Reviews written by registered user
JuguAbraham

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373 reviews in total 
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Caché (2005)
256 out of 380 people found the following review useful:
Reflective probing of hidden guilt, but definitely not top-notch cinema, 13 December 2005
7/10

Michael Haneke's film begins as a clinical, psychological and social study of a respectable individual in European society. It ends as a study of a larger contemporary European segment of its population. It reminds one of the early works of Fassbinder—only Haneke's production values are more sophisticated. The camera becomes a character—a major one at that. This reminds the viewer that he is watching cinema at several junctures and that s/he is part of the communication/entertainment process. It makes you constantly ponder if the cinema you are watching is providing truth or lies (or something in between) 24 frames per second. The fixed-medium range shots that opens and closes the film indicate the view and mood of the director--clinical, somewhat distanced and unshaken by the story he unfolds. We also notice that what we are seeing, might not be what we think we are seeing. Antonioni did this to us in "Blow up" several decades ago.

After the screening at the on-going Dubai film festival, I was amused at the director carefully distancing himself from a situation where he could have resolved the issues—-he prefers to leave it to the viewer to do so. In a way the entertainment continues after the screening if you choose to reflect on what you saw.

At the obvious level, it is a study of colonial guilt of Europe and race relations. At a deeper level, it probes complacency and bourgeois temperaments of the financially secure classes in society. Escape from reality comes from closing curtains, shutting off the outside world and consuming sleeping tablets. At another level, the film explores the attitudes of three distinct generations towards social relationships.

Haneke uses graphic shocking violent scenes to jolt the audiences when they least expect it. He seems to enjoy the process. His strength is not in his cinema (Kubrick, in comparison, was brilliant at this game). Hanneke's strength lies elsewhere—eliciting fascinating performances from his cast. Daniel Auteuil, Julliette Binoche, Maurice Benichou and Annie Girardot were simply fascinating to watch.

The strength of the film lies in the subject that will disturb anyone. Many of us have something in our past that we wish to hide or not discuss. Yet there is a conscience in us that nags us to believe that there was a witness to that wrongdoing--a witness who cannot be buttonholed. It is this psychological fact that makes the film tick, much less its cinematic flourish.

110 out of 125 people found the following review useful:
Remarkable debut by director Sarah Polley and yet another fascinating performance by Julie Christie, 11 December 2006
9/10

Julie Christie's combination of talent, beauty and brains has enthralled me over four decades. Nearly a decade ago, her Oscar nominated performance in "Afterglow" established that she was not a spent force while playing a gracefully aging wife of a handyman in the US. One thought that would be her best turn at geriatric impersonations.

Less than a decade later, Christie comes up with an even better performance of a woman coping with Alzheimer's disease in a debut directorial effort "Away from Her" of Canadian actress Sarah Polley. I saw the film today at the ongoing International Film Festival of Kerala, India, where Ms Christie, serving on the jury for the competition section, introduced her film thus: "It is immaterial whether you are rich or poor--we cannot predict what can happen to us. Enjoy the film with this thought." Ms Christie probably put in her best effort because the young director considers Ms Christie to be her "adoptive" mother, having worked together on three significant movie projects in five years. The film's subject brings memories of two similar films: Pierre Granier-Deferre' film "Le Chat" that won a Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for both Jean Gabin and Simone Signoret in 1971 and Paul Mazursky's "Harry and Tonto" which won an Oscar for the lead actor Art Carney in 1974. This performance of Julie Christie ranks alongside those winners.

Today geriatric care is a growing problem. This film is a sensitive look at parting of married couples when one of them needs institutional care. Ms Polley's choice of the actor Gordon Pinsent is an intelligent one as the film relies on his narration and Mr Pinsent's deep voice provides the right measure of gravitas. Olympia Dukakis is another fine actor playing a lady who has "quit quitting". So is Michael Murphy doing a lengthy role without saying a word.

The strengths of the film are the subject, the direction, the performances and the seamless editing by the director's spouse. It is not a film that will attract young audiences who are insensitive. Yet the film has a evocative scene where a young teenager with several parts of her body pierced by rings is totally amazed by the devotion of the aging husband for his wife. So in a way the film reaches out to different age groups. Though it talks about sex, it can be safe family viewing material.

