Category Archives: cinema

Edhir Paradhathu

Award winning Tamil melodramatic movie “Edhir Paradhathu” (1954) starring Shivaji Ganesan, Padmini among others.

Total tear jerker this one, right from beginning. Shivaji and Padmini love each other, then they make plans to marry, in the meanwhile he gets a chance to go to US for higher studies on government scholarship but the plane carrying him crashes and he is the only occupant, relatively unscathed save for the loss of his eyesight. Formulaic so far.

What happens next is bizarre. Padmini marries Shivaji’s father because he is rich and her family is in deep debts owing to the gambling habits of her brother. The old man finds out, he is aghast, runs away after bequeathing all his property to her.

Then he goes on a pilgrimage he finds Shivaji blind and begging somewhere, they unite and come back and Shivaji and Padmini unite, but she fobs him off saying she is already married. The dad then sends out a letter from Bombay that he has died and she can remarry.

In the meanwhile, Shivaji regains his eyesight and discovers who the real husband of Padmini is and all bedlam breaks loose. Every single minute of this movie is an emotional overdrive with long and heavy dialogues. Thankfully the you tube script which was grainy to begin with, had removed all the songs, so we were saved. Total overacting by everybody. imdb 2/10

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Andha Naal

Award winning Tamil detective movie “Andha Naal” (1954) directed by S. Balachander and starring Shivaji Ganesan, Pandaribai, Javar Seetharaman among others.

Its a nice riveting movie in the style of a fast thrilled whodunit. Rajan (Shivaji Ganesan) is shot in the beginning of the movie itself and what follows is the unraveling of the plot. Who killed him, there are plenty of them with enough motives from his brother Pattabi (T.K. Balachandran), his angry wife Hema (S. Menaka), his neighbour Chinaiya Pillai (P.D. Sambandam) to his lover Ambujam (K. Sooryakala) and lastly his wife Usha (Pandaribai).

Everybody narrates their own tale of what must have transpired alongwith their conspiracy theories. The plot moves from one scene to another with dexterity. There is enough long dialogues to bore people which is typical of Tamil and Malayalam movies. The dialogue delivery of stars in Tamil films is of another worldly order. Balachander has used little bit of Hitchcockian influence but apparently he is more inspired by Akira Kurosawa to make this film. The camera work is spectacular.

Shivaji Ganesan is brilliant as usual and shows us that he was a consummate actor, though at parts he is over acting, All others have acted quite well, keeping to the script. Though the dialogues are heavy at times, one is able to understand the substantial part of the movie for somebody like me. This one is a timeless classic. imdb 7/10

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Alice Does’nt Live Here Anymore

American coming of age comedy drama “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Ellen Burstyn, Kris Kristofferson, Harvey Keitel among others.

Alice (Ellen Burstyn) has a rough as an edge husband who is a truck driver and a 11 year old precocious son Tommy. The husband dies in a vehicle crash leaving Alice with virtually nothing on hand. She does a garage sale of her meagre belongings and sets off on a road trip with her talkative son with a plan to reach Monterrey, California where she grew up and where she was a singer before her marriage.

Along the way, they stop in Phoenix, Arizona for her to get a singing job, pick up some dope until she meets a younger forceful Ben (Harvey Keitel) who gets into bed with her. One fine day Ben’s wife lands up at her door, and Ben follows causing mayhem and forcing Alice and the kid to leave post haste.

Then they reach Tucson and she finds a job as a waitress in a dining parlor with lots of customers and too much to do for a first timer and with all her stresses with her. There she meets David, a divorced ranch owner who gets along with Tommy very well until a point when Tommy gets on his nerves and he whacks him. Their goal was to reach Monterrey by the time of Tommy’s 12th birthday.

Its a nice comedy drama with some very fine acting by Ellen Burstyn. All others are okay as well. The kid Tommy got on my nerves as well. Nice movie to watch with the family. imdb 6/10

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Kodiyettam

Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s masterpiece of the growing up of an adult human being, starring Bharath Gopi, KPAC Lalitha, Azeez, among others.

ShankaranKutty (Bharath Gopi) is a no gooder wiling his time eating and drinking at others’ expense, doing sundry jobs without any pay and playing with children. He is grown up but immature and irresponsible. He has no working skills to speak of. He has a sister Sarojini (Kuttyedathi Vilasini) who works as a maid in Trivandrum and sends him money.

Peeved at his lack of seriousness, she marries him off to Shantamma (KPAC Lalitha) but marriage and subsequent child birth does not make him aware of his responsibility. Shantamma moves off to her maternal home and he does not deem it necessary to follow her and inquire about her.

