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.

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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.

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.

Blue is the Warmest Colour (La Vie d’Adele)

Why Watch It: For its highly acclaimed romantic drama between a teacher (who is initially a young student girl) and a lady artist(initially an art student). For the acting of the two female protagonists. For the character journey of the young teen as she comes of age. For learning why it’s been talked about why it has won Palm D’or award and the British Independent Film Award for Best International Independent Film. For the boldness of film-maker Abdellatif Kechiche who brings the award-winning graphic novel by Julie Maroh  to life.

Warning: Plot spoilers ahead

The two stars of La Vie D'Adele (Blue is the W...

The two stars of La Vie D’Adele (Blue is the Warmest Color) on fest tv, startlingly fully clothed. #Cannes (Photo credit: enderzero)

Story: A young student Adele is romantically involved with a young boy but somehow it doesn’t seem to be working between them. Adele secretly fancies a woman with blue-colored hair that she sees walking on the street. She begins to fantasize about that woman.

Seeking to explore her options, Adele thereafter heads off to a lesbian bar where the woman, art student Emma, helps her in handling an odd situation. The seed of friendship is laid and later romance grows between them. The couple keep it a secret from the girl’s parents. But later, Adele completes her studies, becomes a teacher and moves in with the woman artist who treats the teacher as a muse. However, work pressures take their toll and the artist and the teacher hardly spend time with each other. Loneliness affects the relationship and the relationship begins falling apart.

The movie has a lot of sexual content and viewer discretion is encouraged.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5 for the acting by both female protagonists and for the character development of Adele who plays the traveler and the muse of the tale.

Charulata {The Lonely Housewife}

 

Charulata

Charulata (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 
Why Watch It: For a glimpse of the work of famous director Satyajit Ray. For the story of Rabindranath Tagore evoking a bygone era in a Bengali town. For film history.

Disclaimer: Spoilers ahead

Story: A bored housewife entertains herself by embroidery, reading books, and watching people walk by her house. Her husband, who runs a newspaper, seems to have little time for her even when he is at home. He, of course, realizes that she is bored and lonely. So the husband enlists the help of his cousin, who has come to live there, to develop the writing talents of his wife.

 

During the interaction of the cousin and the wife, she begins to feel interested in him. Meanwhile, the husband is heartbroken to discover that a relative-cum-manager had stolen money from the newspaper funds. He confides his pain to his cousin, who at that time is wrestling with the expression of interest from the housewife.

 

The confused/anguised cousin decides to do a disappearing act explaining to the husband in a letter that he did not want to be a burden to the couple during the financial crisis. After reading the letter, the husband seems impressed that the cousin was such a sensible person. However, he later hears his wife lamenting the cousin’s decision to leave her and the house, and the husband gets visibly upset. The film concludes with a hint of the disturbed status of the marital relationship stating ‘Broken Nest'{also the name of Rabindranath Tagore’s short story from which the movie is adapted} at the End.

 

Rating: 5 stars out of 5 for direction for the strong opening scene, which conveys a lot of facts with minimal dialogue. 4 out of 5 stars for the rest of the film.

 

Amores Perros {Love’s a Bitch}

Amores perros

Amores perros (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rating: 7.5 Out of 10

Why Watch It: It’s experimental and non-linear. It’s the first in the experimental relationship movie trilogy by Director Alejandro González Iñárritu {the others are 21 Grams and Babel}, written by Guillermo Arriaga. The director effectively links up the stories to each other. Each tale deals with different shades of relationship and dogs are pivotal to realizations. And yeah, we do learn that love is a bitch — the concept doesn’t get all lost during the experiment.

Warning: This review like all other reviews on this page contains spoilers.

A dog is let out of the house by mistake. A goon sics his fighting-dog onto this particular dog. The attacked dog kills the aggressor. This incident propels the dog onto a fighting career, and results in big money for a young man {Gael García Bernal} who is its part-owner and who wants the money for his romantic interest. During a dog-fight the previous-mentioned goon shoots this dog and the young man stabs him in retaliation.  A car chase ensues and the young man’s vehicle slams into the car of a supermodel{Goya Toledo}, and the dog is taken by a man wandering the streets{Emilio Echevarría} who lives with lots of dogs. We eventually learn how this incident then affects the relationships and creates emotional dramas for the three protagonists {the young man, the supermodel, the wandering man} of the film.

21 Grams

Genre: Emotional Drama

Rating: 8 Out of 10

Why watch it: Stellar performances from Sean Penn, Naomi Watt and Benecio Del Toro, Great direction by Alejandro González Iñárritu, cool storyline by Guillermo Arriaga

Warning: This review like all other reviews on this page contains spoilers.

21 Grams

21 Grams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A road accident has a lasting impact on three people and connects them in in an unplanned way.

A reformed thug{Benecio Del Toro}, high on religion and in a rush to reach  home for a get-together, runs down a man and his daughter in an accident and drives away instead of stopping and helping. However, he repents and turns himself over to the police. The man and the daughter pass away in a hospital and the widow{Naomi Watts} decides to donate the dead man’s heart to a seriously-ill patient{Sean Penn} queued up for its donation.

The coping strategies of the three protagonists — the grieving of the widow, the guilt of the driver and the desires of the patient who has received t he heart — lead them to new lives which then intersect each others all over again, with unintended consequences.