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The Cinema Travellers (2016)
A sincere and bittersweet love letter to the seventh art!
As a cinephile I have been a tremendous lover of the medium with very few titles to dislike and many that I can claim to. But there are few movies that you can appreciate if you yourself know this love and appreciation for cinema and thus share experiences and emotions with it. This moving documentary belong to the list and it celebrates the travelling cinemas in all its facets. It gives us a glimpse of the medium in a remote area fashioned in rustic style with a vibrant mix of circus and lights. For a premise set in the remote areas, the documentary opts for splashes of nostalgia in every frame and doesn't need a practised eye to discern it. Set of a wheel, a rusted reel, fold of small equipment tucked in between almirah like boxes.
The creators show an extraordinary feeling in the way it breathes life into the village and gives it its own character. The way in which, due to technological developments travelling cinemas are disappearing to make way for large inhuman institutions is one of the highlighted points in the documentary.
Final thoughts, I can go on and on but will not be able to capture all its beauty in writing. In the end of this film, you are uplifted and also feel a bittersweet joy. "Cinema Trvaellers" tells many stories, but all of them are part of a big one: that of the medium and attaches itself to the love of cinema.
Stella da Falla (1972)
More than meets the eye.. Visually & Musically astounding
I revisited this film on the occasion of Reto Andrea Savoldelli's birthday today, I rank him as one of the most obscure filmmaker ever. His name rarely appears in the forums and watch list of experimental, arthouse and avantgarde lovers. Since 1966, his track record includes only six titles (in 2020 still waiting for his new creation called 'Hieronymus'). Reto was born in 20 December 1949, but his roots belong to Italy and he is a child of Italian immigrants, but he took his first steps in cinema while already in school and experimented with 8mm and 16 mm accompanied by Stephan Portmann , co-founder and first long-term director of the Solothurn Film Festival.
He has never been an object of close attention in the Famous film festivals circuits but has been appreciated by auteurs for his works in the 70s.
Briefly to the plot, "Stella Da Falla" follows Reto Andrea Savoldelli as Elima a shepherd, speaking the language of the elves and lives with his mother in a hut set in 14th century. He turns 18 and takes off in air balloon to explore the world with a farewell from his father. The stage is set for the constant transformation of Elima in search of identity and self, the man without character immersed in anthropophagic aesthetics in different timelines intertwined by natural and cultural world. Reto's self-exploratory tale is part imagery and dream sequences and poetic journey at the same time from a purely visual point of view.
In addition, this would never be what it is without the great music of Jody Purpora (Tax Free) which is a fine balance between psychedelic folk and rock. This euphony between the greatness of the sound and a certain backstage of the story itself is what takes the film to a whole new level. It can be witnessed in the climax sequence with strobes of illuminations intertwined with symbolisms injected with surreal dance choreography both simple and compelling like Kate Bush mixed with Raja Ram and Atomic Rooster, the Character 'Stella da Falla' dancing inside its allotted space before expulsion in a new kind.
Final thoughts, filmed in the Swiss mountains, in southern Italy and in India 'Stella Da Falla" this is an extraordinary work in the spirit of Chappaqua (1966) and the result is a vinaigrette of esotericism and beliefs through the course of time, spaces and social classes. With his surreal performances, frequent nudity and great score, "Stella Da Falla" survives as a glorious and insane artifact of his time. A film only for the acquired taste and a zeitgeist of the 70s. Born day wishes to Reto Andrea Savoldelli.
A surreal intersection of universal themes with Zen Philosophy
Mago is an arthouse project featuring an all-nude cast spun with lot symbolism closely intertwined with Korean Mythology that will satisfy those who manage to connect with the fascinating nightmares. The zen philosophy permeates the film and the director succeeds and breaks the boundaries of presentation of the connection between life, death and rebirth and turns it into a visual experience. There is a lot of queasy metamorphosis in the story, the theme of creation and destruction will delight any fan of surrealist cinema. It is provocative with mystical narrative and few songs with nude cinematography on the lines of Kate Bush. The opening sequence is one of the most striking I have ever seen - a street filled with frogs crushed and runover by vehicles. It only gets weirder in each segment; the cyberpunk setup was oddly satisfying along with the strange musicals.
The sources of inspiration for this provocative works lie in both art house and avant-garde cinema. If you ask me which film influenced the gestation of Mago the most I'd say Mnasidika (1969) by Michael and Roberta Findlay, along with " Doom Generation" by Gregg Araki. However, on the top shelf is Rafael Corkidi's Pafnucio Santo (1977).
