Ugly (2014)

My Ratings: 4/5.

People are like coins and when they are tossed up in the air, there is a good fifty percent chance of them falling their ugly side up.

The film Ugly reveals this hidden side of us, the rotten core of our human nature, the ugly truth of our society; and who better can orchestrate such a dark film with such perfection than Anurag Kashyap?

Director Anurag Kashyap has this exceptional talent of illuminating those gloomy, dark tunnels of our human minds where other filmmakers seldom dare to focus their beam. His debut film Paanch then Black FridayNo SmokingDev.DGulaal, even the Gangs of Wasseypur series – the characters in all these films seems to celebrate the violence and the dark passion in them.

And Ugly is no exception and probably the most dark film recently made in Bollywood. 

A thriller that revolves around the kidnapping of a little girl and the rigorous search that follows. A nasty tale of mayhem, greed and corruption that doesn’t spare anybody – none of them comes out clean and innocent.

Ugly contains hardcore violence and abusive language – not at all advisable for the children.

But then again there are a few awesome moments of black humor that serves as the much needed relief moments for the audience.

The only known faces are the ever-angry Ronit Roy and to some extent Tejaswini Kolhapure (she was launched in Anurag Kashyap’s Paanch which unfortunately never released). 

Most of the other actors are relatively new but every one gave very natural performances – especial mentions Rahul Bhat (the estranged father), Vineet Singh (the friend) and Girish Kulkarni (the ideal local police head).

The background score does it’s job i guess but i wouldn’t complain if it was more on the grungy side. The camera angles, especially the typical ‘chase sequences’ have the trade mark of an Anurag Kashyap movie.       

Overall a very real, hard-hitting film made with enough passion and courage; though it’s difficult to admit but Ugly is a perfect snapshot of our current society.

P.S – the film Ugly was waiting to release for almost a year now since Anurag Kashyap was fighting a case in Bombay High Court against the Censor Board as he refused to add the anti-smoking disclaimer in the film.

Loveless – BEST OF 19TH MUMBAI FILM FESTIVAL 2017!

Loveless (2017)

written by Souranath Banerjee

Loveless Review: Cold and toxic, a disintegration of marriage metaphorically portraying an entire nation’s predicament!  

My Ratings: 4.4/5

A bitter divorce is never an easy experience for any couple but certainly the real victims are always the children. The most traumatic realisation a child has to cope with is that neither his parents wants custody of him, that he is just an unwanted baggage, a burden, that he is a mere glitch in their ugly adult world.

And that is exactly what happens to 12-year-old young Alyosha (Matvey Novikov), the terrible hard-hitting feeling of being loveless.

On one side Alyosha’s father (Aleksey Rozin) is having an affair with a younger woman who is pregnant with his child and on the other hand his harsh-speaking mother (Maryana Spivak) is passionately in love with a wealthy older man. On the verge of a nasty divorce the parents indulge themselves into a spate of brutal outbursts completely oblivious of the child who eventually decides to vanish from their lives for good.

Where is he gone? Has something happened to him? A kid cannot just disappear like that?

lovelessBut then writer/director Andrey Zvyagintsev (of Leviathan fame) along with writer Oleg Negin uses this tragic event to serve a bigger purpose, to narrate and critique the conditions in contemporary Russia, a country where everyone is desperately looking for – a lost loveless kid or may be it is simply Love that they are searching for?

Here we are talking about one nation (though I personally think it is a worldwide problem) where Happiness has become a piece of merchandise that can be negotiated and bought at a price while the value of Family-stability been reduced to a sign of status symbol. Where emotions and duty take the second seat while greed, ego and lust for a better-life gets the priority.

Absolute brilliance in the acting department – especially Maryana Spivak and Aleksey Rozin really make you hate and even sympathise lovelesswith them to a certain extent. The secondary characters Natalya PotapovaMarina Vasileva and Anna Gulyarenko also have such strong impact on the story and the audience.

But the best part is Mikhail Krichman‘s unique cinematography, the long takes and the subtle tracking of the camera brilliantly adds to the sentiments of the characters and the overall feel of the movie.

The music by Evgueni Galperine and Sacha Galperine is spot on and cleverly used only when it is actually required.

Official submission from Russia in the ‘Best Foreign Language Film‘ category at the 2018 Oscars. This is undoubtedly one of the best cinema of last year; very rarely does one film achieves a feat of representing a country and the psychology of its inhabitance with such savage precision and success.

Go watch it!

