Tag Archives: Matthew Libatique


Mother! (2017)

written by Souranath Banerjee

Mother! Review: What on earth is happening and why doesn’t God do anything to stop these talented directors from going rogue in the name of symbolism? – there goes your cryptic God-Mother Earth theory!

My Ratings: 3.5/5

Mother! is one of the most talked about film of this year with extreme reviews from both the audience and the critics, extreme positives and extreme negatives!

Then the poster says ‘The most controversial movie in decades’ and you think why are these people trying to sell a Darren Aronofsky film by just hi-lighting on its controversiality aspect? Not as a brilliant horror film, or as a superb thriller or mystery or drama – but simply as ‘most controversial’. And then you watch the film and realise that the poor marketing people didn’t have much of a choice!

The story of a woman (Jennifer Lawrence), who wants to be a mother and eventually becomes one with the help of HIM (her partner Javier Bardem).  But in between, a number of guests appear at their house, all uninvited (Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer to start with) and from there the film plunges into sheer catastrophe portrayed through a series of unimaginably horrific experiences that – let me see how to put it without giving away much details – that Mother!-Reviewtakes away all her fun of being a mother!

Now it’s difficult to merely narrate the plot of a movie like Mother! without wrapping it up into various symbolic metaphors. It is so uniquely chaotic and absurd for the real world (hopefully a caricature of the real world itself) that even while watching the film you constantly look for some allegorical inklings and eventually when you connect to the Biblical symbolisms which at certain points are pretty much on your face  – you finally feel at home and buckle up to absorb the rest of the gore and insanity!

Acting wise pretty decent performances by all, specially the supporting characters Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer are terrific! Bardem though given much less screen time makes his presence felt and Jennifer Lawrence – her naivety and helplessness somehow reflects the anxiety of the audience – it’s like ‘why is this happening to me’ and this feeling doesn’t leave you till the very end of the film!

The one thing I really appreciate is the cinematography of Matthew Libatique that creates a certain earthy Mother!-Reviewmood that is essential for the movie. The repeated close-up shots of the Mother character makes us feel what she is going through, we desperately try to relate with her inner turmoils.

I have been a big fan of director Darren Aronofsky‘s previous works – the likes of Requiem for a DreamThe WrestlerBlack Swan and Pi and they are all psychologically disturbing to certain extents but for me his latest film is a bit too deliberate an attempt to create uneasiness – it’s like forcefully pushing a certain riddle/cipher through the audience’s throat than actually trying to create quality Cinema! 

A film that you may like or dislike but certainly it will make you think and discuss and figure out what the hell did you just watch! May be Mother! was destined to be neither good nor bad but simply controversial. Fair enough!

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com

Best Modern Black and White movies (10+1list)

Best Modern Black and White movies

written by Souranath Banerjee.

The transition of Cinema from ‘black and white’ to ‘color’ is a unique evolutionary process that took years of experimentation.

Evidently in Europe (specifically in U.k and France), as early as in the beginning of 1900, the first few colored footage were made; they were mostly hand-colored short films. Then in 1914, in U.K Natural Color Kinematograph Company made the first ever full length feature film in color named The World, the Flesh and the Devil. 

In 1918 Cupid Angling was made in US by Douglass Natural Color The-Wizard-of-Oz-posterFilm Inc. which is the first American ‘colored’ feature. Then of course The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Gone with the Wind (1939) established the era of colorful films.

Eventually the dominance of ‘black and white’ films faded away and cinema was full of colors! By the late 60s only a handful of black and white films are made each year.

Nowadays the black and white medium is regarded as a rare artistic choice for stylized visuals, or specifically used to portray a certain desired mood/emotion.

And now, the list contains some of the Best Modern Black and White movies. Enjoy!

10. Pi (1998)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jo18VIoR2xU


Darren Aronofsky‘s first feature and an amazing black and white thriller.

A paranoid mathematician who tries to unlock nature’s universal patterns with the help of the magic number Pi!

Matthew Libatique shot the dark contrast images and successfully creates the gritty atmosphere needed for the film.

9. Nebraska (2013)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UT5tqPojMtg


Oscar nominated film (nominated in six categories including ‘best film’, ‘best director’ and ‘best cinematographer’).

Directed by Alexander Payne, this black and white road movie is wonderfully shot by Phedon Papamichael.

An emotional yet humorous father-son relationship like never seen before.

8. Frances Ha (2012)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBn5dgXFMis


Noah Baumbach presents one of the most endearing and funny film of recent times. 

A black and white comedy drama that tells the entertaining tale of an ordinary New York girl named Frances. She is quirky, childlike and sometimes a bit immature as well.

Beautifully shot by Sam Levy, the film is as spontaneous and free-spirited as it’s leading lady.

7. The Turin Horse (2011)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNkN_xCXozw


From the master directors Béla Tarr and co-director Ágnes Hranitzky this one is an unique film with very less dialogues and absolutely brilliant visuals. 

Shot by Fred Kelemen, the film has long takes that meticulously portrays the struggle of each and every character.

Rural settings with harsh climate – black and white imagery at it’s best.

6. Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_7uQsP2TBk


A series of short, single location films based on people interaction which all have coffee and cigarettes in common!

One of the coolest films ever, directed by Jim Jarmusch with unique casting for each segment.

A black and white film that uses the checker tables, the black coffee and the white cigarette smoke to it’s best advantage.

5. Control (2007)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7c2_B_cWK_M


A biography of the famous lead singer of the band Joy Division – Ian Curtis.

Directed by Anton Corbijn, the film depicts the troubled life of the musical genius which ended at the young age of 23 (he committed suicide).

The film is a simple yet stylized series of black and white visuals shot brilliantly by Martin Ruhe.

4. The Artist (2011)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OK7pfLlsUQM


Nominated for the Oscars in 10 categories and winning 5 awards including the ‘Best Motion Picture of the Year’, ‘best direction’ and ‘best actor’!

A black and white film directed by Michel Hazanavicius that is arty as well as highly entertaining.

Shot by Guillaume Schiffman (oscar nominated), the film is a treat for all black and white cinema lovers!

3. Ida (2013)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xyxFsg_rrY


The Oscar winner in the ‘best foreign film category’.

Pawel Pawlikowski direction and amazing cinematography by Ryszard Lenczewski and Lukasz Zal.

The film is uniquely in square format (aspect ratio 1.33 : 1) and interestingly most of the frames have huge amount of negative space on the top. A must see.

2. Schindler’s List (1993)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdRGC-w9syA


Probably the most popular black and white film of our times.

Directed by Steven Spielberg the film is a biography on Oskar Schindler’s life who helped the Jews and saved many lives during the Nazi invasion of Poland in the World War II. 

Shot by Janusz Kaminski this film has so strong imagery that one could never forget in their lives.

1. The White Ribbon (2009)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KJKvvvxY74


A little peaceful village haunted by a series of awful murders!

Directed by the acclaimed German director Michael Haneke, this film is a superb psychological mystery drama.

A black and white classic shot by Christian Berger, the film was also nominated in the Oscars for the Best Achievement in Cinematography category!

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most unique and cool one. A must watch).

+1. Sin City (2005)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2Dj6ktPU5c

sin-city-posterIf you want to use the word ‘stylized’ to define a film – this is the one.

Super cool visuals straight from Frank Miller‘s comic book pages, the film is an epic is it’s dark and violent story telling.

Directed by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez (he also shot the film), the most stylish black and white film ever.

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