Chances are that most viewers will love the film if they are interested in films that are different from "the American films that get shown in multiplexes" to quote a character in the film. More importantly this film advertises the problem of Alzheimer's disease eloquently and artistically. It prepares you for future shocks.

87 out of 101 people found the following review useful:
White as a wedding gown, as a dove..., 2 August 2002
8/10

Ostensibly Kieslowski chose white of the French flag to make a movie on equality. Equality if it can be reached in marriage, makes it work. Marriage is rocked when an equilibrium is not reached. A dove can be caressed and be a symbol of peace and purity; a dove can defecate and dirty as well

White in the movie is used as an epiphany of the joyous moments in marriage. The doves are weaved in Kieslowski visually and aurally to accentuate the marriage as a rite of passage in life. He brings in the phrase "light at the end of the tunnel" towards the end of the film. There is another marriage, that of Mikolaj in the subplot that also survives in a strange way.

The film begins with divorce proceedings and ends with the wife signalling the reinstatement of the wedding ring on her finger. The film begins with husband recalling the wedding that has failed. The doves flying overhead unload excreta on him. Towards the end of the film, the husband again recalls the wedding as he sets off for the wife's prison.

Kieslowski's treatise on equality is based on marriage as a great leveller with the doves flutter captured on the soundtrack appearing as a frequent reminder of marital bonds. It even appears in the underground metro, an unlikely place if you have a logical mind. You have to throw away logic if you need to enjoy this film.

There are aspects of the film that are obviously unrealistic. Putting a grown man in a suitcase and letting the suitcase go through airport security is not feasible. Moreover, the director shows the heavy suitcase perched precariously on a luggage cart. Impossible to believe all these details.

But the deeper question is whether Kieslowski was using marriage as a metaphor for politics? There is the mention of the Russian corpse with the head crushed for sale, there is a mention of the neon sign that sputters...The name Karol Karol seems reminiscent of Kafka.

Sex in this film is not to be taken at face value. Impotence of Karol Karol at strategic points of the film is deceptive. He apparently does more than hair care for women clients at his hair care parlor in Poland (suggested, not shown). I have a great admiration for Polish cinema, having gown up watching works of Wajda and Zanussi. I met Kieslowski in 1982 when he attended an international film festival in Bangalore, India, promoting his film "Camera Buff," another film with Jerzy Stuhr, who plays Jurek in "White". I took note of "Camera Buff" but I could not imagine the director of "Camera Buff" would evolve into a perfectionist a decade later. Stuhr has been metamorphosed from a live wire in "Camera Buff" to an effeminate colleague of Karol Karol in "White". "White" is a carefully made work with support of other top Polish directors in the wings--Zanussi and Agniezka Holland.

Although the film is heavy in symbolism, it is also a parody. Karol Karol comes to kill with a blank bullet and a real one. Did he plan that out, when he did not know who he was going to shoot?

The performances are all brilliant--the good Polish, Hungarian, and Czech filmmakers extract performances from their actors that could humble Hollywood directors, because the stars are not the actors but the directors. Great music. Great photography. And a very intelligent script.

This is a major film of the nineties--providing superb wholesome entertainment and food for thought. The film deservedly won Kieslowski the "best director" award at the Berlin Film festival in 1994. It is sad for the world of cinema that Kieslowski is no longer with us.

68 out of 76 people found the following review useful:
Visually and aurally breathtaking cinema, 2 January 2008
8/10

Can light have sound? So what is silent light? Something surreal, somehow related to the hymn "Silent night"? The intriguing answers are provided in the film to the patient, thoughtful viewer. This is not a film for the impatient viewer. "Starlight" (accessible cosmic wonders) begins and ends the film—silence dominates the soundtrack, except for sounds of crickets, lowing of cattle, and an occasional bird cry.

This opening shot sets the tone for a film made with non-professional actors. The film won the Jury's Grand Prize at Cannes 2007. It is a spectacular film experience for any viewer who loves cinema. This is my first Reygadas film and I have become an admirer of this young man.

Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas writes his own scripts. He is one of the few filmmakers of importance today who does that—-alongside Spain's Pedro Almodovar and Japan's Naomi Kawase.