Final thoughts, I am still undecided as it left me visibly shaken but that doesn't mean it's a great experience. If there was more budget, with less indulgent editing it could have been brilliant. As it is, if you have the patience, there are gems to be found amongst the rough. Ultimately, you can enjoy this movie if you're' a fan of Rafael Corkidi, David Lynch, Parviz Kimiavi or Shuji Terayama. See this film and make your own judgement.
Kill It and Leave This Town (2020)
A fabulous Lynchian nightmare!
The first feature film by acclaimed Polish animator Mariusz Wilczynsk completed over an 11-year production period. There is a lot of stories and emotions connected to the making of this project. The journey surely was not an easy ride for the polish animator who lost his long-time friend and music collaborator Tadeusz Nalepa during the process.
Briefly to the plot, I would say it as a mixture of dreams and memories of Wilczynski's upbringing in the industrial town of Lodz in the 60's and 70s during the dehumanization of life under Communist Poland. The filmmaker himself is part of the play and appears as an obese nude giant and recalls his parents and the socio-political situation in the communist Poland. The story places us in the disturbed head of our protagonist and we see his surreal version of the timeline and slowly descending into madness. From the very first frames, a surreal delirium of suggestions and the symbolic predominates over the laws of rationality. The narrative is reflected visually and metaphorically, and it succeeds in creating such disturbing experience with the scribbly style has an aesthetic at its best. Even the morbid images of human pet, ugly streets, the autopsy, bloody beaked birds, junk sea and the ship contain a right balance and it is not overdone just for the gore quotient. In addition, the music is staged for the surreal effect, stands on its own and manages to set the right accents. Also, I was surprised to see the voice for the old man in the train with the newspaper was done by late Andrzej Wajda.
Final thoughts, the film is a nightmare that gets under your skin visually and plays deep into the consciousness. I would say the film clearly owes a debt to David Lynch and this is not to criticise or say that I didn't love the experience. I did and it was a Lynchian, sometimes it reminded me of demo tapes album art from 90s grindcore bands, a little of Ujichaa, little of David Shrigley or Roland Topor, and some Bill Plympton vibes all mixed into one that in several places is close to the grotesque and beautiful. To the fans who possess a love for surrealism and adore the aforementioned artists, check it out I highly recommend that you do so.
I Walk on Water (2020)
A Deeply moving exchange - emotionally, spiritually and aesthetically brilliant.
My expectations for this were high enough after watching his previous works and I was so hyped for the new Khalik Allah and it's been a great experience to witness something like this in this dreadful year. I had a predefined mindset after watching the trailer, it was clear that Khalik again centered his film in his Favourite East Harlem. It works as a tribute to the wanderers, homeless and their journey marked with an effect of different views of life and city. Khallik stages it so beautifully replaced by dialogues and assembled according to a clear artistic concept in everyday places and emotionally charged locations. At the same time, it is a personal work of Khallik who reflects on his path and the internal conflicts within. The deeply moving exchange between Allah and his long time friend Frenchie, a schizophrenic homeless Haitian man is captures brilliantly. It is mixed even more strongly with a great recording which is overwhelming. The small banter with his mom and dad was the highlight for me, when he is called Danny and the dialogues that follow claims my favourite part in the film followed by the sequence with his girlfriend. I was happy to find out that Khallik loves Sun Ra and talks about one of my fav film Space Is the Place (1974).
Final thoughts, this 3hr experimental documentary holds up till the credits roll, it doesn't miss its effect emotionally, spiritually and aesthetically. This is not everybody's cup of tea - arguably more suited to fans of of arthouse, avantgarde and those who love films of Marc Singer (Dark Days), Thomas Heise (Heimat Is a Space in Time) and Sylvain George (Paris Is a Moveable Feast - A Film in 18 Waves).
My Favorite War (2020)
Sublime and Mature Anti-War film!
Melancholic and bittersweet at the same time, the autobiographical story captures the upbringing of filmmaker Ilze Burkovska-Jacobsen during the Cold War in Latvia, then part of the Soviet Union. The film refers to a lost childhood in the face of the propaganda and hardship present during the cold war under the Soviet regime. Using traditional animation, the movie adapts the minimalistic techniques without appearing excessive which is usually done in regular genre films. It is also supported with some live action and archival footages. There is a sense of dread and grimness that lingers even in the small details of the characters. It doesn't feel predefined subconsciously even though the anti-war theme has been milked by so many filmmakers. The impression is rounded off by a wistful soundtrack which articulates a lot of emotions.
