Saturday, December 27, 2008

A brief report about 13th International Film Festival of Kerala 2008 (Trivandrum,12-19 December,2008)

Films from Latin America win major prizes at 13th International Film Festival of Kerala (Trivandrum,India 12-
19 December,2008)

Two Outstanding films from Mexico and Venezuela bagged top honors at 13th International Film Festival of Kerala 2008 awards ceremony.

Mexican film “Parque Via” directed by Enrique Rivero was declared best film. His film is a sad tale of loneliness experienced by a caretaker of a large mansion in Mexico City. Enrique Rivero had already won prizes at Locarno and Nantes for this film. Venezuelan filmmaker Mariana Rondon was chosen as best director for her film “Postcards from Leningrad”. This surreal film talks about young children engaged in guerilla warfare with their parents in a humorous tone.

13th International Film Festival of Kerala 2008 got off to a flying start on 12th December 2008 when it screened a humanist tale “Laila’s Birthday” directed by acclaimed Palestinian director Rashid Masharawi. This poetic film talks about a simple taxi driver who overcomes all chaotic obstacles in a single day to be able to celebrate his daughter’s birthday. According to Rashid Masharawi his film is a description of confusion that currently reigns in the life of Palestinians.

The highlight of this year’s festival was its eclectic mix of retrospectives, tributes and homages. The committed, young audience at the festival got a chance to see remarkable films by world cinema masters Alain Resnais, Amos Gitai, Fatih Akin, Fernando Birri, Idrissa Ouedraogo, late Jules Dassin, Karen Shaknazarov, Samira Makhmalbaf and late Youssef Chahine. The famous Russian director and CEO of MOSFILM studio Mr.Karen Shaknazarov was present at the festival where five of his film were shown under “Comtemporary Masters” section.

International Film Festival of Kerala is considered as one of India’s most renowned film festivals. It is believed that it is one of the very few festivals in Asia which is independently managed by film professionals. Its rising popularity is due to its cinema literate audience. For its 13th edition around 8500 registered delegates saw more than 250 films from 26 categories. The competition section at this festival is restricted to films from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Bina Paul Venugopalan, a leading name in Kerala state’s cinematographic landscape is the main architect behind the success of this festival.She has contributed to her festival’s popularity by selecting hard to find films.

A unique event at the festival was the launch of a new section called “Looking back : 50 years ago”. This category was conceptualized by Mr. P.K. Nair, ex director National film Archive of Pune, India. According to Mr.P.K.Nair, this section was created for the benefit of young film students and film enthusiasts in order to give them a chance to analyze golden classics of the past. This section showcased films made in year 1958 by Andrzej Wajda (Ashes and Diamonds), Bert Haanstra (Glass), Ingmar Bergman (The Magician), Jack Clayton (Room at the top), Jacques Tati (Mon Oncle), Luis Bunuel (Nazarin) and Satyajit Ray (The Music Room)

Awards presented at 13th International Film Festival of Kerala 2008 (Trivandrum 12-19 December,2008)

International Jury :

Idrissa Ouedraogo (Chairperson,Burkina Faso)

Lucia Murat (Brazil)

Sitora Alieva (Russia)

Jabbar Patel (India)

Samira Makhmalbaf (Iran)

Jury Award (Golden Crow Pheasant) for Best Film : Enrique Rivero (Parque Via,Mexico)

Jury Award (Silver Crow Pheasant) for Best Director : Mariana Rondon (Postcards from Leningrad,Venezuela)

Jury Award (Silver Crow Pheasant) for Best Début Director : Husein Karabey (My Marlon and Brando,Turkey)

Audience awards for the Best Film : Uberto Pasolini (Machan,Italy)

Special Jury Prize for the debutant Director :Nandita Das (Firaaq,India)

Special Prize of the Jury : Amor Hakkar (The Yellow House,Algeria)


Chris Fujiwara (Chairperson,USA)

Barbara Lorey (France)

Manoj Barpujari (India)

FIPRESCI Award : Mariana Rondon (Postcards from Leningrad, Venezuela)

FIPRESCI award for the best Malayalam language film :Anjali Menon (Manjadikkuru,India)


Max Tessier (Chairperson,France)

Freddie Wong (Hong Kong)

Sudhir Mishra (India)

NETPAC award for Best Asia Film : Husein Karabey (My Marlon and Brando,Turkey)

A newly instituted award in memory of Hassankutty for the best Indian debut director was presented to Kerala filmmaker Anjali Menon for her début film "Manjadikkuru".

