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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 Italian-Erotic-Thrillersformula of success for the talented Italian directors of the time!

Even a new film genre was introduced, known as Giallo, only to accommodate these Italian Erotic Thrillers custom-made on such typical homicidal stalkers who love to wear black leather gloves and enjoy stabbing a series of pretty young women who surprisingly aren’t keen on wearing much clothes!

But let’s face the fact, the Italians probably know a thing or two more about ‘Erotism’ and ‘Thrill’ than most of the rest of the world!

So, relax and enjoy these violent and erotic murder mysteries straight from Italy, though all the films in the list doesn’t fall strictly under the Giallo genre, but no doubt they are some of the Best Italian Erotic Thrillers!

10. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo (original title)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2eknxl-A84

Italian-Erotic-ThrillersA serial killer is on the prowl. An American writer in Italy witnesses a murder attempt and soon his own life comes under danger.

Directed by the acclaimed master of horror classics Dario Argento (his debut film), a twisted murder mystery with great imagery and cool background score, the film credited for kick-starting the ever-popular giallo genre!

A few other Erotic Thrillers from the same director are Tenebre (1982) and Deep Red (1975).

9. Rabid Dogs (1974)

Cani arrabbiati (original title)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCKt9LoFDBM

Italian-Erotic-ThrillersThree vicious criminals takes hostage of some passengers in a car including a sick child, and force them to drive away from the town – their only chance of escape from the police. A ruthless crime drama that comes up with some superb plot twists just when you least expect them.

Directed by the great Italian horror filmmaker Mario Bava (and Lamberto Bava), this is one gritty thriller that you shouldn’t miss!

A few other Erotic Thrillers from the same director are Blood and Black Lace (1964) and Evil Eye (1963)

8. The House of the Laughing Windows (1976)

La casa dalle finestre che ridono (original title)

Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7kIXSz4bKk

Italian-Erotic-ThrillersA professional painting restorer is hired and invited to a small village where he needs to restore an old painting of St. Sebastian but soon he finds out that something is terribly wrong in that mysterious village. He decides to investigate further!

Directed by Pupi Avati, a classic giallo mystery thriller, haunting and unnerving, with an ending that is impossible to guess.

7. Short Night of Glass Dolls (1971)

La corta notte delle bambole di vetro (original title)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlMidH4tmvA

Italian-Erotic-ThrillersThe girlfriend of an American journalist visiting Prague disappears and it seems this is not the first case of young pretty girls getting disappeared in that area. And while investigating he stumbles into something too horrid and dark!

Directed by Aldo Lado, a rare  giallo with little gore but it certainly narrates a great suspense drama!

A few other Erotic Thrillers from the same director are Last Stop on the Night Train (1975) and Who Saw Her Die? (1972).

6. Almost Human (1974)

Milano odia: la polizia non può sparare (original title), The Death Dealer

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mK0H48Xs4eE

Italian-Erotic-ThrillersA demented homicidal maniac kidnaps the daughter of a wealthy man and commits a series of heinous crimes, but can the detective behind his trail will be able to bring him to justice?

Directed by Umberto Lenzi, a taut thriller that doesn’t cringe from showing the dark and ugly side of the human nature. Rape, torture, murder, suspense, chase sequences – this film has got everything!

Another Erotic Thrillers from the same director is Seven Blood-Stained Orchids (1972).

5. Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972)

Il tuo vizio è una stanza chiusa e solo io ne ho la chiave (original title)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMBtjDjzb8c

Italian-Erotic-ThrillersSurrounding the estate of an alcoholic writer and his beautiful wife, began a series of murders. The police were as clueless as the audience until the climax when the mystery gets revealed!

Directed by Sergio Martino, a superb giallo based on Edgar Allan Poe‘s The Black Cat. One of the rare films that features both beautiful Italian actresses Edwige Fenech and Anita Strindberg.

A few other Erotic Thrillers from the same director are Blade of the Ripper (1971) and The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail (1971). 

