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Nightmarish near-masterpiece that proves cinema is limitless...
Shinya Tsukamoto's cult classic Tetsuo the iron man (1988) simply is beyond words! Cinema takes an obnoxious, bizarre and graphic form and results in the creation of one of the most scariest and shocking film experiences. It's hard to believe that this film had a very low budget and was shot with a 16 mm. All the elements such as the jaw-dropping stop motion effect, the incredible metallic soundtrack, the smart sound mixing, the extreme film editing, the black and white cinematography and an highly innovative story come together beautifully and prove that cinema, indeed, is limitless and low budget can never suppress a man's vision.
At times, the film takes a (deliciously) surreal form but we never lose our grasp on understanding Tetsuo's story-line. This film is not, even for a millisecond, afraid of throwing the most bizarre and gut-wrenching images at it's audiences (Which are hardly pretentious, for the record). There is, supposedly, a metaphor hidden in Tetsuo that man has developed a 'fetish' for machines and has been consumed by it. The film graphically shows people transforming into hybrids of metal and flesh which was quite brilliantly filmed. The idea of recycling metallic scrap as props was a smart move!
This film is, obviously, not for everyone. And whether you hate it or love it, Tetsuo still manages to rape your senses (I loved it!), giving you an experience that is totally new. I warn you again that this film is extremely bizarre and experimental so enter at your own will. A nightmarish near-masterpiece that easily beats David Lynch's Eraserhead, a film which had originally inspired Tetsuo.
Neotpravlennoye pismo (1959)
Visually Stunning!!! But....
In Mikhail Kalatozov's Letter Never Sent, four geologists are searching for diamonds in the wilderness of Siberia. Three men, one woman. Andrei and Tanya are in love. Sergei is in love with Tanya. Sergei is a strong man who had been on such expeditions but had returned with no luck. He is jealous of the nerdy Andrei's and the beautiful Tanya's relationship but never cares to hide that feeling. Sabinine (The Leader of the expedition) often spends his free time writing letters, which he will never send, to the woman he once loved. This is how the film begins: By presenting a set of characters, each having different perspectives but are present in the wild forests of Siberia for one reason. With the hope of serving their country, they are present there hunting for a diamond vein. It's no surprise that the diamond deposit is discovered in the film after days of hard work. Previous expeditions had failed but this one expedition proved that there indeed was a diamond deposit in Siberia. Soon, the four geologists, filled with zeal and satisfaction, find themselves engulfed by a huge forest fire and completely cut of from the civilized world. Will they survive?
Before the opening credits, the film pays tribute to the people of the Soviet Union who have given their lives for the benefit of the country, whether it be astronauts seeking answers for the mysteries of space or geologists going in to the wilderness hunting for diamonds. Throughout the entire film, we see the characters suffering in the piercing cold and bleak atmosphere of Siberia. Their goal at this point is to safely deliver the map, on which the whereabouts of the diamond deposit is marked, to Moscow. We see sacrifice. We witness loss. We witness alienation, hunger, despair. This is where I realized that similar to numerous Soviet films, Letter Never Sent contains shards of Propaganda. Adventure? Nope. I look at this one as a miserable survival film filled with some unnecessary moments of melodrama, patriotism and hyperactivity. The fact is that I don't mind patriotism and propaganda. But in this case it's overdone. I just didn't care for any of the characters. Not even the gorgeous Tatiana Somailova whose performance in the 1957 Soviet Classic The Cranes are Flying (Also directed by Mikhail Kalatozov) was spellbinding. It was because of this film that I was intrigued to check out Letter Never Sent.
Now the big question: What relation does the film and it's title have? As stated earlier, Sabinine wrote letters to a woman he loved from his past. He wrote them, feeling nostalgic, without the intention of sending them (Of course, the team is already in the middle of nowhere). This relation is explained further in the final moments of the film but it's significance is again directed more towards patriotism, in my opinion. Another disappointing aspect.