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Amazing film about grief,loss and sadness.

Walking on Water (2002) directed by Tony Ayres

Australian film "Walking on Water" is one of the most original films about homosexual characters.The best thing about it is that unlike other gay films it does not glorify homosexuality and gay people.It shows gay people as perfectly normal ordinary mortals whose joys and sorrows are same as that of straight people.This film's director Tony Aires started his career in 1999 with a documentary called "Sadness". His feature film debut "Walking on Water" is about tough choices one has to make in life.It is said that life assumes a different meaning altogether when people are confronted with death.This is something which happens in this film as a gay character dies after waging a valiant war against his illness.This film revolves around a group of friends who cope with an inevitable grief arising out of their friend's death.Their presence highlights the fact that a slow death is more brutal than Euthanasia.As a tale of human emotions and their implications on ordinary people,Walking on Water shows that friends are always around when one is abandoned by family.This is one of the best rewarding reasons for watching this film.

Breaking news is an Anglo Saxon concept of presenting news.

Daai si gin (2004) directed by Johnnie To

Those who have seen action films made in Hong Kong will surely say that real life and life on a reel are the two basic fundamental notions of this film.This is because we often hear that whatever that happens in real life does not happen in films.We are also used to hear that whatever that happens in films does not happen in real lives. Whatever one says,a thing that remains clear is that "Breaking News" is a film which will challenge our notions of real life and life on reel as it presents both these concepts with amazing honesty.This film boasts of wonderful action scenes which help in mocking both media and police forces.Hong Kong director Johnnie To shows that the influence of media is enormous in our daily lives.This is the reason why distasteful material is being shown on television to poor audiences in order to increase daily ratings of TV shows.One must appreciate this film keeping in mind that "Breaking News" is a purely an Anglosaxon/ Angloamerican concept of looking at media which does not have any equivalent in many cultures such as European culture,Asian culture and African culture.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Alain Resnais makes his family of actors to sing great French songs ! ! ! !

On connaît la chanson (1997) directed by Alain Resnais

In many ways "On connait la chanson" is precursor to a new method of film-making undertaken by veteran French director Alain Resnais.This is the second film by Resnais (I want to go home) which has palpable American influence on French culture.This is a film which features many versatile actors of French cinema who are part of his family of actors.Those who have seen "Coeurs" will have no trouble recognizing these stars.Jean Pierre Bacri and Agnès Jaoui act as a couple who worked with Resnais on this film's screenplay.The philosophy of this tender,light hearted film is simple.If life is a song then a song must be sung.What we see and hear are many great songs of French music which were originally sung by famous French singers such as Alain Souchon,Edith Piaf,Jane Birkin etc.It can be surmised that in order to create suspense at the beginning of the film,Resnais even transported us back in past when he showed that Nazis had invaded Paris to destroy French capital.It is a great feeling that nothing like this happened.

Cyrano de Bergerac : a great introduction to the richness of French culture.

Cyrano de Bergerac directed by Jean Paul Rappeneau

Cyrano de Bergerac is one of the most perfect films made in French language.It is a film which must be shown to all connoisseurs of French culture as it makes for the most perfect introduction to French civilization.The greatness of Cyrano is universal as he teaches us some of the most essential human values such as friendship,love, sadness and trust.It is a film for which everybody has worked hard under the leadership of French auteur Jean Paul Rappeneau.There is an air of authenticity in the portrayal of France circa late 1900s.This has been achieved by creating magnificent sets,marvelous costumes and a cast of many junior artists.Jean Paul Rappeneau allows us to be transported to a time when innumerable duels were fought over women, pure love was omnipotent and poets and artists were venerated.When we watch this film,we come to realize that Gerard Depardieu is exceptionally great as troubled Cyrano who has hidden many deep secrets in his heart.It is due to the greatness of his personality that we choose to own his sadness in order to lessen his pain.There are no so many films which can have such an effect on movie goers. This is the best virtue of this historical drama.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hollywood's dumb fascination for misleading title ! ! !

