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.

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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}.

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.

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.

Mother and Son: The Bond that Binds

mat i syn

Mother and Son {Mat i Syn} made in 1997 is an extremely slow-paced but touching Russian movie by Aleksandr Sokurov. It’s a story of an elderly sickly woman’s last day and how her adult son takes care of her in an isolated rural area. The movements on the screen are conspicuous by their near-absence. While watching I often felt that there was nothing happening and I’d take note of some easy-to-miss detail like the man moving his head, or the grass moving. 

The movie showcases in the beginning itself how the mother and son have such a deep bond that they have similar dreams. From the conversation and body language, it is obvious that the woman’s health is in a deep state of crisis. Her son carries her around the and tends to her in a way that reminded me of a parent taking care of a child. It appeared like a statement that old age is a second childhood and that elders need caring too.

The flick is interesting in the sense that it showcases the beauty of the countryside where the mother and son are. It’s almost like watching a landscape painting at times{refer to the still  of the movie above}, except that the painting will sometimes move…very slowly. The visual effect of the movie have obviously been achieved with usage of great techniques.

Perhaps nature is the perfect background for the subject of dying because nature involves the passing away of time and season, and new beginnings without the presense of the old. I’ll admit that I found the last 20 minutes more easy to watch because the story started to conclude, and the son finally gives in to tears.

Rating: No rating as such. But yeah, I’d give the  the cinematography, acting and scenery  a 8/10 though I wouldn’t recommend the film to be watched for fun. Of course, if you’re like me, you might want to catch such movies simply to give yourself a break from mainstream cinema.

The Isle(2000): Hooked to One Another

Cover of "The Isle"

Cover of The Isle

The Isle (2000) is an off-beat Korean film  {with English subtitles} by Kim-Ki-Duk. It is a story of two disturbed individuals trying to forge a romantic relationship while saving and destroying each other.

Disclaimer: The story of the entire film is presented below along with the ending.

A verbally-challenged woman Hee-jin {Seo Jeong} operates a bunch of floating rooms in an isolated lake where men party, do fishing, and engage with call-girls, far from the prying eyes of the public and police. Hee-jin arranges for these girls and even takes up such activities personally, apart from selling fish bait to the occupants. However, in one of the floating rooms is a reclusive man  Hyun-shik {Kim Yu-seok} who spends time making metal-wire toys and watching other men indulge themselves. The cruelty of the men is on open display — one of them taunts the woman for not speaking and throws the money owed to her in the water after his friend sleeps with her. Upset at this treatment the woman assaults the man from under the water. Juxtaposed with this roughness is the shyness of  Hyuk-shik who doesn’t bother Hee-jin and even gifts her a toy. One night, he awakens from his nightmare in which he sees/remembers a dead naked young woman. In depression, Hyun-shik tries to shoot himself but the Hee Jin secretly sabotages his  plan and makes him lose his gun.

She tries to convey her attraction towards Hyun-shik but he makes a rough, callous, overtly sexually agressive advance one night and Hee-jin fights him and leaves. A sombre Hyun-shik gets a call-girl to visit him though only for conversation. Touched by his softness, the call-girl starts to develop feelings for him even as her manager views the situation unfavorably.  The girl visits him on her off-day and then starts developing a relationship with him.

Meanwhile, Hee-jin begins to feel jealous and spies Hyun-shik having sex with the girl. Soon the police arrive at the lake with a list of fugitives and  Hyun-shik attempts suicide out of fear of getting caught, by swallowing fish hooks. Hee Jin hides him from the cops and then saves his life. While comforting him, she has sex with him. However, she gets angry when the girl comes to visit Hyun-shik. Hee Jin assaults the girl and ties her up, and the girl drowns in the lake while trying to break free. The girl’s manager suspects Hyun-shik in the disappearance and they both fight.  This fight accidentally leads to the manager falling into the lake and drowning. The deaths strain the relationship between Hyun-shik and Hee-jin. He decides to escape but he almost drowns in his first attempt and the woman is the one who saves him. When he is making his second attempt Hee-jin attempts suicide and he gives up the plan. 

For a while it appears that that Hyuk-shik and Hee-jin have finally created a long-lasting relationship. But in a twist in the tale, a customer loses his expensive watch when it falls in the lake. The divers called to retrieve the watch discover the bodies. The couple then do a runner. The end of the movie appears to convey that Hee-jin has committed suicide and Hyuk-shik is once again living quietly, hidden from the eyes of the world.

 

Rating: Lot of cruelty towards animals depicted. Contains nudity and graphic scenes of self-mutilation.  One feels very uneasy while watching the movie. Specifically meant for people who are curious about the works of Kim-Ki-Duk, the acting of Seo Jeong and Kim Yu-seok and/or wants to see the cinematography of the flick. Definitely not meant for for entertainment or for a romantic date .

Reclaim Your Brain/ TV Lies (Free Rainer)

This subtitled movie explores the issue of the onslaught of mindless programs on TV.

Rainer Kaethner is a jerk — guzzling alcohol (even while driving) and snorting narcotics(even at work).  He manages  a TV station under Channel TTS, which hosts reality TV shows, including one in which the sperm of young men compete to mate with the egg of a young woman!

He meets an anguished young woman who confirms his identity as the person doing ‘Report 24’ and is set to stab him. But she hesitates, perhaps  because he is not alone.  Soon after this incident, Rainer accepts an award for ‘Report 24’ and is returning home after dosing on drugs when the mysterious woman smashes her van into his car.  While being resuscitated he has a near-death experience, you know, an epiphany of sorts and imagines that his vital life is in hands of non-real doctors, whose actions are being voted on by a live audience.

While recovering, he visits the young woman and tells her that she couldn’t possibly hate him more than he hates himself. This appears to soften her hatred of him and she visits his room. But finding him asleep, she surreptitiously leaves the hospital . When he later visits her room, there is another patient in her place. But he finds a newspaper clipping about her elderly relative, a swimming coach, who committed suicide after a Report 24’s damaging coverage.

Rainer tries to turn over a new leaf and present genuine reportage, but is blocked by the Channel TTS, which uses the rating system to decide which TV shows get slotted. Rainer is of the opinion that the rating system is flawed. He feels that the small number of viewers who give the rating are given a choice of a large amount of trash which feeds an addiction, and this perpetuates the problem of crappy TV shows. He likens the TV channel’s strategy to feeding sweets to children all day long.

In order to give intellectual TV shows an opportunity to compete, Rainer decides to study and manipulate the rating system with the help of the mysterious woman, Pegah, who had tried to kill him. The rest of the movie is based on the attempts of Rainer, Pegah, and a team of idealists/ revolutionaries / hackers / saboteurs to create a TV revolution.

The ending is quite idealistic and shows Rainer, Pegah and the team as having been successful. The TV viewing population has become deaddicted to rubbish on TV, and generally to TV itself.