Written on 5:01 PM by Hemanth Kumar

Title: C.R.A.Z.Y
Language: French
Country: Canada
Year of Release: 2005
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Actors: Michel Côté, Marc-André Grondin,Danielle Proulx
Awards: 33 wins and 4 nominations...for the entire list click here

Every now and then, you come across some quite unexpected movies which will excite you to a great level and compel you to take notice of that kind of genre too. Of course, not every movie dealing with the same theme might be as captivating as the one which inspired you...what's more important is how the story is told. Also the level to which a director can go to make his point without going over the top will definitely create a great impression about the movie. In India, where these days, we have quite a few film makers who are trying to deal with the theme of homosexuality in the society...perhaps for all of them this Canadian movie C.R.A.Z.Y would be a good script to study...for the simple reason that the director has a good aesthetic sense of dealing the theme with sensitivity!

C.R.A.Z.Y is a family drama set in the suburbs of Quebec, Canada. The family has five sons Brainy (Christian); Druggy (Raymond); Sporty (Antoine); Fairy (Zachary); and Fatty (Yvan) ..that's why the title of the story, which has been derived from the starting letter from their names. The main character of all of them is Zac, and the whole story revolves around his life and how that in turn has its effects on others. While growing up, the family comes in terms with their strict father who struggles hard to bring up his children with utmost discipline. But things don't go as he would have wanted, so we have each of his sons taking a different course. While in school, Zac makes himself belief that he has "more than normal-level of male hormones" and also develops a feeling that he's homosexual. One fine day, his father catches Zac cosying up with his friend and he's embarrassed to what he has become. After they grow up, Zac who's struggling with his identity, also fosters a desire to please his father by returning the record of Patsy Cline's classic song "Crazy", which Zac had broken out of rage in his childhood. What follows after that is one man's journey to find himself and how he realizes what he has been missing all his life and a climax to their confused lives which brings the estranged father and son together.

Almost every character stands out in the movie...be it the father, or Zac and his rivalry and unexplained love and care for his elder brother Raymond, and Raymond himself who's become a drug addict. The theme fiddles around Zac's identity about how he fathoms it and how his family and society at large want him to think. Quite literally it's a struggle going on in a youth's mind and how he tries to come in terms with everything around him. There isn't a strand of vulgarity unless you are quite uncomfortable at the very words of homosexuality itself, as you would see in the movie are a series of misunderstandings which jeopardizes quite a number of relationships in a family.

It's a film with a good story and also very well narrated, be it the sub-plot of the healing powers that Zac had supposedly possessed, or the one which shows his journey to distant lands to seek wisdom....watch the film...you won't restrain yourself from feeling awe at almost every scene.

Check out this teaser on the movie....

Sahib Biwi aur Ghulam (Master, Mistress and Slave)


Written on 1:38 PM by Hemanth Kumar

Title: Sahib Biwi aur Ghulam (Master, Mistress and Slave)
Language: Hindi
Country: India
Year of Release: 1962
Director: Abrar Alvi
Actors: Meena Kumari, Rehman, Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman
Awards: This movie won 4 awards at the 1963 Filmfare Awards for Best Movie, BestActress (Meena Kumari), Best Director (Abrar Alvi), Best Cinematographer (V.K.Murthy)....
Also the film won the President's Silver Medal that year

Five years after the release of Pyaasa and it's subsequent commercial failure, almost the same team of actors along with Meena Kumari this time, teamed up to act in the movie Sahib Biwi aur Ghulam. Based on a book by Bimal Mitra, the film directed by Abrar Alvi and produced by Guru Dutt, the film was about the lifestyle of the upper class Zamindars in the pre-independence era and its subsequent fall.

The story revolves mainly around Choti Bahu (Meena Kumari) who's the wife and also the youngest daughter-in-law in the haveli of the local Zamindar (Rehman). Coming from an ordinary household, all she aspires is to literally "worship" her husband, and heed and follow his wishes. But the only catch is that, he really doesn't bother about her; instead he spends his nights in mehfils, drinking all night. One fine day, Boothnath (Guru Dutt) comes to the haveli and stays in one of the outhouses and works in a Mohini Sindoor Factory outside in the city. There he comes across Jabba (Waheeda Rehman) the daughter of his employer and what starts as a silly fight, develops into fascination for one another. Choti Bahu asks for Boothnath's help in getting her the Mohini Sindoor which is rumoured to have special powers. Boothnath smitten by her beauty has unparalleled respect for Choti Bahu and it matures into a deep friendship. One night, out of desperation, Choti Bahu pleads her husband not to leave her that night and to prove that she can go to any length to please him, consumes alcohol. What follows latter on is a tale of sorrow, traditions which are too deep-rooted to change and a devastating end to what was once a majestic lifestyle.

The film is about the lifestyle of Zamindars and the women in these havelis. The usual desire for adorning more gold and leading a lavish lifestyle is questioned by a simple girl who places the desire to serve her husband above everything else. What struck me most about this movie was the way the characters were moulded in the story. Especially that of...Meena Kumari and Boothnath. Both of them start as someone extremely innocent to those who are quite confident and someone who can stand on their own feet. In that sense, I think, the major part of the entire credit for the movie should go to Meena Kumari for her role as Choti Bahu. She is stunningly beautiful and all those closeup shots of hers in this black and white movie simply illuminate the whole screen! I think the camera man was just awestruck by her beauty and every single time the focus is on her, she just stands out with her acting. Her role as a woman who would forgo the normal traditions (in this case...read as consuming alcohol) just to please her husband and later on looking after him amidst lost glory would go down as one of the best performances in Hindi Cinema.The rest of the star cast is good and in this movie too...the dialouges and music stand out. The music is by Hemant Kumar and lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni and together they have come up with some memorable songs like Na Jao Saiyaan(Don't go my dear) and others. Songs are shot in sync with the mood of the film and also they add more meaning to the characters thoughts...esp the song Na Jao Saiyaan....

Do watch the movie for the story of the pre-independence portrayal of the zamindars, the prevailing customs and traditions in the society at that time....a good and strong story...great performances, music and Meena Kumari...she's definitely the heart and soul of the movie!

To listen to probably one of the best songs from the movie...Na Jao Saiyaan....click here
Another beautiful song from the movie featuring Meena Kumari....Piya aiso jiya mein

Pyaasa (Thirst)


Written on 11:09 AM by Hemanth Kumar

Title: Pyaasa (Thirst)
Language: Hindi
Country: India
Year of Release: 1957
Director: Guru Dutt
Actors: Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman, Mala Sinha
Trivia: Named as one of the 100 best films of all time by the TIME magazine.

Cinema is perhaps one of the best medium of representing the lifestyle of people. If you consider Indian Cinema in particular, then the themes dealt with in each decades relate directly to the respective lifestyle of that time. 1950's cinema was about a country which had just become independent and this trend continued through most of the 1960's. Then 1970's changed a lot of things. There was a silent revolution around the country, Socialist and Communist ideologies were fast catching attention and correspondingly there were movies which depicted this..and the1980's and 1990's slowly shifted their focus on individuals depicting individual traits like Love, Marriage. Particularly 1950's and 60's movies were truly international in the sense that, they had such a distinct identity when compared with the Italian and French cinema. It's also considered by many as the Golden age of Bollywood.

In 1957, Guru Dutt came up with perhaps would be his most talked about movie even after 50 years of its release. Titled "Pyaasa" the flick had some of the finest talent that Hindi cinema has seen....Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman, Mala Sinha, Johny Walker, Rehman....the music by S.D.Burman, Lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi and written by Abrar Alvi and singing by Mohammed Rafi. It truly is the one of the best combos of finest talent in Hindi Cinema and the result is nothing short of a masterpiece and a timeless Classic.

