Tag Archives: Review

Nolan, If you’re listening

 

dunkirk-poster

We have discovered you after your Batman trilogy. Saw the visionary that you are through Inception. Then went back in time and stumbled upon your earlier work that left us with nothing but awe and admiration for what you are. A new age writer-director who speaks through his art.

 

We love you for your collaboration with Hans Zimmer. We love you for the spectacle you create with Wally Pfister. We love each carefully crafted snip and those extra few seconds you let us linger on select shots with Lee Smith. But most importantly we love you for your ability to tell a story.

 

Your Bruce Wayne was not just a masked vigilante. He was a lonely lost man trying to make sense of this dark world. Your Dom Cobb was not just a thief. He was a father trying to get back to his children. Your Will Dormer was not just an insomniac. He was a man torn apart by his morals. You are known to create grey characters. And you are damn good at it. But there’s one more thing you’re even better at. That’s creating your negative characters.

 

I believe your movie is only as good as your Villain. And I think your best movie till date (audience choice) The Dark Knight proves my point completely. Then why have you omitted all that we love about you with your latest venture?

 

Dunkirk – is chaos. It is not self sufficient. It does not have it’s own universe like your other films. And despite having its moments, it fails to move the audience. I couldn’t even remember the names of your few lead characters. Didn’t even see the gruesomeness of war. Didn’t feel how fragile life is. I did not know what to take back from Dunkirk.

 

Do you know J J Abrams – The Director of the new Star Trek franchise? For a really long time his name was synonymous to lens flares. Or Michael Bay for that matter. Do you really want your name to be equated with a gimmick that you keep repeating in all your films – Spectacle?

 

Yes your films are full of them and we enjoy them to the core. But your movies should not be a wild compilation of grand shots. We expect more from you.

 

After The Dark Knight Rises, we felt this is one minor bump in your film making journey. Interstellar was flawed on many levels. But Dunkirk marks something ridiculously unexpected.

 

We appreciate you taking on diverse genres. But you must ask yourself, if you are losing your own unique take on your films. We admire you for the work you have done in the past. But don’t expect your audience to return to the theatres based on your past success.

 

Hoping, something worth watching next time.

Advertisements

#Predestination – The Spierig Brothers

Predestination documents the life of a Temporal Agent (Ethan Hawke). His primary mission is to stop a serial bomber named Fizzle bomber, by going back in time. It appears that the criminal has managed to dodge the Agent from time to time with great ease. And that results in greater frustration and some strange obsession in his work.

Suspense builds up as soon as the film opens, with a clash of the Agent and the Bomber. And the film manages to tighten its grip as it progresses. The Agent, masquerading as a bartender in the 1970s meets Jane who calls herself the Unmarried Mother (Sarah Snook). She promises him a story which would be the best story he has ever heard and tells him about her mysterious life. After listening to her story, the Agent promises her that he can take her back in time and give her a chance to kill the man who devastated her life. And that’s how it all begins.

The film, is about in how many ways the Australian newcomer Sarah Snook. And how ridiculously stunning she is on screen. Not in terms of her gorgeous looks. But in pure performance. After watching the film, I Googled her and I couldn’t believe what she looks like in real life. At the age of 26, pulling off such a brilliant character is commendable. Her co-star Ethan Hawke agrees with me.

When I searched for the word on the Internet, what showed up pretty much sums up the film, without spoiling it for those who are yet to watch it:

Predestination is the Divine foreordaining or foreknowledge of all that will happen; with regard to the salvation of some and not others. It has been particularly associated with the teachings of John Calvin.


 

Spoilers ahead

The film is based on a short story written by Robert A.Heinlein who is considered by many, the most influential as well as controversial author of his time. The story is called All You Zombies. The lead character of the film, just like a zombie makes no decision on his own. He is mindlessly following his own footsteps. And in a way, as he kills himself, he is a dead man walking.