Similar interest: Leviathan Review

Similar Interest: Best Russian Classic Comedy Films

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com

The Window Review

The Window (2017)

written by Souranath Banerjee

The Window Review: The eternal agony, anguish, anxiety, the angst and the apprehension of a man/writer. 

My Ratings: 3.5/5

There have been numerous fictional films about writers that have emphasised on the weird imaginative world of a penman. Many of these movies make fun of their insecurity, some romanticise and even sympathise with them for being eccentric but very few have actually managed to empathise with a writer’s passion.

The Window, a film written and directed by VK Choudhary does exactly that and tries to portray the reality of an arrogant writer’s The-Windowlife (assuming writers being arrogant is part of that reality). 

The film revolves around Lekh Kapoor (Amit Vashisth), a man who claims to be superior to his surrounding world just because he is a writer, that too a self proclaimed one!

His personal life is a mess but still he peeps out of the window inviting himself into more trouble; he cribs and vents out enough frustration throughout the movie for choosing to be the stereotypical bearded, long-haired, bidi-sucking scriptwriter on his quest to change the form of Cinema for good. But at the same time he takes immense pride in his struggle for art, for representing himself as the misunderstood talent yet to be discovered.

This low-budget film with a very Indie feel is constructed out of a series of conversation scenes (mostly indoor and handheld) between Lekh and his friends and family who eventually shell out enough information to help us perceive the obsessed writer’s persona, his complexes and fears (which are quite a handful).

The younger brother (Atul Hanwat) who urges Lekh to get a life, join the well-salaried job for which he is perfectly qualified, and to get back with his sweet, soft spoken wife. The wife (Preeti Hansraj Sharma) who cheated just once in the past that too it seems because of Lekh’s negligence but still obviously loves him, wants Lekh to excuse their past differences and come back (and probably to shave his ugly beard). And of course the abusive mother (Sayoni Mishra) who is solely focused on making everybody’s life hell around her!

The-WindowThen there is his friend/film-industry-contact (Praveen Maheshwari) who wants Lekh to write something commercially sellable rather than the artsy stuff he is into. The authoritative producer fellow (Ravi Patil) who again wants the same thing but is less friendly while expressing it to our snobbish writer.

The thing common about these characters are that they all want to change Lekh in someway or other, make him lead a life he detests and take away from him his prized identity of being the distressed artist. But then comes Maya (Teena Singh), a seductress who can easily decode Lekh’s complexities, an enchanting captive from another world.

Intelligent use of music by Kasturi Nath Singh and Vishal J. Singh that goes well with Dhruvan Gautham‘s cinematography.

The film perhaps a tad too long and at times monotonously chaotic, has a certain honesty about it that stays with you for longer than you The-Windowexpect. The reason for this may be the natural performances from the cast (especially Amit Vashisth and Sayoni Mishra are fantastic) or may be the autobiographical treatment of the script by the young director VK Choudhary. The madness of his protagonist in a shabby claustrophobic 1bhk where he gets his brilliant ideas only to be rejected by the world seems somehow very possible and real.

And that is the reason we need more films like The Window to reach the theatres which strive to give you tangible characters and believable locations most often never an option for the so called big-budget movies.

Photo and poster curtsey: The Window production team.

Best Italian Erotic Thrillers (10+1list)

Best Italian Erotic Thrillers written by Souranath Banerjee Best Italian Erotic Thrillers – In the early 1970s, there was a wave of horror/thriller Cinema that swept across Italy. Brutal murder mysteries clubbed with an abundance of erotic scenes was the best formula of success for the talented Italian directors of the time! Even a new film genre was introduced, known … Continue reading Best Italian Erotic Thrillers (10+1list)

The Shallows (2016)

The Shallows review

written by Souranath Banerjee

By far the most sophisticated ‘sea-monster-bikini-babe’ film ever made!

My Ratings: 3.5/5

If you notice carefully all these posters below have two things in common – a sea monster of some sort (it can be piranhas, crocodiles, whales, octopus, barracudas) and then there is a helpless babe in bikini being terrorised!

barracuda-poster

piranha-poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

tentacles-poster

sea-beast-poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now these films have probably created their own unique genre and i am sure their own niche audience as well, and undoubtedly The Shallows is the most sophisticated ‘sea-monster-bikini-babe’ film ever made!

Nancy (Blake Lively), the surfer with a perfect bikini body, the girl shallows-poster1who has arrived on a secluded beach in Brazil, all alone, yet enjoying the waves until of course a big white shark wants to take her out for dinner!

The better half of the film is focused on Nancy’s survival, mostly on rocks and buoys while the hungry shark circles around her and feeds on the remaining cast.

