Tag Archives: Review

#2 The Last Great Fighter

“From where we stand the rain seems random. If we could stand somewhere else, we would see the order in it.”

~ Tony Hillerman

 

Some things make you sad for no reason. By God’s grace, some things make you happy for no reason. It seems like it is all fair in the end. The granddaddy of all the accountants sitting up there looks down and says, this guy has worked a lot this week, he can have this and sends something like this!

The premise is set in the chilly mountains where Bruce Wayne trained himself, or to be more particular, 50 miles off Tokyo. It is the year 2222, and the weather conditions are just like they are today, or probably the way they were in 2002 when the film was shot. A sense of optimism bloomed inside me as I realised this – Global warming is a myth after all.

The film begins with two great warriors who have taken shelter in an empty flat, who have a dislike for each other. It turns out that the dislike is not reciprocated by the other warrior who prefers grunting over wordly pleasures. Maybe that is because he has already sinned enough by stealing the other warrior’s Bible and shooting his dog.

Nervousness builds in the air as we run out of words. Nervousness builds in the air. But as Sherman Alexie has said in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, ‘Scared means you don’t want to play. Nervous means you want to play.’ They enter into a battle which involves no weapon but their bare hands. And with a swift move of his palms, the warrior on the right sends the warrior on the left to his final resting place – the deadly wall.

It is rare to find a video with such a genuine raw feel to it! I would love to know the backstory of this film because I know there has to be one. I want to know what inspired these guys to invest their time in something so experimental like this. It takes us back to the time when YouTube was a simple video sharing site without the glamour it has today. We have come so far and the journey has been great. But every once in a while, it is nice to look back and enjoy some moments like this!

(I hope you wait for the post credits scene.)

#2 Timeless Classics – The Gold Rush by Charlie Chaplin (1925/1943)

After watching The Kid I could hardly resist watching yet another legendary film of the Tramp. I wanted to keep my journey as linear as possible but I could not find a good print of Woman of Paris (1923) or Shoulder Arms. I had to settle with this one.

Before we begin, here is some trivia about the film:

1. Chaplin himself declared several times that this was the film for which he most wanted to be remembered.

2. It is the fifth highest grossing silent film in cinema history and the highest grossing silent comedy film with $4,250,001 at the box office in 1926, now that’s a gold rush.

3. The film was re-released in 1942 with a newer music score, tighter edit and a narration by the maker himself. I watched the version with the narration. The new music score by Max Terr and the sound recording by James L. Fields were nominated for Academy Awards in 1943.

4.  The “roll dance” the tramp character performs in the film is considered one of the most memorable scenes in film history used again in many other films as a tribute or just because it’s too good.

5. For the special effects in the movie, a remarkably convincing miniature mountain range was created out of timber (a quarter of a million feet, it was reported), chicken wire, burlap, plaster, salt and flour. The spectacle of this Alaskan snowscape improbably glistening under the baking Californian summer sun drew crowds of sightseers.

I’ve begun to decode his formulae with his second film. What Chaplin does is he creates a very minute complication, something like sharing a shoe with Big Jim or surviving the blizzard and one problem leads to another where the innocence of the little tramp wins our heart.

Throughout the film I hated the character of Georgia. Even her pretty face seems ugly when she laughs with cruelty at our hero. I felt her character non gripping and uni dimensional. It was not just our hero in the Kid but also the kid and even his mother that shaped the intriguiing structure of the film. Over here, it was more or less Chaplin and to some extent Big Jim that felt lovable. Maybe the great showman wanted to portray the utter bargain based world, seeking for something in return from you.

I’ve mentioned the special effects above. For further understanding watch the video linked over here. The best part about all these effects, keeping aside there was no digital film making back then is the illusion that they create. We all know that this, what is happening in front of us is fake. We all know that Chaplin did not make the cliff fall off for his film. But the overall experience including the amount of details put into the act, the music and even the impeccable expressions of the actors make us wonder for just a second, how did they do this?

