missing. At the same time, his old criminal friends are around too. The story as such may not look that attractive, but for how it is told, this is wonderful cinema with a superb performance by Charley Creed-Miles as the father.

I should also mention about the Hindi movie, Manjhi. A beautiful true story with a wonderful performance from Nawazuddin Ziddiqui, however it all ended up as a lost opportunity. We, Indians, are not really good at making biopics, me thinks.

Thani Oruvan, the new Tamil movie also didnt disappoint as a neatly taken entertainer. The director manage to make Aravind Swami look like a decent actor. Even Mani Ratnam didnt manage that! It is not always that in Indian cinema, there is an intelligent villain, who grows in stature as the cinema progress. It is also rare for us to see a main stream entertainer starting out as a perfect thriller, getting slower and slower as it progress, but keeps on getting more and more engaging. Simply wish if the hero was played by Surya or Vijay though.