The story brings some really good ideas (although not completely new) in picture.

The time travel paradox: One might be able to figure out that the film is about a paradox when he/she first notices the song “I’m my own Grandpa”. What if you invent a time machine and go back in time to kill your grandpa before your father was conceived? That’s a paradox. In the film, the protagonist travels back and forth in time, causing his own birth and his own death, himself.

Ouroboros: The film mentions the Greek symbol Ouroboros which is essentially a snake eating his own tail. The protagonist’s story has no beginning and it has no end, just like a closed loop.

The greatest achievement of the film is that it involves you into the life of Jane. You feel connected to her and as she leaves her old self and accepts her personality as John, you too become emotionally detached from her life. It is really difficult to manage this.

The film successfully twists your brain and touches your heart at appropriate times. I like films with some sense of redemption. This one has none. This has one of the best anticlimaxes I’ve seen in a while.

#Crowdfunding – THE NAPOLEON: A Story of Artillery’s Evolution

As much as gunpowder and gasoline is interesting to watch on screen, the making of such a legendary weapon is always an interesting story. At the beginning of the Civil War, the Napoleon, the Model 1857 light 12-pounder gun, was the state-of-the-art.

And just like any other modern revolutionary invention, the story of this gun is full of twists and turns: politics, technology, wars, and memorable characters. The Executive Producer of the film, Robert L. Silverman wanted to tell this story ever since he helped restore a 1861 Napoleon at the National Guard Militia Museum of New Jersey. And when a person with such a keen interest in the subjects takes up a project like this, you can place your bets on it!

The documentary intends to describe the Napoleon’s design, capabilities, and place in history. It will let the audience experience all the movement, fire, smoke and sounds that the artillerists did while in battle. The subject so intense and interesting needs to be well researched to be the best of its kind, and it will definitely be.

It is surely going to be a documentary that will make some serious buzz in the historical and military weapon space.

This month the creator of this documentary started raising funds through the innovative use of crowdfunding. His crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo will help him produce a high quality documentary and will allow him to film on location and to pay for first rate production and post-production work.

Raising money for a subject that requires such an intense amount of research followed by hours and hours of meticulous execution is not an easy task. That is why I want to use my Blog to promote such ventures that are ambitious and different from the redundant world of cinema. And if you feel that such new subjects should someday reach the theaters near you, this is your chance…

So what are you waiting for? Be a part of this groundbreaking new and innovative documentary and visit the The Napoleon-A Story Of Artillery’s Evolution campaign site here, where you can become eligible to receive great perks from the creator of this new historical documentary!

Link to the YouTube video

Link to the Crowdfunding campaign

#1 The Kite Runner – Marc Forster

“It always hurts more to have and lose than to not have in the first place.”
Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner is the story of Amir Qadiri (Khalid Abdalla) hounded by his past. He lives with his wife Soraya (Atossa Leoni) in California. He receives a call from an old friend of his father’s, Rahim Khan (Shaun Toub) staying in Pakistan. And what happens that day, during that conversation changes the course of a whole lifetime!

After this small glimpse of the present, we embark on a journey to the Afghanistan of 1978. A place with open skies and blooming freedom. Far away from screams and gunfire. Where kites soar in broad daylight without any fear. Over here a young Amir (played by Zekeria Ebrahimi) and his servant’s son and his best friend Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada) is enjoying his life full of his short stories, books, movies and kites.

(Tiny spoilers ahead)


Every year a prestigious kite tournament takes place in Kabul. Amir and Hassan take part in the tournament as a team. Amir wishes to impress his father (Homayoun Ershadi) who was a champion in his own youth, by winning it. And they do! Amir celebrates while Hassan runs down the kite for him. Amir comes down looking for Hassan and finds out that Hassan is surrounded by Assef who is a bully and his friends in an alley. They try to bargain with Hassan to obtain the kite but Hassan denies. Assef then rapes Hassan to “teach him a lesson”. A petrified Amir watches this as it happens but chooses to hide rather than help his friend.