Pyaasa, is the story of Vijay(Guru Dutt), an unsuccessful poet who is struggling to get his poems published. His brothers despise him for being worthless and one day they sell his poems as waste paper which are inturn purchased from a store by a prostitute, Gulabo(Waheeda Rehman). One night, while sleeping in a park, Vijay overhears his poetry being sung as a song by Gulabo and follows her to the brother house. When Gulabo finally finds out that he is penniless, she drives him away, but later realizes that he is the same poet whose poems she had been singing. She falls in love with him and after sometime, Vijay also begins to like her for she's the only one who treats him with love and respect. While walking down a road, Vijay sees Meena(Mala Sinha) his ex-girlfriend who's now married to a big publisher Mr.Ghosh(Rehman). Vijay goes to his college reunion and sings a song in that ceremony and there he again sees Meena and Ghosh. Ghosh calls him to his office and offers a small job in his office. Out of desperation for money, Vijay accepts it; but Meena tries to make him understand that there's always a danger of her husband finding out about their past relationship. When Ghosh comes to know about this, he fires Vijay from his job. One night while trying to cross a railway track, there's an accident and Vijay loses his memory. But the world thinks that, Vijay has died because his coat was found at the accident site when infact it was that of a beggar to whom Vijay had given.
Gulabo takes the poems to Ghosh and convinces him to publish Vijay's poetry. Vijay's poetry becomes a huge hit and people just fall in love with him. In the meantime, Vijay's brother's come to meet Ghosh to demand for a share in the profit saying that, whatever Vijay's property was they also should have a share in that. One day, the nurse reads out Vijay's poetry infront of him and he finally becomes normal, but nobody believes him. He's put in a prison like room which is filled with insane people. Mr.Ghosh comes to know about his condition and when he reaches to see him, he lies that the man isn't Vijay. Then Ghosh also convinces Vijay's brothers that they shouldn't recognise him otherwise the whole business would be destroyed. With the help of his friend Abdul Sattar(Johnny Walker) Vijay manages to escape and goes home. His brothers refuse to recognise him saying that his brother had died. Then after sometime he comes to know that there is a public gathering which has been organized to honour Vijay, after a year of his death. In that function, Vijay sings a song which draws all the attention and he's brought to the main stage. Slowly after realising that they can turn Vijay's return into profit one after the other all his acquaintances who had earlier rejected him, claim that this is the real Vijay. And people are elated upon this fact. Seeing all this fame which he has earned during his absence and influenced by the attitude of the people around him....Vijay makes a U turn and says that he is not the Vijay whom people think. He denounces everything and leaves the society which doesn't care about one another, questioning the hypocrisy of the people. Gulabo joins him and they go away far from everybody from where they wouldn't need to go any further.

Sounds pretty normal for 21st century, but think of the same thing in 1957! It truly would have been shocking to see such a thing on screen, of a society which doesn't care about people while in reality the concept of joint family was still strong. Much ahead of its age, Guru Dutt's masterpiece was a commercial disaster. But nevertheless, this film pointed out fingers about society in an age where few film-makers dared to do the same. There are quite a few number of things to be talked about the movie.
The music of the film by S.D.Burman is remarkable and added with Sahir Ludhianvi's lyrics creates an ever lasting impression....something which you would like to sing/hum for a long time! It's pure poetry about what's going on in a unsuccessful poet's mind who's fed up with the society. Each word of the lyrics is equivalent to thousand emotions unexpressed ... especially the last song where Vijay sings about the society stands out from almost everything in the movie! Mohammed Rafi's voice adds magic to the lyrics...no wonder he's one of the best ever...perhaps the best! Dialogues by Abrar Alvi are great...they have this bitterness in them which suggests that the writer understands the thoughts of a dejected man with remarkable profoundness. Acting by everyone is good...but one person who stands out from almost everybody else in the movie is Guru Dutt himself. In one line, "He's a God in everything he does!" His looks, his thoughts, his questions, his silence....everything he does speak volumes about his understanding of the theme he's trying to project.

I think I can add more to this list, but maybe I should leave a lot more for you to experience. A masterpiece from Hindi Cinema, the flick has withstood the test of time and is still counted among the best films ever! Some people might say that, it's kinda slow and boring but maybe you should come to your own conclusion after watching this...maybe watching this movie from a point of view of a young nation which had achieved its freedom just a decade ago and coming to terms with poverty, employment, development, family values would help in understanding it better. A film like this atleast once a decade will stand as an example for others not to emulate but to get inspiration...to come up with themes that challenge ideas and perceptions. A timeless classic...with haunting music and great dialouges and acting....this definitely deserves to be watched over and over again....Highly recommended.

To download all the songs and verses from the movie click here

A beautiful song from the movie...this one is basically about how hypocritical people are...

Another nice song from the movie...this has been used in numerous ads in India over the years....

Diarios de motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries)


Written on 4:13 AM by Hemanth Kumar

Title: Diarios de motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries)

Language: Spanish
Country: International Co-Production comprising several countries from South America
Year of Release: 2004
Director: Walter Salles
Actors: Gael García Bernal, Rodrigo de la Serna
Awards: Oscar; Best Original Song Jorge Drexler; for the song "Al Otro Lado Del Río"; 2005) and several other awards...Click here for the complete list

I am not from South America. I am not a Communist or a Socialist...I don't know which ideology I support. I quite rarely follow music or pop culture...and one fine day, I saw a picture of a man in his 30's sporting a beard with a posture that can't be easily forgotten, I became curious and asked my friend, "Who is he?"....To be honest, that look from my friend suggested that I was the most illiterate person on Earth at that moment and how I could be so ignorant. Nevertheless, he was kind enough to enlighten me and said...."Dude, that's Che Guevera-The Cuban Revolutionary!" And couple of years ago, when I was in college, a friend of mine told me that there's a new movie on campus which is about Che, and also that it's brilliant. That day, when I saw this movie "Motorcycle Diaries", I understood the passion behind his work and how events around you can change your perspective of life and thereafter your life itself.

Directed by Walter Salles, this 2004 flick is based on Diarios de motocicleta by Guevara, and Con el Che por America Latina by Alberto Granado (Che's friend). It's an international co-production with most of the South American countries being a part of it, and in Spanish language, which I presume more or less most of these countries speak or atleast understand. The story is about two friends Che Guevara played by Gael García Bernal and Alberto Granado played by Rodrigo de la Serna.

In 1952, just a semester before Che's graduation from medicine, he and Alberto decide to go on a journey from Buenos Aries (Argentina) all the way to a leper colony in Peru, finally ending their journey in Venezuela on Alberto's motorcycle, a Norton 500 motorcycle which he calls "La Pedarosa". Che convinces his father about his journey and they start moving south of Buenos Aires, reaching Miramar where Che spends sometime with his girlfriend and promises that he would soon come back for her. Later, they enter Chile and while travelling through the country, he receives a letter from his girlfriend that she cannot wait any longer. Upon reaching a town in Chile, they come to know that their motorcycle has completely broken down and from there on they continue the rest of the journey on foot. While traveling through Atacama Desert, they come across a couple, from whom Che learns that they were being tormented because of their affiliations towards Communism and the only place where they can have some work is the mines. From then on, they come across lot of locals who tell their economic and social problems. Finally, they reach Macchu Picchu, where they are just dumbstruck to see how the course of humanity had changed in a brief period of time; a civilization which was capable of building something like that, completely wiped out and started building a different city, Lima(Peru). There in Peru, they meet a professor who tells them about the basic problem of the locals is that they don't have their own land and also their rights are suppressed. From there on, Che begins to see life differently, as someone who tries to understand the problem of those around him and treat them with love and care..especially after the duo reaches the Leper Colony on the Amazon coast in Peru. His days in the leper colony bring a lot of change and one fine day, he becomes so emotionally attached to the people that he plans to drop his Medicine plans and do something which he's thinking about now.
Here in Peru he celebrates his birthday and while making a speech, he says the following lines..

"Even though we are too insignificant to be spokesmen for such a noble cause, we believe, and this journey has only confirmed this belief, that the division of American into unstable and illusory nations is a complete fiction. We are one single mestizo race from Mexico to the Magellan Straits. And so, in an attempt to free ourselves from narrow minded provincialism, I propose a toast to Peru and to a united America"

Perhaps something which he believed in completely and something which will change him and those around him. Inspite of being an Asthma patient, he dares to swim across the Amazon to spend the rest of the night with the lepers. Such is his grit! Finally they reach Venezuela, where Alberto decides to stay back and Che goes back home as a completely different person.

Shot with a terrific mix of Documentary style as well as maintaining a normal movie like feel this is a great biographical movie. It's such a huge task to depict such an icon with complete honesty and perhaps only those who have known and completely understood his passion could have done that. I don't claim that Walter Salles has done the picture perfect job, but then you cannot rule out the true theme about this depiction of Che. It's not really about his philosophy but the events which made him think so. That's perhaps why this is politically correct and something which everyone should keep in mind while watching this film. The backdrop of the rural South America is beautiful...it makes me so wanna go there, especially Peru!

The two actors, Gael Garcia Bernal and Rodrigo de la Serna, are good. Bernal as a passionate young man who identifies himself with the locals and Rodrigo as Alberto who initially criticises Che for being so straight forward but eventually understanding what's going on in his mind; their conversations truly bring out the sense of friendship that they have. Also, the background music of the film....it's so soothing as well as something which will inspire you every single time when you listen to it.

Watch it...watch it...watch it...this is a brilliant movie and a must for everyone who own a poster of Che and for all those who wanted to know how can a journey change your life!
The film stands by its tagline which resonates even after you complete the flick and think about it days later...."Let the World Change You and You can Change the World".

By the way, if you are still wondering about that poster you have in your room, it was clicked by Alberto Korda....Click here for more info on what's been named as the "Most Famous picture of the 20th Century" by the The Maryland Institute College of Art

For more reviews....Click here

Check out this trailer of the movie....