Final thoughts, what Ilze has presented us an important Anti-war film without being watered down which makes it a good experience. At the end of the film, we are left with a little hope also triggered on how the situation is still so relevant even to this day. If you are in the mood for a character-based animation movie, this is the place for you.
Exquisitely filmed with desire to the sensory aspects of filmmaking
An arthouse film in which different stories intertwine in a cinematic labyrinth with minimal sci-fi and uses teleport techniques in narrative. The cruise ship in the seas of Patagonia is used as a hub that connects the three different places in the film, from the forest of Philippines to the Montevideo apartment in a South American city. The door which divides the different worlds brings curse and also luck to the characters who observe each other with uncertainty. This is all that can serve as a plot, but the movie does not depend on that. It is a heterodox narrative mixed with exposure of emotions using mythical and meditative rhythm to accentuate the film. It could even be said that the movie seeks to deepen emotions and fantasy and the translation of this often comes down to small stretches keeping up with the atmosphere and arthouse tone. The film transcends everything and looks more like a fragment of life captured on camera. Above all, it is a cinema of silence, beyond the mythopoetic imagery which in turn represents a form of telepathy even for the viewers using the initial calm before the storm aspect. It is a really sad to see that the first feature film of Alex Piperno, a Uruguayan living in Argentina took 10 years to complete the project which gives a limited hope for original content movies like this one.
Final thoughts, Alex Piperno's debut feature is part arthouse drama, part sci-fi, and part fantasy as though the characters from Pedro Costa's Fontainhas Trilogy wandered into a version of Twin Peaks directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul or Royston Tan. Quiet, sublime and demanding are perhaps the adjectives that would best describe "Window Boy Would Also Like to Have a Submarine".
Experimental Déjà vu
Experimental documentary with Paris as the central theme from the Refugees point of view after the 2015 terror attack. While the period between 2015-2016 was a tensed timeline for France, the documentary gives a glimpse of events that unfolded after the terror attacks without taking sides or giving a lecture on moral justification. On the other hand, the film makes use of avant-garde techniques to accentuate the images and the narrative. There are 3 tracks: the landscape of Paris, the tale of a lonesome migrant and the street protests which is entirely shot in black and white. It might be an unusual route to show a heavy subject in b/w tone, but believe it is gripping throughout and the power of it is seen it the deepest corner of the forest where the flowers rot or near the abandoned railway tracks. The atmosphere holds up till the end and we can sense the danger and uncertainty lurking on the other side as the camera move forwards to capture helpless migrant youth with no place to rest. The militant filmmaking at certain moments brings adrenaline and is effectively shown. The protest sequences are realistic, and it leaves a common thread to connect the event with May 1968 civil unrest in France. This is an excellent documentary that examines pure moral and emotional experience during the emergency timeline after terror attack and the director without slipping into condemnation achieves something powerful in a subtle way using metaphors.
Final thoughts: A war/political documentary is normal for us to watch but this is not similar or in the same lines with a structed narratives. It blends Robert Kramer (ICE), Marc Singer (Dark Days) with a dash of avant-garde tone. It will be easy to digest for those who love arthouse/experimental docs. Do see it if you get a chance.
Vinland Saga (2019)
Spellbound, by far one of the best shows i have seen..!
With perseverance hitting on the head the young Thorfinn is hellbent to avenge the death of his father by the mercenary leader Askeladd. Times change and on the other hand, Thorfinn is hand in gloves in the camp of his nemesis. Having passed the test of valour, betrayal and indifference in foreign land, his vengeance takes a backseat but still fueled by the revenge for one's own and for his father.
This is a basic plot to what will unfold to be inked in your memory as some of finest genre experiences you will ever witness.
With only 24 episodes, this anime can be ranked alongside genre masterpieces. For some this might sound like a hybrid; the offspring of a union between 'Attack of the Titan, Cowboy bebop with dash of influences from few war/historical live action series. It is fair enough and the influence can be seen, I also consider Studio Ghibli to be a major force behind the imagination. Regardless, this anime is a standout and the character development for the leads is simply unparalleled. I cannot pick a favourite and can't help to love or hate a character. If I say Askeladd is brilliant, pair him with Thorfinn and other characters like Canute or Einar who are equally amazing. Personally, I loved and hated each character in this one, including the HIGH drunk priest. Vinland Saga boasts of a rich universe, full of striking characters and with supporting stories inclined to history and folklores. The Banter between the Vikings and Christians is hilarious, might piss of the pious. All the merit goes to the creators of the series, since plots involving secondary characters often appear just to plug holes or wrap the story. Here, in addition to being attractive, the subplots perfectly fit the mysterious world of the series. The different regions are captured in all it's glory, the inhabitants go about their business, the war breaks out, we see the childishness and natural naivety. Also, the series critically examines the phenomenon of religion and does not slip into moralizing.