Pretty Woman (1990) directed by Garry Marshall

Films about hookers and their patrons are a common feature of all national cinemas.According to a rough estimate films about hookers have always been a good box office proposition.This might be because of people's belief that they are objects of reverence.This is the reason why Hollywood is not at all an exception as far as films about women of easy virtue are concerned.The only thing which differs American/Hollywood films from those of other countries is their narrative structure.Hollywood cinema relies more on the external appearance of hookers whereas world cinema focuses more on internal quest of hookers for achieving a state of security,safety,prosperity and happiness.Pretty Woman fails to deliver because it is not at all serious cinema.It can neither be termed as a prototype of fun cinema as it lacks credibility which is evident in Leaving Las Vegas.As Hollywood film industry has its own peculiar way of portraying hookers viewers have little or no choice of rejecting such flicks.There are plenty of gaping holes in Pretty Woman.It is being labeled as a fairy tale of a hooker with golden heart.This is absurd as viewers are not in a position to figure out whether it is due to severe distress or a young girl's desire to lead a lavish life.Pretty Woman is a dismal failure as in real life people deal harshly with hookers making their lives miserable.Pretty Woman is a historic blunder too as it degrades women.

Ben Sombogaart : A Dutch filmmaker who makes clean films for children.

Het Zakmes (1992) directed by Ben Sombogaart

Dutch film "Het Zakmes" is better known as "The Penknife".It is a brilliant family drama with light comedy.There are scenes in this film where both these genres overlap but all possible confusion is prevented due to mutual symbiosis of different protagonists.This is the perfect film for somebody who wants to have a good laugh with family.This film provides excellent commentary on the state of family and friendship as its director Ben Sombogaart created an ingenuous tale involving irresponsible adults and innocent kids.Adults are shown to misuse their status by not caring for young children.This is the reason why Het Zakmes shows that adults live in their own shell impeding on their children's creativity.The touchy issue of race relations in Holland has also been treated in this film.A beautiful lesson that can be learned is that most of the children have good memories and separation from their friend is unbearable,unpardonable act for them.This is precisely a core element of this dutch film.

How can Mr.David Cronenberg write a history of violence ! ! !

A History of Violence (2005) directed by David Cronenburg

"A history of violence" is one of those rare films which lack usual David Cronenberg bite.If you have seen this film and Eastern Promises you will be able to recognize that both of them are similar in style.It is true that this film is violent but its violence is that of a different nature.It is a violence which unleashes itself under tremendous pressure.This violence is a quiet violence unlike gory blood bath of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Wild bunch.Ed Harris has done one of the most vicious roles of his life for this film.Canadian auteur Cronenberg handles social issues well as he proves that there is no respect for an ordinary man's privacy.It is due to this anomaly that one get an idea of American violence.It was nice to watch how people crave for fame but fail to deliver as most of the people act as if they were silly bystanders remaining motionless all the times when violent acts are committed.This is a good film for a family as it shows how a simple family man's life is made hell due to excessive violence.

A great film directed by Pavel Lungin after the fall of Soviet Union.

Taksi-Blyuz (1990) directed by Pawel Lungin

A post Perestroika film like "Taksi-Blyuz" must be viewed in the context of Russia after 1990s.It is a landmark film in the history of Russian cinema.It speaks about an independent Russian state which might be a little difficult for some non Russian people to understand.It must be mentioned that it is not all an American Taxi Driver.The core issues of this film are masculinity,music and patriotism but still our hero grapples with numerous emotional conflicts.In today's modern day Russia,I am sure that so much has changed ever since it was made in 1990.The taxi is old in this film and decline of Russia is becoming a sore sight for natives as well as foreigners.There are many black markets where everything can be purchased.One such street vendor sells old stuff such as a saxophone,some old clothes. This is a short story of oppressed and oppressor.This film is not for you if you are expecting to watch a modern day Russia.Taxi Bluez is not a film about poverty but about all factors known for making people come to terms with poverty.Pavel Lungin has made his film with a tinge of sadness.It is a nice thing that women have a minor presence as most of them lack strong will power.Taxi Blues is a true perestroika film to be admired for its inherent Russianness.