This is the OST of the movie titled "On the Other Side of the River" sung by Jorge Drexler, this song got the Oscar for Best Song in 2005....

Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain (Amelie)


Written on 9:28 PM by Hemanth Kumar

Title: Le Fabulex Destin d'Amelie Poulain (Amelie)
Language: French
Year of Release: 2001
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Actors: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz
Awards: Nominated for five Oscars, won 4 Cesar Awards and several others

Narrator: "On September 3rd 1973, at 6:28pm and 32 seconds, a bluebottle fly capable of 14,670 wing beats a minute landed on Rue St Vincent, Montmartre. At the same moment, on a restaurant terrace nearby, the wind magically made two glasses dance unseen on a tablecloth. Meanwhile, in a 5th-floor flat, 28 Avenue Trudaine, Paris 9, returning from his best friend's funeral, Eugène Colère erased his name from his address book. At the same moment, a sperm with one X chromosome, belonging to Raphaël Poulain, made a dash for an egg in his wife Amandine. Nine months later, Amélie Poulain was born."

This is how the movie begins! The first time I saw this movie, I couldn't understand what was going on....it switched to another channel in 5 minutes. Two years later when I saw this again, I realized what a fool I was!!...How could I have missed such a beautiful movie on the previous occasion? That was all I thought about that day. Released in 2001, this French movie directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet featuring Audrey Tautou who later acted as Sophie in "Da Vinci Code" alongside Tom Hanks.

The story is about Amelie. Her father who's a doctor thinks that she has a unhealthy heart (while the real reason is that, Amelie yearns for her father so much that everytime he touches her, which is only while doing a checkup, her heart beats unusually rapid!) and she's never sent to school. After her mother's death she becomes even more lonley and from there after she develops great interest in doing some simple, but different things. One fine day, she leaves her home and starts working in a Cafe'. Her colleagues at the Cafe' each have an issue or you can say problem of their own which makes them quite uneasy on several occasions. One fine day, Amelie stumbles upon a box hid behind a loose bathroom tile and when she opens it she finds a small treasure....a collection of small objects which perhaps a young boy had left behind. Amelie begins her quest to find the owner of the box and return this to him. After some days she finds him and is quite happy when she secretly sees how that person reacts upon finding his treasure. From them on Amelie decides that she would help people around her and make them happy; and in doing so, she will be happy too. She accidentally bumps into Nino, a guy who's hobby is to collect the torn and discarded passport photo booths and falls in love with him. But given the fact how shy Amelie is, she never appears face to face with him and is quite afraid to express her love for him....and help finds its way through Raymond Dufayel, her neighbour who's called as the Glass man by everyone....And how this happens...makes up the rest of the story.

Narrator: September 28th, 1997. It is exactly 11am. At the funfair, near the ghost train, the marshmallow twister is twisting. Meanwhile, on a bench in Villette Square, Félix Lerbier learns there are more links in his brain than atoms in the universe. Meanwhile, at the Sacré Coeur, the nuns are practising their backhand. The temperature is 24°C, humidity 70%, atmospheric pressure 990 millibars.

This is how the film ends!!...What makes this film so special is the way, the character of Amelie is portrayed...as a person who never hesitates to help others, but when it is about herself she doesn't take a step forward. Acting is beautiful especially by Audrey Tautou, and the little girl who portrays the role of Amelie when she's young...is so damn cute! Dialouges are good; but some of them are quite unexpected...in one of the scenes, while explaining the different interests of Amelie it is said that, right now she's counting how many people are having an orgasm in the city! and many more like this....for more quotes from the movie...click here

The film has got a great look too...beautiful colours, there's never a dull moment in the movie. And there are quite a few number of references too...like Princess Diana (one of the characters wonders what British are going to Princess Di's ashes...he hopes that it will be thrown in space so that it becomes a star...[:)]..)

It's cute, refreshing, romantic...a perfect feel good movie. This one is among my all time favourite movies and definitely my favourite French movie! Highly recommended...one of the best films from Europe!
For more reviews of this flick...click here

Check out this English trailer of the movie...



Written on 8:41 PM by Hemanth Kumar

Title: Nostalghia
Language: Italian/ Russian
Country: Italy/Russia
Year of Release: 1983
Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Actors: Oleg Yankovsky, Erland Josephson, Domiziana Giordano

"Nostalghia", the name itself brings back thousand memories with it. And with a director like, Tarkovsky making a cinema out of this theme is bound to be compelling. He definitely is among the few directors in Cinema who have given it a new meaning through his vision and whole idea of including philosophy into Cinema. This was my first rendezvous with Tarkovsky's style of cinema and also with themes that sometimes seem to be impossible to be shown on the silver screen. Something like, I have always wondered how someone can depict silence on screen without it looking out of place or how can someone make you think while watching a scene itself. But Tarkovsky does it with such grace! Perhaps, the situation in which he was in while filming "Nostalghia" also helped him in bringing out that degree of emotion...he was in exile...away from his country, Russia.

The story is about Andrei Gorèakov, a Russian writer who travels to Bologna, Italy to research the work of a Russian composer who lived there in 18th Century. He has Eugenia, as his companion who's also a translator for him. One day while roaming around Bologna they happen to meet a person named Domenico, who's said to be a lunatic. But, Andrei takes some interest in talking to Domenico and in the course of their discussion Andrei senses that he understands what Domenico is going through. Meanwhile, Eugenia is growing fond of Andrei but he doesn't reciprocate her feelings...out of anger she returns to Rome to meet a man, whom she says is going to marry. Andrei before leaving to his own country meets Domenico where the latter requests him to finish one last task on his behalf.....To carry a lit candle across a dried outdoor pool. Then Andrei leaves the place and around the same time, Domenico goes to Rome and gives a speech to a group. At the end of it, he commits suicide. On the other hand, Andrei changes his mind at the last moment about leaving the country and goes back to Bologna to finish the task what Domenico had asked him to do.

One of the primary characteristics of the film is the use of "silence" to carry forward the story. At one point, I was growing so impatient that, it was as though, the silence in the film has transcended everything and filling up the unknown part of my brain which usually thinks! It's such a demanding entity of the movie which makes it extremely difficult to sit through at a stretch. But after having the full movie and making an attempt to understand it (which I still can't), I gave up. It was until, I met a friend who had watched this movie that I kind of understood from what point of view I should think about the movie. He told me, sometimes trying to understand a movie doesn't make sense...it all about experiencing the emotion that's being depicted! He was right....

There's a sense of alienation which is evident from the use of such long gaps of silence, alienation from the family, as depicted in numerous scenes, alienation from one's country and also alienation from one's culture and oneself! The sound of water is there in almost every scene of the movie...it's almost as if it is trying to convey something...something that life goes on irrespective of what you do...also Tarkovsky masterfully uses this sound of water to convey the mood of the scene...sometimes it's slow..sometimes fast. Also, the philosophy in the movie is worth brooding upon. In one of the scenes it is said that....one drop of water plus another drop of water doesn't make two drops of water, but a bigger drop!....and in another scene....a man should only smoke when he has nothing else to do.....such things just add a whole new perspective to cinema.

Another thing which the director often uses in his films are the unusually long shots to depict a scene. And the master of all this, the climax of the film where Andrei tries to cross the pool is an eight minute, forty five second long scene without any cuts!!!...just Unbelievable!!

A work of art blended with astounding emotional, philosophical touch; Tarkovsky's Nostalghia is truly one of its kind. Don't see the film...WATCH it!!....Don't try to understand it, but EXPERIENCE it!!...it's one of the unique films which you won't forget for a long time! And if you manage to sit through the whole 2 hours of the film, trust me, you can listen to silence....[:)]

Requiem For A Dream


Written on 10:34 PM by Arun Sethuraman

Year of Release:2000
Director:Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans,etc.

There aren’t too many movies that move. Sounds ironical, but true. Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem For a Dream, based on the novel by Hubert Selby Jr., is one of those. It may have been touted as one of those movies that’s too graphically shocking and raw to qualify as the perfect home video to watch on a Sunday evening. It may have been banned from screening in a million gazillion theatres for similar reasons. For now, it shall be what I call a must-see for the very same reasons.

Requiem for a dream is the story of four people, their lives and how their lives grow to be controlled by addictions. Simple as it may sound, it strikes one as possibly the most realistic depiction of desperation, love and woes.

The lives of four people.

Harry and Marion(played by Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly respectively) are a beautiful couple. They have dreams; dreams of a better life. Tyrone(Marlon Wayans) is another young man who loves his life and people. Sarah Goldfarb(Ellen Burstyn) is an old mother; left to herself, to sink into her own wrinkles, to stare at the television all day, so much that it pervades her dreams. Aptly named, the movie portrays the efforts of the above characters to realise their dreams and their miserable failures, spiraled by their respective addictions.