4. House on the Edge of the Park (1980)

La casa sperduta nel parco (original title)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6V7AqahaNq4

Italian-Erotic-ThrillersTwo sleazy low-life punks takes hostage of a group of affluent people and subject them to every form of torture imaginable.

The cult actor David Hess gives the performance of his life and looks damn scary! 

After Cannibal Holocaust this is the movie for which director Ruggero Deodato is most famous or rather infamous for.

3. What Have You Done to Solange? (1972)

Cosa avete fatto a Solange? (original title) 

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hhz5EevFcE

Italian-Erotic-ThrillersIn the midst of a scandalous affair between a teacher and his young student, a series of girls all from the same Catholic School are being stabbed to death in the most horrific manner.

Is this a deranged serial killer at work or someone with a hidden motive?

Directed by Massimo Dallamano, a superb mystery, a giallo that has the ability to hold on to its suspense till the end.

Another Erotic Thriller from the same director is What Have They Done to Your Daughters? (1974)

2. Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_M3a3m6wOc

Italian-Erotic-ThrillersIn a remote southern Italian town a reporter and an immoral woman join hands to investigate a series of child killings. But soon they find that their own lives are in danger!

Directed by Lucio Fulci, my personal favorite who made some of the best Italian thrillers of the time, and starring famous actress Florinda Bolkan, this is one murder mystery that you don’t want to miss.

A few other Erotic Thrillers from the same director are One on Top of the Other (1969), A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin(1971) and The Psychic (1977).

  1. Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970)

Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto (original title)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMofSyukEo0

Italian-Erotic-ThrillersThe chief of detective commits the murder of his mistress and deliberately leaves enough clues to challenge the entire police force! Undoubtedly the most sophisticated thriller in this list with an amazing plot, brilliant narrative and cool performances.

Directed by Elio Petri, the film won the Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film (Italy) and also the Grand Prize of the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival that year!

A few other Erotic Thrillers from the same director are A Quiet Place in the Country (1968) and The Assassin (1961).

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

+1. L’immoralità (1978)

Film music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJ1kcq-8kIU

Italian-Erotic-ThrillersWounded and on the run a man (who is a child-killer) is given shelter by a 12 year old girl and eventually they fall in love, physically as well! But then the young girl’s mother also wants the fugitive to satisfy her needs!

Directed by Massimo Pirri, this is one twisted tale of passion and crime with pretty decent performances and a superb piano score that played through out the film.

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

The Salesman (2016) – Best of 18th JIO MAMI Mumbai Film Festival 2016!

The Salesman review

written by Souranath Banerjee

 A Cinema that tends to alter the definition of ‘Justice’! 

My Ratings: 4.3/5

Is Cinema only a medium for entertainment? As a filmmaker how much social responsibility one is ready to accept? How successful is a film in depicting a certain time, an era, a place and its people and their circumstances? How close is it to reality?

Surprisingly enough a few filmmakers still reflects on these aspects of Cinema and takes upon the burden to create something that represents a particular culture and also the people bound by it.

Asghar Farhadi is one such filmmaker, who in his films not only portrays his country Iran in the true light but also delves in such depths of human psychology that the characters in his films become The Salesman reviewalive and their problems unique yet genuine and tangible for the whole world!

After making a brilliant film like A Separation (for which he won an Oscar) it’s difficult to create something at per or even better, but Asghar Farhadi has accomplished that impossible! The acclaimed Iranian writer/director who has given such amazing movies like About EllyFireworks Wednesday and The Past is ready to woo us with his latest – The Salesman; original title – Forushande.

A simple plot to start with – soon after the couple Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) gets shifted to a new neighbourhood Rana gets assaulted by a mysterious stranger. She doesn’t have enough courage to go to the police, and neither does her husband. But Emad being a man with his ego and pride wants justice and desperately looks for the stranger responsible for turning their lives upside down. And finally … ok, you better now watch the movie!

But by the end of the film I am sure you will question the real meaning of ‘Justice being served’.

Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman’ is being intelligently used as a backdrop of The Salesman, a unique way to create a layer of The Salesman reviewadditional drama on the current plot.

Even there is reference of another famous play – ‘Cow’ by Gholam Hossein Saedi. “How does a man become a cow?” – “gradually”. This dialogues have a profound inner meaning on the characters in the film.

Even the status and obligations of women in Iran is being interpreted in such subtle yet profound manners throughout the film.

An exceptional team effort where every department of filmmaking comes together and creates something magical. Winner of ‘best actor’ and ‘best screenplay’ award at Cannes 2016 and according to me the ‘best actress’ award was also very much deserving.

In a way a satire that too on a very serious note on the current Iranian social structure, The Salesman is an Iranian Cinema that will soon be termed as a classic. Watch it!

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com.

2016 Oscar Winners leaping ahead!

2016 Oscar Winners leaped ahead! 

written by Souranath Banerjee

It is that time of the year when decisions are made and a few extraordinary artists take the leap ahead with the golden statues shining in their hands.

Pic-12Yes, the time for the 2016 Oscar winners!

The competition was exceptionally tough this year (just like any other year), and though we always like to say that everyone nominated are all winners but then sadly, only some people actually win.

Here are the movies that ruled the Oscar stage yesterday and a flashback of all these films for a quick recap.

Spotlight (Won 2 awards)

Category: Best Picture and Original Screenplay (Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy)

spotlight-poster2My Ratings: 4.4/5. 

‘Since All the President’s Men in 1976, I think this film here, Spotlight, has taken the theme of ‘reporters unveiling a conspiracy theory’ to a new height of extraordinary.’

‘Written and directed by Tom McCarthy (his directional debut The Station Agent is one of my all time favorite), and here also, he has done a tremendous job. The pace and the overall effect of the film is so intense that it gives you the feel of a classic thriller. ‘

 

The Revenant (won 3 awards)

Category: Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Director (Alejandro Inarritu) and for Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki)

revenant-poster2My Ratings: 4.4/5.

‘there is an immense amount of expectation for Mr. Iñárritu’s latest film The Revenant, and then again, when the ever-impressive Leonardo DiCaprio is in the lead, tagging with him all that debate about – can this be finally Leonardo’s Oscar moment or not?’

‘the film is shot by ace cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki who has already won two Oscars for his brilliant camera work in films Birdman and Gravity.’

 

Mad Max: Fury Road (won 6 awards)

Category: Best Editing (Margaret Sixel), Best Sound Mixing (Chris Jenkins, Greg Rudloff and Ben Osmo), Best Sound editing (Mark Mangini and David White), Best Production Design (Colin Gibson), Best Costume Design (Jenny Beavan) and Best Make Up and hair Styling (Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin).

mad-max-poster6My Ratings: 4.1/5.

‘A two hours non-stop action extravaganza, a roller coaster ride of brutal excitement, insane adrenaline rush and high-octane drama.’

‘a super-fast editing by Margaret Sixel and Jason Ballantine perfectly complements the mood of the film.’

‘Minimal use of dialogues, quick introduction of characters and real horrific violence – Mad Max: Fury Road is a treat for action genre lovers. Undoubtedly the best action flick of recent times.’

 

Room

Category: Best Actress (Brie Larson)

room-poster1My Ratings: 4.4/5.

‘Specially Brie Larson who as the protective mother, dealing with her certitudes and also her vulnerabilities has given one of the best performances I have seen in a long time!’

‘Essentially it’s a thriller that involves the account of a daring attempt to slip away from the clutches of a ruthless kidnapper but on a deeper note the film is a complex sensitive drama and an expert dissection of human psychology.’

 

The Big Short 

Category: Best Adopted Screenplay (Charles Randolph and Adam McKay)

big-short-poster2My Ratings: 4/5.

‘Based on the book with the same name by financial journalist Michael Lewis, co-writer and director Adam McKay has been successful in adding enough humor to dilute the financial jargon and make the film coherent for everybody.’