This is a film which can easily make François Truffaut weep inconsolably !

Machuca (2004) directed by Andres Wood

"Machuca" is an excellent film for all ages made by Chilian filmmaker Andres Wood.The best thing which can be said about "Machuca" is that it is one the those rare films which are a superb visual statement on human condition. It is true that young children will surely have a lot to learn from this film but adults can also learn a thing or two if they make up their minds to reduce conflicts in the world.Some of the major issues discussed in this film are about friendship,sexual awakening,class differences,trouble at home,trouble with church and trouble with military.In this film it is nice to see how two young boys tackle above mentioned themes with courage,determination and dignity.A moral lesson to be learn from "Machuca" is that weak souls are strong in dealing with all kinds of emotional adversities.Although films featuring young protagonists are a common trend in the annals of world cinema nevertheless Muachuca remains a totally different film as it is about self discovery,knowing one's limitations and keeping one's head straight even in the times of adversities.This is a must see film for all admirers of serious cinema,meaningful films and Latin American history.

Is this film really about the search for "The Holy Grail" ?

The Fisher King (1991) directed by Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam is not an ordinary filmmaker.His films offer viewers more in terms of psychedelic fun,visual delight,thought provoking ideas and sheer technical brilliance.Terry Gilliam appears to be the modern day distant cousin of maverick,iconoclast filmmakers like Terence Mallick and Alex Cox.All of them are believed to make less films with quality elements."The Fisher King" is one such film which offers an out of the box glimpse into the world of homeless people.It is a world of solidarity,companionship and mutual trust.The Fisher King also discusses the outcome of male-female relationships before the arrival of Internet to inform us as to why some of the relationships would not work ? The film is set in a time when video cassettes were a massive rage.Terry Gilliam has even attacked the media for their alleged misuse of power and authority.In this film Robin William shows us one of the most original ways of correcting one's wrong doing.On the technical front there are unusual camera angles which provides visual pleasure of high adrenaline rush-skyscrapers and areas where homeless people live.This film might soon achieve the cult film status because of its material.The message of this film is extremely simple:Anyone can become a homeless person any where,any time under any circumstances.This is because a tragedy can strike anyone anytime any place.So be nice and kind to your dear ones in order to love them forever.

A film like that of Miklos Jancso and Ettore Scola ! ! ! ! !

Allonsanfan (1973) directed by Paolo Taviani,Vittorio Taviani

Allonsanfan is one of those rare foreign language films about which dedicated viewers know a lot without having gotten a chance to see it. It is rather unfortunate that this classic film directed by Taviani brothers has neither been shown repeatedly on TV screens around the world nor its DVD is as easily available as that of "Braveheart".If we look closely at the productivity of Italian cinema,we will come to know that there is only an Italian film ("La nuit de Varennes" directed by Ettore Scola) which similar to it in terms of style and content.Allonsanfan is quite similar to a Hungarian auteur Miklos Jancso's film but with no nudity,no brutality and no humiliation.At the core of this film is a detailed description of the tough life of a determined revolutionary.Sometimes he is trusted by his followers, sometimes he is not.Family ties are of great importance for him as any other aristocrat.The only unusual aspect of his behavior is that he does not know how to maintain them.Betrayal is a repetitive element of this film as there are plenty of disloyal souls linked to our strongman.This is the reason why he fails to remain neither a true revolutionary nor a true aristocrat.The portrayal of incest is rather out of place for this film.It loses its credibility because of prevalence of dramatic situations.It is true that "Allonsanfan" is visually exquisite but it is somewhat difficult to follow the film's flow as not much of historical context is provided to the viewer.One can say that events happen of their own accord.It is only after reaching the halfway mark that viewers comprehend that Allonsanfan is one of the this film's important protagonists.A positive thing about it is its star cast with remarkable performances by Marcello Mastroianni.A must see for all the admirers of auteur cinema especially of Vittorio and Paulo Taviani.

A nice film to watch for admiring Jean Rochefort,Williem Dafoe,Emma de Caunes, Rowan "Mr.Bean" Atkinson and self made V.I.P pass.