At his village he is infatuated with a widow Kamalam (Kaviyoor Poovamma) but she has an affair going on with somebody on the side. Kamalam commits suicide after the man refuses to take responsibility for her. Which is the point at which when Shankarankutty starts taking life seriously. He becomes a cleaner to a truck driver Azeez and sees him play with his own little children while at the same time having an affair with another lady enroute his travels.

Adoor has bounced Shankarankutty against three women – his sister, the widow and his wife and made him realise responsibility only against rejection by two women. He is portrayed like a child with an immature mind unable to grasp the harsh realities of life. He has seen both these women being mistreated and that sort of opens his eyes, which is why he takes up the job of cleaner the second time after quitting the first time, unable to cope up with the demands of trucking life.

Bharath Gopi has acted quite brilliantly for his part as the dumb reckless person to a happy smiling husband and father towards the end. The transformation is quite spectacular. Deservedly he bagged the best actor award at the Nationals. Others have done their part quite well. Adoor apparently has not used any background music during the movie, still the natural sounds whilst making the film are quite breathtaking. He has focused a lot of ultra close up shots of the characters, don’t know the meaning of that – there must be something to that. Typically any Malayalam movie must have one eating scene and one drinking scene. This movie had plenty of both – more of the eating though and some bizarre ultra close ups, unable to fathom the reason for that though. imdb 8/10

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Manimuzhakkam

Poignant award winning Malayalam movie “Manimuzhakkam” (1976) directed by P.A. Backer and starring Harikeshan Thampi.

Its a very interesting plot in the sense that the script very subtly delves into identity conflicts of a person based on others’ perception and religious beliefs. Jose (Harikeshan Thampi) is an orphan bought up in a christian convent upto his college days. Then he is discovered by his long lost Hindu family and he immediately faces an identity crisis. Earlier in the college a girl dates him until she discovers that he grew up in an orphanage.

Then he finishes college with first class and his family proposes his marriage to another Hindu girl until her family discovers that he was brought up in a christian upbringing. He goes to Madras for a job whereupon he is taken upon by a catholic family as a potential suitor for their girl. Until they learrn of his real story.

There is a lot of subtle messaging going on, which is quite well done. But the movie lacks the tempo to be a robust hit. The music is dreary and depressing. The plot slows at various places to depict the social awkwardness of Jose considering the fact of his early life in an orphanage. The last scene is very riveting like Charlie Chaplin’s The Modern Times.

Overall movie is good and it has won the national & state award also, but it fails to raise above the mediocre. imdb 2/10

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Swapnadanam

K.G. George’s haunting award winning psycho drama movie “Swapnadanam” (1976) starring Dr. Mohandas, Rani George, Suman, among others.

George has managed to maintain a suspense almost throughout the movie, which lies to his credit. The story is about an introverted socially awkward doctor Gopi (Dr. Mohandas) who has no social skills to talk about being forced into marriage to his cousin Sumithra (Rani George) in an arranged marriage kinda setting as a quid pro quo for funding his medical education.

Whilst in medical college, he falls in love with a student but that does not materialize much to his dismay and that plays at the back of his mind in his marriage. His wife Sumithra is a kind of rich snobbish girl bred with much life comforts. Their marriage is falling apart and he has no back up plan nor a support system to ensure it doesn’t.

George has beautifully played with lot of themes during the movie. There is hitchcockian suspense with jazz music playing in the background. He has pushed Gopi close to his mother and takes him close to the servant too. The consummation takes place much later, which is when the man breaks up because he has to attend to a dying patient at his clinic. Very bold scenes for a 1976 movie production.

George has bought about the tension in the household between Sumithra and Gopi and his mother very well. Gopi has to stay in a house with comforts provided by his father in law which rankled him to the extreme. Also the house belonged to Sumithra’s friend Rosi (Mallika Sukumaran) so that interplay between Gopi and Rosie is also played out very well. Her brother Mohan (Suman) who is a real estate agent also stays in the house and the script manages to weave a doubt around Mohan and Sumithra.

Ending up in Madras for a closure is a little manufactured i thought. The movie is shown in flashback when doctors at the hospital in Madras give him a narco analysis test to bring out the truth.

The intensity of Dr. Mohandas as Gopi and the mix of playfulness, neglect, & anger of Rani Chandra as Sumithra is done beautifully. Both of them have acted extremely well. Very sorry to learn that she died very young in a plane accident. She was one good talent gone too soon. imdb 6/10

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Nirmalyam

Brilliant Malayalam award winning movie “Nirmalyam” (1973) written and directed by M.T. Vasudevan Nair and starring P.J. Antony, Sumithra, Ravi Menon among others.

