Tag Archives: movie reviews

Dar Donyaye to Sat Chande

Iranian movie (2014) by Safi Yazdanian starring Leila Hatami. Gileh Goli (Leila Hatami) comes back to Teheran on a whim to her own village Rasht, which she left 20 years ago. There she is met by Farhad (Ali Mosaffa) who apparently claims to know everything about her. She goes back to her village, her townspeople are upset with her for not attending her mother’s funeral 5 years ago. Farhad tries to get close to Goli but she repulses it not knowing the past. At one point, she has him beaten up by goons for which she regrets later. Yazdanian has done beautiful job in releasing the plot slowly. Goli meets up with her old flame Ali Yaghuti who is now happily married with three children. Goli discovers that one of their school friend Hamid has committed suicide in Finland. The movie moves in flashbacks showing Farhad taking care of Goli’s mom and her concern for his love for Goli. At one point she refers to Goli’s husband as Anton but Farhad corrects it to Antoine, then Goli’s mom says like the Russian writer whose female characters always ends in misery. It takes a while for Goli to realise the unrequited love of Farhad for her. Beautiful haunting music Christophe Rezai.

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Manthan

A grim look at the reality of caste structure, local politics, highly pre-dominant patriarchial system in villages. The film takes an example of one village in which one idealist is trying to implement a co-operative system for production of milk but the village sarpanch and the local dealer are preventing it through means foul rather than fair. Anything and everything goes in a village including a cooked up sexual rape charge, local politicians currying favour with the higher levels at the state and national levels to influence decisions which favour them. This movie was made in 1976 but i am sure that even today, there are thousands of such villages in India, where the caste structure and feudal lordship predominate. The panchayat system of governance is more broken than successful. Such a sorry state of affairs. Brilliant acting by Naseeruddin Shah, Girish Karnad & Smita Patil. Quite an underrated touch of brilliance by Shyam Benegal.

The picture is used only for representational purposes and not with an intent to violating copyright.

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The Lady Vanishes

Spell binding movie from the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, The Lady Vanishes – most of the movie sequence takes place in a train leaving Germany. There is a middle aged English governess, a young lady going off home to her marriage, an up & coming English musician. The governess vanishes whilst in the train. There is a German doctor specialising in brain injuries, mysterious Italians, butlers, couple of Englishmen discussing only cricket all the time, an English couple of which the man is going to be a judge back home and rather conservative compared to his bold wife. Typical Hitchcockian drama and suspense in the movie. The late Margaret Lockwood looks good in the movie and has acted well. Hitchcock himself comes in the end as his usual manner.

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Shakespearewallah

Brilliant 1965 film from the Merchant Ivory stable “Shakespearewallah” – a story of a touring theatre company in India, staging Shakespeare plays all over India. These are British actors who chose to stay behind after India’s independence. Much as things start to change for them in terms of revenue, declining attendance, interest etc. Tony Buckingham (Geoffrey Kendall in a masterful performance) and his wife are the theatre company along with their daughter Lizzie (Felicity Kendall). Sanju (Shashi Kapoor) comes in as the love interest who discovers and is enthralled by the theatre much to the annoyance of his girlfriend Manjula (Madhur Jaffrey). Shashi Kapur and Felicity Kendall deliver solid performances. Shashi Kapoor in fact was much better at doing such roles rather than the dancing and singing roles in commercial cinema. The beauty of the movie is the brilliant virtuoso music delivered by none other than Satyajit Ray. Some of the scenes like the kissing scenes between Sanju and Lizzie would have been taboo way back in 1965 in Hindi commercial cinema.

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Capharnaum

Astounding Lebanese movie by Nadine Labaki heart breaking in its intent with power packed performances by all. Nadine has a large canvas – it is Beirut’s teeming poor people, their struggle for daily life, the slums, the illegal immigrants who clutch at straws to take care for their family. Zain (Zain Al Rafaea) is one among the children of Souad (Kawsar Al Haddad) and Selim (Fadi Yousuf) who takes care of the rest of his siblings of which there are many and struggle to eke out a living, foregoing school. There are poignant scenes of Zain lugging merchandise to be delivered to people while school buses are passing by. He is fond of his sister Sahar (Cedra Izzam) who he fears will be married off just after her puberty. The dreaded thing happens and he rebels against it ferociously and leaves house. There he meets an Ethiopian refugee Rahil (Yordanos Shiferow) who has a kid and her papers are not in order. Zain finds shelter with them taking care of the kid. Rahil is meanwhile sent to detention over illegal papers whilst Zain is left alone with the kid. He finds another street urchin who plans on migrating to Sweden. Zain is inventive in making money and manages to accumulate some amount but the tenanted house is locked out by the landlord over non payment of rent. So Zain is out on the street with the kid. He hands over the kid to a middleman for some little money and goes back home to get his papers. Back home he discovers that there are no papers and his sister Sahar has died due to complications from pregnancy. He sets out to take revenge on the guy who married her at tender young age of 11 and made her pregnant.

Zain is an actual Syrian refugee and he has delivered a power packed performance. Nadine has managed to extract maximum performances from the entire crew. Child marriage, buying and selling of kids, immigrant corruption business are all brilliantly brought out by Nadine.