Mr. Bean's Holiday (2007) directed by Steve Bendelack

Mr.Bean's Holiday is a unique family film which has all the necessary ingredients used in the making a successful comedy film.Apart from its numerous inoffensive commentaries of serious nature on tangible universal sentiments like love,trust,respect etc,there is plenty of scope in this film for freewheeling entertainment.The highlight of this film is that it entertains all viewers regardless of their knowledge or ignorance about Rowan Atkinson's comical genius.It might be said that watching this film might induce a feeling in some viewers' minds that Mr.Bean mocks France and French culture.This has been shown by depicting how Cannes International Film Festival derides itself by ignoring its own film fraternity in order to show over-the-top reverence for American filmmakers on French soil.This film's director Steve Bendelack offers us plenty to see including marvelous views of French countryside and TGV,French high speed train.If one has already been to France,these views would be a great source of nostalgia.If a viewer of this film has not been to France,it is hoped that it would serve as a precursor to an imminent voyage to France.An important lesson to be learned from this film involves today's globalized world where a language is not at all important as the entire world is slowly transforming itself into a huge efficient supermarket where people can go and purchase their stuff without uttering a single world of any human language.This is precisely something which enables many people including Mr.Bean to say gracias in Paris.The flip side of this case is that these people are having nice time at the expense of natives as they are being fully understood by them.Mr.Bean's Holiday is a hilarious melting pot of assorted characters from different countries such as America,Britain,Russia and France.Rowan Atkinson's performance assures us that there are neither surprises nor there is any pretence, any foul play.He does everything smoothly to ensure that everything comes out with ease like a rabbit taken out skillfully from a maverick wizard's black hat.The icing on this film's cake is the realization that only Mr.Bean is one of those lucky people who are able to enter the premises of Cannes International Film Festival by making use of a hand made V.I.P.pass.

The intricacies of Japanese society shown by Mr.Hiroyuki Tanaka

Monday (2000) directed by Sabu

Actors making films is a new trend in Japanese cinema.It is a known fact that many of them are no so successful.The only exception in the history of Japanese cinema is Takeshi Kitano who is good as an actor as well as a film maker.Monday is directed by Hiroyuki Tanaka who is one of the most important actors of Japanese cinema.In this film he has given viewers unfettered access into the minds of various sections of Japanese society.What we see in the film is the way people like a family,a salary man,some yakuzas and some of the police behave in the course of their normal lives.The idea of the film is not to criticize a section to praise a different one.In this film,Sabu wants to show us his protagonists with their real intentions,moods and motives for leading lives which they feel are suitable for them.Monday is also a plea for peace as Japanese people have suffered enormous losses in the past especially during the World War 2.This is the reason why violence has been shunned in this film.PS:kindly watch with close attention the performance of Terajima Susumu who also stars in Sabu's wonderful film "The Blessing Bell".

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

This war zone is about the decline of moral values in a British family ! ! ! !

The War Zone (1999) directed by Tim Roth

According to Tim Roth a taboo as well as disturbing subject of incest has rarely been judiciously tackled by Hollywood.This is because most of Hollywood films have too much of preaching involved.So he has deliberately chosen to avoid this trap while he was making his debut film.He was also bothered about the fact that there are not so many challenging roles for children.This is the reason why young actors like Lara Belmont and Freddie Cunliffe have given bravura performances under his direction about which it can be said that they are far superior then the likes of Tilda Swinton and Ray Winstone.According to Alexander Stuart who wrote the book based on his novel,there is no solution to such an evil problem of incest as family members are forced to bear the consequences arising out of shame and guilt.In "The War Zone" much of anger is depicted through angry eyes of its talented actor Freddie Cunliffe.His portrayal of tormented boy Tom is so convincing that he will surely appear as the only innocent soul of this sordid tale who did not commit any sin.

What makes a film bizarre : Is it our fascination for violence or grossness of life ?