Driven by guilt Amir finally succeeds to make Hassan and his father Ali leave their house. And in a few days Amir and his father leave the country as the Soviet Union militarily intervenes. Both of them come to America and struggle to survive over there. All this while Amir takes it as his fault that Hassan is left behind in the terror that encompasses Afghanistan.

In the present, Amir comes to Pakistan to meet his father’s friend upon receiving his call. Where he realises that Hassan and his wife were killed by the Taliban. Hassan is survived by his son Sohrab who is still amidst the unstable Afghanistan. Amir takes it as his responsibility to find the boy and take him away to America.


The film crosses the obstacle of complex flashbacks and flash forwards. And it carries off the non linear structure with an ease. It demonstrates the power of this simple formula of a narrative: prosperity – tragedy – loss – redemption. The film doesn’t enjoy a well defined three-act-structure. There are smaller acts and each given the right weight. That is why whether it is Amir’s marriage or his father’s death; each important incident swiftly touches your heart.

The film is adapted from the bestseller by Khaled Hosseini of the same name. One of the most important part of adapting any story from one format to the other, especially when adapting for screen; it is important to edit. In this scenario the edit process begins first and then you write and rewrite until you have something that is true to its original self and new at the same time. As I read the book just before I watched the film, I knew the portions which made me deviate just a little from the story and David Benioff as the screenplay writer of the film has done a fabulous job in “editing”.

The film succeeds with its honest storytelling. There are no big stars in the film. Nothing to attract today’s audience, nothing to make them stick to their seats for two hours except a pure story. The actors with an actual Afghan background were enjoyable and absolutely convincing on screen. In fact they added a tinge of Afghanistan even in the scenes based in America. On the contrary in India we have a North Indian Actress playing a legendary boxer Mary Kom with no resemblance what-so-ever just on the basis of her popularity.

It is surprising that the film did not receive the recognition it deserved. Although praised by many experts from the industry, the film could only get a few nominations at the Golden Globe Awards and The Academy Awards. Regardless of how that happened, for me it is one of the stories that linger in your mind long after you are finished reading/ watching them. The story enlightens us about the horrific situation in Afghanistan and it carries a simple message within simultaneously. And as I based my short film which is to be screened at the 16th Mumbai Film Festival on a boy of a similar age, the film was a great teacher!

#6 Learning From The Experts – Enemy by Denis Villeneuve

“There is no lack of spiders’ webs in the world, from some you escape, in others you die.”

~ José Saramago’s The Double

It is all about a history teacher named Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal) who discovers his perfectly identical copy Anthony Claire. This one sentence should be enough to explain the overview of the film. However the film deals with much deeper subjects as it proceeds.

The film opens with a rather disturbing scene in a sex club where the protagonist and some other men watch prostitutes masturbating. Another prostitute takes off her robe and presents a spider in a plate. We cut away as she is about to crush the spider. We start off with a voice-mail from the protagonist’s mother. She thanks him for showing her his new apartment and that she is worried about him and his life.

Adam Bell is a history teacher who is perfectly occupied in his daily routine and is evidently fed up with it. He lives in a small apartment with only a bed and a table for a laptop. His shares his nights with his girlfriend Mary (Mélanie Laurent). But it appears that apart from the sex there is hardly any relationship left. Whereas the other person who resembles Adam has worked as a junior artist in a couple of local films. Anthony Claire is married to Helen (Sarah Gadon) and she is pregnant.

The duplicates decide to meet up in a motel room. Anthony is surprised to discover the similarities but Adam freaks out. Anthony follows Adam and discovers his life. Later on he confronts Adam and questions him if he has slept with Anthony’s wife. Adam does not answer. Anthony proposes that they can only be even if he gets to take Adam’s girlfriend on a romantic date. By this point, the lives of these individuals are entangled beyond any repair.