Another element of prominence is the soundtrack, there are series of scores (including the opening) that very well fulfill the role of transmitting various types of emotions to the viewer.
Conclusion: The mix of war, melodrama, small-town comedy, merged into a wide-ranging character drama, can be frustrating when answers form the axiom. However, if you let the world of Vinland Saga take effect, you get the rare chance to explore the enigmatic power the genre, soon to become part of one of the greatest anime in the future. The end of prologue in Season 1 is perfect setup for what's about to happen next and the reason why I can look forward to the next!
An ode to the art of Animation
This is one of those few animes that slips under the radar and goes unnoticed. The low rating can be considered as a fact to support it. Nevertheless, it's one of the fresh anime to be released this year. It is filled with so many facets, so much to say, combined with a delightful story and a wonderful cast to fill it out. It praises the spirit of an animator and shows what goes behind the making of the art. It emphasizes the feelings and thoughts of an aspiring animator with a tender approach and it should damn well be acknowledged.
This anime is not for the hyper-critical anime freaks, however, if you want to enjoy yourself and witness something fresh then this is for you. There is right mix of adventure, humour and draws a fantasy world unlike other animes. The references to the making can be seen in every single frame of the show, from storyboarding to shooting and the banter between the 3 characters is amazing from the 1st to the last episode. It feels like a byte sized episode, the pacing the fast and it will never bore you. Give it a watch on a lazy weekend and i'm sure you will love this one.
Beyrouth ya Beyrouth (1975)
Profound and emotionally engaging
I can't believe it's been a decade since i watched this is college. Even harder to believe is that there is not a single review on it yet. This is not a very classic war film of an era that changed forever. The events take place in Beirut after the Israeli raid on the airport and after the death of Egyptian President Abdel Nasser in September 1970. It narrates the events through 4 characters coming from different faiths and social classes.
Maroun Baghdadi takes a slow-burn approach and naturally presents the events of the last days before the Civil War through conversations from different perspectives. His work is more of a personal film and we can see how he penetrates the psyche of the characters to warn about the future and the war to come. His prediction was right, and the beautiful Beirut was filled with mushroom smokes a year later.
There are so many great scenes in the film, and it is also incredibly intense on an emotional level without artificially exaggerated or manipulative. What is astonishing is the use of music and it helps in stringing together impressive scenes. You can't really sum up with few about the film itself, because if you look at it more closely, it's a misfired gem considering the budget and the political timeline. Despite the shortcomings mentioned, it is astonishing to witness the glory days of Beirut with great acting and solid soundtrack that radiates the melancholic mood. Highly recommended if you love world Cinema and respect an acute vision, do not skip this sincere effort of filmmaking. I would recommend it to arthouse fans, also check out his other films and Ziad Doueiri's West Beirut (1988) currently streaming on Netflix.
Heimat ist ein Raum aus Zeit (2019)
A bittersweet letter, slice of history and life..!
This is a melancholic documentary, and it begins to play in a completely different way. Unlike all the same pov tracing history docs, " Heimat Is a Space in Time" goes into pure poetry, it is slice of history and life. From the point of view of the director, the film traces back on the history of his family through archival memories. He looks back on the events between Berlin and Vienna, from World War I to reunification. The narrative is arranged a little differently and the most important element is the minimalism itself. At the same time, the ease of presentation of the material is coupled with images filled with many symbolism and metaphors that help the narrative flow. It is through the images, looking at everything around through the prism of a past century that we accompany the director and experience all the buzz from the past college years, first love, growing up, world war facts along the bleak and empty territories.
Even though the treatment of this documentary evokes comparison with Claude Lanzmann's Shoah (2014), it still has a special magic of its own. But nevertheless, the documentary does not slip into too much of self-indulgence and it unfolds before our eyes with such a great composure. The last part of the film with 'magic realism' completes this picture about attempts to understand the changing geopolitics, Germany and love for it.
The film turned out to be incredibly beautiful, Rosie's diary segment was bittersweet, and the cinematography was splendid that I could pause it and screen grab it for wallpaper or would do good for an album art of a Black metal band. Overall, I recommend it to those who love arthouse cinema, regular cinephile might find it too long and boring but I will say that it is holds up till the end.
Beyond Compare, will leave you breathless and smiling!