The basic theme of the movie is the neglect of temples in small villages and consequent neglect of the arts and culture of Kerala except when a foreign tourists come visiting. But the undercurrent throughout is the abject poverty of the people, the lack of opportunities for young people, the sad & desolate future for women.

The film revolves around an oracle who is sort of a go between the worshippers and god. He faces bleak future because nobody is coming to the temple, no offerings are made and he has to beg from house to house for some little grain. He has a son who is educated but unemployed and loafing around with no gooders and a daughter who is not educated and staring at a bleak times. He has two more young daughters who don’t go to school because they have no books nor school uniform to wear.

A young priest joins the temple but he is looking to escape the priest hood by studying for competitive exams. He seduces the oracle’s daughter and has sex with her inside the temple. A small pox virus breaks out in the village which is when the oracle is summoned for his divine help.

P.J. Antony has done a magnificent role as the oracle with his long locks which he keeps playing with and erect persona going with the intense eyes, he is deadly in extreme. Its a once in a lifetime performance for which he won the National award for best actor. Others have done an equally good job, especially Sumithra as the seduced daughter – she is quite brilliant as the hopeless female with no future. The ending of the movie is quite spectacular. The music is very good and so is the camera work, cinematography which captures the essence of the movie quite beautifully. imdb 8/10

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Panitheeratha Veedu

Award winning Malayalam family drama film “Panitheeratha Veedu” (1973) directed by K.S. Sethumadhavan and starring Prem Nazir, Nanditha Bose, Bahadoor, Alummoodan among others.

Basically too many sub plots with the under current of grinding poverty, depression, misery, dejection, in each of sub plots. Prem Nazir is not able to give relief to anybody who look upto him, because he himself is under a cloud with his family suffering from a violent father, abject poverty and unhappy mother & sister.

Story of a young Leela who is being forced into prostitution by their foster parents, estranged father & son, violent family battles, sad life of an unwed mother – all heady mix of emotions, sadness, grief in this family movie.

There were long shots of Prem Nazir walking – don’t know what it means. Shobana has done a good role as the young Leela, was very authentic. Others are okay, Prem Nazir is more like a confused aatma in the movie. The title means “Unfinished House” its a metaphor for unfinished agenda, but whether he is able to fulfill it is not shown in the movie because the last shot is of him leaving in a train from Ooty station. There probably could have been a sequel to the movie.

Lovely songs by M.S. Vishwanathan and P. Jayachandran saves the day somewhat.

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Umaj Padel Tar

Lovely award winning Marathi film “Umaj Padel Tar” (1960) starring Ramesh Deo, Chitra, Durga Khote, Datta Salvi among others.

Its based on the theme of problems within a rigid heirarchical joint family system in India, where doubt, jealousy, suspicion, revenge can destroy families. Ramesh Deo and Chitra are happily married he being a motor mechanic having his own garage, Durga Khote being his loving doting mother.

A rival family which is high flying high society types lawyer and his wife but no substance within, plot their downfall through some nefarious games. Rift happens in the family, angry words exchanged, wife stomps off to her father’s house.

The plot is unraveled by the lawyer’s father who knows his son only too well to be taken in his wiles and guiles. All’s well that ends well with lots of lessons learned.

Nice simple plot with rich script and dialogues, not too emotionally heavy. Good accomplished acting by Ramesh Deo, Chitra, Shanta Jog, Datta Salvi, Durga Khote, its a kind of a rich star cast but everybody has played their part well, no overacting by anybody. It got the national award in 1960 for best feature film in Marathi.

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Game Night (2018)

American comedy film Game Night (2018) starring Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, Kyle Chandler among others.

Rachel McAdams saves the movie, she is beautiful, vibrant, svelte, hot & sexy. Jason Bateman does characters which are irritating to the extreme, like he did in Horrible Bosses, keeps talking non stop puerile jokes which vexes the viewer. Kyle Chandler is okay after his role as a FBI officer in “The Wolf of Wall Street”.

There are some oddball characters in the movie, one who keeps asking his wife whether she has slept with a celebrity actor kind of a creepy one. a police officer who wears his uniform all the time, even inside his house.

Its a plot gone wrong horribly for some amateur gamers getting mixed up with real criminals and how they resurrect the situation with the on the button decision making which is incredible to say the least. Good laughs towards the end though. IMDB 2/10 (for Rachel McAdams)

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The City of the Dead

A Hollywood supernatural horror movie “The City of Dead” (1960) starring Dennis Lotis, Venetia Stevenson, Betta St. John among others.