C'est arrivé près de chez vous (1992) directed by Rémy Belvaux/André Bonzel/Benoit Poelvoorde

It is very rare in the history of Belgian cinema that such an abrasive film was made by three broke youngsters who cast their own family members in their film.To begin let us have a word about this film's titles.Let us assume that when one considers an apt title like "Man bites dog" it should be made clear that it is a very rare happening.It can mean that men are doing things which were formerly done by the animals.There are too many of such grotesque happenings in this film.If we choose "It happened near your place" to be a far more superior title then we are to be blamed for not having paid any attention to all the grossness which was happening around us over a long time.What the film is all about is difficult to decide as it is an assault against women,children,old people and homosexuals.Its strangeness comes from the fact that although it has adopted a tough stance against depiction of morbid violence there is additional visual violence in the form of a television crew shooting violent scenes.This film has got many supporters one of which is famous American actor Steve Buscemi.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The title says it all : A nice film about cinema and love ! ! ! !

Malchiki v nebe (2002) directed by Zulfikar Musakov

This film by Zulfikar Musakov is a very pleasant crowd pleaser.First of all it is a film which is entirely soaked in cinema.It has been made by a man who wanted to offer his tribute to the great masters of cinema. This has been done through the portrayal of a young boy who wishes to be a great filmmaker like some of the film makers he admires like Takeshi Kitano,Lars Von Trier etc.There is also a crowd pleasing romantic angle of four boys trying to woo a single beautiful girl who as a new comer has come to join these boys in their class.As usual in such kind of situations it is the most unfortunate one who wins the girl but the film has a quite different ending.Comedy aspect has also been nicely depicted by showing a hilarious confrontation of old and young generation.Uzebek cinema is largely known for films made by its grand director Ali Khamraev.This is a promising film from one of Uzbek cinema's talented directors.Its success helped Zulfikar Musakov to get financial backing from Japan's NHK for making his next film called "I want".

A great tale of ancient Turkish traditions ! ! ! !

Hazal (1979) directed by Ali Ozgenturk

Hazal is a sad tale of a young village beauty who is married to a 12 year old young boy after the death of her husband.This unholy alliance is not at all acceptable to this village lass who has her own life ahead of her with her inherent desires.Things take a turn for the worse when Hazal falls in love with a young stranger with disastrous results. The film depicts in equal proportions the tragic fate of all the players involved.There is a bitter portrait of an old woman who is Hazal's mother in law.Although she is a woman,she does not make any efforts to understand young Hazal's sentiments.The young kid's mawkish yet innocuous portrayal will bring many a laugh on viewers' faces. There is also a minor hint of his sexual maturity as he boasts of his young wife's beauty to other children of his age.The stranger's character is the strangest of all as he is depicted more of a shadow man unwilling to engage in talks with Hazal to understand her feelings. It is not only Turkan Soray's beauty but also Ali Ozgenturk's direction which will make serious viewers appreciate Turkish film Hazal.It is one of the few Turkish films in which ancient traditions are challenged.

A slick portrayal of an ice cold angel who likes to kill people for money ! ! ! !

Le Samouraï (1967) directed by Jean Pierre Melville

One can say a thousand things about this film but for most people it would remain a very succinct portrayal of a deadly killer who is known for his ice cold behavior.To get this effect Meville deftly handled Alain Delon for this difficult task of a criminal who is very much aware of all his assigned tasks.Our film's contract killer Jeff Costello is also very cautious about his image and nothing can stop him not even a deadly cat and mouse chase carried out in Parisian metro stations.It is true that "Le Samourai" is a gangster film of french sensibilities but what makes it different from American films of the same genre is that our hero likes to say only perfect things instead of making half baked tall claims as done by most of the actors in American films about crime and criminals.Apart from Alain Delon's taut acting, Samurai boasts of fine performances by François Périer as a determined cop hell bent on arresting Jeff Costello.As a glamorous doll Nathalie Delon looks credible but not so elegant as Kathy Rosier who can be termed as the film's heart and soul.

It is rare for a modern day Japanese film to achieve such popularity ! ! ! !

Batoru rowaiaru (2000) directed by Fukasaku Kinji

In the year 2000, a couple of years after the demise of Kurosawa Akira there were not many active filmmakers in Japan.Of course,Oshima Nagisa and Imamura Shohei were around but unfortunately they were not at all active.So it was in such bad conditions for Japanese cinema it was a miracle of sorts when this film Battle Royale directed by Fukasaku Kenji came to be acknowledged as a modern day masterpiece.The coverage this film got in western media was phenomenal.It is not so often that CNN and BBC report about a particular Japanese film.The fact that they carried out special reports about "Battle Royale" is a testimony to this film's overall popularity.The unique thing about this film is that although in the past many films have been made about violence and youngsters none have been so deadly as this one.What we see in this film is not only brutal violence but also a state of affairs of young people in developed nations.Battle Royale is one of a kind film which will assuredly keep you on the edge of your seats.Its dramatic end is too cool.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A failed artist or a sad tale of human relationships ! ! ! !