The opening bird's-eye view of butchering a whale sets the tone for the journey of Leshka, a teenage whale hunter from a small village located on the Chukchi coast. We discover this closed and isolated universe through the point of view of this whale hunter, he leads a monotonous life, exhausted and it is not just living that troubles him, but the endless Gray vicinity around him immersed in the sound of the ocean filled with whale guts. The villagers lead an old-fashioned traditional life, they gather for a day to divide the meat of the whale among themselves. The boring world of Leshka slowly starts to crumble and everything changes with the emergence of the Internet in the village.
He is obsessed with an erotic site; it is here he experiences feelings and love arrives in a weird form. Leshka falls for the American webcam model, the innocent teenager leaves no stones unturned to connect with her. He is ignorant of the fact that she can't even hear him, but at the same time available for many users accessing the cam. Driven by blind love, he arranges a speedboat and rushes to sail in search of this model without any knowledge of English. Leshka is caught between the world he wants to leave and the new world.
On the surface, this might sound like a simple road journey of a man to find love. But there is so more that lingers in the cold bleak journey, the movie completely takes a shift as it progresses. There is a Lynchian style storytelling that creates uncertainty and filled with metaphors as the film travels. The camera peers through the landscape and gives us a documentary aesthetics from time to time. The ending is subliminal but keeps in step with the semblance of the screenplay. One can make comparisons with the works of Dervis Zaim, Aleksandre Rekhviashvili, David Lynch and Andrei Tarkovsky. There is so many aspects that are presented by the filmmaker without being watered down or by moral policing. The simple activities, burial ritual, the advent of internet and how the locals access pornographic content. It is handled with completely non-malicious approach and I'm so glad about the minimal attention which could've misfired.
Coming to my favourite part, the 2nd half in all its eminence elevated the story to another realm. At the 2nd half of the film is the deserted Bering strait separating Russian and America. It can be associated with silence and expression of Leshka that amplifies the tension. Also, the scene between the border security guard, speaking English, While Leshka in Russian communicating by mimic and says only America, Detroit is the highlight here. I could feel the tension, longing and breathe in the sound of the ocean when Leksha is not ready to give up. The scene with his grandfather resting on the grass with a smile and facing sky is also my favourite.
And now to the soundtrack, I was confused as it boasted of surprises ranging from Roy Orbison to baroque pieces. In addition, there is more Lynchian connect as the soundtrack features David Lynch, Angelo Badalamenti's Rockin' Back Inside My Heart performed by Julie Cruz. It was a biggest surprise and will cast a spell for Twin Peaks fans. The music is accentuated in the sequence when Leshka is in foggy otherworldly zone filled with whale skeletons, it is surreal feeling beyond compare.
Final thoughts, I want to appreciate the entire cast and crew and producer Alexei Uchitel for backing this project. if you love gripping character study devoid of clichés and want to experience something fresh and otherworldly. I'd readily suggest you check this out, immerse yourself and enthusiastically recommended it for Arthouse lovers.
Magical & Aesthetically Brilliant Short Film!
Weihnacht is a strange Christmas short film, ranks as one of the best from German New Wave Auteur Roland Klick, it is aesthetically pleasing and blends Chris Marker with Conrad Rooks. I thought this is going to be a crossover between Anything Can Happen (1995) by Marcel Lozinski and the classic Red Balloon (1956). I was so wrong, and this is an original piece of art and unlike anything i've seen in a classic short film. In the movie, Klick follows a kid who is full of life and wanders in the streets to witness Christmas. He is the odd one out amidst the noise as people move like ants in the busy streets. He tries to fit in, window shops, plays with snowmen and stares at Santa. He imagines his own version and is engrossed in the spirit of Christmas. The film is non-narrative with no dialogues giving all the power of poetic evocation to the surreal dreamlike images and the amazing score. There is a mosaic of feelings in just few minutes, we can experience joy, innocence, and liberation. In addition, it is shot in black and white, which is a plus and supported with an hypnotic jazzy-classical soundtrack. The acting is splendid, the kid has done a fantastic job and it holds up till the end. His expressions become a major instrument, that is a real joy to watch. The scene where he makes faces, and it reflects on the Christmas ball with a dash of avantgarde style, I'd call that my favourite scene, so delightful, unusual and cheery. I also love to mention that this is not a children's film. I feel it will appeal more to arthouse and experimental short film lovers and worth checking out in that regards.