‘focuses on a group of people who noticed and predicted the devastating financial crisis well ahead and even profited from it!’

 

The Danish Girl

Category: Best Supporting Actress (Alicia Vikander)

danish-girl-poster1My Ratings: 3.8/5.

Only such powerful acting could hold the film together with enough distinction.

‘to an utter surprise to his wife Gerda, Einar has a sudden urge to change his sexual orientation and reveals that he actually wants to be Lili in her real life; he claims that he seems to be a women trapped in a man’s body!’

 

Bridge of Spies

Category: Best Supporting Actor (Mark Rylance)

bridge-of-spies-poster1My Ratings: 3.8/5.

‘Bridge of Spies is actually a biopic on American insurance-attorney James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks)’

‘Firstly, he had to defend a captured Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) in the American court of justice and then, he was recruited by the CIA and sent to the-then hostile Germany (Berlin being partitioned) to negotiate a spy-exchange mission between the two rival countries – America and Russia.’

 

Ex Machina

Category: Best Visual Effects (Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett)

ex-machina-poster3My Ratings: 4/5.

‘But the real winner in this 1 hour 48 min futuristic drama is the brilliant use of visual effects. The amazing special effects give the film it’s much necessary believability.’

‘A bit slow paced maybe, and mostly dialogue based but in spite of not being personally a fan of Sci Fi movies, i find it pretty impressive.’

 

Spectre

Category: Best Original song (Song: Writing’s On The Wall, music and lyric: Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith)

spectre-poster6My Ratings: 3/5.

‘Though music by Thomas Newman is as usual effective and blends well with Hoyte Van Hoytema‘s cinematography.’

‘Spectre starts with a thrilling helicopter sequence in Mexico that promises a power pact film but unfortunately, by the end of it’s almost two and a half hours run time, the film struggles to keep you entertained.’

 

Inside Out

Category: Best Animated Feature Film (Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera)

Inside-Out-Poster2My Ratings: 4.5/5.

‘This 94 min film gives the children their beloved world of funny characters and colorful fantasy but at the same time it offers enough scope for serious thoughts (and admiration) for the grown-ups.’

‘Superb voice overs by a variety of talented artists. Animation quality at it’s best but again that is kind of expected from a Pixar feature. But the best part of Inside Out is its concept – so brilliantly innovative!’

 

Bear Story – Animated Short Film (Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala)

The Hateful Eight – Original Score (Ennio Morricone)

Stutterer – Live Action Short Film (Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage)

Pic-11Amy – Best Documentary – Feature (Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees)

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness – Best Documentary – Short Subject (Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy)

Son of Saul – Best foreign language film (Country: Hungary; Directed by László Nemes)

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.comoscar.go.com.

The Revenant (2015)

The Revenant review

The basic storyline seems pretty ordinary though, but the execution is simply exceptional from all perspectives of filmmaking. 

written by Souranath Banerjee

My Ratings: 4.4/5.

Alejandro González Iñárritu claimed the Oscar last year in the ‘Best Achievement in Directing‘ category for his film Birdman, and winning the ‘Best Motion Picture of the Year‘ and ‘Best Original Screenplay‘ awards as well!

So not surprisingly, there is an immense amount of expectation for revenant-poster1Mr. Iñárritu’s latest film The Revenant, and then again, when the ever-impressive Leonardo DiCaprio is in the lead, tagging with him all that debate about – can this be finally Leonardo’s Oscar moment or not?

And on top of that, the film is shot by ace cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki who has already won two Oscars for his brilliant camera work in films Birdman and Gravity. He should have also won for two of his previous films The Tree of Life and Children of Men but again that’s another debate for another time.

So coming back to The Revenant, a thrilling revenge saga dated way revenant-poster2back in 1823, a dangerous time for the American fur traders and trappers who not only had to survive the treacherous climate but also the Indians for whom they were guests not particularly welcomed.

‘I ain’t afraid to die anymore. I’d done it already.’