Daijiga umule pajinnal (1996) directed by Hong Sang Soo

Watching Hong Sang Soo's first film "Daijiga umule pajinnal" is going to be an extremely uneasy visual experience for all casual as well as average viewers.This is because one will surely find it hard to understand whether the film is a portrait of a failed artist or an absurdist tale of highly unusual,bizarre human relationships.I managed to see this film at the campus of Ecole Normale Supérieure Lettres et Sciences Humaines at Lyon in company of a friend from South Korea.She made the viewing interesting for me with her comic remarks as being a Korean person,she is definitely more familiar with intricacies of Korean cultural life.This key association with Korean psyche is needed to understand what this film stands for.A word about our film's failed artist.He is rather controversial,bit moody and picks up fights too often with his colleagues.This is something which might be true of many talented artists all over the world.A different view of this film might concern Hong Sang Soo's observation that his film is a complex tale of human relationships as all the characters of his films are in troubled relationships without ascertaining what made them enter into them.

An absolutely amazing laugh riot ! ! ! !

Te'alat Blaumilch (1969) directed by Iprahim Keshon

Apart from "Lemon Popsicle" series of films from Israel,there are not so many directors in the history of Israelian cinema who have made successful comedy films.If there is a man who has made enjoyable comedy films it is Iprahim Kishon.As he was primarily a great writer,he was able to infuse his writing talents in his films.It can be said about Iprahim Kishon's film "Te'alat Blaumilch" that its visual as well aesthetic style was completely different from the films made by other comic geniuses like Max Linder,Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. Apart from its highly original idea of a lunatic digging a canal in the middle of a street,this film was famous for its set design which consisted of a replica of a fictitious canal right in the middle of Tel Aviv city.A thing which might irk some feminist viewers is that this is a bit sexist in nature as there are numerous ribald jokes consisting of futile attempts made by office boss to seduce his beautiful secretary. Iprahim Kishon made three great comic films and this film is one of those laugh riots which is surely going to drive you crazy with endless bouts of laughter.

It is about about human moods which are never the same ! ! ! !

Kangwon-do ui him (1998) directed by Hong Sang Soo

Let us begin by saying that this film's English title "The Power of Kangwon Province" is an absolute misnomer.It is because in Hong Sang Soo's film,there are no actual shots of wars,troubles and conflicts.So the idea of establishing power of a province is neither suitable nor valid in the context of this film.If we were to judge this film by its Korean language title,"Kangwon-do ui him" is going to appear as a cryptic statement about emotional turmoils of its young protagonists whose minds are not at rest.Hong Sang Soo has also directed a highly prolific visual document about erratic choices made by people in their lives.The people in question are a couple of young girls who are constantly in the process of displaying their moods,whims and fancies. If making a film out of nothingness can be claimed as a film maker's meritorious virtue then Hong Sang Soo has to be saluted as a courageous film maker whose films speak volumes about ubiquitous nothingness of human relationships,sentiments and lives.Whether one likes it or not,this is the only fair conclusion that be deduced from this particular film.

At Iwanami Hall, an art house cinema hall in Tokyo this film by René Feret was seen by 35,000 Japanese viewers ! ! ! !

Rue du retrait (2001) directed by René Féret

Rue du retrait is a film which is quite unique to René Féret for various reasons.Firstly,it is a film which he shot in his own area,near his own house.Rue de retrait is the name of the street in 20th arrondissement in Paris where Mr.Féret stays.So in a way the location afforded a lot of familiarity in terms of location to the cinéaste. Secondly,the making of this film will always remain a miracle of sorts for René Féret as no big production house was willing to finance such a brave,absolutely uncommon film in France.So this film was finally made due to René Féret's personal intervention and highly individual efforts. Its visual style was applauded by a great French filmmaker named Bertrand Tavernier who has long been one of René Féret's admirers.For this film René Féret decided to use DV mode as it offered him a lot of creative freedom to adapt a difficult and touchy topic involving sad life of an old lady who was excluded from society.Rue de retrait is a must for all those viewers who wish to enter old people's lives and their eccentric world.