The dialogues, though few, are supplemented by stupendous acting and haunting background scores, making the movie an unforgettably disturbing one.

One never realises how movies never tend to be tragic. There are too many movies with happy endings to notice the few that are truly sad. Move over movies with triumphant heroes, elated mothers, dollish women and doltish right-hands. This one has none. The hero loses. His mother drowns in broken dreams. His lover loses. His friend is behind bars.

A must watch for those who do not call a tragedy a farce and those who do.

Viskningar och rop (Cries and Whispers)


Written on 6:30 PM by Hemanth Kumar

Title: Viskningar och rop (Cries and Whispers)
Language: Swedish
Year of Release: 1972
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Actors: Harriet Andersson, Kari Sylwan, Ingrid Thulin, Liv Ullmann
Awards: Academy Award for Best Cinematography, and the film was also nominated for Best Costume Design, Best Director, and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Based on Factual Material or Material Not Previously Published or Produced. Unusually for a foreign language film, it was also nominated for Best Picture, not for Best Foreign Language Film

Ingmar Bergman's movies have something special about them....more or less, his stories deal with relationships especially among those who are in a family. This 1972 flick, Cries and Whispers is one such story.

This is the story of Karin and Maria who come over to look after their sister Anges along with the loyal maid, Anna. Anges is taken ill and she is not expected to survive for long...and as the story progresses, mysterious and often sad relationships are unravelled among the members of the family. Marie cheats on her husband and has an affair with their family doctor David. Karin is having a very unhappy marriage and Anges suffers from her perrenial illness. After sometime Anges dies and Maria and Karin who were not in talking terms with each other try to mend their relationship. Finally both the families decide that everything in the mansion would be sold and they would settle down in the nearby city.

What's so striking about this movie is the it's use of silence throughout the story. All you hear is a silence which is momentarily shattered by the cries of agony, of pain. Also each one's life is full of secrets. The film is also about inter-sibling rivalry. In what is told as a series of events using the stream of consciousness technique, we come to know how each one had distanced themselves from the other.
In one of the scenes the focus is on what one of the sisters, Karin thinks about her childhood. Karin says, "Mother and Maria always had many things to whisper about, but then they were so alike. Jealously I used to wonder what they were laughing at together. Everyone was in gay spirits, I was the only one who couldn't join in the merriment," continuing, "Yet I could not help feeling sorry for her... and now that I'm older, I understand her much better. I wish I could see her again...to tell her what I understand... of her boredom, her impatience...her longing and her loneliness." Beautiful lines to understand what's going through someone's mind!

Also towards the climax of the movie, we come to know about Karin's hatred towards Marie all these years and her agony and pain that nobody has touched her in years....in between all this is the character of Anna, who wants to serve her beloved Anges and she does care about her like her mother.... we see there's hope left in Anges when she's alive...always dreaming of the days when they were happy and dreaming that, that day would come again. To sum it up all about what Anges thinks about, she quotes, " Come what may, this is happiness…here for a moment. I can experience perfection.”

What makes me so impatient about this movie is it's use of long gaps of silence...something which can be very demanding. Also, the use of the colour Crimson Red for the majority of the scenes has a great spiritual meaning to it, to some level it denotes the situation of the house where a person is about to die....no wonder it is rated among the Top 100 Spiritual movies of all time.....All credit to the director for extracting some excellent performances, his ability to carry forward a story with so few characters and depict such complex relationships. A beautiful work of art by Bergman...something which I won't forget for quite sometime.

Ta'm e guilass (Taste of Cherry)


Written on 6:03 PM by Hemanth Kumar

Title: Ta'm e guilass (Taste of Cherry)
Language: Persian
Year of Release: 1997
Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Actor: Homayon Ershadi
Awards: Palme d'Or in Cannes Film Festival, 1997

This was my first tryst with Persian movies and I have no words for Kiarostami's concept of cinema! Found it too difficult to understand, perhaps a good enough reason to accept that Cinema has too many layers...maybe it means more than what we understand at one go! This is definitely one of those movies, where you would want something to happen...but not sure what. You would want the film to end, because you don't see a point in what's going on....but at the same time, wonder why it's going on.

The plot basically deals with a man named Badii, who's driving near the hills of Tehran, always looking for something, with a purpose of his own. He interacts with few people while travelling across the terrains and asks them to come along with him on an errand for which he will be paying a lot of money. Some people agree and when they finally get to the spot where Mr. Badii takes them, they are shattered at his request. One of them runs away on hearing this request, another is too flabbergasted and starts quoting the verses in Kuran which says it's a Sin to do such a thing. The request which Badii makes to them is,....." You see that small hole there under the tree....I am going to lie down in that hole and commit suicide tonight. All you have to do is come the next morning at 6 and see if I am dead. If I am alive, please pull me back otherwise, throw earth on my dead body."!!!!....And finally he meets a person named Bagheri,who gives him a personal account of what happened to him and how the taste of mulberries changed his life...(extremely symbolic!!)...and the story ends with what happens to Mr. Badii at the end.

Personally, I think this was an extremely difficult movie to understand because although it seems very simplistic that there's a man who wants to die and wants someone to be there by his side...it's the journey that makes us ponder lot of things. Why does he want to die? Why doesn't he stop by an average person on the streets of Tehran and take them along with him?...at one point, after he convinces a young Kurd to come along with him...he gives his explanation of how it's the duty of every Muslim to help his fellow Muslim....he questions the Kurd's beliefs. I guess that's what the movie is about...it questions your beliefs...it makes you wonder why is he doing, what he is doing??...Nevertheless...this 90 minute movie depicts a wonderful landscape of the arid mountains and the signs of development in the city. Most of the scenes are shot from within the car, so that gives a clear picture of his journey of Mr.Badii....he's so emotionless in the movie!!...no anger, no pain...just blankness which makes you wonder, what had happened in his life which has made him what he is now....

To be honest all these questions came to my mind only after finishing the movie...because all through the movie i was cursing the pace at which the story is told....and why the hell does he drive the car so slow!!!..[:)]..This is one of those movies, which will most probably be shown in some "Film Studies" course and thereafter a discussion would ensue about the theme. And I think, not many people are capable of coming up with such concepts and even if they do, I wonder how long the movie would stand! This is one of those films, which is too subtle and only reveals itself if one thinks more and more about it. Perhaps that's why one should watch it...because it makes you think. Call it boring or...too boring, it still remains a mystery and I end up wondering how someone is able to come up with such a storyline!!....

Subtle, extremely symbolic and a theme which questions one's beliefs....taste this cherry, maybe you will find the new definition of Taste (Read as Taste of Cinema)....!!!

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer


Written on 3:57 PM by Hemanth Kumar

Title: Perfume-The Story of a Murderer
Director: Tom Tykwer
Actors: Ben Whishaw, Dustin Hoffman, Alan Rickman, Rachel Hurd-Wood
Year of Release: 2006

Not too often can we find a movie which really stands by its title. Sometimes the titles are so bizzare that it really makes us wonder how is it connected to the story. For example this flick, "Perfume: The story of a murderer" is one such thing. Based on the German Novel "Das Parfum" by Patrick Suskind, the movie directed by Tom Tykwer was released in 2006. This happen after directors like Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese had once exclaimed that the novel was unadaptable on the big screen! Eventually it was adapted and after having seen this flick, I wonder would it have been different had the likes of Kubrick or Scorsese had directed it!....Whatever it maybe, the title couldn't have been better for the gripping storyline of a murderer. And it's a beautiful story of a anti-hero which is spectacularly shot too.

Perfume, is the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille who's born in 18th Century Paris in one of the filthiest parts of the city, the city's Fish Market. His mother who's a fish-seller has had many miscarriages before and when the baby is born, she just discards him amidst a puddle of blood and rotten meat thinking that this one shall meet the same fate too. The baby responds to the external smells finally and eventually cries. His mother who accused of trying to kill her child, is hanged to death. Thus, Grenouille is sent to an orphanage and as he grows up, he realizes that he has an extraordinary sense of Olfactory and he uses this sense of scent and smell to recognize the things around him. After he grows up, he's sold to a Tannery. He survives the hazardous working conditions and one day he's taken to the city for a delivery. In the city, Jean sees a girl and enchanted by her scent, he follows her through the streets of Paris. Finally when he meets her, instead of talking to her, he stands behind her back and starts to inhaling her. The girl gets terrified and she tries to scream. Out of fear that someone would find out, Jean muffles her scream which eventually kills her. This disappoints Jean that he wasn't able to preserve the scent of such beauty, so he decides that he should try to learn to preserve the scent. One day, he meets Baldini who's the owner of a once famous Perfume shop in Paris. Jean impresses Baldini with his peculiar style of creating new perfumes and eventually Baldini agrees to teach him how to make great perfumes. He tells him that to create a truly entrancing perfume, it takes 12 "notes" and a final 13th to add that extra feature of uniqueness. Then Jean who thinks that, using the usual methods of producing a perfume out of roses, he can preserve the scent of almost everything. He begins experimenting with different things like metals, cat and so on...and finally realizes that the current procedure isn't sufficient. Then Baldini tells him that there's another method called enfleurage, but also that he doesn't know the exact procedure. Jean leaves the formulae to make 100 different perfumes for his freedom to go to Grasse, where he can learn more about enfleurage. But when Jean leaves the place, the building collapses and Baldini is killed. On his way to Grasse, Jean sleeps in a cave and one fine day, he wakes up and finds out that he cannot smell himself! As he enters Grasse, he sees a young beautiful girl and imprints her scent and image in his brain. His motive, to create the one of a kind perfume using all this olfactory senses. And for this, he decides that by capturing the scent of beautiful women he would be able to create such a thing. And what follows is a carefully planned murder or 13 different women to capture their scent without leaving any trace....