(Heavy spoilers ahead)

This is one of the films which needs a lot of thinking after you are done watching it. You need to watch it at least twice to discover what it means. Or else it seems simply silly than suspenseful. The director Denis Villeneuve has explained in a few interviews that it is “a documentary of his subconscious.” These days, I am more inclined towards thinking that in every psychological mystery it is either a multiple personality disorder or the protagonist is a schizophrenic. And most of the times I am right.

In the film, both the characters are essentially the same person. This person tried acting as a profession some time in the past but now he is a history teacher. He is married to Helen and he is an adulterer. He has been caught by his wife and she fears that he will cheat on her again. The film is the protagonist’s subconscious struggle to be faithful to his wife. Which one of these two personalities is real? Well actually both of them are. Our protagonist is a mixture of both and he is struggling to fight his Anthony bit and not cheat on his wife again.

Why I like the film in particular is because of the hidden symbols and metaphors. And of course it gives us one of the most shocking endings. The colour scheme of the film is a striking tint of yellow and green. The director explained that the whole look and the smog came from the idea of pressure. Smog signifies pollution. Pollution of the atmosphere and pollution of the mind.

The use of spiders in the film signifies patterns. Spiders are considered as an ancient archetype, ‘The Weaver’. Females strive for order and males strive for chaos. A female spider kills the male spider she mates with. That explains the shot where the prostitute crushes the spider in the beginning. By attending the sex club, the protagonist crushes the order, the dictatorship.

The biggest mystery of the film, just like the director’s earlier film, Prisoners is the name of the film. Some claim that women are the enemies but the protagonist seem to be at ease with women. Then who is the enemy? The protagonist himself, his actions and his habits are his enemies.

Enemy is really a movie entirely about discomfort. A person pursuing his best attempt to free himself from the pattern. From his unreasonable tendency to cheat on his wife. To accept her not as a dictator but as a partner. To set aside his fear of commitment and be a loyal husband. All this put forward in an unusual and surreal manner. As I said earlier, it would take a sane person two or maybe three viewings to somewhat decipher the “chaos” what the film produces. The question is, do the people care?

There is a minority who speaks positively about the film. I believe the film is kind of ahead of its time. And one of the best films I watched this year.

#3 Christopher Nolan – Insomnia (2002)

A good cop can’t sleep because he’s missing a piece of the puzzle. And a bad cop can’t sleep because his conscience won’t let him.

The story opens as sleep deprived detective Will Dormer (Al Pacino) gets down with his partner Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan) in a town best known as “the fishing capital of the world”. These veterans are on an assignment to to assist the local police with their investigation of a 17-year-old Kay Connell’s (Crystal Lowe) murder. At the same time, Dormer is going through an intense investigation by internal affairs. And the verdict may ultimately have a great impact by his partner’s testimony.

(Tiny spoilers ahead)

In an attempt to find the murderer and put an end to the case, Dormer accidentally shoots his partner. Eckhart dies before he could tell anyone who fired the shot. Dormer believes that it would be impossible to convince that it was an accident as the internal affairs wouldn’t ever trust his word. A young local police officer Ellie Burr (Hilary Swank) is put in charge of Eckhart’s shooting.

Dormer tries to put the blame on the murderer but Walter Finch (Robin Williams) outwits him. To return his favour, Finch blackmails him to put the blame of Kay Connell’s murder on her boyfriend. Now it is Dormer’s choice. Finch puts him in such a situation that he has to choose between his career and this one case. And everything else is just too interesting to spoil it over here.

The trailer of the film is one of the most misleading trailers ever. The film is definitely not as typical as the trailer makes it sound. It is one of those rare cases where the film is better than the trailer. Calling the film better won’t be the right term. The film is completely different from what the trailer promises. You can rely on my word for that.

