What the Sea Said (Bengali)
posted Tue, 10 Jul 2007 18:59:36 -0700
Yugant (The Aeon Ends) Aparna Sen’s film about reconciliation with age between a couple who truly have something they share is a dense personal work that deserves analysis. The trouble with films that say much but only to people that will listen , is that nobody listens after a time. (I hope someone did, because Aparna boudhi sure did a lot of talking.) . The state of Bhadralok feminism is set in a Bergman frame in this two hour opus about nothing much. Sen’s protagonists are clichés of their own creation struggling to break out of their Tagore- cast shells of overwhelming feminity irresponsible masculinity and a narrator that cannot make up her mind about whether she wants her mythical roots crushed or embraced. I think the wishy washiness of the frames and motivations in this film are written in deliberately by Sen. The world does not wait for your militant feminist ideals, your body does not wait. People die because you withheld your love , from being too self involved…the one sided analysis seems to say to the errant Mother Goddess. Anasuya dances Odissi a graceful and mythological temple dance from Orissa , on the east coast of India , from near Sen’s state. She’s married to Deepak whose a party animal creative director of an ad Agency in Calcutta. She leaves him because she finds the marriage limiting to her ambition of setting up a dance school , which he ,in his calcutta ad executive swagger minimizes and marginalizes. It’s years later and he’s still in love(during his fullblown midlife crisis) with her and she’s having regrets, …and her biological clock is ticking…. Sen seems to suggest that there is conflict between the inner woman and the outside world of choice decided by (among other things) post modern feminism.( God knows the state of women in some parts of Indian society, it seems that militancy is the appropriate response, but) Sen challenges her heroine’s choices here as the reason for the destruction of a natural order, without quite blaming the woman. If anything she blames youth, in which we assume we all are indestructible and have a limitless source of energy…and time to play. It thus seems not the militant reactionary nature, but the post modern free will that attracts Sen’s ire. She seems to say “not so fast…pay your debt to society, history and the people who have created your identity with love, you before you do as you will” It is a thought provoking and old look at femininity and women I’m not able to decide if it’s old fashioned or whether sen’s earthy conventional wisdom is just her method of throwing her hat in the ring in the debate over independence and choice. If nothing else, this film is a worthy successor to Paroma.
La Tregua (The Truce)
posted Fri, 06 Jul 2007 00:35:15 -0700
Often when you read Neruda and Gabriel Garcia Marquiz, Octavio Paz and Cesar Vallejo you wonder where all this literature has gone in Latin Cinema. Is there something about the character of Latin America that makes cinema an elitist exercise the way pamphlets and books of poetry are not , that love that shows in all Latin literature dilutes to soap in popular television . Don’t they teach Latin Literature in film schools across the southern Americas ? Why are the Latin films I see(and I should see more) so soapy ..or derivative of the grammar and craft of US films and film school teaching? La Tregua looks like a workable template for the popular grammar of latin cinema (I know many Mexicans Costa Ricans Cubans, Salvadoreans ,Nicaraguans (and thence south) would cringe at the term Latin Cinema as if one were painting a whole continent brown, but that aside, ) . LA Tregua is a soap animated by a superior intelligence. It’s a wonderfully made movie that doesn’t get high fluting or diverge from common sense too much , as it television drama- izes an Uruguayan novel by novelist Mario Bernadetti about a March- December romance(he’s at least 35 years older than her, although you wouldn’t know it when they’re making love.). The film works like a soap while delivering it’s secret ingredient as dialog which I presume, from their power, are snippets from the novel. Do NOT believe the reviewer from IMDB the film works beautifully. Daddy is an old widower passed over for promotion nearing retirement, daughter is already an old maid in college, number one son is gay, number two son is a surly scrapper….you get the Idea…and they all get their groove back(and reunite and communicate) from a girl from his office who softens him up and makes him look quite the (old) Latin lover from retiring supervisor. You get the picture here… There is no over the top moment in the film and everything is tastefully narrated. LA Tregua has the feel and melodramatic tension you often witness in Indian movies. This movie could be a bollywood film. There ARE in fact Bollywood films that reflect precisely these same themes.( I can think of (spoilers here for people that know Bollywood) Kabhie Kushi Kabhie Gam, Anamika and Mili) This film manages quite well without songs and dances , the music is classical and rich , like the filming. The enriched soap quality to the film is also very Satyajit Ray in it’s subtle dramatic realizations of the plot. Is it just me or does Adriana Fonseca look like a slightly grown up version of Ana Claudia Talancon (El Crimen del Padre Amoro) ?