Unlike the ingenious masterpiece The Cranes are Flying, this film lacks true emotions. I went in with high hopes of seeing another Soviet masterpiece but eventually I was left disappointed. Albeit this film failed to emotionally engross me, Sergei Urusevsky's miraculous cinematography makes the film worth watching. Urusevsky and Kalatozov have collaborated in multiple films and their most well known work is of course The Cranes are Flying, where the film used astonishing camera- work. Though I believe Letter Never Sent takes it to a whole new level by composing unbelievable images. The camera work is well ahead of it's time. It looked like that the camera glided through the wild fire and the horrible blizzards very smoothly. The technical artistry of this film deserves a standing ovation and at times it completely overpowers the dissatisfying screenplay.
On the positive side, Letter Never Sent is one of the strongest proofs of how visually powerful cinema can be. If you ever tell me to compile a top 10 list of the most visually stunning films ever crafted, this one will gladly make it to the top 5. Mr. Urusevsky, you rock. (And I will highly recommend The Cranes are Flying in case you haven't seen it yet).
Beautiful. Just beautiful. When I was expecting another particular survival story, Roeg showed me an amazingly peculiar one. Set in the harsh regions of Australia (The exact location in the continent, in my opinion, doesn't matter) two kids, a 14 year old girl and her 6 year old brother, are abandoned by their father (He also tries to kill them but fails) who eventually sets their car on fire and kills himself. With no means of transport and no civilized humans around, the kids simply head out into the wilderness. They soon encounter an Aborigine boy who's on a "Walkabout": an Aborigine ritual which involves surviving in the wild for months with the aid of hunting skills after the adolescent reaches a certain age. Thence begins a beautiful and pure journey where the three characters try to outlive the harsh environment with the hunting skills the Aborigine boy possesses.
Right at this moment, I am spellbound by this film's images and I will admit that I got to witness a new face of cinema today. Instead of showing us a sweet conventional survival story, Director Nicholas Roeg dwells on narrating the story in a different and thought-provoking manner. The film has been given a complex and layered narration that is a bit ambiguous. Through smart editing and significant number of freeze frames the director, during the Walkabout journey, tries to compare the two completely different cultures of men.
One scene is particularly my favorite where the film alternates between the Aborigine boy butchering a Kangaroo and a butcher in some civilized city doing the same. These astonishing moments question the very nature of human beings. Whether we are lost in some unknown, remote and harsh region of the world or are behind the brick walls of the concrete jungle, we are all simply trying to survive in this cruel world. Roeg never even gives us a clear idea why the father attempts to kill his children and suicides. Though, that is a clear indication of the fact that the father couldn't survive in the civilized world. He was too weak that is the reason why he gave up his life.
This film leaves the complexity of the civilized world (Symbolized by the car burnt down by the father) and follows a journey on the beauty of companionship and purity of life. Yes, Pure is the keyword here. We are transported back to the age when everything was "Pure". The film's wonderful finale is the most powerful testament of this aspect. Sometimes certain situations arose in the film when the children are extremely close at getting discovered and saved by civilized people but aren't. At this point, Roeg's camera briefly focuses on these people and shows us what they are doing. There are certain thought-provoking messages hidden in these scenes which, of course, I will not reveal here and will allow you, my dear readers, to discover it's beauty by yourselves.
And then there's the spellbinding cinematography and Roeg's amazing direction. Both capture the wilderness very meticulously and the "pillow shots" (A curious shot where the camera focuses on the surrounding elements, for brief moments, of the environment where the action takes place) makes the film more believable. There are beautiful shots of birds, trees, reptiles, the stark desert, the sunrise/sunset, etc. that fills the film with fresh images of mother nature. Walkabout is a beautiful and complex near-masterpiece film from the land of Australia. Just walk into Walkabout and you won't regret it.
Kokuriko-zaka kara (2011)
Another beautiful, nostalgic film from the greatest Studio of all time
After having seen Goro Miyazaki's Tales from Earthsea, I didn't have quite high expectations from this. Goro proved me wrong this time by creating a calm, sweet and tender anime. Hayao Miyazaki is the screenwriter and I was quite surprised that he moved away from his supernatural themes containing gods and flying castles, choosing to write something realistic. Yes, this "realistic" part is the heart of the entire film and it works so lovingly.