Reygadas' stunning movie "Silent Light" is centered on a collapsing marriage within a religious Mennonite community in Mexico, speaking not Spanish (the language of Mexico) but a rare European language (Plautdietsch) that mixes German and Dutch words, leading up to the eventual renewal and strengthening of this fragile family. Reygadas begins the film with a 6-minute long time-lapse photography of dawn breaking to the sounds of nature and ends the film with twilight merging into the night.

The opening shot was lost on many viewers; a noisy viewer kept talking three minutes into the film, unaware that the film was running, until I had to reveal this surprising fact to him at the 12th International Film festival of Kerala. The film's opening shot was so stunning that after the 6th minute the audience who grasped what was happening began clapping, having savored the effect. The last time I recall a similar involuntary reaction from an audience was when Godfrey Reggio's "Koyaanisqatsi" was screened decades ago in Mumbai at another International Film Festival.

There is something magical, supernatural in nature if we care to reflect on a daily occurrence. There is a touch of director Andrei Tarkovsky in Reygadas' "Silent Light" as he captures the magical, fleeting moments in life that all of us encounter but do not register as such. There is a touch of director Terrence Mallick's cinema as he connects human actions with nature (a heartbroken wife runs into a glen and collapses trying to clutch a tree trunk). And there is a touch of director Ermanno Olmi in the endearing rustic pace of the film. Whether he was influenced by these giants of cinema I do not know—but many sequences recall the works of those directors.

That the film recalls Carl Dreyer's "Ordet" (1955) is an indisputable fact. "Ordet" was based on a play by a Danish playwright Kaj Munk. Reygadas film is based on his own script that almost resembles a silent film because of the sparse dialog. Both films are on religious themes, on falling in love outside marriage, and leading up to an eventual miracle. Reygadas uses these basic religious and abstract ingredients to weave a modern story that is as powerful as Dreyer's classic work by adding the realistic and accessible components of nature—automated milking of milch cows (without milking, the cows would be in distress) and a family bathing scene—do seem to be included as daily occurrences that have a cyclical similarity to the main plot—the collapse and rebuilding of a marriage. Reygadas' cinema invites the viewer to look at nature captured by the film and discover parallels to the story-line. This film is one of the richest examples of cinema today that combines intelligently a structured screenplay, creative sound management, and marvelous photography that soothes your eyes, ears and mind.

Early in the film, the "family" is introduced sitting around a table in silent prayer before partaking a meal. The silence is broken by the tick-tock of the clock. The children are obviously unaware of the tension in the room, except that they would like to eat the food in front of them. The adults are under tension. When the head of the family remains alone on the table (symbolic statement) he breaks into uncontrollable sobs. He gets up to stop the loud clock (symbolic) that evidently disturbed the silent prayer. This action becomes important if we realize that the clock never bothered the family silent prayers before. All is not well. Time has to stand still.

Composition of scenes of scenes in the film remind you of Terrence Mallick—the balancing visuals of men and children sitting on bales of hay on trailer—again recalling a cosmic balancing force in life Both "Silent Light" and "Ordet" revolve around a miracle, where a woman's love for a male lover and tears for his dead wife leads to calming a turbulent marriage. The film is not religious but the Mennonite world is religious. Religion remains in the background, In the foreground is love between individuals, lovers, husbands, wives, sons, parents, et al. What the film does is nudge the viewer to perceive a mystical, cosmic world, a world beyond the earth we live in, which is enveloped in love. There is a cosmic orbit that the director wants his viewers to note—similar to the erring husband driving his truck in circles as though he was in a trance on the farm, while listening to music. Mennonite children who are not exposed to TVs seem to enjoy the comedy of Belgian actor and singer Jacques Brel in a closed van. While Reygadas seems to be concentrating on the peculiarities of a fringe religious group, the universal truths about children's behavior and adult behavior captured in the film zoom out beyond the world of Mennonites. They are universal.

The film begins in silence and ends in silence against a backdrop of stars in the night. The indirect reference to the "Silent night" hymn is unmistakable. For the patient viewer here is a film to enjoy long after the film ends.