It would be unwise on my part to reveal what happens when he finally succeeds to make that perfume....it deserves to be watched and then come to a conclusion whether it makes sense. Of course I don't claim that everyone would agree with each other, as seen from the reviews of various critics who have given this flick a 57% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes.com. But it has all the points to make it a flick worth watching....what I loved in the flick was....

Acting: Ben Whishaw, who plays the role of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, is brilliant. Such few dialouges, yet to be able to convey the message which this film intends to, is remarkable. His emotions in the end of the movie when he realises what he has done speak everything about his acting!
Dialouges: Kinda few, especially for the lead character. I wonder, what prompted Ben Whishaw to accept this role!....But others, who have it are crisp and well conveyed. The narration of the scenes is good enough.
Cinematography: It's one of the most splendidly shot movies that I have seen in recent times....colours are very rich and bright and gives a great feel to the whole movie. The way the new born baby is pictured in the beginning is quite gory but also at the same time tells a great deal about the conditions around....also the climax, phew!...got not words for it...[:)]
Music: Ah!!!....what can i say about it....it just accentuates the mood of the scene...or should I say the scent of the Perfume!!...[:)]...it's almost the music substitutes the dialogues especially of Jean-Bastite Grenouille in most of his scenes. It's like an invisible character in the story...

It's a good story which is sure to receive some mixed opinions...but nevertheless something which is wonderfully shot with great background score. This one is definitely going into my collection! Watch it...it might turn out to be unexpected movie which will leave a good impression.

Check out the trailer of the movie....

Anbe Sivam


Written on 10:30 AM by Arun Sethuraman

Director:Sundar C
Starring:Kamal Hassan, R.Madhavan,Nasser, Santana Bharathi, Kiran, etc.
Year of Release:2003

When I read about red riots around the country, I realize that every theory is misconstrued and has its repercussions and that the world is too selfish for the true spirit of communism.

Communism is not about power; it’s about the people. It’s about how the world belongs to everyone; not just the rich or the poor. It’s about creating a world that is free from divisions; a utopian society that sees everyone in the same light, through the same many eyes that are one.

Marx did not talk of killing and burning buses for a share in a material world. He asked people to stand up for their own rights; to pride in what they are and their culture. That way, he’s no different from the buddha or the redeemer or the prophet. They’re all the same. They loved their people. They loved the world. They are all gods.

Anbe Sivam; “Love is God”. When I first came across these words atop the Kabaleeshwara Temple in Mylapore, Madras, it made me cry. The truth in the words struck me like a branding iron. I was proud that I knew and believed in a religion called love, if not anything else. The deities inside exuded this love. I felt warmed by it. I felt loved.

“Anbe Sivam” is about a man who believes in this simple power; the power of love. Nallasivam is a communist worker; an artist by profession, he stands up for the rights of underpaid tea factory workers. The story takes a turn when he is badly maimed in a road accident. He survives like a miracle. Like a resurrected god. Love saves him. Everyone.

The movie is also about Anbarasu, an advertising agent who meets Nallasivam in the midst of a Bhubhaneshwar flood. They are forced to travel together and he grows as their journey takes them home. As brothers. Just like the rest of the world.

The circumstances that weave the two stories together, the everyday humour, the astounding music, the simplicity of men; a dash of everything that go to make a good movie.

As for the acting, I guess that nothing needs to be said of Kamal Hassan. He is easily the best actor that Tamizh cinema has seen. Madhavan does an awesome job too; possibly his best till date. Nasser and Santhana Bharathi are naturals; they tell me that good Tamizh cinema isn’t dead yet.

My definition of good movies is a trifle different from what others would agree upon. I think that a good movie should make you cry. It should make you think. It should strum that string in you that’s always been there but was never played. It should make you want to watch it over and over again and make you cry every time like it were the first time.

I’ve watched Anbe Sivam four times. And I’ve cried with it. Every time.

Matrubhoomi- A Nation Without Women


Written on 1:23 PM by Hemanth Kumar

Title: Matrubhoomi- A Nation Without Women
Language: Hindi
Year of Release: 2003
Director: Manish Jha
Actors: Tulip Joshi, Sushant Singh
Awards: Fipresci Award in non-competitive section at the Venice Film Festival 2003, Audience Award for Best Film at the Kozlin Film Festival 2003, Poland, Audience Award for Best Foreign Film at Thessaloniki Film Festival, 2003, Audience Award for Best Film at Florence Indian Film Festival, 2003

An unlikely story being produced by unlikely producers, Boney Kapoor and SriDevi....I am so damn sure that this flick directed by Manish Jha, who later came up with another movie named Anwar, would have struggled to make a mark in this mainstream film's era in India. What equally unlikely is a person appreciating the concept...even at college, most of the reviews that I had got is...it's so Gross! Perhaps...but it's that very same concept which is narrated so dramatically makes its point very clear!

The film opens with a scene of a village in North India, where a just born girl child is killed when her father places her in a vat of milk offering her to God in return for a baby boy the next time. Then after some years, there's a situation where there are no more girls in the village and everyone's worried about their own marriages. The story revolves around a family of a father, his five sons and a servant. One day, a friend of the eldest son tells him that he's about to get married and invites him for the occasion. Out of rage, he convinces his father to look for a bride for him and his brothers. When the father tells about his son's friend's marriage to his family purohit, he suspects some foulplay and challenges that it cannot be possible since he's responsible to find a bride for almost everyone in the village. When they go to the marriage, this purohit reveals the secret that it's not a bride, but a boy disguised as a girl!....Then one day, while going around another village, the purohit, happens to see Kalki, a girl in her 20's and comes and meets her father. Then he tells the girl's father about the family in the other village; the girl's father asks for a "kanyashulk" of Rs.1 Lakh since he is the only one left with a girl child in the neighbouring villages. The Purohit goes back and tells about this to his master; who at that time, takes the youngest son along with him as the eldest isn't at home. When they meet the girl's father, he shows the picture of the eldest son...Kalki rejects saying that he looks too scary but wouldn't mind marrying the youngest son who has come with his father. This disappoints the guys' father and while going back he realises that this is the best chance for him to get his sons married...so he goes back and offers a sum of Rs.5 Lakhs with a condition that Kalki should marry all his 5 sons. Kalki's father agrees and she gets married to all of them. On the eve of the first night, the eldest son is too drunk and all of them discuss how they are going to share her and who should go into the room first. All of them agree to send the eldest one first, but the father screams at everyone for having neglected him!!!....Then it is decided that the father would go in first and each one of them would get a day to sleep with Kalki and also that Kalki would have one day for herself!
As time passes by, each of the brothers except the youngest don't care about Kalki, she's just treated as a sex-object. Only the youngest son treats her with respect and she inturn genuinely begins to like him. Over the time, she doesn't let the other brothers come near her in bed; but is very playful and enjoys the company of the youngest son. When the other brothers come to know about this they hatch a plot. One day, the father insults the youngest son for scoring less marks in English and on the same day, out of jealousy the other brothers kill him outside the village. He's declared to have committed suicide for having scored less marks..this shatters Kalki completely. With the help of the servant boy, who's very nice to her, she plans to run away from the house to meet her father. But, the servant boy is shot dead and she somehow manages to send a message to her father pleading him to meet her soon; her father who now owns a house and a car in the nearby town, upon knowing that her father-in-law has also been sleeping with her demands an extra ransom of 1 lakh for the act!...and he simply leaves the house.

