6 items from 2013
Satyajit Ray's enduring 1963 masterpiece about one woman's struggle for independence is back on the big screen
Satyajit Ray, who died in 1992 at the age of 70, is one of the giants of world cinema. The son of a prominent Bengali literary figure, he was an accomplished writer, composer, editor and artist as well as a great movie director. His passionate interest in the cinema developed early on, and shortly after the second world war he accompanied Jean Renoir when he travelled to India to scout locations for The River. Subsequently he wrote a wonderfully perceptive article about this experience for Sequence, the film magazine edited by Lindsay Anderson, Gavin Lambert and Karel Reisz.
- Philip French
Kick-Ass 2 (15)
The amateur Avengers return, though the sequel finds them weighed down by their superhero lifestyles, or is it audience expectations? The ingredients that made the first movie such a pleasure are all here – absurd alter-egos, ultraviolence, high-school angst, swearing – just minus the element of surprise. As a result, this incident-packed story struggles to recapture that balance between comic-book zaniness and real-world teen comedy.
2 Guns (15)
Two double-crossed undercover agents must unravel a convoluted conspiracy (and learn to get along, of course) in what could almost be a Lethal Weapon reboot. Washington and Wahlberg spark off each other nicely, which is all that's needed. »
- Steve Rose
Satyajit Ray's 1963 film about a Calcutta woman blossoming in the world of work is utterly absorbing
Satyajit Ray's glorious film Mahanagar, or The Big City, is rereleased 50 years on: it is an utterly absorbing and moving drama about the changing worlds of work and home in 1950s India, and a hymn to uxorious love acted with lightness, intelligence and wit. Madhabi Mukherjee is superb as Arati, the demure wife of Subrata (Anil Chatterjee), a sweet-natured, semi-competent bank employee in Calcutta. To help out with the family finances, she takes a job as a door-to-door saleswoman, promoting a new knitting machine – and is electrified by her new self-esteem and cash. Encouraged by her feisty, flighty colleague Edith (Vicky Redwood), an Anglo-Indian of the sort not much loved in the city, she insists on lucrative commissions for her rocketing sales and blossoms as a beautiful professional woman about town. Ray »
- Peter Bradshaw
Re-released for its fiftieth anniversary, Satyajit Ray’s The Big City tells the tale of a family struggling to adjust to great social change, in a time when the notion of a woman’s place was suddenly debatable. Ray’s deeply sensitive portrayal of his subject is as relevant today as it was upon its original release.
Set in 1950’s Calcutta, The Big City centres on Arati Mazumdar (Madhabi Mukherjee) and her husband Subrata Mazumdar (Anil Chatterjee), as the power balance in their marriage starts to shift in response to great social pressures. In a city in financial crisis, the Mazumdar family find that Subrata’s bank clerk wage is increasingly falling short of what is required to support himself, his wife and their extended family, generations of which live under one roof. However, when Arati decides to contribute herself, and takes a job as a door-to-door sales girl, Subrata »
- Georgia Fleury Reynolds
Criterion brings two of auteur Satyajit Ray’s early 60s works to the collection this month with Charulata (1964) and The Big City (1963), both starring Madhabi Mukherjee in phenomenal performances. While both explore women’s lives in a rigidly male dominated world, it’s the earlier film that stands as Ray’s first look at contemporary life in his native Kolkata. While his nine previous films were either period pieces or set outside of the city (Charulata, in fact, sees him returning to period, set in 1870s India), the coalescence of budget and talent finally brought his modern times project to fruition, which he had apparently been wanting to make since his 1955 Palme d’Or winning debut, Pather Panchali. Beyond being simply the story of a woman, Ray constructs an intimate character study that examines an uncomfortably changing social climate, economic pressures, racial injustice, and the moral obligation to do the right thing. »
- Nicholas Bell
The film will hit theatres in UK on August 16, 2013.
“Satyajit Ray’s wonderfully enjoyable portrait of mid-50s Calcutta, a society still adjusting to Independence, displays warmth, wit and genuine insight into its large, multi-generational cast of characters, including Arati’s conservative old father-in-law, her studious teenage sister-in-law, and her benevolently despotic boss,” says Margaret Deriaz of the BFI.
The film was restored in India by scanning the original negative at a high resolution (2K), enabling the film’s “epic scale and intimate detail – from the portrayal of bustling urban life to the exquisite play of emotions on Arati’s face – to emerge in greater beauty and clarity,” according to Deriaz.
She adds, “The Big City, with its emphasis on »
6 items from 2013
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