63 out of 71 people found the following review useful:
Reducing the world into a man, a woman, a dog and trains, 27 January 2004
8/10

This movie is deceptive--a casual viewing could discard it as another "feel good" film from Europe.

It permeates Christian values without sermons, priests, or any religious hard sell (a small poster of Christ in a booth of the Salvation Army is an exception). Philosophically, it presents Tabula Rasa or a clean slate to begin life anew. The film tends to be absurdist (not even a moan emanates from brutalized victims of violence, broken noses are twisted back painlessly, victims of violence emerge from shadows to mete out justice). The film recalls shades of the brilliance of Tomas Alea's early Cuban films and the humanity of Zoltan Fabri's Hungarian cinema.

The film presents entertainment of a kind that would be alien to Hollywood--a cinematic essay on human values that seem to be a rare commodity the world over. There is no sex; there is no need for it. The poor who live in garbage bins and in empty containers, are rich with pockets full of kindness, helping each other without any expectation of a reward. The rich and powerful (the ex-wife and her lover, the policemen, the hospital staff, the official who rents out illegal living space) seem bereft of true feelings or any human kindness. The poorer sections of society (the electrician, the restaurant staff, the family who nurses the main character, the Salvation Army staff) do good to others, care about others and expect nothing in return.

The film is an affirmation of Christian values without preaching religion. The main female character in love with the man, is ready to sacrifice her love because she genuinely respects marriage vows and even brings a "train" schedule to send off her lover to his wife. The art of giving is sanctified. A man who employed workers believes in paying his workers, even if it meant robbing a bank to do so. A lawyer argues a case well because he likes the Salvation Army. Symbolically, even half a potato among six or eight harvested is given away to some stranger wanting to eat it and avoid scurvy! Again, symbolically there is rain on a clear day to help grow the few potatoes...

The film provides humour of a quaint, Finnish variety. A timid dog that eats leftover peas is called Hannibal--a male name one can associate with a king or even the cannibalistic Hannibal Lecter--even though the dog is female. There are swipes taken against the government and its associated machinery (antiquated laws, North Korean buying Finnish banks, retirement benefits, strikes and strikers, bank staff, corrupt banking practices).

Trains play a crucial role in Kaurismaki's screenplay. It begins and ends the film. It also punctuates the film, when the past is revealed, briefly.

There are possible flaws in the film--the blue tint when the children spot the injured man. The unexplained Japanese dinner with Sake and Japanese music on the train. The significance of the cigar in the script is elusive. The choice of songs, however good, seem to be haphazard.

The script is otherwise brilliant. In glorifying the detritus of society, Kaurismaki seems to affirm there is indeed a link between the tree and falling dead leaf (with reference to a comment by a character in the movie). The train moves on. Forward, not backwards!

Minimizing the world into a man, a woman, a dog and trains, Kaurismaki serves a feast of observations for a sensitive mind--a tale told with a positive approach to move on and seize the day. It is a political film, an avant garde film, a comedy and a religious film, all lovingly bundled together by a marvelous cast.

Finland should thank Kaurismaki--he is her best ambassador. He makes the viewer love the Finns, warts and all!

The Class (2008)
62 out of 70 people found the following review useful:
A beguiling, stimulating feature film on education resembling a documentary, 26 January 2009
8/10

It is not often that you come across a movie that has as its lead actor, the very writer of the novel on which the film is based. Laurent Cantet's intriguing film "The Class" has in its lead role of the class teacher, the novelist and co-screenplay-writer Francois Begaudeau. That's only the first surprise the film pulls on the viewer.

If you went to into the film theater without knowing much about the film you are likely to think you are watching a documentary. That's the second surprise—it is not a documentary.

The film is apparently a semi-autobiographical story of the novelist and lead actor Begaudeau. Begaudeau himself was primarily a school teacher before he morphed his own life into a novelist, journalist, and an actor. But wait a moment. Even director Cantet's parents were teachers. Therefore, it is not surprising that the intimate knowledge of the teaching and the film-making processes get married seamlessly within the film and this contributed substantially to the film being honored as the first French film to win the Golden Palm at Cannes in 21 years!