posted Wed, 04 Jul 2007 22:48:34 -0700
Thought I’d see a bollywood film I hadn’t seen before and went to pick a DVD from the nearest Indian place. The video store had Sur Sangam at a five dollar deal. Sur sangam is the hindi version of a humongous south Indian hit Shankarabharanam. Made originally in telegu by the same director(K Vishwanath) The film is still a worthy original on many counts. Rajan and Sajan Misra, the Banares Gharana ustads sing in the film as the voice of Girish Karnad, a worthy dramatic actor who starred in films such as Dor, Nishant and Manthan (benegal) . Jaya Prada’s silent presence looms through the film like the smell of jasmine flowers. Jaya prada looks dignified like a classier Madhuri dixit or a prettier Shabana Azmi. It is a mystery precisely what genre of dance she dances although it closely resembles Kuchipudi. She doesn’t speak a word until halfway through the film and then not for the rest of the film. Yet she makes the biggest impression in the film, the movie is told from her point of view too. It’s an artsy melodrama about a courtesan and a braminical singer of Indian classical music. Apart from the old bollywood themes of the passing of the old and reuniting broken ties, the film also tries to address and describe traditional Indian social issues through the prism of it’s arts establishment. The courtesan is mute throughout the film symbolizing her status in society. The strong brahminical singer is shown as very angsty human and good, even as he tries to keep his tradition of music pure(from such influences as the Police, Michael Jackson and The Beatles.Often, when Learning is handed down orally, as it is in classical Indian arts, a mixing of concepts is really cultural imperialism of some sort, because the empowered new generation that recieves the oral learning sees no reason not to evaluate tradition against the new influence coming in, as if social darwinism makes sense in arts. The film ends with optimism for the classical Indian arts(even if in tragedy for it’s leads) as the new generation takes up with renewed interest, and loses it’s caste and social strata hang ups. The film is worth watching for the great Indian Classical music and for Jayaprada’s good looks( she looks like a temple sculpture come to life when she’s not dancing…and rather less than dignified, if graceful when she is.I guess this symbolized the Madonna/Whore status courtesans were held in . in Indian society). K Vishwanath understands much about traditional Indian society, and has made a serious movie without overtly taking the film’s narrative dialectic (odiously) into a caste , socioeconomics or colonialism lesson.
Sicko – The white elephant…in the room.
posted Mon, 02 Jul 2007 19:57:52 -0700
Parley vous Avendia? Michael Moore has wimped and sold out. Instead of making a hard hitting investigation of the effects of profiteering by drug companies the film is a case made for a health care system like in Canada, UK, France and Cuba… Which in itself wouldn’t be a bad idea for a film if MM can make it politically viable even as a thought experiment. He doesn’t. Instead it’s this wishy washy “Ooooh if only we had the healthcare system of France , then we’d have…nannies that do our laundry…..” type film that makes us wonder if MM is playing the exact same game of propaganda as the other players here, to line his pockets with your ticket dollar ( I saw the film with a free pass) The film passes without mentioning ONE pharma company by name..or ONE prescription drug brand by name.The people that seem to get attacked are the doctors and the HMOs (well ONE HMO ,Kaiser ). Granted that the HMO IS the first line of defense for the drug companies, but how is it possible to take on the huge mess in American Healthcare without even mentioning the cancer that is the drug Industry? (It’s like conducting a war on illegal drugs by shooting every person standing on a street corner in America at night, without worrying about whose growing it and how it’s getting here). Also, even, theoretically, if we said one party (the Democrats) is FOR a national healthcare system and the other not, does Moore think anybody in a US legislative body would dare go up against the drug lobby and change minds towards a system of universal healthcare? I doubt it. What might end up happening instead is a mass border flight to Canada Mexico and Cuba , for medicines and healthcare. An eventuality that will close the “cheap drugs abroad” loophole that exists now because too many Americans used it. This would have put paid to the claims made in some circle s that the higher price you pay for the same old branded drugs with a new name, somehow “benefits you” So what might have been a good story to do if you were taking on the “healthcare” subject? Something that also took the trouble to explain what the Governments do in these countries to keep the system alive: viz: spending on health and services what the US government spends to keep alive a beahemoth defense industry. One teensy chart, the man’s honesty credentials might have been vastly embellished. Something else that might have worked is a segment that would explain why drug companies spend money patenting reformulations and charging up to 20 times the price of the exact same drug available in generic form across the border. Then that would have been joining a real debate on the issues in American healthcare. The Guantanamo bay segments were a serious let down and as it is the film just feels like he’s getting people to wish they knew french so that they could buy a ticket to France to get away from this nightmare. Remember Farenheit 911 was also similarly polemical without offerring any real solutions except emigrating to France after the Bush win? Have no doubts, the world is better off for Michael Moore having made this film. (It just feels drug lobby funded it, for what it does not say) It doesn’t address the real problems…or offer real answers to the people it seems so concerned about, which is why it is all the more the pity. Moore is the ad executive pointing to the elephant in the room. He does/ suggests nothing that will make it climb out of the room any time soon. America has been described as the socialism of the rich. It is the socialism of the rich because the rich/corporation doesn’t have to work for it’s profits. It just legislates them into existence, by buying the right lobbies. The rich establish themselves as a superstructure above the working and the poor in America. By tackling ONLY the healthcare angle, MM has in effect made beggars looking to heaven for manna out of people who need their health taken care of as a matter of human right. But maybe if you needed human rights as opposed to a privilege granted by God, you need to go to Canada…. Or Cuba.
