El Mudo {The Mute}

El Mudo

Why Watch It: For its non-judgmental story about the world of judges, cops, criminals, and families in Peru. For the direction of Diego Vega Vidal and Daniel Vega Vidal. For the acting of Fernando Bacilio.

Warning: Plot Spoilers ahead.

Review: Constatino Zeggara {Fernando Bacilio}, a Peruvian judge, who is seen to be tough on crime, gets shot in his neck and loses his voice. Because of his inability to speak, he faces challenges in his work, and has to deal with changes in his household led by his wife Otilia{Norka Ramirez} and his daughter.

So Constantino must learn to speak, to cope with his new job responsibilities, and to navigate the dynamics with his family members. The police suspect that he may have been accidentally shot. But he declines to believe this. He keeps pushing the police to investigate criminals he has been tough on, even resorting to bribery. How Constantino copes up with the changes at the workplace and house, investigates the shooting, and tries to recover his voice is artfully shown in this subtitled film.

Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars. Almost gets very interesting but misses the spot because of the slow pace.

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

TheSecretLifeOfWalterMitty

Why Watch It: Because it’s brilliant. And it’s filled with magical and touching moments. And its twist and turns are actually  filled with a lot of meaning. And its end is sweet and ties in everything really well.

Warning: Plot spoilers ahead! Jump ship before you learn too much  🙂

Review: This is a movie that is fun to watch, nice to think about, and cool to discuss. At least, if you share my tastes.

The flick revolves around the real and the imagined lives of Walter Mitty. He is attracted to a particular woman in his office who is also on a relationship/date website. But he hasn’t found the nerve to ask her out. Actually, he hasn’t had the nerve to do a lot of things — at least not the adventurous kind of things. So he keeps zoning out and enacting cute/bizarre action sequences in his daydreams.

Meanwhile Life magazine, where Walter works, begins to see some admin changes and pink  slips being handed out. At   this point of time, the magazine is gearing up for a special anniv issue. However, the negative print of the cover page photo seems to be missing. Walter must now trace the incommunicado photographer and get the missing print. Walter must step out of his office and grab hold of the shutterbug. The journeys Walter undertakes to get the missing print, as well  his experiences during his travels, keep you engaged as a viewer and kinda inspire you to go on your own adventures.

Rating: 5 Out of 5. Watch it and get inspired.

The Dance of Reality {La Danza de la Realidad}

Dance de la RealidadAlejandro’s dejected father makes his way home
after which he decides to kill the Chilean dictator Ibanez

 

Why watch it: Because this semi-musical written and directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky is a crazy inventive metaphor-filled memoir-fantasy about the director, his mother, and his father set in Chile during the reign of a ruthless general.

Warning: Plot spoilers ahead.

Story: Alejandro’s father tries to popularize himself and create an image of being pro-poor. He attempts to hide the fact that they are a family of prosperous Jews, and tries hard to make his son fit in. But somehow things don’t go his way.

Disabled war veterans shout slogans outside his shop. The wife protests against the son’s hairdo being chopped. His son Alejandro’s seems to turn towards mystical acceptance of multiple religious idea. A mob of hungry infected poor eat up the animals he uses to donate food. And then he is stuck by a painful disease. But his wife cures his ailments, and with a renewed vigour Alejandro’s father decides he will try something grander than his previous projects. He decides that it will be his mission to kill the Chilean dictator Ibanez. He leaves town determined to achieve his goal .

But there are twists in the tale, and at no point does the father seem closer to the goal. He suffers great torments, while his wife and son learn tools and tricks to get by, quite easily unlike him. Finally, Alejandro’s father realizes worshipping the ‘dictator within’ is at the heart of his biggest problem.

Rating: 4.8 Out of 5. Some of the sequences stretch way too long. A particular nude scene that seems to promote faith healing also may not appeal to many. But its sometimes-musical-sometimes-quiet tone, the unusualness of the vivid images, the creative use of metaphors, and the twists and turns held my attention. All-in-all it’s a masterpiece.

Pushpak

The protagonist about to approach his romantic interest while the killer is about to attack

The protagonist approaching his romantic interest while the killer is stalking him

 

Why watch It: To admire the direction of Singeetham Rao and the acting of Kamal Hassan in this sweet silent film about an unemployed man who takes over the identity of a rich man.

Warning: Plot spoilers ahead

Story: A man seems to be trying hard to get a job. One day, he sees a pretty lady in a store but cannot muster the courage to approach her. However, later, while standing outside a job interview location, he sees the lady in a car and they exchange smiles. The lady looks at a luxury car on which he is leaning, and gestures Very Good. The man does not clear her misunderstanding about him being rich. Meanwhile, the vacancy gets filled up before his turn arrives. As the man heads back, he sees a rich man arriving at the grand Hotel Pushpak. Later, the unemployed man finds the same rich man, lying drunk on the street, carrying keys of the hotel. The unemployed man imprisons the rich man in his residence, and takes on the identity of his prisoner.