The film is a remake of a Norwegian film of the same name, made in 1998 by Erik Skjoldbjærg. Christopher Nolan belongs to that category of directors who love to write their films. And Insomnia might be the only film in which Nolan has no credit as the writer of the film. And yet, surprisingly enough the film has many elements that signify that it is a Nolan’s masterpiece.

While reading more about the film I just discovered how perfect the casting of the two lead characters is. Dormer is guilty of his crimes and he knows that he deserves to get caught. He is burdened and tired of carrying it all by his own. And all of this shows on his face. On the other side, Finch is confident. He is calculated and he knows that Dormer will eventually give in. Finch’s face is straight and composed.

There are more important characters in the film than the names shown in the credits. The location itself, with daylight for 24 hours without any discount gives an additional reason for Dormer to be an insomniac.

I believe that names are everything. Whether they might be the names of the characters or the title of the film. You hear the names of important characters at least ten to twenty times in the whole film. It tells you a lot about the character and gives a poetic weight to everything that happens. Similarly the title of the film sums up what the film might be all about. And that’s why in my recent film Boundary I waited till the very end to finalise my title.

The film explains to me what a grey character could be. A character trapped in his own actions with a past that haunts him every minute. Guilt and regret fuels his behaviour. It is what the person thought was right at that very moment. In Insomnia it is not just Dormer but also Finch, troubled by their respective pasts. The similarity of the situations is a matter awe. And none of this could be termed as wrong when seen from the character’s perspective. And it is all perspective and opinion in the end.

Insomnia is an American Psychological Thriller and one of my personal favourite films. Not that I can watch the film again and again. It is somewhat heavy as it should be. But I there is a lot that I have taken back from the film.

#3 Frank Darabont – The Mist

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown” – H.P. Lovecraft

If you ask me, this the not the director’s well-known comfort zone. But boy I was hooked to my TV screen as I was experiencing this horror. I am a firm believer that one must only watch such films in theaters. So I am hoping that some or the other film festival comes to the town with this movie on the schedule. I wouldn’t dare to miss it.

So just like the director coming out of his niche, let me do the same. Let’s make this post completely out of trivia. Anyway I would not want to spoil the film for you. Just one spoiler – there are actually some disturbing creatures in the film.


1. In the film’s opening scene, the picture David is painting is of Roland the Gunslinger from Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series.

2. The books in the grocery store’s book rack are all Stephen King novels.

3. It was shot in mere 37 days

4. William Sadler played David Drayton in an audio version of the story.

5. Frank Darabont had originally been offered $30 million by a producer to make this film, but with one crippling caveat: Darabont would have to change his planned ending, a conclusion he’d personally envisioned and nursed for twenty years. In the end, he turned to producer Bob Weinstein and made the movie for half the amount, but only after forfeiting his directorial salary.

6. Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, and Melissa McBride went on to appear in the Frank Darabont The Walking Dead (2010), another post-apocalyptic survival adventure.

7. The first film Frank Darabont has made that is set in “the present,” barring the “framing story” in The Green Mile (1999).

8. Director Frank Darabont wanted to cast Stephen King in a supporting role, but King turned his offer down. The role eventually went to Brian Libby.

9. Darabont had been interested in adapting The Mist for the big screen since the 1980s.

10. Director Darabont chose to film The Mist after filming the “straighter dramas” The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile because he “wanted to make a very direct, muscular kind of film.”


After watching the film I cannot fail to admire the title of the film and also the byline – Fear changes everything.

#2 Frank Darabont – The Green Mile

We each owe a death – there are no exceptions – but, oh God, sometimes the Green Mile seems so long. – Paul Edgecomb

The film is ranked 43rd in the IMDb top 250 list.

You can simply admire the similarities between The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption or you appreciate how contrasting the two films are. The choice is really yours. But these first two films sure did create a niche for writer-director Frank Darabont.