She Dies Tomorrow (2020)
Only for James Benning
The shortest review i've ever posted:
5 Stars only for James Benning's cameo.
Le sel des larmes (2020)
Emotions vs Physical Attraction ? A Toned-Down Garrel
I was hyped for this beautifully filmed gallic love story set over the course of a Parisian timeline - but I found it much less subtle, a Toned-Down Philippe Garrel outing than I was expecting. The linchpin is the character of Luc, the story almost spends the entire film with him and his journey to find love. It's solidly acted with nice settings, background score and good direction. The supporting actress especially Djémila, shows depths of emotions that made this character seem very real. Strongly complimenting the story is André Wilms as Luc's Father, the scenes between them is a worthy piece of admission as a standout in the film. The character dynamics in the film are interesting and there is an intriguing laid back atmosphere throughout. This movie had the potential to be much better, but it doesn't impact much. On the plus side, this is watchable story, but with full of bittersweet moments and heart.
...A Valparaíso (1963)
A splendid audiovisual feast for the eyes
This is a visual travelogue of director Joris Iven's vacation in Valparaiso, a port city with steep hilly contours that portrays the different social classes and times with no performing actors or storyline through Chris Marker's prose. The short gives a glimpse into the daily lives of the inhabitants in the Chilean port city. As it progresses, there are so many things that are captured, like the stairs, cable cars and the kids in the vicinity which feels like an ode to the city. The best part is towards the end when the film shifts from black and white to colour. Thoroughly interesting, visually magnificent, artistic on several levels and aesthetically pleasing. This is not for the fanbase of Ute Aurand (India), Ron Fricke (Samsara, Bakara) or Godfrey Reggio's Qatsi trilogy films. Regardless, I feel this will appeal to both the arthouse and the regular audience. To go on any further seems unnecessary, if you ever come across the chance to watch this feast upon its brilliance and the brilliant ending. I would also recommend Passacaglia y Fuga (1975) and Travelling with Tove / Matkalla Toven kanssa (1993) by Kanerva Cederstrom.
Emilie Muller (1994)
The magic is in the subtlety of Emilie Muller
It's 2020, and so here I was revisiting so many titles, and "Emilie Muller" included in the list. This is one of the very few films which you make you feel engrossed and no matter what you will finish it. I've lost count of the number of times I have seen this short especially for it's ending. I used to let it play in the background while I browse and switch back again towards the end for the surprise and it doesn't bore me. At first on the surface, it seems like a casting of an aspiring actress for a film role. But what makes the 20 minutes so interesting: The irony with which the director proceeded here is amazing just like a real audition. The actress is given full freedom to emote and express her thoughts. It might sound boring until first few minutes, this changes when the actress is given a task to speak about the objects in a handbag and it's so interesting how this bag can captivate the story. The complexity of the drama deepens and, together with Emilie, the director and us the viewer are engrossed in the story. The acting is at the center of the film and the way in which Veronika Varga chooses to unfold the story is appealing. She oscillates between emotions and it is incredibly naturalistic. The camera framing supported in emphasizing the emotions and sensitivity of Emilie. Special mention should be made of the score by Khalil Chahine, which offers precise (and very soothing) notes of emotion to the story. The rating is a smooth 10 and I'm sure that I will return to this again.
Shabondama Elegy (1999)
A visceral challenge to your psyche!
This is an intensely provocative experiment filled with avant-garde tone, wacky black humor, philosophical conversations, perverse behaviour, and plenty more bizarre sequences. It is artistically extreme which will evoke a love it or hate it feeling. It is set in Tokyo and portrays a bizarre real/reel life relationship of Jack, a convict on the run from the Yakuza and police. Under pressure, with only few days left to live, Jack moves in with Keiko, a porn star with a mysterious abusive past. They begin a relationship that pushes boundaries to extreme limits and conditions. There's no point in telling the plot further as it gets more bizarre and kinkier with a pinch of Christopher Doyle (Cinematographer of Wong Kar-Wai) like settings and camera work. Aryan Kaganof succeeds in creating a disorientating atmosphere and he maintains it from the opening credits featuring a cameo appearance by exploitation legend Hisayasu Satô's till the climax of the film.
Like I said in the start, there is no middle ground and there is no room to fit this or call this "Okay" experience. Decent performance, mental direction, crazy soundtrack, and a plot that weaves into itself to get graphic and upsetting. This is not an easy watch, but I would recommend to those who have a strong stomach for twisted cinema and respect an acute vision, do not skip this piece of experiMENTAL piece of filmmaking.
Charming Tribute To Guy Giles, and Mostly Art!