The man then checks into Hotel Pushpak. There he experiences the positives and negatives of his alternative/false identity. On one hand, he has to handle the blossoming romance between him and the lady who is a guest on the same floor of the hotel. On the other hand, he has to survive assassin who uses knives made of ice. Of course, he realizes that the actions of the lady and the assassin are influenced by who they assume him to be, i.e. the rich hotel guest.

The lessons the man learns as a result of his experiences, and the decisions he makes, thereafter, constitute the gist of the movie.

Rating: 4 out of 5. At times the pace sags a wee bit. However, many of the scenes are well-crafted and the acting is quite good. Also the lack of dialogues makes it ideal for people of all languages.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly {Le scaphandre et le papillon}

Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Why Watch It: For the simple narrative. For the inspiring story of a paralyzed man who writes an entire book by blinking. For the direction of Julian Schnabel which coveys the daily struggle of the protagonist. For the interesting viewpoint of the camera often giving us the protagonist view of the world , and sometimes showing him from the outside. For the acting of Mathieu Amalric.

Warning: Plot spoilers ahead

Story: Jean-Dominique Bauby emerges from coma in a hospital after a massive heart-attack. However he finds that he can’t move. Doctors discover that he is paralyzed that only one of his eyes is operational, and {in an unsettling scene} sew up the eyelids of the dead eye.

Jean, who was the editor of fashion magazine Elle, learns to find contentment in the two things that he can do — narrate a story and blink his eye. Using eye blinking as a method, he is able to get a helper to write down an entire book. Under this method, the helper has to recite slowly the letters of the alphabet and when the editor blinks the helper stops and confirms the letter — the “yes” or “no” indicated again by blinking. The letter is written down and one by one the letters are put together to form words. These in turn form sentences, which convey the story in his book. {The tiring nature of blinking to convey is depicted beautifully by the first-person point-of-view camera work in the early scenes}

As he writes the book, Jean conveys his thoughts, emotions and sheds light on the relationships, experiences of his past and present. Jean’s friends and family rally around him, and he completes his book. Tragically, he dies of pneumonia just after his book is released.

Rating: 5 Out of 5 for the storyline, first-person point-of-view camera work used in many scenes, direction, and acting.

High Noon

Why Watch It: Because it’s well-made award-winning western. Because this 1952 film is a good instance of real-time drama where a minute of screen time equals a minute of the narrative, done long before 24 hit our TV screens. Because its a cool screenplay based on a nice short story {John W. Cunningham’s Tin Star}. And because of the fine acting and screen presence of Gary Cooper who plays Marshal Will Kane.

Warning: Plot spoilers ahead.

Marshal Will Kane gives dreaded Frank Miller the royal treatment
Marshal Will Kane gives dreaded Frank Miller the royal treatment

Story: Marshal Will Kane {Gary Cooper} has married his fiance Amy Fowler {Grace Kelly} and is on the last day of his office. Just then, there is news that the notorious bandit Frank Miller captured by Sheriff Will and his posse, is returning by the train at noon. Will is persuaded to leave the town ahead of his retirement hour. He decides to leave the town but realises that he is still the town marshal and the proud wearer of the tin star. So he decides to create a posse to stymy the crime wave about to erupt.

Will’s deputy Harvey Pell tries to make a bargain before agreeing to help Will, but Will refuses on account of principle. Only one man signs up with Will, so Will goes around town asking for help. People either hide from Will or offer excuses. Finally, the man who signs up with Will sees the lack of response and withdraws his name leaving Will all alone. Meanwhile, Harvey tries to force Will to leave leading to a fistfight.

Will’s wife states that she is a Quaker and cannot engage in violence and proceeds to leave the noon drive . Frank arrives in town and with his group, he begins to damage the stores. Will sees that the law is being broken and engages them. He shoots down two of the outlaws. Amy hears the gunfire sounds and leaves the train still waiting at the stop. She reaches the scene and guns down one of Frank’s. Frank disarms Amy and takes her hostage. He tries to make Will surrender but gets killed instead.

Marshall Will Kane, having completed his last hours of duty, looks at the townsfolk in disgust and turns in the tin star, and leaves.

Rating: 5 Stars out of 5 for the pace, screenplay, and acting. If you want to catch a flick of this genre choose this one.

A Fold in My Blanket (Chemi sabnis naketsi)

Dimitrij{top} and Andrej{bottom} on an unreal adventure

Dimitrij{top} and Andrej{bottom} on an unreal adventure

Why Watch It: Cause I said so. Okay I’m kidding. The Georgia movie, written and directed by Zaza Rusadze, has got some nice moments . It explores the friendship between two male protagonists quite effectively. There’s also the breath-taking views of some Georgian mountains.