Leonardo DiCaprio playing the part of Hugh Glass (the film is inspired by his real life endeavors), who was a frontiersman on a fur trading expedition, an explorer in the true sense of the word, a survivor who came back from dead and most importantly, a man with vengeance on his mind.

‘He’s afraid. He knows how far I came to find him.’

And Tom Hardy on the other hand, playing the intense yet crooked character of John Fitzgerald, who in a way was the real reason of Hugh Glass’s will to survive!

Superlative performances by both DiCaprio (through minimal use of revenant-poster3dialogues) and Tom Hardy; and aptly supported by the likes of Kristoffer JonerLukas HaasDomhnall GleesonWill Poulter and Forrest Goodluck.

Composers Ryuichi Sakamot and Carsten Nicolai does justice to the stunning visuals and Stephen Mirrione does a fair job with the edit.

Often vicious and violent (specially the bear attack scene), The Revenant was shot in twelve different locations and three different countries, chronologically for as long as 80 days and that too almost entirely using natural light!

A 2 hours and 36 minutes of cinematic bliss not to be missed under any circumstances.

P.S. – For the record, Leonardo sleeping in an actual gutted carcass of a horse is not true, the carcass was a prosthetic one. Though Leo did eat a bison liver for real to capture the authenticity of that shot!

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

Best of Martin Scorsese

Best of Martin Scorsese.

written by Souranath Banerjee.

Superlative adjectives like ‘most significant’, ‘most influential’, ‘the best director of our times’, ‘the greatest storyteller’, all begin to make sense when used in context of the one and only – Martin Scorsese.

The man with thick black, bushy eyebrows who has managed to won every prestigious awards that exists in this world (Academy Award, a Palme d’OrCannes Film Festival Best Director AwardSilver LionGrammy AwardEmmysGolden GlobesBAFTAsDGA Awards and even the AFI Life Achievement Award).

Directed almost 60 films till date, Scorsese is also renowned as a producer, screenwriter, actor, and film historian.

His innovative styles of filmmaking are taught in every film-school all over the world; one of the very few directors whose films are both commercially and critically acclaimed.

Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprioHarvey Keitel are some of the actors with whom Martin Scorsese has worked the most and together they created some legendary cinema.

But for now i have listed some of his best feature films (no shorts or documentaries in this list).

Let the fun begin.

1. The Departed (2006)

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

departed-poster

A remake of Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs (2002), an ultimate game of deceit between an cop and a mole in the police department. 

Along with Leonardo DiCaprio we have Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson, what a combination of actors and such brilliant performances!

Four Oscar wins including best director award for Scorsese.

2. Casino (1995)

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

casino-poster

Robert De NiroSharon Stone (got an Academy Award nomination for her role) and of course Joe Pesci – and a hard hitting story of power and greed.

One of the most violent films that Scorsese ever made and it’s also the eighth and final collaboration with Robert De Niro

Best Casino drama ever!

3. Gangs of New York (2002)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5YmI2PW9R8

gnags-of-newyork-poster

Nominated in ten categories in the Oscars, an extraordinary period film that has it’s own cult following.

Leonardo DiCaprioCameron Diaz and  Daniel Day-Lewis (as Bill ‘The Butcher’) at their very best.

A revenge drama; a boy who returns to kill his father’s murderer.

And also with this film starts the actor/director bonding between DiCaprio and Scorsese.

4. Mean Streets (1973)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCwjzn0CncA

mean-streets-poster

One of Scorsese’s earliest classics and in this one Scorsese works with Robert De Niro for the first time.

Harvey Keitel along with David Proval gives terrific performances. 

A gang of friends, small time hoods who hustle and try to make a living in the mean streets of New York.

Extensive use of hand-held camera and also camera-strapped-to-the-body technique for drunken effect.

5. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

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

The-Wolf-of-Wall-Street-PosterFive Oscar nominations and the most entertaining film of recent times!

Leonardo DiCaprio along with Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey gives out their best.

Based on a wealthy stockbroker Jordan Belfort’s exciting life, the film is a roller-coaster ride of unlimited money, crime, drugs, sex, corruption and sheer madness.  