The family beats up Kalki and throw her in the cowshed by tying her to a pole. The servant boy's brother who lives in a nearby village hears about his death and is determined to take revenge. He along with another friend enter the cow shed and are on their way to kill the brothers. But they see Kalki lying down there and change their mind and come to a conclusion that if they rape her, that would be equivalent to taking revenge. A new servant boy is appointed and he takes pity of Kalki and feeds her every now and then and takes care of her. Day after day, the brothers and the father who have vowed to not have any kind of intimacy with Kalki, rape her in the cowshed and so do the two men who sneak in almost every night. One fine day, she becomes pregnant and the debate in the family is who's the father of the child! On the other hand, the two guys in the nearby village come to know about this and they think, one of them is the father of the child. When they go to the family to claim their child, they are driven away. Then a severe battle follows where the entire village from where the two guys hail from ravages this family and in the end almost everyone's killed. The father somehow manages to escape and he comes near Kalki to harm her, the servant boy upon seeing this, kills him! Finally, Kalki gives birth to a girl child....and there's eternal silence all around.

It seriously is an unusual story which deserves all the attention for the honesty with which it makes the point of gender inequality and its possible consequences. Although, it seems unlikely that such thing might happen, you really cannot rule out the possibility. It's a shocking film indeed, which might not go well with everyone...but when you hear someone talking how gross it was, well, you can be sure that the message go through!...The film also tries to address other issues like Sexual abuse in families and the socio-economic conditions on the lifestyle of people. The acting by the principal cast is good...Tulip Joshi excels in her role as an person who's silenced by almost everyone around and her only moments of joy are with the youngest son....esp when she is tied in the cowshed..you can so feel the pain and agony....A well shot, carefully handled movie which deserves much more from everybody.

For more reviews .....click here

L' Appartement (The Apartment)


Written on 12:26 PM by Hemanth Kumar

Title: L' Appartement (The Appartment)
Language: French
Year of Release: 1996
Director: Gilles Mimouni
Actors: Vincent Cassel, Monica Bellucci, Romane Bohringer, Jean-Philippe Écoffey
Awards: BAFTA Award for Best Foreign film (1997)

I had read about this movie while reading about Monica Bellucci a couple of years ago. And finally got this movie in campus last semester. A romantic thriller with a good amount of suspense....it just blew me away and I have no hesitation to rate this as the second best French movie I have seen till now; topping that chart is another movie named " Amelie" and among the foreign films which are worth recommending to everyone.

The story revolves around 4 characters, whose lives are intermingled with each other. The film opens with a scene where Max is buying a wedding ring for his fiancee who's gonna marry him in sometime. Then on his way out, he meets his buddy Lucien who has been out of touch for quite sometime now. After their conversation, Max goes to a restaurant where he has a deal with couple of Japanese and we come to know that Max is on his way to Tokyo that same night. But before leaving that place, Max sees Lisa (Monica Bellucci), his estranged girl-friend and tries to follow her and finally gets to know where she lives. Finally the next day he goes inside her house to surprise her when she comes home....but to his surprise he comes to know that he has been following the wrong woman...Alice....and then their lives are not the same again....He tells the whole story about why he's there and in a bizzare turn of events, they make love at night. The next day Alice promises to meet him, but she doesn't keep the promise. This prompts Max to leave the apartment and meet his friend Lucien. There he tells him that he had almost got hold of Lisa but when he went there, she wasn't in the building. Then Lucien invites him to come along with him to watch a drama where his fiancee would be performing. When they reach there, Max realizes that Lucien's fiancee is Alice and is utterly shocked. Alice is equally shocked to see him there and she quits the stage out of the blue prompting her director from firing her from the job. Meanwhile Lisa is back in town and is escaping from a rich man who wants to marry her. We come to know that Alice and Lisa are very good friends. One day while coming out of a restaurant, she gets the phone number of Max and she's too happy to have found him atlast. She gives a call to Max, but he doesn't pick up the phone, so she leaves him a voicemail. Then somehow, she gives Lucien the message that she would like to meet Max at the same location where she had promised to meet Max before. She waits there for quite sometime, but Max doesn't turn up and then she goes back to her apartment. On the other hand, Lucien convinces Max to meet his fiancee and there, Alice reveals the true identity of who she is and how she had a crush on Max even before he had met her. Max leaves the place, and Alice breaks her engagement with Lucien and plans to go away out of the country. Lucien who knows what car Alice uses goes to her apartment and is convinced to spot the car there, but he doesn't know that Lisa had been using that car on that day. Back there in the airport, Max realizes how much Alice loves him and he too expresses his feelings for her. Alice asks him to hold the luggage for a moment telling him that she would come back in sometime...meanwhile, Max's current fiancee spots him in the airport; she's under the impression that Max has come back from Tokyo. Alice and Max bid each other good bye from a distance. Back there in the apartment, Lisa meets a tragic death; the rich man who was about to marry her kills her out of rage that she was sleeping with another man, where infact it was Alice who was with Max on the day when this rich man looks over the apartment's window. Thus each one of them go on with their lives.

It's a bit complicated to write about the story in this manner...when the movie follows a non-linear fashion! Although what I have written here might look bizzare, but the movie should make all things clear...and it's non-linear fashion leaves a deeper impact too. The brilliance of story telling stands out! The screenplay and editing are very nice and also the transition of one scene from another. Acting is great...since each character brings out the emotions of what they are going through...be it a person who's trying to find his lost love; a person who's trying to fall in love; a woman who doesn't really understand whom she loves the most and the other woman...personally i felt this one was the best....the one who's desperately waiting for the person whom she is in love with, but when he's finally with her she doesn't tell him the truth....untill one day where their lives and dreams are shattered and they move on.

This is a story of fate....of how fate determines the turn of events. It is also a story of, how far can you go to get the person you love. With a rather unexpected ending, where I still wonder couldn't it have been otherwise...but later i tell myself that's how life is. You really cannot do much about it...just going with the flow expecting that it would all end well...as it is supposed to be. Please do watch this movie....you will enjoy it....if not anything, guys, you can drool over Monica Bellucci...she looks so babe in the movie!!!!

To put it one sentence..." It is a Jig-saw puzzle which is beautiful even though, it's not set in a proper sequence. Because that's life."

Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix


Written on 4:52 PM by Hemanth Kumar

Title: Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix
Director: David Yates
Actors: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon
Year of Release: 2007
Genre: Action, Fantasy

Harry Potter...for some it's just a character that has become famous worldwide, but for most others it's a symbol of Love, Friendship, Courage and so on. Whatever maybe the case, the series and image of Harry Potter is surely a huge cash register for the publishing/production companies. And the release of the fifth part of the series almost at the same time when the whole world is talking about how's it gonna end...well there couldn't have been a better time to release this flick! Although I am not too sure how far the director of the movie, David Yates has been able to get an accurate version of the book on the screen (I haven't read the book)...but as a genuine movie buff, I would give a thumbs up for the flick in general. He incidentally has been confirmed to direct the next version of the Harry Potter series....

Harry and his friends are in the fifth year in Hogwarts, and the incidents back at home lead to Harry's usage of a dangerous spell especially infront of a muggle. This prompts the Ministry of Magic to expel Harry from Hogwarts, but he will go through a formal hearing to prove all the charges. Before attending the hearing, Harry meets his Godfather, Sirius, who warns him about Lord Voldemort and that Voldemort is trying to build an army. During the hearing, Professor Dumbledore supports Harry for what he has done and convinces the Ministry to clear Harry of all charges and send him to Hogwarts. Back in school now, the students are told that Hagrid is on a temporary leave and that Dolores Umbridge would be the new teacher for Defence against Dark Arts. She represents the Ministry and gives an impression to everyone that the Ministry is trying to take control of Hogwarts. In her first class, Harry becomes angry at her, and she inturn asks him to come to her chamber after the class and makes him write "I will not tell lies" ; and asks him to write as many times as he can until the message sinks through.Slowly day by day, she begins to impose new rules starting from her own class, where the students are just given theoretical knowledge without any practice for defense incase of danger. Now, with full Ministry's support, she furthers imposes new rules on the conduct of the students and also the way they are taught, under the pretense that the standards are falling down in Hogwarts. Meanwhile, Harry begins to get illusions about Lord Voldemort trying to find a secret weapon with which he can become all the more powerful from the vault of Department of Mysteries. Harry along with his friends Ron and Hermoine, encourage others to learn magic spells and they form a secret society called "Dumbledore's Army" and they find a place in the main building where they can practice without anyone knowing it. In the meantime, Hagrid returns and tells Harry and his friends that Dumbledore had sent him on a secret mission to convince the giants to join their side if at all a war with Voldemort takes place and he introduces a Giant, his half-brother to the three students. Back in Hogwarts, Dolores suspects some foulplay by Harry and extracts the truth from Harry's love interest Cho. They are immediately taken to Dumbledore where the Ministry tries to send him to the Prison of Azkaban; but Dumbledore escapes with the help of the Phoenix. Then Dolores tries to extract the secret out of Harry of what they were doing all this while; Hermoine and Harry trick her to come along with them to the Forbidden Forest by telling her that they know the secret weapon of Dumbledore.