Warning: Plot spoilers ahead

Story: Andrej, a young unemployed man with emotional stability issues in a town in Georgia {the European country not the US state} keeps getting into trouble. Another young man, Dimitrij, in the neighborhood seems to have his head firmly on his shoulders, and appears interested in helping him. The troubled young man gets invited to go for climbing excursions in the Georgian mountains/hills This offers Andrej an outing and some reason to get out of the  house, and Dimitrij a change from his monotonous court-room job. It also aids them to bond as friends. However, we learn that there’s something terribly wrong when the police come knocking on the door, accusing Andrej of murdering a man on the streets. Dimitrij readily offers an alibi but Andrej refuses to use it. The nature excursions were a delusion harbored by Dimitrij’s bored and lonely mind. Finally, in the closing shot it seems that Dimitrij is trying to make peace with himself.

Rating: 3.5 for the capturing the beauty of nature in Georgia and the underplaying of the parts by the actors Tornike Bziava{Dimitrij} and Tornike Gogrichiani{Andrej}.

Hush {Suti}

Female protogonist Beba with her young daughter

Female protogonist Beba with her young daughter

Why Watch It: Just so that we don’t forget what a deep-seated problem child abuse is. And to remind ourselves how a hard-hitting film should be look and feel like.

Disclaimer: Plot spoilers ahead.

Story: Beba {Tihana Lazovic}, while giving a bath to her little daughter, discovers signs of sexual abuse. She confronts her drug-dealing husband Mirko {Zivko Anocic} about and it becomes obvious that he was the rapist. During the fight that ensues he hits her and walks out and she stabs him on the leg with a scissor as he is leaving. Terribly upset, she settles in the bath with her daughter and puts on the gas, presumably to commit suicide and kill her daughter.

Then she looks back at her past and remembers various horrific incidents. Her mother {Lana Baric} was always ill and her father {Milan Plestina} was a rough man. One fine day, her father left along with the mother and gave her and her brother in the care of a porn maker. When she and her brother grew up to be teens, her father was back in their lives and tearing off her clothes on camera for the porn movies. When her father got violent with her at one point of time, her brother attacked with a hammer. But the father took the hammer from him and crushed the head of the brother.

Later Beba was in jail and got romantically involved with Mirko, when she learned through a letter about about her father’s death. She then married Mirko but the celebration was marred by her husband’s friend rape attempt on the jail’s official.

After recalling all these events, she takes a decision and sends her daughter to go to a particular neighbor and report the crime. She continues sitting in the bath even as she imagines that her dead mother has joined her there. She tells her dead mother that as a child she could not tell during her childhood about what had been done to her.

Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars. I strongly recommend watching this Croatian film written and directed by Lucas Nola. To make it a perfect for me as a viewer, I would have liked the female protagonist to go along with the young daughter who is after all a small child.

400 Blows{Les quatre cents coups}

Why watch it: For the directorial work of François Truffaut. For the acting talent of Jean-Pierre Léaud who plays Antoine Doinel the delinquent school kid. For the story, which way back in 1959, provided insights into the troubled mind of a child moving towards crime {an issue that deserves attention even several decades later}.

Disclaimer: Spoilers ahead.

Cineaste365:  "The 400 Blows" - Fran...

Cineaste365: “The 400 Blows” – Francois Truffaut (October 30, 2013 – Day 018) (Photo credit: kndynt2099)

Story: Antoine, like others in his class, is involved in petty misdemeanors. But unlike others, he has a talent for getting quickly caught. The experience of punishments, fear of even harsher punishments, the encouragement in misadventure by a classmate who has it much easier, the disconnect from his parents, and the desire to escape his environs makes him do one wrong thing after another.

He can’t seem to fare well in school – he is at his wit’s end. He feels cut off from his parents and wants to leave his parent’s home but needs a permanent or at least a long-term solution. He has a tummy to feed and needs money for his needs. He wants to work but doesn’t know how to go about it. He has readied himself mentally for petty crimes like robbery but doesn’t seem to have the knack to be a success in it. The constant problems in the kid’s life and the oddness in his behavior are depicted very matter-of-fact, and no solution is presented. The movie closes with an open-ending showing the kid at an empty seashore. Perhaps the emptiness of that space personifies emptiness and emotional disconnect in his life. And perhaps we should, on our part, boost the spirits of young Antoines in our own families showing them that we care, be ready to listen to them, and help them do better in the battles they face instead of letting them feel that they have to do wrong to survive.

Rating: 4.5. Out of 5 for the interesting storyline, and the open-to-interpretation ending.