6. Goodfellas (1990)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qo5jJpHtI1Y

GoodFellas-film-poster

Six Academy Award nominations and Joe Pesci winning the Oscar in the ‘best actor in a supporting role’ category. 

Outstanding performance by Robert De Niro and for Ray Liotta – his best role ever. 

Based on the life of Henry Hill, this film is regarded as one of the greatest gangster drama. Extreme use of curse words and violence but highly entertaining as well.

7. The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJKxg4p-Alk

last-temptation-of-christ-poster

Controversial yet brilliant, this one is Scorsese’s most courageous project till date.

Willem Dafoe superbly portrays the pain and joy of Christ. Harvey Keitel and Barbara Hershey at their best. 

Based on Nikos Kazantzakis‘s novel, the story of Christ and his last and final temptation on the cross. 

8. The King of Comedy (1982)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wVhCCo02P4

king-of-comedy-poster

An ambitious comedian who disrupts  famous celebrity Jerry Lewis‘s private life.

This film is very different from Scorsese’s general trend; a perfect black comedy with subtle dialogues and awesome acting.

According to Scorsese himself this was Robert De Niro‘s best performance under his direction.

9. The Aviator (2004)

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

aviator-poster

A take on the life of eccentric genius film director Howard Hughes who is also ‘the aviator’!

Leonardo DiCaprioCate Blanchett (won the Oscar as the best supporting actress) and Kate Beckinsale have given their best. Acting debut of singer Gwen Stefani as well.

A biopic that had total eleven Oscar nominations and five wins!

10. Raging Bull (1980)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiVOwxsa4OM

raging-bull-poster

Robert De Niro plays the famous boxer Jake LaMotta (for which he won the best actor Oscar) and Joe Pesci (his brother) and Cathy Moriarty (his wife).

Best boxing movie ever made which had eight Oscar nominations and two wins.

De Niro gained a record 60 pounds to look the part. A violent life both in and out of the ring portrayed to perfection.

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

+1. Taxi Driver (1976)

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

taxidriver-posterA mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran, a nighttime taxi driver in New York, an obsessed man with a mission, a violent man with good intentions. 

Robert De Niro nominated for the Academy Awards, undoubtedly best performance of his lifetime. Jodie Foster and Harvey Keitel at their best.

The director won the prestigious Palme d’Or award for this film.

Sven Nykvist – the greatest cinematographer of all time?

Sven Nykvist – the greatest cinematographer of all time?

written by Souranath Banerjee.

Winner of two Oscar awards, a career spanning over half a century, orchestrated over 120 films, being Ingmar Bergman‘s favorite cinematographer for more than three decades and also collaborated with other renowned film-makers including Andrei Tarkovsky, Philip Kaufman, Woody Allen, Bob RafelsonRichard Attenborough, Lasse HallströmRoman Polanski and Louis Malle – if anybody is eligible for the title of ‘Best cinematographer of all time’ then i am sure the Swedish genius Sven Vilhem Nykvist will be given the very first preference.

Sven Nykvist shot images which where simple yet profound, most natural yet meaningful and significant.

A brilliant camera operator and also the ‘master of light’ – he preferred to use more of natural light or soft bounce lighting and favored geometrically precise shot compositions. 

In his own words “When you are operating the camera, you forget all about the other people around you. You just see this little scene and you live in that and you feel it. For me, operating the camera is a sport and it helps me do better lighting. I prefer to shoot on location because in the studio you have too many possibilities, too many lights to destroy your whole picture.”

He was nominated thrice for the Oscars – in 1973 for Cries & Whispers, in 1983 for Fanny and Alexander and also in 1989 for The Unbearable Lightness of Being. He won the award in the first two occasions.   

His simple imagery speaks volumes and creates such depths and intensity.

He also won a special prize ‘Best Artistic Contribution’ at the Cannes Film Festival for the film The Sacrifice (1986) which was also the last film made by the famous Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky.