There in the forest, Dolores insults a herd of Centaurs and she's inturn taken away by them. Harry who had already saved Ron's dad and Sirius from Voldemort through his visions, is convinced that the secret weapon in the Department of Mysteries. He and his friends reach there and after a thorough search they find the thing they were looking; it's the prophecy that "either must die by the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives". Right when Harry is trying to leave with his friends, Lucius Malfoy confronts him accompanied by his other friends. The two groups engage in a severe battle of spells and magic; finally they fall into the Chamber of Death where Lucius threatens Harry that if he doesn't give him the Crystal Ball which has the secret, he will kill all Harry's friends. Right at this moment, Sirius and the order come to rescue Harry and his friends and in the fierce battle, Sirius is killed. Potter out of rage follows the killer to another chamber where Voldemort himself comes and tried to kill Harry. Out of the blue Dumbledore comes to Harry's rescue and there is a faceoff between the two and eventually Dumbledore is successful in trying to stop Voldemort. But Voldemort tries to get inside Harry's mind and soul; but Harry fights back with all the qualities of Love, Friendship in him. Voldemort leaves him saying he will lose everything that's precious to him. Right at this moment, the Ministry sees his presence and acknowledges the fact that Voldemort is back. The minister is forced to resign, Dolores is thrown out of Hogwarts, Dumbledore and Harry are cleared of all charges against them. And the students leave the school to come back for their penultimate year of their study.

I saw this film in a cinema hall named Rex in Bangalore; in the beginning was quite apprehensive as to how students would receive the movie...but I think, most of them were hardcore Harry fans...everyone was so immersed in the story...they clapped when something spectacular was happening on screen, they laughed and cheered when the students manage to break rules...an exciting crowd actually. And I more or less followed them...the movie is good in the sense that, this is where Harry and the rest of his friends are more mature and now, they realise that things are gonna get much darker; a good base to what promises to be a great combat with the dark lord! Although, I haven't read any of the books, some of my friends tell me that the movie is kinda incomplete; anyway, it was an enjoyable flick.

On the other side, I thought Harry's grown a lot! His boyish looks of yester films is gone....I would still prefer Harry from part-1...!!...Anyway, except for Harry, all others have got a relatively lesser screen presence especially Ron and Hermoine; I had kind of expected to see them in almost every frame as that of Harry...anyway, no worries, both of them are good in their roles. Dolores, played by Imelda Staunton steals the show with her performance...be it her cunning laughter, or the simplicity with which she imposes all kinds of rules under the pretext that opposing her would mean opposing the ministry and her wickedness in giving punishment to those who disobey....Sirius and Dumbledore inspire....and so do all others.

A British gentleman once said, that Potter teaches the values of Love, friendship, courage especially to children who think he's an icon...I think he's right! All credit to Rowling for developing that image of Harry and others which makes it so immensely popular....no wonder millions of fans don't want to believe that Harry might die in the final battle...although it seems unlikely, one must wonder, if such thing happens, will people learn of Sacrifice??...or would they think there's No Hope left!...that debate is for future...and the secret shall be revealed on July 21st when the final book hits the stands. Maybe the best thing to do, would be not compare how good the book is compared to the movie...of course if there's a factual error one cannot help pointing out such things. Overall, it's a thoroughly enjoyable movie coming just at the right time!.....

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Photo and info courtesy: Wikipedia
One of the trailers of the movie....

El laberinto del fauno (Pan's Labyrinth)


Written on 9:53 PM by Hemanth Kumar

Title: El laberinto del fauno (Pan's Labyrinth)
Language: Spanish
Country: Mexico
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Actors: Ivana Baquero, Doug Jones, Sergi Lpoez
Year of Release: 2006
Genre: Fantasy
Awards: Academy Award (Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Makeup) and many more...click here for the entire list

Pan's Labyrinth has definitely been one of the most talked about movies this year be it in Cannes or Oscars (it was also nominated for the Best Foreign Film category) and at numerous other film festivals. If you go by a general talk that this movies is more or less a fairy tale and miss the flick...then I must tell you that this will possibly be the fairy tale that you will regret for missing! Quite rare is such a melange' comprising a fairy tale, terrific performances, splendid art and a captivating storyline....

Story: The story begins with a description of Princess Moanna, the daughter of the King of Underworld, who fascinated by the world above escapes from her kingdom. When she finally comes to Earth, she becomes a mortal and dies eventually; yet her father hopes that her spirit shall return to his world in some place in some form. The present timeline is set in 1944, Spain which is in terms with post Civil War. Captain Vidal, a ruthless Fascist, leads a team of Army soldiers who are at war with the rebels in a forest in Spain. He carefully plans all the establishments which can be used to monitor the movement of the rebels. Meanwhile, his new wife Carmen who's pregnant is on her way to meet him along with her daughter, Ofelia. The convoy stops in the middle of the forest and it is here where Ofelia sees a huge insect which she believes is a fairy. Later they carry on and meet Captain Vidal. Near the establishment, Ofelia happens to see a gigantic entrance which Mercedes, one of Vidal's servants, warns is a Labyrinth and asks Ofelia not to go inside. At night, the fairy appears again and leads Ofelia deep inside the Labyrinth where she meets a Faun who instantly recognizes her to be Princess Moanna. The faun requests Ofelia to perform three tasks as prescribed by the Book of Crosswords just to make sure that she still has the essence to go back to Underworld. Unless she performs the three tasks before the arrival of full moon the portal to the next world shall not open for her. First task is to retrieve a key from the trunk of a tree, and the second one is to collect an object using that key kept in a secret location. Meanwhile Carmen falls ill, so the Faun gives Ofelia a Mandrake root and with its magic elements Carmen is cured almost instantly. While doing the second task, the fairies plead her not to eat anything kept on the table; but she violates the rules which awakes a Pale Man who eats away children usually. Somehow Ofelia manages to escape but when the Faun comes to know about what had happened he becomes very angry and refuses to give her the third task.
Meanwhile, the war with the rebels is taking new turns everyday. In one of the shootouts, the army wounds a rebel badly who's brought back for interrogation. After some gruesome torture, the doctor who's been secretly working with the rebels gives a poison upon the request of the rebel. Vidal upon hearing a noise in Carmen's room, finds out about the mandrake root which his wife throws in fire though Ofelia resists at this act. Vidal who had realized that the doctor has also been working with the rebels, kills him too almost at this same point, Carmen feels terrible pain and she dies giving birth to a boy. Vidal suspects that Mercedes has been working with the rebels too and upon realizing this, she tries to escape with Ofelia; but they are caught. Later Mercedes escapes after brutally wounding Vidal. The faun who has taken pity of Ofelia gives her a last chance and tells her to come to the Labyrinth along with her brother. Ofelia manages to escape with her brother but Vidal follows her into the Labyrinth. The rebels who had been regrouping, attack the establishment and kill almost everyone. The faun takes the knife which Ofelia had got from the second task and tells her that if she has to enter the Underworld then that would be only after offering an innocent blood...so, she must let her brother die! Ofelia refuses at this proposition and Faun vanishes right there. Vidal who had been following her, snatches the baby and shoots her. Ofelia dies instantly. As soon he comes out Mercedes along with other rebels confront him. He silently hands over the baby and the rebels shoot him dead. While mourning on Ofelia's body, Ofelia's blood trickles down and it falls on the portal which transforms her soul to the underworld. Their she meets her parents and the faun who tell her that she did the right thing by refusing to sacrifice her brother. Thereafter, the family lives happily in their kingdom.

Quite a story!...Couldn't resist writing on and on about it; it's got such a good storyline. The acting is amazing...Ivana Baquero, the girl who plays Ofelia, has to be the new face of the year!...She's terrific in her role, as someone who's fascinated by fairy tales, one who believes in fairies and legends. Also as someone who's caring about her mother and her yet to be born brother, on the other hand quite petrified by her new stepfather's mannerisms. Lopez, who plays the role of a ruthless Fascist,Vidal is scarily good. His cold heart and the way he controls the lives of others around him make him stand apart. All credit to the script writers and the director for coming up with a great star cast. Another important feature in the film is the make up and the art....Faun and Pale Man are scary especially Pale Man....who could have come up with the idea of a monster whose eyes are in his palms???!!!....Bravo...Bravo...No wonder, the film has won loads of awards.

Well that was my take on a movie, which I regret for having seen so late!....It's beautiful, well directed with some terrific acting and art!...Don't miss this fairy tale....it's just not those bedtime stories, which go on like "ek tha raja, ek thi rani, dono mar gaye katham kahani" with some salt and pepper!!!....It's a perfect combo of Ofelia's innocence, Vidal's viciousness, fairy's magic and Labyrinth's Mystery!

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One of the trailers of the movie....