Just like The Shawshank Redemption, the film is an adaptation of a story by Stephen King. This time King was eager to work with Frank Darabont. So was Tom Hanks. Shawshank did open new possibilities for him. Yet again a prison based story with characters even more interesting than his previous film. Especially the sub plots. Every character, no matter how little screen time it has is exceptional. Frank gives full credit to the actors.

Speaking of performances, the film brought Michael Clarke Duncan in front of the world as a compelling actor. The journey for the big man wasn’t so easy. He worked as a bodyguard for celebrities like Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, and The Notorious B.I.G. Bruce Willis, after Armageddon suggested his name for the role. Michael had to train under acting coach Larry Moss. He was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.


 

In actuality, Michael Clarke Duncan is of a similar height as his co-star David Morse and is a couple of inches shorter than James Cromwell. Among other things, creative camera angles were used to create the illusion that Duncan as John Coffey towered over the prison staff, even Brutal Howell and Warden Moores.


 

The film explores all the subplots so well that even the three hour long film seems fast and interesting. There are limited characters but every character has an important role to play.

There is no clear antagonist in the film. Every character is peculiar. We don’t know what are the crimes committed by Eduard Delacroix or Arlen Bitterbuck. It is just that some of them are sorry for what they are.


Doug Hutchison (Percy) was given, according to the director, the squeakiest shoes he’d ever heard. He thought this was the greatest bit of fate, and a “perfectly wonderful, annoying character trait” that he kept it in the movie, and you can hear sometimes how loud his shoes are.


 

The execution of Eduard Delacroix in the film is described in a even more brutal way in the original work. I think it is the strongest scene in the film. The director describes it as ‘a necessary compromise to suit the audience’. If this was the compromise, the original work if I ever be brave enough to read it is going to haunt me for the rest of my life.

The film was nominated for 4 Academy Awards and received none. The accolades were in a different league altogether.

Roger Ebert gave the film 3 and a half stars out of four, writing “The film is a shade over three hours long. I appreciated the extra time, which allows us to feel the passage of prison months and years.” Forbes commentator Dawn Mendez referred to the character of John Coffey as a “‘magic Negro‘ figure.” Stephen King considers the film as the most faithful adaptation of his work. The worth of these achievements is greener anything else.

 

#1 Frank Darabont – The Shawshank Redemption

“It is mine to screw up now” – Quentin Tarantino

I think I can build a post out of some beautiful lines from the film itself. And I think I should. It would be a crime if I don’t.

Andy Dufresne: If they ever try to trace any of those accounts, they’re gonna end up chasing a figment of my imagination.

Red: Well, I’ll be damned. Did I say you were good? Shit, you’re a Rembrandt!

Andy Dufresne: Yeah. The funny thing is – on the outside, I was an honest man, straight as an arrow. I had to come to prison to be a crook.


To begin with, this is Frank Darabont‘s first film. The film is an adaptation of a Stephen King story named Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. The film is written and directed by Frank himself. I feel these details are important to mention because I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be for a new director to get the rights of a renowned author.

Stephen King sold the film rights for his novella, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, for $5,000. He never cashed the check. Years after Shawshank came out, the author got the check framed and mailed it back to the director Frank Darabont with a note inscribed: “In case you ever need bail money. Love, Steve.”

It took Frank Darabont 5 years to complete the script. And the journey was not a smooth one at all. Just like the film itself, that’s all it takes, pressure and time.

Every man has his breaking point: The film, if you look at it closely, is full of narration. A person from the school of thought that preaches cinema being a visual medium would regard this film as a disgrace to the medium. And as we look it it right now, nearly 20 years from its release we can say that Morgan Freeman‘s narration is the factor that drives the film forward. It helps us connect with the characters to a deeper level. As my cinema teacher once said, in cinema, there are no absolutes. There is no right and wrong. It is all relative. The maker had his breaking point. He was skeptical about keeping the narration throughout. He had doubts if the audience would appreciate it or not. He explains in an interview that Martin Scorsese came to his rescue. Not in person but through cinema. Frank watched Goodfellas and realised that the film is all narration. If he could then it shouldn’t be all wrong.