Ghibli once again captures the audience with beautiful animation and a captivating score. The film successfully re-creates the 60's world with meticulous details. Each and every character is energetic, whether he/she is the action or just the part of the action. As the film is about saving the school's clubhouse, we can "feel" that these teens really are trying to save it and you forget it's an animated film. Most of these characters are quite inspirational... The film is not epic or dazzling like teen oriented movies actually are. It's a simple nostalgic experience.
In conclusion, another simple and heart-felt film from Ghibli that you can enjoy with your friends and family. A good film for a relaxing weekend ;)
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The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
A worthy ending to an amazing series...
THE REVIEW DOES NOT CONTAIN SPOILERS REGARDING THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.
As it is with every Nolan film, the film starts off with an impressive mid-air action sequence, doing justice to the proverb: "Well Begun is Half Done". Synonymous to the bank robbery scene, Bane enters the action with a different style clearly showing off how evil he is. The film then slowly settles down showing us what has changed in the past 8 years after Harvey Dent's death. Harvey still is considered as the "White Knight" and Batman as an outlaw vigilante. Bruce is weak and filled with a regret. Then the story takes shape in to the usual good-versus-evil plot in an extremely aggressive environment with a few shocking twists and a great conclusion.
First of all, let's throw light on Bane. Bane is totally perfect. Tom Hardy portrays him extremely powerfully. I was impressed by the amount of dedication he took which clearly can be seen. But we cannot compare Bane with The Joker, who was spectacularly portrayed by Heath Ledger in the The Dark Knight. Bane doesn't possess the sense of humor that Joker possessed, true; but that's just because he's pure evil and wants his job done. He is true to his word and his actions. Tom Hardy is as good as Heath Ledger was.
Then there's other performances to hail. After Bane I thought Alfred, played by the Michael Cain, and Billy, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, were the strongest. Alfred is more than a butler in this film, he is Bruce's guardian. There are many scenes when they both exchange emotions and a part of it was shown in the trailer where Alfred says "I don't Want to Bury you...". Those were seriously well filmed scenes, probably the best in the entire film. Joseph plays a cop who turns out to be another great character. After that the entire ensemble did their job well too with good acting. I had a feeling that Catwoman wasn't gonna work but I was wrong... In other superhero movies, you will find that the Hero is given the most vital spot, his sidekick a little less, the people he loves a little more less and the villain is always portrayed with exaggeration. Nolan however very perfectly places them on the same level. His films are quite natural and down-to-earth, including TDKR, which is what makes his films so special.
Now moving towards the technical aspects of this film, they are brilliant as always but I did not find anything new in them. If you expect it to get better than the technical ingenious of Chris Nolan's Inception, you will be slightly disappointed. The film is actually 70% drama and 30% action. But it is worth it. If you ever get the opportunity, don't miss it on IMAX.
Similar to Batman Begins, the story is quite straightforward. It does not have the beautiful complexity of The Dark Knight because it focuses more on the experience where Nolan is trying to give you that feeling of "Rise". The ending was quite smart but I won't say anything more than that. It totally depends on how YOU take it...
In conclusion, it was a worthy ending to an amazing series. I wouldn't like to compare it to The Dark Knight as this film has it's own different story to tell. So I suggest you watch it with an open mind, making no comparisons to it's predecessor and you might enjoy it more... In case you are too excited to watch it then go to Wikipedia, they have the entire plot there ;)
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A smart, funny and ingenious film that goes beyond your wildest imagination in a subtle and powerful way... Must watch
"How happy is the blameless vestal's lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd." - Alexander Pope
Joel and Clementine, once a happy couple, break-up. Joel can't take Clementine out of his head so he decides to patch up. He then learns an unbelievable truth that she had a clinic named Lacuna "erase" all of her memories related to Joel. Joel too out of anger decides to take on the procedure of erasing Clementine-memories from his head.