By the way Sven Nykvist also directed five feature films out of which his last film Oxen (1991) was nominated at the Oscars in the ‘Best foreign Language Film’ category from Sweden that year. 

The greatest cinematographer of all time – yes probably so but more importantly Sven Nykvist’s talent, his mastery on lights and camera, his authority on capturing beauty and his high professional ethics will always be considered as legendary.

Bombay Velvet (2015)

Bombay Velvet review.

My Ratings: 2.5/5.

Bombay Velvet is my favorite director Anurag Kashyap‘s latest feature and one of Bollywood’s most anticipated films of 2015. 

bombay-velvet-poster4The story of an ambitious young Johney Balraj (Ranbir Kapoor) who wants to be called a ‘big-shot’ after his death; who falls in love with a beautiful club-singer Rosie (Anushka Sharma) and who also makes the mistake of betraying the notorious newspaper tycoon Kaizad Khambatta (Karan Johar).

Based on Indian historian Gyan Prakash’s book Mumbai Fables – Bombay Velvet claims to be a thriller, a crime drama and also a love story all at the same time.

But unfortunately it doesn’t match up to the audience’s expectation level – primarily because it lacks a dignified story line and intelligent dialogues.

Bombay-Velvet-poster1First of all, the basic plot is very much clichéd and many a times illogical. The film desperately attempts to create the old fashioned ‘film noir’ kind-of mood (dark and tragic) but after the second-half Bombay Velvet becomes predictable and in a way simply refuses to entertain.

The mad-lover in outrage (we have seen better in Dev.D), the police/CBI chasing suspects (seen better in Black Friday), slow motion firing of machine guns with heavy background music (seen better in Gangs of Wasseypur), suspense and unexpected twists in the story (seen better in Gulaal) – honestly even Anurag Kashyap‘s unreleased debut film Paanch (2003) had more zing than Bombay Velvet (story wise).

But again the mood and lighting is brilliant. Cinematographer Rajeev Ravi has done a great job with the colors and texture of the film.

bombay-velvet-posterThe production designers Errol Kelly and Sonal Sawant along with the art director Sameer Sawant recreated the grander of old Bombay with perfection.  

Amit Trivedi‘s music is decent but nothing extraordinary. 

Now for the acting part – good performances all around. Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma seem to have a great on-screen chemistry.  

Unfortunately, after achieving great success in Barfi! and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani actor Ranbir Kapoor‘s luck seems to have taken a summersault. In spite of giving worthy performances, his last three films BesharamRoy and Bombay Velvet (included) somehow fail to hold the audience’s attention.

bombay-velvet-poster3An under-exploited Kay Kay Menon as the CBI officer, Satyadeep Misra as the trusted friend, Vivaan Shah as the lover-boy driver, and even the debutant villain Karan Johar (who seems to have charged only Rs 11 as his acting fee) has done pretty well. 

Overall Bombay Velvet (149 min long) could have been much better with a tight script and crisp dialogues. May be a budget constraint does work better in case of certain directors!

Note: Though Martin Scorsese is given special thanks and Oscar winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker (who has many a times worked with Martin Scorsese before) did edit the film – but Bombay Velvet is nothing close to any of Martin Scorsese’s films. So please stop comparing and unnecessarily escalating your expectations.   

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.

Wild (2014)

My Ratings: 4.2/5.

“If your Nerve, deny you – Go above your Nerve” – EMILY DICKINSON and Cheryl Strayed.

A woman solo-hikes 1,100 miles in the Wild in order to redeem her past; an adventure, a wish, a challenge accepted only in the hope of a better future.

With zero experience on hiking and with the heaviest backpack ever, Cheryl (Reese Witherspoon) climbs up the Pacific Crest Trail accompanied only with her determination and childhood memories, especially of her Mom (Laura Dern).

wild-poster2Wild is actually based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir by the name ‘Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail’.