Picture used only for representational purposes and not with an intent to violate copyright.

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The Island

Absolutely magnificent Russian movie “The Island” directed by Pavel Lungin – story of a monk in a small island who is repenting for his past sin. The story starts in 1944 during the second world war when a german officer forces Anatoly (Pyotr Mamonov in a bravura role) to shoot his superior. Anatoly thinks he is dead and he himself survives the blast that the germans had engineered on his tug boat. The story fast forwards to 1976 showing Father Anatoly as a repentant monk and having some miraculous healing powers. It also shows him as a undisciplined monk having his own habits quite apart from the church. Here is where the movie sags a little and takes too much time. The superior officer comes to the island because his own daughter is not quite mentally well off after the death of her husband. Anatoly and his superior officer meet and the superior officer says i have forgiven you long back. Sombre music, dreary landscape in the Russian snowy landscape makes for a riveting movie. The cinematography is quite good.

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Agantuk

Satyajit Ray’s last film (1991) and it is a classic. Anila Bose (Mamta Shankar in a superb riveting performance) receives a letter from her long lost relative, that he is coming to visit them. He had been gone for 35 years since he left immediately after his college and Anila was only 2 years then and has no recollection of him. None of her other relatives are alive to corroborate him, so his arriving brings in an element of suspense and intrigue to their lives. Who is he – is he an imposter, is he after her husband’s rich collection of paintings and sculptures or is he coming back to claim his share of his late father’s will. All these questions nag Anila and her husband Sudhindra Bose (Deepankar De) and they bring in an element of drama in the form of their friends to prise open this stranger Manomohan Mitra (Utpal Dutt). Satyajit Ray has kept the enduring undercurrent of suspense and intrigue throughout the film. Camera work from the master is as usual astounding as he manages to capture the varied emotions on the faces of the actors.

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The Birds

A masterful horror thriller from the master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock. Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren in her debut role) accidentally meets Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) in a pet store. Mitch is looking to buy some lovebirds for his sister and Melanie being intrigued, finds out more about him and follows him to his house in San Francisco but upon knowing that he spends his weekends in Bodega Bay, drives over there to deliver a pair of lovebirds which she has purchased as a gift. Upon returning to the bay Melanie is attacked by a sea gull. Then follows a series of bird attacks on various people even managing to kill a couple of them. Throughout the movie, Hitchcock has managed to keep the undercurrent of suspense going as to what is the real story behind these bird attacks. Things get more violent, more people get hurt, Mitch’s family is undergoing trauma. Mitch’s previous girlfriend Annie Hayworth (Suzanne Pleschette in a lovely role) is a school teacher in Bodega Bay primary school. She had to step back from her relationship with Mitch due to the coldness of Mitch’s mother, Lydia Brenner (Jessica Tandy) who is a widow and yearning for her lost husband. So there is an element of intrigue going on with that and the lovebirds being bought to Bodega Bay. Alfred Hitchcock never answers the mystery.

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Terminal

Terminal a 2018 movie starring Margot Robbie, Simon Pegg amongst others. Its a noir film involving Margot and her tormented past and how she manipulates to take revenge on all those who have harmed her. The whole scene takes place in a railway terminal. Except Margot, nothing in the movie. Rating 1/5

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Once upon a time in Hollywood

once-upon-hollywood-pitt-qualley

Watched this movie yesterday, its a contextual movie in the sense that it relates to a gruesome incident that actually happened on 8th August, 1969 viz. the gruesome killings by Charles Manson and his cult members. Much like Inglorious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino directs his angst at violence with his own band of violence, as if saying this is what should have happened, this is how Hitler should have been killed, this is how the Manson killers should have been done away with. In a way it is Quentin’s silent ode to Sharon Tate who was so badly killed on that fateful night. Sharon who was a newbie actor and who could have gone on to attain some stardom had her life not been snuffed out that night. Brad Pitt as the stuntman plays his part to perfection and the violence at the end is stunning to say the least. Leonardo di Caprio is the over the hill actor so unsure of himself, but frankly i thought he need not have been nominated for best actor part in the Oscars. Best film, yeah, best direction, certainly, Quentin is at his brilliant best. Probably this movie should have been released three to four years ago, when Charles Manson was still alive in jail. Quentin’s contempt for the cultists comes out strongly in the brutality of their death and the fact that Charles does not appear even once in the film.

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Rainmaker

Saw the 1997 movie The Rainmaker starring Matt Damon, Danny de Vito, Danny Glover in the cast. The movie is an adaptation from a book by John Grisham, the legal thriller writer. As is wont to be with early Grisham books, it does not disappoint. There is a medico legal case in which Damon is involved as his first ever case after passing the bar exam, ranged against him high profile lawyers. There is also an assault and battery case involving a woman who is attacked by her husband, but who prefers not to file for divorce until much latter when she is almost clobbered to death. Ethics or lack of it in the legal profession comes out strongly, jury tampering, doing away with witnesses – all in the mix of it. Matt Damon has done a good role in it, being a competent actor that he is. All time time classic from those good old days, worth a watch anytime it comes on telly.

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