Okay, I know what some may think. This is totally weird, right? But with Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman, the screenwriters, weird stories always become entertaining that has undeniably smart elements. Eternal Sunshine remains their best work to date. It's an unforgettable psychological journey in a person's brain, his dreams, his desires captured with such contrast and vivid beauty that you will be left asking for more. At first, we feel quite envious of the technology that literally removes "pain" from our minds. The direction and screenplay capture this magnificently by taking us in Joel's head and actually showing us in their way how it happens. But soon this desire dies out with a deep emotion of dissatisfaction. Because Joel watches these memories fade away, he gets a second chance to relive them. He then understands that memories, however painful, are vital. I really wanted this erasing thing to exist in real life at first but then the film's extremely strong presentation made me change my mind. This impressive part makes the whole non-linear experience unexpected, thought-provoking and excites us to a higher level of curiosity.
Once Eternal Sunshine grips us through it's smart allegory, it keeps getting better and better. What I loved most was the unexpected conclusion that forces us to wonder about the fate of the characters. What I loved more is that the film also never forgets the supporting cast, especially the "erasers" who work at Lacuna. During the erasing scene, which is the highlight of the entire film, the film kind of switches back and forth from Joel's memories to the real world. They show us the interaction of the Lacuna gang (Elijah Wood, Kirstin Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Wilkinson). As we surge through Joel's emotions, theirs too is not overlooked. The screenplay smartly shows us how we human beings feel emotions, how we look at the person who's memory we are erasing and the person who's having it erased. In Short, Eternal Sunshine has a weird but differently smart screenplay that works which also won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 2005. The Direction has a wonderful "flow" in it. The Cinematography has a beautiful colorful saturation and the score, wow, it just syncs with the flow. The film has impressive visual effects too that adds to the stunning imagery of Joel's memories.
Now, the acting. First of all, I have never seen Jim Carrey act a serious character before. Joel is boring, dull, seeks solitude. I still wonder how he did that. This proves that Jim Carrey is more of a versatile actor rather than a comedian. Kate Winslet portrays the energetic, over-talkative Clementine, a complete opposite of Joel. She was nominated for the Oscar for this role and it's quite worth it. The most difficult part is bringing two completely opposites together to love each other which is pulled off perfectly by the two artists. Then comes the Lacuna gang. Wow, another surprise here. Their acting was realistic, if simply put.
In conclusion, Eternal Sunshine is a spotless masterpiece. It's that piece of cinema that tries to approach film-making from a whole new perspective and the result is memorable. The film convinced me of the moral fact that even if you put someone out of your memory, you can't put them out of your heart. Be sure to check out Gondry's Being John Malkovich, another weird but thought-provoking film.
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White Dog (1982)
The greatest film no one ever saw...
One night, an actress Julie Sawyer finds an injured stray dog. She decides to take care of him till the owner is found, not knowing that the dog is a "White Dog" a term used for dogs trained to attack black people. After the dog attacks an actress on the set, Julie decides to train the dog not to attack with the help of Keys, an animal expert. Will they be successful?
Samuel Fuller's masterpiece has often been misunderstood by the audience as a racist film. Well, White Dog was surprisingly amazing yet very simple. Fuller created a thought-provoking film on racism through a strange medium: a dog. I have to admit that this film was very clever and the way it told the story was pretty impressive. With many close-up and slow-motion shots Fuller created a great film experience that was both shocking and thrilling. Ennio Morricone's score was great too and the screenplay was the best. And the way he ended the film really makes us think about the world we live in. Fuller attempts to give us an answer to the question: Can Racism be banished? His answer is yes and no. Well it is up to us to decide what path we want to choose. But nevertheless, White Dog is a highly underrated classic and thanks to Criterion Collection, we can see this film again which was banned some years ago.
I urge everyone to see this film. It's just great. Highly Recommended...
Prometheus lands in the wrong place...
God, I was waiting so much for this film and that feeling was finally satiated. After Scott's classic sci-fi Alien, here comes a prequel that provides answers to some questions that were raised in the 1979 classic. This film gets a mixed review. Some say it's poor story but great visuals. Some say it's Scott's best and it has great visuals. Some say it was thrilling yet boring still visuals were great. My opinion is somewhat mixed... Don't worry, there are no spoilers here.