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, the film brilliantly emphasizes on the bonding between human solitude and natural wilderness; it’s underlines the need for us to be one with nature in order to revive ourselves, a journey of self realization.

It is said that Reese Witherspoon had to compete with actresses like  Jennifer LawrenceScarlett Johansson and Emma Watson before she finally bagged the role. And she did look the part.

Oscar nominations for both Reese Witherspoon (Actress in a Leading Role) and Laura Dern (Actress in a Supporting Role) performances and so well deserved nominations.

Awesome editing by Martin Pensa and Jean-Marc Vallée, a lot of flashback memories put in but the film seams to travel back and forth effortlessly.

Though it’s a story of adventure but Wild is a relatively slow paced film, shown entirely from the perspective of a woman – it’s about her conflicts, her fear, her insecurities and her achievements.

A genuine story told in style.

If you are up for nature, adventure and real emotions, then this film is for you.

My Favorite Animated Short Films (10+1List)

Best Animated Short Films.

written by Souranath Banerjee.

Animation films have always been a source of pure entertainment for the kids as well as the kid-makers. And the following Animated Short Films are some of the best in the business.

Most of these animated short films are Oscar nominated, some of them even won the award. Unique concepts and the way they are executed, if you are a true film lover i am sure you won’t be able to resist them.

So let the fun begin.

10. Get a Horse! (2013)

Directed by Lauren MacMullan and produced by Disney this short film is a perfect blend of black and white hand drawn animation and the latest 3D technology.

Mickey Mouse trying to save his beloved Minnie Mouse, this 3D animated short will remind you of all the incredible 1920s original Disney characters.

9. Oktapodi (2007)

You can go to any length to be with your loved ones and that’s exactly what this film is all about.

A French animated short directed by Julien Bocabeille,  François-Xavier ChaniouxOlivier DelabarreThierry MarchandQuentin Marmier and Emud Mokhberi that won numerous awards, was nominated for the Oscars and most importantly awesome fun to watch.

8. Balance (1989)

A German animated film directed by  Christoph Lauenstein and  Wolfgang Lauenstein that won the Oscars!

This short film is a reflection of our society, of course in a critical way. Simple yet a matured, many hidden message to ponder upon.

7. Duet (2014)

Latest animated short film by master animator Glen Keane.

A magical visualization and interpretation of Love through a dance of duet, all hand-drawn and classy and beautiful. Must watch!

6. Day & Night (2010)

Pixar animated short film that brilliantly combines both 2D and 3D forms of animation.
Directed by Teddy Newton, a concept so unique and fresh, it’s simply awesome!

5. Pluto’s Judgement Day (1935)

Directed by David Hand, a classic Disney short starring Mickey‘s pet Pluto in the main lead.

As all other kids I personally liked the MIckey Mouse series (still adore them) but this particular animated short changed it’s meaning as I grew up. The concept looks dangerously similar to our new age socio-political scenario, a film way ahead of it’s time!

4. Paperman (2012)

A Walt Disney Productions that won the Oscar and probably the most popular animated short film of recent times.

Directed by  John Kahrs, this one will make you fall in love!

3. The Old Man and the Sea (1999)

The first ever animated film to be released in IMAX, it is the animated version of the classic tale based on Ernest Hemingway’s novel by the same name.

A paint-on-glass-animated short film directed by Aleksandr Petrov over a period of two and half years. A masterpiece.

2. Geri’s Game (1997)

A simple yet amazing animated film made by Pixar that won the Oscar!

Written and directed by Jan Pinkava, storytelling at its best.

1. Father and Daughter (2000)

Oscar winner Dutch Animated short film holds the number one spot in my list.

Written and directed by Michael Dudok de Wit, probably the most emotional tale ever told and the magical background score completes the experience.

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

+1. Alma (2009)

A Spanish animated short film by writer/director Rodrigo Blaas that has a very different kind of effect on it’s audience.

Alma in Spanish means ‘soul’ and this film believe it or not, has the ability to capture your sole. Spooky yet brilliant!

Similar Interest: Best Animated Films of 2015