I loved the repetitive Chaplin style parts which make you laugh even though they are quite senseless. They celebrate the beauty of cinema. I wasn’t quite impressed by the story. Having watched quite a few films on the same premise could’ve hampered this statement. (I tend to dislike most of the classics in the first go due to all the hype!) And I was astonished with the awesome visual effects. In short, I can’t wait for another film by this little master.

 

#1 Steve McQueen – 12 Years A Slave

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
~ Nelson Mandela
It is all about impotency of Solomon Northup and every other slave of that time. The cruelty and hypocrisy of the system and the relief of having a few good men.
It is fascinating of how different individuals can approach the same topic of racism in completely distinctive patterns. We had Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained last year in the nominations and this year Steve McQueen‘s 12 Years a Slave is one of the favourites too. Django focused on the fact that how capable an unchained slave could be and Northup’s story has the mournful touch of reality to it. Being a slave to the existing scenario stretches all across the film till the text in the very end.
When asked about 12 Years a Slave, people often talk about the brutality in most of the scenes. What moved me the most was the sub plots. When Northup is betrayed and enslaved, his companion on the ship escapes; finding the easy way out when his master comes down to rescue him. And Northup does the same leaving Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) behind.
Both the supporting actors, Lupita Nyong’o and Michael Fassbender are impeccable and steal the show. You can absolutely hate Fassbender for his cruelty and you can absolutely love Nyong’o for her innocence.
The narrative of the film is devastatingly slow which does not really appeal to my tastes. The film flaunts an astonishing cast and the performances of each and every major character manage to grip you throughout. The film adds a very high contrast to add even more to the discrimination which is fabulous.

#1 Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity

We need to hold on to a few things and we need to let go of a few. But we choose the wrong way.

It starts off with the most amazing tracking shot I’ve ever seen. It raises my expectations to a whole new level and never fails to awe me in the whole 91 minute run-time.

The story is a simple survival story, just like any other except it takes place in an impossible scenario. The groundbreaking technology that was developed and perfected to execute the film blends with the story and enhances minute details of it, making the experience more and more realistic is what makes the film stand apart. I have this particular firm standpoint that incorporation of methods and technique should be subordinate than the motive of storytelling. And the film explains why.

Cuarón admits using “visual metaphors” throughout the film. You are most likely to miss them unless you’ve trained vision to detect them in their small appearances on screen. But when you watch a film again and again, over and over again you realize how much thought goes behind every one of them. I have not seen all of his films as of now, but even in Prisoner of Azkaban the use of a few was noticeable.

The CG is so good in the film that it is hard to distinguish between what’s real and what is not. The actors have skillfully adapted to the rigs created especially for shooting all the Zero G shots. One can only imagine the kind of dedicated efforts both the actors must have taken to give one single perfect shot.

The film carefully distinguishes itself from fantasy and seems like a documentation. It makes sure that appears as a continuous experience of a catastrophe in space. Every new obstacle thickens the tension of the whole situation. The few moments of interaction, of exposition garnishes the urge of coming back on Earth. And the joy of Ryan simply standing up on her feet, being in control at last; makes you rejoice. Whatever it may be, it is a hell of a ride.

Gravity is received 10 nominations at the 86th Academy AwardsBest Actress, Best Director, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects and Best Picture

#1 Spike Jonze – Her

“Love may be blind. But it can sure find its way around in the dark.”

Well, it has been a while since I’ve written anything on films. But it doesn’t even remotely mean that I haven’t been watching any. Frankly speaking through my exams I’ve watched more films than I would’ve in any ordinary week. And it has been a very good week.

I spend most of my day, sitting in front of my computer. I am either researching about something, editing or watching a film. Really, as I think about it it has been my schedule for a while now. I interact with my computer more than I interact with my family. So in a way my computer would know me better than anyone else. And I guess it does, so to speak.