A highly original film about laws and mechanisms of a madhouse ! ! ! !

L'Histoire de Paul (1974) directed by René Féret

French film maker René Féret made his début with this film in 1974.It was his first critical success and applause for it came from famous French philosopher Michel Foucault who compared this film to British master Ken Loach's film "Family Life".This comparison is absolutely valid as like Ken Loach who has been an ardent supporter depicting the cause of English life in his films,René Féret has also championed the cause of Northern France in films.For those who are bothered about story and plot there is not much of hope.The real story of this film,if there is any story,is to be judged by the fact that film's helpless protagonist Paul has been condemned to a madhouse after a failed suicide attempt.Paul's plight is the central focus of the film as in psychiatric ward,he is compelled neither to have any history nor any story.What we see in this film is a sad tale which takes place in a psychiatric hospital whose inmates,doctors live according to their own set of rules.As a scathing attack on the absurdity of system in French mental institutions,L'histoire de Paul won Jean Vigo award in 1975.

Big leap for René Féret : natural depiction of French countryside ! ! ! !

La Communion Solennelle (1977) directed by René Féret

Three year after the critical success of his first film "L'histoire de Paul",René Féret took a big leap with his second film "La communion solennelle" made in 1977.It was a vast panorama for him as he moved from the cloistered confines of a mental house to open air fun and frolic of French countryside.It was also his first encounter with a multitude of talented actors,most of whom were discovered due to this film.If La communion solemnelle is to be remembered,it is for featuring a fortuitous display of a whole gamut of human emotions.It can be claimed that watching the film's protagonists making merry,enjoy and fight with each other,we also feel as if we too have become an integral part of their sentiments.If there is a parallel which can be drawn to compare this film,it will surely concern equating it with French classic film "Rules of the Game" directed by Jean Renoir.This is because like Renoir's classic,this film too has its own inimitable share of eccentricities of its characters.If you are aware of greatness of French culture,you must watch this film as it has traces of Zola,Maupassant and Claude Renoir.

René Féret should have made this film 19 years ago in 1974.

La Place d'un autre (1993) directed by René Féret

In some ways "La place d'un autre" can be called as L'histoire de Paul part 2.As far as René Féret's cinematographic oeuvre is concerned,this film should theoretically have come before L'histoire de Paul as in that film nothing was mentioned as to why a young man named Paul made up his mind to take his own life.All the questions which were left unanswered in L'histoire de Paul are discussed in La place d'un autre. This idea was always hovering on René Féret's mind but due to artistic commitments of different nature he was unable to finish this film as and when he wanted to do so.In this film we are shown how a young boy replaces his lost brother for the sake of his parents.There is also a poignant tale involving a talented soul who overcomes all instances of personal sorrow to emerge victorious.It is true that this film is autobiographical in nature,nevertheless René Féret has avoided all traps which might allude any kind of familiarity to actual events.There is also a concern for authenticity as the film was shot in the same mental institution where René Féret was interned after his personal tragedy.Recommendation : a film to be watched if you have ever lost a dear one in your family.

One day in the life of a French family ! ! ! !

Les Frères Gravet (1996) directed by René Féret

This is undoubtedly one of the most thought provoking films directed by René Féret.Its presence of stars and actors is so brilliant that one can have a jolly good time watching a host of French cinema's versatile actors that too in a single film.It was truly a veritable family affair for René Féret to direct people like Jacques Bonnaffé, Jean François Stévenin,Julien Féret who are a part of his indispensable family of actors.What is important to watch in this film is a story which starts as a family chronicle but with the passage of time transforms itself into an existentialist drama.Family is an important unit of René Féret's films and the highlight of this film is how brothers of a family come together to know each other better.It is not only brothers who come to know each other better but also their wives and children who learn to appreciate the value of their united,close knit family.It has been felt by certain French critics that this film is more close to Cassavates than Pascal Thomas.This is for those viewers to decide who are familiar with the films of both these authors.