Nan Barlow (Venetia Stevenson) is a student in a college and for her term paper she selects witchcraft as her subject to research upon. Her professor Alan Driscoll (Cristopher Lee) urges her to visit the village of Whitewood in Massachusetts. She goes there against the pleas of her boyfriend and brother.

Upon reaching Whitewood, Nan finds it in a desolated state with nobody around. The only normal person is Patricia Russell (Betta St. John) who has come to the town because her grandmother passed away and her grandfather is the father of the church which is more or less closed down.

There is a history to the village going back some 200 years when a witch Elizabeth Selwyn was burned at stake on 1st February 1692 and she has sort of cursed this village. But the witches need two virgin ladies every year for their sacrifice during Candlemas Eve and Witches Sabbath.

Its not a bad movie, there are few elements of horror in it, plus ample supernatural forces by the way of witches. Its a clean uncomplicated story line with passable acting by the characters. IMDB 5/10

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Snehaseema

Award winning malayalam movie “Snehaseema” (1954) directed by S.S. Rajan and starring Sathyan, Padmini among others.

As per wikipedia, the story is an adaptation of L.A. Tennyson’s Enoch Arden, but with a twist. In Enoch Arden, the sailor does not come back for 7 years and is considered as lost in war, but here the character has been declared as dead by the army and the lady marries within 3 years of his death to the soldier’s best friend.

Sathyan has acted brilliantly as usual in the movie, his acting is master class and Padmini has over acted as usual. Too much of emotional scenes and too lengthy make it slightly boring but the movie is worth watching purely for Sathyan’s acting. He is brilliant.

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Metropolis

Science fiction drama film “Metropolis” (1927) of the silent era directed by Fritz Lang and starring Gustav Frolich, Brigitte Helm among others.

Too lengthy a film at two and half hours, the print was a restored one, but there were few areas where the print was not done properly. Its basically a fight between man and machine, a mad scientist, whose love went awry, sought destruction of the industrialist who married his love, created a robot, installed a face of Maria (Brigitte Helm) and made it do things.

The special effects were spectacular for a 1927 production, camera work and set design, picturisation etc. were all done beautifully. It must have cost a lot of money to make this film in view of the extensive set design used, the number of characters in the movie and the visual effects. The story is the weak point. Brigitte Helm in the double role has done a superb role in the film. Other than her and the special effects, nothing much to recommend except for its historic value as a big budget spectacular science fiction of that era.

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Nosferatu

Deadly German horror film of the silent era “Nosferatu” (1922) directed by F.W. Murnau and starring Max Schreck, Gustav Von Wangenheim, Greta Schroder among others.

Its kind of a cult movie, because it is indirectly based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Apparently there were some copyright issues, so the names and everything else was changed, but its inspired by Dracula.

Its probably the first of its kind vampire movie in the history of cinema. Thomas Hutter (Gustav Von Wangenheim) is working with a real estate agent Knock and he brings in a proposal for sale of a house opposite his i.e. Hutter’s at a substantial amount, for which the commission also could be good. Hutter agrees to meet the prospective buyer and close the deal.

The prospective buyer is Count Orlok (Max Schreck) who is staying in some dark castle far away. Hutter clinches the deal but strange things start happening. Orlok apparently is the vampire who sucks the blood of humans by clinching their neck. He chances upon a photograph of Hutter’s wife Ellen (Greta Schroder).

Wikipedia mentions that the movie is an example of German Expressionism in the mould of “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” but i did not find much of that in evidence there. The music is very baroque in style. The print is quite old and that is apparently because of the dispute with Stoker’s heirs, the movie was banned and only a few prints were available for viewing.

It does have its moments of horror especially when Orlok rises up with his long pointed finger nails, his deadly pallor, his frightening eyes, the creepiness when a swarm of rats is shown coming out. Good use of light and shadow accentuates the horror part. Its a cult classic.

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The Haunted House

Buster Keaton’s 1922 silent comedy “The Haunted House” starring himself, Virginia Fox among others .

A laugh a minute gag this film shows Buster stuck literally with glue in his hands at his bank. He being the teller has it all over himself and on the customers as well.

Meanwhile robbers are planning to rob the bank and use a haunted house as their getaway plan. Buster lands in the haunted house and a drama troupe also ends up there explicably to add to the laugh riot.

There is no story to the movie, no human element, no female interest unlike other Buster Keaton movies. This must be one of his least favorite movies.

Nevertheless a good watch for the laugh riot.

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