Cantet allows the viewer to study the process of educating a fresh class of bubbly and street-smart adolescent kids in a Paris suburban school. Classroom education today in many parts of the world has evolved from the dictatorial British format where the learned teacher lectures and the student imbibes what he sees and hears. Today, teaching in progressive schools is more democratic, where the teacher allows student participation, where the student is encouraged to talk and become an integral part of the education process, contributing knowingly or unknowingly and "democratically" to the education of other students in the class just as much as the teacher. It is not without intent that one of the bright Internet-savvy kids in the film brings up the subject of Plato's "Republic" into discussion, but then the intelligent viewer is forced to recall that teaching for Aristotle's own students centuries ago was democratic and peripatetic. Begaudeau the teacher is flummoxed and that's precisely what Cantet the director of the film stresses to the viewer—the very quality and process of imparting knowledge today is dissected. Plato wanted a philosopher king to provide for the common good. He also believed democracy would just lead to mob rule, which is basically an oligarchy. Cantet appears to ask the viewer if the teacher is the Platonic philosopher king. Aristotle studied under Plato and disagreed with Plato on almost fundamentally everything. Cantet's film introduces parallels of bright adolescent kids being educated in the classroom as Aristotle would have been in Plato's class. Begaudeau teaches his students often like Plato would while adopting the peripatetic approach of Aristotle's own teaching style though confined within the four walls of the class.

The film is demanding of the viewer. The film is definitely not everyone's cup of tea.

To a casual film goer, the movie would resemble a live recording of a high-school class of boys and girls with a teacher probing the minds of his students, made up of different backgrounds, races, religions and representing various continents. There are tense moments, hilarious repartees, behind the scene meetings of teachers evaluating students, parent teacher meetings and even stocktaking of a "year gone by" in the school. The film's content can disappoint some viewers looking for conventional action, sex or heavy intrigue.

Cantet's approach to cinema is far removed from the typical Hollywood film. Yet Cantet and the screenplay writing team that included Begaudeau urge the viewer to zoom-out his/her mind from the microscopic events taking place within the confines of the four walls of class--the ethnic tensions, the psychological warfare and the social criticism--as they are equally likely to take place in the wider world outside the class, beyond the school, even beyond France. That is the beguiling aspect of Cantet's film.

The innovation apart, what is extraordinary in this film? One, the film clearly indicates the classroom has evolved from the classroom of "To Sir, with Love," or "Dead Poet's Society." Today, teaching adolescents is no longer a simple task. Students are well-aware of current social and political issues, thanks to the Internet and related technology. Teachers need to be aware of several bits of information and trivia to be on top of their class. Second, "The Class" progresses to reveal manipulative student behavior towards their teachers that British cinema revealed decades earlier to us. British films, such as "Absolution" (1978, with Richard Burton) and "Term of Trial" (1962, with Laurence Olivier) are vivid examples. Unlike the two entertaining British movies, all the action in Cantet's "The Class" is restricted to two school rooms—-the actual classroom and another room where teachers interact among themselves or with parents. Third, the film grapples with the question of the broader issues of equality within a classroom, a school and elsewhere in society. Fourth, the film is about current issues of integration of different cultures that perhaps confront Europe, Canada, and Australia more than it does in the USA. Africans and Asians are now citizens of France but do they get understood by the majority? A student Suleyman says in the film: "I have nothing to say about me because no one knows me but me."

How many teachers allow for two-way communication in a class? The film presents a growing challenge for educators of today. Can we go back to the days of Aristotle or do we prefer to learn under the teacher who "dictates"? Are we providing the turf for democracy or for dictatorships to emerge in society from the lowly classroom? This is a sensitive film meant for film-goers expecting more than frothy entertainment. The two final shots, somewhat similar, of the film graphically (and silently) capture the entire case of the film that preceded those shots. That was truly remarkable.

The Cow (1969)
52 out of 57 people found the following review useful:
Stunning in simplicity--yet a film that offers food for thought, 9 December 2006
9/10

This is a major work of cinema. It might not be well known but this film ranks with Fellini's "La Strada", De Sica's "The Bicycle Thief," or Mrinal Sen's "Oka Oori Katha" based on Premchand's story--"Coffin." Why is it a major work? A UCLA graduate makes a film far removed from Hollywood approaches to cinema in Iran during the Shah's regime. The film was made 10 years before Shah quit Iran and was promptly banned. It was smuggled out of Iran to be shown at the Venice Film Festival to win an award, even without subtitles.