This documentary is an ode to legendary French filmmaker Guy Giles who was part of the French new wave (Nouvelle Vague). While maintaining an art-house-esque aesthetic and narrative the narrative focusses on Guy Giles's works and journey told through the eyes of three teenagers. It may sound too simple to embrace the emotional insight and recounting the journey and Giles films. But there is a clever construct in the screenplay with a wonderful casting and the result is equally fantastic. Gael Lepingle explores human emotions as well as the sociological change while the actors enact the lines, it is gorgeously organic and minimalistic. It will feel too talky and slow, it is justified since the story requires, we have a movie within a movie that parallels documentary and the reality.
It's warm and intimate that makes Guy Giles films so human and comforting, the characters in it are the same way. It's a movie that I got lost for good reason and drifts to tease us into subtleties of emotion and understanding. That being said, my conclusion is that I would highly recommend this for arthouse and especially for Guy Giles fans to check out this fantastically well put together piece of work.
Kichiku dai enkai (1997)
A Surprisingly Unique Japanese Horror Movie
Often overlooked, Kichiku Dai Enkai (Banquet of Beasts) is a study of destructive & imploding Western ideology adopted by a group of Eastern youths, cleansed only by the nihilistic rituals of Japanese tradition divided into 3 "Enkai" throughout the entire film. It begins when the leader of a left-wing group committed suicide in prison, the leadership turned to a mentally unstable woman who immediately brought the group into a situation of horror full of extreme violence and total nihilistic madness. Above it's shoe-string budget to offer up something quite unique and unforgettable nightmare that making albeit one of the most unpleasant viewing experiences you might ever have. Now, I must warn you that this isn't your typical gore/scare fest of a movie. The movie is methodical in building the plot, allowing the tension to simmer and boil as it slowly gnaws away at us, the viewers. While I wouldn't recommend this movie to hardcore gorehounds, hack n stacks or supreme gore fests, I must say that for any fan of the horror genre this is a must see. Kazuyoshi Kumakiri sufficiently uses the most basic elements to create a sense of haunting and dread, though perhaps not fear itself. This is not a film you watch for enjoyment like how Sleaze and Troma fans will want to for the low-fi production values. As a sickly compelling tragedy with a nihilistic tone, it's a film you survive. In other words, this is not the right movie to watch for extreme shock value. One sits all the time waiting for it to crack and eventually does without me having to say more about it here. These feelings linger long after the credits. If you get the chance, see it!
Yi boh lai beng duk (1996)
CAT III Masterpiece, well only if have a strong stomach!
Anthony Wong plays yet another repressed maniac, but this time around, he catches the Ebola virus, becomes a carrier instead of dying, and spreads the virus all over South Africa and Hong Kong. The story starts off in Honk Kong after he is caught red-handed for sleeping with his boss' wife, he is thrashed and threatened with castration and receives a golden shower from the lady. He freaks out and slaughters the entire family in a very imaginative way. Absconding from the law, Kai relocates to South African city of Johannesburg where he hires himself the role of chef in a Chinese restaurant. He then buys cheap meat from the Zulu tribe and rapes a woman who is infected with the Ebola virus. Now he is running wild, Kai's immune system is resistant to the deadly bacteria, making it a healthy carrier of the disease. Uff... I give this film a 10/10 for the sheer nastiness and how relentless the scenes are shot, surely the grossest, sickest movie from the Hong Kong Cat III boom of the 90s supported by Legendary Anthony Wong giving his all in the lead role and is the absolute highlight of this production. He literally shines here as a raw and disgusting man on duty. This film has guts and guts is what you will see, despite the shocking content, "Ebola Syndrome" is a fine trash comedy, so dark and evil its wonderful and awful at the same time and can be given the masterpiece tag for being politically incorrect. A gory glory, yet another bad taste Category III cult classic.
Dreaming Murakami (2017)
A Humanistic journey of Murakami translation with heart!