Two For The Road


Written on 11:38 PM by Hemanth Kumar

Title: Two For the Road
Director: Stanely Donen
Actors: Audrey Hepburn, Albert Finney
Year of Release: 1967

I have always wondered if Hollywood or the English films in general are capable of coming up with a story depicting a married couple whose relationship is on rocks without bringing in that stereotyped "adultery" factor! Well, have to say, after seeing this movie, "Two for the Road" earlier this year, I am a relieved man...and I actually do believe that there is no such thing as impossibility.

The story is about an architect Mark Wallace(Albert Finney) and Joanna Wallace(Audrey Hepburn) who are almost on the verge of ending a twelve year old relationship. The story begins with the couple along with their child is travelling to a place where Mark has to meet his business client. Without beating around the bush, the narration clearly emphasizes upon the fact that the marriage isn't going well which is evident from the bitter conversations which the couple has while travelling. They begin to explore where did things exactly go wrong and start debating was it when they first met or whether it was when they were driving in their car across Europe! Then the story goes back 12 years showing how they first met and the incidents which ultimately resulted in them falling in love with each other. Almost immediately the story is transformed into the present with the couple showing a cold shoulder to each other. Later they remember the summer at a beach in the countryside where they promise each other that they would never get separated. Finally the couple reaches the villa of their business client and Mark carefully tries to avoid his wife. This is when Joanna is wooed by another business associate who's at the same place . Right at this time, Mark gets himself involved in building a hotel right on the same beach where he promised Joanna about not getting separated. After some days of leading separate lives under one roof, Mark is told by his Joanna's new boyfriend that they were about to get married. This breaks Mark's heart and he tries to get along with his life along with the child. But right on the day of marriage, Joanna realizes that she's deeply in love with Mark and they can never be separated and they continue their journey.

The best part about the movie is the sensitive portrayal of the relationship of the couple which has a strong essence of love. Irrespective of the long silence that fills the room in which both of them stay every time, there's also a hope that it is going to end at any moment...perhaps a big plus about the story that love can burst out at any moment. Following a non-linear type of narrative with scenes juxtaposed with one another, it perhaps is the best way to portray how things have changed in the 12 years of their relationship! It sometimes maybe confusing to see the couple standing on the road, right after a scene where they are showed driving a car...nevertheless the scenes that follow should make all things clear. Although one can classify this in the genre of a romantic comedy, the comedy isn't something where you can burst into laughter...it's sweet even when Mark is angry with almost everything. It definitely accentuates the romance between the couple. The dialouges are witty...one of my favourite scenes is where Mark and Joanna are hiking in a place , the day after they meet...they both want to take a lift...after Mark's attempts becomes futile, Joanna tries and she goes away in a vehicle leaving Mark behind. Almost instantly she comes back and...

Mark: What happened? Why did you come back?
Joanna: I just told that guy how deeply I am in love with you...and I came back.

The countryside of Europe coupled with the music composed by Henry Mancini haunts you for a long time! Easily one of the sweetest piece of music I have heard for a romantic movie... Hepburn is beautiful as ever and the acting is amazing. But the star is definitely Albert Finney, his comic timing is impeccable and he beautifully complements Hepburn throughout.

Though it's a 1960's flick, it's a beautiful romantic comedy which has a feel good impact even now. Watch the flick...it's funny, romantic, wonderfully narrated movie from the yester era. It's easily one of my favourite movies of all time about relationships

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Check out the starting 8 min of the movie...the film's theme music comes along with the titles...

El Callejón de los milagros (Midaq Alley)


Written on 6:52 PM by Hemanth Kumar

Title: El Callejón de los milagros (Midaq Alley)
Director:Jorge Fons
Actors: Ernesto Gómez Cruz and Salma Hayek
Year of Release: 1994
Awards: The most awarded film from Mexico (49 awards). Awards include eleven "Ariel Award" (Highest honour for Mexican Film Industry),Berlin Film Festival(Special Mention for the exceptional narrative quality), Chicago International Film Festival(Audience Choice Award)and loads of others

This Mexican movie released in 1994, has stood the test of time and is still the most awarded movie in the history of Mexico film industry. Based on Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz's novel "Midaq Alley", this film is about three characters and how their lives are intertwined with each other. The director uses a non-linear style of narration where we are told about lives of each of the characters and how they come to a common point where each character is intertwined with the other.

Plot: The story opens with the story about

A scene of a bar owned by Rutilio(Ernesto Gomez Cruz) in a not so posh part of Mexcio City in 1990's. A group of friends of Rutilio chatting over a round of drinks...then two other characters Chava, son of Rutilio and Abel his friend are introduced. They are planning to escape to US for a better living. Seeing his son not working in the bar, his father gets frustrated and shouts at him. This angers his son and he walks out. A good opening to the story where we get to see how strained the relationship of Father and son is....then after sometime Rutilio goes home and finds out that his wife has prepared his favourite dish, got him a gift and even tries to seduce him in bed...but Rutilio is least interested. Out of frustration he asks her why she is behaving like that, she reminds him quite angrily that it's their wedding anniversary. The next day, Rutilio while walking on the road, meets a young man in a cloth store and they kind of become friends. After that he keeps giving him gifts and even asks him to come over to his bar....By this time, Chava and some of Rutilio's friends start thinking that they are having a relationship and one day upon finding out that his father and the young guy are in a public bath in some place, out of anger Chava bangs the young guy's head to a wall which makes him unconscious. This makes Chava fear for his life and he pleads Abel (who's with his lady love Alma at this moment) to come away with him to US that very instant. Then Rutilio upon coming back comes to know through his wife that Chava and Abel have left and he cries out of
remorse for having lost his son.

Alma (Played by Salma Hayek)
She's perhaps the perfect blend of innocence and beauty in the neighbourhood. And everyone around has head over heals about this girl. Abel is deeply in love with her and she knows that too, but upon the insistence of her mother she avoids him initially. But Abel somehow manages to convey his feelings for her and gifts her a beautiful necklace. On one of the outings with her friend, she comes to know about how her friend makes money by sleeping with other men. At this instant Alma meets a man who tries to woo her. After somedays, Alma meets Abel on the terrace and they both have a drag of pot; on that high she tries to make out with Abel who on the right moment is disturbed by Chava. He comes back to Alma and tells her that he has to leave with Chava and promises her that he would come back for her. After sometime, Fidel, a friend of Rutilio being a rich man makes advances on Alma and gifts her a necklace later. We also come to know that Alma's mother is interested in Fidel, but upon seeing him interested in Alma, she controls her feelings and encourages Alma to go out with him. Despite her love for Abel, she reluctantly agrees to marry Fidel, but just days before their marriage, Fidel dies of a stroke. On the funeral day, Alma again comes across the same guy who once tried to woo her. They become close to each other and within sometime he asks her to come over to his place. In between all this, Alma receives phone calls and letters from Abel. Torn between her love for Abel and the beautiful life which her new friend promises her, she chooses the latter despite her mother's repeated protests to not go out with her new friend. Alma finds out that her new friends runs a whorehouse and she retaliates!...But ultimately she gives up and eventually becomes a prostitute.

She is the landlord of the place where Alma and Abel live. A very compassionate woman, she's quite worried about how she looks and whom she's gonna marry. Everytime she comes to ask for rent from Alma's mother, the latter tricks her to get a counseling of Tarot cards to predict the future instead of the rent. Susanita later confides that the man in her dreams looks a bit like Chava. One fine day, Chava barges into her house and pleads for some money and promises that he would return the same as soon as possible. She gives him the amount and in turn he kisses her. She's quite overwhelmed by this gesture and hopes he would come back one day. But later one day she meets the guy working in Rutilio's bar and she falls in love with him; but the guy takes interest in her for her money. She even gets her teeth replaced for him and they get married.

Then one fine day, Chava and Abel come back to Mexico. Chava is married and has a son and despite his father's initial unacceptance, out of love for their grandson they finally accept them to their house. But Abel isn't able to find out where Alma is; later Chava tells him that she's become a prostitute. Susanita is pissed off with her husband because the latter steals her money everytime and throws him out of her house. Chava goes to meet Alma and they have a converstaion which is interrupted by the head of the whorehouse. The next day Abel tries to kill him, but in the brawl, he gets killed and Alma is devastated on seeing that. She begs everyone to let her go and take care of Abel...but while she struggles to get a cab to the doctor, Abel passes away.

A gamut of action, emotions, love, drama; the film has got it all with a awesome blend of brilliant acting. Salma Hayek looks stunning in the movie...you can just watch the whole movie for her!!....The style of narration and the screenplay are the standing out features and also the careful portrayal of each character in the movie is worth mentioning. All kudos to the director for extracting great acting from his cast...this perhaps can be a best introduction to the Mexican film industry for everyone who isn't aware of the Mexico's Production.

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Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia

A preview of the movie....