What would you do if:

1. The only successful relationship you have ever had is coming to an end

2. You don’t really have anybody to talk to

3. You find someone really interesting, kind and most importantly who is there to listen to you, all the time?

I find this a perfect setting to fall in love. We need someone to share this draggy life with. The only problem in Theodore’s (Joaquin Phoenix) life is, his new friend is not a human. And this is riveting beyond measure. How do you love someone, who can be a great companion but whose sheer existence is a matter of perception?

Different characters in the film had different opinions about it. There are supportive friends who understand the complications and do not judge you and there are skeptics who only find negativity in the situation, just like a relationship with any human.

The most marvelous part of the film is even though the film qualifies as a science fiction story, the technical part of it remains on the lower side. For me it is more philosophical rather than scientific. And more romantic than depressing.

I don’t know if anyone else observed this, I love how the colours are used throughout the film. These minute details add texture to the story.

I do not wish to spoil the ending for whoever has not watch the film. Because I feel, this is one film a cinemalover must watch with an open mind. To sum it up, the film speaks about an impossible relationship between a man and its closest companion which happens to be a.i. But obviously there is more to it!

Her by Spike Jonze is nominated for 4 Academy Awards which include: Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Song, Best Original Score and Best Picture.

Spike Jonze’s short film I’m Here (2010) had a similar theme and it is available over here.

#1 James Cameron – Aliens

The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.

~ Jessica Lange

Let’s hope that my honesty is not confused with stupidity. I wanted to watch Ridley Scott’s Alien, which supposedly revolutionized visual effects in film. Call it my luck or misfortune that I ended up watching its sequel first. So I am laughing and crying at m situation at the same time.

The Alien film franchise started with Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), James Cameron’s Aliens (1986), Paul Anderson’s Alien vs. Predator (2004) followed and the latest Prometheus (2012) by Ridley Scott is a prequel to the original Alien. And just the way technology advanced, content suffered.

*Talking about the film Aliens, the film is equipped with an uncomplicated three-act structure. The protagonist, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) confirms with Burke “You’re going out there to destroy them, right? All right, I’m in.” and that marks the second act. Similarly, when Ridley decides to go back and get Newt all alone, is where the climax starts shaping.

I would not talk about the visual effects, considering the film was out in 1986, much after the revolution and two years after Cameron’s The Terminator was released. I did not find them too compelling.

This film can be expressed in a flowchart format excellently. Ripley has two options, whether to accept or abort the offer by Burkes. Ripley has a premonition about the android being a traitor, either she is right or she is wrong. Burkes is going to successfully get the alien specimen through the ICC or not. Numerous conflicts form a thrilling composite.

On a negative note, the film started off with absolutely fabulous editing. The tempo of each sequence teased me with the sight of an alien and ended in an anticlimax, which indeed kept me at the edge of my seat. As soon as their mission begins, till the aliens actually show up, I felt the film was a bit draggy and monotonous.

About halfway across the film, I noticed one factor, which gives the film a great advantage over many others in the same genre. A year ago, when I was studying Cinema as a subject in college, I comprehended that any type of cinema, whether it is a neo-realistic cinema or an expressionist one, needs interesting characters. Interesting characters make cinema, an illusion seem convincing and gripping.

Aliens is equipped with extremely well orchestrated characters. We have damsel in distress, Newt; hero, Ripley; lover, corporal Hicks; Judas, Burkes; virago, Vasquez and most importantly, Ripley’s emotional aspect – Ripley as a mother!

I do not know if the makers thought of it while making it or it is a personal opinion about the film. The aliens breed by impregnating. The parasite uses a human body to produce an alien. The climax is a faceoff between the alien mother and Ripley, both trying to protect their offspring. In which Ripley succeeds.

Whether it is Titanic or the Terminator or in this case, Aliens, Cameron always reaches out to a superficial subject and weaves it excellently with human emotions.

*After watching The Terminator again, I realized that I was wrong in judging the visual effects of the film. Visual effects of Aliens are far more superior than The Terminator. Although I couldn’t help but compare the futuristic earth with the Colony in Aliens. Did you use the same set for both Mr. Cameron?