The Mirror (Ayneh)
posted Sun, 01 Jul 2007 18:00:47 -0700
There’s an MC Escher simplicity to the screenplay.(spoilers) It Glorifies it’s failure to make it’s main character act. Little girl who was in the white balloon suddenly gets up halfway through this film and declares that she doesn’t like what they re making her do and decides to find her way back home. The crew has made the first half of the film, so thy decides to go guerilla and follow her home , secretly. The rest of the film is as gripping as the first half. Of the whole group, the little girl is the only one that comes out of this knowing her mind. She doesn’t want to act because they made her wear an ugly headdress, made her cry throughout the film and made her wear a plaster cast…what will her friends think of her! Never mind the money… Everyone else follows her. And it’s still a great film, in the end, because this is exactly what the director set out to do . capture a little girl’s effort to get back to her home. There is an MC Escher simplicity to the screenplay that emerges, that’s both infuriating and interesting if sad. In the end the lesson seems to be to us who take film seriously. The end of a film is like the end of a football game. Iran won. It made us feel good, now it’s over there’s nothing really to take home from this. Now let’s go and resume our non film lives without dwelling too much on Cinema. Truly great cinema should leave us agitated and restless like this does.
The Last Best Sunday
posted Thu, 28 Jun 2007 21:23:06 -0700
Once upon a time in Texas Nearly, This is a sweet genre bender about a chicano from small town texas who hides out in the preacher’s home after he kills a couple of drunk rednecks who buggerred him. The leads (Douglas Spain and Angela Bettis -their names sound like pornstar names) do a great job Specially Angela Bettis who has the ability to switch from churchmarmish to sex kitten in a wipe of a scene. The film moves through popular genres in it’s narrative style..it passes through the western , Blaxploitation(is it blaxploitation if they’re exploiting chicanos/ migrants? Maybe chicanexploitation) ,American classic(the thief who came to dinner), (Bonny and Clyde style) murder-caper, and , ends up looking like the mythic once upon a time films. The tone of the film is anti Christian(of a particular sect) but not anti spiritual or anti god. It’s not too violent either, and is made like a weaker version of “The devil’s rejects”. Jesus would approve. Seven days with Seven Women (Rudolf Thome , German) posted Tue, 26 Jun 2007 17:40:26 -0700 Now this is more like it.
Paradiso – Seven days with seven women
is a mature reflection on a creative life. The film is treated like a Bergman film that Francois Truffuat would have made in German. The light northern summer breeze ambience of the film carries the weighty subject well and by the end you’re smiling thinking, this is, how I’d want MY life filmed. Adam (yeah it’s neorealist like that) is celebrating his sixtieth birthday. He has become a recluse of some sort, living in his house by the lake in Bavaria , on his royalties from composing. Seven of his ex wives/ girlfriends plan a seven day meetup at Adam’s house to celebrate his sixtieth birthday. The film meanders through the seven days as a party guest at Adam’s house delicately suggesting the tensions and the frictions without once bringing down the party or on the other hand letting things get hyper. There are other films about aging and ex girlfriends. Broken flowers was a mess. 81/2 was Maniac depressive rantings of a Genius. Les invasions barbares was ideologically suspect and too prone to forget it’s central character for a lecture on healthcare.. This film gets it just right and noone is left with a bitter taste in the mouth. Marks for Excellent directing(Rudolf Thome).
Homa ke Nero
posted Sun, 24 Jun 2007 07:44:21 -0700 Earth and water (Homa ke Nero) is a thing of beauty. A puppy love story of earthy colors and mythic dimensions, it is told as an art film of rustic Greek landscapes and silent expressions on the face of it’s two leads ( Yannis Akelakas and Eleini Dimopoulou) .The director and cinematographer (Panos Karkanevatos and Yannis Valeras, respectively) combine in creating Theo Angelopuolous frames and mythic roots to the love story. It begins with an erotic set of pictures (and sound montages) .You see the chemical attraction between the leads as they go about their rustic lives in innocence, The director, to his credit, handles the subsequent dissembling of the love story and creation of the tragedy without resorting to mythologisation or melodramatics. Special credit ,to Elani Dimapoulou(the she) for an excellent essay in dramatic acting. You see her pain as she returns from the doctor…you see her spirit bleed as she returns from the city. Yannis Akelekas (who is also responsible for the music in the film ) looks like a virile sacrificial bull. I didn’t quite get the illegal immigrant flight to Canada Interlude, but it does it’s job in the movie.
This is a bad movie. Bad! (wriggling a finger) uh…. finger lickin’ good…like a bucket of wings. What did they do for porn in the seventies?! this is such a weak ass sex film. I had to run to limewire in complete fustration . Bad animal! BAD!!(wagging a finger) and everyone was so fat in it! Loved every second . watch out for the LSD trip in the last twenty minutes. I know what they did for porn in the seventies! they had Emmanuelle!
A Stylish estonian noir sometimes narrated disjointedly (mostly because the cinematography relies on mood and montage to tell it’s story) Setpoint is for when you have a couple of hours to kill. The dialog is somewhat hammy and the pacing is slow. Everyone sucks at tennis too.