What is Prometheus? Wikipedia says: "Prometheus is a Titan, culture hero, and trickster figure who in Greek mythology is credited with the creation of man from clay and the theft of fire for human use, an act that enabled progress and civilization. He is known for his intelligence, and as a champion of mankind." In the film, scientists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall- Green) discover clues on Earth that leads them to a half a billion away solar system where the "Engineers" of mankind themselves probably reside. The ship that takes them there is named Prometheus. It's a two year journey so the 16 crew members are kept in hibernation, guarded by an Android named David (Michael Fassbender). After they land, they discover extremely weird stuff which I won't reveal. What happens next is the search for answers, the truth, the truth about our creators which believe me really isn't so much satisfying.
Yep, everyone agrees that the film looks powerfully stunning thanks to the jaw-dropping visual effects equipped with a stunning cinematography and of course 3D. The film begins with a beautiful view of our Earth's geology but minus life. Here we see how we were engineered, how it all began. Another stunning element that adds up to the film is the ingenious electronic score. It's completely perfect for the experience. The sound design, being another important element in any sci-fi film, gets a perfect score from me. All in all, Ridley Scott's Prometheus deserves a standing ovation for the beautiful world that he has very realistically and smartly created just the way Alien and Blade Runner was.
Okay, now have a seat. Stunning visuals aren't going to save the film because instead of solving the questions (which it does) more questions arise like who created our Engineers? And the biggest one is: What happens next, dude? As many people said, the film has flaws. Yes, there are but I guess what they most probably meant by that was "This is another clichéd sci-fi that was not expected from a Director like Scott". I guess they are right. Like for example the whole crew. Now there are 17 of them. When the film enters it's intense last hour, it looks like they were simply lining up for slaughter, getting killed one by one. It sort of felt like they were expendable or something. Scott really treats them that way and the film kind of makes special arrangements for the key characters. In another scene, a character has a quick abdominal surgery to remove the Alien fetus. Surprisingly, with the stapled cut, she walks and joins the intensity of the film again in no time. I believe that most people were disappointed just because they were comparing it to Alien. Prometheus doesn't have a subtle style, a rich story, it seriously forgets common sense in some scenarios, etc. There are far too many flaws to overlook. You feel like "Hey what was the point of all those intense emotional and thrilling moments if you yourself don't see the point?"
I guess you will enjoy Prometheus a little more if you stop comparing it to the almost-perfect-thriller Alien. It's a Prequel, so treat it as one. The flaws did disappoint me, really unexpected from a director like Ridley Scott. More blame goes to the poor screenplay. But I think movies are sometimes made just for monetary purposes, not for serious art or to satisfy a die-hard fan's nostalgia. Prometheus is one of them. Come on, film-making is a business too right? I will still forgive and forget the flaws and say that it was overall a marvelous experience. I still believe Scott is a brilliant movie-maker. Prometheus is a good start to the series and the film, judging by the conclusion, promises another adventure which I doubt won't be possible.
As for the performances, Sweden's "Girl with the Dragon tattoo" Noomi Rapace has the same strong femininity that Weaver showed in Alien. I have always been strangely attracted to these kind of women in movies who show great survival instincts without forgetting their emotions. Fassbender is the best thing about Prometheus, very powerful in his performance of the Android David. These two were the best in the entire ensemble.
In conclusion, there are flaws and some moments will leave you scratching your head. Yes, it isn't one of Scott's best but I don't think it's worst either. For now, just enjoy and try to take in all the "entertaining" stuff that this film very ingeniously provides as it's not only mysterious but also freaking scary at times!
So now one excitement ends, another begins. Pixar's Brave is releasing on 22nd so stay tuned. This year we are really anticipating a lot of good movies, I just hope none of them lets us down. Have a nice Day and take care. Hope you enjoy this film nevertheless. Thanks for reading.
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Kahaani's engaging plot and Vidya Balan's incredible acting makes it the most unique Bollywood film to date...