Dreaming Murakami is a documentary interested in closely observing Mette Holm (Danish Translator) work and dynamics. The documentary shows some significant phases of the creation, the emotional bedlam, the artistic choice, and the existential thought process behind the art literary translation. I'm not a huge follower of Murakami's works but I enjoyed the documentary. I expected a take on the author's life and the result was not what I was expecting, but it's intriguing to sneak inside the psyche of the translator. I have heard so many people have been inspired by Murakami's works and it served as an inspiration to start studying Japanese. Likewise, the Danish translator Mette Holm's passion leads her to another portal and her dedication transcends the documentary form and turns into a character. The Frog, Moon, Cat, and the magical forest serve as a parallel between the two worlds. I was very curious to watch and I expected a great documentary movie. I was wrong! There are positive aspects, practically the originality and the adopted technique in the narrative. Unfortunately, the plot is shallow, maybe aimed at a niche audience. But that doesn't make this a bad watch. That's how Murakami's works are! Kudos to the director, he bravely captures the struggling human mind who goes through gamut of emotions while translating Murakami's works in danish language. I loved the segment in Japan when the very first stay of Mette Holm is shown also the happy bar owner who owns vinyl records scene. We're treated to glimpses of Mette Holm's passion and also her early days in Japan. II feel that getting the literary translation complete right is so important and an emotionally draining process and I have least as much respect for Mette Holm as I have for the author. Overall, Dreaming Murakami is far from being labelled as one the BEST, but it is undeniably creative and interesting. As much works as doesn't about it and the material could have been stronger for a better output, but it is still an experience worth having if you know what you are getting into and it's a must for those who love Haruki Murakami or Japan. I recommend it for non-Murakami fans as well as the soulful experience of the translator was something to take away from the documentary. Sit back and watch it Unfold.
Bleak and Underrated, it left me thinking..!
A classic short documentary about decay and loneliness filmed inside Paraguay's Santa Isabel leper colony. It details the day to day life and reveals the thoughts of the inhabitants in the leper colony.
With camera following a group of lepers, the film process is like writing a text; in the process of making a mark there is a movement of inclusion that excludes too. The film maker uses the environment juxtaposing the wounds and scars that gather the inhabitants physically and also in the vicinity. The inhabitants share their thoughts, and we see the camera reflecting the true emotions. One such scene is a woman who has lost her eyebrows and she draws an artificial one. The scene is so subtle and not watered down. The film starts out somewhat normal with a negative colour but left me speechless and thinking. If you have watched Jean-Daniel Pollet's L'ordre (1973) and Forough Farrokhzad's The House Is Black (1963), don't miss this obscure masterpiece! It's available on Vimeo for free streaming.
Artistically done, will feel like an experience that will stay with you!
It is really appreciated that "Andhaghaaram" opts for psychological suspense, ignoring the special effects, jump scares that have become a fashion in recent times. A clever, riveting supernatural, part psychological drama that fits many genres into one film which pays off in the end. Disguised as a "Supernatural" film but this is actually a revenge driven drama towards the end with frequent character shifts that are fast. The film blurs the lines between reality & fiction to deliver a psychological shock & that will someday have the respect it truly deserves. It does not register or decipher what is happening but follows imaginary stimuli. In this way, reality, and fiction merge, they can no longer be differentiated. Darkness is a popular film element, and it comes across as striking.
If one releases oneself from the expectation that there must be a 'thrill' behind the gripping opening where a patient pulls trigger on Dr Indran (Kumar Natarajan) and series of suicide follows. There are no questions left on closer observation when the final title begins. In addition to the quality of the content, there is a formal implementation that works on the story in the smallest detail right from the beginning till the credits roll. And then, we are introduced to Selvam (Vinoth Kishan), a blind librarian, a MEDIATOR helping people in the library whose roots hold a mysterious past. Then we meet Vinod (Arjun Das) a cricket coach who lives in a flat. Unfortunately, things are not going well in his life and there is a sense of guilt that prevails. It is difficult for him to cope with the death of his best friend. The room where he stays is a great setting and at the same time a reflection of his conflicts and unstable character. The environment creates eerie shadows from which indefinable noises emerge all the more clearly in later part of the film. He has a landline to communicate with the outer world and like a puzzle rummaging in the streets for smoke breaks that doesn't look like one at first. And then there is this stranger who keeps calling him to his landline number. Vinod goes crazy because he thinks he is tapped or blackmailed. From then on, Vinod hears strange noises, voices and rumbling in his house. It brings him to the brink of a nervous breakdown. The strange occurrences lead him to believe that there is a psychological problem, and he is advised to fix an appointment with a psychiatrist. Having someone unknown call you and never being able to find them with this as the backdrop the film introduces more threads in the screenplay.
What follows is a great mystery and I asked myself whether this topic of Darkness vs Light could fill an entire film. After all, the tension had to be maintained for nearly 3 Hrs and I think the film does that quite cleverly, but it takes some time to get going.
On the other hand, the film convinces with a dense atmosphere and good camera work that shuttles back and forth between flashbacks during the narrative. Still, "Andhaghaaram " is a very interesting film, which is not entirely conclusive and leaves few questions. It almost looks like a cinematic experiment in genre crossover. If you like horror films to be clear and unambiguous, you won't have much fun here. Anyone who loves suspense and supernatural horror will be in good hands in this film. Kudos to the entire team of Andhaghaaram for this indie gem.