Now the big question of course is does the poor shark remain hungry forever?

To get that answer you will have to watch the film but one thing is for sure – don’t you ever underestimate the power of a lonely girl in bikini!

The Shallows directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and written by Anthony Jaswinski is a cool film though, mostly entertaining (if you are into shallows-posterthis genre), often thrilling as well, and the best part is Blake Lively‘s realistic performance. She has been my favourite actress since The Age of Adaline (2015).

Innovative camera work including some great under water shots by Flavio Martínez Labiano and of course the visual effects team needs a pat on their back – the massive ugly looking shark was looking real enough!

Overall a decent sea-moster-thriller but please stop comparing it with Steven Spielberg‘s all time classic Jaws (1975). Don’t.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.comwww.imdb.com.

Best Conspiracy Thrillers ever made (10+1list)

Best Conspiracy Thrillers ever made written by Souranath Banerjee Best Conspiracy Thrillers ever made – Conspiracy theories have always been a part of our lives whether you intend to believe them or not. And even if you believe one, the real question is can you prove it? But as we all know, most of these theories are … Continue reading Best Conspiracy Thrillers ever made (10+1list)

Best War Films of all times (20+1list)

Best War Films of all times written by Souranath Banerjee Best War Films can be generally categorized into two basic types. Firstly the ones that glamorize and romanticize the concept of war for the sheer entertainment of the audience, as most of us want to enjoy the thrill of the battle-zone but shy away from the … Continue reading Best War Films of all times (20+1list)

Best Foreign Language Films of 2014 (10+1list)

Best Foreign Language Films of 2014. Written by Souranath Banerjee 2014 was a unique year for world Cinema. Quality films were made across the globe; stories that denounced war and corruption, films which tested complex relationships, cinemas that didn’t shy away from portraying the many complexities of our human nature. Directors skilfully explored the subtlety of … Continue reading Best Foreign Language Films of 2014 (10+1list)

Animal Documentaries – The cove and Blackfish

Animal Documentaries – The cove (2009) and Blackfish (2013).

Written by Souranath Banerjee.

My Rating (for both): 4.5/5.

The playful Dolphins and the graceful Killer Whales – they are the two most intelligent, sensitive and harmless aquatic species.

Blackfish-posterAnd they are in danger.

Beyond being simply falling in the ‘animal documentaries’ category  both these films The cove and Blackfish have something much more important in common. They successfully expose the ugly face of our human race.

Unfortunately it so happens that ‘We’ are not only the most evolved species of our planet but also the most selfish, cruel and unsympathetic of all.

cove-poster3We snatch baby killer whales from their parents to confine them in a claustrophobic water-ponds and make them do tricks simply for our entertainment. We lure the playful dolphins to the seashore and mercilessly chop them up for cheaper meat until the ocean turns red in their blood.

We humans are capable of any such inhuman acts for a definite reason – and the only reason that explains everything is MONEY.

Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite Blackfish tells the story of the billion-dollar SeaWorld empire primarily based on the success of killer whale performances in front of the live audience’s thunderous applause. blackfish-posterA masterfully crafted documentary that gives us insight on the tragic psychological trauma that the killer whales experience in captivity and it’s effect – the several deaths of the trainers. SeaWorld refused to be interviewed (expected i guess) and tried their best to cover up all the evidences for so many years. But no more.

cove-poster2On the other hand The cove is another thrilling and heartbreaking documentary that reveals Japan’s illegal dolphin meat industry for which hundreds of dolphins are slaughtered everyday in a cove near a town named Taijii. Directed by Louie Psihoyos this Oscar winning documentary uncovers the shocking level of animal cruelty which is again directly a threat to human health (since dolphin meat though lot cheaper in price but is unfit for human consumption).

It is not surprising that still there are some people who really care for the well-beings of other animals and are so passionate to come up with such eye-opening documentaries that (i won’t say completely stop animal abuse but) definitely create a certain sense of awareness.

If you like thrilling real-life cinema, if you enjoy good storytelling and if you love animals and care for them – The cove and Blackfish are the two animal documentaries you shouldn’t miss.

Best of Bollywood 2014.

Best of Bollywood 2014. written by Souranath Banerjee. It’s time to ride the flashback roller coaster in search of some meaningful cinema in Bollywood that released in the year 2014. The phase ‘meaningful cinema’ itself is debatable since everyone interprets cinema in their own way. For me a film that successfully walks the thin line between … Continue reading Best of Bollywood 2014.