I come from India and I have missed out a lot of good Indian Cinema. Indian films are known for their style of using spicy music and actors acting in a hyper way. That's why I usually reside in foreign films and hate these kind of films (some of them are nice though, just a few ;)). But there are some really great Bollywood films that have come out in recent times that break all these common rules and have grossed more than these clichéd films. Sujoy Ghosh's Kahaani is one of them. In the film, a pregnant women (Vidya) comes from UK to the city of Kolkata, India, in search of her missing husband. She hadn't heard from him for a long time and the most surprising thing is that everyone denies of seeing him. She visits all the places where her husband has been (as he told her on the phone). There was just no record of her husband, not even his flight records. Vidya, with a local inspector Satyaki Sinha (played brilliantly by Parambrata Chatterjee), go deep into the mystery in search of a her husband. As the film advances, the mystery deepens and leads to a final epic conclusion.
I know what you are thinking... This story is just like Lady Vanishes, right? This is where you are wrong. Firstly the screenplay is ingenious, something that probably even challenges some of the greatest Hollywood films. The final result is realistic, truly something you don't get to see in Indian cinema. Secondly, the acting is miraculous. Vidya Balan, who plays the pregnant women, gave me an impression of a woman really being pregnant. It's not so easy to act a pregnant woman as you have to walk in a different fashion and Vidya Balan stays that way the entire film. Vidya Balan is such a versatile actress that she has made to Times Magazine's 100 most influential people. Her Femininity is one of the powerful elements of this film. The Inspector, played by Parambrata Chatterjee, is a new actor but he surprised me. The whole ensemble was great, they deserve a standing ovation for their performances. Thirdly, the beautiful direction. The film is richly detailed, something that even the greatest of Western cinema lacks. I can't go into these details but believe me I am not praising this film just because I am Indian. Lastly, the film's ending is quite thought-provoking. The film highlights terrorism and detests it. But I won't give you any more details, it might spoil the fun :D!
In conclusion, Kahaani is rich in story-telling, acting, directing, details, screenplay. It's culturally rich too (something that most Indian films lack, probably all!). If you are an Indian, go watch this now. If you are from some different country, I assure you you won't be sorry... In my personal opinion Kahaani is by far the one of the best Commercial films that Bollywood has ever produced. And for it's creativity, courage and breaking common Bollywood rules, I bow down to the entire team of Kahaani. We really need films like Kahaani to develop a good taste of cinema in Indian audiences and the good news is because of Kahaani, no ones likes to watch those kind of clichéd Bollywood flicks anymore!...
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The Intouchables is a simple heartwarming story of a great friendship... Pure Entertainment
The Intouchables has broken all the box office records in France and Europe recently and is attracting a lot of audience. Being a fan of French cinema, I decided to be a part of this experience. The Intouchables, based on a true story, tells the tale of a handicap millionaire named Philippe played really brilliantly by Francois Cluzet who appoints Driss (Played by Omar Sy), a broke ex-con, to be his caretaker. Because both of them have somewhat same kind of nature, they develop a deep friendship.
I have to say first that the performances were very impressive. Each and every actor was natural in their roles. For example: Driss is supposed to very funny which he is, very much. Even the opening scene was great! Millionaire is shown as a tried old man who's bored of his own luxuries and he appoints Driss just because he sees himself in him: a young exuberant yet a wasted man. Secondly, the relation between the both, their friendship, is the whole point of the film. It was good I guess, I just thought that there were some aspects of it that I had already seen in other films , the same clichés that appear again. But just like I said, the performances were great. So the acting made their friendship more energetic and realistic. Thirdly, it was quite hilarious. One scene where both the leads exchange their taste in music was one of the best. Although there wasn't anything new in it, but their love for each other matters the most in this film. Lastly, the plot is quite simple, no twist or turns. It's a simple but great tale of friendship, in which both the characters learn something from one another and so do we...
Though The Intouchables doesn't show us anything new, it's entertaining and a new addition in the French cinema that I would love to discover and rediscover. Highly Recommended.
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Thanks for reading...