The film does not require subtitles. It's visual. It's simple. The story is set in a remote Iranian village, where owning a cow for subsistence is a sign of prosperity. The barren landscape (true of a large part of Iran) reminds you of Grigory Kozintsev's film landscapes as in "Korol Lir" (the Russian King Lear) where the landscape becomes a character of the story.

The sudden unnatural death of the cow unsettles the village. Hassan, the owner of the cow, who nursed it as his own child, is away and would be shocked on his return. Eslam, the smartest among the villagers, devise a plan to bury the cow and not tell the poor man the truth. Hassan returns home and is soon so shocked that he loses his senses. He first imagines that the cow is still there and ultimately his sickness deteriorates as he imagines himself to be the cow, eats hay, and says "Hassan" his master will protect him from marauding Bolouris (bandits from another village). Eslam realizes that Hassan needs medical attention and decides to take him to the nearest hospital. He is dragged out like a cow. "Hassan" is beaten as an animal as he is not cooperative to the shock of some humanistic villagers. The demented Hassan, with the force of an animal breaks free, to seek his only freedom from reality--death.

The film stuns you. Forget Iran, forget the cow. Replace the scenario with any person close to his earthly possessions and what happens when that person is suddenly deprived of them and you will get inside the characters as Fellini, De Sica or Sen demonstrated in their cinema.

Every frame of the film is carefully chosen. The realism afforded by the story will grip any sensitive viewer. There is a visually arresting use of a small window in the wall of the cowshed through which the villagers watch the goings on within the cowshed. The directors use of the window serves two purposes--it gives the villagers a perspective of the cowshed and the viewer a perspective of the cowshed watchers.

The film is also a great essay on the effects of hiding truth from society and the cascading fallouts of such actions.

But there is more. Director Mehrjui affords layers of meaning to his "simplistic" cinema. There is veiled criticism of blind aspects religious rituals (Shia Islam), a critical look of stupid villagers dealing with their village idiots, the jealous neighbors, the indifferent neighbors, the village thief--all elements of life around us, not limited to a village in Iran. The political layering is not merely limited to the poverty but the politics of hiding truth and the long term effect it has on society. Ironically, there are values among the poorest of the poor--the hide of a "poisoned?" animal cannot be sold!

I was lucky to catch up with the rare screening of this film at the on-going International Film Festival of Kerala, India, that devoted a retrospective section of early Iranian cinema.

This is a film that should make Iran proud. It is truly a gift to world cinema.

60 out of 74 people found the following review useful:
Alienation at its best, 15 February 2001
8/10

I first saw this movie when I was in college in the Seventies. I viewed the film again in 2001. The power of the film was the same on my senses. Several reasons come up: British Director John Boorman was at his best trying to outdo Don Siegel's The Killers (1967)-which also stars Marvin and Dickinson in somewhat similar roles. I will really be surprised if Boorman denies that he was not influenced by the Siegel movie.

Why did Point Blank make an impact on me? Was it Lee Marvin's raw machismo? No. It was Boorman, who gave cinema a brilliant essay on alienation. When Dickinson's Chris asks Marvin's Walker 'What's my last name?' after a bout of sex and gets a repartee 'What's my first name?' you can argue the alienation is embedded in the dialog. But Boorman's cinema includes the loud footsteps of a determined Walker on the soundtrack, somewhat like Godard in Alpahaville, contrasting bright wide open spaces for the exchange of money that goes according to plan and closed dimly lit confines of Alcatraz for those that go wrong. There is laconic humor without laughter, pumping bullets into an empty bed, guards who narrowly miss Marvin going up the lift, the car salesman's interest in an attractive customer than in his job, the sharpshooter's smug satisfaction not realizing that he has got the wrong man…The list is endless.

The camera-work of Philip Lathrop is inventive, but was it Lathrop or Boorman that made the visual appeal of the Panavision format of this film come alive?