I was in the path of the tornado: (well almost) The location where the film was shot “had a date with the wrecking ball,” as the director himself explains. He believes that there is no other place in the world where the film was possible otherwise.

Get busy living or get busy dying: A friend of mine said that the film is all about boredom. I respectfully (?) disagree. The film is not about boredom. Look from any character’s point of view. Although the treatment seems to suck every ounce of happiness out of your body, the film in all sense is about hope. How can anyone misinterpret the basic message of the film that Hope is a good thing. And no good thing ever dies.

Kevin Costner, Tom Hanks and Brad Pitt were all offered the role but turned it down due to scheduling conflicts with Waterworld, Forrest Gump and Interview with the vampire respectively. Kevin Costner would later regret that decision.


 

Honorary mentions to some of the smart lines in the film:

Morgan Freeman calls Tim Robbins‘ plan of having a hotel in Mexico “shitty pipe dreams.” Well he means it literally without realizing it. Foreshadowing!

The salvation lay within.  At least the tools of salvation did.

“I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don’t want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I’d like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can’t be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free” – Red (Morgan Freeman) The music player scene was added by the director and it does not exist in the original story by King.


The film did not get a warm reception worldwide on its release. The feeling of being in a prison for the entire movie may not attract a lot of positive vibes. And it is not an action movie, not in the slightest possible way. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards in 1994. It didn’t win even a single one. But it brought it again in the spotlight. The film’s initial gross of $18 million didn’t even cover the cost of its production. It did another $10 million in the wake of its Oscar nominations but the film was still deemed to be a box office flop.

Yet, Warner Bros. shipped 320,000 rental video copies throughout the United States, and it became one of the top rented films of 1995 and currently it holds the 1st position in the IMDB top 250 list. Some redemption at last!

#1 Billy Wilder – Fedora (1978)

Glorify who you are today, do not condemn who you were yesterday.

 

I saw my very first Billy Wilder film today and I can’t wait to watch more of his work. In his career spanning five decades as a film maker, he has accomplished to make sixty film, many of them still considered as classics. I feel dreadful to say that I haven’t been fortunate enough to watch more of his films. I look forward to it.

 

(Spoilers ahead)

 

First things first, I feel the poster gives away the story completely. If you can join the dots, it should not be difficult for you to determine the great secret behind Fedora. As for myself, I knew it all along. I’ve known this story for a long time and it makes me wonder what kept me from watching it so long. And yet, I was hooked. I think there are very few films who possess you so deeply that even if you know what is there to unfold you just wait to appreciate how it unfolds.

 

And this is what the film is all about, unfolding a story. Fedora, to those who don’t know it yet is this. Essentially a hat which leaves a shadow on your face when you walk in the Sun; covering most of it. The brilliance of the story begins with the title. The title tells us the story in a word. And that’s it.

 

We have so many films which end with every character in the film getting what he/she wanted. A crescendo, a happy ending. Surprisingly enough, though this is not the only film that has done this but it must be among the very first to end a film with none of the characters getting what they wished for. I feel it is just another suggestion towards the real world of celebrities which is different from their profile they project in public. It is about the tragedy of those who seem to have it all, but in reality are more hurt, more lonely than anyone else.

 

If we speak about the pattern, we have seen this same one in Citizen Kane. Charles Foster Kane dies right in the start and we explore his story through some unreliable sources with prejudices and biases. Although this structure is much simpler. It consists of two distinct flash backs according to me. One right after our point of view character,  Barry “Dutch” Detweiler played by William Holden stares at the mortal remains of the Legend, Fedora. And the other after the secret is just revealed in the second half.

 

We know all along that the film is not going to end on a high. We have no moments in the film when we can rejoice for long. Just the haunting past which keeps pricking us right where it hurts and reminds us of the unfortunate future of everyone. And that’s what makes the film so special for me.