Viewing the film in 2001, several points emerge. $93,000 was important to Walker, nothing more nothing less. But was it money he was after or was it the value of an agreement among thieves? The open ended finale runs parallel to the end of an Arthur Penn film (also on alienation)called "Night Moves" made some 10 years later. What surprises me is how a good movie like Point Blank never won an award or even an Oscar nomination.

54 out of 64 people found the following review useful:
Existentialism with a political twist, 27 March 2003
8/10

I saw this film first some twenty years ago and loved it. I saw it again this week and found the film superior to most other films of director Pakula and found it to be another gem from cinematographer Gordon Willis.

"Parallax View" never won Oscars or other major awards for Pakula but this film along with "Klute" and "Sophie's Choice" are his finest works. Articles on Pakula often focus on his award-winning work and neglect this fine movie.

What was great in this film that was missing in "All the president's men" or "The pelican brief"? Here the element of existentialism sucked in the viewer to participate in the whirlpool of deceit, exemplified most by the test given to the lead character in the offices of Parallax Corporation, the staccato editing (John Wheeler) that exemplifies the individual's helplessness, and the imaginative photography (Willis) that stunts the individual (not crowds) against the himalayan landscapes of glass and steel.

The film was made at a time when Hollywood was brimming with great films with a similar line of thought (Spielberg's "Duel", Coppola's "The Conversation", Penn's "Night Moves", Polanski's "Chinatown", Antonionni's "Zabriskie Point", Altman's "Nashville", Boorman's "Point Blank", etc.) internalizing the external, as Camus would have best described it. "Parallax View" among all these films touched the subject of politics using the least obscure metaphors and similies.

Can one forget the dead calm in the sea before the explosion/assasination? Or the assassination viewed from the roof top of the victim's cart colliding with empty tables and chairs towards the end of the film? None of Pakula's other films have such hardhitting scenes as these, even if one were to discount the unconvincing cool response of the lead character in the airplane when he realizes that there is a live bomb on it.

This is a film that grips you nearly 30 years after it was made, when US politics seems to be at a point very close to what the film depicted three decades ago.

51 out of 59 people found the following review useful:
Interesting Canadian film that offers food for thought, 8 December 2007
8/10

It is fascinating how the horrors of World War II continue to spark off good, intelligent cinema around the world even after a gap of over half a century.

"Emotional Arithmetic" based on a novel by Matt Cohen (a Jew?), begins with an astounding remark "If you ask me if I believe in God, I am forced to answer does God believe in us?" The film is not about atheism. It reflects on the terrible scars left by war on orphans, on individuals who stand up and protest when wrong is done, on relationships forged in times of stress, pain and loss.

The charm of Paolo Barzman's film rests considerably in the hands of the capable actors—-Susan Sarandon, Max von Sydow, Chistopher Plummer and Gabriel Bryne—-all who have a maturity to carry off their parts in the film with grace. Ms Sarandon has matured into a formidable actress in recent films and this one showcases her talent.

Screened at the 12th International Film Festival of Kerala, India, the film forced this viewer to compare the contents of "Emotional Arithmetic" with those of a Swiss documentary "A Song for Argyris" also shown at the festival. Both films underlined the difficulties in forgetting tragic events in our lives and moving on. Both films indirectly discuss the bonding of survivors of tragic events.

As I watched the film I could not help but note the growing interest filmmakers in family bonds—in "Emotional Arithmetic" it is merely a subplot balancing a "virtual" family that suffered during the Nazi rule with that of a real family comprising three generations living in idyllic conditions in Canada.

This film would offer considerable material to reflect on for the viewer, beyond the actual events shown on the screen.

Though there is no mention of a divine presence, the use of the vertical crane shots of the dining table and the car at interesting junctures in the film seem to suggest this debatable interpretation.

This Canadian film provides eye-candy locations that grab your attention from the opening shot. Mesmerizing crane shots are part of the film that provide an unusual charm to the high technical quality of the film, which becomes all the more apparent on the large cinemascope screen. So is the competent editing of the sequences that make the viewing process delectable. Like another Canadian film "Away from her" shown at the 11th edition of the festival, Canadian cinema has proved capable of dealing with serious subjects with the help of international actors, without resorting to the commercial gimmicks of mainstream American cinema, and employing high standards of craftsmanship in the true tradition of the famous Canadian filmmaker Claude Jutra!


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